About Me

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

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sometimes the Light Breaks Through

Today my friends Michelle and Sherri hosted a shower for Melda. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I can tell you that I was not expecting what happened. I knew there would be lots of gifts for Melda. That's a given. The people at our church love to do stuff like that. Show 'em a need and tell 'em how they can love somebody and they're all over it. But what happened today was something beyond just the gifts.

The women who showed up seemed genuinely interested in hearing about Melda. Today I went to the shower not expecting to say a whole lot. Sometimes I feel like everyone is tired of hearing me talk about Pine Ridge. Sometimes I get tired of talking about it. And sometimes, usually this time of year when I'm overly tired and overly stressed, I get all out of sorts and wonder if anyone cares. I even wonder if I care on really bad days. But today from the moment I walked in, these ladies had question after question. They seemed to really want to know about Melda and what life is like on the Reservation.

I guess I've never really had a chance to talk about it a lot at church. When we get home from the trip we do a short presentation, but that is mostly sharing about our trip and what happened during that time. I don't believe I've ever just addressed "Life on the Rez". I feel like I talk about stats and the like all the time but not ever at church. I have wished for time ... sometime... to share about some of the really cool stories I have. Stories about how God has moved at a given time. But there never seems to be time. Maybe one day....

So anyway, today while I was feeling all stressed out and exhausted and not really caring a whole heck of a lot, I was surprised to find that people cared. They even watched a couple of videos I've put together about the Rez and talked about the injustice and laughed at the fun stuff. Amazing. And at some point in the middle of all of that, I felt it ... the joy of knowing that in 12 days I'll be on the Rez again ... the joy of knowing that what we do does in fact make a difference ... and knowing that it also makes a difference in the lives of those here at home.

Sometimes the light breaks through. I took the pic above last week at my son's softball game. It pretty much says how I feel about today.



Saturday, June 27, 2009

So When Exactly Does Life Get Easier??

I'm guessing that life just never really does get any easier. It seems like every day brings a new problem. Today has not been a good one and yet I am unspeakably grateful for the kindness of a few people, some total strangers.

I spent the morning running to Home Depot to get supplies for Melda's project. Three men graciously volunteered to lend their trucks and their time to go get the stuff and bring it to my house. I went along because I had the money. :) At one point we all got scattered about to shop for various items. A lady working at Home Depot saw me wandering around looking like I was lost and asked if I were looking for something in particular. I replied, "Yes, I'm just looking for 3 men". She had a puzzled look for a moment and then asked if they were 3 men that I came with or if any 3 men would do. I suppose Home Depot would be a good place to find men. Any ladies who are dating might want to keep that in mind.

We got all the stuff delivered and they looked at the door we have. Long story short - we have an exterior door that was donated for Melda and a frame for it but after putting it together earlier this week, we discovered that they do not fit together. The guys have no idea what to do about that. And of course I don't either. So that's a problem for this coming week.

Then I got in my Jeep to go to Walmart to get something for dinner. And my beloved Jeep decided to stop dead in its tracks on a very busy highway. It's been doing that lately despite having a brand new battery, a new radiator, and having been looked at by the best mechanic I know. So I sat and waited - sometimes it will eventually start up again. Today it seemed very happy to sit in traffic doing absolutely nothing. It's amazing how many people will drive on by when they see someone with car trouble. But one VERY kind man did come out of a shop to try to push it off the main road. Once he did that, some other guys came running and joined in. The next thing I know someone yells "Hey Amber, need some help??" It was one of our youth at church. David, you are WONDERFUL! He saw the REZonate sticker on the back of my Jeep and then realized it was me.

Now while all that was happening I had tried to call Brian. No luck - he was on the roof doing some work and didn't have his phone on him. So what's a girl to do?? Call her daddy. Yep, I called my dad to come to the rescue and of course, he did. Now my Jeep is back in my driveway and that very good, very gracious mechanic I know is on his way over to do a house call. I mean really, what mechanic does house calls?? Good ones. REALLY good ones.

So yeah, life's hard, but people are good. Some people are anyway.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson and Farrah

I was at the guys softball game last night when I heard the news about Michael Jackson. I thought they were kidding. Such a shock ...and in the same day as Farrah.


