About Me

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My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Especially For Scott

So, ya wanna know about U2? Well, here we go. Pay attention now. There will be a quiz.

Yes, Bono, that's BAHH-NO, not BONE-NO, is the lead singer of U2 but Bono is not his real name. Paul Hewson is his real name. He has been married to Ali Hewson (short for Allison) for 24?? years (someone like Barbara may correct me).

You probaby want to know, "Why does Bono always wear sunglasses? Well, he has said there are a few reasons, (1) an allergy that makes his eyes red, (2) privacy, and (3) vanity. At least he's honest.

He has excellent taste in dogs being the owner of 2 German Shepherds - a breed that is my favorite.

He is almost as well known as an activist as he is for being a rock star. The causes closest to his heart are the desperate needs in Africa where 8,500 people contract HIV/AIDS - every day! And where 6, 600 people die of AIDS - every day! And where 2,800 children die of Malaria - every day! And where 300 million people live on less than $1 a day! You can read more about these causes and his activism for them at DATA. You can also hear him give a beautiful message about it on Youtube by clicking here. And you may read his message which could pass for a good sermon at the National Prayer Breakfast here.

The Edge. No, The Edge is not his real name. His real name is Dave Evans. I do not know and have no t been able to find out why he wears a hat all the time. Maybe baldness bothers him or maybe he just likes hats. I imagine it's the latter because even when he had really long hair he still wore hats all the time.

He has recently been involved in raising money for some causes of his own - Music Rising which helped the musicians in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

He almost always wears a t-shirt with some sort of Christian symbol on it such as the nubmer 7.

Larry Mullen Jr. He is the drummer and is the one who originally started the band by placing an add on a bulletin board -- something U2 fans will forever be grateful for. In fact, he has said that even though everyone else knows them as U2, the bands name is really "The Larry Mullen Band". He also has great taste in dogs being the proud owner of a couple of Labadors and has thanked his dogs on previous albums. (we have a black lab too)

Adam Clayton plays bass. He has unfortunately been the one in the band to have problems with drugs and alcohol and has had to deal with those problems publically. And he has dealt with them well - not by merely "not drinking" but by facing head on the emotional issues that helped to bring his addictions about. Here is a quote from him on the matter,

"I am one of those characters that has an addictive personality. And it's an emotional problem as much as it is a physical problem and I had to start dealing with that. And that's the hard road, figuring out the psychology of it. The avoiding substances of any kind is hard but, okay, it's not that hard. It's facing the devil inside you, that's the tricky bit."

You probably also want to know about Bono and Edge's nicknames .....

Bono, which is a shortened version of Bono Vox, his original nickname, got the name through a group of friends who were known as the Lypton Village. The name, which means "good voice" in Latin, was the name of a hearing aid shop in Dublin. Some reports say Edge was named by Bono because Dave was always on the fringe of things. Other stories suggest Bono gave him the name because of the sharp lines and angles of his face when he was a teenager.

This is only a small tip of the iceberg of info about the most remarkable band known as U2. Any other questions??

Friday, December 29, 2006

I Need a New Word

It occurs to me that as I am writing about what I'm learning from my experiences with mission trips, I really need a new word to replace "missions". I have a feeling that my defination of missions and the typical Christian's defination of missions are probably pretty different.

I imagine that most Christians would define missions as going to another place for the purpose of sharing the gospel and converting people to Christianity.

That is not my defination. I'm not opposed to that because I do believe that God works in many different ways and that approach has clearly worked in some cases.

I can't say for certain if it was the goal of the other trips I've been on (Romainia, Haiti) but the goal of the Pine Ridge trips has never been to convert people. Only on one occasion did we even attempt to share the story of Jesus and that was after we had been there for a few years.

For me (and I hope our group) witnessing to people is not our goal. Not that we won't do it if given a clear opportunity, but it's just not our main goal. Our goal isn't even charity or giving to the "poor" although we do give each child a backpack full of school supplies. Our main goal is to be Jesus with skin on to some people and build relationships with them. We hope that as a result of that they will see Christ in us and be drawn to Him, but if that doesn't happen, that's OK. I guess the difference is that rather that "witnessing" to people, we strive to be a witness to them - to simply live out the gospel as any follower of Jesus would do.

So, I'm not sure what you might call that, but that's what we attempt to do.

It's much simpler but it's far from easier.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

People Pleasing (Continuing the Series)

The next topic in the "What I'm Learning" series is one that I have had to face head-on in ways I would have preferred not to - People Pleasing.

I'm not talking about taking the cavalier attitude of "I don't care what people think". People who take that approach are generally jerks. Frankly, I think anyone who claims that is either lying, in some serious denial, or in need of an attitude adjustment.

We all care what people think of us, and I believe we should care, afterall, it doesn't do the cause of Christ, ourselves or anyone else any good to "not care". The trick seems to be in not allowing the opinions of others to influence us away from the thing we believe we are supposed to be doing. AND to not allow the opinions of others to destroy us.

Being forced as it were, into a position of leadership, certainly brought this lesson home to me and it is still something I grapple with on a regular basis.

I will be sharing about this in an upcoming post... or two, or three.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Last night we purchased one of these babies with a gift card our sons, parents, and Allison gave us for Christmas.

That can only mean one thing .....

Brian will now be posting videos of Taser on his blog!

Just thought I'd give you all a fair warning.

Speaking of video .... there's a new one up on the Pine Ridge blog.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

God Knows What He's Doing

Funny how that works.

Last night as we headed to the shelter to deliver gifts was yet another in a long line of examples of this.

Everything seemed to be going wrong and I was quite frustrated before we left for the shelter.

I could not get the top off the Jeep because the tool I needed was locked in Brian's toolbox and he was out of town with the key. Not a biggie, just disappointing. The afternoon was filled with frantic phone calls from all sides. First a call that someone had 36 stuffed animals for us. There were only 11 kids so I scurried to find homes for the remaining stuffed animals. Then another friend called and said she had a car load of shoe boxs filled with various small gift items. A car load?!?!?! There were only 11 kids.... what were we going to do with all that stuff? I surely didn't want to take it and ask them to just hang onto it in case they needed it someday. And I've already got 150 backpacks in my dining room and really didn't care to add anything else to my collection. I dressed in my elf outfit and promptly lost a bell of the toe of one of my elf shoes. I looked like I belonged on the Island of Misfit Toys but I didn't have time to fuss with it.

Things were not going well and I was not a happy elf, and I'm afraid it showed. I'm not so good at masking my real feelings so when things began to pile up, I had a hard time being jolly. None of it big stuff. None of it worth getting bent out of shape about, but I still have a hard time not being grumpy when things start to get overwhelming. Mainly I feel stressed when I feel stuck between trying to do what is best for the folks we are trying to help and all the good intentions of well-meaning people who are trying to help them.

As we left for the shelter I prayed and hoped we could find it. I've not been to this one before and I'm still amazed that people will not question me when I say, "just follow me .... I'm not exactly sure where we're going" and they just get in their cars and follow.

On the drive there I convinced myself that all would go well once we got there, but we were in for another surprise....

We got there and only two of the eleven children were there and one of them was a newborn. Santa and Mrs. Claus were a bit lost as to what to do with no kids and I was afraid that everyone who had put so much into this effort would be disappointed and feel it not worthwhile.

But then it became abundantly clear that things were unfolding according to another plan, a Godly plan. Last night was not supposed to be about the kids. Last night was a night for the moms. As some of our crew carried in bags of presents, a couple of the mothers began to cry. One of the cried the whole time we were there. One said that she was touched because she had never been able to give her children Christmas gifts and now she would be able to tell them that Santa had been there while they were gone and left them presents. Another said, "you just don't know what this means, you just don't know ...." At one point I took a break from taking pictures of them with Santa and walked into the kitchen to find two of the mom's hugging each other and crying. Lots of tears. What else can you expect in a house full of estrogen?? Later another told us that other people sometimes bring gifts but that no one ever stays and visits.

