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.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Update on Injured Firefighter

This gave me chills.

Field Trip

For those in our church - The Micah 6:8 Group is going on a field trip and we want to extend the invitation. See details here

Countdown

Well, not yet exactly, but we are in a sort of countdown to our trip to Pine Ridge Reservation.

Someone at church last night asked me if I was ready for the trip. I laughed and replied, "I'm always ready, and I'm never ready". There are changes taking place as I type, that's how fast things change. For the past several months I've been meticulously planning this trip and now, less than two months out from the day we leave, I have only a vague idea of what will actually happen. As strange as it may seem to many, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Right now there are several things up in the air and I have no idea how they will fall. It will be like that until we pull out of the parking lot at 6:00 AM July 28th.

At this point, the only thing that would truly scare me is if everything was going according to plan.

If you're of the mind to, check out the trip blog to see what's going on.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Yep, It Was That Good

A very nice ending all around. I hope they don't do a 4th one and ruin a good thing.

Stoned Pirates



Monday, May 28, 2007

A Note from Iraq

Today as we enjoyed a family meal and a movie, my son mentioned that one of his buddies from High School who is serving in Iraq has a blog. Although I've never met this young man I have met his family and his brother is one of my son's best friends so I've heard about Nate a lot and feel a connection to him and so I decided to look him up. This post, written on May 17th is particularly touching. Nate, you'll not likely read here but you and all who serve our country have our support. We are proud of you. Be safe and be assured of our prayers.

Have you ever watched a helicopter perform a facing movement, as in
marching?

I have.

A couple nights ago I watched a pair of UH-60 Blackhawks lift off from the
Rustamiyah helipad bearing the bodies of four more of America’s Sons. They were
returning home, though never again to enjoy its comforts. In life they were part
of another unit that we share space with on this FOB. Their lives had been
claimed just earlier that day, when an IED exploded near their vehicle. We all
gathered that night to pay tribute to their sacrifice as the helicopters waited
nearby, their rotors whirling quietly. Four times, as one, our formation
presented arms as their bodies were carried past us. As the whine of the
helicopters engines increased, we once again saluted, and held it as the birds
prepared to lift off. As if they were controlled by a puppeteer, both choppers
became airborne in the same instant and hovered motionless a few feet off the
ground, as the comrades of the fallen bid one last farewell. Moving again as one
both birds executed a left face and disappeared into the black of the
night.

I don’t know what this year will hold politically for the U.S….what the
politicians in their polished offices and glassy skyscrapers will decide to do
with this problem called Iraq. We are holding a snake by the tail here; as it
wriggles and writhes we attempt to keep it from escaping while simultaneously
attempting not to get bitten. Continuing to hold the snake gets costlier every
time it bites, and the black birds carry home more bodies. Yet if we let it go
it will breed, and its offspring will be stronger and more lethal than it, and
will hunt us. These questions are debated by those echelons above me and my men;
down here in the trenches, its as simple as it can be-capture or kill them
before they can blow us up.

Friday, May 25, 2007

What The Media Missed

The recent squabble between Rosie and Elizabeth on "The View" is all over the news. I haven't been able to watch a regular news program in the past day without hearing all about it. It's a little annoying because I couldn't care less about what Rosie and Elizabeth do or say.

I rarely watch The View because I don't have time and if I did I wouldn't spend it watching a bunch of women in a cat fight every day. But I did happen to tune in for a part of the episode that is in the news. I did see the heated argument but that isn't what stood out for me.

On that same episode the guest co-host set a stunning example of grace.

I do not know her name because I don't keep up with celebrities, but when the show began Rosie asked her how she was doing and mentioned that the last time she was on the show she had been going through a divorce. The lady said that she was doing well and was happy to be back with her husband.

That was good but then she shared the kicker....

She had initially filed for divorce because her husband had had an affair. After her last appearance on the show viewers had emailed her and encouraged her to give him another chance. One particular viewer wrote, "You're always talking about how God can heal and restore - do you really believe that or not". It gave her pause and she decided to forgive him. She said, "I wanted to see what it was like on the other side [of forgiveness]. I have no idea where the journey will take me, but I want to find out".

But that's not all....

She then showed a picture of her child with another small child and said, "So now I'm a step-mommy". The woman her husband had the affair with had his child. This woman was not only forgiving her husband's infidelity, but was also willingly accepting the child from that affair into her own family. She said they were in counseling 3 times a week and she felt they were going to make it.

I was blown away. Talk about amazing grace.

Work Woes and Grace

I'm probably going to be in trouble at work. I expect to be written up for it, but I don't care a whole lot. I am just home from working 3rd shift and am supposed to be at a staff meeting today from 12:30 - 3:30.

I'm not going to go.

I am scheduled to go back in to work tonight and work an 18 hour shift so if I don't get sleep today, I will be going in to work tonight not having slept since Wednesday night. I just don't think that's a safe or sane situation when I am responsible for the well-being of two developmentally disabled people.

If I'm going to care for them without making errors that may result in their harm, I have to have rest. Missing the meeting means my attendance will be past the acceptable mark and "corrective action" will be taken. The reason that it will be past the acceptable mark is because I recently missed 4 shifts in 3 days due to having surgery on my hand. I had a doctor's note saying that I was not to work but last Friday I was told that even with a doctor's note it counted against my attendance. I told them that was a "stupid" policy but it is their policy nonetheless.

