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, January 22, 2006

A Keeper of Promises

It's been a while since I have had a chance to blog my thoughts and feelings about something rather than just the events of the week. This post is somewhat an elaboration on my last post where I had described our sick puppy.

We had only had Taser for a week when she became very ill. The second visit to the vet gave us little hope. According to the vet, our only recourse was to watch her to see if her condition worsened and then take her immediately to an animal hospital for emergency surgery. Even at that the surgery would not cure her - only relieve her suffering for a time. To say the least, things were not looking good.

That weekend was not a good time for her to be so ill either - I had to work 27 hours between 11pm on Friday night and 8am on Sunday morning. That was a lot of time away from my sick puppy and I felt so helpless to do anything for her. I tried calling off work but was told that was not an option. Even though we had only had Taser for a week, I was very attached to her and was very upset that she was so sick and it looked as if we would lose her. Funny how attached you can get to a dog in a matter of a week. Before I left for work we tried to get Taser to eat something but she was too lethargic to be interested in food - until I had the idea of getting her some of the leftover chicken we had in the fridge. She perked up at that and ate it pretty well considering her condition. Then I left for work. On the way there I had a good long talk with God. It was not a pretty talk either. I know, I know, who am I to argue with the almighty but that has never stopped me before. Actually, I agrue with him quite regularly. I always lose of course but at least I have my say.

I had given some thought as to why this puppy meant so much to me and came to realize that she symbolized something much more than just a puppy. For one thing, not much has gone my way in some time. 2005 was not a good year for me. It seemed that anything I got excited about was somehow taken from me. Frankly, I needed something for "me" for a change. And too, several years ago I had a German Shepherd named Bear that was my baby. I had gotten him before I married my husband and he was the center of our attention for several years. Then we went through a bad time in a church in Alabama and were given the left foot of fellowship (we were kicked out). That experience was horrible to put it mildly. Even the way we were asked to leave was underhanded. For instance, The leaders of that congregation went around to the elderly shut-in who could not read well and asked them to sign a "letter saying how much you love pastor Buriff". Not being able to read it, the old people signed it readily not knowing it was acutally a petition asking us to leave. Later we were told by some of them that just didn't understand why we were leavning becuase the church had just given us a letter of appreciation.

It is never easy for anyone to lose their only source of income. Even though being a pastor is not a "job" and the pay is rarely what attracts one to ministry (trust me on that one and if you don't try living on a pastor's salary), it is your livlihood and it is hard to lose it. In addition we lived in a parsonage so we had to move out quickly. With nowhere else to go we came back to Ohio and moved in with my parents until we could get back on our feet. Moving meant that we had to leave behind the only friends we really had. We were pretty broken after having lost so much ... we had lost our income, our home, our friends, and then we had to give our dog Bear away as well because we couldn't keep him where we were. That was about the final straw for me. I remember telling God, "OK, I given up everything here .... I'm down to family members now .... surely you don't expect me to give up any thing else".

I remembered a promise in Mark 10:29-30 "And Jesus replied, "Let me assure you that no one has ever given up anything-home, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or property-for love of me and to tell others the Good News, who won't be given back, a hundred times over, homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land-with persecutions!" now I'm aware that there are many ways to intrepret this verse and let me assure you that I in no way adhere to the prosperity teachings so popular on Christian TV but I do have to say that I've seen this verse come to pass in my own life. When we moved to Ohio, within a week my husband had a job that paid very well. It was not a nice job, (telemarketing) but it did provide for our family. We also found our way into a church that is just so much better than the one we left in Alabama. And eventually we moved into our dream home - a far cry from the parsonage in Alabama where the sewer backed up into the dishwasher. And we do have good friends here too. The only thing missing was the dog. We did have other dogs and in fact we have a wonderful black lab named Jazz but I had always wanted another German Shepherd and Taser had in some ways that I had not even realized, come to represent that German Shepherd.

SO, at work that night (I work nights) I was quite angry with God and told him so. I was even so bold as to remind him that he had "promised" and that I meant to hold him to that promise. It is quite possible that I was sorely out of line in doing so, but thankfully we serve a graceous God. After giving him a piece of my mind I walked outside into the cool night and looked up at the sky and saw the first "moonbow" I've ever seen. I take it that was God's way of telling his spoiled brat of a child that it was all going to be OK. I came home the next moring to a new dog. Taser was feeling fine and has been eating like horse, growing bigger by the day and being a general menace. Last week at the vet she was given a clean bill of health and amazed them all with how much she has grown.

