Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Other Side of Christmas

Our nativities are beautiful.

Even when we briefly lament that there was "no room for them in the inn" and that Jesus had to be born in a stable, our nativities are clean, peaceful, idyllic. We imagine the animals keeping watch and the wonder as the shepherds come. We think of little woolly lambs.

But it probably wasn't clean. Because stables smell, we can assume it was smelly. Joseph was probably frantic trying to make a bed in the straw and figure out how he was going to deliver the baby when that was usually left to other women. There were probably bugs.

I don't share that to ruin all nativities for you. We can go back to those pristine images in a bit, but bear with me for a moment.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Here is a bit of perspective on this Thanksgiving day! It's reprinted from Comapssion International and was written by Tim Glenn. The link is to the actual post on their site.

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Who are the Joneses we’re trying to keep up with these days?

Like many Americans, we sometimes find ourselves comparing our lives to those of others. And most often, we look at those who make more and have more than we do.

As the old adage says, we look to “the Joneses.”

But who are the Joneses really?

Consider this: If you make $43,000 a year, you’re in the top 12% of earners in the world.

That’s right. The world.

So maybe we should flip this whole Jones thing over.

Eighty-eight percent of the world is comparing itself to you … and me. WE are “the Joneses” to 88 percent of people on this planet. And yet, where do we most often look for comparison? The other 11 percent.

I’m not saying we should compare at all. We shouldn’t. Life is about much more than material things. But, just for a moment, let’s entertain this thought of keeping up with the proverbial family.

  • If you make more than $2 a day, you are the Joneses to 1.2 billion people.
  • If you have a warm bed to sleep in at night, you are the Joneses to the billions who are sleeping on cold, hard ground in makeshift huts and tents.
  • If you drive a car to work every day, your license plate might as well read “RICH” to the billions who have to walk miles just to get access to clean water, medical care, education or even a food source.
  • If you finished high school, you might as well be “Dr. Jones” to those who have no chance of getting an education.
  • If you eat three full meals a day, Jones. Jones. Jones.

So should I run out the front door yelling, “I’m rich! I’m rich!” as if I just won the lottery? Probably not. But that’s what the rest of the world may think.

Just a little perspective.

Courtesy of Compassion International:


Monday, November 15, 2010

It Matters to the One

I learned recently of a person where I work who has been in the hospital for several weeks with an aneurysm. He is out of benefit time and has a wife, two small children, and a baby on the way. Today they had a bake sale for him. (I made peanut butter - oatmeal -- chocolate chunk cookies.) But as I was baking, I just had to sigh. Will cookies really make that much difference? How can a bake sale replace lost wages or pay all the bills.

Can it take care of all the needs? Probably not, but . . . .

I looked at my phone. It has a picture on it of a starfish. The reason I put that on was a story I heard long ago about starfish being washed up on a beach during a storm. They littered the beach. A child was throwing the starfish back into the ocean. A man came up and chided the child, "That doesn't make a difference. You will never be able to throw them all back in."

I imagine the child's response as she threw another starfish as far as she could. "No. But it matters to the one."

I put that on my phone to remind myself that I may not make a huge difference in the world, but I can impact those around me.

And baking cookies may not answer all the problems, but it matters even if it simply means that someone cares.

And I am going to throw another starfish now and ask you to pray for Josh and his family. Pray of healing, pray for God to sustain them financially, emotionally, spiritually, and pray for hope.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Trust the Pattern

“k3 p2 sm k3 p2 pick up 5″ — so goes a knitting pattern.

My mom taught each of us girls to knit when I was about 10. However, the extent of it was one doll blanket. In college, I spent a semester in England and a woman who owned a wool shop came in and gave us free lessons. I managed a couple of sweaters that semester. However, after coming back to the states, I pretty much stuck with baby blankets. I didn’t trust myself to be able to figure out a pattern on my own.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Please Help

If you've hung out around me very long, you know I have a passion for kids. I especially want to help children without a voice of their own. To that end, I sponsor 2 Compassion International kids -- Kayirangwa and Margarita.

Christmas is coming and in the last two day I've read 2 posts from Compassion International and Christmas for Compassion kids. Some kids, like Kayirangwa and Margarita have sponsors like me. They will get presents and a letter. Unsponsored kids will still get something from people who give to the Christmas fund but they won't get a letter. This is hard for them to understand.

Please read these two links: Christmas for unsponsored kids and How you can help!

