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.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

My Mother's Curse

I think most mothers place the "mother's curse" upon their children at one time or another. I know my mother said many, many times, "I hope you have a child JUST like YOU when you someday". Somehow I knew she was not saying that because I was such a joy to raise.

Since my two boys are almost grown (17 and 21), I have, on a few occasions enjoyed the fact that I had somehow outwitted my mother's "curse". My two boys are wonderful. Really. I never have to worry about what they're in to. I feel a bit guilty at times because I can't really relate to people who talk about how difficult it is to raise teenagers. They, thankfully, have not been at all like I was growing up. If they had been, it's likely I'd be locked up somewhere. Whether that would be jail or a mental hospital, who's to say.

Then this morning, I realized that the curse has a way of finding you regardless and does not necessarily have to be about your own flesh and blood chilren. Yes, as my own children are almost grown, I now find myself with a 16 year-old daughter. She is not a real daughter and she is not 16. She is a 22 year-old girl that has moved into the home where I work. She loves rock music (we agree on that anyway), and spends hours in her room listening to it blasting loud enough for the neighbors to hear, talks for hours on the phone to her boyfriend, and she hates being told "no". In fact, I discovered last night just how badly she hates to be told "no". She really hates it a lot. She has only been in the home for a week and in most cases is delightful, but when she does not get her way she goes ballistic. In fact, she is due in court Monday to answer charges of assaulting a staff person in her old house. (I don't know this for a fact, but I'll be willing to bet that the staff person told her no about something.)

We had an ordeal last night over dinner (I'll spare you all the gory details). She did cool off (in her room) and apologized later. After dinner we needed to run to the store to pick up milk and a few other necessary items. That in itself is a huge hassle because the other lady in the house is in a wheelchair. Sidenote - whoever said "handicapped" parking spaces are adequate to accommodate handicapped people have obviously never had to get a wheelchair out of a van with a lift. So we proceeded to get into the van to run to the store. And don't you know it, the lift was not working. That meant we had to walk to the store. Now, the new girl (22 going on 16 year old rock chick) is also blind, which presented a few challenges in walking the 2 miles to the store. Ever try to lead a blind person down a broken up sidewalk for 2 miles with a wheelchair bound person in tow as well?? Try it. It's fun. Really.

We made it back unscathed and then my evening was spent watching an infomercial on TV with 48 year old wheelchair grump and listening to "We Built This City on Rock and Roll" pouring from 22 going on 16 year old's room. I also spent several minues trying to explain to 22 going on 16 year old's boyfriend that I am in fact, not a Lesbian. Don't ask where that came from - I have no idea unless it had something to do with holding on to her as I guided her on that 2 mile hike to the store.

Now I am home from my 20 hour shift which felt more like a 48 hours shift. I've not slept and I'm really exhausted. I have to go back in 6 hours to work another 12 hours. I get off at 8 tomorrow morning and then need to rush off to Sunday school to teach a class. God only knows what my mental state will be like by that time.

In the meantime, I am learning a lesson I'm sure. When I figure out what it is, I'll let you know.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

My Husband's New Girl

Back in December my husband was sure he could not handle another dog. For all of the 22 (almost 23) years we have been married he has emphatically stated that we would NEVER have 2 dogs at the same time. Well, never say never. On New Year's Eve we got Taser and I do believe the man has lost his mind over this puppy. I made him a short video which he (sadly) downloaded to his PDA is shows to everyone who will give him 3 min. of their time. He has asked at least twice if I've put it on my blog. SO, this is for Brain....

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Where Have I Been??

I must say that I don't know where I've been or what I've been reading, listening to, or watching, but somehow I have missed the whole "One" campaign. I'm sure that is not easy to do, but I've managed. I've been a U2 fan since the 80's although I did not listen to much of their music during the 90's. I'm not sure where I was during the 90's but I seem to have been asleep. No doubt I have seen the One Campaign banner before and seen the television commercials but I suppose I just dismissed it as a U2 thing, or a way for some celebrities to get some good press. Sadly, I never paid it any attention.

It seems strange that I have been to courties and seen firsthand this extreme poverty and yet I had neglected something as simple as signing my name to a document saying that I wish for our world leaders to do what they could to end the suffering I was seeing. I've even volunteered for World Vision in past years and still, I missed it.

I also find it strange, and sad, that God uses an Irish rock star to bring the plight of people in 3rd world countries to America. It kind of makes me wonder why the Church has not spoken up. Maybe they have and I've missed that too. I've already proven that it's possible for me to miss a world-wide campaign carried out by people who live in the spotlight.

I've just finished watching a portion of the Vertigo Tour DVD where Bono pleads with the audience to join the One campaign. In his words:

When I was a boy my first impression of American was a man walking on the moon. Neil Armstrong, 1969. I thought these Americans are mad. I thought what could this country do... What can these people do when they put their minds to it. it's incredible.