So I expect I'll be sent a form for me to sign stating that my attendance is poor. I'm not going to sign it. I think it's ridiculous that I would be written up for missing work because I had surgery and had a doctor's note. I'm not sure what will happen if I don't sign it. I guess I'll find out.

The thing that's such a challenge for me is dealing with this company with grace. I'm really trying to learn to respond with grace but it's hard. I've always been the kind of person who was very submissive. I was raised to believe that my boss is the boss and I should do what they say. I've done that at every other job I've ever had. But then, I've never had a reason not to. I've always had good bosses - except for one who was a jerk but he happened to like me because I was a good worker. Now I find myself in this company where I am constantly being screwed over and it makes me angry. Last week I had decided that the day I quit I will not give a notice - I'll just call them and tell them I will not be back. I thought I would tell them why - that they have never shown their employees any courtesy or respect and so I wasn't inclined to give them any in return.

But then, that's not really the way grace works is it. Darn.

Finding that line between standing up for myself and, in the case of today, acting in the best interest of our clients, and doing so with grace is no easy challenge.

I guess I'll see how it plays out. For now, I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

God Grew Tired of Us

Have you read this book or seen the movie? I really want to. Watch the trailer here, it's awesome.

The "F" Word

Not that "F" word. A more important one and one that is often more offensive to a lot of people. I can't think of a single thing that I could say to do this justice. My words fail in the light of the grace I found in the stories of these people. You really just have to see it. Check out some of the stories there and be amazed, touched, inspired, motivated .... The Forgiveness Project

Monday, May 21, 2007

It's an Adventure!

Once again I am blown away ....


A few weeks ago I casually mentioned to someone that electric heaters are needed on the Reservation. Out there they heat with propane and when the propane runs out, if they do not have money to buy more, which often they do not, they go without heat. In South Dakota it can get cold. Really cold - well below zero with wind chills that are even colder than that. And some of the houses have broken windows, or even no windows at all. Every year people, usually the old people, freeze to death. An electric heater could prevent this.


I suppose I've been reluctant to mention electric heaters because I worry about the fire hazard they can be. The fire department on the Rez is a pickup truck with a tank of water and two guys who come from 25 miles away. Homes are not insured, so if one catches fire, no one will get there in time to save it and the people living there lose everything. This tragedy is made worse by the fact that it is not uncommon for several families to live in one house.


Still ... when the choice is between fire or freezing ...


That's the curse of poverty. Until a better solution can be found, an electric heater can save some lives.


A week after I mentioned this to my friend, I noticed an announcement in our announcement sheet at church about the need for heaters. I did not put it in the announcement sheet and do not know who did, but I am grateful.


Last week an elderly gentleman, a WWII vet, walked over to me with his cane and handed me $20 to buy a heater.


Then yesterday at church a couple told me that they had been to a garage sale and bought 2 heaters.


Today the same lady called me and was SO excited because she had just purchased 8 heaters for $85. She was thrilled!


And I am again touched by the willingness of people to give and help.


The last time I mentioned the need for winter hats for people on the Reservation as well as homeless people in our own community, I was given 160 of them the next Sunday. Half went into a box that was shipped to the Reservation and half are upstairs waiting for winter so I can give them to the homeless.


It amazes me the people who are out there hunting for bargains, haggling with shop owners, and having the time of their life while helping others.


It's not always like this. Sometimes the need is so great and the resources seem so little. But there are good people in the world who are willing to spend their time and money for the sake of others. I wish everyone could hear the excitement and joy in the voice of the lady I just talked to. I wish more people would realize what a blast it is to give! To borrow Bono's words, "It's not a burden, it's an adventure!"

This is So Annoying

It's a long way off yet, but eventually I'm going to be forced to make a decision about who to vote for in the next Presidential election. It's annoying because I can't find a single candidate that I want to vote for. For me, the real decision is not which candidate, but which issue is the most important to me. And that's a tough call. I am decidedly pro-life but the candidates that are against abortion are not very strong on issues regarding poverty - also a very important issue to me. And then there's the Iraq war. I don't intend to start a debate on that topic - I'm just simply sick of seeing 19 year old kids coming home in caskets.

I think the trouble is that I don't have a "party" to belong to. I am a registered voter but I don't fit in with any of the parties. I'm about half republican and half democrat. I'm way to liberal for the conservatives and way to conservative for the liberals. I just wonder why I can't find another person out there who is pro-life. I mean pro- ALL life? Is there anyone else like that on the planet? And if so, why don't they run for president? Or maybe I'm just really screwed up??

Since I'm so torn about all of this, I'm thinking of profiling a different candidate each day on this blog. I may just do that.

BTW, I just had something miraculous happen. I did the spell check before posting this and for the first time it said, "no misspellings found". Amazing. And then I typed this and misspelled a word. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Any Thoughts?

This just seems right to me.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Have You Met Zach?

