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.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Consider the Trees

Spring is here. I can tell because the grass is green, the trees are blooming, and Frankie is back on main street. Frankie is a local mentally ill man who has become a fixture around our town. He can often be found laying on his belly at Kroger coloring posters, or riding his bike around main street with dozens of stuffed animals attached to his clothing and hat. These works of art he sells to anyone who will buy one from him. I myself have bought a large, nearly life-sized poster of Jesus bearing the inscription Jesus Loves You across the top.
Aside from seeing Frankie back on main street, one of my favorite things about spring is the flowering trees. Crabapples are my favorite. They are so glorious and graceful looking - so long as Brian keeps his pruning sheers away from them, and something about them always makes me feel peaceful.
I learned something from Cody the other day about trees. Apparently they know when they are dying. How they know this is beyond me, but once they realize they are dying, they flower like crazy, putting all of their energy into making seed that will go on to become new trees after they are gone rather than spending their energy on maintaining their own life.
I thougth about this and thought that we might do well to learn something from trees. We are all in a sense, dying. It may not be today or tomorrow or next week, but it might be. Even the longest life is short and none of us are promised another breath. It seems to me that once we really grasp that, that we will spend our time and energy and money on the things that are enternal rather than on the temporal.
Just wondering, if you found out this was your last year to live would your daily life change any?

Where I've Been

I've not posted for a few days for a few reasons, (1) I've been sick, (2) I've been busy with Pine Ridge, Wedding stuff, (3) nothing really to say.

But yesterday I ran across these pics of our youngest son Logan that I love. He took both of them himself.

What can a mom say.... he's a great looking kid ....and he has a great looking dog with him there too.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

To My Son's Bride: Some Things I Want You To Know


As the big day is quickly coming upon us and you are preparing to become one of our family, there are some things I want you to know.

First of all, I want you to know how pleased we are in you. Cody picked well. Very well. When people have asked me what I think of you I always answer that I could not have picked a better young woman for my son if I had hand picked one for him myself.

I am excited with the idea of having a daughter-in-law. I always dreamt of having a daughter and now I that dream is almost fulfilled. I hope that in the days ahead of us that we will enjoy some shopping trips, and lunches and all sorts of fun things and that you'll let me treat you to some nice things from time to time.

I want you to know that I love you what's more, I like you! Families sometimes love each other because we have to, but I really like who you are. I like your compassionate spirit. How you care for those who often cannot care for themselves. I've seen how you seek others to minister to, whether it be a college student who is a little confused and searching for Jesus, or whether it is a young lady at the homeless shelter who needs a friend. I was so proud of you when you invited that girl over to your apartment for Bible study and to bake cookies. You even went beyond that and took her to hand out cookies to your neighbors and in so doing, involved this young girl in the act of giving.

I like that you are committed to your church. Honestly, I had hoped, for purely selfish reasons, that you would choose to come to our church. As I said, my reasons were completely selfish because I would get to see you more that way, and because I knew you would be a huge asset to our church - and that someday I would be able to sit in church and hold and show off my grandkids the way my friends get to. But I know that as you and Cody begin your life and your ministry together, that your church is the perfect one God has in mind for you and he to attend and I am truely happy to see you there serving Him.

I like that you are so completely unselfish. As I've watched you plan and prepare for the wedding, the emphasis has always seem to be on how others will feel that day rather than on how others can make you feel special. So many times weddings are all about the bride ... and that is fine because that day is for the bride, but you have gone out of your way to ensure that others feel special that day too. That is a rare thing to see in most brides and I've been proud that my son picked someone with those qualities.

I like that you are so talented. You can do so many things whether it be making the flowers for your wedding, or sewing, or making jewlery and sit and am amazed that you are so gifted.

I like your smile and the way you get so excited when you talk about what God is doing in your life. That enthusiasm is something I really cherish about you. It is so clear when talking to you that you love Jesus with all your heart and that His passion is burning within you. Brian and I have prayed for our sons to marry girls who are in love with Jesus and it is a blessing to see those prayers answered.

There is a song called, Somewhere in the World by Wayne Watson, and when my boys were both little boys I made that song a prayer for the girls they would marry. I will post the words at the end of this post.

Our relationship will not be perfect. As time goes on, I am sure we will have some disagreements and maybe even a few arguments along they way. Families do those kinds of things, just ask Cody. But I want you to know that you can always be honest with me. That is how relationships work and want ours to be a "real" and honest relationship. And I want you to know that there is nothing you can say or do that would make me love you any less.

Welcome to the family.

Somewhere In The World
by Wayne Watson

Somewhere in the world today
A little girl will go out to play
All dressed up in mama's clothes
At least the way that I suppose it goes

Somewhere in the world tonight
Before she reaches to turn out the light
She'll be prayin' from a tender heart
A simple prayer that's a work of art
And I don't even know her name
But I'm prayin' for her just the same
That the Lord will write His name upon her heart

Cause somewhere in the course of this life
My little boy will need a godly wife
So hold on to Jesus, baby, wherever you are

Somewhere in the world out there
That little girl's learnin' how to care
She's pickin' up her mamas charms
Or maybe, swigin' around in her daddy's arms

Somewhere in the world to be
Through the future's not real clear to me
Theirs could be a tender love
Grounded in eternal love above

Monday, March 26, 2007

Visual DNA

Barbara mentioned this on her blog. It's pretty cool.

Carly Update

It's been a while since I've updated about Carly. She is still doing great and baffling the docs. She is home and is off the ventilator all day long. She is also walking about and acting like the old Carly again.

Yesterday she came to Church for the second time since being out of the hospital. I saw her parents sitting in the pew next to me but didn't see Carly. I asked Logan if she was there and he said, "yeah, she sitting next to her mom". I had been looking for and expecting a wheelchair but no, Miss Carly had walked in!

Doctors told this family last June that she would not live and that they should consider 'unplugging" the machines that kept her alive. She fooled them and lived. Then they told them that she may never be off the ventilator but again, she is fooling them. They said it might take up to a couple of years before she would walk again but she is walking by herself.

Miracles like this don't happen often. I don't know why. God makes very little sense to me. I can only trust that he knows what He's doing and be grateful when I see something like Carly's recovery.