John F. Kennedy was the one in 1963 he said. "By the end of the decade we will put a man on the moon". Well It wasn't because it was on everybody's mind. It was just the right thing to do. And it was its what we're asking now Pres. Bush, Prime Minister Blair, and all the other world leaders to do. We're asking them to do something extraordinary. Not put man on the moon, more like put mankind back on earth.

We have the technology. We have the resources. We have the know-how to end the extreme poverty.... If we have the will ... and I believe we have the will.

Others, you know ... we have the civil rights movement. Others ended apartheid. Others tore back the iron curtain. Thats what this generation That's what's left to us. This is our moon-shot. We're going to end poverty. that's what's left for us to do I believe that's not an impossible adventure. I believe in 50 years they will look back on this moment and will say there were some people at a time who said its not okay for a child to die for lack of a 20 cent immunization. It's not ok for a child to die for lack of food in his belly in the 21st century. That's not okay anymore. I know you know that, but I'd like you to tell President Bush, Prime Minister Blair that... and any other politician you see ... it's quite easy to do. just take out your cell phone....

We're looking for a million Americans to join us... to email us ...to join the One Campaign. We're not looking for your money - we're looking for your voice.

It is easy. Just click on the banner above and sign the ONE Declaration. It takes about one minute and it's completly free.

These are twin babies who died in Haiti, not far from the United States boraders because they did not have enough oxygen.

This is not about U2, or Bono, or any other celebrity. It's about doing the right thing regardless of who the messenger is.

Speechless ...

Sometimes I will come across a blog that just leaves me speechless because they seem so holy that I dare not mess it up with a reply. RKW does that to me a lot, and today I have discovered another blog that has once again, has left me speechless.

Do not miss these two posts. You will be greatly blessed by the reading.

Regi's Monday, April 24th post Thanks Gary for pointing it out. I can't believe I've not seen that blog before.

Today at the Mission - Reckless Love post

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A New Blog

I have considered doing some posts about our trip to Romania but have never gotten around to it. Then Gary asked about it sooo.....one thing led to another.

WAY back in the early 90's just after communism fell in Romania, five of us went there for a couple of weeks. It is by far my favorite mission trip and I would go back in a heartbeat if I could. I will be posting stories and journal entries over the next few days but for now, there is a video and one post about one fo the most remarkable men I've ever met. Click here.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

100 Things About Me

Gary did this on his blog and suggested that we give it a try so here it is ... 100 things about me. (WHO in their right mind would really want to read this???)

1. I am an only child.
2. My only sister died before I was born.
3. I once had a job driving a bread truck for Brownberry Bread.
4. I went to college with Steven Curtis Chapman - he was just Steve then and performed with his brother and another guy in the Chapman Daniel's Band.
5. I had considered asking the Chapman brothers to sing at my wedding.
5. My husband was Steven Curtis Chapman's advisor and advised him NOT to go into music. (Great call Brian - how many Grammy's does he have now??)
6. My husband lived next door to Tom Hanks and was friends with his brother Jim.
7. I think cleaning house is a terrible waste of time.
8. I was born at noon on Thanksgiving Day.
9. Some of my batty old aunts tell me that we are related to Sir Francis Drake - a pirate.
10. I love to fall asleep watching Edward Scissorhands (the storybook feel is comforting and puts me right out - besides it's a really sweet story)
11. I love dogs.
12. Most dogs like me too.
13. I have wanted a horse since I was big enough to know what one was.
14. I will never have a horse.
15. I will very likely never see the Rolling Stones live ... but there's always hope - at least as long as they are still alive.
16. I once met Archie Griffin and held a conversation with him and then walked away not having a clue who he was.
17. My dream car is a '65 Mustang - red, of course.
18. My frist crush was when I was in 7th grade and had a huge crush on a senior guy. When my friends told him that I liked him in front of all of his friends, he was very kind and did not laugh or do anything to embarass me.
19. When I was in 8th grade I had a crush on a 10th grade guy. He surprised me and liked me back and when he wanted to sit with me at a basketball game it scared me to death and I ran all the way home. I had not planned on him liking me back.
20. I am a terrible speller.
21. I am only on #21 and I am already bored with this list.
22. I went through a 15th century castle in Transalvania (Romania) - with a torch. How cool is that?
23. My favorite hymn is "Great is Thy Faithfulness".
24. I used to have a home daycare and kept 4 kids plus my own two.
25. One day all the kids in my home daycare were driving me nuts so I told them that I was just going to shoot all of them. I then grabbed my supersoaker water gun and chased them through the house soaking them with water.
26. Their mother walked in and saw it so I shot her too.
27. I once dated a guy who was a pitcher for the Expos.
28. I also once dated a guy who wanted to be the next Ted Nugent.
29. I can't stand to see an animal hurt.
30. I hate war.
31. I have the utmost respect for the men and women who serve in the military. I dont think we will ever be able to thank them enough and I find it appalling that we allow so many of our veterans to live on the streets when they have come home safe but not sound.
32. I used to play guitar but my dog would not even listen to it.
33. I used to play clarinet in the HS band and my dog howled in pain when I practiced.
34. When the band director finally discovered that I could not really play the clarinet he made me the "flag girl".
35. I like mice.
36. I do not like bugs.
37. I do not like snakes.
38. I do not like heights.
39. In spite of my fear of heights I hope to go skydiving someday ... hopefully before too long.
40. I fear swimming in the ocean.
41. I have eaten alligator.
42. I have also eaten some sort of mystery meat and drank "hot swamp water" (moonshine) while I was lost on a canoe trip.
43. I have no earthly idea how to download a song from the internet.
44. I love to read psychological thrillers.
45. I sometimes feed my family ice cream for supper.
46. I go on a date with my husband every week.
47. I think perfect mental health if overrated.
48. I have a weakness for hats, funky sunglasses, and jackets.
49. My biggest struggle in life is accepting mself. Despite years of therapy I don't think I will ever really accept myself.
50. It has been a long time since I have slept so I'm going to bed and will finish this list later.