You should meet him. He's a 15 year-old hero that is, well, just amazing. Here is what it says on His MySpace Page

I'm Zach and I am an abolitionist. I'm 15 and started the campaign when I was in 7th grade. I hope you'll join me! This is not my personal Myspace page, but instead is a page for the campaign LC2LC. I founded Loose Change to Loosen Chains because I felt a need to do something to bring freedom to the victims I was learning about. LC2LC is a group of students and emerging leaders who want to see the trade in human beings stopped. Modern-day slavery may be people working in brick kilns, rice mills, fishing villages or brothels. Together we can make a difference. Let's abolish slavery!

The Thing That Makes Me Want to Quit My Job

I like my job. (Just see the post below to read about part of the reason I like my job.) It's not a bad job. But the office staff finds ways to make it miserable. I've been with this company for nearly 4 years and I live for the day I can quit. They have pushed me and tried my patience to the point where I have little left when I get a call like I did yesterday.

I was making dinner for the two ladies I take care of when the scheduler called to tell me that she was faxing over a form for corrective action - against me. When I asked what it was for, she said, "Your attendance". I've been off work for the past 2 weeks and I missed one staff meeting.

I reminded her that the reason I was off that time was because I had surgery on my hand and was not able to work and that I had personally delivered a doctor's excuse to the office. I missed the staff meeting because I was having the surgery done at the time of the meeting. I left work at 8 AM on Monday and was having the procedure done at 11 AM. I was off that week which I'm normally not even scheduled for. When I went back to the doctor that Friday to have the dressing changed, the doctor gave me another note to be off for the rest of the weekend and the following week through Thursday. That note was also hand delivered to the office. I was off that weekend for my son's wedding - which I had requested off a month in advance as our policy states. AND I found other staff to cover that weekend - something that is not my job to do. She said she would check with the HR person to see if she had the doctor's note. Now why didn't she check with HR before she wrote out the form and called me? This kind of thing is SO typical for this company.

So the time I had off was either excused by a doctor or given prior approval. And they are going to take "corrective action" against me??? I think not. Not unless they are willing to lose a reliable employee of 4 years over this.

UPDATE* I called the HR person to straighten this out. I should be sleeping after working an 18 hour shift and having to go back tonight for another 18 hour shift, but instead I'm dealing with the office crap. Turns out that it counts against me even if I do have a doctor's note. Doesn't matter if I had surgery on my hand and an unable to lift a large person and shower them - surgery or not, doctor's note or not - it counts against me. I told her that was a stupid policy. I mean really, what kind of employer would even consider a policy like that?? They are not however, going to take corrective action against me. I live for the day I can quit. It will definitely be a "Take this job and shove it" moment.

Dancing With the Clients

I am just home from an 18 hour shift. Tonight I go back for another 18 hour shift, then I'm going to crash and celebrate being out of there for the week.

Yesterday afternoon when the girls got home from the MRDD workshop they attend, I was informed that there was a dance at the MRDD workshop that evening and I was supposed to take them. I wish someone had given me a head's up about it so I could have been a bit more mentally prepared. Not that I mind dances, the MRDD dances are a blast; but it is hard to take Ms Cranky anywhere in her wheelchair. I used to think I appreciated what handicapped people went through until I started working with Ms Cranky. I had NO IDEA. EVERYTHING is a hassle.

So I made dinner for them and then we were off to the dance. What a trip!

Those dances are both sweet and hilarious. You see everything there. And I do mean everything. Some of them, including the 21 year-old drama queen that I take care of, think they are really sexy and when they shake their groove thing it's both hilarious and heartwarming. It's great to see someone who the world generally looks down on feeling so confident.

A former roommate of Ms Cranky was there who I used to take care of. She squealed when she saw me and gave me a hug that will probably last me a while. Never mind that she was squealing and spitting in my ear as she hugged me. The only other soul that greets me that enthusiastically is Taser.

Then there are the sweet ones. The young girl in the wheelchair who can't speak. She was all gussied up with her white pantyhose, white patent shoes, and her navy and white polka dot dress. Her boyfriend stood behind her wheelchair and danced as he swung her chair back and forth so she could enjoy the dance too. I don't think he ever left her side the entire evening.

There was another young couple who were fun to watch. He was all dressed up in a suit and tie and it was obvious he felt proud. When they slow danced together their smiles were worth a picture. The DJ cranked up Chubby Checker's "The Twist" and one of the older men there twisted like nothing I've ever seen. I really don't think I've ever seen a behind move that fast before.

There was also a very large older man who did his own type of dance complete with a small child's cowboy hat sitting on top of his head. Another dances in such a way that he looked like a puppet with his foot attached to some string that was tied to his hands. With every move of his hands, his leg would lift. I'm not sure what to call that. Then at times he would break out of that and play the air guitar. So many different people but all dancing like nobody was watching. That's the thing that is so sweet. Not one of the cares what anybody else thinks. They just go do their thing. It may some sort of contorted dance that no one has ever seen before or it may be the slick steps of the latest dance craze, but no one seems to care. When they dance, they are all great dancers.

Funny, the only people on the sidelines looking self-conscious were the staff - the so called "normal" people.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Does Truth Matter?

In the past I've made a decision not to blog about this because frankly, it will only look like I'm defending my favorite rock band. It would give the appearance that just because I like U2 that I will defend them at all costs and want everyone else to like them too. Although a perfect world for me would be where everyone listened to U2's music I absolutely realize that everyone has different tastes and preferences and I'm OK with that.