*The pic is a recent one.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Last Night

It's been a busy weekend. Last night we gathered with several others from our church at the home of some friends and watched a Rich Mullins concert. This concert was Rich's last and was done about 2 weeks before he was killed in a car accident. The thing I've always loved about Rich is his message. His music is OK too but it's really his determination to live out the gospel in very real ways that attracts me to Rich. Here is a short portion of the video where Rich really shares his heart. It's about 9 min. long but you'll be glad you took the time to watch it.

Rich Mullins was a different sort of Christian recording artist. He is probably best know for his praise song, "Our God Is An Awesome God", or "Step by Step". His influence went much further than his music, as Brian said, he was a sort of modern day prophet who pretty much told it like it was. He refused to adhere to the usual Christian norms by appearing on stage barefoot and unshaven and looking more like a homeless man than a well-known Christian recording artist. He was also unafraid to share his own inadequacies and sins while on stage or in public. The first time I saw Rich I wasn't sure what to do with him. He was a strange blend of traits. He was funny, sometimes offensive, and yet terribly wise. The thing that really got my attention about him was after his death in 1997 it was discovered that although he was very successful as a musician he chose to give most of what he had away. He lived in a small trailer on an Indian reservation and had very few possessions. He wasn't even sure how much money he made because it all went to charity. Rich loved God with everything he had and unlike anyone else I'd ever seen.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Hard To Get

It's been a tough month and an especially difficult week. In the past month those close to me have suffered a untold pain. One man found out he has cancer, it's pretty advanced. My dad has been on a roller coaster with tests and treatment for his cancer. My parent's house flooded and did thousands of dollars worth of damage. There are countless people going through the pain of broken familes and addictions in our church. And there is death. One family in our church who I hold dear has suffered three deaths this week - two in one day. It makes no sense. Times like this never do.

You who live in heaven
Hear the prayers of those of us who live on earth
Who are afraid of being left by those we love
And who get hardened by the hurt
Do you remember when
You lived down here where we all scrape
To find the faith to ask for daily bread
Did You forget about us after
You had flown away
Well I memorized every word You said
Still I'm so scared, I'm holding my breath
While You're up there just playing hard to get

You who live in radianceHear the prayers of those of us who live in skin
We have a love that's not as patient as Yours was
Still we do love now and then
Did You ever know loneliness
Did You ever know need
Do You remember just how long a night can get?
When You were barely holding on

And Your friends fall asleep
And don't see the blood that's running in Your sweat
Will those who mourn be left uncomforted
While You're up there just playing hard to get?

And I know you bore our sorrows
And I know you feel our pain
And I know it would not hurt any less
Even if it could be explained
And I know that I am only lashing out
At the One who loves me most
And after I figured this, somehow
All I really need to know
Is if You who live in eternity
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in time
We can't see what's ahead
And we can not get free of what we've left behind
I'm reeling from these voices that keep screaming in my ears
All the words of shame and doubt, blame and regret
I can't see how You're leading me unless You've led me here
Where I'm lost enough to let myself be led
And so You've been here all along I guess
It's just Your ways and You are just plain hard to get

~ Hard To Get by Rich Mullins

This Is Going to Be Harder Than I Thought

My son is packing. Little by little he is boxing up the stuff of his childhood and preparing to move in with Allison after the wedding.

I didn't think this would be a big deal. I've often said that there will be things that I will not miss when he moves out - mostly the way he leaves his "stuff" all over the house and the way he forgets to take the trash out until it spills over onto the floor.

Yes, I've looked forward to having a daughter-in-law and someday, the most wonderful thing in the world - grandchildren. I look forward to all the great things the future will bring. And yet as I see the boxes being packed up and his once messy room begin to look empty, I feel a real sadness. I will miss our talks that sometimes become tense but usually challenge both of us. He and I think alike on a lot of things and it's good to have someone to share those things with. I know those talks will become much, much fewer in the days ahead. It will not be the end of a relationship by any means but the relationship will change. While I do believe the change will bring even better things, right now, I don't like the pain that change brings.

Of course, I have a feeling that we'll still have some of his "stuff" around the house to irritate. And since they will be living at or below the poverty level, I imagine they will be eating at our house once a week or so.

All of this reminds me of the day our youngest went to kindergarten. I had babysat 4 small children plus my own two and I was really looking forward to getting my life back once they went to school. I looked forward to the simple joy of going to the grocery store without having to buckle up several car seats. I thought I couldn't wait for the day to come when my youngest climbed on the school bus and went to school. When the day came I walked him to the corner and waited impatiently for the bus to come as I looked forward to a few hours of freedom. Then the bus came, Logan climbed on it and waved and then a horrible thing happened. It drove away and I found myself on the curb thinking that I was SO NOT ready for that.

Now I'm at another change point in life, thinking I'm ready, sometimes more than ready, but knowing in my heart that I am SO NOT ready for this.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Some Quotes

Religious organizations are stronger to the degree that they impose significant costs in terms of sacrifice and even stigma upon their members," write Finke and Stark in The Churching of America.

Shane Claiborne, in his book, The Irriestible Revolution, writes, “I am convinced that if we lose kids to the culture of drugs and materialism, of violence and war, it’s because we don’t dare them, not because we don’t entertain them. It’s because we make the gospel too easy, not because we make it too difficult. .”

And, “In our culture of ‘seeker sensitivity’ and radical inclusivity, the great temptation is to compromise the cost of discipleship in order to draw a larger crowd. Weith the most sincere hearts, we do not want to see anyone walk away from Jesus becaue of the discomfort of the cross, so we clip the claws on the Lion a little, we clean up a bit the bloody Passion we are called to follow.”

Wedding Rehearsal

Cody and Allison are getting married May 5th, so as the family of the groom, the rehearsal dinner is our responsibility.

It is going to be an outdoor wedding at a camp and we have a building there reserved for the rehearsal dinner and a good friend and wonderful cook (John) preparing the meal. Now all I have to do is figure out how to decorate.

Yesterday I spent the day shopping for decorations for the tables. Since it's an outdoor spring wedding I decided to go with spring colors. I had pink, orange, pale yellow and sage green in mind, but of course you go with what you can find. I was pleased actually. It was one of those days where everything went right. I found the EXACT number of flowers - all alike that I needed. I also found tablecloths on clearance and bought them, hoping to find more like them at the other Target. And I did! I probably have more tablecloths than I need, but that's OK. I even found M&Ms in spring colors. They are new this year - not the usual pastels that they have for Easter but bright orange, green, pink and yellow colors that are called Va Va Va Bloom! I still need to shop for table runners, napkins, etc. but I think that will be pretty easy to put together. Pictured are a few of the things I picked up yesterday. I posted them so Allison can see what I'm up to.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I LOVE This!

