Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Going Off Line

I spent a decent portion of last night listening to music from my teen years. I had this crazy thought, in 1998 if you told me I would be connected on facebook to people the world over I would have first asked you what a facebook was and then laughed at you. Yet here we are in 2010 and have facebook friends all over the world. Mostly people I have met at some point but a few I haven't. I have prayed for people who I have never met because of this social networking. It's a little crazy if you really stop and think about it right?

Now this might sound even crazier but some how this listening to music and remembering when e-mail was all you could do on the internet led me to feeling a lot better about my upcoming move. If in 1998 things were so different imagine how they will be in 2018? I can't know what is to come. Therefor I shall embrace the adventure. I will be leaving some great people behind. I do however get to take my memories with me. Isn't that the best part and I don't have to pack them!

That all being said, I think I want to read today so I am going off line. I might even stay off line for the rest of the week.

May you have a blessed New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It is sinking in.

In about six months we are moving 12 hours away. That is starting to sink in now that Christmas is past. I thought maybe I could put it off until after the new year. It is here though to stay settling in my brain. We are leaving. It is bitter sweet. I think what makes this time so different is that there is no turning back. We have left before but there was always a place to come back to. This time the house is getting sold so there is no going back. That is complicating this for me because it is becoming very emotional. This house has been a place of stability when all the world was crashing down around me (multiple times). Leaving it feels awkward. It doesn't mean I won't leave, it just makes leaving harder. I don't really want this house, I could have it as my own if I did. I like the house just not the location. I digress.

As I look around and begin to prepare mentally for the move my emotions are revolving in a full circle. As I celebrate the holidays and know these will be the last ones here and like this. Next year everything will be different. We won't be with family. That coupled with I debate keeping or getting rid of nearly everything I look at is making me feel a little crazy.

It is good though, it needs to sink in. I need to process all the fear and anxiety now so come the fall I am ready to focus on my studies. I need to focus on my studies so I can finish my degree and become employable so I can give Lilia a better life than I could right now. Not that she has it all that bad but her demands aren't much right now. I want to show her the world literally, well really discover it with her.

The future is so unknown, it always is I suppose but I am more aware of it now. Something about that excites me because the possibilities are endless. So let's end and really begin on that very positive note.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Wild Goose Festival

So awhile back through the wonders of social networking I learned about the Wild Goose festival this summer in North Carolina. I was immediately stoked about it. I was ready to jump on board and be a part of it. I had Paul there with me and we even secured a baby/dog sitter for if we decided to leave the baby home. It's a no dog sort of event, even if she was allowed she doesn't always play nice so she wouldn't have been coming. Anyhow, three days of camping, speakers, music and art all in the name of God and changing the world sounded pretty darn groovy. Even with our pending move. It would be tight to fit that trip in, plus an early second birthday party and the move. I was determined to do it. I even invited a ton of people to come via facebook because I received a message asking me to get the buzz going. More people coming would help build interest and get sponsors or something of that sort. I was so on board I sent it to so many random people. Which I think in turn just annoyed them because no one was really interested in coming.

Then they sent me and announcement, the social justice focus would be on justice in the prison system. My enthusiasm completely fizzled. It's not that I don't see the injustice in the prison system or that I don't think it needs reform. It desperately does. It needs the energy of the folks at this festival. I just don't know if it needs my energy. It's just not my thing. I know how incredibly awful that sounds but it is true. I don't know that I can handle that burden on my soul. Insert all those but Becca maybe God is stretching you comments here.

I don't know what I will end up doing. I just don't really want another cause to halfheartedly support. I still like the idea in theory I guess I have to stay tuned.

Now, what does all that say about me?

Friday, December 24, 2010

I Tried!

So this year I was resolved to get things done early so I could enjoy the season sipping hot cocoa by the tree while watching Christmas movies. Yep ... I failed. Here it is Christmas Eve morning and I am finally caught up, well kind of. I still need to be showered and dressed by noon. It's already quarter after ten.

I even cut out three kinds of cookies reducing my load greatly. This seems pointless now as I was still rushing at the last minute and it didn't really simplify anything. My cookie tray looks pathetic. Oh well such is life these days.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's Personal

I was recently accepted to Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. I want share what this experience has been like. Since I have attended another seminary before I had some expectations of what the process would be like. Pretty much very professional, stern and cold. You can imagine my surprise when it was no such thing. From the moment we stepped on campus in October people learned our names, not just mine but Paul and Lilia's too. They asked insightful questions. They desired to know who we were as people and as a family. The admissions process held more of the same. It wasn't just show the way we were welcomed on the campus it seems to me that this hospitality is a way of life in Louisville, at least on the campus.

Through the entire admission process I have had personal contact with folks from the office. I have never once received an automated response. When things were missing I was sent a heads up. The office even helped me get some things straightened out with previous schools. When I was officially accepted I received a phone call to welcome me, which was then followed by a more formal letter with a personal note.

My point here is I never once felt like a statistic or a number. I felt like I was indeed a person through this whole process. I person not only mattered but is truly wanted at the school.

This is the exact opposite of my previous experience, when I felt like a number and my purpose was not to grow and learn but to make the institution look good.

I am truly looking forward to this new adventure, with new peers and new attitudes. There is a part of me that is so much more relaxed this time around.

May you one day be blessed by the feeling of not being a number!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Pain Tells Us We Are Alive

I just packed up a box of goodies for my niece who lives just a few miles away. Circumstances as they are I do not get to see her. On January 2 it will be a full year since I have seen her. This is not my doing, I am not that psycho Aunt. Part of it is family court and part of it is selfishness of at least one of the parties involved. My guilt lies only in loving her. OK OK and one pregnancy hormone rage inspired series of text messages two Christmases ago. I was pregnant though and I saw my brother and mother hurting and I wanted to stand up for them. I don't think that has been forgiven but I would forgive such a thing. It is hard to see your family hurting. I digress.

I miss this little girl so much. I am saddened that I won't get to see her face as she opens her gifts. I am saddened that she is Lilia's first cousin and they won't be growing up together. That breaks my heart. I grew up with a ton of cousins none were my age though and I was always lonely at family gatherings now I fear the same for my girl. The truth is I probably won't see the little miss until she comes looking for me someday. In hopes that her mother hasn't told her some awful things about all of us. It hurts though, it hurts every time I think of her.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


As I drifted off to sleep last night the magnitude of the change that is coming started sinking in. I thought about all the things that must be left behind in order to move forward and it made me a little sad. There aren't too many I am attached to. The one that got me last night was that if all our plans move forward we have to leave Lilia's nursery behind. Yikes! That one upset me a lot. The rest is mostly about friends we will be leaving behind, with the hopes of new friendships to blossom.

God we thank you for these opportunities to grow and move forward, help us to focus on the good!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Good News/Bad News

So today I got some really fantastic news that is propelling my family forward into the future. When I shared this with someone who I love dearly they told me if I went through with it they would disown me. Mind you this was one person I expected to be supportive. Well I guess I am getting disowned. I won't change my dreams and I can't change God's call on my life. Especially because one person says they will no longer be a part of my life. I find that incredibly unfair, but I suspect the next time they need something they might find my response to be incredibly unfair. The funny thing is that was the only bad response I received, I expected more.

Here's to a new year with many exciting new adventures. With one less piece of baggage.

May you be blessed with so sort of happiness today.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Expectation

I was reminded recently that two years ago right around this time, we found out Lilia was on her way. Of course we had no idea that she was a girl or would be named Lilia. We wouldn't even have a doctor's appointment for another two weeks. While we were trying to have a baby Christmas time was always hard. I always had the baby itch around Christmas. I always had the baby itch really bad around Christmas. When I was chatting with some ladies recently it seems that everyone gets a bit of the itch at Christmas time. Honestly, earlier this season was the first time I felt even the slightest of baby itches since Lilia was born. It has since left me, but I can't help but wonder what it is about Christmas?

Christmas even on a secular level is just magical, especially for children. Children make Christmas joyous, even when it's all about the presents. So was it about wanting to share that Christmas morning anticipation with a child? Maybe that was part of it but I think there is more to it.

Being pregnant at Christmas was nothing short of magical, for me. We had wanted a baby for so long it felt like a Christmas miracle. I remember saying I was cautiously optimistic. I was filled with hope and wonder. Even though I wasn't a virgin impregnated by the Holy Spirit, I could relate to Mary's story. I myself was having what felt like a miracle baby.

That's the thing about Christmas no matter what angle you take, there is always expectant joy. If you are a kid waiting for Santa or a mother to be waiting for a baby or a sinner waiting on a savior. There is some expectation of joy there no matter how you look at it, and born of that joy's expectation, I believe is hope. I have been writing about my recent wait on an acceptance or rejection letter from a school and I call it my Advent anticipation. It's just like expecting that first Doctor's appointment two Advents ago. So maybe this is a really good thing, this Advent waiting. Although it doesn't compare to the whole we are having a baby and I cry every time I hear the Christmas story, joy.

There is something good about expecting something JOYFUL, isn't there?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Almost Christmas

So we are in Advent. This year we are taking a new approach around here and adding in some new God centered activities to our pre-Christmas routine. As we pray together as a family each day I feel God stretching me. As I read some books that are Christianity focused, I feel God stretching me each day. Possibly calling me to a life I had never imagined, one that I am not sure if I can live. That is all so new that I am not going to take the time to cover it here. It requires more prayer and processing.