Basically, you have the opportunity to send a letter to an unsponsored child and let them know why God loves them.

I'm going to turn it into a give away of a Christmas book for kids with a grown up theme (A Tale of Three Trees). If you participate a card (follow the directions in the second link), leave a comment below and say "I wrote!". December 1st, I'll select a winner. Be sure to leave an email too so I can contact you. (If you write more than once, I'll enter you more than once! Let me know how many you send.)

Help me out. If you have a blog could you post a link to this post or tweet it or facebook it etc.? You will be my hero.

Wouldn't it be great if the letters were like the loaves and fishes with more left over than what they started with?


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Try Again Tomorrow

Honestly, my day job is pretty dull. We deal with facts and figures and land records and such. But occasionally, something happens to spice it up. Today was one of those days. A gentleman we have dealt with before -- in situations that were equally dizzying -- came in again today. At times he has been combative enough that my boss and I have told everyone else not to engage with him, but to let us do the talking. My boss was at lunch, so it fell to me. Sigh.

He wanted to see my boss and wanted to have a document recorded. I explained the process and that it wouldn't get recorded today. He pointed out that I was talking about public documents. Yes, I was. He went on to assure me that my boss knew what this was about (I later confirmed he didn't) and that he would personally record it by hand (everything in the office is now by computer). He then told me that even though I was management that I probably wasn't privy to the information and that the document would be recorded in a secret book and that the office of the governor was watching this particular document.

I never did get to see the doc. I ended up having to have my boss call him when he got back.

Of course the staff buzzed about it afterwards and through out words like conspiracy theory and crazy! We all laughed a bit.

Yes, the irrationality of the comments and the requests make us shake our heads. However, I wonder if I could be a touch more sensitive. Maybe kind is the right word. Part way through, I think I began to dismiss him. While it is easy to do, it isn't necessarily right. No, I cannot stand for hours discussing secret books that I do not apparently have clearance for, but I can listen attentively for 15 minutes and see if there is any way I can easy his anxiety or address a valid concern.

I get a chance to try again tomorrow. Apparently he is coming in to meet with my boss. So, we will see if I can do a better job, be a bit more compassionate.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Grace Stops Violence and Heals the Wounds of History

I got this in my email and wanted to share it. Knowing that Christ can heal is what led me to select a child from Rwanda. Kayirangwa wouldn't have been born during the genocide, but her parents would have been. I do not know what side they were on, but I don't think it matters. Jesus blood covers it all.

Grace Stops Violence and Heals the Wounds of History


Monday, October 25, 2010

Internet Cafe Giveaway

Hi All --

I wanted to pass along information about a giveaway this week. Check it out!

We here at the cafe want to help you during this glorious season to fall into Jesus and experience His love like never before. How, you ask, are we going to do this? Oh, my friends…we have some fabulous blessings in store for you. From clothing, to jewelry, to books, to movies, to music, we have treasures galore that will help you to fall into your sweet Jesus more.

This year our “Fall into Jesus” giveaway is a BLESSING indeed! “Fall” Into Jesus Giveaway runs from today, October 25, 2010 through Thursday, October 28, 2010. Two winners will be selected at random and announced on Friday, October 29, 2010.

Head on over to the Internet Café find out how you can enter for your chance to win one of two fabulous giveaway bundles.

Click on this graphic:


Monday, October 18, 2010

Somebody Special

Recently, I listened to a co-worker talk about an event he had helped with. He assisted with the meet-and-greet portion of the event and was thrilled when he kept it running on time. He explained that the most people wanted a word or longer with the celebrity but he had them ushered out the moment their picture was snapped.

Except for the important people, that is. These he ushered up to the celebrity and stated who they were, noting their prominence. While they weren't given a great length of time, they were given time where the average person was not.

Honestly, part of me bristled at this. What made these people more important, that they deserved a conversation rather than just a flash of a camera? True, events are things that need to be kept on schedule. But I hate it that we live in a world where money and power and fame denote importance that the average person is not likely to achieve.

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hope Isn't Flat

This weekend, I sent my Christmas gifts to my Compassion kids. Okay, part of them. I sent the money that Compassion International will use to buy my two girls and the other Compassion kids Christmas gifts. But there is that yearning to send a bit more.

I've actually started working on cross-stitched bookmarks with their names on them. They are simple and flat. Flat is the key ingredient when mailing a gift to a Compassion child.