We stayed for about an hour, chatting with them, passing around the newborn baby and eating cookies. My friend pulled out his guitar and played and sang. He shared one song that he wrote after a friend was killed and shared about how God had helped him through that difficult time. Finally, we gathered together and Mrs. Claus prayed for the moms and Santa prayed for the children. We left singing "We Wish You A Merry Christmas".

Nothing had gone right. Yet in the end, everything went exactly as it was supposed to. That always seems to be the story.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I Can't Wait Till Tonight!

Yes, I know, I'm still a kid at heart. What's tonight? Well, I suppose I shouldn't tell it here.... something about not telling people about your good deeds and all ... maybe you'll lose a reward or something .... all of which is biblical, but I don't care about rewards. If my only reward is seeing kids happy and having a heck of a lot of fun, I don't need anything else here or in eternity.

So what's tonight??

Well, a whole bunch of folks from my church are heading down to a shelter for homeless women and children. There are 4 moms and 11 kids at this shelter and a while back the director sent me an email asking if we could help get them some Christmas presents. I thought it would be simple enough ... just forward the email to everyone in my church that I have an email address for and I pretty much could guarantee that they would respond. One good thing about our church family - they love to give!

It continued to grow from there. It occured me that it would be nice for those who bought the gifts to go deliver them and see the kids unwrap their presents. So, I set up a time with the director for us to go down there and deliever them. We ended up with a boat load of presents and a $100 gift certificate to the Honeybaked Ham store for them. They're going to do well!

But something still seemed funny. I mean, wouldn't it be a bit awkward for a bunch of stangers to walk in to their home and give them presents?? Awkward for both the moms and kids as well as for the people from church. BUT it would not be awkward if Santa Claus brought the presents .... I mean, he's supposed to do that, right? SO I made an announcement in church that I was looking for Santa Claus and before I could get out the door that morning, I had several people volunteer for the job. The first one who came to me, got the job. He's also bring Mrs. Claus with him.

Then I got to thinking that maybe it would be nice for someone to sing Christmas songs while the kids are doing their thing? I asked my friend Gary, a former rock star (locally) with a voice that is beautiful enough to stand on it's own to come and sing. (I've told him that he could read the encylopedia and I would feel better because he's voice is so soothing.) He is and he may even bring his guitar along. He does a song by Mercy Me (I think) called Joesph's lullybye that is out of this world.

Then it occured to me that what's a Santa without kids getting their pictures taken with him? So I got some film for my polaroid and we'll take pics of the kids with Santa & the Mrs. and give them the pic. (Or give their mom the pic)

On Tues. of this past week it occured to me that if we're going to take pictures of the kids with Santa and Mrs. Claus, he needs an elf to take the pictures.

SO, I called my mom and asked her a BIG favor. Could she make me an elf costume by Saturday? I got the stuff to her on Wednesday and by Wednesday night she called me to come over and try it on. The lady can work fast I tell ya.

SO, I got to thinking again. That wouldn't it be cool to take the top off of my green Jeep and put Santa in the back of it with the elf driving him across town??

SO, that's what's going on tonight. Yes, there is enough joy in giving to others to make the night great but why not make it wacky fun as well?

If I get any pictures of us (not the kids and moms - privacy and all) I'll post them here.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What I've Learned About Fear

This will be my last post about facing fears. There are other stories but they are just stories and serve no purpose other than telling them, so I'll resist.

A few things I've learned about Fear:

  • Fear is just fear. The feeling that something bad might happen. It isn't something that I can let control my life.

  • Fear cannot hurt me. Giving in to my fears can. It can stunt my spiritual/emotional growth.

  • The thing we fear, rarely ever happens.

  • That God might protect me from the bad thing that "may" happen, but that He will certainly give me whatever I need to get me through the bad thing if it happens.

  • Fear is a thief. If I had given in to my fears I would have missed so much. I would not have the wonderful memories that I have or the stories to tell.

  • Whatever it is that I'm afraid of will never hurt me as deeply and profoundly as giving in to the fear will.

My biggest fear I have never faced - losing one of my children or my husband. I counldn't imagine how I would deal with losing one of them. It would hurt more than anything else could I suppose and it would take a L-O-N-G, LONG, long time before I would be able to move on. But I also know that even if that most unthinkable thing should happen, that God would be there and somehow He would get me through it.

Why We Were There

In a comment to the post below, David had asked what our mission was in Romania so I thought others might also be wondering.... We were there to do construction work. Our main task was to refurbish a building that was going to be used to house street children. We worked with the Romainan ministry Jesus Hope of Romania and with Peter Dugulescu who pastored a large Baptist church in Timisora and was a member of Romanian Parliment. While there we also did some sight-seeing - mainly seeing other branches of their ministry in hopes that we would be moved to support them in other areas as well.

Facing Fears (Continued)

For me the key to facing fears is to believe that through God, everything will be OK. That's not the same as believing that God will always protect me from bad things happening, but that He will be faithful to provide whatever it is that I would need to get through it.

Staying With Strangers

One evening we rode to a small Romanian village so our guide could show us another street children's project they were working on. The trip apparently took much longer than our guide had assumed it would because we found ourselves in a not-so-good-looking part of town. It was late at night so it was difficult to tell but we all thought we were probably in the ghetto of some Romanian town.

Our guide stopped at a local church where they served us a snack of raw bacon and cheeses. Then it was discussed where we should stay for the night. All of us felt MUCH safer sticking together and asked if we could all just sleep at the church. That was not going to happen - remember I was the only female along and they made it abundantly clear that it would not be appropriate for me to stay with the men - even when I promised not to attack them. Very quickly I came to realize that I was going to be separated from my group and the possibilities that brought to mind stuck fear in my heart. I really felt much safer with the guys from my church that I knew well than to be put up with strangers apart from my team - especially given that it looked like a bad part of town. I wondered what I would be getting into and what danger I might face that evening.

The guys felt it too and they argued for me to be able to stay with them. But all of our efforst to convince them fell on deaf ears. They were not going to let me stay with the men.

That understood, I realized I had no choice but to put myself in God's hands and trust that He would either protect me, or give me the strength to deal with whatever might happen. I actually felt at peace and was the first to stand up and agree with our guide and say, "let's go".

And of course, I ended up with a wonderfully sweet family that evening. The man had been a pastor in the underground church. They were poor. Really poor. But they fed me a snack (probably their only food) and talked for hours in their broken English about what it was like to live under Communism and suffer persecution.

I went to sleep that night in perfect awe of my host family and with the assurance that God could indeed be trusted. I slept like a baby.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Facing Fears (Continued)

As I said in my last post about facing fears, very often when we are on a mission trip we are seperated from all the things we would normally lean on and without those crutches, we are forced to deal head-on with our fear and insecurity. This past summer I faced one of my biggest fears regarding mission trips.

The Pine Ridge trips are very different for me than Romania, Haiti, or the relief trip after Hurricane Katrina because I was "in charge" (in other words, I was the one taking the blame for whatever doesn't make someone happy). Leading a mission trip was W-A-Y out of my comfort zone. I am shy, painfuly shy, by nature and would MUCH rather hide in the background than to be in the spotlight. But for whatever reason, I am the one leading the trips to Pine Ridge. And I have never been completely comfortable with that role.

For that reason I have always leaned heavily on Brian for support and guidance. I have this tendency to "react" rather than "respond" so it was always comforting for me to have my wise, calm, controlled husband around to go to whenever a "situation" arose. I really came to rely on that.

Then, this past summer, Brian was not able to go along on the trip with us. I wanted to panic. Actually, I wanted to cancel the trip but that wouldn't have been a good thing - so I went. And I was forced to deal with my fear and insecurity. I was forced to trust that God would somehow find a way to let me know what to do should something come up that required wisdom.

And something did come up ...