I just received my copy of On The Move in the mail today and I LOVE it! It is a beautiful little book filled with photographs that will touch your heart, artwork that is amazing, all of course wrapped around Bono's inspiring message at the 2006 National Prayer Breakfast. Any of these would be worth the cost of the book by alone.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Rainy Days & Mondays

Today it's both Monday and it's raining. Normally neither of those bug me, but today I'm tired and crabby. It's one of those days where I just don't like anybody or anything.

This morning I went to the doctor expecting to get my thumb taken care of. This is embarrassing, but I have a wart. I've never had a wart before but when I got one I got a doosey of one. It's under my thumbnail and the entire nail has to come off. Ouch! I thought that was what I was having done today but no, he says I need to come back in late April to have it done. I'm afraid to see the bill on this. He charged me nearly $300.00 (not a misprint) for the office visit. I can't imgine what it will cost for him to actually do something. It may cost me an arm and a leg to get my thumb fixed.

So, I treated myself to a new favorite Starbucks coffee mug and a bagel and I came home and had my bagel and coffee and did nothing. I did it all day long too.

Well enough of my grumbling. Tonight I'm going out with Brian and maybe tomorrow I'll feel like being nicer.

Shoes and Chocoate - A Girl's Dream Shopping Day

Unfortunately, I did not go shopping today. But I can't imagine too many things as much fun as shopping for shoes and eating chocolate and I happened to find a couple of ways to enjoy both and "do the right thing" by helping those who live in poverty.

I found this baby - Green & Blacks Maya Gold chocolate bar at Target! It's the only *Fair Trade chocolate I've been able to find without having to order it off the 'Net. I could do that but when I want chocolate, I want it NOW. I don't want to wait for it to arrive via the mail. Now I can run 3 min. from my house to Target and get fair trade chocolate.

And I happened across this cool web site TOMS Shoes. For each pair of shoes purchased from their company, they give a pair of their shoes to a child in Argentina. What a cool idea! They don't look so bad either, in fact, they were recently featured in Vogue magazine!
* Why Fair Trade?
While chocolate is sweet for us, it can be heartbreaking for the hundreds of thousands of child laborers that pick the cocoa that goes into some of our favorite treats. In 2001, the U.S. State Department, the International Labor Organization and others reported child slavery on many cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, source of 43% of the worlds cocoa. Subsequent research by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture revealed some 284,000 children between the ages of 9 and 12 working in hazardous conditions on West African cocoa farms. Of these children, it was reported that some 12,000 child cocoa workers that had participated in the study were likely to have arrived in their situation as a result of child trafficking.
Fair Trade guarantees producers the income they need to send their children to school and pay their workers fair wages, and provides consumers with a trusted guarantee that no forced or abusive child labor was used in the making of their products. (source - The global exchange)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Talent Show

Desi, Lucy, Ethel, and Fred

Jimmy Cash and Sheril Carter Cash

Sonny & Cher

Barbara Striestand

The Animal Kingdom

My son came home from Spring Break last night. We were talking about our weeks and somehow got to talking about animals ... It seems there's a lot we can learn from teh animal kindgom.
Apparently different groups of animals are called different things, for example, a group of lions are called a pride. geese; a gaggle, bees; swarm, crows; murder, buzzards; committee (no joke), and a group of fish are called a school. A group of Rhinos is called a “Crash.” Seems like a strange term until we understand the reasoning. Rhinos can run 30 miles per hour but can only see 30 feet in front of them. So, is that faith, or foolishness, or just following the guy in front of you?
All of these seem to have some appropriate meaning behind them. I wonder how that came to be?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I Found Something

Barbara introduced me to Shelfari, an online place to list the books I've read, am reading, or would like to read. It's pretty cool. You can join others to talk about books ... all sorts of things. Like a lot of online forums, you can invite friends to join. You're all invited by the way. Well, the only "friend" I have there besides Barbara is a guy named Jim Palmer. Ever heard of him? I'm embarrassed to say that I had not. Then I got curious and began snooping around. I wondered why in the world he had added me as a friend since I didn't know who he was. It appears he's an author of a book I have heard of - Divine Nobodies. And I found his blog, which looks to be right up my alley. I think you'll like it too. Check it out as you have time.

Just Another Crazy Thought

For Valentine's Day Brian gave me a coupon for a massage from a young lady in our church. Normally, I don't like massages but this lady knows how to give one. The tension I normally have in my neck and shoulders has disappeared and I've not had a headache since last Sunday when she worked on me. It's magical! I HIGHLY recommed Kelly to anyone who's looking for a massage. She'll even come to your home to give it to you!

So, as I lay there getting my massage, I thought, "how cool would it be to go the homeless shelter and give them massages" ... I mean, really, how comfortable can those beds really be, and some of the folks there have probably slept in worse places than a bed at a shelter. If anyone ever needed a massage, I would guess it would be the homeless.

Then I was thinking, what about haircuts and manicures? Those would be good too. I wonder how often they get good haircuts? Imagine what it would do for their self-esteem. And I was thinking that there are probably a dozen or more people at my church who know how to do that. And how cool would it be for all of us to go down there one day each month and give haircuts, manicures, pedicures, and massages. I don't know how to do any of those things, but I bet I know people who do. And I bet they would be willing to do this.

Talk about a footwashing! What a blessing it would be ... the human touch is a powerful thing and I be the people at the shelter are starving for human touch. What a great way to serve Jesus than to carry out this modern-day footwashing by serving these folks.

So I mentioned it to the lady giving me the massage and she thought it would be great. So, I'm now searching for people from Winton Rd. or anyone in the Hamilton/Fairfield are who would like to do this. You can go to our church, another church or no church at all. The only requirement is a willingness to serve others. Let me know if you're game.

Wow, I Can't Imagine

Just got this email this morning. I grew up under Ralph and Karen's ministry and am still in touch with them. I've written about them before - after their own 4 biological chilren grew up, they left the pastoral ministry and have since adopted somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 special needs children. They currently have 7 or 8 (I can't keep up) still living at home, 3 of which are in wheelchairs, 1 is autistic, and one deaf. Some have been left profoundly mentally retarded due to beatings they recieved at their biological parent's hands. Ralph and Karen truly amaze me as they live out the words of Jesus in their everyday life. These folks are the real deal. They are really having a HARD time - even hard by their standards - and could use a prayer or two. Read for yourself ....