I was reading about the connection of Christianity and Empire. All I could think was I wish all church history courses used this book as a text book because it would keep my interest a lot more. The other day I was behind a really nice car, that I would like to have. Somewhere from with in me I heard myself saying, you really don't need that it is nothing more than a status symbol. Hmmmm....

Today is the first possible day that I can receive a response from the school I have applied to. I woke up to their facebook feed telling me they have a snow day. I am starting to feel more and more like this might have been just another pipe dream. Maybe it isn't where I am supposed to be heading? This six week wait has been torturous.

It's finally here. A series of days that can change everything. Talk about Advent anticipation.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What the Heck

So a few months ago I decided that I might be ready to spend a weekend away. Circumstances as they were I did no such thing. Paul on the other hand had an opportunity to go away this weekend, which I encouraged because I thought it would be good for him. So I sent him off gladly Thursday afternoon. I had a little apprehension about not having him here, especially this time of year.

It is a crazy busy time of year especially for women. Sorry male readers you for the most part get off the hook for the holiday season. Especially if you are married or in a serious relationship. We shop, wrap, ship, plan menus, cook, serve, clean and decorate just to name a few of the things we add to our regular daily routine. (If you argue the point here that we choose to do this know that my inner woman will come out and eat you for breakfast. We have a kid now, she needs to know all the varieties of magic Christmas has to offer.) You all have to buy one gift if that, for us and wrap it. Then you get to sit back and critique our cookies and meals. Maybe hang a few lights outside. When I first heard about this retreat my thought was it was a very bad time of year to have one. Then again maybe the rational being it is Advent a good time to be quiet and connect with God.

Anyhow, I am three days into this and I want to scream. First of all when exactly do I get a break. I know that sounds incredibly selfish but I don't care, I would pay a lot of money for one night of uninterrupted anything, reading, movie watching, sleep. I have had maybe 8 hours of sleep. I caught the cold Paul brought home so you can imagine I am less than stellar. I am not myself at all. All I want to do is lay on the couch and watch TV and drink ginger ale. This is impossible because I have a toddler and even if she were out of trouble she would change the TV input and mute it almost immediately. Currently as I write this she is tearing pages out of my most sacred prayer journal. Alas something has to occupy her so I can get these words out. She is also whining because apparently they aren't tearing just how she likes it. Yesterday I made it through the Target trip from hell. I have had minimal contact with Paul through all of this. As it should be.

Then this morning I had a tech question for him and he tells me he is getting harassed for using his cell phone and not being fully present. I wanted to drive there and smack someone myself. I get the whole idea of being fully present, I do. Sometimes though your wife needs to know how to work the freaking DVD player because she is trying to steal 10 minutes of holiday relaxation on her own. I gave up on the movie and men in general. I know you guys on the retreat are going to read this and I don't care.

While I think the overall concept of a men's retreat is good and needed. While I respect that dudes need time away from all the pressures of work, family and what ever else it is that concerns them. I think it was an incredibly selfish time of year to plan this. I think it is ridiculous to harrass someone about tech support for their wife who is going a little bonkers at home. I hope you all appreciate what your wives gave you this weekend while they stayed home with your kids and Christmas. I sincerely hope you give them the same and that when you text them during the super bowl because you can't find the ketchup that who ever they are with would be kind enough to understand that you need the ketchup!

In some ways I think I would have preferred a weekend of beer and strip clubs. At least then I would be allowed to ask for tech support.

Ladies I hope you agree when I say sometimes the dudes just don't get it, they just don't get it at all. To those of you and there are many who asked me when we ladies get our weekend away, the answer is freaking soon!

It's no wonder I hate Christmas. Also I know it might not be obvious but despite my rant I do really hope Paul comes back refreshed.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reading and Reflection

This morning was day three of our new morning routine. Paul had to practically drag me to do yoga on no motivation Thursday, he prevailed and I am proud. Then we settled in for our little prayer time. As we read this morning we came across somethings that caught my attention so I will share them.

This quote is from Common Prayer. Cyprian of Carthage, a third-century North African bishop, said, "The Lord Christ did not want us to pray by our selves in private or for ourselves alone. We do not say 'My Father', who art in heaven,' nor 'Give me this day my daily bread.' It is not for oneself alone that each person asks to be forgiven, not to be led into temptation or to be delivered from evil. Rather, we pray in public as a community, and not for one individual but for all."

Well this just stopped me in my tracks I have been reflecting on it all morning. Particularly the idea of sharing my temptations with other people. That makes me feel all sick inside. I have only shared things like that on very rare occasions after I have struggled with them so much that they nearly come bursting out of me, in what I consider to be a safe environment. With a person I know I can trust. I think this is the idea behind things like accountability groups. I don't know that I personally am in a place where I want to be a part of something like that. Just this idea of sharing my struggles is stretching me, maybe to the point of discomfort. I was just saying the other day that I don't often share much of myself unless asked. It's not that I mind sharing, I just don't blurt it out unless people are genuinely interested. What if I sat down with people once a week and prayed about the things that weighed heaviest on my heart?

8 Woe to you who add house to house
and join field to field
till no space is left
and you live alone in the land.

9 The LORD Almighty has declared in my hearing:

“Surely the great houses will become desolate,
the fine mansions left without occupants.
10 A ten-acre vineyard will produce only a batha]">[a] of wine;
a homerb]">[b] of seed will yield only an ephahc]">[c] of grain.”

11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning
to run after their drinks,
who stay up late at night
till they are inflamed with wine.
12 They have harps and lyres at their banquets,
pipes and timbrels and wine,
but they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD,
no respect for the work of his hands.

This comes from Isaiah 5 (NIV)

It amazes me sometimes how relevant to today's culture Isaiah can be at times. We do have a lot of empty mansions these days don't we? Surprisingly, this fits right in with our current conversation as a couple on what size home would be right for us. I have to wonder if God is trying to get our attention.

Also from Common Prayer: Teach us to delight in your web of life and to know ourselves in community.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Why she amazes me...

Every mother thinks their own child is just the greatest I know. Some of us gush about them ad nausuem. I like to think I don't quite gush that much. So today when I was trying to come up with a good blog topic, Lilia came to mind. She isn't quite a year and a half yet but the things she has learned to do just amaze me. She has taken her time with all her milestones. In the beginningthis made me a nervous wreck. Now I have learned that she takes her time to master things but once she has them she has them.

Here are some less than typical things she does...

Fakes blowing her nose.
Fakes snoring.
Fakes laughing if everyone else is laughing.
Today she tried to plug a microphone into the appropriate port on my computer all on her own.
She plays pretend eating really well.

The list goes on and one. My point is, I am amazed on what she has picked up already. She really is a little sponge.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Reflections on the Day

In the food store this morning. I had to constantly say a mantra of be kind be kind, think kind things, think kind things, Jesus is Love, Jesus is Love, Jesus wants me to love on these people. Your grandma was old and you would have been pissed if someone ran her over with a shopping cart. This woman is someone's grandma. There were no buses in this parking lot where did they all come from? Why do they have to read everything, ok maybe they have some new health concern and have to be careful not to eat something. That's it. The all just found out they can't eat seeds so they must read every label 55 times. I am telling you my loyal readers this was my dialogue with myself the entire time I was food shopping. I tried to stay happy and loving and smile and be helpful where I could. I am always reaching up to the top shelf for someone.

In other news, I saw a former student over the weekend who came running up to see me. Becca, I haven't seen you in forever, how are you? Lucky for me he was wearing a shirt with his name on it and I could immediately place him. I must admit I didn't return his enthusiasm only because I was thrown off I hadn't seen him in four years. I didn't want to call him by the wrong name and the darn facial hair was throwing me off! It was good though because I thought about it later, I must have been doing my job right if he was that happy to see me (and Paul). I just wish they wouldn't all grow up so fast!

Lastly the crock pot works much better when you plug it in!

Oh and did I mention that I got my groceries all bagged and in the cart only to realize Paul still had the card I needed to pay for them? Yep that's right!


This morning Paul and I started what I hope will be our new morning routine. I found myself frustrated that I never got in a decent yoga practice. Combine that with our previously mentioned desire to use the new Common Prayer book and a new routine was born. We got out of bed and did the couple of things that must be immediately done. Then we did a fifteen minute yoga practice. Which was challenging with Lilia running under, on and around us. I think that counts as extra work out. Then we settled on to the couch for family prayer and bible time. This felt as awkward as it sounds. Lilia of course did not want to sit still. So she ran around. I ended up "yelling" at her because she kept ripping at the pages in the book and the bible. I am pretty sure that wasn't a very Godly moment. Wish I could have been more patient with her. She did contribute to our prayers for others I am not sure who they were for, God does.

It was awkward to be just us and worshiping God in a a small way. Paul prayed that it would become less awkward. I felt awkward naming out loud those who I wanted to bring before God. I normally write those things out and I lost my place in the middle. I think though that it will get better with time. I am determined to stick with it. I don't think Paul enjoyed it as much as I did. I can tell you it felt really good to hear what Paul prayed for. It was like a whole new level of connection for me. I didn't know what was on his heart before. I liked that I got to see that.