Friday, April 21, 2006

A Great Post

can be found over at Danny Simms blog. His post today goes along with what I posted yesterday .... I don't know about you, but I'm holding out for grace too.

I Did It .... Sort of....

Those of you computer literate folks will think me a sad case, but that's OK because I'm totally impressed with myself. After a lousey day yesterday, I decided to play for a while. Actually I stayed up way too late and now I'm in a bit of a grumpy mood today too but at least I did something that was fun. I made my first video (and figured out how to upload it to my blog). For me, that's incredible. I will have to play with Windows Movie Maker a bit more to get better at it, but that's OK, for now I have proudly displayed my first video on my other blog. Please check it out. And yes, I'm already practicing on the next one.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

You're All Hopeless.

It's been a tough day. Maybe it's because we're just back from a couple of days away and I'm irked that we couldn't have more time. Or maybe it's because I've had a dealing or two today with people that I just don't like. I don't know but for whatever reason I feel really irritated today and I don't like feeling that way.

For the most part of the day I drove around running various errands and praying that God would help me to like people because today is a day that I don't like much of anybody. I get fed up with people and all the stupid things they do - they do stupid things to screw up their kids, their marriages. They are self-centered, self-seeking and arrogant. Sometimes I want to scream at them and other times I want to do worse than that. And then sometimes it just makes me really, really sad. And then there are times when I am forced to take a look in the mirror and realize that I am in the same boat. I am just as hopeless as they are.

And that is the good news! While I am not one to promote grace without truth (that isn't really grace), I am really glad that God's acceptance of me isn't based on my own goodness.

Click here for a satirical video from Vintage21 that makes that clear. Please don't be offended by the video - it is a satire and meant to make you think about your perception of Jesus.

Back to the Daily Grind

We're back! Two days doesn't seem like much of a vacation - especially when it's been so long since we've had one - and when the destiniation is only 3 hours away. But it was good to get away for some one-on-one time with my husband.

It is one of the most serene places I've been to. When you hike down those trails to the waterfalls and gorges, it is so quiet. Even if there are other people around, all you can really hear are the sounds of nature.

And it was fun to take Taser (our puppy) and watch her explore new places. It is really pretty in Hocking Hills. I've lived in Ohio for most of my life and never knew Ohio could be that pretty until we went to "the hills".

Taser had one near miss with a ceramic dog at a general store. When her "big, bad, ferious dog" bark didn't scare it off, she took shelter hiding between my legs. Everyone coming out of the store stopped to watch and laugh at her.

On the way home we went past an Amish furniture place and found a beautiful porch swing. Twenty-three years ago my husbnad bought me a big rustic porch swing for a wedding present even though we were broke and really didn't have the money or a porch. Now that swing is almost rotted away and isn't safe to sit in. We saw this swing and loved it. And were amazed at how low the price was - so we bought it for ourselves for an anniversary present (our anniversary isn't until June but we wont be back that way for a long time). Then we had to get it home - in a Jeep Wrangler. That turned out to be interesting to say the least since there isn't a lot of room in a Jeep and we already had a large dog crate and our luggage in the cargo area. We finally took the top off and stood the swing upright, then tied everything including the doggie crate down and took off. Yeah, we looked like the Beverly Hillbillys, but we saved the cost of shipping the swing and had fun at the same time.

Some of you have asked for pics of Taser as she grows, so here she is....

Monday, April 17, 2006

I'm a Jeep Wimp

I know, I know, Jeep owners all over will think me a big wimp. I suppose I am. You see I get a lot of flack for not taking my Jeep offroading. I can't. It is my only mode of transportation and it has to get me to work so I can't afford to take it off road and break it. My biggest offroad experience so far is to park on the grass in back of the church. Sad. I know. SO, ,y Jeepin' friends who read here and know what a Jeep wimp I am will get a kick out of this and I may never live it down, but I'm just TOO proud of myself and have to let the world know that ...

I ....

Took the back seat out of my Jeep .....

All by myself!