If I have learned anything at all from following God for the past 30 years, it is that he is a keeper of promises and can be trusted to be faithful even when we are not.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Life in Limbo

"This day we just sailed on ..."

From the diary of Christopher Columbus

That pretty much sums up my life of late. Just putting one foot in front of the other and taking things a day at a time. I can't really look too much further ahead than a day because things change far too rapidly. It's good practice for me, and a good reminder that so much of life is out of my control and the best I can do is take life as it comes and trust God.

Here's a bit of what's been going on:

Taser, our new puppy became ill about 3 days after we got her. We took her to the vet and discovered that she had worms. Apparently the kind of worms she had were the kind that can cause the intestines to turn inside out - obviously a fatal condition. The vet gave her some medicine and the next day she was a new dog. Life was good again until a few days later when she became even more ill. We were all convinced that she was on her deathbed. Another trip to the vet for an x-ray, fluids, more medicine. She was really not doing well at all and I was upset because I was due to go work a 12 hour shift and really didn't want to leave her. We prayed ... hard ... and I gave her some chicken to encourage her to eat. To our amazement, she came alive when she caught a wiff of the chicken and has been quite well ever since. She is back to being a menace and has probaby doubled her size in 2 weeks. Now if I could just get her to stop biting me! I've taken to biting her back in hopes that she'll get the message that people are not food.

The mission trip to Pine Ridge is going pretty normal, which of course means that NOTHING is predictable. Last week we lost 3 team members and almost canceled the trip, then the next day we gained two more team members and the trip was back on.

Today my son called at 6:30 am to tell me he and the girl he rides to school with were in a wreck. He said he was fine so I called the school to let them know he would be late. Two hours later he called from the nurse's office to ask me to bring Advil to school for him - his back was hurting since the wreck. The driver of the car that rear-ended them was in the counrty illegally and did not have insurance. This afternoon my husband is taking Logan to the ER to be checked out just to be sure he's OK since he is having back pain.


That's what has been going on here .... I'll try to get back to real blogging sometime soon. :\

Friday, January 13, 2006

Don't miss this ...

Several of you who read here also read the Today At The Mission site, but for anyone who doesn't, don't miss this post. It's excellent!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Layla's Questions

Layla asked us some questions on her blog and I thought I'd answer here.

QUESTIONS!

1. What was your favorite subject in High School?

Art. I had planned on making a career of it but God had other plans.

2. What is something that makes you cringe? (like hearing nails on a chalkboard)

Seeing animals hurt.

3. What countries have you visited?

Romania, Haiti, Mexico, Grand Cayman, and of course I landed in airports in many other places but I'm guessing those don't count. Although .... I did have an interesting experience in a Vienna airport once.

4. What is something you've done in your life that you are proud of yet embarrassed to talk about.

Raising two really great boys.

5. How long have you been blogging?

Not too long. I can't remember when I actually started but somewhere in the past 6 months.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Beginning Ministries III - Addressing Gary's Questions

I have a question about starting ministries. If I recall correctly, you were instrumental in starting the Pine Ridge trips, the Haiti trip, and the Matt 25 proj. Am I correct? Even if I only got one out of three, I'd be interesting in hearing about the process you went through when deciding to begin these ministries.



Close, I did not start the trips to Haiti. I merely went along. I prefer going along to leading as I am really good at doing what I'm told. :)


Did you wrestle with whether it was something coming from God vs. something coming out of your own needs?



Yep! I most definately did wrestle with that in every instance but in the end, I decided that my motives will never be completely pure. I don't think anyone's motives are ever completely pure. All outreach/ministry has some degree of selfishness in it and I believe that no matter how mature we are or how far along in the recovery process we are, our "issues" will always be somewhat of a factor in what we do. I dont' see that as problem big enough to sidetrack me or stop me. It is something to always be aware of and always question and take into consideration, but for me the thing is to do walk on even if I make mistakes. It could be really easy to get bogged down in questioning everything and not do what it is I'm here to do. Will I make mistakes. Absolutely. I do all the time but mistakes are OK. I think God can work with our mistakes.