I can tell you I feel like I am having a great morning. Maybe we will let Paul do a guest post on what he thought.

Lord I am grateful for time spent together.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Where is the line? Is there a line at all?

I feel myself rather conflicted lately as I see a polarizing scale of what it means to follow Jesus. As I wrote in my previous blog entry for me faith is more about a way of life. It doesn't stop with theology even if that theology is ever changing. If we have theology and have all of what we believe worked out and we don't use it to do good in the world, to love one another then what is the point of it at all? That is what I am tied up in.

The church is polarized. The church is polarized over issues. The church is polarized over theology. The church is polarized over the bible. The church can't agree on mission. Some churches seem to me to be more focused on the bottom line than Jesus. Some churches seem to be more focused on politics than Jesus. I don't think the church is all bad. I just question the motives of the current churches out there.

I think though there is something else that is polarizing just for me. Money and the people of God. I belong to a denomination where many (not all) Pastors are paid well or have other sources of income. They lead very comfortable lives; as do many in their congregation. I grew up in the middle class for the most part. We were out right poor for awhile by American standards. World standards though that might look a little different. I have been wealthy my whole life by world standards.

The economy has been bad for me since I was about 22. I haven't been able to find work that pays well. The cost of everything has gone up. With the birth of our daughter we decided to stay as a one income family even though it would be really tight. The way I spend money has changed. I am not able to just go buy whatever on a whim. I have to carefully think out nearly every penny I spend. This at times frustrates me like you would not believe. I say things like I just don't want to have to think about buying a peanut butter cup. When I win the lottery is another favorite, although I don't even play the lottery. My list is probably a little different then most, my plans include college educations for all the kids I love, paying off the church mortgage anonymously for the purely selfish reason of I never want to debate finances again at a session meeting. Also funds for many projects I think are worthy causes, like Caleb and his kids. Then paying off my student debt and fixing the car I already have. It sounds like a nice dream right? Lately though something else has come on me. I think maybe, just maybe my having to think about every dollar I spend is actually a huge blessing in my life.

It has taught me in a very real way want versus need. Would be nice to have versus need it to survive. Want to eat this versus this option can sustain me. I should point out I don't have it all bad, I know I am lucky to have what I have. Lately though I find myself glad I don't have more. I am grateful that I have been forced to learn what I know believe has been a lesson in disguise. I found myself longing for a smaller house the other day. My rational being, less to clean, less to fill up more time for things that matter. This circumstance of finance has taught my heart to grow. I am not all the way there I still have days where I long for things and a nice big house on a huge piece of land. Sometimes it's nice kitchen cabinets or a nice vacation. Sometimes I want to be able to buy people really nice gifts. I long for more. Then something happens, I see greed somewhere in the world, I read a piece of scripture, there is some sort of disaster and I remember I have what I need and I am so blessed.

That all being said, lately as I have mention previously I have been reading a lot of Shane Claiborne's work. If you don't know his work I suggest you google away and learn about it just a little. The thing that stands out for me is the humility. He also chooses a very simple communal life. He has what he needs on a level that is much less than what I think I need. He has essentially chosen a life of poverty. He writes books, that he gives away at book parties, the funds he makes from those writings go into a community pot he shares with those around him. You know just looking at him that his life is different. His life though is his life, not mine. I don't know that I could live like that. What I can tell you is how his choices had an effect on our lives this weekend. We set out Friday night with $20 to pay for parking, dinner and to hopefully buy a book. We scored free parking, got to love Philly, it would never happen in NYC. Then dinner was shared with us at the book release. Then Paul won a copy of the book which we could have bought for $10 if he hadn't. For the first time I was at an event that was Christian in nature where what I was able to bring was good enough. I didn't leave with out an item that might help enrich my spiritual journey. (Reading for me is a huge part of that so I borrow and buy books regularly.) Our $20 ended up going to charitable causes represented there in a very grassroots sort of way. FOR ONCE WHAT WE HAD WAS ENOUGH. I don't know what it was about that moment but it stayed with me. It solidified what I had already been thinking about not having so much money.

Let's go back to the Pastor's and clergy people that are living comfortable lives. This is delicate because I know several really great people who fall into this category. I am not talking your mega church pastors who have private jets and multimillion dollar book deals. Or even those who just drive luxury cars. They are a blog in and of themselves. I am talking your typical comfortable pastor, maybe I should add writer as well. As I have mentioned before I read a lot of theology and I have gone to many events about the very books I read presented by the people that write them. Often times while I love the writing, I love being stretched by the theology I find a disconnect in how they live. The very fact that they go on book tours kind of irks me. I feel as if you are here telling me to live more simply and I already live simply more simply than you do in fact. Another favorite is we need to do this or that, yet they are always on speaking tour what is it exactly you are doing? I get it they have lives, most of them are doing more good in the world than your average Joe but still it irks me a little.

Last week I read a blog about preaching from an i pad instead of paper. Honestly I found myself wondering if maybe I needed one of these little gadgets. I am after all considering becoming a full time student again. It is much lighter than books and I wouldn't need to carry my laptop too. I could pretty much just carry a larger purse. Wait did I say need, could I ever possibly need something like that? More likely it falls into the it would be nice to have category. I also found myself lusting after a smart phone last week. I have long resisted getting one of those things because I refuse to pay for internet on my phone. We went so far as changing providers because they were going to charge us for it no matter what. I have preferred to just have a phone rather than a small hand held rocket launching computer. I got myself back there again. There is no real need for me personally to have a phone like that. Maybe if I was out on the road a lot? I want to make it really clear, THAT I STRUGGLE WITH THIS.

That is in fact why I am writing this blog. I am not ready to choose a life of self sustaining poverty. However I am also struggling not to buy into this more stuff is better mentality. Where is the line? I fear that Shane is right. Which would instantly make me well, wrong. Do our things separate us from Jesus? Especially when those things have become less about things and more about status? I am scared because I see a lot of folks, really good folks, who have deep and profound faith more concerned with gadgets and theology than getting their hands dirty. I think that I am guilty of being one of these people.

The problem is I see really great people on both sides of this. I see people with amazing hearts for God. I see people doing God's work in the world. I see polarizing sides though when it comes to wealth and status and I want a middle. I need a middle.

I hope as my reader, you see that this a a very real struggle for me.

God help us not to be blinded my the idols of stuff and status.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Little Things

Last night we went to a birthday party for our friends' son. It was at a gym for kids. The birthday boy was so happy to be there. The typically quiet little man was running around, happy and chatting it up. It was great to see his little personality shine!

I also rather enjoyed watching our little lady run around. She was all smiles and giggles. There was no keeping her still once she warmed up to it.

I am so grateful for these experiences. It's a simple thing just having fun together. Watching these little guys enjoy this so much, is a moment frozen in time. I don't think I was alone wishing there was something similar for us as adults. Any way you look at it the sheer joy of childhood just cannot be matched!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Common Prayer Release Party

Last night Paul and I had date night at the Common Prayer release party in Philadelphia. An invite had come up in my facebook feed and I jumped on it. We have never been to a book release before. However we have read a lot of Shane Claiborne's work, since he was one of the authors we knew we would likely enjoy it. On Thursday I learned that the party would be held at a homeless shelter of sorts, it ended up being more of a home where residents can get back on their feet. So we arrived and found parking right out front. In we went. I had no idea what to expect.

The night was full of surprises. The theme was party and prayer. We started with some announcements and prayer. Then we ate. I wasn't expecting to eat. A feast of pizza veggies and fruit. It worked very well. We were actually in line for food right behind the author. This was an amazing observation time for me. He was very quiet. You know in the bible how there are prophets who kind of aren't so keen on being prophets but they are doing it because God has led them there? That is the vibe I got. The work that is being done, in my opinion, is nothing short of prophetic and the bringer of the revelation is so very humble. Sounds kind of like Jesus doesn't it? This is a life lived in a very Christlike way. So refreshing in our world of border line Christians, and political Christians.

After we ate, we sang and prayed. There was a drawing of sorts to win the book and Paul won one of the copies! How exciting is that? Then we prayed and sang some more. This was the entire party, prayer. At a book release. Now mind you I have never been to a book release before. I am pretty sure it is usually a little different with at least a little pomp and circumstance. We got a story about how there is this tiny little half dust jacket with the authors' names because it is a book of prayer and some of them are 2000 years old. They fought the publishers to not have their names on the hard cover of the book! How is that for humble? It spoke volumes about the heart that went into the writing.

The time of prayer, well there aren't words to really describe it. In those moments though I wished I belonged in this community. It felt like the most genuine heartfelt prayer, offered up by a group, that I have heard in a long time. The things people prayed for, well they gave me hope for the world. There wasn't much about medical testing or broken bones. It was mostly prayers for the WORLD. God help up us to be united. God let us be bringers of justice. God forgive us our selfishness. It was absolutely beautiful. In the world of prayer this was a masterpiece. I wish I could have gotten to know every person in the room.

The Psalters provided most of the music. It was great. I rather enjoyed the drumming. We did pick up two of their cds for a donation of what we could afford.