Good Morning Friends and Family,
I will probably start this now and then finish it sometime later so if it doesn't make sense please forgive me but lately life hasn't made much sense just rush and run and chaos. Please know that even though it has been so long since I have written, you are always in my thoughts and prayers.
I guess the first news should be that Ralph fell on some black ice in February. At first, we thought that there would be some soreness and then recovery but this has turned into something that may complicate our lives for some time to come. It has developed that he hurt his back, a protruded disc and some bone deterioration has become the diagnosis. After a long wait for Workers Comp to kick in and prior the tests needed, he got an MRI last Friday. It validated what we feared and Ralph will see a surgeon on April 3. We (our doctor and us) are fairly sure that surgery will be the next step. Again we will have to wait for Workers comp to prior all the necessary steps so we ask for your prayers for pain relief and for speed with the paperwork.
Butch has been in the hospital for 2 weeks now....he had continued to not eat well without a huge fuss so the pulmonary docs decided to try the feeding program again. This time I think he is getting the message but with huge amounts of calories in his system he is not gaining the weight that they would like for him to gain and that he needs to gain to stay healthy. We are looking into other possibilities and hoping that we can figure this thing out. Of course the big thing with this is that he must earn privileges by eating...soooo I am unable to stay with him and we have actually seen him very little .......hard on Mom and Dad. We are hoping that he will be home and we can work the new steps into our family life soon.
We have had some difficulty with MRDD and FCCS over our Shelly's bed. Seems that the bed that she has been in for 15 years is now unacceptable to the regulations......even though it has been the only things that has kept her safe while we are all sleeping during the night. Well, after many months and much frustration on all parts, I think we have a solution that is acceptable to all. Yah!!!!!!! I want to thank all of you who were praying for us and for favor with our authorities.....God is good.
Most of you know that my Mom passed away while visiting us at Christmas, Daddy and Annie (my sister) have done well to move ahead with their grief and loss and have decided to move here sometime soon. We began the process this week.....Daddy and Ann came here and we got her started in the MRDD process and met with a realtor to begin looking for a house near us that would suit them. Daddy went with our daughter Dawn to look at some retirement housing and he and I went to look at a few houses......the process has begun. Please pray that we will be able to find something that is right for them here and that he will be able to get his house on the market and the right buyer will appear quickly.
In the midst of all of this , we continue to homeschool, farm and of course work at our church. Life is good but God is goooooooderrrrr. There are days when I get up wondering how I will walk through the day.......to start the steps and find myself falling into bed that night thanking God that he has walked me through. Life is always complicated in the nest....as you all know....but with God's help and our friends and family's love and help we are managing. The kids seem to be well and thriving.
Donnie and Mary Jo are finished with this years basketball. Both teams did well and it was obvious that the kids matured in their playing and in their friendships. I am so thankful for Special Olympics and the special people that it has brought into our lives. Pray for them please.
Well, the morning has started and I hear little footsteps....oops sorry not so little.....so I better close this and head to my own chores. We love you all and are curious about what is happening in your lives. Thank you again for your prayers and love and know that we love you all soooooo very much and pray for blessings in your life constantly. Have a great, even if it is wet, day and I will try to do better about communicating so the communications won't be so long.
Just me in the nest (surviving), Karen

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone - Again

This may be a long post so buckle your seat belt.

For a long time now something has been nagging me. Maybe it's God's leading (I strongly suspect so), or maybe it's a passing whim. Nope, it can't be that - it's been going on for too long to be any sort of whim. The thing is, I have said for years now that I would like to do something with the homeless people in our town. It's true, I've done a few things. I've gotten groups together to take meals down and serve them. I've organized an outdoor concert and cookout for the entire neighborhood. I've taken Jeep-fulls of "stuff" down to donate. I've done the Power Packing a time or two. But those few things have been just that - few. Just random hits and misses that require no commitment.

I've said things like, "I don't have the time". Between family responsibilities, work, and my other part-time "job" (coordinating the Pine Ridge trips) I don't have a whole lot of time. Yet I do still find time to do nothing at all.

A couple of weeks ago Brian, Cody, Allison, and myself went to some homeless "camps" around our town. A lady who works with the police department doing street outreach to the homeless gave us the grand tour. It was eye-opening.

And, now I have to do something.

Since then, I've been thinking, praying, thinking some more, talking to a few folks, praying some more. All to try to figure out exactly what I'm to do. Do I organize others at my church to get involved. I'd love that, but I'm not sure if there would be any that would want to. Still, I've gotta do something myself.

So, I've been bugging the street outreach lady with email. She's probably wondering what kind of kook she's got on the line. She has a job and it's doesn't involve answering my email. She's also on the board at the local homeless shelter. I hate bugging her. I hate bugging anybody. It feels intrusive. But I don't know where else to go to get my questions answered. So, she told me I can attend the Butler County Coalition on Homelessness meeting in April. I guess I will. What exactly that is, I've no idea. Who is the Butler Co. Coalition on Homelessness? I have no idea. What will that meeting involve? I have no idea. Is it really OK that I just "show up"? I have no idea. Have I just invited myself into something (I hate to invited myself to things)? I have no idea.

This is WAY out of my comfort zone. As if working directly with people on the street isn't uncomfortable enough, I am now bugging busy people and inviting myself to official sounding meetings. I don't do those things. Really. But then, that is sort of how the Pine Ridge trips started happening. Way back in the beginning I heard of another church in another state that was going to Pine Ridge and I just called up the pastor and invited myself. He was gracious and let his "kook" go along. That was way out of my comfort zone too. Then I went with a group of people I'd never met to a place I'd never been. That was way out of my comfort zone too.

I can only guess that there are just some times when God calls us to do things we don't normally do ... things that really go against our grain .... things that may perhaps make us seem to be a little "kooky" if we're going to follow Him.

Meanwhile, while I'm struggling with all of this, my son and his soon to be bride and actually just doing stuff. They've already been to the shelter and now have a relationship with one of the young ladies there and she is attending their Sunday night Bible study at Allison's apartment.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


One of the things I like about my church is the different people, places and cultures represented there. We have people from England, Germany, Cuba, Mexico, the Philippines, and Africa that attend our church. They are not the majority, but they are there. Some came here legally, others did not. Some came over as "boat people" seeking a better way of life. Others married someone from the U.S. It's cool to see so many different parts of the world represented in one place. And it's cool that that place is the church.

