Monday, October 31, 2011

Shopping as a Virtue

Parent teacher conference week means long weekend, which is flippin' awesome. Setting my alarm last night was torture. That is all I'm going to say about that.

So, I used my long weekend to make a mad dash to KC to "help my sister move." See the quotes? That is because.....apparently I'm not much, um, help. Not by most definitions. I'm just not a take charge personality. My sister is type A by the strictest definition. I pretended to be type A until I turned thirty at which point I embraced my inner freak and fell all the way past B to C. There isn't a C? Come over, watch me, and prove it.

Sooooooo basically I followed her from room to room while she sorted stuff I am incapable of sorting, and taped up boxes when she finished packing them and watched as she had to untape them to put another thing in or take another thing out. Yeah, helpful, I know. And then I and my four offspring unpacked five sleeping bags and pillows so we could sleep there and "help" the next day....wherein I watched her hold her supremely tired little girls.

I really would have packed for her, but in each room she was down to The Crap Which Must Be Sorted. (Note: Type B: throws in box a deals with it a year later. Type A: Sorts and packs.)

Anyway, at some point in this process, I mention that while I'm in the city, I intend to take my Eldest shopping for a winter coat, seeing as how it is getting cold and the child doesn't have one. My sister gets a hopeful expression on her face and asks if I will take Teen Girl 2 shopping for a coat also. I say yes, we move on to another room where I do nothing and she sorts.

Eventually it is time for sister to leave to pick her husband up from the airport. I and my offspring leave to have lunch with a friend. By the time we all return, her husband is there and she is flat booking it through the sort/pack. I get Teen Girl 2 and head to the mall where Eldest spots the coat he wants (green and black) in 0.04 seconds and is Done With All Things Mall (and can NOT believe that I don't have anything in my purse to entertain him while his cousin puts a little more thought into her coat selection).

An hour and two coats later we return to sister's house where she now has a friend there to help her. Who is apparently Type A as well because now the kitchen is in boxes, my sister is moving at the speed of light and the single most important thing I can think of to do is get myself and six children out of her house. So we leave.

When I got home, my husband asked me How Did It Go? and Was I Any Help? And all I could think to tell him was that it seemed my purpose was to hold my sister together until helpful people could show up. Because apparently the most helpful thing I could do for her was to go shopping.

Which she confirmed later in a most eloquently worded thank you email in which there was profuse gratitude expressed for just such a service.

So, there you go. Next time YOU move, let me know and I'll go shopping for you.

OH! And the song. Traveling forces me to flip radio stations. On the way home I got to rehear this oldie but goodie that I intended to sing to my beloved for our wedding, but chickened out. I still know every word. And considering my husband now talks my ear off, it has a whole new meaning to it. ;)

Have a great Monday!

And sister, if you read this, please don't take offense. I'm poking fun at ME not THEE.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


When Princess was six months old, I attended a Women of Faith conference on an anonymous donor's dime. I'd signed up to go not knowing how I would pay for it since we hadn't had an income for a full year. When it came time to pay for it, I was told someone had not only paid for my admission, they'd also sprung for the box lunch.

I worried what people would think that I was eating that $10 lunch when it was well known around my circle that we couldn't afford....well....anything.

And then they did their World Vision sponsorship push that they do. And God said, "Go." So, I excused myself to go to the bathroom. And look the long way. And stood ten feet away from the table. When I finally mosied my way close enough to the table covered in children's pictures, there she was.


I refused to pick her up. I chit-chatted with the lady who was saying things like, "You usually know right away who it is. Blah, blah, blah." And I was saying things like, "Yeah, no income for a year. No way. Just thought I'd check it out."

Walked away.

Came back.

Walked away.

Took the long way round.

Came back.

She was still there. And God said, "Jamie, you need to know someone has it worse off than you."

Jamie: Roof over her head. Haven't missed a meal. Has a back-up plan if evicted. Loving husband. Great kids. Exhausted, yes. Broke, yes. Blessed, yes.
Almnesh: too thin, carries water, can't afford school, yup, she wins.

So I went home and told my husband, with hanging head. And HE said, "Well, I won't argue with God."

