Thursday, November 29, 2007

Can You Get Shot In Your Own Bedroom?

Sadly, yes. Sean Taylor, a star defensive player for the Washington Redskins died on Tuesday after being shot in his bedroom. Taylor, 24, was airlifted to Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital, but died from his wounds after heavy blood loss. While Joshua and I were watching SportsCenter, he asked me why anyone would want to shoot someone else. Especially in their bedroom!!! I told him I didn't know. He cried. I wanted to. And probably would have if I wasn’t so mad. I hate guns.

Photo courtesy of Tracey A. Woodward, The Washington Post

Got The Better Bus For Us?

We do now!!! My friend Chad recommended Bus Mart Inc. in Daleville, Indiana 30 miles north of Indianapolis as a reputable Christian business. So we drove down there and met Tony who took us from their Bus Mart office to their Bus Mart “bus farm” [literally, tons of great buses planted in a field like corn] to test drive a 9 year old Ford Diesel shuttle bus that seats 12. During Thanksgiving, they put on new tires, checked all the safety features, and called us this week to come pick it up. Which we did!!! It cost $7,500 and thanks to your generosity, we paid in cash. Praise God!!! Thank you for helping us extend the impact of our ordinary outreach.

What Is American Thunder?

American Thunder is the name of the Joshua’s 2007 Pinewood Derby Car. He designed and painted it himself. Adding paper headlights, windshield, and racing flames.
Unfortunately, he didn’t sand and align the wheels or graphite the axle and neither did I. So our entry didn’t even make it to the finish line in any of its 3 heats. But together we had a lots of fun. And next year we’ll do better. We can't do any worse!!! [He DID get a ribbon for Creativity!!!]

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Two Thumbs Up For Thanksgiving?

Wanna watch a movie during Thanksgiving that will give you and your family plenty to talk about while making each of you thankful for more than turkey? If so, I recommend you substitute either Boys of Baraka or Born Into Brothels [Click either graphic for more info] for one of the football games you would normally watch in a dietary coma.

is about a group of 12-year-old African American boys from one of the most violent ghettos in Baltimore, Maryland that willingly travel 10,000 miles away to an experimental boarding school in rural Kenya to try to take advantage of the educational opportunities they can't get in their own country.

Brothels is about a photo journalist who gives the children of prostitutes in India's red light district 35mm cameras to take pictures of the world they live in. Without sugarcoating the environment [or showing any "National GeoGRAPHIC" pics], the children excel in their new found art while the journalist struggles to help them have a chance for a better life away from the miserable poverty that threatens to crush their dreams.

Yo Joe?

A couple weeks ago Pastor Nathan led our YO [Youth Operate] Group to Tent City for Sabbath School where they helped sort clothes, empty trash, and prepare lunch. After church I brought another group of Yo-Yo Ma's and Pa's [parents of YO Group members] downtown to join them. Even Joshua and Lydia were allowed to help serve the evening meal to a never ending line of humanity inside a dark tent.

I ate supper with a guy I'll call Joe. He had 2 backpacks with him. And said he'd be happy to "watch" mine while I went to get some food after we were done serving. I figured he had to be pretty good at watching bags so I let him.

Joe was polite. Easy to talk to. And said the barbecued chicken and cole slaw and beans was the first good meal he's had in 10 months. He said if he had any money, he'd give it all to the people who made Tent City happen. Who are bringing awareness and help to those less fortunate.

I think I may "adopt" Joe. Take him out for a real meal some times. Maybe mentor him if he lets me. I want my kids to know Joe. Because God loves Joe like crazy.

What Is Faith House?

My friend Samir gave up his secure salaried pastor position [which includes health care and retirement] at a growing young Adventist congregation called Cross Walk to start Faith House in Manhattan [click graphic for more info]. He wanted to start a new kind of community in which we can deepen our personal and corporate journeys and together participate in repairing the world.

In this endeavor they will honor and learn from teachings, practices, and suffering of people from religions, philosophies, and world views, different from our own. Instead of isolating themselves into like-minded groups or melting together into a single-minded organization, they will learn to live together with their differences and in a way that contributes to the wellbeing, peace, joy, and justice in the world.

What do you think of their logo? Why do you think they called this church a house? Why these religious symbols? Why separate circles? What is the fourth circle about? Why are they horizontally positioned? What about the roof? What about the foundations? Where are the walls? To learn more about Faith House, click the logo above.

To learn more about Samir and his family [yes his wife and children are with him in this!!!] , click the pic. And if you have more than you need and are thankful to God for it, would you consider joining Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren, and others in financially supporting Samir and his family as they chase the dream God gave them? Thanks for thinking about it!!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

What's This Poem About?

by Naomi Shihab Nye [Click graphic for more info]

After learning my flight was detained 4 hours, I heard the announcement: If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.

Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there. An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly. Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be 4 hours late and she did this. I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly. Shu dow-a, shu-beduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick, sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—She stopped crying. She thought our flight had been canceled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late. Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him. We called her son and I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and would ride next to her—Southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours. She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering questions.

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California, The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookies.

And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, this is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too. This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

Who Broke Their Wrist?

Byline: Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Location: Emergency Room
Reason: Lydia's Broken Wrist
While Jackie was fixing supper, Joshua and Lydia got the teeny exercise trampoline out and decided to jump on it. For some reason, Lydia decided to lay down underneath it with her elbows on the floor and her wrists bent holding it above her. For some reason, Joshua decided that would be a good time to run and jump on top of it. Which, I believe the word the doctor used was, "buckled" her wrist like a styrofoam cup. Leaving one of the bones obviously broken. Lydia has a splint and a sling and may need a stronger cast. But was still able to go to school the next day. Joshua has a severe case of guilt and sorrow. Have you ever broken a bone? Which one? How?

Tent City Socks, Handles, and Trash Bags?

The following is shared with permission by a Toledo First writer who helped us help the homeless during Tent City last weekend. Names are not real.

We got down to Tent City a little after 11:00 am. It took awhile to get comfortable, if you could get comfortable there. I finally just dove into the clothing tent. What can I do? BAGS and BAGS of clothes lay on the floor. They needed to be sorted by size. So I'm ripping open the bags, placing them on the table and I would turn around and they would be gone. Put out more. The "good" clothes went the fastest. Jeans, hooded sweatshirts etc. I found out that socks are like gold and can be used for bartering. I was amazed. We kept socks behind the counter because we could only give out 2 per "customer."

Two women stand out to me. Val was late 20's I think. I was helping her find a few things in her size. Then I noticed her yellow bag was getting full [she had everything crammed down in it] so I asked her if she needed another bag and she said yes. I gave her another plastic grocery bag. But then I remembered I had seen a thin cheap ProMedica tote bag. You know the kind companies give away with their name plastered all over? I said, "Oh, wait I saw a bag with handles!" Mike, you would have thought I had given her a leather hand bag! She quickly dumped her items out, put in her shoes first and from there it just got filled up with her stuff. She kept saying over and over "This is so great of you guys, thank you, thank you...Oh this is nice it has handles..." She's someone's daughter and her life is in a Promedica bag.

Barb is about 60 I'd say. She wasn't eating and I asked her if she was ok and did she need anything. Turns out she has a tumor in her stomach. She's getting it checked out NEXT MONTH when the Dr. comes by the YWCA where she lives. She's lost weight because she can't eat. She can't eat anything that is hard to digest. Hello, Chili and Pizza is not what she could eat. I felt so bad. All she wanted is something she could digest. I told her to just eat a little of everything and eat slowly and maybe it wouldn't hurt her stomach. I got her some fruit, bread and potato salad. She ate the bread and a bite or two of the salad. She didn't eat the apple because of a toothache she had. She's waiting to see another Dr. for that. She's probably someone's Mom and she's living at the YWCA...I am just amazed....

Oh and about the trash cans. Cardboard boxes with the black liners in them. The clear bags go into the black liners. I saw people taking the black liners out of the emptied trash cans. I didn't realize at first, I thought they were ripped or whatever and this guy is helping...I found out later that if you leave a thick black trash can liner just for the taking. It will be taken! As I was leaving I saw a "helper" with a huge roll of thick black trash can liners, just passing them out to anyone who wanted one. WOW, a clean black bag! Who would have thought?

The people were very nice and more than one thanked me for coming to help but honestly I felt like I was the one being helped. I was amazed by how nice they were. So polite. Not that I thought they'd be "different", maybe just a little more bitter than they were. I guess that is what I didn't see, bitterness.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Fall Fun?

Last Sunday we celebrated fall by spending the day at the zoo. We saw the seals get fed. A magic show. And ate enough candy to make ourselves sick. Lydia was Jasmine from Aladdin this year. Joshua was a pilot.

More Fall Fun?

Yesterday, while mommy was making supper, we went outside to goof around.
Who do you think was having the most fun?
Joshua and Lydia each took one of these pics.
Can you tell which ones?

How [In The World] Can We Be Better Parents?

Because our children and grand children's picture of Jesus will depend on ours, here from Walt Mueller are a few ways in the world we can be better parents and grandparents.

1. Use popular culture as a communication tool
2. Understand your own cultural biases
3. Be intent on building relationships
4. Love without condition or limits
5. Provide a place and community
6. Be a learning listener
7. Be a person of grace

Walt Mueller wrote these tips and is the president of the
Center for Parent/Youth Understanding. Do yourself a favor and sign up for Walt's weekly email by clicking the graphic above.