That was probably my only disappointment, that I didn't really get to talk to anyone new. One of the highlights, a sign on the book table, $10-15 or what ever you can afford. This was certainly my kind of party.

The sad part is getting home and having so few people with whom to share our experience with. I think I learned something about myself last night, I think I need to be in community with other Christians like this more regularly. Yes I go to church where I have a great community but it isn't like this. I am not sure I am ready to sign up to live in a new monasticism community, especially with a baby. I am however ready to make some changes in my life so that God becomes the focus again. I have strayed. Paul and I have decided to go a little crazy Christian and use this book (it is a book of prayers and liturgy) as a family study everyday.

My last thought I think the reason I really enjoyed this particular set of people... they are all out there in the world doing God's work. Their contribution to God, the world and Theology doesn't stop at debating Theology. While they have a good grasp on theology, they are living it, not just talking about it. For me that has been the failing of many of the books I read and following this movement of the emerging church. Much like my feelings about the Presbyterian church... there seems to be a whole lot of talk and very little action. Here there is action to balance out the theology and the talking. On first glance I would venture to say there might just be more praying too.

This is what Advent should feel like. I felt Jesus in that room. I was amazed by my savior's love. I was swept away in a sea of that love, I teared up. I wanted to scream yes God I know you love me. Thank you God for loving me. This is a highly abnormal feeling for me. It was beautiful.

We left inspired and not feeling as alone. Now we have to move forward and integrate it into our lives. For me personally as a church leader I feel called to integrate it into the church as well.

God guide me. I am grateful for these experiences that stretch my faith and call.

Friday, December 3, 2010

I want today to be a good day.
I actually have plans tonight.
I want to enjoy a night out.

However the morning just started off all wrong. I found myself frustrated with my body. Not that anything is hurting or not working how I want it. Just at it's general ability to grow rather than shrink no matter what I do. I noticed some less than desirable changes. Add to that nothing fits right and it is pretty much a mood killer. I have made so many changes in the past few years and nothing helps.

Then my dear Paul can't give me a straight answer about anything and it drives me crazy. I was asking his opinion about a little playhouse we bought. He couldn't give me one. It's not hard, it's just an opinion. Do you think I should paint the other side? All I heard in his response was a sugar coated version of you need to paint the whole thing but I am not going to say that because you will get upset. My thought was why don't you offer to help me do it? It is a totally overwhelming process. I just don't understand why everything Christmas related is my responsibility.

I don't want to use this blog like I have previous ones to air our dirty laundry if you will. This exchange today really brought me down though. I am tired all the time and I always have to be the motivator. It adds to my over all exhaustion. Other than baking I have Christmas pretty much done. However we have editing to get done, and by done I mean done, like I never want to look at it again. Somehow all the pressure for that has also fallen to me. I just wish I could get an hour of uninterrupted rest. Not even sleep just rest.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How I became an internet creeper

Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down... (Thank You Fresh Prince)

Yesterday, I was on faceook, a normal activity for me. I was looking at a picture someone posted when Lilia came over and did things to my keyboard that I don't even understand. The picture changed I found my self on some picture from a year ago. A really random kind of didn't make any sense picture. I didn't think much of it, I went back to what I was doing.

Last night, I was helping Paul post a picture he wanted to post on his facebook. I saw his news feed and it said I liked a picture. I was like what the heck I didn't like any pictures. So I looked closer and there was that random photo that made no sense to me with my name and a little thumbs up. OK so normally, I would just make a comment, whoops my bad, Lilia hit the key board sorry for sending you a bogus notification. Ha Ha Ha.

However, it just so happens this is a person I have never met, nor do I know them. You see a few weeks ago I decided to start using facebook for actual social networking. I have added to my friends list bloggers and authors I follow. I have done the same on twitter. So yesterday my baby liked a year old photo of a guy I don't actually know that really looks like some sort of inside joke. Yep and now I am officially that creepy girl who goes through pictures from years ago and likes them long after you have forgotten them. Fantastic! I posted a status message and unliked the picture. What else could I do?

In one baby stomp of my keyboard, I be came an internet creeper.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It is World AIDS Day

When I was old enough to have a sex ed class in school, more than anything else there was a focus on safe sex. It was the tail end of the insane fear of AIDS the swept the country in the 1980s. It was the early 90s and there was at least some information. The focus was less on fear and more on being educated about the transmission of HIV. Personally I made sure I understood this, I am not sure everyone did, but I made it a point to avoid "risky" behavior. Likely because of the amount of illness I had already seen in my life time. Oddly for a teenager Paul felt the same way I did just with different motivation. By the time each of us graduated high school, in the US the AIDS epidemic was started dwindle, with education and treatments. Don't get me wrong I know people still suffer here in the US. I know that a HIV+ status can still be a stigma. Great strides have been made in treatment, most importantly in my opinion a HIV+ mom can now deliver an HIV- child.

That is here though in the US. I am remembering today my friends in Uganda that regularly have to take the kids they care for in for HIV testing. Funds that could be going towards food or medicine or education has to be put toward HIV testing. This is essential in many parts of Africa because of the absolute crisis of AIDS there. The history is long but can be summed up in a few sentences. There is less access to medicine and testing. There is less education. There are social stigmas related to sex and protected sex. There are women being raped by their husbands, soldiers and neighbors. Sometimes people don't know their status. Children are born HIV+. Children are orphaned by the deaths of their HIV+ parents and family members who couldn't get treatment, usually because of financial reasons. The spread of AIDS is slowing but there are great strides to be taken still.

There are many reputable organizations out there fighting to end AIDS everyday. I suggest in honor of World AIDS day, in addition to praying for those who suffer, that you take a few minutes and educate yourself about any part of why today is important. Also if you don't know your HIV status, go get tested. It's free at local health departments and it could save your life and others.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

There are many things I could blog about today but most of them seem a little pointless. Just a random smattering of things that happened since I last blogged. However I feel compelled to blog today. So I am opening up the floor to you, my readers. Ask questions, send suggestions, nominate topics.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A thought from my reading...

I have been reading Shane Claiborne's Jesus for President. This is a wonderful read and really challenges those of us who have a deep Christian faith. The title is misleading, as you might have guessed if you are familiar with Claiborne's work. Anyhow, this morning I was reading and a thought struck me so powerfully that if it wasn't a library book I would have highlighted it. So here it is in a horribly butchered from my memory version.

The kingdom of God is all about love. Acting in love at all times in small ways. I knew this but it changed something for me. I am very justice oriented in my life and faith. That grows from love, I didn't really connect that before. I know this radical idea of loving each other is a stretch. I think Jesus and Shane are onto something here. If we could remember to love, it would be a better world.

I wish I had read this before I sent my LPTS application. It would have made for some wonderful quoting. The topic of my essay was working together towards a common goal rather than letting "issues" tear us apart as a church. Just showing love for the other, would have worked quite well.

These books always challenge me to go deeper and I am thankful for that. I feel as if I am reading the writing of a close friend even though we have never met. That is blessing at it's best.

May you be blessed by being loved and loving today!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas is Upon Us

I begrudgingly removed all of my fall decorations and packed them away last night. Always a sad time because Fall is my favorite time of year. Christmas is actually one of my least favorite holidays because of all the pressure and lack of focus on the actual miracle of Christmas in the first place. I am trying to get around all that this year and enjoy the quiet. I do not want to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle that makes me hate this time of year.

Here it is the day after the day after Thanksgiving.

The Christmas season has been in full swing since midnight Thursday, at least commercially. Sunday will start Advent for Christians. A time of quiet preparation. Seriously. I don't know that anyone can be quiet and focused in Holiday preparation. People forget about Jesus' birth all together. I am not judging because I have been there. There is something about Christmas but more so Advent, there is this kind of Joyous Hope that comes for me. When I listen to the "church" Christmas tunes this hope that comes washes over me. I am reminded that nothing is impossible with God. One of my favorite Christmas time scriptures. Maybe it is because I have seen a couple of Christmas miracles in my time.

Let me share some with you, first there was the year my dad came home from the hospital just in time for Christmas. He had been living in hospitals and rehabilitation centers for nearly a year after his illness first hit. It was a very joyous day when he came home just a few days before the big day. I venture to say better than Christmas itself. This was also the year my mother had gravely prepared us that there wasn't going to be much of a Christmas because we didn't have money for it. Christmas Eve as family was visiting, my dad's friends from the Turnpike (where he had worked pre-illness) dropped off two huge black garbage bags for me and two for my youngest brother. I remember so clearly my mother's tears of relief. I am sure there have been others. The last I will share though is just before Christmas 2 years ago when we found out we were expecting. It made Christmas simply amazing. I shared in Mary's wonder at being with child. Clearly I wasn't quite as amazed because well I was no virgin. Gasp shock I know! I had actually partaken in some loving. Anyway though I remember wishing I could scream with joy in church. Pregnant at Christmas really worked for me.

This year I am trying my hardest to capture the quiet and hopeful joy of Christmas. I am intentionally trying to make it a quiet time, so I don't get pushed in with the masses of over consumerized sheep rushing to buy the next great gift for my sister's cousin's bus driver. I am nearly done with the shopping. The decorations will go up later today. Then all that is left is cookie making later in December. In theory this means I can actually be quiet and enjoy the season and the hope that comes with it.