I also found myself wandering in a craft store today wondering what other flat things I might send. I already send stickers and coloring pages. I just so wish I could send big boxes of things for them to unwrap.

I didn't find anymore flat ideas. The bookmarks and the things that Compassion picks out will have to suffice. But my search got me to thinking about that McDonald's kid's meal commercial. It says that hope is in the box and all the kids keep looking for it and saying that they don't see it. The gist is that a little money goes to McDonald's charities for every kid meal that is purchased.

Hope isn't in the box. Hope isn't in the envelope. It isn't even in the carefully cross-stitched bookmarks I am making. Hope is in being released from poverty. It is coming to know Jesus. It is knowing that someone on the other side of the world is loving you and praying for you.

The world isn't flat and neither is hope. Hope is three dimensional and it sets the captivates free.

Still, I find myself wishing I could send those packages. One of my dear ones, keeps writing and asking me to come. I wish I could. I think. Honestly, I'm not much of a traveler and making my way to Rwanda sounds daunting. It isn't a country that has ever even been on my someday travel list. But I would love to meet Kayirngwa. I've sponsored her for 3 1/2 years now. What a gift it would be to meet her! But Rwanda is several thousand dollars and miles away. Still, it is something to pray about. Because hope isn't flat.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mystery Solved

I'm not always good about putting things away where they go, however, since towels and hot pads have been coming up missing, I've really worked at putting them in the drawer so I will have them when I need them. Apparently, Mali has figured out how to get at them. I got her in the act.

I knew both cats opened the bottom drawer where I keep foil, etc. Now, I know that they can get behind the drawers and crawl up one!


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hadley Rose

I had wanted a puppy for awhile but I wasn't sure how I would work it into my busy schedule. I should have known with my soft spot for all things furry that just looking at her would mean me taking her home. Sure enough, that is exactly what happened. One look at those big brown eyes and my heart melted.

Her name was Harley, but I couldn't see calling a girl Harley. I didn't want to confuse her and wasn't partial to Haley. I'm not sure where I had heard it before, but I decided to go with Hadley. it seemed close enough as well as different enough from Harley. Without thinking about it, I found myself adding Rose to it. Now, if I am in another room and call "Hadley Rose," she is about 80% sure to come.

So, a year and a half ago, when Hadley was 6 months home she came home with me to my cats dismay. (Though honestly, I think they do fairly well together.) She was sweet from the get go. Maybe that is to compensate for all the things she gets into!

One of her favorite things is cat food. However, it isn't good for her or the cats. They need to eat too and she would woof it all down. I've finally resorted to putting it on top of three storage bins. It was just on two, but she managed to climb them. This was taken today. Yes, she still tries and I'm waiting to see her make it!

Hadley Rose is a very friendly dog with people and other dogs. If we go on a walk and pass people on the porch, she whines to go and visit because everyone needs to rub her belly.

She is a bit of an alpha dog with other dogs -- even ones bigger than her. She doesn't put up with much, but she is also usually up for a game of chase and will run and run and run when we are at the dog park.

She runs so fast that her ears fly and I have expect her to fly too!

A year and a half into this adventure of dog owning, in spite of the items that have been chewed on or torn or gotten into etc, I am thrilled with the companionship and love.

Happy 2nd birthday Hadley Rose!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Have We Risen Or Fallen?

September 9, 2001

What do you remember?

I remember that I was in my counseling internship that morning. I was in with a client. I heard about the attacks as I said, "Goodbye" to one and took my next one in. I didn't realize the scope of things until I went to lunch later that day and heard about the Pentagon as well as the other flight that went down. Even then, I did not have TV access until I got home after 9:00PM. By then, the gas prices had skyrocketed. Everyone was frazzled -- worried about loved ones who could not be reached because they were in the New York area or simply because the phone systems were overwhelmed by callers. So, at 9:00 I flipped on the TV. Even with everything I had picked up during the day, the images of the twin towers burning was seared into my brain.

I remember the days and weeks after wards, life was a mishmash of events. I remember the dismay when I saw the footage of crowds in other nations cheering that the great United States had received such a blow. I remember the sense of no longer feeling safe from terrorism simply because I lived in the United States. I remember wondering what the aftermath would be -- how long would we have terrorist threat levels?

But I also remember the rallying cry, "Let's roll" when the passengers of the third plane overtook the hijackers, insuring their death, rather than letting the plane reach it's firery destination and take out more lives. I remember the men and women who rushed into help others. I remember the blood drives that helped people states away feel as if they were contributing.