(thurnderous applause)

Thank you.

You must understand - I am not in the least mechanically inclined. And since I've never had the need to remove the back seat, this was a first. Before you laugh too much, let me asure you that I DO remove the windows - at times. IF the wind won't blow my hair too much. :) Since I mainly just drive to work or church, I don't even do that too often. But there have been times when I take the top off, throw caution to the wind, and enjoy the ride.

Now, I'm out of here - to do just that.

*Sorry, the only pic of my Jeep is when it was filled with backpacks to take to the rez.

Gone For a Few Days

We are leaving for what is supposed to be our vacation this year. If that sounds like I'm disappointed, I am a little bit. It's been a long time since we have had a real vacation and I had hoped to have one this year. My husband has a very stressful job (minister) and really values time away to relax and refresh but he has graciously given that up for the past few years so that he can go with me when our group goes on the Pine Ridge mission trips. I had decided that this year I was going to pay for him to have a real vacation rather than putting a lot of my own money into the mission trips. I kind of felt like I had done my part and then some and that ministering to my husband by giving him time on "some beach, somewhere" was just as important. But in the end, we couldn't afford to do what I had planned so we canceled our reservations and settled for two days away at one of our favorite places. We will be going to a state park a few hours from home. Hocking Hills is beautiful. Really beautiful. It is one of the most peaceful places on earth, almost like a holy place. We're taking our puppy Taser and will hide out in the woods for a while. I'll see ya'll when we are back.

*The waterfall in the pic is one of the places we will be hanging out.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Great Day to Get Kicked Out of Church

19 years ago on Easter Sunday was a bad day for my husband and I. He was pastoring a small church in Alabama and we were asked to leave. Actually, we were forced out. No immorality. No big sin. No real reason other than a few people had always controlled the church and they wanted us out.

We lost everything. We lost our home because we lived in a parsonage. We lost our source of income. We had to move to another state and to live with my parents, so we lost our friends. We lost our dog who had been part of our family since he was a puppy. And I watched as my husband lost his self-esteem becuase he was not able to provide for our family. It did not feel like Easter with all of it's promise of life after death. It felt like death.

The next week we walked into our current church and found a seat on the back pew hoping no one would notice us. They did. The pastor, who had been my pastor as a kid, noticed and called out from the pulpit in front of everyone, "Amber, is that you back there? Is that your husband? Where are you all pastoring now?" What a loaded question. My husband and I were looking at each other and wondering how to answer that when a man who we had never met before stood up and said, "They are here looking for a church". Again we looked at each other and wondered who in the world this man was and how did he know that? The rest is history, as they say. The next Sunday my husband was preaching at that church and several months later they voted to bring him on staff.

Over the past 19 years I have watched as God has restored every single thing we lost. And He restored it beyond our wildest imaginations. I even have a new puppy that looks an awful lot like my old dog.

At the time I thought, "What an awful day to be kicked out of a church. Easter Sunday???" But as I look back and see how God has so completely and faithfully fulfilled each promise, I can say that Easter is a great day to get kicked out of a church. Not only does it represent the day of Jesus ressurection and victory over death, but it is also a day marking His faithfulness to me.

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer

Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things
Grace by U2

Saturday, April 15, 2006

May you know the depth of His love for you this Easter

"the cross is foolishness to the world, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God ...."

Keith Richards has said, "I mean, a guy hangin' on a cross, what a logo." I love Keih but I have to argue that it is just the kind of logo I want and need because God on the cross reveals the fullness of God’s love for me as well as the inadequacy of all my efforts to “patch up life to please God.

Well, watch the video. It really doesn't need my commentary. Have a blessed Easter.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Psalm: A Lament

Last week in Sunday School I taught on the book of Psalms using the music of U2. The main point was that even though the Psalms are known as a book of thanksgiving, at least 1/3 of the Psalms are classified as laments.

We talked about how the Psalms help us to bring our whole human experience (the good stuff and the bad stuff) before God in raw honesty. I ended the class by asking them to write their own Psalm beginning with their own personal lament of "How long. How long must we sing this song", and ending with thanksgiving by saying, "I will sing, sing a new song". (U2 fans will recognize those lines. ;) )

I too participated in writing a Psalm of my own. I will not share it here (I'm not a good writer) but I will share what my lament is....

I often wonder "how long" until the church finally grows up and becomes "the Church". I see so much self-indulgence and materialism in the body of Christ - the place where it least belongs. I've often talked in Sunday School about not allowing our culture to affect our faith, but rather to let our faith affect our culture. Unfortunately, I think it is often the other way around.

This is a problem in all parts of the body of Christ, but I see it more acutely in my own congregation because that is where I spend my time. It troubles me to see so much self-indulgence in the church and especially in my own church, among the people that I love. There are people in my church who go on lavish vacations. Now, I have nothing against vacations. I hope to go on one myself next year, or if not then, the next. The world is wide and I believe you should see as much of it as possible. And we all certainly need time to "get away from it all and relax". Not thing wrong with that. I encourage it. God certainly gave us a beautfuil world and we shouldn't offend him by not enjoying it.