May you be blessed with this quiet hope-filled joy this Advent as you prepare for the birth of a little baby boy, who will change your heart and the world.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Oh Boy

One last Thanksgiving thought, there was also a Thanksgiving were my cousin was in labor the night before and my mom was so anxious we stayed up all night and set the table. That was 21 years ago! Can you believe that?

Now on to "Black Friday" thoughts. I shop on black Friday. Only for items that I would buy anyway. Really you aren't saving money if you go out to buy some movies and come home with a TV you didn't need. I try my hardest not to fall into the traps of the day you know when you feel like you have to buy it because it is a good price.

Last night Paul and I ventured out to our local Toys R Us. They were opening at 10 pm and I wanted to pick up some wrapping paper that wasn't on sale. Also some books for gifts. I didn't feel the need to stand online for these items. So we headed out around 10. Much to our surprise there was still a line when we got there around 10:30. This was no small line. This line wrapped around the store and all along the fronts of all the other stores there. This line easily had a couple THOUSAND people on it! So we did what anyone would do, first I said um yeah I am not waiting on that line to spend $12. Then we parked the car and people watched for a good hour. We made up stories and wondered what the deal was they were after.

Then I had a serious thought, What would Jesus think of all of this if he saw what the celebration of his birth has done to people? This was crazed consumerism at its best which is really humanity's worst. Blindly grabbing at deals to teach the children stuff can make them happy because we believe stuff will make us happy. This was a sobering thought. I myself was there to be a part of this crazed consumerism.

Although I wasn't looking for much. We ventured across the street to the mall napped in the car and went in a midnight for a few things. It was craziness all around. Luckily I knew exactly what I was looking for and got in and out with out lines. I steered clear of stores with any sort of electronic door buster that was bound to make people loose their minds. We headed home because the other stores I was looking to shop at weren't open. We slept a little headed back out took our time and managed for the most part to avoid crowds. Then we stood in line way too long to pay for a picture frame and I snapped at the woman trying to get me to save an extra 15% by opening a charge card. Really lady, I just stood here 20 minutes to buy a $7 frame. I do not need to wait another 20 minutes to save another $1. Then I knew it was time to go home because I was turning into one of those women I wanted to smack.

So it's true I got caught up in the consumerism of the day. I think God might be slightly disappointed.

Now on to the next project, what charitable project shall I partake in this Christmas?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

This will forever be remembered as the Thanksgiving I thought my mom bought the farm. Which an hour ago didn't seem so funny, but now has me splitting my sides. I woke up at 5:15 something was wrong. It was quiet. First thought, did she finish the stuffing already? I couldn't smell anything, no onions or butter or toast. Next thought, OMG she died in her sleep! I smacked Paul, wake up! Huh what? It's 5:15 listen, Yeah it's quiet that's kinda nice, Paul it's Thanksgiving and it's 5:15 smell (I make an obnoxious sniffing noise). Something is wrong, why isn't she up. I stumble out of bed and go make sure my mother is alive, let alone awake and she was. PHEW!

Some more Thanksgiving memories.

The Thanksgiving we had a snow storm.
The Thanksgiving I drank so much apple cider I got sick.
The Thanksgiving when I was about 7 and my mom let me carry the crystal tray and I fell and shattered it.
The Thanksgiving I learned to make crumb topping because I didn't have enough pie crust.
The year we went to the Macy's Parade in NYC.
How about the first time I cooked Thanksgiving dinner and I made a 20 pound turkey with enough side dishes and appetizers for 20 people for 4 people?

I am sure more will come later.

May you be blessed with Gratitude today!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Memories

Every Thanksgiving I find myself reminiscing about Thanksgivings past.

Today I was thinking about the year Paul and I went to the National Youth Workers Convention and tried to drive home Tuesday night from Atalanta. We hit so much traffic we didn't get home until 7 am! Paul had to go into work and I had to make pies. We were like zombies. We learned to never travel that time of the week before Thanksgiving. At least not with out an alternate route. I don't know how we even made it home safely.

I can't get through a Thanksgiving with out remembering the year I accidentally smashed my sister's cherry pie. I will never live that down. I had my feet on the bottom of the table and it tipped over. I think I was about 10 when that happened. I have dropped many a dessert since especially pies.

I have very fond memories of my grandmother on Thanksgiving, which I am very grateful for. Most of what we will eat tomorrow were her family recipes. She taught both my mother and I to perfect them. As we made pies this morning I remarked, "Hey Mom, not to long before we will be teaching Lilia the tricks of the trade." As sexist as it sounds, I am so glad I have a little girl to teach it to. Mind you I would teach any of the boys if they were interested. I will say I have taught most of the boys the baking part. They do love to bake with me.

Lastly, every Thanksgiving I can't not think about my friends in Africa, especially Rhita. One day we had a conversation in the back of the Land Rover about our favorite holidays. I said Thanksgiving, she responded oh the one with the turkey. We talked about it for awhile and Rhita wished she could have a Thanksgiving celebration. Then we dreamed together of sharing a Thanksgiving meal. I think every year maybe next year will be the year we are together. I have a strong hope that one year either she will be here for the holiday or I will cook up a Thanksgiving feast for Rhita and Caleb and all the children in Uganda. That would be a challenge but I can handle it!

May you be blessed with gratitude the whole year through!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In a "Mood"

I am not sure about you but in my house growing up if I was grumpy. My mother would say I was "in a mood". More likely, "Leave her alone she is in a mood." It has come to my attention that my mother seems to have a memory of me always being in a mood. Always complaining and never happy. This is odd because I don't think that is me at all. I do complain sometimes and who doesn't have a bad day now and then?

Maybe I just don't remember properly? I mean we all do things that annoy others and don't realize it. I am sure I have irritated the crap out of people and not realized I had done so. It's our nature. Generally speaking no one intentionally irritates the crap out of you, unless you have brothers in which case all bets are off. They make it their job to irritate you, at least in my case.

Lately though I feel like everything irritates me if it comes from certain people, it's a short list of about 5. I am aware of that and I keep my mouth shut but sometimes I just want to go off.

I don't even know if this blog has purpose today. Just trying to vent in the most kind and gentle way I can.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I find myself in the same struggle every Christmas. What to buy and when is enough, enough? This has only gotten worse with having a daughter. Being Christian I know that Christmas isn't about the gifts, the trees or the cookies. It's about Jesus. Although even for me that is hard to remember at times.

It seems to me that Christmas is just over run with greed. A close second is stress. I can't help but think this isn't what it is all about. I also seem to get wrapped up in it anyway.

I have a really hard time thinking about what I want to teach Lilia about Christmas. Obviously there is the Christmas story, I don't mean Santa Clause, I mean Jesus' Birth. What about all the secular stuff. Santa is a resounding yes, we couldn't imagine her not knowing Santa. Christmas for me as a child was magical. The lights, the presents, the food, the company. Oh how I loved it. I want her to have that. Yet I don't want her to be drown in consumerism either aka greed.

I guess I have to find the balance for me.

This year I have put a lot of focus into shopping for Lilia, and getting it done early, so I can get the best price and enjoy the season.

I just want to say though, that still I struggle between drowning in the consumerist greed and resting in God's love.

Tell me I am not the only one who thinks this much about Christmas. It feels as if Christmas has become it's own God!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Help has Arrived

My mom came in late last night. I forgot how great it is to have her here. She has been in nonstop over the top baby mode. I read a full chapter of a book this morning with no interruptions. No pages got ripped. It has been fantastic. I know my writing has been very light lately. No worries I will hit you up with something remotely close to profound soon enough!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Reflection

In case you didn't catch it before, I love Thanksgiving. It's not about the food for me. It's about the low pressure of the holiday and getting to have a lot of my family here and visit with them. This year we were preparing for a smaller holiday. I must admit I was kind of feeling a little sad but thought I guess it is just proof that things really are changing. Yesterday I learned we would be joined by my sister and her boys. Today friends of theirs too! I am excited! It will remind me of how special Holidays felt when I was a kid. I was always so excited to have a house full of people I loved.

When I am surrounded by people I am less likely to reflect on those who aren't there. The people who we have lost over the years. There is my dad who I spent more Thanksgivings apart from then with. There is Tim who I can't help but think of every Thanksgiving, remembering his humble prayer the Thanksgiving right after September 11, 2001. "God let us be grateful for our table that is so full, when there are so many that are empty today." In case you didn't catch it he meant with so many missing a loved one. My dear Grammy, who would be so excited to see her family all together. She personally would be on the phone this week appealing to those who had other plans. I love the way she would get all dressed up and then cook. Her stories though always the same never got old. Even my crazy old Uncle Chuck who passed this year. Although his life wasn't perfect we shared a lot holidays together and I can muster a few good times with him. My grandfather who was always just quietly there with us.

Kira who is still living but has left possibly the largest hole in my heart. She is so close by and I can't see her. That is harder than grief after a death.

All these folks have left empty spaces in our hearts and at our table.