We've sponsored Almnesh for ten years now. And it started when we had no idea HOW we would find the money to do so. I was worried that whoever paid for me to be at WoF would see me signing up to sponsor a child and think, "Well, sheesh, she's not as bad off as I thought." I was afraid of what my parents would say if they found out. I feared what Brent's parents would say if they found out. I feared anyone knowing. It was a terrifying act of obedience.

The next month we received the first paycheck we'd seen in 13 months. We spent the next I don't even know how long, clawing and scratching and digging ourselves out of $25,000 of credit card debt we'd racked up in the preceding year. More babies came. Hard times came and went and we paid those off, too.

And now I find myself on the flip side. We have reached a level of comfort that feels incredibly.....uncomfortable.

I am completely undone.

I find that my thoughts are consumed with ending poverty and injustice. I'm constantly sharing stuff on Facebook and here on my blog about places to give and things to do and books to read. I spend too much time on blogs of people serving selflessly. I'm reading Mother Teresa and Katie Davis. And my heart cries, "Not enough. We aren't doing enough."

And I worry what people think. I'm afraid that someone will see me in the park with my Kindle (an unasked for gift) and judge me for the post I made earlier in the day regarding "necessity." And I'm afraid of what people will say when they see me eating at the local Mexican restaurant after I've made a comment about starving children. And I'm afraid of what people think when they see me snap at one of my children right after I tell them I'm adopting another.

And yet, I find myself angry with people for not getting it. For not seeing how good we ALL have it.

And I picture them thinking about me Yeah, you're one to talk. You have something to give away. I've seen your house.

And they are right. And I'm unhinged. I'm sick of the extravagance. Because I can hold bead parties (and will) and I can sell goods crafted by women in vocational training (and will) and I can sponsor children and I can give to my church and I can adopt a child (and get all sorts of wild accolades about my selflessness) and I can donate to the local food bank and I can volunteer at the meat cannery and I can boycott stinking Hershey for their child labor practices (and Pepsi for their fetal testing--knife to the heart--fire your PR guy) and it's NOT ENOUGH.

Because there are still children going to bed tonight that won't wake up tomorrow. Malaria is still rampant when all it takes to slow it down is a $18 mosquito net. Women are still selling themselves to feed their children and ending up with AIDS so they leave them as orphans anyway.

Oh Dear God when will we wake up and see that this life we have in America is so crazy extravagant and DO SOMETHING so that babies don't have to starve and their mothers have no choice but to let them be raised by strangers or watch them die?

A dear woman in my life gave me a t-shirt the other day that says "ordinary hero." She gave it to me with the sentence, "I'm not doing anything heroic." And the unsaid sentence was, "Like you." Which is bogus. I think I know her heart well enough to believe that she IS an ordinary hero. And I'm still sane enough to believe that adopting one child only makes me a hero in the eyes of people who can't fathom it. But what no one seems to understand is that the thing that would make me a hero today is if I could find a way for her to stay with her mother. If I could turn back time and get her daddy the medicines that would keep him alive and providing for them. If I could come up with a crop that would withstand drought.

I'm hoping ripples count for something.

And as I've said a lot lately, I have a lot of questions and not a lot of answers. But I'm stinking tired of not speaking up because I'm afraid of what people are thinking. If I can convince the people around me to be an ordinary hero: sponsor a child, donate to the food bank, volunteer, serve, love, give....if I can do that, maybe I can deserve the title on my tee. And until that time, I'll still wear it because it says, "I heart Africa." And my daughter is there.

And if you want to be a hero for me today, I have a letter I need LOTS of people to send to their respective congressmen about the hostage situation that is happening in Ethiopia with our babies. Email me and I'll get a sample to you. (But this is NOT why I wrote this blog post. This happened in the last few minutes.)

Monday, October 24, 2011


A friend of mine suggested a couple weeks ago that I camp in James during our wait. At the time it didn't do much for me, but on Friday, when I was considering allowing myself to have a mental break, I found James chapter 1 to be very reassuring.

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Yesterday in church, I found all the songs and the sermon to be about being OK while in the (figurative) dark. (A friend of mine just emailed to tell me that the sermon was about expectation. I love it when God does that. Multiple messages, same words.)

So, this is where I am today.

My daughter, on the other hand is CERTAIN we are getting a court As the courts are closed for the night, I'm not holding out too much hope. I hope her faith isn't shattered. And, shoot, maybe, just maybe, we'll get on in the Ethiopian morning after our business day is over.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Can I Just Write a Check?