Yesterday I met with two ladies from our church. We were a strange group. One was in her 20's, the other in her 30's and I am in my 40's. One was from England, one from the Philippines, and I am an American. Talk about cross-cultural and cross-generational! We talked about a lot of things, shared some struggles, shared ideas, talked about our kids, and we talked about American patriotism.

American patriotism bugs me sometimes. I have the utmost respect for the men and women who bravely serve our country whether in our military or as First Responders (fire, police). They are true heroes - every day - whether they are in the line of fire or not. They put their lives on the line, literally, to keep the rest of us safe. Thanks and gratitude to these courageous men and women can never be expressed enough.

But sometimes, if we're honest, our patriotism becomes something other than healthy pride in our country.

I believe that patriotism can get in the way of God. I've seen it do so in subtle and not so subtle ways.

I've had people tell me that they can support the Pine Ridge mission projects because they are "here in America" and we should take care of our own first. That's a patriotic statement, but God does not make that distinction. He loves all people the same whether they are American or not and if we are following Him, we will not make a distinction either.

Last Christmas our choir did a Christmas program with a patriotic twist. That is fine, but I noticed something that disturbed me. As they were waving old glory and singing "I'm Proud to be an American" and "God Bless America", people rose to their feet. They cried. They waved the little plastic flags that had been handed out proir to the service. They were obviously proud citizens of America. But later when they sang "The King is Coming" and other spiritual songs, people looked bored. It was not that the talent was lacking - the same people sang those songs. But no one was standing then. I didn't see any crosses waving. They didn't look moved at all.

It made me wonder where our allegiance really lies. As followers of Christ, we are citizens of the Kingdom of God first and foremost.

Donald Miller wrote something in his book Searching For God Knows What that struck me as very, very true.

"I get the feeling sometimes that after thew world ends, and when God destroys all our buildings and our flags, we will wish we had seen everybody as equal, that we had eaten dinner with prostitutes, held them in our arms, opened up the spare room for them and loved them and learned from them."

Monday, March 12, 2007

Along The Way

April 26, 2007.

That is the day that will mark Brian's 20 year anniversary at the Winton Rd. First Church of God. Hard to believe we've been at the same church for that long. Shoot, it's hard to believe we're old enough to have been anywhere that long. I still feel 20-something on most days.

Another memorial date is nearing as well. Although we've been at Winton Rd. for 20 years, Brian (and I) have been in ministry for nearly 25 years. Now that can really make a person feel old. It's been an interesting journey. Well no, actually, it's been a wild ride.

We started out dirt poor. We lived in a run-down ratty trailer park that most people wouldn't live in so gypsies moved in - and so did we. People think I'm kidding when I say we lived with gypsies, but I assure you, I am not kidding. We ate commodity cheese and butter and a lot of spaghetti because it was cheap. We were surrounded by every kind of human suffering. The girl in the trailer across from us overdosed, the lady in the trailer next to us was raped by an intruder, and Jessy, the little boy who hung out at our place was hit by a car and we left dinner on the table and ran to the hospital. It seemed like every night the gypsies would fight in the streets outside our trailer.

We worked with street thugs. No kidding. Our "youth group" consisted of drug dealers, street kids, a few good church kids and one 80-something year-old man. We didn't meet at church but in a run-down building down the street from the church. Kids would sometimes just wander in wondering what was going on. Sometimes they stayed because they sensed someone cared about them there. At our very first youth meeting, a fist fight broke out.

There was a kid in the youth group named Bam Bam. That was his legal name. Really. He wasn't around for long - he was a drug dealer that was sentenced to prison. His best friend who lived here and there and sometimes on the street, came to church and met Jesus. I'll never forget him passing out paper and pencils to the youth and demanding them to write to Bam Bam to encourage him because it's what Jesus would want for us to do. He was very forceful about it. Everyone wrote for fear of being beaten up if they didn't.

From there we went to another state and worked with millionaire's kids. Now that was a challenge! The street kids were easy by comparison. I remember really screwing up and losing my temper and calling them spoiled brats. I later apologized. Nothing like apologizing to kids. Especially spoiled kids. Espeically when you were right in what you said but wrong in the way you said it. We were wined and dined and treated very well by the rich people there. One of our parishioners rented the civic center for a private party, put bales of hay on the floor and had a well-known country band play for the party. We rode on their yachts, flew in their private planes, ate with them in fine restraunts at their expense and then drove home in our broken-down AMC Spirit.

From there we went to sweet home Alabama. There we met up with a rather nasty thing called the KKK and all other forms of evil. There was porn rings, devil worshipers, and worst of all, religious church people. I volunteered at a Crisis Pregnancy Center and brought my clients to church with me. The problem, one of hte was black and our church was white. I was told that was not to be done. I did it anyway. I brought one client to church with me. She was white but from the "wrong side of the tracks". She was tattooed and her teeth were rotted out. Her baby was born in November and in December she was "Mary" in the church Christmas play and her baby was baby Jesus. I thought it was perfect. There are stories galore about Alabama but those will have to wait for another time. In short - we were asked to leave. We did.

Then it was on to Winton Rd. where we've been for the past 20 years. We've raised our kids in this church. My oldest had the same youth leaders I had when I was kid and the same pastor that was here when I was a kid, is still the senior pastor. This congregation has watched me grow up in more than one way. They were here when I was a 14 year old kid playing on the soft-ball team and as their associate pastor's wife they've gone with me through depression and eating disorders without judgement. They allow me to wear jeans and listen to rock music. They do not expect me to fit into any mold but allow me to be who God wants me to be. It's not a perfect church by any means. Some days I want to knock heads together and ask them what they're thinking. No, it's not a perfect church at all, but it's a good one.
*Update* David asked in the comment section to hear more about Alabama. In a nutshell, it was like this .... the rural town where we were was a hotbed of evil. It was where the headquarters for KKK was located. We were told that city leaders were involved in Satanism. We were told by the captian of the police dept. (a good friend) that a child porn ring operated out of there and that it was linked to organized crime. Before we arrived, our congregation had decided to change locations and purchased a 5 acre stretch of land on the Interstate. It was all heavily wooded. They discoverd that the property was where the Satanist met to hold their whatever it is they did. They offered sacrifices to Satan in an attempt to ward off the church. Didn't work.
The congregation sold their old property to a black church - that upset the locals too and the windows of the parsonage were shot out to make that point. Weird, crazy, supernatural stuff happened there. When we first went there we were told about it and I thought they were off their rocker. It sounded like stuff kids tell each other around campfires to spook each other. Soon. Very soon, we were believers too. I've never seen or experienced anything like that before or since. But in the middle of all that evil, the Church arose. Not any one particular congregation - they were part of the problem - but the real Church came together across racial and denominational lines and I've never seen anything like that before either. The only time I saw something like that since then was after Hurricane Katrina hit.