It so happened that while we were there they were having a "camp meeting" at Wounded Knee and we were asked (expected) to attend. We arrived and began to settle in and listen to some of the pre-service music. Then I went out to use the restroom (outhouse) and as I walked back toward the church building a young Lakota man approched me, shook my hand and intorduced himself. I thought he was perhaps a member of that church and just greeting me. As I walked away he said, "No wait! I really need to talk to somebody". I turned back to him and he began to tell me that he was struggling with a drinking problem and was feeling suicidal. I listened for a few minutes as he poured out his heart. Then a disturbing thing happened.

A couple that was "ministering" there for the camp meeting approached us and basically shut the conversation down. They assurmed the young man that he would be fine, prayed a very generic prayer for him and sent him on his way with a handful of Christian platitudes. He said, "Well, if you don't want to listen, that's OK, I'll leave" and my heart broke as I watched him walk toward his truck. Another thing also happened. I burned with anger. I am shy but I get royally ticked off when I see injustice and that kind of insensitive brand of "Christianity" (if you can call it that) was unjust and unloving. My heart broke for this man who was so lost and hurting and had likely come to the church because someone had told him he would find help there. To be sent away with no care for his pain was, well, wrong.

I can have a bit of an attitude when I lose respect for someone and I really thought of saying exactly what I thought and perhaps even making a scene over the issue if need be. In short, there was about to be anohter uprising at Wounded Knee.

That would have been one of those times I would have leaned heavily on Brian to calm me and guide me as to what to do. But Brian was not there.

As I stood there, sad and angry and prepared to fight the religious leaders for this man's heart I thought of the youth that were with us on the trip and what kind of an example I would be setting. I thought of the relationship with the missionaries there that we had built over time and the damage that relationship would suffer were I to go off. I thought of how that might affect our work in the village and how many other Lakota children would be affected by a damaged relationship with the missionary. And I knew that I had to walk away and keep my mouth shut. It just about killed me to do so, but I did.

Well, sort of.....

After he had been sent away and I had been escorted back into the sanctuary I went back outside to see if he had really gone. He had not. I attempted to continue the conversation we had been having but lo and behold here they came again and shut it down again. I couldn't believe it. I did something I rarely do - I played the "I'm a minister's wife card" hoping that might give me some respect with them and they might leave us alone. I even told them I had been a pyschology major in college but they were not impressed by that either. I realized that I was not going to win this one. So I gave the man my bracelet and told him that I would be thinking of him and praying for him and that I wanted him to wear the bracelet and when he saw it he would know that somene cared about him and wanted him to find peace and live.

I left and went in to the service to listen to a preacher talk about all of his great and mightly deeds and his great faith. I had the feeling I was watching someone spiritually masterbate in public and it sickened me to no end.

I don't know what happened to that young man who was so in need of someone to listen. I was frustrated that religious people do not understand that church can be done in many different ways. I was scolded by them for not being in the sanctuary but I felt that I was in the most important sanctuary. For them though, there was only one way to do church.

If there was ever a time when I would have leaned on Brian to give me guidance and wisdom, that would have been it. But he was not there. In the end I feel a peace about how I handeled the situation. It didnt' turn out like I would have hoped but I did the best I could under the circumstances and I'm OK with it. I found out I can handle things without Brian's wisdom. I'd still rather have him with me though.

For those wondering .... yes, I will get back to Romania and some other fears I faced there.

Aren't They Cute!

Just some pics from our Christmas Program at Church

My son Logan in his cop uniform!

Yes, that's a real gun!

Logan and Toby, his firefighter buddy

That's Brian but I'm not sure what he's supposed to be.

Someone really needs to hide that bell though. (it's annoying!)

Just For Fun ....How Many Can You Name?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Fears (Continued)

One thing about mission trips that makes facing fears easier is that when you are on a mission trip, you are naturally separated from all of the things that are familiar and comfortable - those things that we often cling to in times of fear.

When we are removed from those things we rely on, you realize that you are completely at God's mercy. You have no other choice but to put yourself in God's hands and trust Him. It's freeing. And comforting.

In each situation where I found myself facing something that would normally scare me, I felt nothing but peace. Of course at first I felt fear but I soon discovered the peace that comes from putting yourself in the hands of the God who loves me. It was wonderful to be able to "let go and let God". At home, that's not as easy, but when you are away from the comforts of home, it becomes much easier and your faith grows as a result.

The Ride
While in Romania our team was divided up and placed with host families. I was alone with my host family since I was the only woman on the trip. Each morning our ride would come around and pick us up to take us to the work site. Normally we had the same red VW van with the same driver we had come to know.

One morning however, the lady I was staying with told me my ride was there. I walked down the apartment steps and saw a different white van and a man I had not seen before. I asked my host if she was sure this was my ride. She was. I was a bit uneasy but what could I do? I got in. The driver spoke no English and I spoke no Romanian so communication was not happening. We drove through Timisora and I began to feel even more uneasy because nothing looked familiar to me. We had not taken that route before and I wasn't convinced that I was with the person I was supposed to be with. I thought, "This is great. I'm in a foreign country, I don't speak the language, I'm with a man I've never seen before, going God knows where. This can't be good".

Finally we stopped and the driver got out and went up to another apartment. Soon a lady I had not seen before came down and got in the van. I was a little relieved until I realized that she was French and spoke neither English or Romanian. So there we were, three people in the van and none of us could communicate. Wonderful. By this time I was sure I was in the wrong place with the wrong people and that I would never again see my team or my home and family. What to do? What can you do in a situation like that except to trust that God will work it out. Somehow, regardless of where we ended up or what happened, He would get me to someone who could help me. I rested in that confidence and felt much more at peace. Soon we stopped at yet another apartment and I was relieved to see two of the guys from my team come downstairs and get in the van. They however, we a bit disappointed. Apparently the drive had gone upstairs to their apartment and said, "I have two women, one American, one French". They looked at each other and said "YES!" and headed for the van - only to be disappointed that it was me.

These two incidents were strangley easy to trust God in, maybe because I didn't see them coming - they both just "happened" before I had a chance to realize what I was in to. Other situations were more of a challenge .....

(to be continued)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Facing Fears (What I'm Learning Along the Way)

One cool things about mission trips is that they definitely get you out of your comfort zone. My first trip was way back in the early 90's when me and four men from my church went to Romania. On that trip I faced more than a few fears but I discovered that I really could do some thing I wouldn't have ever thought possible. I came home with a new sense of confidence in myself and a deeper faith in God knowing that He would give me what I needed to face whatever was in my path. Since then I have gone to Haiti and the Pine Ridge Reservation and to Louisiana for Hurricane Relief after Hurricane Katrina and I each time I go I continue to learn how to face fears.

I'm thinking that I even need to break this down further and post more than one post per subject. Here is my first experience from Romania....

The thing about being in a foreign country on a mission trip is that you find yourself in situations that you would never allow yourself to get into here at home. Maybe it's because your not thinking because you don't really know what to expect, or maybe it's because you just "go with the flow", but I found myself in one of those situations soon after arriving in Bucharest.

We flew into Bucharest late in the evening and were to connect up with a train to Timisora but having a few hours to kill, it was decided by our trip leader to take us to a local seminary for a short visit and perhaps a snack.

From the airport we found a taxi and it was decided that I would go in the taxi first with all of the luggage and wait for the guys at the seminary. No problem, I climbed into the taxi and off we went. After driving through the heart of the city the taxi driver pulled over and stopped at a curb and proceeded to begin taking out the luggage. Assuming this was my stop, I also climbed out and helped with the luggage. Then he gets back into the taxi and leaves. It suddenly occurs to me that me traveling alone with the luggage was not the most brilliant idea. There I was, an American woman standing on a street corner in Bucharest surrounded by luggage and the gate to the seminary was locked. I thought, "I'm a target. Lord Jesus come see about me!"

Soon enough the guys showed up in another taxi and they too had realized that this was not a cool idea. No harm done. We went in and enjoyed a snack and that was only my first opportunity to face fear.