I think it is why I am working so hard to try and get us back together this holiday season. I know one day someone else is going to be missing. It is after all the cycle of life. Even my siblings and I will perish and our children will be left hopefully maintaining our traditions and living life together.

I just want to enjoy the time I get with all my siblings and their families.

Sometimes all the grief is a blessing, it helps me to remember what is important now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Johnny Rocket's & Trusting Your Gut

On Saturday, Paul and I stopped for lunch at Johnny Rocket's in the Monmouth Mall. It was kind of a splurge on lunch for us. Also a good way to avoid the food court. I am not going to lie their Orange Dreamsicle shake sign didn't hurt.

I was immediately unimpressed with our server. I just in my gut didn't like the way she looked at me. I did not comment on this or think much about it. We ate, felt rather duped by the way our order was taken. We order burgers, and the waitress asked fries or onion rings and I thought oh I don't know. She responded we can do half and half. Sure that works Paul ordered the same. Well guess what they didn't come with the meal and we dropped $6 on those sides. We could have lived with out them, or simply shared one plate full. We paid and left kind of unimpressed and annoyed.

You can imagine our frustration this morning when we noticed we were over charged a full $10 on our bill? Paul called to fix the situation. After I swore I would never patronize the establishment again. Much to his surprise at 9 am before the mall was open the General Manager answered the phone. He graciously took care of the billing error. Then explained that our waitress had been arrested for credit card fraud. He refunded our entire tip.

Now some thoughts, actually I feel that they should have refunded the whole purchase. Or at the very least offered an I am sorry gift certificate. In the end though at least the situation was fixed. Next thought I should have trusted my gut and paid with cash. I will no longer use my credit card or bank card for restaurant purchases. This was the third time we have had a billing problem.

Most shocking to me, we were the only people who had called about this problem. People seriously don't check their statements? Now we also need to call the detective who is handling the case. Our receipt is now evidence! I am thinking this is all pretty crazy.

Last thought, why didn't I trust my gut. I knew from the moment I saw our waitress that I didn't like her. We tipped generously as well! We also do. I wonder what made her think we would be good "victims"?

Then I have to take just a moment to wonder what was her motivation? Is she a sociopath? Just greedy? Does she have a little kid at home she is struggling to take care of? None of those thoughts justify the action, but I have to wonder which it was.

The Back Up Plan

So I decided over the weekend that if I get rejected from Seminary, I will become a baby factory and get a reality TV show.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Social Networking

Maybe I am a little late on this one. I have had facebook since you needed an actual college e-mail address to get an account. I have embraced the concept of social networking for sometime. However, I found this week I am finally using it to connect with people and network. So instead of just using it to keep in touch with far away friends and family

I have found myself connecting with circles of like minded people. People doing amazing work for the Kingdom of God. I have been meeting and communicating with lots of younger folks with a mindset like my own. It gives me great hope for the future.

After spending some time visiting Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary last month I found my self energized about the future of the church. Since then I have found myself doing many things out of character for me. Reaching out to people I have never met. Attending events I would have never considered. It's a good thing all around.

Now if only social networking was used like this all time!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


When I was a little girl I called my lower girl parts my tushy. Most people refer to the behind in this way. Imagine my surprise when one day my Aunt said she would spank my tushy!

Reflecting on this, I can't stop laughing.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What I have learned...

As I continue to wait for either an acceptance or rejection from LPTS; I have time on my hands to get a little anxious. My head takes me all over the place. Really, I mean it, from jobs, to bed spreads, to childcare, to Christmas. It is enough to make me go crazy. However I am trying really hard to just let it all go, after all I can not do a single thing until I have an answer then I can prepare for whatever comes next.

Here are some positive things I have found myself reflecting on. I have found since my birthday, there are some good things coming to me at this age. I am certain it has nothing to do with age at all really, but I will take note that it is happening for me at this age which is easing the pain just a little. I am really comfortable being me. I know that seems like how it should be all the time but it isn't how we are wired. We live in a world where we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. Even the way we speak says this about us, it is obvious through choice of words and tone if you feel like you are above or below someone else. That being said, it is hard to stop comparing and stop living up to other people's expectations.

Maybe I should share some examples, we visited dear friends this weekend. Normally when we leave from visiting them, I am very insecure about my parenting abilities. I would like to point out that this is not an insult to my friends. They are doing an amazing job with their daughters. I really respect the hard work they are doing in order to raise their children well. That is probably why I usually feel like I am doing something wrong when we part ways. However this time I was better with it. I felt confident in my abilities. My only real comparison thought was that I didn't have professional portraits done sooner with our daughter. That's pretty huge for me. Another example, I read blogs that are just brimming with commentary on theology. I get theology, actually I rather enjoy studying it. I found my thoughts wandering the other day to, I wish I wrote like this. Then the next thought, no I don't. That's not my role in theology. I am more of a hands on kind of girl. I like to be out there doing things because of my theology. Then I reflect on them. My writing is directly related to actions. I know it's different and it might not get my voice heard but that is my role. My role isn't academic reflection (although my life choices considered I will have to academically reflect). What I am saying is I am a doer and then a thinker, not a thinker and then a doer. Both by the way are important roles to have in God's kingdom.

I don't own a house, I am no where near owning a house. Right now though I am so glad I don't own a house, it gives me a lot more freedom. I just had to get past the fact that everyone in our go go go buy buy and buy some more consumerist society will likely take one look at my lack of home owner ship and count it against me. That's OK. I know this works for me, for now.

There is so much freedom to be found in accepting your most authentic self. Somehow over the past few weeks I have really been able to be in tune with what makes me, me. It is pretty awesome.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I think it is when we realize that we are simply mortal; we begin the search for meaning. If we are open to it, I believe we find God. Mortality is always there in the back of the mind like a faint bell off in the distance; once you hear it, it never goes away. When we are consumed by fear of the end rather than God's love, it gets ugly.

That was my train of thought this morning as I read a couple of blogs and thought to myself what sets people of faith apart. I should note that you can define God however you choice, it doesn't have to be the God I know.

Friday, November 5, 2010


The internet has brought us a lot of ease in our lives. We can keep in touch with friends. Social networking, need I say more. Online bill pay. Google to find simple answers. Maps. Phone numbers. The list goes on and on and on.

It also however provides a way to be anonymously mean and angry. This is what I don't like about the internet. It often gives forums to people to say anything thing they want. Things I don't think they would say with out the safe shield of the computer screen. Let's be honest who hasn't said something in a chat or e-mail that they wouldn't say in person? Even the best of us have done it.

There in lies the problem. Now I know I am going to get some slack for this example but whatever we all have guilty pleasures. I enjoy watching the show 19 kids and counting, featuring the Duggar family. I do not agree with them on many things. If you know me you know the fact that I wore a dress to my own wedding was a stretch for me. I cut my hair regularly. I have NO desire to have 19 children. Politically and religiously we are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Yet I am fascinated by the logistics it takes to "run" a family of this size. So a week ago I googled a recipe that I thought I may have seen on their show (I couldn't remember where I saw it.) I found whole pages and blogs dedicated to hating this family. This family who these people have never met. While I understand putting yourself out there you are going to get critics, this just seemed so well mean. First of all who has time on their hands to dedicate whole web pages to this? Second would this happen if there was no internet? People would just be like that is ridiculous maybe send some hate mail or CHANGE THE CHANEL.

The problem is it's not just celebrity and reality TV types this is happening to. Watch the news and see all the teenagers taking their own lives because of online bullying.

The problem is two part really have you ever met someone who takes everything that happens on the internet way too seriously? I have. Sometimes you want to say it's the internet, not real life. I have been guilty of this myself. Then the things people say that are so well just plain mean. The non-editing because of the anonymity is dangerous.

There is also the illusion of knowing someone. You read a blog, friend them on facebook or follow them on twitter where they tell you what they ate for lunch. You begin to feel like you know them but you have never even had a conversation with them. This is especially dangerous for younger folks I think.

Lastly, my favorite, people who believe everything they read on the internet is true. I could create a website teaching how the sky is actually red and people might believe it because it is on the web.

It's a dangerous cocktail. All too often becoming toxic.

Just a reflection. Your thoughts encouraged.

Paul and Peanut Butter

My dear Paul loves peanut butter. He probably eats it once a day. We buy the jumbo two packs from Costco because he goes through it quickly. He likes to put it on toast, crackers and once in a while I catch him just eating a little spoonful of it. Sometimes I hear him and I yell from the other room stop snitching the peanut butter. It has become kind of a joke around here. I tell him he is going to give some one with a peanut allergy a reaction because it is going to come out of his pores soon.

Anyhow what I find more amusing than his actual peanut butter consumption is how precise he is with taking it out of the jar. I took some pictures which hardly to it justice but you will get the idea. As you can see there is clearly no peanut butter waste in our house!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Last week I finished my application for Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (LPTS). It was a process to get done but it is done. Now I wait. Then I wait some more. This is all the norm when one sends an application to a school. I did check when we visited, they do work on rolling admissions so I do not have to wait until February or March to know if I have been accepted. However I don't know when word will come. It is a little nerve wracking. It brings up so many thoughts, mostly about moving.