Never mind, I decided to write the cutsie, lighthearted, post anyway, seeing as how I am incapable of doing anything else and my son is camped in front of Curious George.

So, the Girl Scouts are doing a garage sale fundraiser this weekend. I filled my van with donations. Several garbage bags full plus a few larger items. I loaded all of it, together with my two clothing racks at 8 PM last night and drove to the warehouse where I spent two hours and fifteen minutes setting up for the sale that started four minutes ago, now (and which I am probably supposed to be at and am not because I'm trying to not have a public meltdown). By the end of the night, I was freezing, my nose was running, my back and my feet hurt and we still had hours of work to do. Only half the clothes were hung, we were out of hangers, we were out of space and there was still a huge pile of stuff that needed to be sorted.

It was at this point in time when I discover that we are doing this sale in order to cover the cost of the girl scout handbook, which is, apparently, $7, and dues, which, if my information is correct, are approximately $12 a year, which can be paid monthly. (My information may not be correct, because this is not an easy number to come by, even in the age of google.) So I found myself thinking, Can't I just write a check? Shoot, I could probably scrounge up enough loose change in my van to cover a couple months of dues.

When I related this to my husband, he began referring to me as "Princess."

Yes, just call me Princess.

And hand me a pen.

Aft note: I sincerely hope that families who can't afford the $19 benefit from the sale. Girls who wish to be in Girl Scouts should be able to be in Girls Scouts whether they can afford it or not. This isn't to downgrade families who need financial help. I am mocking self. It is called satire. Please don't be offended.


I had a really cutsie, lighthearted, post planned, but I find my mind CONSUMED with anxiety.

I mean, really, I'm certain that if I would allow myself, I would be a sobbing, blubbering mess on the floor.

I know what the Word says, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition,with Thanksgiving, bring your requests to God and the peace that passes all understanding will guard your hearts in Christ Jesus.(Philippians 4:6-7). But the fact is, I can't. So I need you to do so on my behalf.

I really can't reveal details without dragging a bunch of people into it and probably, by definition, gossiping, but I can tell you I need some clarity and soon. Or peace. Peace would certainly go a long way.

Whatever you do, don't pray for patience for me, however. I couldn't take the lesson I would have to go through to get some.

I was just driving along thinking "gee, Jamie, that was a serious overreaction. You need to post a retraction," when it occurred to me that MAYBE the reason I've cooled off is because people are praying. So, I won't post a retraction, or delete the message, but say thanks.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tell Me What You Really Think

When Brent and I first moved to Kansas City we fell into a routine that included weekly Sunday afternoon matinees of craptastic movies, for lack of anything better to do, which my sister referred to as "dates."

"I want to go on a date!" She'd say. Or, "Ah, you're so lucky you can go on a date!"

Personally I thought she was crazy. We were bored out of our ever loving minds. We were seeing movies we didn't even care about because we had no friends and there are only so many weekends you can foist yourselves upon the self-same family members with whom you work the other five days a week. I couldn't get/stay pregnant to save my life so we had little to no responsibility and it wasn't like we were rolling in cash so that we could go on a real date. We were seeing the $4 movie in our comfy clothes. I'd dress up for a date. And maybe get dinner out of the deal.

I digress.

So last week I told Brent, "We need a date. Do you think there is any chance we can find someone to watch the kids so we can go see a movie?"  And by Saturday I'd gone from "I want a date." to "Get me OUT OF HERE for the love of all things holy!" Do you have any idea how long it's been since I've been to a movie that wasn't animated? May. I just remembered. We sprang for a movie for our anniversary. But before that? I'm guessing it tends toward the "years" category. Avitar. Pretty sure it was Avitar before whatever unremarkable thing it was we saw in May. And before that was Star Trek in Branson when my old babysitter drove down from Springfield to give us a reprieve.

So what do we do on our "date?" We shopped for running shoes. Oh yes we did. And then? Say it with me: Target. With a Latte. I know. We go all out. And then what does this idiot do? Talk her husband out of PF Changs because I had a hankering for the chocolate cake with bourbon butter at Granite City.