Despite the controversies about Michael, his musical genius was undeniable. It was impossible to take your eyes off him when he performed. I always felt bad for Michael. He seemed like such a sad character who could never find peace with himself. I've wondered how much someone has to hate themselves to do the things he did to himself. And I felt bad that people called him a freak. Things were printed and said in the media that should not be said about anyone. So it seems like a sad ending for a sad life.

I have to be honest. I never got the whole Farrah thing. Probably because I'm a woman. She was not my favorite "Angel". I always thought Jaclyn Smith was the truly gorgeous one. Jaclyn was gorgeous, Kate was cute, and Farrah was sexy (probably why I never 'got' it when it came to her). I also don't get that Ryan O'Neil asked her to marry him at the end?? They were together for 20 years and had a child together. So what's up with waiting till she's on her death bed to propose? None of my business. People can do what they want, but if I were on my death bed and a guy who I'd been with for 20 years finally proposed I think I'd have to wonder.

So two of the icons I've grown up with are gone on the same day. I'm starting to feel old.

Did The Sky Come Apart or What?!?!

Last night was the storm to beat all storms. I've
seen tornadoes that weren't that bad. Even our front porch furniture was thrown into the yard from it all. I slept on the couch to keep an eye on the TV ... just in case I needed to be warned about something. Little good that did - the power went out twice. Taser slept on the loveseat right next to the couch and Gunner slept curled up under my arm. Such brave dogs. Ya just have to admire their courage.

But before all that, my oldest son Cody and his wife Allison came over for dinner. We grilled some burgers and hot dogs and corn on the cob, then it was off to the boys softball game. I managed to get one photo before my battery died and Logan growled at me for taking pics. Funny though ... this morning he came downstairs and asked if I got any good shots.

Today I'm taking the day off to do whatever I feel like doing at any given moment.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Logan Got a New Tattoo Today


New Ink 2
Originally uploaded by ABuriff
It is along his ribcage and reads PSALM 118. Not a bad verse for a cop.

Logan Getting New Ink


New Ink
Originally uploaded by ABuriff

LoganNew Tattoo


New Tattoo
Originally uploaded by ABuriff

Monday, June 22, 2009

Girl Power

We're supposed to bring a hammer along on the Pine Ridge trip and since a hammer is not something I generally use, I headed out to the hardware store to see what I could find. Did you know they have hundreds of hammers. Different sizes of hammers. Different colors of hammers. Different weights of hammers. And different kinds of ends on hammers. Who would have figured?? I'm not sure what all of them are for and frankly, can't imagine that some of them are all that necessary. Seems to me a hammer is a hammer, but what do I know? One was quite big and black and had a skull and crossbones on it. I guess that one is meant to do some serious damage.
I bought a pink one. If I'm going to be doing construction work I figured it might help me retain some shred of my femininity. Of course, anyone would only have to watch me use a hammer to know that I hammer like a girl. Fact is, I can't hammer a nail in straight to save my life. But I'll give it a good try. It'll probably take me a good 10 minutes for me to get one in and I'll beat the wood half to death doing it. Good things I didn't get the skull and crossbones one. Hmm ...maybe we'd better buy some more wood. Not sure the supply we have will survive my hammering attempts.
I also bought a tool belt and some safety glasses. My tool belt will hold my camera and video camera. And my pink hammer. I have a bullhorn too. Hey, at least I'll look like I know what I'm doing.
It's been a long time since I've done construction work. We did some of that when we went to Romania. Now that was a great trip. Me and four men went there and poured a cement floor and did other odds and ends work on a building that was used to house street kids. Being the only female on the trip and walking around in coveralls doing construction work was quite an experience for this stay-at-home mom. Every evening in the van on the way back to where we were staying I would get my nail clippers out and start digging out the dirt from under my nails. The guys gave me a hard time about that, but I had to do something to feel like a girl. I mean seriously, I didn't even get to shave my legs for 2 weeks. At one point we even discussed that on the last day we could all roll our pants legs up and put our legs together and take a picture and let the people back home try to figure out who's leg was who's.
How do I get into these situations again??