Next- Bugs!
I hate bugs. Really hate them. Normally I won't even get close enough to one to kill it if I find it. I have been known to scream for one of my sons to come and kill the beast or to sic one of my dogs on it but never ever do I come in any sort of contact with them. On the train to Timisora I had an encounter that would test my ability to deal with one of the worst sorts of bugs....

Now it should be understood that I was the only woman among four men from our church along on this trip and had faced my fair share of criticism. Some thought it was questionable for a woman to travel with a bunch of men, others thought I was just simply crazy for wanting to go on such a trip, but others thought that as a woman I had no business going - that I could not do what a man could do and would slow them down and be a hindrance to them. I went on the trip feeling that I had to prove that even though I could not do what a man could, that I had a place on the team.

When we boarded the train for the all night ride we got a sleeper car. It was a normal sleeper car with 6 bunks, three on each side. I decided to take the top bunk since it was slightly smaller than the others but as I climbed into the bunk several cock roaches crawled about over the mattress. I was horrified to say the least but there I was with a bunch of men and I wasn't about to be a "girl" about it and fuss about the bugs, so I took off my coat and placed it over the critters, smushed them up a bit, then laid down and tried to put out of my mind the fact that I'd seen them. Eventually I fell asleep with the rocking of the train. Amazing what you can deal with when you have to.

Next I will write about a scary ride with an unknown driver, a fearful night in a small Romanian village, and finally the castle - then we'll go to Haiti.

Things I'm Learning Along the Way

At risk of being more narcissistic than usual (sad to be narcsissistic when I can't even spell the word) I am going to take a hint from Barbara and post about some of the things I've learned and continue to learn from doing outreach/mission trips/. I will probably do several posts to keep from getting too longwinded in one post - but be warned, I am not good at follow-through of any sort of series so it may drop off after a post or two.

Here are a few things I'll attempt to write about:

  1. Facing fears
  2. Getting over people-pleasing (to a degree)
  3. Giving

I may do more, or I may not.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

New Look and Some New Stuff!

Thanks for the comments on the new look. I got tired of the ugly, plain black and white. Wish I knew how to put a cool pic in the header and I might have stuck with the black background. Oh well...

Some new stuff in the sidebar(that thing to the left Cathy) ...

I'll be putting up a short scripture every few days. Just whatever sticks out in my reading. It will likley be from The Message since that's what I like to read.

Also I'll be putting up a short lyric from a song ... again, just something that stands out to me as I listen. Of course, it will probably be something from U2 or Rich Mullins or maybe even the Stones since again, that's what I like. There are some cool little nuggests in those lyrics though, so be looking....

There are also links to a couple of books by a couple of my favorite bloggers (yes one is Brian).

And then there is always the ministries/organizations that I support and wish you would check out. One.org, Blood/Water Mission, (Red)emption, and (Product)Red

I Have a Confession to Make

I shop at Wal-Mart.

I know, I know .... they've gotten all sorts of bad press and some with good reason no doubt. I try to shop Fair Trade as much as possible, and I try to do business with companies that have a social conscience, and many would say that Wal-Mart doesn't. But I shop there - for purely selfish reasons.

For one thing, it's close. Literally about 3 minutes from my driveway to their parking lot. That goes well for me when I shop every single day. At this point in life I have no idea who is eating at my house and who isn't on a day-to-day basis, so I plan meals and shop every day. For that reason alone I am grateful that Wal-Mart is so close.

Second, and not nearly least is because there is a man there who likes me. At least he acts like he likes me. Who knew a Wal-Mart greeter could make your day? My Wal-Mart greeter is an older man who has come to know me well and loves to pick on me and always acts happy to see me. Shoot, there are days when my Wal-Mart greeter and my dog are the only souls who act happy to see me.

And my Wal-Mart greeter misses me if I miss a day. To hear him, you would think missing a day shopping at Wal-Mart was like missing a month, and not because he's interested in my money. I get the feeling he really misses seeing me if I'm not there on his shift.

Now granted, he's paid to greet me and make me feel all special but this guy does an outstanding job. I've known a few greeters in my days at Wal-Mart and none of them compare to this guy. I get the feeling he's just a genuinely friendly, people-loving person. There are days (today being one of them) when just about everything I do goes wrong but I can still count on my Wal-Mart greeter to be the bright spot in my day.

Hmmm.... what a concept .... be nice, be friendly, be kind, develop a relationship with people and have no hidden agenda.... it just might work in church too!

A Rare Bird

It's good to know that there are still politicians who have not become jaded and who still have a heart for helping those who cannot help themselves. The opinion of our local newspaper carried a story of a man who was recently in Flordia boarding a plane when he saw Senator Mike DeWine of Ohio. He struck up a conversation with him and learned that the senator (who lost his bid for office in November) was with his wife and daughter and was waiting to board a plane for Haiti.

It was a private trip that he paid for himself and has done so many times in the past. He and his wife have always had an interest in helping the orphans in Haiti and were going down this Cristmas with gifts for all $4500 orphans. Many of the gifts were donated by others but it's good to know that the soon to be former Senator cares is a man who is compassionate enough to reach out, not just in the name of politics, but in the name of love.

You can read more here.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

May I Recommend ....

This book.

I've read the blog Today at the Mission for some time now and never fail to come away from it feeling inspired, humbled, and very grateful. Those of you who do not read his blog are definately missing out. I would recommend that if time online is an issue for you but you still read here, to go read RWK's blog instead of mine. It's food for the soul!

The fact that all of the profits go to the mission and that he has chosen to call himself an "anonymous cook at a homeless shelter" rather than using his name should tell you something of this man's character and love for God and people.

I've ordered a copy of his book and would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

My Weekend So Far

  1. Work called and wanted me to go in early, which if I had done so would have had me working a 20 hour shift. I didn't. I was already doing a 16 hour shift and thought that was long enough.
  2. More battles with work - after all the ruckus about me NOT working on Sundays, they scheduled me from 2pm - 11pm Sunday, Christmas Eve. I called and told them I would not be there - that it was understood when I hired in 3 and a half years ago that I didn't do Sundays. They took me off but then called and tried to force me to work it. I'm not working it.
  3. Ms. Cranky and I watched the new Pirates of the Carribbean Dead Man's Chest movie. She loves Johnny Depp and would make a good pirate herself seeing how she loves her rum and has a little dog that sits on her shoulder like a parrot ... oh, and she's cranky.
  4. My dad got bad news from his doc. It seems the new medication is not working. They will check his PSA again in January and if it is still climbing he will be facing chemo. Unfortunatley it will be the kind of chemo that makes you sick and causes you to lose your hair. Scary stuff.
  5. On a lighter note, I happened across an audio file on the Internet of Bono's dogs barking and I've been using it to torment Taser. She can't figure out where the dogs are but looks high and low and barks like she's going to tear them up. (In reality she would run like the big coward she is if she saw another dog in the yard)
  6. I'm off for a shower and then to read. Ms. Cranky's mother told me I looked exhausted and told me to go home and sleep. She tells me that every time she sees me. I must look horrible on the weekends.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Church Pagents Gone Awry

It's that time of year... the time when churches all over the world decide to act out the birth of Christ. The churches we have been in have been no exception. Have you ever been a part of a church pagent? If so, do you have any funny stories about it?

Here are two from my experiences ...

For years I was Mary in the yearly church Christmas program until I got too old and had to hang up my sandals. Now, as you might expect, I was not your typical Mary. Instead of walking down the aisle and placing a doll wrapped in a blanket in the manger and then sitting and watching it like a statue, I walked down with a real baby, held it, cooed at it, talked to it, rocked it, let it play havoc with my headpiece, and did all the things that new mammas do. I've never been able to imagine Mary, or any other new mother, laying her baby on some dirty old bed of hay. I remember bringing my firstborn home from the hospital and sitting for a solid 4 hours just looking at him and being completely and throughly content. I suspect that Mary did much the same.