Oh, I have to back up. We're driving through W-town after buying shoes when Brent asks, "So, what do we want to do?" To which I responded, "Well, when this whole thing started it was because I wanted to go see a movie. Shoes were the conduit to a date. But, whatever. I just needed out. Target it is." We'd timed out for the movie. Our distance from a movie theatre and the length of time we have to beg persuade harass manipulate bless people to watch our offspring in order to do so, is prohibitive to doing anything else lengthy on the same trip. Which, interestingly, I was weeping uncontrollably about not too long ago. A date will never again just be a date. It will have to be functional. Multi-purpose. Home Depot AND Dinner. Movie AND Wal-Mart. It's depressing. Trust me on this. Some day I may get used to it. I haven't yet. When you use up all your free babysitting for the necessities, dates don't happen.

And no, this isn't That Thing That's On The List in case any of you are wondering.


Granite City, yippee skippy, has their flatbread pizzas for $6 on Sunday evenings as their game day special. LOVE their Olive Procuttio (I have zero idea how to spell that and outlook is making prosecution their spelling option) flatbread pizza. But last night? Not so much. And I happened to say something like, oh, "I'm done wasting calories here. Let's go get ice cream," to Brent's "Do you want chocolate cake?" When who pops out from behind me but the manager. And she's all, "How's your flatbread pizzas?" And Brent's all, "Great!" And she looks at me, who cannot tell a baldfaced lie, "And yours?" And I squirm because I've waitressed enough to know that complainers can ruin your night and hesitate and finally say, "It isn't as good as it usually is." Because it wasn't. And she's all, "Oh?" and I, who can't keep my mouth shut once I start, said, "It's usually my absolute favorite, but something off with the procuttio." And she says, "Yeah I noticed when I brought it out with was just kind of laying all out there..." and I finished with "It's like a slab of ham."

It WAS. The "Procuttio" was thicker than the flatbread.

And she offered to bring me another pizza of a different recipe and I thanked her and said no, I was full (And I was looking at the clock by then because we still had an hour's drive home and it was less than an hour from bedtime for the kiddos). Then here comes the waiter who can see his tip dwindeling (because he doesn't know me and the fact that I always tip waiters well, even the crappy ones, because I used to be one and I want to prove that people who order water aren't necessarily cheapskates when it comes to tips, but I think all it proves is that crappy service still gets good tips) to offer me desert, but I just want to bail and go home. So he brings the check and our boxed up flatbread pizzas. $6.41.

I was not asking for a discount. I was certainly not asking for free food. So we tipped him the cost of my pizza and left.

And about a mile down the road got the giggles. Brent started it when out of the blue he says, "Yeah, could you box up these crappy pizzas we didn't like and didn't pay for but want to take home?"

In our defense, we did not know they were going to comp the pizza when we asked to have it boxed. Also, in my defense, I'm not even sure we will ever eat it, but I hate to leave food on the table. Besides, we were boxing Brent's and I thought they'd just throw mine in on top of it. All of which we talked though while getting a little light headed from laughing.

Car goes silent. Moment has passed. At which point the words "Slab of Ham" ricochet through my brain.

Maybe it's just me. And I'm sure the delivery will be lost in print. But I might as well have said "Side of beef" with as much disdain as you could inflect in three words.

Oh. My. Word. I laughed until I cried. Off and on for the full hour it took to get home and off and on throughout the day today.

I have a friend who is well enough acquainted with me to clarify. She's known for saying, "I know you tend to speak in extremes, so what do you really mean?" She would have blown off my "slab of ham" with a shrug. Poor Tia-the-Manager. She didn't know I hadn't been on a date since May or that I'm weirdly blunt, especially when pressed for information that I don't want to give. I only insult people without meaning to and I beat myself up for nearly everything that comes out of my mouth. She was right that I was unhappy with my flatbread and she is probably also right that I won't be itching to go back any time soon....of course I didn't get that cake. Regretting that now.

Slab of ham...compliment at a BBQ place. Not so much on flatbread with a "misting" of olive oil. It just doesn't paint a pretty picture.