They say he looks just like his dad. What do you think? The expression here is about right. He's obviously not much of a fisherman - at least not when he's fishing for real fish.

Anyone who happens to feel like praying for Cody (my oldest son) this week, I am sure he would appreciate it and I know his mama would. Cody is on Spring Break in Chicago doing inner-city work this week. He's on the road and quite possibly in not such great neighborhoods and his cell phone is not in working order. That concerns his mom a bit, so prayers are appreciated.

The Blanket Brigade

A friend and I were chatting on the phone tonight about some of the needs for blankets, hats and coats on the Pine Ridge Reservation and in our local homeless shelter/street outreach.

Earlier in the evening I had gotten a massage and had mentioned to the girl giving me the massage that it would be cool to go to the homeless shelter and give 10 min. massages to some of the people there. She thought it was a great idea that she would like to do. Tomorrow I'll hook her up with the director.

As I was telling my friend about this I mentioned that it would be really great to have someone who could cut/do hair to go and give haircuts ... and maybe someone to give manicures too.

My friend said, "gosh, I have no talent". I told her that was a load of crap. She is one of the craftiest people I know (it the best sense). She is one of the very few people I know that still quilt. I mean really, who does that anymore??

Somehow, as conversations go, we began brainstorming about what all could be done ... ladies who love to crochet, knit, or quilt could get together and sew/knit/crochet for the homeless and for those on the Rez. It could be extended to other churches. Why not tear down some denominational walls and work together to make a difference in our world? Now there's an idea. Maybe even craft stores would allow a flier to be posted asking others to join in or donate left-over materials. This thing could really grow. Relationships could be built. Lives could change.

Then after a pause my friend said, "I love you but sometimes I hate you."

"Yeah, I know. That's OK. Hey lady, let's live on the edge. Let's see what we can do, I mean, life's an adventure after all. We're going to die one day, what's to lose."

By the way Cathy, for us NON-crafty people, I found this really cool, easy and CHEAP quilt pattern that only requires old jeans and 2 yards of flannel. Now how about that!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Vengeance is Mine

As Rich Mullins used to joke, "Vengeance is mine, thus saith the Lord, and I just want to be about my Father's business".

By nature I am not a violent person. I've only hit another person once in my life - when I was in 10th grade. As the bell rang to change classes, I stood up and picked up my stack of books. At that precise moment, a boy in my class walked past me and grabbed me where he should not have grabbed. Without thinking I instinctively whirled around and slammed my books as hard as I could into his face. I broke his nose.

I don't like violence. I don't like war. I don't even like it when people argue.

I've always been against the death penalty. I am pro-life. All life. Animals, unborn babies, and yes, even criminals. They are, after all human beings that Jesus loves every bit as much as He loves me. And as a follower of Jesus, I am to love them too.

BUT, there are some cases that really, really, really try me. When I heard about the man who kidnapped, molested and murdered 9 year-old Jessica Lunsford had buried her alive, something inside of me raged. I cannot imagine the torment that little girl went through. At times like this, I think Hell will not be hot enough for people who do such cruel things to children. Thinking that God loves this man just goes against everything I feel inside. If that were my child I am sure I would have to be restrained. I would want to mutilate that man. I would not want justice. I would want revenge. I would want him to suffer.

The love of God makes no sense to me. Of course, only God can judge a man's heart. This guy will face justice one day - if not here, in the next life. But one thing I am sure of, God loves this man. It just makes no sense.

A New Blog - And An Update on Two Weeks of Sacrifice!

Good news! Blood:Water Mission has a blog! You can find it here. They are also on MySpace. I'll be adding the link to my sidebar soon.

And today was the last day of the Two Weeks of Sacrifice! YES!!! I can drink COFFEE again!!! I had 5 cups before church and then went to Starbucks right after lunch! I may go back again this evening.

It was HARD. Last Thursday I thought I might die if I didn't have a cafe' Mocha. But then I remembered that thousands die every day in Africa for lack of something as simple as clean water. So, no, I didn't drink a fancy coffee drink and I didn't die. And today I have the luxury of enjoying a Carmel Cafe' Mocha as well as all the coffee I can put down the hatch.

Even better news ... initially we have raised $744.97 for Blood:Water Mission. I expect more to come in this evening. 100% of this will go toward building wells in Africa. I would love to see that figure rise to at least $1000.00. According to BWM, the average cost of a well is $3000.00. We still have to see what the Native Americans will do this summer. I have a feeling they will be good givers even though they have little to give. They will be able to relate to not having enough of life's necessities and they have a culture that encourages sharing rather than hording materialistic goods. I think I'll be humbled by their generosity.

I'm still looking into finding a restaurant that will become involved. Pray about that. We have an opportunity to literally change the world and save lives.

Friday, March 09, 2007

In The Line of Duty

If you read here, please take a moment to pray for two local police officers who were wounded in the line of duty this evening. One is in critical condition. When I heard the news it scared me - we have a man in our church who is a good friend who serves with the West Chester Police Dept. and I was worried it might be him, but his daughter told us that he called home to let them know it wasn't him. It was a friend of his though. I can only imagine how this will shake the entire police dept.

When I hear of something like this I feel sick. I have the greatest respect for these officers who put their lives on the line every day to ensure our safety. Besides, I'm a mom of someone who is going to be a police officer before long and I hope to never get a call like these two families have gotten tonight.
Update: Our friend was more involved that we at first realized. Here is basically what happened. An officer pulled over a car for a routine traffic stop and two of the three people in the car were armed with guns. One shot the officer in the shoulder and the thigh then sped off. Other officers responded in a chase until the car crashed. One of the suspects with a gun jumped out of the car and ran from police, firing again and shooting the second officer in the shoulder. Our friend and several other officers arrived and pulled their buddy to safety, with Dave offering to pray for the wounded officer. I am amazed at their bravery as they walked toward a suspect with no cover knowing that he had a gun and meant to kill them. Thankfully, the officers are going to be OK. The suspect died. It is not yet clear whether he died from police fire or from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Please remember this entire department in your prayers. It is not an easy thing to deal with.