The reason I am going to blog about this now is because this goes far beyond someone criticizing Bono or U2. It really has to deal with something I have very little tolerance for - "Christians" publicly criticizing and calling into question the faith of another Believer.

Recently my son came home telling me about a video he had seen where a well-known Christian speaker was criticizing other believers, among them, Charles Stanley, Joel Olsteen, and, Bono. I know the organization that puts this video out does so in the name of exposing lies and promoting Truth - a noble thing to do, except that it is often done without grace. But that's a different post. Sometimes though, their "Truth" is based on something that is not true at all, as I will show in a moment.

I know nothing of Joel Olsteen except that there are a lot of Christians out there flocking to buy his book, which I've not read and that his church took on the monumental task of taking care of hundreds of Hurricane Katrina refugees which seems to me to be a gracious act of servanthood. And I rarely listen to Charles Stanley preach although I have been to see the Passion Play his church does each year at Easter. I have always respected him and felt that he was one of the good guys. As far as I know neither of these men are preaching anything that would lead anyone astray. But I don't listen to either of them and so I really just don't have the information to defend them.

But as anyone who reads here with any regularity knows, I do listen to U2. A lot in fact. I am a fan - not only because of their music, which I do like, but because of what they stand for. I love that God has used a rock star of all things to call the Church to get with the program and start acting like the Church when it comes to the world's poor. I think it shows God's sense of humor. I also think that this particular rock star is a Believer who tries and sometimes fails to follow Jesus Christ just as the rest of us who claim Christianity. He has said as much, so I have no right to question his relationship with Christ.

The thing that Bono was criticized for in this particular video was that he has supposedly said that Muslims, Christians, and Jews are all the same - the all roads lead to God thing. Others have also questioned what Bono really believes about these religions. Does he really believe that they are all one and the same? Relevant Magazine did an article "How to Dismantle and Idolized Bono" where the woman who had attended a concert on the Vertigo Tour reported this,





About five songs into their set, Bono stopped the show and strapped on a
headband with writing on it. I stared up at the JumboTron to see that the
handwritten lettering said: COEXIST.

Coexisting sounds like a great idea. I fully support the peaceful philanthropy that Bono has encouraged, and this seemed like another way that he was trying to spread the message. Except, it started to feel like more than a political message. The “C” in “coexist” was the Islamic crescent moon, the “X” was the Star of David, and the “T” was the cross of Christ. Bono pointed at the symbols on his headband—first to the cross, then to the star, then to the crescent moon—and he began to repeat: “Jesus, Jew, Mohammad—all true. Jesus, Jew, Mohammad—all true.”


So is it true? Does Bono really believe they are all equally true - that all roads lead to God? I admit, when I saw this concert on DVD for the first time it struck me as odd and I can see how someone could easily misunderstand the message Bono was trying to convey. In concerts it's always a bit hard even to understand what someone is actually saying. Words can easily be misunderstood and theatrics such as Bono uses can also be misunderstood. Even songs can be misunderstood. Listen to a song sometime and you will find other people who believe that song is about something different than what you thought it was about.

Here is a 25 second clip of the portion of the concert where the misunderstanding happens...



And here is what he is actually saying.





"there's some graffiti written on a wall not far from here. It says CO
Exist.

Jesus, Jew,Mohammad it's true.

Jesus, Jew,Mohammad it's true.

All sons of Abraham.
Father Abraham
Father Abraham
Where are you now
Father Abraham
look what you've done
you've turned your son against your son
Father Abraham"

So he's really saying, "IT'S true". Not "ALL True".

It's also worth mentioning that he does this in the middle of the song "Bloody Sunday", a song about a massacre in Ireland and a plea for an end to the violence. In Bono's home country of Ireland, religion is at the root of much of the violence and hatered and I believe he is pointing out that much of the fighting in the Middle East has religion at it's root. He goes on to finish this chant with the familiar "No more. No more" ending to Bloody Sunday. His message is, I believe, that we have to co-exist in peace - not that we all have to agree or follow the same religion.

Now that's a whole different message than saying that all religions are the same. In fact, all of Bono's statements are true statements that if any Christian denied, they would only be showing their lack knowledge of Bible history.


Funny how things can get twisted around and we hear what we think we hear without really listening or considering context.

So does Bono really believe that all religions are the same? Well, here is what he said in the book U2 by U2 about an invitation he received from the Dalai Lama.




We had a request from the Dalai Lama to participate in a festival called
Oneness. I love and respect the Dalai Lama but there was something a little bit
"let's hold hands" hippie to me about this particular event. I am in awe of the
Tibetan position on non-violence but this event didn't strike a chord. I sent
him back a note saying, "One — but not the same."



The real issue for me is not that someone has misunderstood Bono. It happens. People misunderstand each other all the time. I've been misunderstood and I imagine you have too. It doesn't make me angry that someone is criticizing Bono.

What does make me angry is that there are "Christians" out there who think nothing of blasting away other Christians in the name of Truth. That they go even further by questioning the condition of someone else's soul is really stepping over the line. It makes me very angry. Truth without Grace is no longer Truth. It becomes something else entirely. Something unholy and demonic.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Chaos Happens

This morning John and I went to meet with the lady in charge of donations at Matthew 25 Ministries. They are a large humanitarian relief organization in our area that we worked with before when we did hurricane relief. They have warehouses full of all sorts of items that corporations donate and they then ship it out in any way they can to the world's poorest. It's a good thing.