What I have an issue with is that some people go on two or three of these vacations a year. I watch as money is spent on "self" while we have a Youth group, a mission trip to Haiti, and a mission trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that are hurting for lack of money. We have a choir that takes one or two "choir trips" each year. Sometimes they sing in other churches, but some of their trips can only be described as lavish vacations. They travel to Nashville and stay at the Opry Land Resort, see shows, eat out, and shop till they drop. They do fundraisers at church to pay for this and it irks me to no end. They rationalize that if they have devotions every day then it's a "retreat". If I participate in their fundraiser (I don't) I am basically paying for their vacation. All the while I cannot afford a vacation of my own. That is one thing, and only a minor thing, what is not a minor thing is that we have mission projects that suffer because of it.

We also have a number of people with expensive "toys". Hobbies. Again, not a thing wrong with that. I happen to love Harleys and ride them whenever I get the chance. I would own one if I could afford too. It's not that they have things that bugs me, I have a few hobbies too, it's that they have SO MANY and other people in other parts of the world have so little.

I am not offended simply becuase I happen to head up one of the mission projects. I would feel this way if I were not directly affected. I just think it is wrong to lavish ourselves with all of the best of everything while others struggle for basic needs. I know of no nicer way to say it - it's just wrong.

Haiti is one of the poorest places in the world and Pine Ridge reservation is located on the 2 poorest counties in the U.S. I've been to both. I will never forget waking up in Haiti every morning. I slept on the roof of the compound. There was a 3 ft. wall around the roof and a big crack in the portion of wall I slept near. Each morning as I lay in my sleeping bag waking up I would look out that crack and see two little Haitian kids with dirty bare feet and their little donkey that was really just a sack of bones. I would finally get out of bed thinking, just another day in paradise.

The human suffering was immeasurable in Haiti. Walking through the clinic I was mobbed by people needing medical help. One day as I was pushing my way through the mob I was grabbed by a rather determined mother who pointed to her little daughter, a girl that was maybe 7 years-old. She had a huge tumor growing on her face. It broke my heart but then, my heart was broken many times in Haiti.

Another memory is of traveling to The Far West in the back of a dump truck full of beans and rice. When the people heard the truck coming they would run, sometimes for miles, behind the truck in hopes of getting a small bag of beans and rice. I will never forget the look of sheer desperation in one mother's eyes as she held her child on her hip and ran after the truck. She knew if she did not manage to get a bag of beans and rice, her child would not eat.

I remember comng home from Haiti and going to the grocery store. I felt the sting of injustice as I stood in the store thinking, "my God, we have 300 differnt kinds of cheese". A week before I had watched two twin babied die because there was not enough oxygen. In the States, they would have been fine but in Haiti there is not enough of anything - not even enough oxygen.

And at the Pine Ridge reservation it is better, but not by much. Yes, there is alcoholism on the reservation. Lots of it. And becuase of it, there is child abuse and hunger on the reservation. Last year we were all shaken when we saw some of the kids taking scraps from the plates of other kids and putting them in their purse or pockets so they could take it home for their family to eat. The thing that strikes you there is the complete lack of hope. You can even see it in the smallest child's eyes. It is like they know that life will never be any different than it is.

I know there will always be the injustice of poverty and diesase in the world. And I'm fully aware that we can't change the entire world. It just makes me sad and it frustrates me to see the degree of materialism and greed in the one place where it should never be found - the church.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

What?!?!? Well, If You Insist...

Don't ask me why, I'm swamped with work but I did one of those online face comparisions at My Heritage to see what celebrity I look like.

I was shocked,



and amused

to find out that I look like Pam Anderson. Don't belive me, check here.

That's OK, I don't even believe it.

Maybe with a face lift, major boob implants, and serious lipo suction. Oh and I'd better bleach my hair blonde too. Then MAYBE...

Monday, April 10, 2006


I always enjoy watching children take communion. I'm sure that there are some churches that would not allow a small child to participate in communion, but I think they are missing a blessing. Somehow, I think kids often have a better handle on it than adults.

During the evening service yesterday I watched as one young mother took her 3 year-old son to the altar with her for communion. She patiently explained it to the wiggly little guy who then gladly ate and drank it with the unhibited delight only a child can express.

Shortly after that another family knelt at the altar with their 2 year-old. I smiled as I overhead the little girl asking "What's that?" followed by yet another "What's that?" from a few pews away. Her grandmother, a good friend of mine, explained about the body and blood of Jesus in terms her grandchild could understand. After eating the cracker and juice the little girl looked up and shouted "I want some more!"

After the service I overhead one of the teenage boys as he grabbed a friend and said, "Hey there's leftover juice and crackers in the back - let's go get it!" I thought about how some people would find that quite offensive and felt sory for them. I'm glad that our church with all it's flaws allows people to experience even something as sacred as communion with such freedom.