A second question, for Brian if he's game. Did he wrestle with the same issue regarding writing his books? Any thoughts from either of you on risking when one seems to feel led by God to start something, but is hesitant to step out in faith because of fears, uncertainties, mixed motives, etc.? thanks



Brian isn't here at the moment, but having lived with him I know that with his first book he wrote it basically for himeself. He is the associate pastor at our church and though he loves to preach, rarely gets the opporutnity to do so. He prepares sermons each week regardless in order to "keep in practice" but most of his sermons go upreached. That is a bit discouraging for him and one way he dealt with that was to take snippets (really, really small snippets) of sermons he had prepared and put them together in a devotional book.

The second book was written because he has a unique way of looking at the book of Revelation and wanted to do some teaching on that book but again, has little opportunity to do so. I think he saw this as a tool to be able to allow people to see Revelation differently than they ever have since his focus is on application to daily living.

The last book, is a fictional novel that he began to write as "therapy" for himself after we lost our friend Pam to a boating accident.

He could awnser your questions better so I will ask him when I get the chance and try to post about it when I get the chance. I don't beleive that he ever set out to publish a book. I think it began as something personal for himself and then other doors opened for him.

Now we'll see how close I am after I ask him. :)

I hope I answered your questions ... if not, give it another shot.

Beginning Ministrires II - Pine Ridge Mission Trips

The short-term mission trips to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation grew out of The Matt. 25 Project. After the first year of TM25P I wanted to plan something bigger for the second year. I have had the pleasure of going on other mission trips to Romania and Haiti and had always wanted to go to a reservation to work with children. At that time I had no idea which reservation to take a trip to. I had never led such a group either and was scared spitless at the prospect of doing so now. For some reason, Pine Ridge kept coming to mind. I had no doubt heard of the Pine Ridge reservation before but had never been there and had no real reason for having an interest there. I am part Cherokee and the Pine Ridge reservation is home to the Oglala Lakota so I'm not sure what the interest was except to say I think God was leading me in that direction.

Then one day my mother called and told me that the church I had attended when I was a kid went to Pine Ridge every year and were going that year. Another piece of the puzzle - a way for me to go and make some contacts before taking a group there. I did the unthinkable and called their pastor and invited myself along. That is SO out of character for me because I am really very shy and unassuming. I ended up going along with their church to the Reservation that year - another huge step for me since I didn't know anyone on the trip.

I went and because of that, met the missionaries there and made some contacts. I also learned a great deal about Lakota culture and about mission trips in general. When I came home I held a meeting for anyone in our church who was interested in going on a mission trip to Pine Ridge. I shared about my experience there and set a deadline for people to sign up to go. Again, on this trip we were not using church money or property so it was not necessary to take it to the board to get approval or permission. We just did it. We had 17 people sign up and somehow we planned a trip and learned as we went. I can't begin to tell you how OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE I was. Everything involved in a trip like this goes against my nature but it has always worked out. It has never been easy. Never. Not remotely. The second year was actually harder than the first, but we continue on.

Beginning Ministries - New Life Recovery Groups and The Matthew 25 Project

Gary asked me to share about the process I went through when I started outreach ministries so here goes. I will share about The Matthew 25 Project in this post, and about the mission trips to Pine Ridge in a separate post.

First I should say that I by no means knew what I was doing and that was a good thing. It forced me to listen closer to God's leading and it meant that any "success" came from Him since I could not attribute any good that came from it to my own ability. Another advantage of not knowing what I was doing was that ingnorance is bliss. If I had known what I was getting in to, I may have opted not to do it.

The Matt. 25 Project was definately a process. It actually began years ago when we lived in Alabama. I was the leader of a very small youth group that basically consisted of 4 teenage guys who did not want to be in church but who were forced to go by their mothers. None of those boys had a good male role model in their lives and really, really needed a male youth leader but alas, they had already managed to run through every single person in that congregation and I was their last hope for a youth group of any sort. They troughoughly enjoyed fighting me tooth and nail on any given subject yet somehow I think they must have appreciated me on some level since one of the boys once got into our house and prepared a really nice dinner for me and my husband to come home to after being away in meetings all day. One thing I did was to encourage them in outreach. I did a sort of Matt. 25 Project there but it failed miserably due to lack of interest on the guy's part.

Fast forward 10 or so years....