Lucky for Him, That's on the List

When Brent and I were first married, my Aunt Mary sent me, together with a box of Godiva chocolate, a clipping out of a Reader's Digest. I can't remember the exact wording, because the clipping has long since been lost, but here's the gist:

"At my bridal shower, women were asked to share words of wisdom for the new bride.
My grandmother, married for 60+ years, wrote, 'At the beginning of our marriage, I decided I would make a list of ten things that, for the sake of our marriage, I would forgive him.'
When she read her advice aloud, we asked her what was on the list.
'I never got around to making that list,' she said. 'When he did something that got me hopping mad I would just think to myself Oooooo, lucky for him that's on the list!'"

I had that story posted on my fridge until we moved, approximately two years, but we were pretty blissful at the time and it didn't really apply. Tubes of toothpaste and toilet seats not withstanding. Mostly it gave me a good chuckle.

Yesterday afternoon we were driving along and I found myself stewing on a particular matter when it flashed across my mind, and not for the first time in the last fifteen years, Lucky for him, that's on the list!

The truth of the matter is that had I actually made the list, most of the things I've felt compelled to forgive "for the sake of my marriage" would never have been on it. It would never have occurred to me that I would need to forgive such offenses for which I have pulled out the list. I probably would have put things like, "Not calling if he's going to be late from work" rather than "Buys company without consulting me first," or "Forgets our anniversary" rather than "Takes on questionable business partners."

For the record, I now like some of his business partners who have proved more faithful than I expected....and I did tell him that I wanted to have no part in the whole buying a company decision. I just didn't expect him to actually listen to that bit of advice.

I'm not saying Brent doesn't have a list a mile long of things that he's forgiven for the sake of our marriage, because I'm sure there is one. He just doesn't talk about it much. He just faithfully gets up every day and loves me anyway. Some days a little more sullen or loud than others.....

Lucky for him, that's on the list.

But if you are struggling in your marriage today, tack a blank list of 10 in your psyche and be prepared to pull it out and use it when you can find no other reason to forgive--particularly when they don't ask for forgiveness.

It really does work.

You can think some devoted Reader's Digest writer's grandmother for that bit of advice.

Oh, and also for the record, we are getting along just fine today. I don't post crap when I'm mad. No sympathetic or otherwise husband-bashing type comments needed.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tiny Tyrant (T Squared)

Mom! I won the cweaning race!

You did?

Yeah, I cweaned my bed and I cweaned my cars and I cweaned my wegos and that's all my crap!

*gut laughter*

*high five*

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chaos Thought for the Day

Pointing out the stupidity in others takes little imagination. A true ability is one that can find a way to love them despite their stupidity.

Arrogance is not a virtue.

Yes, I am talking to myself. And yes, I do see, at this moment that my thoughts on the matter are, in fact, pointing out the stupidity in arrogant people. Today it feels like a risk worth taking.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Misreading Vibes

I am reading a novel I imagine I shouldn't be reading which just triggered a funny memory and all I could think was "blog fodder," so there is little to no excuse for the following post except that it is Wednesday, my blog, and a reason for laughter. Particularly now, 14 years later.

When I was living in San Antonio with roommates I didn't choose doing research on stem cells (I threw that in for effect. Did it work? Marrow stem cells, not embryonic. I've done cloning too. Don't hate me.) after I was married and living half a country away from my husband, my Brazilian roommate came home from the lab with a story. The story was, in general, an "artist" guy had propositioned her at the bus stop to pose nude for him. Our third roommate and I assured her he was a creep and she was smart to have walked away. She insisted that he really was an artist and she felt bad for turning him down.

Fast forward a week. I am at the self-same bus  with roommate three when a guy stares at me long enough to creep me out (approximately 0.05 seconds will do it) and then sidles up and says, "I can't help but notice how lovely your form is." (eyeroll) Um, thanks? "No, really. Your figure is amazing. I want to paint you." Yes, he got The Look.

"Paint me."
"Where, here?"
"My studio."
"Which is...?"
"Just over...." (General gesture towards the north)
"And just how would I be painted?"
"Well, I want to paint your amazing figure."
"Yeah, you, um, tried this with my roommate last weekend."
"Uh, huh. She said you were hoping to paint her nude."
"Of course."
"And that is what you'd like to do with us."
"Of course."
"Yeah, see, the thing is....that's just supremely creepy. Normal people don't just take their clothes off for the guy who picks them up a the bus stop."