There is a lot of controversy about a mosque near ground zero and even more angst raised by the pastor in Florida who threatened to burn the Quran. While he has said that he won't do this tomorrow, the threat of it caused riots in Afghanistan that left several dead.

I know I don't agree with burning the Quran. I honestly don't know what I think about a Mosque near ground zero. But I do have a question, have we risen or fallen since 9/11? We will never be the people we were before, but are we better or worse? I don't mean economically or even in terms of safety. Do we have more character? Are we more resilient? Do we have more compassion when we hear of terrorist attacks in other countries because we know what it feels like to have fellow Americans cruelly slaughtered?

Have we risen out of the ashes or have we fallen beneath the weight of things that transpired -- not just as a nation but as individuals?


Friday, September 10, 2010

Just Like Her Father

I came across some old pictures of my nieces and nephew. They were ones when my sister's youngest was five or six. I remember showing them to people and having them proclaim, "She looks so much like you!" That shouldn't be a surprise as we are identical twins. But I remember liking the fact that people could see me in her.

It seems a pretty common thing for new parents, relatives, and friends to look at a baby and say, "She's got your eyes" or "He has his father's chin." As the child gets older, people might say, "She has her mother's stubborn streak" or "His father's sense of humor."

Just recognizing how thrilled I was to have people say she looked like me makes me wonder how thrilled God is when we look like Him.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Flying Blind

I have a job and half.

My part time job is at one of the bookstores in town. You may have noticed that e-readers (electronic hand held readers) are multiplying. My managers have discovered that I have knack for promoting ours. I'm not sure how that happened or why as my approach is generally a soft sell. But it is what it is.

My store is really promoting that one of the things that sets us apart is US! We will completely set up the device before you leave the store so you walk out reading. We also encourage people to ask questions. We want it to be a great purchase.

The odd thing is that I am becoming a "techie" in terms of our device. Seriously. I've never considered myself one in the past and I'm still getting used to this strange idea. Most technical "expertise" in my life is pure luck.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fixing What Can Be Fixed

I am not particularly patient at times. So, in some ways it seems odd that after years of not really knitting, I've picked it back up again. My mom taught us to knit when we were about 10. We each made one doll blanket. I spent a semester in England and a woman who owned a yarn shop gave free lessons. Of course, we all bought our yarn from her. I made two sweaters that semester. After that, I really just made baby blankets -- the same pattern over and over.

Recently, I decided to try a different baby blanket pattern. Then, at the bookstore, I ran into a woman who told me about a yarn shop downtown -- right across the street from where I work. I started going on my lunch hour. This summer I've made two vests and one sweater.

I was working on the sweater -- short sleeved with lace. I got part way down and found that I had made an error. I kept going for a bit, thinking I might be able to somehow hide the error. But every time I looked at my project, the error jumped out at me.

A gal at the yarn shop has helped me out on several things. I really wanted her help in ripping out my work and getting the stitches put back on. But it didn't quite work out. Our schedules didn't mesh. I decided to try it myself.

Looking at the finished project, I am so glad I took the risk of pulling out those rows to fix it. Yes, it was nerve racking wondering if I would end up needing to pull the whole thing out and start all over again. I wonder now if I would have really worn my hard work if I hadn't gone back to fix it. Even if it was disguised (though I still can't think of how I would have done that), I would have known it was there. But looking at this now, I think I will get a lot of wear and enjoyment out of it.

It has made me think about other things in life. Are there things I am afraid to rip out among relationships because I might have to start over or not get all the stitches on? I think there are. But, I wonder if the work and effort might be worth it rather than covering up the mistake.

Can you think of something you need to go back and fix?


Friday, July 16, 2010

Sometimes I Want to Choose Pigs

It's one of those stories in the Bible that you may remember with little prompting. Jesus had traveled across the lake to Gerasenes (Mark 5:1-20). He and the disciples are greeted by a demon-possessed man who lived among the tombs. The towns people had tried to bind him with chains, but he broke free. The demons drove him to cut himself with stones.

When the demons saw Jesus they knew who he was and they made the man kneel and cried out asking why Jesus had come to torture them. The demons were fearful of being sent away. My assumption is that they feared no longer having anyone to torture. They came upon the idea of Jesus sending them into a herd of nearby pigs. Jesus complied. But there nature was destruction and they drove those two thousand pigs off a cliff and into the lake to drown.

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