I then wandered into the Narthex and soon found myself in conversation with another lady. She told me it was the first time she had taken communion even though she has been a Christian for years. She had been raised by a mother who warned her to never touch communion unless she was absolutely sure that she was deserving.

I thought it sad that so many miss out on the sacrament of communion because they don't feel they deserve it. I mean, isn't that the whole point of communion - that none of us deserve it. I thought about how different her experience was from that of the children who were freely partaking and asking for more and I wondered how many other guilt-ridden followers of Jesus needlessly miss out on true communion with Him.

I've been reading Psalms lately. And I am reminded of how the psalmist expressed such honest and sometimes even raw emotion before God. In one phrase there is tortured lament and questioning God, and in the next extravagant praise for a God who sees and hears our pain and acts on our behalf. I am grateful to follow a God who is not put off by our messy emotions or our doubtful faith. I wish we all had a childlike inhibition and felt free enough to bring our brokenness into communion with Him and leave exclaiming "I want some more".

Peace (A Communion Blessing from St. Joseph's Square)

Rich Mullins and Beaker

Though we're strangers, still I love you
I love you more than your mask
And you know you have to trust this to be true
And I know that's much to ask
But lay down your fears, come and join this feast
He has called us here, you and me

And may peace rain down from Heaven
Like little pieces of the sky
Little keepers of the promise
Falling on these souls
This drought has dried
In His Blood and in His Body
In the Bread and in this Wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you

And though I love you, still we're strangers
Prisoners in these lonely hearts
And though our blindness separates us
Still His light shines in the dark

And His outstretched arms are still strong enough to reach
Behind these prison bars to set us free

So may peace rain down from Heaven
Like little pieces of the sky
Little keepers of the promise
Falling on these souls the drought has dried
In His Blood and in His Body
In this Bread and in this Wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you

And may peace rain down from Heaven
Like little pieces of the sky
Like those little keepers of the promise
Falling on these souls the draught has dried
In His Blood and in His Body
In the Bread and in this Wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you

Copyright 1993 - Edward Grant, Inc.

Sisters of the Precious Blood

I wish I had a camera phone. If I did, I would have taken a picture of a sign I saw today and posted it here. I was out and about with my husband and we passed a convent that had a sign that read:

Sisters of the Precious Blood
Oppose the Death Penalty


It struck me that a person could take that in a couple of different ways.

First of all, if Someone hadn't been given the death penalty, there would be no "sisters of the precious blood".

Then I thought, what if some sort of mafia sorority were operating out of that building. It would make sense that female hit women would oppose the death penalty if arrested.

I should say I suppose, that I too oppose the death penalty and have nothing at all against nuns. It's just that sometimes, some things, strike me as very strange.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Personal DNA

Here is a personality test that is a bit different. For the most part, it seems to be on target for me. I am a Respectful Designer. To take the test, click here.

Take the test yourself if you're so inclined and let me know how it went for you.

*EDIT* The link doesn't work. And I didn't save my own results so I guess they are gone forever. I did fix the link so that it takes you to the home page where you can take the test yourself if you wish.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Music Shuffle Quiz

I got this over at Barbara's Blog.

Instructions: Go to your music player of choice and put it on shuffle. Say the following questions aloud, and press play. Use the song title as the answer to the question. NO CHEATING.

How does the world see you?
Shattered, by TheRolling Stones (LOL)

Will I have a happy life?
On The Coast of Somewhere Beautiful by Kenny Chesney (one can only hope)

What do my friends really think of me?
Empty Space by Lifehouse (geez, thanks guys)

What do people secretly think of me?
Heaven In His Eyes by Rich Mullings (wow)

How can I be happy?
He is Exaulted by Twila Paris (I'd say that would be about right)

What should I do with my life?,
Be With You by Rich Mullins (good advice)

What is some good advice for me?
Oh Holy Night by Harry Connick Jr. (weird)

How will I be remembered?
How Mountian Girls Can Love by the Stanley Bros. (funny, but not my music - can you belive my son listens to bluegrass?? Where did I go wrong??)

What is my signature dancing song?
Respect by Aretha Franklin (now if I could only dance that would be one I'd love to dance to)

What do I think my current theme song is?
Indian Outlaw by Tim McGraw (again, my son's music but funny since I am part American Indian and I do go to the reservation every year)

What does everyone else think my current theme song is?
Picking Up The Pieces by Seventh Day Slumber

What song will play at my funeral?
You Ain't Nothin' But A Hound Dog by Elvis (LOL, too funny)

What type of men/women do you like?
She's a Rainbow by the Rolling Stones (YIKES!!! That is SCARY! I was SO tempted to cheat when that one came on))

What is my day going to be like?
Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet (oh my)

17 Years Ago

Seventeen years ago at this very moment, I was giving birth to my second child. That's his most recent picutre with his used-to-be girlfriend. I could tell you what a great kid he is, that he loves baseball, playing with his Play Station, that he has never given me and his dad a moment's trouble. I could tell you that he's honest and trustworthy.