I really don't remember his response. I do remember anger. We'd asked if he was a student at the school. Or maybe he asked us if we were. He wasn't. I remember that. I think I also passed on riding the bus and chose to walk home in the scorching heat instead. I'm now also hoping he isn't a serial killer. And that his bus stop propositions were never accepted. We really should have notified security about him.


My sister once told me that I put out "don't pick me up vibes." This guy clearly did not pick up on them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Servant's Heart *snarf*

On Saturday night.....

...and oh, could I regale you with stories of WHY this occurred to me on Saturday night.... came to my awareness that my family thinks very highly of my spiritual gifting of Service.

(Stop laughing Joyce)

See, I've read the books. I've taken the tests. I've mentioned this before. My spiritual gifting is Prophecy/Mercy. Which means I am, not bi-polar....more....split-personality. I make instant, accurate, judgements about people and an instant and a half later find their excuse for their dreadful behavior.

It makes me a really crummy friend to have because I can almost always find an excuse for the person who treated you poorly, even while being furious on your behalf, I'm making excuses for the jerks in your life.

(Right, Wendi? Mandi? Can I get an Amen? Thought so.)

I can't help it. God made me this way. I don't know WHY, but I know it to be true. Sadly, Mercy always, ALWAYS wins. Which means I go through life angry at jerks and being forced to excuse their behavior, anyway. And getting on the wrong side of my friends' woes when I'd rather lend an enraged listening ear.

Guess what? Prophecy and Mercy are spiritual gifts that cancel each other out on most tests. Which is why, for years, service kept rising to the top on those simplified tests.

(Stop laughing Brent. And Brent's mom.)

I KNOW. It's utterly laughable. I am SO very not a servant. Prophecy: 49.4% Mercy: 49.5% Service: 0.1% (WHY can't I make this math work?) My house isn't the place you come to relax. You are welcome to my chaos, but don't expect to be served, and for the love, don't expect it to be clean. If you are hungry, find some food and eat it. But after I've done the dishes for the night, do NOT ask me to feed you. And have a little respect and put your dish at least near the sink.

So you would think that after fifteen, eleven, ten, eight, and/or four years, my family would have caught on to the fact that I am no servant. Not a service bone in this body. Judgy, yes. Merciful, yes. Servant, unequivocally, no.

So I'm going to consider it an HONOR, that my family considers me to have the spiritual gift of service so strongly that I would WANT to do two hours worth of kitchen weekend restoration before cooking for the next day's potluck, so that I can do THOSE dishes, and rather than sit on the couch with the rest of those slackers, I would be excited to prepare for them Second Supper just as their movie is ending.

It means I've come a LONG way, baby.

In their defense, they did offer to wait the movie for me and I did tell them no, because, they would, in fact, still be waiting, now, three days later.

It's a dreadful curse, this mercy. And an amazing gift.

Speaking into the Good

A friend of mine related to me this morning a conversation she had with her daughter.

Daughter: When with the Chaos girl be home?
Mother: Soon.
Daughter: How soon?
Mother: Soon.

When she told the story she said, "We may as well start speaking it."

Yes and Amen.

Would you speak it with us? The news is not good. It LOOKS like it will be a very long time before Iris is home with us. But if we keep saying that, we are giving God no room to perform a mighty thing. He may or may not bring her home "soon" as that mighty thing, but I, for one, and going to speak it.

Soon. She will be home soon. May the path be paved with no speedbumps.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Kinda Goofy

This morning, my first thought on waking was, "Please God, don't let it rain until all the football games are over so we don't have to reschedule."

I repeated the prayer often this morning and then I went to the games.

Where I watched storms roll in.

And listened to people on cell phones around me explain to people on the other end of the connection, "No, we haven't had any rain. It's really windy. And it looks stormy...really? It's pouring there? Huh. No, not yet." Etc.

Two hours and seven minutes later, as we walked back to our van, and threw the lawn chairs in, it began to spit. As we pulled into our driveway, it began to pour.

Sometimes you pray, knowing it is silly and not really expecting anything to come of it.

And sometimes you pray hoping Someone will hear you, but not really anticipating it is worthy of hearing.

And sometimes, you sit on the football field, staring at the sky in awe, and wanting to shout to the people around you, "It isn't raining because I prayed, but you better hustle to your car as soon as those boys are done shaking hands!"