We discovered that it would cost us $170.00 per pallet of items to take to Pine Ridge with us. The corporations donate the items to Matthew 25 Ministries but they do not ship them to them for free so the fee is to cover their expenses. Understandable. It does cost to get stuff, even free stuff, to the places it needs to go. The problem is of course money. Do we have it?

Right now, things are up in the air and I have no idea how they will fall. There's just no way to outguess this kind of thing. There are a lot of unknowns ... the cost of fuel can go anywhere by July and can vary state to state.

We have a huge food donation from a local company, but will they really come through? Probably. They always have in the past and I've no reason to doubt them this time. But, what if ... a lot can change between now and July 27th. Last year just 5 days before we left, this company knew nothing of a donation that we had been told we had coming from them. I've learned better than to freak out at stuff like that. The first year that kind of thing would have thrown me into a tizzy but I just take it in stride now. I expect it. Which is why I'm reluctant to count my chickens before they hatch on this Matthew 25 donation thing.

Here is how it stands now....

We have a 24 foot truck rented to haul all of our stuff - food for the week for us and 150 kids each day, 150 backpacks full of school supplies, VBS materials, 27 suitcases, 27 sleeping bags, 27 air mattresses, a freezer that we're taking to the mission, and whatever donated items we can squeeze in. I'm guessing, just guessing that we may have 9 foot of space left over for the donated items.

Rumor has it that someone in our church has offered a company truck of theirs for us to take extra donated items. That rumor is likely true but the person has not mentioned it to me yet.

Even if they did let us borrow their truck, can we afford the $170.00 per pallet fee to fill it up? I've no idea. Or will we be able to afford gas for 3 vans, one 24 foot box truck and another truck? I've no idea about that either.

I budgeted for food and we may get most of that donated which would mean that we could afford the $170.00 per pallet fee - or we may not get the food donation after all. Remember, I don't count chickens until I see them hatch. A lot can change in time. (why do I feel like I'm repeating myself - oh, I am)

We can probably pay for 4-5 pallets to fill the remainder of the 24 foot rented truck. That's probably a safe gamble. But it would be great to take more if we could and we may be able to - or we may not. And we probably will not know for certain until the last week or so before we leave. That means I'll be trying to juggle and coordinate all of this at the last minute.

Oh the joy.

It really is a joy. Really. I love the unknown. I love the excitement. That's probably not a good thing. It probably says something about my mental condition or my personality or something,, but I love it.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

More Wedding Pics

Here are a few more pics taken by various friends.
Click on picture for a larger view

I think Cody may be seeing his bride for the first time that day.










First dance as husband and wife





Wow.

A Unique Mom

Earlier this week I got news that Jodi, a lady I met in Haiti is struggling. She is the daughter of the missionary there and is herself a missionary. Her and her husband have adopted Haitian children and she is pregnant with her own. The pregnancy has been difficult to say the least. She has had 3, count 'em THREE blood transfusions since January, had infection after infection, bad untrasounds indicating birth defects and lastly a bout with Dengue Fever. She is now in the States to make sure the baby is OK - he is, thank God. But her heart is torn. She wants the best for her child but she also wants to be in Haiti with her husband aND the children she loves there. Please pray for her today. Their web site is here.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A BEAUTiful Day

Today was a good day.

Work was wild. The 23-year old drama queen decided to cut her hair. No one knew this until she came out of her room carrying a bag full of hair. She cut it good too - about an inch above her ears. Thankfully her mother didn't seem to notice or care when she came to pick her up to spend the day with her for Mother's Day. It's jagged but she's happy with it and I suppose that's all that matters.

After work I went with 3 ladies to the shelter to do haircuts, massages and manicures/pedicures. It was awesome. Those folks ATE IT UP. I mean they LOVED it. The smiles on their faces were priceless. One said, "for a homeless shelter this is as good as the Hilton with free haircuts and massages".

The massage therapist who went with us does an awesome job (I know this from personal experience) and it showed on their faces when they got off the table. Folks with back problems and chronic pain were amazed when they found some relief. One young lady went for the whole ball of wax - a manicure, pedicure, haircut and massage. Her transformation was something to see. When we arrived she was very shy and to herself, almost afraid to ask to be in line. I finally asked her if she wanted a manicure and from then on she was hooked. She went from hanging her head and not looking anyone in the eye to walking proudly with a ear to ear toothless grin. I'm sure she felt pretty for the first time in a while. Others lined up for a haircut when they looked as if they had just had one not long ago. I wonder if they just wanted the human touch and conversation. Whatever they needed they were in hog heaven for a while.

Since I don't do hair, nails or massage, I was just along for the ride and I was thrilled to be. I was tired after working a 15 hour shift but it was SO worth it. Not only did the people at the shelter smile and laugh, but so did the women who went there. I think they really enjoyed it and they want to make a monthly thing of it. Cool.

Brian spent the day at Eagle's Nest with a dozen or so other people from our church. He came home tired and with sore muscles but he looked happy and had funny stories to tell about Mr. Ed. Who knew a day of fence building and manure shoveling could make you feel so good.