In any case, Brian always played Joseph along with me. One year we took our places complete with the 100 voice choir behind us and all the shepherds and wisemen present. At one point as I was holding baby Jesus, I looked over at Joseph and noticed that he seemed to be sitting funny. It was like he was leaning a bit too far in one direction as if he were about to fall over. I quietly caught his attention and whispered "Joseph, sit up straight". He misunderstood me and thought I was cueing him to stand up. He stood. Soon all the shephereds thinking that they were supposed to stand, also stood. Then the wisemen stood. Then the audience, thinking it was a "moment" where they were supposed to stand, also stood. I fought not to laugh at how one simple little misunderstanding can have such an effect. No harm was done though.... and after a while everyone sat back down.

The other time was when we were in Alabama at a small church. It was Easter and someone had the brilliant idea that we should reenact the last supper. Naturally, Brian played Jesus. Because our church was small and we didn't have enough men to play all of the disciples, I was a disciple. Brian (Jesus) sat at the table facing the audience and I sat on the opposite side. Halfway though the production I happened to look down and realized that Jesus had not worn a pair of shorts underneath his robe and not being used to wearing a dress, had his legs sprawled and was flashing the audience! At that point this disciple leaned across to Jesus and quietly told him to keep his legs together because he was showing his congregation a side of the pastor they did not care to see.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


What is the Christmas memory that most stands out in your mind? It may or may not be your "favorite" Christmas memory, but it's one that is vivid and significant for you personally?

Here's mine.

I was 12 years old and was visiting my friend on the Saturday before Christmas when her mother announced that we needed to go along with her to run some errands to Kmart and the grocery store. My friend and I were both a bit disappointed to have our plans interrupted but we went along anyway, completely unaware of what we were about to experience.

We went shopping at Kmart, filling up the shopping cart with toys and clothes. Next we went to the grocery store and bought another cart full of groceries. We just assumed that we were along for a normal family shopping trip until we turned down a dirt road and pulled up in front of a small shack. My friend's mother asked us to help her get all of the packages out of the car and carry them to the door. We did, and were greeted by a man and woman and several barefoot children. This family was living in the worst poverty I had seen in all of my 12 years. I remember the kids were especially excited about getting oranges. Oranges! What kid gets excited about oranges? I sure didn't and after seeing those children so excited, I was bothered by it because it brought to my realization how much I took for granted.

We left all of the clothes, toys and food with that family that day and returned home to continue our play, but I had never in my life experienced something like that and I walked away changed by it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

My Week

Just an update of sorts ...

Wow, things sure are busy around here. I for one am VERY tired of baking Gingersnaps! Unfortunately, I'm not tired of eating them. We are in the middle of our Christmas candy/cookie fundraiser for our trip to the rez and it's time to drag out the pictures of the kids out there for inspiration as I bake. I'm also making the peanut butter fudge for Logan and Brian's "rooster eggs" (ask him about those) so it seems I'm in the kitchen a LOT!

We are not getting our new client at work so Ms. Cranky will have to continue to look for another roommate. The 21 year-old cigar smoker with multi-colored hair has apparently done something bad enough to get her removed from the system entirely. I can't imagine what she might have done since we have several clients who hit staff - Ms. Cranky's old roommate once sent a staff member flying through a plate glass window and is still in the system so it's hard to imagine what has happened. It's sad ... in spite of the horrid smell of cigars, I liked her and she seemed very reasonable even is she was a bit of a drama queen. Yeah, she had issues but there will always be issues with anyone .... even "normal" people.

We also lost a long-time friend at church. I've known Pat and her family since I was 14 years old and she was a big part of our church. Pat lost her battle with cancer this week and I hate that she passed at the holiday season.

The thing I will probably remember most about Pat was her love of humor. She knew how to have fun with the best of 'em. Here is the most recent picture of her this past Halloween dressed as a bag lady. Pat was old enough to be my mom but she was really a child at heart and loved to have fun.

It seems I have another busy week ahead. There is work to go to, and presents to buy, and packages to ship and then more baking to do. As busy as it gets though I love it when the house if quiet and the Christams lights are lit and it's just me and Jesus. I imagine you are busy too with Christmas fast approaching. Remember to find time to savor the season by spending some time sitting with Jesus and celebrating His birth!

To My Church Family/Friends ... An Opportunity to Help! - UPDATED

Great news! ALL of the mothers and children will be getting at least one present each! If you didn't get to participate and you would like to, go ahead and pick a child or mother - it's OK if they get more than one.

Also, Santa and Mrs. Clause will be going along with us to give out the gifts! This will be a fun evening!

I'll post this here on my blog since I really don't know where else to post information that people will probably want to check back on from time to time.

There is good news and bad news.... the good news is that Serve City/CHOSN has opened up a new women's shelter for women and children! The bad news is that all of those women and children are in need, so with Christmas coming up soon, here is an opportunity to help out some of the local homeless women and children in our area.

If you would like to buy gifts for any of these, here is the info:

There are 11 children all together and one baby due on the 15th of Dec.

The names and ages of the mothers and children are as follows with the ones who have been bought for (that I know of) in red ....

MOTHER: Darlene (*Darlene is bought for) and her children,
Nicholas (*Nicholas is bought for)(8 years old),
Olivia (*Olivia is bought for)(5 years old),
Jayda (4 years old),
Joniessa (Joniessa is bought for) (20 months old)
Jordyn (4 months old).

MOTHER: Karen (*Karen is bought for) and her children,
Brent (12 years old) * Brent has been bought for,
Brittany (9 years old).

MOTHER: Lindsey (*Lindsey is bought for) and her children,
Noah (*Noah is bought for) (7 years old),
Alaina (5 years old) (*Alaina is bought for)
and the
baby due on the 15th of Dec. will be named Valarie (*the newborn is bought for)

MOTHER: Brandy (*Brandy is bought for) and her children,
Cheyenne (5 years old),
Kenny (17 months old) *All of these have been bought gifts.

The children need clothes but what kid is not going to want toys! The girls are size 6&7....Baby is size 1 yr. other baby size 3 boy size 12.
Mothers need everything!

It is encouraged that you purchase toys for the children - every kid wants toys at Christmastime - even if they may need other things. Christmas should be fun for them. Please do not bring used items - we want to give them the dignity they deserve.

We will be going to deliver the gifts on Sat., Dec. 23rd. Meet at the church at 7:00 pm and we will leave from there. If you cannot go that day, then bring your gifts to church any time before then and we will take them for you.

Wrap your gifts and put the name of the mother or child the gift is for on the tag.

If you would like to bring some kind of Christmas goodie to share with the mother's and children, that would be great. I will be bringing some cookies and hot choc. mix.

We should be back to the church by 9:00 pm

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Petition to Ask Brian to STOP Posting Fake Taser Magazine Pics

Those of you who read at Brian's blog know the story .... Brian is completely out of control when it comes to making Taser magazine covers.

Most recently Gary at Blessed are the Poor in Spirit had this brilliant comment:

I saw that you wanted to enjoy a romantic evening out on broadway with your honey. But I think Taser would get bored too quickly. You should probably take Amber instead. ~ Gary

Then Bruce replied:

I notice that Brian is at a loss for words on your comment - good job. ~ Bruce

To which Brian replied:

Memo to Gary, David & Bruce:Amber had remarked that it was time to give up the Taser blogging obsession. I was seriously considering it until I saw the recent good natured bantering comments on my last post. So I've put my re-considerations on hold for now and will press forward soon with my newest, more audacious, round of magazine covers -- all in tribute to Gary, David and Bruce. ~ Brian

So it seems that he's off again to post even more outraegous Taser pics. Please help him to stop by signing the petition. Just sign by leaving your comment here on this blog. I'll see that Brian sees all of the responses.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My Favorite Home Video

I hate to bore anyone with home videos, but this one is a favorite of mine taken when the kids were little. Anyone who knows Logan or Cody will probably get a kick out of it.