Today was one of those kinds of days.

On all counts.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Feeling Kinda Snarky

...because not everything I post has to be serious, I offer you a visit to my snarky self.

So, since mid-August, when the local college students returned to town, I've been intending to make the following post to Facebook:

Dear Tabor students. There are two crosswalks connecting the north and south portions of campus which span D street. Neither of them are in front of Ampride.

(Trust me, the locals would get it.)

Nothing quite brings out the road rage like stopping at two crosswalks for students, only to stop at a third cross point so that a pack of pimply faced wanna-be adults can mosey in front of my vehicle while checking their phones for incoming texts and not even acknowledge the fact that a vehicle has stopped for them to cross, mid-block, where there is no crossing.

And then this week? Whadda ya know. The city painted a cross walk for them. Yes, a FULL ten yards from the other one. Because to ask students to actually walk to the crosswalk to cross is just asking too much. Let's just put another in.

And, just because it's my blog and I can.

I do have some compassion for the students and their crosswalk. Singular. Dashing across that street would be taking your life into your hands and was in the 90s (when we didn't have a crosswalk that was acknowledged by any drivers). But then I went to KU where you don't even look before entering a crosswalk because everyone WILL stop for you. However, not at a crosswalk, all bets are off. You enter the road, you very well may die.

And, for what it's worth. The cross point where my roomie and I crossed to get to campus did not have a crosswalk and I very nearly did die there on several occations. And the nearest crosswalk from there was down a steep hill and probably more than 100 yards.

When I revisited campus a few years back, I noticed they'd added a crosswalk there.

That one, I get.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


I had a dream last night about my little girl.

It really started strange. We were visiting Israel and then suddenly we were at the care center visiting our little Iris. Maybe I figured if we were that close, we could just jump another plane and stop in to see her?


She was so full of love and hugs and I was so relieved that she was open to receiving our love so quickly. She also spoke English. Dreams can be nice that way. So I told her how very much we loved her and she responded "I love you, too." And we hugged, and kissed and giggled and played.

And then I woke up.

I just wanted to go back to sleep so I could hug her again. And all day long, I've missed my little girl. It hurts to go through a day without her. To have a birthday party where I watched the cousins play, minus one. To see cute new little girl clothes that I'd love to dress my Iris in. And I don't even know what size to buy for a daughter that I don't know when she's coming home.

I know this is temporary. And on the scale of world matters, it isn't really that big of a deal. She's being well cared for in a place suffering a horrendous famine. Most days just feel like any other. But the days following the dreams, they hurt.

Courts should be open now. Hopefully a court date will soon follow. I'd still love to be there before Christmas. With our schedule, Christmas will be here in no time. I might be losing hope that this will actually happen. Delay, delay, delay, delay, delay. That is the latest story. And it is aggravating. Even when God's timing is prefect. Even when I have eleven children in my backyard. Even when all things work together for good. And especially when I have dreams about my little girl.

There's no poetic ending to this post. I'm sad. The end.


I have a story for you.

When Brent and I were first married, we moved into an on-campus apartment that had cinderblock walls, green industrial tile, centipedes, and no air conditioning. The day we moved in, it was a bazillion degrees. I remember that night we had the door and all the windows (all four of them) thrown open in an effort to breathe.

I was a house cleaner.
He had a work study job.
We were both full time students.

At the time, we were also involved in an MLM and were apparently making money (my overall impression of the MLM is negative in my mind, but that must have come later as we were clearly waiting on a check at the time), because we decided that, broke as we were (all we need is love and air...), if the check was at least XX dollars (maybe $350?) we would buy a window ac unit. The check comes, it is, let's say, $349.90. It was really close to whatever the magic number was. That I remember.

We must have had $250 worth of bills and the cheapest AC unit we could buy was $100.

But we'd forgotten to figure in the tithe.

Can you hear the conversation?

The Lord had really worked on  my heart regarding the tithe just the year prior. This was a non-negotiable. I mean, I'd been raised to tithe, but I'm not sure I was very consistent until late high school and maybe well enough into college. Though I DO remember the summer before my Sophomore year it really hitting home.

And, remember, we are talking about something like $35. Or, as I was in college, $34.99. And yes, I was that specific. I was a broke, letter of the law, kind of girl.