It was a good day.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Quote

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.
~ Herman Melville

Adjusting Back To Normal - Whatever That Is

With all the upheaval in our lives over, at least for the moment, I am adjusting back to normal. At least a new normal.

My thumb is healing nicely and is not even sore unless I bump it on something or someone grabs it not knowing that it's tender. I still have the gauze that was stitched to it in place ... not sure when that will come off but I assume it will come off on it's own one of these days. Now it's just a matter of waiting the 4-6 months for the new nail to grow back.

My dad is now doing well and Sunday will be able to resume his usual activities. He has good news on both the cancer and the heart condition. Hopefully the new meds will help him with his energy level and reverse the thickening of his heart muscle. I told him we knew he was thick headed we just didn't know he had a thick heart to go with it. His main concern was when he could mow the lawn. The doc told him "Sunday" to which my dad asked "well when can I walk behind a lawn mower". Again the doc answered, "Sunday". I told you he was thick headed.

I'm still adjusting to not having Cody around. It's a bit weird reminding myself each night that "we're all in" when we are missing one. I went by their apartment yesterday to water Allison's plants (she doesn't know what she's asking leaving her plants in my care). I also washed the dishes that were in the sink and cleaned out the coffee pot so they wouldn't have that to deal with that when they get home. As I was leaving I thought, "OK, I"m out of here, my work is done" and it occurred to me that my work in raising Cody really is done. In truth, it's been done for a while now but there was something sad and final about his moving out. Now I need to clean the room he left behind but I'm not sure I'm ready to go there yet. The thing I will miss the most is having Cody come home and then sitting up and talking to him for a while. We used to do that fairly often. Sometimes we had arguments and sometimes we had good conversations that challenged both of us and then sometimes we just chatted. It's sad to know that those times really are over.

And today I go back to work after being gone for nearly 3 weeks. I was off for a while because of my thumb (couldn't lift Ms. Cranky) and then I was off for the wedding. Since I only work weekends that makes for 3 weeks I've been away. It's apparently been an eventful 3 weeks. Ms Cranky and her new roommate, the 23 year-old cigar smoking drama queen, got into a nasty fight that ended with Ms Cranky attempting suicide - twice. It was not a sincere attempt to kill herself but a manipulation technique that she uses on occasion to get what she wants. The only thing she accomplished was to buy herself a few days in the psych unit and to lose all of her "alone time" for a long time to come. That will make our job harder. Strangely enough, all of this is fairly normal for my work. I'm just heading back into it after 3 lovely weeks away.

Yep, we're getting back to normal.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Spiritual Gifts - Some Questions

Last Sunday in The Micah 6:8 Group (otherwise known as Sunday school), Brain W. taught a great lesson on Spiritual Gifts. We all did an inventory to help us discover what our gifts were. While I do not think we should allow any inventory or quiz to be the final authority on such matters, I to believe these tests can be a great tool in helping us discover our giftedness.

I seemed to score either really high or really low. Not much in between. My highest scoring gifts were:

Miracles - The gift of miracles is the distinctive ability to perform supernatural acts as an instrument or agent of God which alter the expected course of nature.

Weird huh? I had never thought of myself as having the gift of miracles although I have struggled for years with the idea that I seem to "know" when God is going to work a miraculous healing for someone. I would have guessed healing as a gift but not miracles. I suppose they are very much the same though. Come to think of it, I've seen God work miracles through prayer many times that had nothing to do with healing. I have never felt that I possessed a gift of miracles or healing though - if I did Children's Hospital would be the first to go out of business followed by all the other hospitals. My personal take on this is that God uses who He chooses to bring healing or miracles to whomever He wills. God does not always will healing. He works in mysterious ways, not always miraculous ways.

Giving - The fits of giving is the distinctive ability to cheerfully and generously contribute personal resources to God's work.

Faith - The gift of faith is the distinctive ability to believe God with confidence for things unseen, spiritual growth and the will of God.

Service - The gift of service is the distinctive ability to identify and meet the practical needs of others.

Healing - The gift of healing is the distinctive ability to be used as a human intermediary through whom God's supernatural power is applied to a person with a physical or emotional need.

Discernment - The gift of discernment is the distinctive ability to perceive whether a person's actions originate from Godly, satanic, or merely human sources.

Mercy - The gift of mercy is the distinctive ability to feel sincere empathy and compassion in a way that results in practical relief for people's hurts, pain and suffering.

Prophecy - The gift of prophecy is the distinctive ability to boldly declare the truth of God, regardless of the consequences calling people to righteous living.

Music was a complete strike out for me. No surprise there. I thought it was funny that Leadership and Teaching were not high on my list of gifts since I do both regularly. I"ve always told people I'm operating out of my giftedness - which I think is OK sometimes. I'm of the mind that if God calls you to do something you can't just say, "Sorry God, that's just not my gift". For instance, giving is not just for those gifted with the gift of giving. ALL followers of Jesus are called to give and to give sacrificially. I also believe ALL followers of Christ are to have Faith, Mercy and Service to others.