I was now a pastor's wife at Winton Rd First Church of God and had grown really tired of trying to please eveyone and be the good little pastor's wife. That along with a lot of other baggage led to a severe depression and an eating disorder. One thing about anorexia, you can't hide it. You wear your issue like a neon sign for everyone to see. Several people in my church began to notice my drastic and unhealthy weight loss and expressed concern. Many thought I might have cancer because I looked a lot like a cancer patient except that I still had my hair. Not wanting to add fuel to the rumors and not wanting to put my friends in an uncomfortable situation when people asked what was wrong, I decided to go public and tell the church about my eating disorder.

That was both the best thing and the worst thing for me to do. I still do not know if I would recommend being so public in the early stages of recovery to others. On one hand, I had really great support from people at church - they really DID care. Not a day went by for months that I didn't have cards of support and care arrive in my mail box. On the other hand, by being so public about it gave people the impression that they had every right to comment or ask questions that were very personal in nature. I also felt as if I had an audience watching my every move as I went through recovery. Nothing like falling on your butt with an audience watching.

But, because I was so public, I gained a whole new set of friends. Every addict in the church who had hidden in shame came to me becuase they felt I "understood". In a sence, I think my being public made it OK to struggle and not be perfect for a lot of Christians who were really trying to follow Christ but were still caught in the bonds of their addictions. Unfortunately, too often in Christian circles we judge people who fail to live up to "Christian standards" and in so doing, push them further from the church and further from Christ and the grace He offers.

I was asked by many of these folks to start a recovery group at our church for those of us who struggled with addiction and/or mental illness. At that point I needed to just focus on getting better myself and that is what I did, but when I was later in a place where I was able to start a group, I did so. The New Beginnings Recovery Groups then started.

The groups were active for around 8 years I think (I'm bad with time). They eventually folded due to lack of committment. I have also found that it is sometimes harder for Christians to get into a recovery program even when they realize their brokenness. They still are taught and believe that they only need to "give it to God" and He will take care of their issues. While that IS true, what is often left out of that advice is just HOW to go about "giving it to God". Often there is a laziness that accompanies this sort of thinking as well. Recovery is hard. It requires humility and a willingness to do "whatever it takes" to get better. Just saying that you've "given it to God" is often a way to avoid the hard work of recovery.

Fast forward a few more years ....

I was still at Winton Rd. (our current church) and while I love my church, no church is perfect and it has always been my feeling that ours is far too ingrown and self-focused. We are really, really good at caring about those within our 4 walls, but not so good at caring for those outside of our own congregation. They tired to care for the addicts that came into our church as a result of the recvoery meetings but there was still the mindset of them/us. People would praise me for helping "those poor people" not realizing that they themselves were "poor", maybe the poorest of all because they did not recongize their brokenness.

I had wrestled with my discontent with that situation for years, literally, and had done my share of complaining about it. Nothing changed and frankly, it wasn't going to for a long time. During this time I was also working at a Family Christian Store and was also serving on the board of a local Christian Counseling Center. Being involved in both of those jobs gave me a good look at the church in general and I became more and more distubed by what I saw. At the Christian Counseling Center we had to beg for local churches to help us keep the doors open so we could continue to serve the low income families that often came to the center. Most of the time those pleas went unresponded to. This Conseling center was started as a ministry to the community and relied upon donations and the support of local churches to be able to provide professional counseling to anyone who walked in the door whether they had insurance or could afford mental health care or not. It was an opportunity for the Church to be the Church.


One partucular weekend things began to come to a head. I had a board meeting on Friday morning at the Christian Counseling Ctr. and saw just how desperate our financial situation was there. The fact that so many local congregations failed to support the center was disappointing to say the least. Then on Saturday morning I had a staff meeting at Family Christian Stores. A sales rep from a robe company came by to give us information about their line of clergy/choir robes. Some of those robes ran as high as $500 per robe. No one batted an eye at the cost... it was accepted that the robes were a necessary part of worship I suppose. Frankly, I still don't understand why churches would not think twice to spend that amount of something so completely unecessary and refuse to help a ministry that was taking Jesus to folks who did not attend church. To put it mildly, I got angry!

At the same time I was attending Miami University and majoring in psychology and minoring in criminology. Sherri Corbett was my criminology professor and she had a profound affect on me. (See my post below) Sherri lived her life by the adage "you can curse the darkness or you can light a candle". When she was murdered the last week of class, it changed my life in significant ways, one of which was to change my way of doing things. Rather than complain about all the church should be and wasn't, I decided to "light a candle".