Bono On American Idol??

So it would seem ... click here

I love this picture. Is that a little Bono in training?


Only 2 more days and I can drink coffee again! It's been surprising ... this week has in some ways been harder than last week. Last week was the caffeine withdraw but this week I miss it just because I enjoy it. Yesterday I wanted a cafe' mocha so bad I couldn't stand it. I was even near a Starbucks and it was SOOO tempting, but I didn't give in. I am going to Starbucks for lunch Sunday though and I may order one of everything.

A friend from church and a Pine Ridge team member who is also participating in the Two Weeks of Sacrifice, gave me a couple of things to get me through the two weeks - or torture me, I'm not sure which. He made a CD of coffee songs and he gave me a copy of CiN Weekly Magazine. This week's edition featured all of the coffee houses in the greater Cincinnati area.

Here are some interesting facts you might or might not know about coffee:
  • Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the world
  • All coffee is mountian-grown and thrives in volcanic soil.
  • Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world, second only to oil.
  • Hawaii is the only U.S. state where coffee is grown.
  • Coffee beans aren't actually beans; they're seeds. Every coffee fruit contains two seeds.
  • Dunkin' Donuts boasts the country's largest coffee sales by the cup, selling some 2.7 million gallons of coffee per person every year.
  • The ancient land of Abyssinia, now Ethiopia, is thought to be the birthplace of coffee.
  • The Fair-Trade movement was launched in the Netherlands in 1988.

The magazine also featured a Fair Trade only coffee house in Cincinnati - The Rohs Stree Cafe'

Interesting Site

Cody introduced me to this site which I have found interesting enough to suscribe to. Trying To Follow

I especially like this guerilla marketing idea. Check the site out for some good stuff!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Dress Saga Contines

If you read my last post I mentioned that FedEx had lost the package containing the dress I had ordered for my son's wedding. That was irritating and both Brian and I have been calling FedEx and bugging them to find it.

Well, yesterday it finally came! Better late than never, right? The problem is, it's UGLY! I mean, really ugly. The picture of it just does not capture it correctly - at all. And it's a bit snug. I can get into it, but I look like a stuffed sausage. Needles to say that was not the look I was going for.

So, I'm returning it. Which means that I now have to head out to various shops in search of another dress.

I went to one bridal shop yesterday but they do not carry mother's dresses in stock so I'm back to ordering from a picture. A bit frightening, especially after this experience. They had one that looked good in the picture but I have to let her know TODAY if I want her to order it. So I'm a bit pressed for time.

Today I'm off to shop and hopefully find a dress that is in stock and that I can actually SEE and try on.

This should be a fun time. I should enjoy finding a dress to wear to my son's wedding, but I dread it. Greatly. It's been fun watching Allison get her dress and seeing how the big day is coming together but I detest shopping for clothes for myself. Gaining weight will do that to you. Nothing I put on looks good on me anyway so my attitude is why bother. I had hoped to lose weight before the wedding but that's not happening. I am officially fat. I've never been fat before in my life and am not liking it now. I was always thin, then I was anorexic, now I'm fat. The thing I dread about this particular shopping trip is trying on the dresses. A day of looking at myself in the mirror doesn't rate high on my enjoyment scale. And God help the poor assistant who tries to accompany me into the dressing room.


I have a dress! It's denim.

Just kidding. I did find a dress, and shoes, and jewlery. I'm set to go once I figure out what to do with the hair.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Machines Frustrate Me

Don't get me wrong, I would have a hard time living without machines but geez, they can really mess up a day. Yesterday was one of those machine-frustration days for me.

First episode:
I had ordered the dress for my son's wedding and FedEx was supposed to deliver it. I've been tracking it and saw that it was "delivered". They also sent me an email saying it had been delivered. Problem is, it was not. We are in the process of trying to get FedEx to find it. Note to self - NEVER use FedEx again. The phone call I made yesterday went something like this:

Hello, thank you for using FedEx. Please say the command you wish to
use, "Track Package", "etc, etc, etc"

"I would like to talk to someone please."

"I'm sorry, I don't understand your command. Please try again."

"I want a human on the phone please."

"I'm sorry, I don't understand your command. Please try again."

"Of course you don't understand my command. You are a machine and you
are not programed for the call I want to place."

"I'm sorry, I don't understand your command. Please try again."

"I want a HUMAN."

"I'm sorry, I don't understand your command. You will be connected
to a sales representative soon."

"Thank you."

"May I help you?"

"Yes, I have been sent an email stating that a package was delivered on
Saturday and the package is not here".

"I'm sorry. That branch of FedEx is closed on Monday. If you do not
have your package by tomorrow, call back."


Second episode:
I ran to the store to pick some things up while Brian grabbed a nap before we went out for the evening. When I came home I hit the garage door opener like I always do. This time however, it got stuck about 3 inches off the ground. I tried several other times to open the door with no success. Frustrated, I went to the front door to ring the doorbell in hopes of waking Brian up. (I don't have a key to the door.) After ringing the bell several times it occurs to me that he has his STUPID ear plugs in. Frustrated even more, I went to get my cell phone. I called knowing that he would not pick up (ear plugs and all you know). So I left a message,
"When you decide to wake up from your nap, I'm outside."

On top of that, our answering machine went out and is making some sort of screeching sound.

Don't even get me started on how much I hate office machines.

Yeah, What He Said

I came across this blog with a review of the movie Amazing Grace which is in theaters now. This is what I would say about the movie if I were better with words and not so lazy. We saw this movie last week and I would recoommend it.

Monday, March 05, 2007


I am coming up with wild, wacko ideas again and this time I've stumbled upon an idea that could use your help.
First of all I ask you to PRAY. Then I have an idea for our church family....
Here's the deal ....
I was thinking how cool it would be if some restaurant would donate their profits from their soft drinks for ONE day to Blood:Water Mission to help provide clean, safe water to those in Africa. I'm told that is not possible, that restaurants make most of their profit from soft drinks and that none of them would be willing to lose that for even one day.

But, I figure, it doesn't hurt to ask.

So this morning I went to a local favorite in our area. Everyone in the Hamilton/Fairfield are is very familiar with Richard's Pizza. They make what is easily the best steak sandwich in the entire world.
If they choose to participate in this we will be encouraging everyone to eat at Richard's that day via radio stations, word of mouth and flyers.
For my church family - if you happen to be at Richards this week or next, ask them ask the owners to please consider participating in the Blood:Water Mission campaign.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

When Rock Stars Preach

Click Here

How much can you pack into one minute??