I could tell you that he is often chosen as a "leader" in school. I could tell you that all the girls go nuts over him. But then, I'm his mom so you might think I was a wee bit prejudiced.

So I could back up my claims by telling you that all of his teachers say the same thing, and always have. I could also tell you that his boss at McDonald's offered him a $3 raise to stay when he gave his 2 week notice. I could also tell you that the reason he quit McDonald's is becuase when he was working there a man and his family came in and noticed how polite Logan was and began talking to him and eventually offered him a job at Frischs. But then you would just think I was bragging. Darn right I am. :)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Pic of the Day

I don't know why but I just love this picture. It was a "mistake" becuse I was trying to get the little girl's big grin and got her feet instead, but I love it and somehow I think it captures her sheer delight better than it would have if it had turned out like I had planned. One of the really cool things about going to the reservation every year is getting to see some of the kids really having a blast.

I don't know how many people who read here ever visit my other blog for our Pine Ridge Mission Trips - it's mostly inactive but it's getting closer to the time for the trip (July) so I will be posting a "Pic of the Day" over there until we leave. If you're interested, enjoy!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Romantic Rebel??

Let me explain...

I went shopping the other day. You see, I've gained weight and summer is coming and I am not going to be able to hide in a jacket much longer. I will look pretty silly walking around in a coat in 85 degree weather. SO, it was off to the discount store. That was where I discoverd that ALL of the new styles, while very cute on the hanger, look horrendous on me. I even tried a extra large size thinking that maybe then they wouldn't cling so bad. Clinging when you're my size is NOT a pretty thing. But no, regardless of the size, the fabric is a clingy type of fabric. Now WHY they make extra large sizes in that kind of fabric is beyond me. I was about to resort to shopping in the men's department when I decided to go to Penny's instead. Normally I don't shop there but I thought I might be able to find a sale. And alas, I did find a sale, and a shirt that didn't cling... and I like it! It is pretty, and pink, and all the edges of the fabric are frayed. Woo hooo!!! Now I have one shirt that mostly fits and doesn't cling to show ever ripple and roll. I looked up at the sign above the rack of clothes to make sure they were on sale and don't you know, they were from the line called "Romantic Rebel". I rolled my eyes and thought about how my son would get a kick out of that.

I have several, vastly differing reputations. If you line up ten people and ask them to describe me, you would likely feel like they were describing ten different people. To some (those that do not know me well at all), I am a snob. Many of my friends will tell you that they did not like me for the longest time because they perceived me as being stuck up. Nothing could be further from the truth - the truth of the matter is that I'm absolutely terrified of meeting new people, and so, I'm very difficult to get to know. It's not that I don't like people, it's that I'm quite sure they wouldn't like me.

Others, might tell you that I'm a bleeding heart who's passion is hanging out with those often considered outsiders in hopes of sharing some of the love of Jesus with them. That is true, but I don't do this nearly as often as I would like. Many people think I work at our local homeless shelter. I do not. In fact, it's embarrassing to admit how long it's been since I've even darkened their door to drop off food. I do however take groups on mission trips in the summer and I have started Chistian 12-step recovery groups, and I've done a few other things for "those people", so the reputation has stuck. It's mostly true, but not as true as I wish it were.

And then there are those who think of me as a rebel. How in the world they think that, I'll never know. It can't be that I wear jeans to church (something that's not done if you're a pastor's wife in the mid-west). It can't be that I drive a Jeep. It can't be that I drive that Jeep into the parking lot at church blaring anything from the Rolling Stones to Aretha Franklin. It can't be that I have a tattoo. It can't be that I used to drive a '68 mustang and did donuts in the church parking lot. Nah ... I'm actually one of the more respectful people you'll ever meet. I don't let people put me in a box (which may be why I don't even like being seen as rebelious) but I really do respect those in authority and abide by the rules ... for the most part.

OK, I'll admit that there is a grain of truth in all of those descriptions. But really, I'm pretty boring. My perfect day would be a day of staying at home by the fire and reading a book and maybe doing some crocheting or scrapbooking. I love to cuddle on the couch with my dogs and watch moveis. I make the best apple pie you'll ever eat and fried chicken that my kids request for their birthday dinners. When my kids were younger I was admanant about being an at home mom and am grateful that I was able to do that. I volunteered at school and went to ever T-ball game my kids had. I do love Rock music, but I really don't love going to concerts. I'd rather stay at home and watch a DVD of the concert. I've only actually been to one concert - the Doobie Bros. way back in the 70's. I hated it. I loved the Doobie Bros. at the time but I truly thought I'd died and gone to hell when I went to see them. I distinctly remmber thinking that hell must be an eternal rock concert. And I was NOT a Christian by any means at the time. I was supposed to go to the infamous Who concert in Cincinnati where several people were trampled to death, but it turned out I had to work and couldn't go. Just as well.