When God Winks

No, this post isn't about the verse of scripture that refers to God winking at sin. It's about those moments that happen on occasion that let us know that God has things under control .... more so than we may realize.

For those not familiar with my other blog about the Pine Ridge mission trips, let me explain a few things .....

Our team generally has a fundaiser or two to help those who cannot pay for their trip raise the money they need to go to the reservation on a short-term mission trip. I happen to detest fundraisers and I also happen to be of the opinion that anyone going on a mission trip should expect that there will be sacrifice involved - including paying for the trip. Still, I do understand that not everyone can pay for the trip even if they sacrifice - so we have a few fundraisers.

This year, our senior high youth are going along with us as their annual Youth trip. I'm excited about that. Because the youth are going we are simply forced to have more fundraisers than usual (hence the long list of them on the PR blog).

But one fundraiser has really caught my attention. Maybe because it plays into my love of mischief. How it works is that someone can pay to "flock" someone else, whereby the team then places several pink flamingos in the yard of the person to be flocked. There is also a note left telling the person who has flocked them. They can then pay to get revenge and have the person who flocked them flocked. It gets involved to the point where people can purchase insurance to ensure that they are not flocked. But where's the fun in that??

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Anyway, we have no money up front to pay for one pink flamingo let alone a couple dozen of them. So in the fundaiser info there was a tiny line that read "If you know of someone willing to donate several pink flamingos, let me know".

Now tell me, who would have ever thought that we would have someone on our team who just happened to work for a place that just happened to have 20-25 of the little plastic creatures that they would be willing to let us use???

Ya just never know .....

I just love it when these things happen. They are things, however small, that are so beyond our control and yet they fall into place, shall I say miraculously? Yeah, I think it is miraculous.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

New Pics

There are a few new pics up at the Pine Ridge Mission blog.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


May each of you who read here have a blessed Thanksgiving.
Holidays can be a double edge sword in that they bring about happy times but they can also intensify pain and heartbreak.
Whatever your situation today, know that all of you who may not fully enjoy this day are in my thoughts and prayers.

Thoughts especially go out to our service men and women and thier families this day.
I am praying for a speedy and safe return for all of our troops.

Below is a picture of me and almost all of my cousins (the family is split so they are not all there). Brad, my cousin who committed suicide a little over a year ago is in the middle next to me.
This was taken in 2001.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

Even More Bragging

Last night was Parent/Teacher Confrence at the vocational school where Logan (our youngest) is enrolled in the Criminal Justice program. Much to my dismay, Logan is well on his way to becoming a police officer. NOT what I would have chosen for him - I would have much preferred that he chose a safer occupation, but Logan has wanted to be in Law Enforcement since his 5th grade D.A.R.E. officer made an impression on him. So, although it will add a few more grey hairs to my head and a few more lines to my face, I wouldn't dream of trying to stop him from doing the thing he loves.

And there is no doubt that he loves it. His grades even reflect his passion for the job. His teacher had nothing but great things to say about Logan and asked if we had any more kids because he would like to have 10 more like Logan. Logan also made the honor roll this quarter! That is huge since he has always struggled a bit more with school. He's smart but he's one of those kids who never saw the need for certain classes and never put forth much effort in them. Now that he's involved in an educational program that he loves, he's doing very well - even in those classes he once despised. For instance last year he failed Spanish, this year he's passing it with flying colors.

I wish I had a picture of him in his uniform. He looks great in it but he will not let me take a picture of him. I did manage one pic but he deleted it from my camera before I downloaded it. So for now, Barney Fife will have to do.

Oh, and a point worth mentioning ..... he works after school and on weekends at, get this, Dunkin Donuts! Is there a better place for a jr. cop to work??

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Great Man, Great Song, Great Video

Johnny Cash is one of my favorites .... and there are at least 3 other of my favorite celebs in this video. Can you guess which they are?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pardon Me While I Brag a Bit

The Hamilton campus of Miami University recently interviewed by son Cody about Campus Crusade's trip to MS to help out with Hurricane Relief. The article is now featured on the MUH website which you can read here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Eagle's Nest

Sunday evening Ralph and Karen Watts and their family came to share in our evening service. They are a unique and some may say strange, family. You see, Ralph and Karen are in their 60's, have raised 4 biological sons and have served as pastor for many years. In fact, Ralph was my pastor when I was 12 years old. He was the first pastor I ever had and the one who led me to Christ. What makes them unique is that after they raised their biological children, they began fostering and then adopting special needs children. Over the years they have fostered 35 special needs children and adopted, that's right adopted, 13 special needs children.

Yes, you read correctly. They have adpoted 13 special needs children. Even though I have known them for over 30 years, I am still amazed when I hear their story and still humbled by their faith. Seeing them is to see the gopsel lived out in ways that are far too uncommon.

Although Ralph was an accomplished muscian and was offered a chance to sing professionally, he chose ministry instead. Then, rather than settle down to a life of comfort, he and his wife have chosen to pour their lives into these children that no one else wanted.

Three of the kids are in wheelchairs and profoundly mentally retarded. One is autistic. One deaf. Two have cistic fibrosis. Almost every one of them have been severly abused when they were babies. One girl was born "normal" but her birth mother beat her and her twin sister so severly that he twin sister died and Ana was left brain damaged, profoundly mentally retarded and blind.

Eddy, pictured leading the song "I Am A Child of God" is mentally retarded and has a host of physical problems. Doctors will tell you that it is physically impossible for him to walk, but he does anyway. He has a personality that is hard to resist. If you meet him, you'll not forget him.

I could say a lot about this family but to do so would somehow seem to take away from the sense of Christ-likeness that is their life. Perhaps that is why when Ralph speaks in our church, our usually noisy church falls strangly quiet. Maybe people sense that they are in the presence of something very much like Jesus.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Seeing (RED)

I finally got my (Gap) Red parka yesterday! It's an early birthday present from my mom and dad. I really, really like the idea of (Product) Red. Normally I don't shop at the Gap but I suspect I'll be making more purchases there knowing that half of the net profits from their (Red) products will go toward helping eliminate AIDS in Africa. And it looks like I'm not alone....

The (Product) Red Blog reports that in just 3 weeks since (Red) was launched in the U.S.,
(PRODUCT) RED sales in the U.S. have raised enough money to:

Provide more than 10,000 men or women with ARV treatment for a year (Note: These treatments are only a small portion of a person’s overall treatment and represent just one year of lifelong treatment)


Provide more than 1 million peer educators with HIV training


Provide a year’s worth of school materials and daily hot meals for more than 35,000 children orphaned by AIDS


Provide more than 650,000 Rapid Tests which detect HIV and deliver instant test results.

This is GREAT news!

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Day in the Life of Amber

Sunday was a particularly busy day. I woke up to the annoying sound of the alarm just as I was reallllly sleeping good and wondered if there could possibly be anything more annoying.

After 2 cups of coffee I got dressed for the day. That simple chore proved more complicated that it should be and left me especially grateful for a church that generally accepts me any way that I happen to be at any given moment. The reason for the dilemma was that I had to go to work and wasn't sure I would have time to return home to change before work. Given the nature of what I do and the fact that I often deal with body fluids, I don't like to wear anything "nice" to work. Some would argue that I don't wear anything "nice" to church either, but little do they know that I can and do dress even worse than I do at church.

So it was off to teach Sunday School. But wait, first there was that minor issue of a fundraiser for the Pine Ridge trip that needed tending to. That should have been fairly simple too but alas, that would be too easy and we can't have anything easy, can we.

I arrived at church to set my bakery items out on the table in the room that has been dubbed the fundraising room only to find out that our choir was having a bake sale that day. Opps.... well that shouldn't be a problem ...right?? I mean, we have enough people in our church who like to eat to easily take care of both fundraisers. And, it's my humble opinion that there is also enough money in our church to support it all too. My philosophy has been, "if it's God's will, it's God's bill" and I just assume He'll provide what is needed. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same opinion as me. Some even get a bit touchy about other groups invading their "spot". We finally suggested that we arrange the tables so that everyone had adequate room while providing space for people to browse. It worked out.