All I have to say is AMEN!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

This Should Be Interesting

We have a new client at work. She's visited before but yesterday the 23 year-old, cigar smoking, drama queen moved in. Her paperwork came with her along with an idea of what we can expect. She has bi-polar disorder, impulse control disorder, attachment disorder and a history of violence including inflicting bodily harm and destruction of property. She also has a history of anorexia and self-abuse.

These are just issues - we all have issues. At least that's what I'm telling myself. I myself am personally acquainted with some of her issues. I'm a bit worried about the "inflicting bodily harm" thing, but I guess if provoked enough, we're all capable of that. Actually, I like her. She's quite pleasant and interacts easily and is very friendly. Not at all like the list of disorders that accompanied her. We share in interest in scary movies. I'm just hoping she doesn't watch them to get ideas of what to do to staff. So far she's been sweet and easy to get along with. But the honeymoon has only begun. I'm sure we'll see the dark side at some point. I'm a little conflicted about her moving in, can ya tell??

Friday, March 02, 2007

Homeless in Hamilton, OH

I'm back from visiting two different homeless "camps" - where the homeless live. They were not there - it's not a good idea to visit with a group when they are there because they get nervous thinking that we will take their stuff.

It was an eye-opening experience. I've been to the shelter a number of times but have never before been to the places where the homeless stay on the "streets". Both places were located near major highways (one was on main street) and behind places of business that most of us frequent. One of the camps was just a few blocks from the home that I was at last Saturday night to speak to the Unchained group. As we visited it I wondered if that couple knew their neighbors were homeless people. Another was just a few miles from my own front door.

I had expected to see makeshift shelters but there were none. The only shelter from the weather was the bare branches of the brush and trees they huddle beneath. Broken glass littered the place as did broken toys or old mattresses. I felt a little sick to my stomach as we walked through the one camp. I can't imagine how they survive there given the cold weather we are prone to.

One man lived in his old beaten-up van behind the building where day jobs are available. I've often heard people say that homeless people are lazy and will not work and yet there was a whole camp, and a van where people live directly behind the day job place so they can ensure that they are first in line.

I learned that they often climb into the unlocked U-Haul trucks at night since their camp is behind the U-Haul place and the owner leaves the trucks unlocked at night. I also learned that they have "markers" to guard their camp from other homeless people - a sweater or piece of pastic hung from a fense or a branch is an sign to let other homeless people know that "this is my place - stay out!" I thought how like homeowners that was. They have plastic draped over a branch, we have fenses.

The lady who runs the shelter told us that just this morning a 19 year-old boy who has been living there came to her with tears in his eyes telling her that he had slipped and done heroin again after being clean for a year. He plead for help. She picked up the phone and called the treatment center only to be told it would be a 4 month wait before he could get help.

I need to do something, even if it's just showing up one night a week to serve dinner and eat with these folks. I need to get to know them, to hear their stories and to let them know someone cares. I think I need to do that in order to sleep knowing that they are braving the cold, the rain and the snow just a few miles from my front door.

I often get frustrated and saddened by the lack of care the church shows for the poor. Just last week someone asked me if they needed to care about the poor to be a Christian - because they didn't. I was shocked. I can only think (and hope) that she didn't mean that she literally didn't care. I know it is easy to turn the other way and not look at the problem of poverty even when it's a few blocks away. The problem seems overwhelming and there are so many different reasons why people are homeless that it seems impossible to really be of any help. So we look the other way, not because we don't care, but because we do but do not know what to do about it. And then we justify our uninvolvement with thoughts like, "They choose to be that way", or "They could get a job if they wanted to", or "They would just use whatever I gave them on booze". I think for me the solution isn't to solve the problem of homelessness or poverty. For me, the solution is to simply go "be" with these folks and get to know them, and perhaps one by one let Jesus work through them to change me.

I posted this link before but it's worth posting again. Click here for some truly amazing photos of homeless people along with their stories.

*Photo above is of graffiti in Hamilton, taken by my son Cody

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A New Link

Check out Devotions in the Ocean for pictures and information about Haiti 2007! I've added this to my sidebar as well.

This picture of baby Jacob was one that touched me. This baby was left at the mission for our group to sponsor. For me personally, feeding people who were truly hungry was one of the most rewarding things about going to Haiti. It's easy to get overwhelmed with all the need in the world but knowing that you can truly make a difference in at least one life is gratifying.

If you ever get the chance to go to Haiti - go! You'll not regret it.

The Irrestible Revolution

I'm almost finished with Shane Claiborne's book The Irresistible Revolution.

I like it.

And I don't.

He's extreme in some of his ideas although I can completely see why - working with lepers in Calcutta with Mother Teresa would do that to a person. I don't think there is a bad thing about his extremity, it's just that I couldn't do it myself. I think Shane would be OK with that. He is very gracious and willing to allow for other's convictions. That's one of the things I like about his book - he is no legalistic in his compassion.

Here are some of the points that I really, really like about his book:

The idea that people want to give to the poor, but often don't know how to, or give in unhelpful ways because the wealthy are so separated from the poor. He points to that distance or separation as the real problem, not that people do no care or want to help.

I've seen this myself in the small ways that I try to be involved. After the recent peanut butter recall, our Haiti team had to go through bins of peanut butter that had been donated to sort out the bad stuff. I went to help. As I was sorting I came across a jar of "Fat-Free Peanut Butter" and laughed because they were obviously buying for a fat American rather than a malnourished Haitian. Often in our desire and hurry to help we give something that is useless to the person we are giving to, or maybe even offensive because we simply are so removed from their lifestyle that we have no clue what is truly helpful. His main idea is that we need to live in closer relationship with the poor and truly know them. Then we become part of a family with them and our perspective will change.

Along that same line of thinking, he encourages us to move beyond charity to justice. Rather than just giving (that's good too) he encourages followers of Jesus to get more involved in changing some of the unjust situations that cause poverty to make a positive change in the world.

The book is also an easy and enjoyable read. He includes many personal stories that are quite interesting. Besides, he's a U2 and Rich Mullins fan and Tony Campolo was his professor at Eastern University, so he can't be too bad.

If you've not picked up a copy of this book, I would highly recommend it.