So there you have it. I'm just a homebody who has an aversion to being controlled by other people and happend to find a shirt that I liked from the Romantic Rebel line.


Since Barbara asked, I am going to go ahead and post about my cousin Brad. I was going to wait until the 17th to post about him, but I'm going to be going out of town for a few days then and I seem to be on the subject now so .....

Where to begin talking about Brad. At age 28, he was my youngest cousin and was possibly the last person I would have expected to commit suicide. He was bright, funny, sweet, loved his niece, his cat, hockey, and seemingly loved life. His parents are wealthy and live in the house that was the Parade Home of the Year. That of course brought lots of onlookers who would drive by the house to get a look at it. While that might annoy a lot of people (me), it seemed to only provide Brad with another way to have fun. One person told of his hanging out of the upstairs window shouting, "Come on in ... for a quarter you can have the grand tour". Giving the "Grand Tour" was something Brad did for anyone who happened by that he took a liking to. Never being shy, Brad was the kind of person who never met a stranger and loved having fun.

On the other hand, Brad was a very sensitive kid. He loved cats and adopted one that had been hit on the road. From that time on he and his cat were together all the time. He cared about people too. Even though his dad owned the company, Brad was never "too good" to mingle with the factory workers. He preferred bring a brown bag lunch and sitting with the guys on their lunch breaks to ordering out and eating with the "big guys".

But Brad suffered from depression. Severe depression. I'm not sure that he was ever diagnosed but he seemed to have several of the symptoms of bi-polar disorder. I am also not sure of Brad's spiritual condition but I know that a year before he died he made a profession of faith and asked to be baptized. His girlfriend has told us that many times when Brad was in the depths of depression she would find him curled up in bed with his Bible. It was that dark depression that eventually got the best of Brad. In April of 2005, at 4:30 in the morning, Brad hung himself in his grandmother's barn. His dad and brother found him the next morning as they were getting ready to work in the fields. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to open a barn door and see your son hanging, dead. And then to have to cut him down and hold his body for an hour or more before the police arrive. I'm not sure I could stand it. I am sure my uncle will never be the same. Actually, none of us will be.

Brad's death has left so many people with so many questions. Questions that will never be answered. It did bring to light, in the most hideous way, the dysfunctional ways our family relates. You see, we all knew Brad was in trouble, but we weren't supposed to know. That's how it works in my family (or doesn't work). One person will tell another person but tell them not to tell knowing full well that they will tell. Then we all end up knowing stuff that "we're not supposed to know" so we act as if everything is normal - even when things are terribly, terribly wrong. I've seen that pattern for years and have joked about it because frankly, there is little chance that it will change. But when Brad died, it wasn't something to be joked about anymore. Two or three of us "kids" brought it up, hoping that our parent's generation would be willing to acknowledge this unhealthy behavior and maybe change it. Afterall, it was a bit hard to deny the damnable nature of it with one of the "kids" laying in a casket. A year later, things have not changed.

I will never forget the moment I learned of Brad's death. It was after the morning service at church and we were meeting friends to have lunch at Popeye's. My two sons and I as well as our friends were all there waiting for my husband to arrive and wondering where in the heck he was at. He finally arrived but instead of taking his place in line, he gave some money to our boys and said, "Amber, come with me, we have a ministery errand to run". What??? A ministery errand??? I had worked a 12 hour shift the night before and then rushed to church and I was HUNGRY. I asked him why we couldn't eat first and then go but he insisted that we leave immediately. Looking back, he just wanted to get me out of Popeye's so he could tell me about Brad. My mother had gotten home from church and gotten the call from her sister and she had called Brian (my husband) screaming. Once in the parking lot, Brian told me that Brad had killed himself. I have to say I was shocked but not surprised. A week earlier I had told my parents that Brad's parents needed to take him to a hospital because if they didn't he would kill himself. So, my immediate reaction was anger. I was angry about so many thing ... that his parents didn't take him to a hospital... that our family was so screwed up that none of us could reach out to Brad without letting the family secret out ... and finally I was angry with myself for allowing the sick family system to keep me from reaching out to Brad. I was as guilty as anyone else because with my training in psychology and my experience in working with mentally ill people, I knew he was going to attempt suicide and I did nothing. Least of all I was angry with Brad. There were times during the funeral that I wanted to pull him out of the casket and smack the kid for what he'd done, but I also know that he was not in his right mind and had no idea of the pain he would leave behind. I understand why he felt he needed to go. I just hate it. It was SO unnecessary.

A year later I have dealt with those feeligns as well as anyone can I suppose. I am no longer angry, just empty.

One thing I am grateful for... at the funeral I really did enjoy being "home". I seldom go home anymore. There is joy there but in the past there has been a fair amount of pain there for me too so I've avoided it. Now it's just that I don't take the time. After Brad's funeral another of my cousins and I took a long ride of his Harley. It was great. We rode out past the cemetery where we'd just buried Brad and then took off to feel the wind in our hair and talk - something we never do anymore. It was good and is a memory I will always cherish.