It's About That Time

In less than 3 weeks we will be leaving for the Rez and it seems I'm running on schedule. It's about this time when I start to feel exasperated, tired, stressed, and begin to wonder how I get myself into these things. I have a great crew this year - everyone is doing their part. But we are all individuals and individuals tend to work in their own way. Trying to get everyone to work together is the exasperating part. I often feel like I'm nagging those who lag behind. And that kicks up all sorts of my own insecurity issues and I end up feeling like the big bad boss that everyone hates. Trying to find the balance between being firm enough to keep things moving for the team and gracious enough to individuals is always a challenge for someone who is full of self-doubt. Like everyone else on the team, I remind myself that "its not about me". My responsibility is to the team and its ok if someone is unhappy with me. It's a yearly ritual.

That by the way, is the reason for all the photos this weekend. I took a couple of days to do something I enjoy - photography. I'm not good at it, but it makes me happy and isn't stressful and that's all that matters.

Now its time to see what this week will bring.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Playing with the Ball


Playing with the Ball
Originally uploaded by ABuriff

Gunner and Taser


Gunner and Taser
Originally uploaded by ABuriff

Saying Goodbye


Ericka 2006
Originally uploaded by ABuriff
This little girl said she didn't want a backpack because getting a backpacks means that we are leaving.

Haiti


Haiti
Originally uploaded by ABuriff

Cincinnati bridges


Cincinnati bridges
Originally uploaded by ABuriff

Cincinnati


Cincinnati
Originally uploaded by ABuriff
Homeless in Cincinnati

Ireland


Ireland
Originally uploaded by ABuriff

Shane


Shane
Originally uploaded by ABuriff
I wonder whatever happened to this little guy.

Crown of Thorns


Crown of Thorns
Originally uploaded by ABuriff
I miss Ireland

Ella


Ella 2006
Originally uploaded by ABuriff

Friday, June 19, 2009

Interview

Gary interviewed me at Communitas Collective. He is FAR too kind in his description of me. I'm betting a lot of my friends will read that and say "WHO is he talking about??" They know me as someone with too much attitude to ever be considered kind. You can read the interview here. While you're there check out all the other cool things they have going on. I'm impressed!

Do Short-term Mission Trips Really Make a Difference (Part 2)

This is the second and final post of the "Do Short-term Mission Trips Really Make a Difference?" The first post can be found here.

As I said in my first post, I tend to agree that short-term mission trips can easily be more about us than about the people we are seeking to serve. I've been on trips where we went and contributed to a project, came home and nothing more ever came of it. Although that trip was one of the highlights of my life, it did little for the people there other than provide some free labor. That isn't a bad thing, but it could have been so much more.

The feelings from a mission trip will fade. Not all of the feelings are good feelings by the way. Many feel a real sense of inadequacy and uselessness. That is not a bad thing. It's when we come to the end of ourselves that we have to rely on God and strangely enough - that's when we become most effective.

There are exceptions, but it's been my experience that most of the people who go on a short-term mission trip come home with a fresh awareness about the needs of others and an excitement at seeing God at work close up and personal. Over time however, we get lulled back into complacency by the issues and demands of daily life. The experience has little impact on the way we live our lives.

That is why it is important to find some way to stay connected to the cause once the initial experience is past. That is the reason that our trips to Pine Ridge focus on building relationships with the people there. Many of our crew stay in touch with the people on the Reservation throughout the year. Letters are sent, pictures are sent, and even birthday and Christmas gifts are sent. Many of our crew go back each year to continue to build on the relationships they formed there. They know us and we know them. They are friends and when someone is your friend, it is impossible to see them as a "mission project". Its also much harder to continue to live lives of comfort while our friends are struggling to have their basic needs met. Those relationships formed on mission trips change everything.

As I said, there are exceptions. There are a few who just don't seem to "get it". I'm not sure what to say about those folks. I find it both sad and irritating. Others never get past the "me" part. They get stuck in feeling useless and un-needed and fail to realize that it's not about them. I'm not sure what to do about that either - other than keep reminding people that its not about them. No matter how many times you say that though, some people just never hear it.

Lastly, while the critics may say that short-term mission trips do little for the people being served, I have to wonder ... what would the world be like if no one went ... ever...