I don't remember the conversation. All I remember is that both of us knew we had to do it. We were establishing our giving as a married couple and it felt like an all or nothing moment. We either believed the tithe, or we didn't. But I still remember standing at the offering box, check in hand, and verifying over my shoulder with my sweating husband that we were going to drop that $34.99 in. He nodded, I dropped, and we walked out of church...

...and came home to not one, but two air conditioning units. (one for the front room, one for the back)

I kid you not.

See, some people believe that we should "give out of our abundance," but the thing they seem to be missing is that when we give, abundance follows.

It isn't always cash. Sometimes it is two air conditioning units that were sitting in someone's garage and they heard third hand that someone's kids were sweltering in cinderblock military barracks and offered their use. Sometimes it is a Pell grant that arrives just in time. Sometimes it is the sale of half your stock at the top of the market, just in case, the week before the market unexpectedly crashes. Sometimes it is milk and bread hanging on your doorknob when you leave your house in the morning. Sometimes it is a year after year hand-me-down wardrobe from a friend with excellent taste. Sometimes it is a pristine crib/cradle combo or deep freeze for a steal at a garage sale just when you need it. Sometime it is cars that go long after they should have given up the ghost. Sometimes it is five amazing, beautiful children. And sometimes it is your dream house at a Groupon price.


I know a lot of people want to argue the tithe. They want to argue that the church misuses funds. And in many (dare I say, most?) churches, they would be right. The people were to tithe to the storehouse and out of the storehouse, the priests were to feed themselves and the poor. God didn't tell His people to tithe only when the priests were doing their jobs right. He told them to tithe, pure and simple. What the priests did with the tithe was between them and God. The tithe isn't about money, it is about obedience.

In 58: Fast Living, he brings up the tithe. He even brings up the fact that churches spend too much on buildings and other things. But he also brought up the fact that only a small portion (like 20%, maybe fewer) of professing Christians tithe. (Brent's reading the book now, so it is AWOL and I can't give exact numbers, but I think I'm close.) And 8-10% don't give AT ALL. NOTHING. But if all professing American believers would tithe, that is give 10% of their POST-tax income, it would produce something like $133,000,000,000. I'm not even going to delve into the pre-tax tithe debate today.

Oh. My. Word. Can you imagine if we freed up 133 billion dollars in giving? It would certainly out give the government and WE would have a say about where it went. We want to complain that our churches are spending all their money on salaries and buildings, but they are working on a budget sliced by, what, 70%? I don't know about your priest/pastor/minister, but I have enough faith in mine that if our giving went up by 400% (? I am so much not a quick thinking math person and this is my math and nothing I got from the book), I'm relatively certain building a larger, fancier building wouldn't be on the docket. I'm guessing that the church's giving outside its walls would increase exponentially and proportionally.

But let me back up and even let the 10% not go to a church. If all professing Christians would give 10% somewhere? Mercy. What a difference we could make.

Do you make $350 a month? 10% would sponsor a hungry child.

I'm just sayin'.

Lately I've heard a lot about people who believe we need to sell it all off and give it all away. That we can't be Christ followers if we don't. But, what's next? Frankly, I wonder who funds those people after that happens. Someone has to make the money to donate to the programs that are started by the people who give it all away and live under a bridge feeding the poor--which they are now. I'm not saying that some people aren't called to that, but I don't believe that ALL people are called to that. If we are all living under a bridge, I don't see a whole lot of incentive to join us and I'm not sure who is providing the food for us to give away.

Maybe that's just me.

Let's think along lines that people can actually buy into, like, I have been blessed, let me share in the blessing. Because I think before people can see Giving it All Away, they might get Share A Portion.

Don't trust a church? Find someone you can trust. Live 58 has done a lot of research into groups you can trust with your funds. It wouldn't be a bad idea to start there. I like World Vision. I like Victory Christian Children's Home. I like Stillwater life Services. I like Main Street Ministries food bank. There are lots of programs that would happily provide a start to your giving. Shoot, start with donating 10% of your grocery cart to a food bank.

In Malachai 3, it says:
 8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
   “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
   “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty. 

I can attest that God's word is true.

Quit waiting for the abundance to come so that you can give. Give. And see if abundance doesn't follow.