THEN, it was off to teach Sunday School. Strangely enough we are still covering the "boundaries" material. How appropriate.

After church it was back to the fundraiser. What a crazy, chaotic time. But I think a few people on our team did well and I know some of them really need this fundraiser. There is a big payment due Jan. 1st and some of them might not have it if we didn't do this fundraiser. I've actually been thinking about if there is any way to do this trip cheaper. There is. In fact, we could do it way cheaper ... if we didn't feed the Lakota kids or give them backpacks full of school supplies. I'm not willing to do that. Not when I'm convinced that there is enough money to provide these basic needs for them.

After church we went to Chili's to celebrate my dad's birthday! He'll be 72, on Wednesday but will be out of town so we pretended his birthday was yesterday - even if he's holding out till later to turn 72. It was fun and the food was a good deal - Barb-b-que ribs, fries, salad, and a luscious desert for $9.99. Half-way through our meal another couple from church came in and were seated at the table next to us. I had to rush off to work before desert so I asked the waiter to give them mine.

Once at work the craziness continued. Ms Cranky was her usual demanding self and the new girl, who I am dubbing the Drama Queen, was in full gear. She is 21 years old, smokes cigars and loves to stir up drama of any sort. This little fact became more and more apparent as the day went on. First she wanted to watch a stripper video. Since it's their house I have no say so as to what they do, don't do, watch, or don't watch in their own home but I did tell her that I would not watch that "trash" with her and then I went outside to call a friend.

Later in the day Miss Drama Queen discovered that her boyfriend was cheating on her. Needless to say she was not happy about that at all and proceeded to call everyone in her cell phone address book to tell them about it. She then focused on 2 different men ... and kept calling them, feeding them all sorts of elaborate lies which she made up on the spot. She eventually talked one of the men, a 40-something year old, to come over to the house. What fun. He did so but was quickly caught up in her drama and let us all listen to his voice mails of the other man making threats to do him in. I suggested that the police might be interested in hearing that voice mail but that idea didn't seem to register with him.

The whole time I am at work it's a balancing act. Just how much do I suggest? How far do I assert my will, or my ideas?? These folks are mentally handicapped but they do have rights, and one of them is the right to make their own choices. I have always let them do just that. I make suggestions and hope I have some influence but ultimately the decision is their's to make. It does make me wonder though, how many people who work in this field control the lives of those they care for?

Turning the Clock Back

I did something this year that a lot of people would probably like to do. I got a year younger. You see, I have gone through this entire year thinking that I was 45 years old. I had noticed on my friend's MySpace that she had her age as being 44 and I know that she and I are the same age so I assumed that she had made a mistake.

Then, at dinner the other night, Brian was talking about how he is going to be 46 at his next birthday. I corrected him, telling him that he is already 46 and will be 47 at his next birthday. He then corrected me, telling me that he was indeed 45 and will be 46. I gave him a puzzled look and asked if I were really only 44 to which he replied "yes".

I was stunned. I've been telling everyone I was 45 and was not looking forward to turning 46 in a few weeks. But now since I've already crossed that bridge (in my mind anyway) maybe turning 45 will be OK.

The only bad thing about discovering you're a year younger than you thought you were is that you then realize that you've aged earlier.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Song

Urbanmonk over at Supermarket Monkey has an awesome post today. Check it out when you have time. And to answer his question, this is the song. Perhaps a few others as well, but definately this one.

Where could I go, where could I run
Even if I found the strength to fly
And if I rose on the wings of the dawn
And crashed through the corner of the sky
If I sailed past the edge of the sea
Even if I made my bed in Hell
Still there You would find me

'Cause nothing is beyond You
You stand beyond the reach
Of our vain imaginations
Our misguided piety
The heavens stretch to hold You
And deep cries out to deep
Singing that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You

Time cannot contain You
You fill eternity
Sin can never stain You
Death has lost its sting

And I cannot explain the way You came to love me
Except to say that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You

If I should shrink back from the light
So I can sink into the dark
If I take cover and I close my eyes
Even then You would see my heart

And You'd cut through all my pain and rage
The darkness is not dark to You
And night's as bright as day

Nothing is Beyond You
by Rich Mullins

Carly Update

Carly is doing GREAT!! She continues to beat all the odds and is now down on the Trach/Rehab floor! According to studies only 3% of BMT kids who end up in the ICU make it out alive so Carly is indeed a miracle!

Since I last updated here Carly has,

Had her 7th Birthday!

Attended a Halloween party at the hospital.

Become even more of her usual self and is joking and laughing and accusing her little brother of cheating at a game.

And she has lost a tooth!

All things most of us take for granted with healthy 7 year olds. This is a picture of Carly last Christmas ... hard to believe she could go from being as healhty as she looks in this picture to being as sick as she has been in such a short time.

She still has quite a long hard haul ahead of her so keep her in your prayers. Pray especially that the scar tissue on her lungs will be replaced with new, healhty tissue so that she can get off the ventilator for good!

What I'm Reading

This is a book I read for one of my psychopathology classes back when I was in college. It's a fascinating book about the effects of trauma. This was an interesting read - not your usual boring educational book.

Too Scared to Cry by Lenore Terr. M.D.

Terr is a child psychiatrist who explors the effects of trauma.
The book focuses on the 1976 abduction of a group of children in Chowchilla, California, who were seized from a bus as they were returning from day camp and buried alive in a rock quary. The author interviewed the victims soon after their release and continued to make periodic assessments of the children.

She also goes on to explore post-traumatic behavior patterns she claims can be seen in the works of writers such as Poe, Hawthorne and Stephen King, and in the films of Ingmar Bergman or in the art work of Rene Magritte.

For example, here is an excerpt from her writing on Magritte.

The Belgian painter, Rene Magritte, was fourteen years old when his mother committed suicide. Young Rene Magritte had a profoundly depressed mother. She was subject to repeated bouts of mood disorder, some of them suicidal. There were times when Magritte's mother slept in her son's room so that the lightest sleeper in the house could watch out for her. One night Rene's younger brother discovered that their mother has slipped away. He alerted the family. A search was undertaken, to no avail. They followed her footprints to a bridge where they belive she threw herself into the river. A day or two later they found Magritte's mother in the Sambre River. Her body was found with her nightgown wrapped around her face. Her body was laid out at the house, as was the custom.

Magritte did not like to speak about the experience. He also could not face either his past or his future very well. Magritte tended to reenact his trauma in behavior. He was fascinated with coffins, and one day at a coffin-maker's shop he climbed inot one of the finished products and spent the entire afternoon there.

Magritte consistently denied that his mothers' death had been traumatic for him. He told his official biographer, Suzi Gablik, that he had forgotten all about it.

Some of the ways Magritte's trauma (and his denial of it) shows up in his paintings:

His mother was found with a nightgown wrapped about her face. Magritte has done at least two paintings with the faces of the subjects wrapped in fabric.

He frequently paints coffins. At least one painting shows a woman laid out in a house setting.

Magritte's trademark is to conceal faces of his subjects using fruit, bowler hats, clouds - anything at all that he can come up with to hide the human face. Some have analyzed that this is to prevent him from having to deal with his mother's ruined face in death.

Below are some samples of his paintings. You decide what you think.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Current American Models of Ministry

by Phillip Sell

Here is a chart my son picked up at a confrence that details the 3 basic models of current American Models of Ministry and how they line up on various issues.

The Issue - Cultural Orientation

Traditional Church
Assumes the support of Christendom - Minimal passion for evangelism

Contemporary Church
Accommodation to culture. "Church can be attractive to lost people". Marketing approach and image managment.

Missional Church
Penetration of culture with the Gospel. Chruch a missionary to the unsupportive culture.

The Issue - Image of the Christian

Traditional Church
Representative of dominant culture. Civil Religion.