I wanted to say though that I am starting to feel like myself again. I am feeling like I am going somewhere. That feels much better than the past two years where I felt kind of stuck. I have grand visions for the future. I guess I didn't know how much of a funk I was in until I came out of it. It feels good to be back.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I didn't plan on falling in love...

Me with Sweet Mirembe July 2008

Two years ago, when I lived my dream of traveling to Africa, I knew my heart would break while there. I was prepared as one can be for the broken heart that comes with a trip to Africa. I have said it before, but just in case you missed it. Africa takes a piece of you when you go there. What I didn't plan on was falling in love with a little girl who was dying. When I say falling in love I mean it. I can explain it no other way than it was of God. From the moment we met my heart was hers. It didn't hurt that her name means peace. The word I have tattooed on my foot.

My sweet Mirembe was just 4 years old then. She had just come into the home where we were staying, adopted by our friends Caleb and Rhita. My understanding is that she had been abandoned by her parents because she had sickle cell anemia. That hasn't stopped Caleb and Rhita from loving her. Mirembe and I couldn't communicate with each other verbally as she only understood a tribal language. She had a beautiful little head with shave hair. He eyes were beautiful but they held a wisdom I have never seen in such a young child. Her body was small for four I think even by African standards. To me she looked to be somewhere between 18 months and 2.

I tried to play with her all week. I bought her a little stuffed toy in the market because African children do not have toys. Sunday afternoon though I had the chance to spend the whole afternoon playing with her. Near the end of the day, I was hiding behind the couch and popping out at her, after about four times of this she let out this belly laugh. Laughter translates through any language barrier, just like the baby's cries I wrote about on the Africa blog. In that moment, we were in a thin place where we understood each other. Rhita came running from the kitchen, Becca you made her laugh. She hasn't laughed yet. It was a simple moment of joy for me the Mzungu lady from afar and this scared little girl in a brand new place.

Mirembe a few months ago.

I get updates about Mirembe regularly. I call her my African baby. It has been a roller coaster of emotions as she gets ill and recovers. Today we received word that Mirembe has taken a bad turn again. She has become paralized on her left side, she is also loosing her vision in her left eye and can only take liquids. She has had a CT Scan and it seems her brain is covered in lesions. I don't understand what this means. It seems though the the pairing of the words brain and lesion can't be good. I started sobbing and shaking as soon as I read the e-mail. I also tear up but this is not my normal reaction. I told Paul I needed to take a shower so Lilia didn't see me all upset. When I said my African baby is sick he knew what I meant. I sobbed so hard in the shower. It felt like I was punched in the gut. I got out and I still wasn't done, I was whimpering. I felt all shaky. I had to take a few minutes to calm myself down. That is why I am here writing.

Two years and an ocean apart this little girls still has my heart. She taught be something about myself. When I met her, Paul and I were starting to accept that we most likely wouldn't have a biological child. The moment I saw Mirembe I knew I could love a child with a deep motherly love no matter how they came into the world. If she hadn't already been adopted and it weren't for those pesky legalities, I probably would have brought her with me. I have always had a gift of loving children and understanding them. At that moment though I knew that adopted children were in my future because I was aware of the depth of love in my soul. I have in some ways adopted Mirembe at least in my heart.

I can tell you this all was nothing less than being of God. Her laugh stays with me, her eyes cut through me. Her love quiets my soul. I don't know if she remembers me but I will never forget her.
Mirembe today.

Please join me in lifting her up to God today as well as Caleb and Rhita.

I should add that in keeping with the original intention of gratitude on this blog. I am so grateful for our week together. Even more so for our Sunday afternoon and that moment of laughter. Some of the most precious moments of my life.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Outgrowing the toy store!

Say it isn't so. Today we took our eldest nephew Colt to the toy store. He is turning 12 next week. He called me this morning and asked to hang out with me and the gang because he was bored. So he was excited to learn we would be going to Toys R Us so I could get a price adjustment. Can I come with you? Sure. What he didn't know was this morning when Uncle Paul went the store he also acquired a fifty dollar bill. His birthday gift. As he gets older I lean toward gift cards but I thought he would love to have that big bill in his hand. So while Paul handled our price adjustment, I followed him to the "boy" section. He looked at a lot of things. He didn't get really excited about anything though. He actually didn't even go into the video game section. Odd, right?

Say it isn't so, but I think he is outgrowing the toy store! He was my very first little dude this can't be happening! We left and he still had almost all of his money. All he wanted were a few cars. So he is saving the rest for a trip he is going on next week.

What I found most interesting was as he looked at things he wanted to buy things for his nephew and his sister. I told him I thought that was very nice but he should spend his money on him because it was after all his birthday. That's the funny thing, he is a handful at times. However if you can get past that, he is the most caring, compassionate, thoughtful boy.

Sigh, why does he have to grow up so fast?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Funny

Becca: " I want to live in Kampala for 6 months - 1 year."
Paul: "OK"
Becca: "I think I want to live in Italy for awhile."
Paul: "OK"
Becca: "I think I would like to live in a cabin in the woods for awhile."
Paul: "Alright."
Becca: "I think I want to live on a farm."
Paul: " Sounds Good."
Becca: "I think I want to live in a beach house for a year."
Paul: "Don't you want to just visit anywhere? Maybe you should have a show about all the places you live for a year."

Dive in

OK but the truth is although I am an avid swimmer and underwater gymnast I just can't dive. I have tried for years and years to learn how to dive. I still can't do it. I look like some sort of leaping creature landing on my face or belly.

So yesterday when I accidentally hit submit on my graduate school application it felt like jumping in an ice cold pool in May. I can't say I dove in because I don't know how to dive. I know the application was complete I looked it over multiple times as did Paul. I was having trouble uploading my essays and I hit submit not save. It was sent with out the essays. Which I was able to quickly remedy.

It just all felt so sudden. I felt panicked because I wasn't quite ready to hit submit. I guess in the end it was like ripping off a band aid. Did it quick so it hurts less. I hope that one day I will be writing on here about how hysterical that moment was. Today though I am still feeling like I have just jumped into a cold pool.

I am sure just as my anxiety calms I will get some sort of acceptance or rejection. Those are to be dealt with later.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Non-blog

I am so cranky and moody today that I am abstaining from blogging. I fear it would be nasty and bitter and ridiculous all wrapped up in one. What has me in this mood you ask? Nothing, your guess is as good as mine. Little miss has not only been sleeping she has been sleeping well. Waking up and self soothing and last week this was my biggest stress. She even is eating again and going to bed with out being held. So it isn't that. IDK so I will let it go.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

From the Past

Today a series of random things which I can not even recall in their entirety led me down a path of thought, while Paul was in the food store making use of the ATM. That seems like a silly detail I know but it is integral to my thought pattern or path or what ever you like to call it.

First though this is a warning. There are certain parts of my life I just don't talk about ever. Things you likely don't know unless you grew up with me or you are Paul. I know this is heartbreaking for me to write and I know that for many of my compassionate readers it might be equally hard to stomach so here is your chance to click on by this post. Also I ask that you save you don't judge my mother. She was in a terribly hard place and had suffered several stressful events. Ultimately she was trying to do what any parent would do, what was best for her kids. I do not harbor anger, so you shouldn't either.

In case for some strange reason you do not know about my father's illness, here is the short version, one day when I was 8 he went into a coma after being misdiagnosed by numerous Doctors. He was in that coma for 8 days suffering many mini strokes and I believe some hear failure. His survival was the first of its kind for the disease he was fighting. No one had survived past the coma. Note my shiny happy optomist here, this means our loss and his suffering lead to amazing medical progress. That means there is some little girl out there that still has her dad or mom. I digress, he had serious brain damage and had to relearn everything but speech. Half his body was was near paralysis and wouldn't ever recover fully. After a year of living in hospitals and rehab he came home on December the 23 just in time for Christmas. A glorious memory. Dale my youngest brother and I were excited out of our skin.

Eventually, with in a year or so, my dad was sent to live the remaining 9 years of his life in a nursing home. (He fell a lot and was violent from his medications.) Well many nursing homes, he got moved around a lot. We went to visit him about twice a year. Christmas and his birthday if we were lucky. Otherwise he stayed day in and day out in his room with his roommate waiting for the day he could come home.

Dale and I missed him like crazy. I spent my days planning how I would get a job and move him out of which ever nasty home he was in at the time. I would take care of him so he didn't have to be alone. When I started driving I went once a week to have dinner with him. I ended up spending a good portion of the money I made at my first job on food for him because he was always hungry. He was legally blind and barely had control of his hands at this point. They would serve him peas with a fork. I sobbed the night I saw that. Once a week I bought him things like Pizza, Subs, McDonalds, Ice Cream and his very favorite, Rodeo Cheeseburgers from BK. Until I moved away to college this was our ritual every week. That same year I took him Christmas shopping with my brother Dale. At the same shopping center I was waiting for Paul in today.

I started thinking about how everyone forgot my dad after two years. Everyone meaning all the adults around us. His family, his friends, his wife and step kids. They all stopped going to see him because it was simply too hard. I should say there were a handful that still visited occasionally as in a few times a year. I believe right until the end my one Uncle took him out a couple times a year. Anyhow, I thought of how everyday he woke up and was stuck in that place unable to go anywhere unable to live life. He had the mentality of a twelve year old but I know he missed terribly the outside world. I was overwhelmed thinking about this today. I was also angry. How could every one have just moved on? How could they let someone they loved so dearly just wither and die like that?