What was interesting was to hear what gifts others's in the class had. I know these folks and can see where their results were pretty accurate but I can also see where in some cases it is difficult for their giftedness to be received by others for various reasons. Maybe they are not a popular person, or maybe they are not in a position to use their gift well. Does that mean that their gift is somehow less valuable or less useful? I don't think so. I think when this is the case, that it says far more about the body of Christ than it does that individual.

It struck me that our gifts have to be used in a human context and humans always have a way of messing up God's work. We allow our personal preferences to interfere with what God wants to do either through our own gifts or the gifts of others.

In 12-Step groups we are often reminded to follow principals, not personalities. We may or may not like the person speaking in a 12-step group but that should not interfere with our accepting what they have to bring to the table that may be very beneficial to us. In successful 12-step groups this works well.

Maybe in churches we need to practice the Principals before Personalities thing a bit more?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Mother's Day

Make Mother's Day special

Nike

This would be funny if it were not so sad. It is however, very interesting.

May 8, 2007

First let me say, lest anyone think I've gone soft on sin after reading my last post, that I absolutely believe that homosexuality is a sin. I also believe that hating homosexuals is a sin. I'm of mind to say that one is not worse than other but I'm thinking that "Christians" hating homosexuals, or anybody, is the more damning sin. I wonder how many "sinners" want nothing to do with Jesus because he is represented so poorly. I wish that those who claim to follow the God who says He is love, wouldn't hate so much.


OK, now on to stranger things.

A really unusual thing happened at the wedding the other day and I don't know if I will ever know what to think of it. Cody and Allison opted not to have a traditional guest book but instead to have small sheets of paper where guests could write a short note to them and them put them in a basket. Later they will be put into a scrapbook. When the wedding was over and we were cleaning up, I went to gather up the basket of messages and noticed that someone had put a gospel tract in the basket. The camp where they were married is a Church camp and had several gospel tracts on the wall of the reception hall. When I saw the tract I thought "now what is that doing there" expepting that someone had disposed of some trash or something. I picked it up meaning to throw it away until I turned it over and saw that someone had filled in their information saying that they had prayed to receive Christ.

I'm not a fan of tracts. I think they're impersonal and often offensive. I'm not foolish enough to say that God will never use them though. I also do not know if the person who filled out the tract was sincere. That's not for me to judge. All I know is that at the wedding ceremony the message of the gospel was clear and that someone chose to fil out their information stating that they had prayed to accept Christ as their Saviour and they put it in the basket for Cody and Allison to read. And I think that is pretty cool.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Am I Missing Something Here???

Today I received an email alerting me to the fact that my state Representative voted a particular way on a Hate Crimes Act. Apparently I was supposed to be alarmed and angry that my representative would vote in favor of a hate crimes bill. I wondered what the big deal was and clicked on the link to check it out further. On that web page I came across another alarming notice about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act - again I got the feeling that I was supposed to be against this and was supposed to run right out and contact my state representatives about it. Here is what it said ....

A new bill, the Employment
Non-Discrimination Act
(ENDA), has been introduced in the House of
Representatives by homosexual Congressman Barney Frank. The bill (HR 2015) would
force organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Veterans of Foreign Wars, day care
centers, Christian business owners, adoption agencies, public schools,
municipalities and a host of other businesses and organizations to hire
homosexual applicants.

ENDA would make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or refuse to promote
an employee based on his or her sexual orientation or "gender identity."
Such acts would be considered crimes subject to severe penalties. For a list of
the co-sponsors of ENDA,

The same day that ENDA was introduced, another bill — commonly called
the Hate Crimes Act
(HR 1592)
— cleared committee for a full vote by the House. The Hate Crimes
Act criminalizes a vast array of state and local acts and threatens religious
leaders with criminal prosecution for their thoughts, beliefs, and statements.



Surely I must be missing something ....

Aren't these good things? Or if not good, are they really harmful?? Do they really threaten my faith? If my faith can be so affected by some bill that is made into law then my faith is in trouble long before the bill was introduced. I especially wondered just how someone could be prosecuted for their thoughts and beliefs??? Can that really happen? I don't think so. Statements maybe, but thoughts??? I always thought thoughts and beliefs were private unless they were made public through by speaking or writing them so I'm a little confused as to how someone can be prosecuted for something like a thought.

And what's so terrible about a Christian organization hiring a gay person? As far as I know churches do not hire teachers - a least the churches I've been in do not. And pastors are usually held up for some sort of vote by some official body somewhere before they are "hired". If that official body wanted their pastor to be homosexual don't they have that right? It may not make it "right" but in this country we do have freedom of religion, don't we?

I can't see how a person being homosexual would damage the message of Christ. HOWEVER, I do see where if they were hired by some Christian organization who followed the message of Christ that they just might encounter a balanced blend of His grace and truth and perhaps their lives might be changed. Isn't that what it's all about anyway?

It kind of bugs me, or it really bugs me that there is this idea out there that we (Christians) are somehow supposed to be separate from the rest of the world. We are good at it too. We have "Christian" TV, "Christian" radio, "Christian" newspapers, "Christian" magazines, and now we even have "Christian" forums like MySpace and "Godtube" as opposed to "Youtube.

Yep, we're good at being separate but I don't think that's a good thing. I always thought we were supposed to be "in" the world, just not "of" it. It seems to me when we remove ourselves from the world we are nothing more than a Christian club - otherwise known as salt that has lost it's flavor.