26 Years

Yesterday was our 26th anniversary. We didn't do anything spectacular like going to Ireland. We just went down to Newport on the Levee and Sawyer Point, ate at Dewey's Pizza and walked across the Purple People Bridge, took a lot of pics and had a great time. I posted a few of the pics I took below.

Newport KY


Newport KY
Originally uploaded by ABuriff
Purple People Bridge leading to Newport on the Levee

Cincinnati


Cincinnati
Originally uploaded by ABuriff

Sawyer Point


Sawyer Point
Originally uploaded by ABuriff

The Big Mac Bridge


Cincy 001
Originally uploaded by ABuriff

Serpentine Wall


Cincy 022
Originally uploaded by ABuriff

Arches


Arches
Originally uploaded by ABuriff
The Arches at Sawyer Point in Cincinnati

Purple People Bridge


Purple People Bridge
Originally uploaded by ABuriff

Purple People Bridge


Purple People Bridge
Originally uploaded by ABuriff
The Purple People Bridge in Cincinnati

Serpentine Wall


Serpentine Wall
Originally uploaded by ABuriff
The Serpentine Wall in Cincinnati

Monday, June 15, 2009

Do Short-Term Mission Trips Really Make a Difference? (Part 1)

I've had this on my mind to blog about for some time. Every now and then I hear it from someone - the idea that short-term mission trips really don't do any good. One person left the following comment on our trip video on Youtube.

"short term mission trips are really a waste of time, if you want to do
something that lasts, give up your life, like Jesus said...go take up
residence~! Short term-ers are feel good-ers, that really never have a lasting
impact. I know, I live on a Rez. Its more about YOU than them."


It might surprise you that as a leader of short-term mission trips, I tend to agree with this person ...depending on the circumstances.

It's very easy to sign up to go on a mission trip, see the need first hand and be touched to our core, come home and then slowly be lulled back into complacency by the demands of everyday life. While the experience is never forgotten, it does seem to get further and further from our awareness. At that point, what we experienced was simply a feel-good vacation. We were just travelers through someone else's world and never really let the experience become a part of us. And that is when I agree that it is more about US than them.

So why go? Because I believe that short-term mission trips CAN make a difference. I'll blog more about that in my next post.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fast For Darfur

I've got to admit, I'm not doing this. With my history with anorexia plus the stress I've been under I'm afraid doing this might be a trigger for me, but I can't express how much I admire those who are willing to make the sacrifice. And I can fast a meal here and there. And I can post here to let others know. Below is a video blog of James Michael, lead singer of Sixx AM. James is doing a 3 day, water only fast to help bring awareness to the conditions in Darfur. Hearing him talk about it reminds me of my days in Haiti and seeing armed guards hold guns on the starving people who came to get a bag of food from us. It was one of the most powerful moments of my life.

You can follow James on Twitter to catch all the updates. But before you do that, check out the web site Darfur Fast for Life and join in, if you dare.

I'm Gonna Miss My Travel Buddy

Today was a sad day. I attended the funeral of a dear lady and although I know she's in a far better place where she no longer experiences pain and sickness, I'll miss her.

I first got to know Donna while on the Hurricane Katrina Relief trip that we did just days after the hurricane hit New Orleans. Her and I shared the car trip down and back, following the two trucks that carried the food and supplies we took down to the people of Grand Isle, LA, a small barrier island just south of New Orleans. Somehow the small island survived but with unbelievable damage. It was an exciting trip - only the National Guard, Police, Fire, and us were allowed there. Donna was what made the trip fun for me. She had sense of adventure and fun that made the long road trip seem all too short.

One memory of Donna on the trip was when we were sitting in the car on the side of the road waiting for the two trucks. We were nearly blown away by an 18 wheeler that was going way too fast and way too close to us. Donna and I just looked at each other, eyes wide with unbelief and fear. Then Donna calmly said, "I don't think I want to do that again."

She was not so calm when we arrived in Grand Isle and drove across this bridge.


You really have to click on it to get a clear picture of the extent of damage to the bridge. Donna and I both screamed over the radio at the guys all they way across the bridge.

Looking at the pictures again, it just doesn't seem right that she's gone. I'm going to miss her.