Contemporary Church
Successful and happy. Alternative to dominate culture.

Missional Church
Resident aliens within the pluralistic culture

The Issue - View of the Church

Traditional Church
A place where religious things happen. The country club/dues.

Contrmporary Church
A vendor of religious goods and services. The mall/consumer.

Missional Church
A people sent on a mission. The web/relational.

The Issue - Orientation

Traditional Church
Content-centered. Right ideas.

Contemporary Church
Program-centered. Right activities.

Missional Church
Relationsihp-centered. Right relationships.

The Issue - Centeral Structure

Traditional Church
Pulpit, Sunday School (one way communication). Age-graded (mimic the public school system).

Contemporary Church
Seeker-oriented services. Needs-oriented ministry. Market segments/Generational ghettos.

Missional Church
Equipping venues. Discipleship/Mentoring. Small Groups. Spiritual Formation

The Issue - Organizational Structure

Traditional Church
Hiearchy. Committies. Recruitment to church ministries.

Contemporary Church
Pastoral Oligarchy. Teams. Mobilization into church and world.

Missional Church
Networked teams. Empowerment to interpersonal ministry and team formation.

The Issue - Role of the Pastor

Traditional Church

Contemporary Church

Missional Church

The Issue - Learning Orientation

Traditional Church
Cognitive processing through teaching.

Contemporary Church
Cognitive processing. Social learning in groups.

Missional Church
Experiential learning. Social learning. Cognitive processing.

The Issue - Media/Era

Traditional Church

Contemporary Church

Missional Church

The Issue - Internet/Website

Traditional Church
Source of information.

Contemporary Church
Advertising and promotion.

Missional Church
Interactive community.

The Issue - Evangelism

Traditional Church
Come and see approach. An isolated program. Proclamational. Reach the churched. Adult convert growth rate.

Contemporary Church
A consistent emphasis. Need-orientated event. Come and see approach. Reach the dechurched. How do you gather a crowd?

Missional Church
A life-style, relational, incarnationnal and service-orientated. LIstening, dialogical. Go and seek approach. Reach the unchurched.

The Issue - Worship

Traditional Church
Predictable. Historicaly anchored. Hymns, hymnals, choirs, organs and pianos. NOt in cultureal idiom and in some cases liturgical.

Contemporary Church
Scripted excellence. In cultural idiom and popular instrumentation. Historical, disconnect. Celebrative, upbeat, choruses and worship ensembles. Use of other media added.

Missional Church
Laid back, serendipitous. Ancient and vintage worship practices creatively mixed with contemporary media. Multi-media, multe-sensory, participatory.

The Issue - Ethical Orientation

Traditional Church
Subcultural taboos

Contemporary Church
Personal ethics.

Missional Church
Social ethics.

The Issue - Other Churches

Traditional Church
Cordial. Denomination-building.

Contemporary Church
Competitive. Congregation-building.

Missional Church
Networked. Kingdom-building.


What kind of church do you attend, if you attend? One of these, or another kind?

What kind of church do you prefer?

What problems do you see with any/each of these?

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Secret to a Happy Marriage

According to Mr. Troop who has just celebrated 80 years of marriage, there is no secret. He says,

There's no secret to staying happily married for so long, Bill said.

"It ought to be what everybody knows," he said. "First, you should know love. You should know you're in love. Then, you should know the Lord."

He also said that while other couples fought and divorced, they "just decided not to do that".

For more of their story click here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sailing Through Uncharted Waters

Every year when we embark on a new mission trip to Pine Ridge, things are different. Nothing about the trips really ever stays the same. Each year brings a whole new set of people, a whole new set of experiences, and a whole new set of challenges. Perhaps it's just the nature of mission trips. While it is a bit frightening and a bit frustrating, I mostly find it exciting for the simple reason that if I'm comfortable with what is going on, then God is probably not in control.

Our next trip will be no exception. We have quite a few changes for the 2007 trip and I'm excited about it.

For one thing, we are taking the Omega Youth group this year. I LOVE it that the youth are going. They are a great bunch of youth who I happen to have a huge amount of respect for, not to mention that they are just a lot of fun. They are young enough they haven't lost their enthusiam or their passion. Life has not squelched their dreams yet. They still believe they can change the world - and they can.

We also have a local graffiti artist and rap artist going with us. Phayth is going to be using his talents to reach out to the youth at Pine Ridge and while I have no idea how this will work out logistically, I'm thrilled at the possibilities. We are possibly looking at a concert in the village and we are praying/hoping for a chance for him to do some of his art work in the village. This may or may not work out, but it is exciting to consider. Since the rez is much like the inner city without the city, Phayth is uniquely gifted to minister there.

And then I'm excited about the possibility we have for raising money for a well in Africa through Blood/Water Mission. I believe this will open new possibilities for the Lakota youth. It will be good for them to see that everyone has something to give and that even they can make a difference in the world. I'm thinking this will give them a sense of dignity and self-respect and that is something they badly need. We have a man who has recently started attending our church who is from Africa. Today I talked to him about speaking to our mission team about Africa and he is happy to do it. In fact, he seemed to be excited about it. This was especially touching for me because this man is from Cameroon. Some readers here may remember that the tiny country of Cameroon gave almost $860.00 to America for hurricane relief last year after Hurricane Katrina. This is a country where the average person makes about 45 cents a day!

It boggles my mind to think of how one little thing can help in so many ways. Not only will we be helping Africa with some desperate needs, but we will also be helping the Lakota youth gain a sense of self-respect, and we will be helping our congregation become more aware of the needs in Africa and it will give this man an opportunity to become more involved! The possibilities for this endeavor just make me want to squeal but I'll wait in quiet anticipation to see what God is up to.

None of this was planned. Not once did we sit down and say, "this year we will do .such and such". Nope, each of these new ideas simply "happened" somewhere along the way. Sometimes it was just a wild idea. Sometimes one idea led to another. And sometimes it truly just "happened". I have learned to believe that God leads that way much of the time. It seems the less I am in control the more He is. Funny how that works.

Each of these endeavors are new - we've never done any of them before. And I am quite certain that each of them will present new challenges and new frustrations. None of it will be easy. But that's the beauty of it. We get to step out into uncharted waters and exercise our trust muscles and because of that I am convinced that God will be glorified and our faith will grow stronger.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Times They Are A Changin'

Things at work are about to change.

I've become spoiled, having only one lady to care for. Most of the houses in our company have 2 - 3 clients in them but because the lady I care for, known as Ms. Cranky, has a well-earned reputation for being difficult to get along with, we have seen a few roommates come and go.

First there was *Bonnie, a 36 year-old who was Mentally Retarded, Schizophrenic, and Bi-polar. She was delighful! Really. She could at times be violent and has the jail time to prove it, and many times I went to work wondering if I were going to get my butt kicked. But for the most part Bonnie was a very loving soul who was a lot of fun to work with.

After she moved out (due to not getting along with Ms. Cranky) we had *Missy for a while. Missy was 23 going on 16. She loved to talk on the phone for hours - at all hours and blast rock music from her bedroom. She was very high functioning but in our care because she was blind and mildly MR. Like any good 16 year-old, she could be quite rebellious and would throw major tantrums when she didn't get her way. Not getting her way might mean being told that 1 AM was too late to be calling anyone. That would ensure a fight, possibly a physical one if she was so inclined. She did not last long before Ms. Cranky sent her packing.

Now I should say that Ms. Cranky is not so cranky with me. Not anymore anyway. She gave me a hard way to go when I first started the job but over the past 3 years a trust and friendship has been built and she rarely gives me any grief. If she does I promptly tell her to knock it off, and like most bullies, she does.

Tonight when I go in to work we will be trying out a new roommate. She is 23 and smokes cigars and I'm told she likes to cuss out the staff (me) and dislikes people of color. She has not done well in other homes because of this. We'll see how she and Ms. Cranky do. I expect she'll be on her best behavior tonight.

*Not their real names