Wedding Music

Music is a big part of my life and is always something I remember about weddings. I may or may not remember what the attendants wore or what was said, but I seem to remember songs that were sang or played. Cody and Allison's wedding is no different.

During the toast that Katie, the maid of honor gave, she pointed out how very different Cody and Allison are. Allison is very nice and sweet, compassionate and sensitive. Cody is bold, a fighter, and a bit of a rebel. Who knows where he got that trait. The music they both picked seems to reflect their differences.

Allison picked all classical music for the wedding, entering with the processional of Psalm XIX. Cody on the other hand entered with his groomsmen to the song "Son of a Preacher Man". The song "Love Song" that Third Day made popular was the only song that was sang at the wedding.

At the reception the wedding party entered to the song "Celebrate Good Times" and Cody and Allison's entered to the song John Deere Green which was the song that played a part in their engagement. Their first dance was to the song "I Could Never Love You Enough". I think a lot of the guests had a hard time fighting back tears when Allison danced with her daddy to "I Loved Her First". At least I know my dad had tears in his eyes then.

It was all good. Better than good really, but I still can't get that Son of a Preacher Man song out of my head. It's on my iPod for me to enjoy for a long time to come as I remember my son's wedding. I will soon be downloading all of the other songs to my iPod for remembrance sake.
UPDATED*
Here are the few pictures I have. As I have more, I'll post them.







My guys: Cody, Brian & Logan

Cody & Allison at their rehearsal dinner

This one cracks me up.


John knocked himself out preparing the food. (as usual)











Sunday, May 06, 2007

Running Hurdles


I feel as if I've been running emotional hurdles lately. First the annoying surgery on my thumb which was no big deal but it sure was/is frustrating to not be able to use my right hand like I normally would.
Then the wedding. It was beautiful, perfect, and a great day, but it was hard and even good things can be stressful. I wasn't sure how I would do. I have had several emotional moments the past few weeks as the wedding grew nearer and I didn't know how I would do when the day arrived.
The hardest part was when Cody left the house for the last time and his moving out was final. Brian and I cried in our coffee for a while. The wedding itself was beautiful. It went perfectly. Cody and Allison are so good together. I told him the morning of the wedding that I liked the girl he picked and I even liked her family. Her parents, brother, sister, and grandparents are great people and my only regret is that they live so far away.
Tomorrow is yet another hurdle. My dad goes in for a angiogram. A couple of weeks ago he found out that he has a narrowing of the aorta and that a valve in his heart may need to be replaced. We are unsure yet whether he will have just an angiogram, or a stent or have the whole thing along with the heart valve replacement tomorrow. We may have a very long and stressful day ahead of us. It is good to know that his doctor is one of the best, if not the best in the country. I'm well aware that angiograms are common. Brian sits in on them all the time and is very familiar with the proceedure as well as the docs who do them. Valve replacements are fairly common too but it is still stressful when it happens to you.
I'm exhausted - both physically and emotionally so I'm heading off for a few moments to myself and then hopefully to get a good night's sleep.
Update* My dad only had an angiogram today - no stent . Neither does he need to have a valve replaced, at least not yet - maybe in 5-10 years. He does seem to have a thickening of the heart wall or muscle which may or may not be causing his symptoms but that can be treated with a beta blocker which he started today. He goes back for another echo cardiogram to see for certain what may be causing his symptoms. Hopefully the meds will take care of the extreme exhaustion and burning in his throat. His exhaustion is not just due to his getting older - it is something more profound than that and had a much quicker onset and is accompanied by lightheadedness. Hopefully they will find the cause and be able to fix it.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Our Church is Not Normal

Our church is not normal. Not at all. It's not normal for people to give freely of their time to serve others with no expectation of recognition or reward and yet our folks do that all the time.

Today I am in awe of our folks at Winton Rd First Church of God. It's been a wild week with all the last minute wedding preparations. Cody and Allison are getting married this Saturday at Camp Lebanon Retreat Center. They had rented the place for an outdoor wedding and for the reception in the large dining hall.

Two weeks ago a group of our men were there for a men's day and came home telling us that the Tabernacle was dirty and that much work needed to be done for it to be ready for the wedding. We got on the phone with the caretaker and he promised to get busy with the clean up. The guys from our church decided that they would make a work day out of it and go up to clean the place up and make sure it was done right. Today there are 5-6 men up there cleaning. They are even taking light bulbs out and cleaning them and putting them back in. If I know these guys there will not be a speck of dirt anywhere near the Tabernacle when they are finished.

No one expected them to do this....they just did it because they wanted to make sure it was nice for Cody and Allison. One of the men is even going further out of his way and picking up tables to take up and then bring back after the wedding. Sweeter men cannot be found.

Last night we had a near crisis on our hands and thought we might have to change the location of the wedding. But with a few phone calls there was an army ready to do whatever they needed to do. Today the crisis was averted but there was a church full of folks who were ready and willing to pitch in.

I feel badly that so many of them are going out of their way to help out in such a big way but these folks are just willing to do whatever is needed. That's just the way they are. They are not normal. Not at all. Now how in the world do we begin to thank them enough??