Like I said I dreamed of busting him out of there from the time I was little. I remember one time Dale riding his bike nearly 7 miles to go visit because no one would drive him. So when I got home today and was nearly in tears about how horrible that last ten years of my father's life must have been, I texted Dale. I knew if anyone understood what I was feeling he would and he did, and I think it is the most emotion we have exchanged in a long time. We both hate the way it ended. We were kids though and there wasn't much we could do, I think that is the only reason I can live with myself.

So to my dad where ever you are. I hope you know how much we hated that. How much we loved you and wanted you home. Probably as much as you loved us. We tried so hard to get you back. We understood you never meant to harm us or hurt us. I am so sorry everyone walked away and left you to live in that hell. Dale and I well we turned out alright. If nothing else it has made me the compassionate woman I am today. Your suffering taught me how to feel and how to do what I could. I firmly believe that there are less people suffering in the world because of what I witnessed. It has stayed with me and inspired me to ease suffering in anyway I can. It has helped me to see the other side and put myself in the others shoes. I know this didn't make your suffering any less. Part of me hopes that you didn't know what was going on but in my heart I know you did. I was just a kid and you know that. I am sorry Dad that you had to live like that and die like that. We think of you often.

I don't know what was best for us, I think my mom made a mistake but I also understand what she was trying to protect us from. She wanted us to have normal childhoods. At least I have Dale, at least cancer didn't take him away from me. Honestly even though he is so far away on the "left" coast, he is the only one who can fully understand this.

If you have made it this far, thanks for sharing in the journey.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I have a Christmas blog brewing. I know it is so early to think of such things but I have a lot of things to say. Just not right now. So check back soon to see what I have to say about Christmas, gifts, why you celebrate and my own dilemmas.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Birthday Prayer

I thank you God for this day. I thank you for this life you have given me. I pray that I will use it to do your work, to create change in the world. To leave the world just a little better then when I arrived. I am so grateful for the many opportunities of my life thus far and will embrace the one's yet to come. I will not dwell today on my age and life gone by. I will rest gratefully knowing I am simply blessed. I have purpose and my gift is a life to use it. I am ready to embrace the future with your guidance God. So often we get stuck in the Earthly trappings of the anniversary of our births. Let me let the Earthly things float peacefully away and rest in my knowing your purpose and will.

May you hear the many quiet prayers of my heart.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Doubt & Fear

A few nights ago in the middle of the night when Lilia woke us all up with more of her antics doubt came rushing into my being uninvited of course. Slyly and slowly fear crept in behind him. Lucky for me their lover the past wasn't with them and hasn't shown up. I can't seem to shake them. I don't know how they got here in the first place. I certainly didn't invite them. I wonder if they had been knocking all along and my late night stupor allowed the vulnerability to let them in. Or maybe it was that I was just emotional and the feelings weren't real. I doubt that possibility because they have stuck with me so long. The are just moments away from paralyzing me.

Thoughts are flooding in. How will you do this? You can barely handle what's on your plate now. It's so much reading. It's so much work. Why bother even finishing the application? Maybe you just aren't cut out for this? What if you fail, again? (There is a little bit of past.) What if you just aren't good enough? What if you aren't smart enough? They are endless in the pestering.

I am sending you a message doubt and fear... with all due respect and there isn't much due, SHUT UP! I know with every fiber of my being that I can do anything I really put my mind to. I know that this call is of God and not me. I know that I can accept God's challenges and grow. So doubt and fear don't get comfortable here because I will send you packing when you don't see it coming.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Excited (to be scheming)

It's a double blog day. I am very excited to be scheming about a little something we will call the college application party. Yep Yep. Since my fellow partier is a regular reader of my blog I can't go into details but I think we are going to have a great time. My party wheels are a turning.

In other party news I really want to have a pumpkin decorating contest but I don't think any one will come. Some people just don't understand the beauty of crafting and eating and drinking together. Phhhhssssssshhhhhh I will just decorate away!


We all do it. We someone we don't even know and our mind races with judgment. We pull our purses a little closer or walk a little faster sometimes. Maybe sometimes it's just instinct which is probably a good thing. We need to be intuitive when we could be in harms way. However, if you are anything like me you probably do it with out even noticing. I wonder how many of my judgments have denied me the chance at a good friendship?

For me a lot has to do with how people dress. I am not a fashionista. I am not looking for some name brand label. I judge nearly everyone I see that dresses like a thug. That is just one judgment I make. Usually in my head I think seriously, how is any one every going to take you seriously if you dress like that. Or you have a kid grow up you are too old to have your pants circling your thighs rather than your behind.

There are plenty of others too. I guess my point is I wonder what would happen if I suspended judgment? What if everyone did? Would the world be a better place?

I guess I am just reflecting on how easily those judgments come for me. I know my faith calls me to something different. So just some thoughts. Share yours.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I give in...

So next week. I turn 30. I have been trying to ignore this fact for a very long time. I have been delaying even acknowledging that this will occur. I kept telling myself a few more months. Honestly though this is the first time I really care about my age. My 20s have been good to me. They have brought, learning and adventure and love. They have brought lots of negative stuff but we can let that just slip away into the night.

Over the course of time I thought I would be a lot of things by the time I was 30. I am not many of them and for the most part I am OK with that. For the most part. There are moments when I have regrets but then again why get caught up in that. Every action has a consequence right? So if I made different decisions I wouldn't be where I am right now. Where I am right now is alright. It's not ideal but then again what is? If I had the house, career and three kids I thought I would have I am not so sure I would have found satisfaction. I have learned that life is so much more than material things and prestige. How I wish I could teach that to other people. I digress.

I guess what I am saying is that even though I am not who I thought I would be, even though there are disappointments and set backs. I am glad it has turned out how it has thus far. That is a hard thing for me. Sometimes I get a little too wrapped up in what should have been. Sometimes I get a little too wrapped up in the day to day. Sometimes I think I am beyond my years in searching for meaning in this thing we call life. It drives me batty when people just live in the daily grind, work, kids, housework, bills. Really people there is so much more to it than that. I promise there is.

When I was 20 if you had told me the day would come when I was ok with my "mistakes" I would have scoffed at you. That is the difference a decade of living makes. So I am left with this wild curiosity of what the next decade will bring. Maybe it will bring some of the things I thought this decade would have brought, maybe it won't I guess it's alright anyway you look at it. It's that whole trusting God thing.

So with so many positive things to say about a decade of living why then am I whining about this new one. Maybe it's because I don't feel ready. I feel like there are still things I need to finish up which I know is a direct contradiction to my previous it's alright statement. That's how it goes inside my head though. Part of me has this urge to run out and do something incredibly immature as a way of kissing my 20s goodbye. Maybe that's it... your 30s there is no denying you are a grown up and you should have your shit together. Your 20s are more of a grace period. Or maybe it's my own struggle with mortality. Sometimes I feel it, mortality, like a clock ticking loudly from another room. That's a lesson I learned well before my 20s though. Is that what makes me different? I am not sure. All I know is that when compared to my peers I am different. Different sorts of things matter to me and it's always been that way.

Hmmm,,,, Maybe then my 30s (choke gasp gag turns purple) will be about not making goals or at least too many goals. Maybe it will be about following God. Maybe it is about not caring much about being different. All I know is I want to live this one life to the fullest. I want to change the world along the way. I want to get my little voice heard. I want to be anything but ordinary. I want to leave my mark here. I do NOT want to wake up 30 years from now on the eve of my 60th birthday regretting things because I have lead an ordinary life. I mean I only get one I ought to make it count.

When I started writing this piece I was stuck on how much I don't have it together. Now though upon further reflection, I changed my mind I do have it together. It just isn't in the traditional sense of having it together. In this very moment I do not care that I do not own a home. Owning a home would tie me down. Maybe home ownership just isn't for me. It really does allow for more opportunities at times.

I have spent hours recently trying to figure out how many kids we should have and how they should come into the world. I am resolving right here to letting that go. God will know and then I will know exactly what is right. Ha God already knows I am pretty sure.

OK deep breathe and it's going to be OK. I'm going to look forward with anticipation of all the new memories that my 30s will bring. The experiences, and adventures. I am going to trust God's plan and stop making so many of my own.

My goals for my 30s will be simple.
1. Finish Master's Degree
2. Pay off all school related debt.
3. Live everyday to the fullest.
4. Trust God on the journey.
5. Make healthy decisions for my body.

Upon rereading this I noticed something. Most of your life is lived in your adult years. I am sure that is on purpose. So maybe just maybe the part of my life where I act like a child is over. Maybe I have more responsibility now but I still get to live and love. Maybe that's the difference some people stop living when they hit adult hood. I can still live just in a more mature sort of way.

But seriously I feel old but thirty here I come. I am not running at you with my arms wide open though. I am kind of kicking and screaming and saying no I don't want to like a toddler about to get a shot. Then I am sure it won't be that bad just like your mother told you real quick just a pinch. I guess what really matters is how I react to that pinch do I cry hysterical or do I suck it up and get on with my day.