You can see more pictures of Donna on other Katrina Relief trips here.




Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Push Uphill


Yep, that's what this week has felt like. EVERYTHING has been a battle this week. It started with a long meeting on Sunday and got harder.
So here's the deal ....

HELP!!
All of us who are involved in either the Pine Ridge mission trip or the REZonate Music Fest would really appreciate your prayers.
Money has been a big issue. Health is another.
As it stands right now, I've got two team members who are both irreplaceable hard workers but who hare having a lot of difficultly making their payments for the trip. As a team we started off $1800.00 in the red because we lost two team members after the registration deadline. We recouped $800 of that by picking up another team member. Now with the two team members having difficulty paying, we're back to being about $1500.00 in the red. That in a year when expenses are more than ever because we're building a kitchen for Melda.
Add to that, we started out with a small team. In reality, we're too small of a team to really do what we've got to do BUT now we have two team members who are having serious physical problems and may not be able to either go, or work if they can go. I hate to think that they will be in pain the whole time we're there. That's more than anyone should ask for. Did I mention that we have a lot more work this year than usual?
So, we're doing more with less. A lot more. With a lot less. I'm hoping we don't bring every team member back on stretchers this year. These are all good people. They are people who are willing to give up personal vacation time to go live in some ROUGH situations in order to help people. Any one of them could be on a beach somewhere but have chosen to go give of themselves to others knowing full well that they'll be putting in 16 hour days of hard labor.
And then there's REZonate. There is an important meeting tonight. Pray!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Wow, My Head is Spinning

What a weekend. We had what felt like the longest meeting in the history of meetings yesterday. It was actually not THAT long, but it sure felt like it dragged on and on forever. I found myself praying for God to make it go away. Not only was I exhausted but it was cutting into my chocolate time. I've been trying to eat healthier but one day a week I allow myself to eat whatever I want and yesterday was that day and I had chocolate chip cookies to get to.

I don't know, meetings like that seem to take all the fun out of something that is designed to be a lot of fun (REZonate). It can all seem very overwhelming to the point I just want to crawl into a fetal position and cry "I CAN'T DO THIS ... I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS ANYMORE ... ALL I WANT IS MY CHOCOLATE".

So here I am, 10:00 am on Monday with a whole nuther week staring at me and a "to do" list that is getting longer the longer I sit here with my coffee contemplating all that needs to be done this week. And another week of eating healthy, tasteless food. Yea!

We also have two funerals to go to this week. Two wonderful people who I will miss. A lot. I hate losing people like that.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Another Day; More Cool Stores and a Great Idea

Here are a few snippets from my day ...

Got an email from a lady on the Rez asking for 300 backpacks for the kids in her village. I had talked to her earlier and was waiting to hear back to see how many she needed. The only problem is - we only had 250 for her. We have 150 going to one village & 100 going to another which only left 250 for her. I hate the thought of 50 kids being left out. SO ... I tried to figure out a way to get the other 50. I sent out requests on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and the Backpacks blog. Don't ya know .... within a short time a good friend replied and said, "count me in for the $50". Turns out someone had unexpectedly given him $50 today so he passed it on. Amazing.

A package also came today. I wasn't sure what it might be. I order lots of stuff for the trip, but so far everything I had ordered was accounted for. I didn't recognize the box either. Hmmm... I brought it in and opened it and found a large cast iron skillet, dishtowels, dish clothes, and cooking utensils. All for Melda. From a total stranger who happened to read about it on a blog. This same sweet lady recently send $150 to help build Melda's kitchen. I was totally not expecting more from her. Wow...

Talked to a friend tonight who has recently stopped smoking. To reward herself she had some plans for a class. (Don't worry I won't embarrass you Cathy) We talked and ended up talking seriously about taking a Motorcycle Safety class. Its hilarious just to think about it. But ya know ... we may just do it.

So the day ended with us laughing hysterically about us riding bikes and me telling her about how we rode on the back of motorcycles in Haiti. Imagine a bunch of white women in dresses on the back of motorcycles driven by Haitian men riding through the steets of a Haitian village ... yeah, it was that funny.

HELP!!

Please read this post on the Backpacks For Pine Ridge blog. THANKS!

Monday, June 01, 2009