While I was furious about the state of the church, I decided to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. I called a few friends who I thought might have the same vision I did for outreach and held a meeting to share my vision. I asked them to pray about whether they wanted to be a part of it or not. I dubbed this The Matthew 25 Project as I had done in the youth group in Alabama. The purpose was to bring to the congregations awareness the various opportunities in our community to serve, to be Jesus with skin on to people who did not know Him. Since I was not using church money or property there was no need to take this matter to our board of directors. It was a grassroots effort and we would raise our own money if need be. Too often the board does a really good job of doing their job - protecting the congregation's assets. I appreciate that they take great care in making their decisions but all too often things tend to get bogged down in discussion and sometimes never happen at all. I didn't feel I had time for that. Life is just too short to talk about doing something forever. I'd rather die trying to do something than to die talking about doing something.

Once we had a group of people who held the same vision, we planned a Sunday evening service, complete with a candle lighting service and the song "Go Light Your World". We had a slide show and highlighted several community agencies or ministries and talked about how people could be involved. We were not trying to do all of it - just to make people aware of what opportunities for service were out there becuase we believed that a lot of people sitting in the pews at church really DO want to serve and really DO want to reach out but do not know how to go about it or what ministry opportunites are available.

Of the many local opportunities, 2 stood out and became the most popular with people - Serve City - a homeless shelter in our town, Eagles' Nest - a home for developmentally disabled children.

Those two area ministeries are still being helped by our people though not as much as I would have hoped. Still, we as a church are moving forward in our outreach, even if it is in baby steps. We have a long way to go and a lot of growing and learning to do, but at least we're moving, sort of.

Gary, I will try to anwer your questions and talk about Pine Ridge in a future post.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

2005 in Review

I'm a bit late in posting this. Okay, so I'm a lot late. Oh well .... Wanna hear my excueses? I worked over 40 hours in 3 days over Christmas weekend, then continued to work extra hours after Christmas. This week, it's been all about puppy. Jazz is 12 years old so it has been a while since we had a puppy and I had forgotten how much WORK puppies are. It's a full-time job. I had also forgotten just how much poop a tiny puppy can manufacture. Whew! I barely get one mess cleaned up before she's making another! I'm actually looking forward to going to work and letting someone else take over puppy patrol for a while. :)

Well anyway, about 2005, here are some happenings in our family in the past year:

Cody met Allison, the "love of his life". They are not engaged, yet, but I've never seen the boy so smitten. She is beautiful and sweet and sold out to Jesus and frankly, I couldn't have hand picked a better girl for him. He is also still attendning Miami Universtity with a communications major and hopes to go into ministry - possibly with Campus Crusade for Christ. He also led a state-wide weekend of prayer and fasting for college students from all over Ohio and was one of the speakers. He is working at Home Depot and between a girlfriend, ministry, and job, he stays pretty busy.

Logan got his driver's liscence and began driving! Yikes! He also began his first job at McDonald's and has already made crew trainer. He hopes that in 2006 he will be able to get into the vocational school and start planning his career in law enforcement. He's wanted to be a cop since a particular DARE officer at his school made a big impression on him in the 5th grade.

Brian (my husband), published his third book,Beyond the Passion, a fictional novel about the days just after the crusifiction. He is still in ministry as well, and is in fact embarking on his 19th year at our church. Brian also has a heart for missions/outreach and organized 3 trips to Mississippi and Louisiana after hurricane's Katrina and Rita.

As for me, this year has been full of ups and downs, like it has been for most of the human race. Some memoral happenings are losing my cousin Brad to suicide. His birthday is tomorrow and I've thought of him often throughout the holidays. He was a bright, happy, sweet, funny kid who continues to be missed by all who knew him.

I also lost "B", one of the ladies I cared for. She was schizophrenic, and bipolar in addition to being mentally retarded. Most of the time she was a delight to work with and definately made my job anything but boring but she became violent toward the other client and had to be moved to anohter home. I miss her most of the time. That leaves me with "T", who is a pretty good fit for me but can be a challenge at times. Can't we all.

I also led my second mission team to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and began planning for the third trip that will take place in '06. In addition to that, I spent some time on the Rez without the group and was able to participate in the American Indian Council. That was a real treat and something I will not soon forget. I also went to Mississippi and Louisianna with my husband's hurricane relief team.

I continue to crochet once in a while, read, and have now discovered scrapbooking. And finally, I began blogging! Sort of. I do wish I had more time and motivation to post more regularly but it seems the daily grind is an enemy to trying to reflect and think!