Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Parachuting Turtles and Other Pet-Watching Missteps

I'm not sure how this happened, but we seem to have opened a pet fostering center in our home. For one friend we are watching a hamster and turtle and for another friend, silk worms and fish. Watching other people's animals stresses me out. I literally sit in bed at night composing the conversation I'm going to have when I tell them that we've killed their animals. Last year we watched a friend's hamster and cat. The combination of an unlocked hamster cage and God-given cat instincts led to a tragic mauling and subsequent dinner.

Just last week I was reminiscing a time in college when I launched my roommates turtles from our 3rd floor balcony. They rode tandem on the back of a plastic paratrooper. We took pictures and never mentioned it to the roommate raising the turtles. That was, until the pictures were developed and placed on her pillow.

 Don't ever have me as a roommate.

Yesterday, Makaria's teacher reminded me that we needed black leather shoes for the performance on Friday. The one featuring a Chinese boy singing "Beat It," and our family posing and making cheerleader sprinkles. She reminded me that Makaria was the only one left without the shoes. I told her I don't have them. Upon much guilt laying by the teacher, I told her I'd try and accost a pair from someone. I don't do black patent leather shoes for my kids. Those seem to be reserved for Christmas piano recitals and visits to see the Pope. We are doing neither. 

As I walked home I remember an old pair of sandals that I could paint over. So I did. Here are her "black patent leather shoes." Let's all take a moment to pray that it doesn't rain. 

Apart from my totally pathetic attempt to dress my children, "Redefining Home" is being offered as a part of a giveaway package at this blog. This blogger has some great resources and has started some important conversations about contextualization.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A few pics and updatey type things.

I've been blogged out lately.

I've been creative thoughted out lately.

I've been tired, yet hopped up on caffeine. Being hopped up on caffeine can induce the feelings of both empowerment and anxiety at the same time.

I'm going to stick to blogs about our life for a bit. That requires few stashed brain cells and a camera.

Here's a blink into our crew:

My son as we traveled for our visa run. He was allowed to bring only 3 books. Both his mohawk and his SAT prep book made the cut.

Makaria came home this week sporting some rather inappropriate dance moves. She said they had been practicing a Michael Jackson routine at Chinese school. 

This picture cracks me up. It's two Buddhist nuns doing some shopping in our ancient district.

My girl, a friend, and I finished our 5k training. I learned so much about perseverance and steadfastness by watching my daughter struggle through training. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Love Does-My Take on Things

I cringe when I start out to write a book review. I now personally understand the doubt, angst, joy, tears, and struggle that come with putting into words what your brain is still trying to make sense of. But because this book is gaining traction in America, I felt like chiming might be helpful as we process together what our lives should look like as followers of Jesus. *Minor spoiler alert. This is long, but I'd LOVE feedback on this.

I've only had one cup of coffee today, so I'm gonna keep this discussion at 3 strong points and 3 points of caution.

Here's where I thought he nailed it:

1. Love is messy. Many times as believers we can spin our wheels driving from one Christian event to another. Being a part of the world is messy and even scary at times. Bob Goff challenged me to make that phone call or invite that one person over for dinner that gets overlooked in most social circles. Throw yourself into the ring. You might get banged up but at least your playing.

2. Love demands sacrifice. To say we want to love someone will demand of us to give money away and say no to things that we would rather be doing. Love requires us to cash in when we say we want to bring dinner over or baby-sit for a neighbor. Bob tells stories of getting on a plane to fly to Uganda and aid in the rescuing of young boys from jail. He didn't sit back and pray for so long that his passion about it faded. He acted.

3. Love is dangerous. There are days, sometimes hours, that will require us to do irrational things for the sake of love. On a yearly basis, my father reminds me that if anything ever happened to us as a family, he'd be on a plane within 24 hours. Impulsive, irrational love. Like Jesus letting Judas play on his team with the other disciples. That was a dangerous call, but for the time, it was also incredibly loving. There are times we are called to include the Judas' or to give our brand new cars away to a single mom. Glorious, dangerous love.

Here's where I need to offer caution. (By 3 points, I actually meant 4. We're working on a curve today. Remember the bit about coffee?)

1. Love doesn't always have a large bank roll or important friends. Goff clearly has a few extra pennies to spare and more than a few friends who can make things happen. In most of his adventures, the focus is on spontaneity. Getting on a plane to London because your 10-year old says she wants to go isn't inherently Christian. It's just a really fun thing to do and it also requires quite a bit of liquid income.

It might sound ludicrous for him to just call up John Ashcroft like he did, but let's keep in mind he was also the Counsel for Uganda. It's not like I'M calling up John Ashcroft to come over and play checkers. Goff has connections, so let's not make decisions that in the same light, but without the same amount of money or friendship connections. I get nervous that people will try to emulate his spontaneity, but not have the resources to be able to bail them out when bad things happen.

2. Love does need knowledge of what the Lord is like. One of the chapters talks about his "Bible doing," instead of a "Bible study." I get where he's going with this; let's do more action and less learning and sitting. I did feel like he became a bit patronizing to studying the Bible though. If we are just sitting around with our Bibles in our laps talking about good things we should be doing, how do can we know that what we're doing is actually the heart of God?

We need to know what brings him glory, what makes him angry, how it is that he shows patience. I can learn to do good things by simply going to a Rotary Club meeting or watching Dr. Phil. The heart of God is what motivates us to action and sustains us when we're weary.

3. Love being given and love needing to be received are sometimes different.  Towards the end of the book, he briefly mentions that the Ugandan government was simply taking too long to give them approval for their school, so they went ahead and built it anyway. While this might look bold and radical to an American reader, red flags were immediately raised in my mind. Too often I see Americans coming overseas and assuming what they are doing is most helpful. They skip over doing research or interviewing and just assume the ministry they are offering is just what these people are needing. Overseas, Americans already have a reputation for coming in like a linebacker into a quilting club. We knock people over and tear things apart all because we just wanted to make a difference. I appreciate the heart to help. (Just this past week I linked a great video about thinking we're being helpful. It's a parody on Toms Shoes. It's funny and fantastic. Here's the link)

We have to be wise and usually slow. Governments work slowly. Local authorities work slowly. Sometimes the government and the person in charge are two totally separate entities. It takes time to figure these things out. Training and equipping ourselves before we jump into a project will lead to a ministry that will stay for the long term. Burning bridges simply because we want to see our ministry "succeed" is arrogant and imperialistic.

4. Love can also mean common sense. Goff is clearly an adrenaline junkie. I felt like so many of his stories were just ones of him having whimsical fun and then challenging us to live our lives like that. But Scripture also very clearly tells us that there are wise and unwise ways of doing things.

I fear a 19-year old guy getting a hold of this book and then consequently dropping out of school to live in the jungles of Peru, building wells. He would have no training and no resources, but he would living life to the fullest and somehow that's to be commended. There are absolutely times that the Lord calls us to things that make little earthly sense. But I would say that most often, he puts people in our lives and training in our paths so that we can be the most effective witnesses possible. Let's not forsake those so that we can post, "You Only Live Once!" on your FB photos from Peru.

There seems to be a wave of adrenaline seeking Christians who aren't thinking about getting trained or how to humbly enter a place asking more questions than giving answers. This kind of zealousness is scary. Action is important, crucial even. Adventure is temporary. The adrenaline does wear off and if we're going to be in a place to make a long-term impact, we have to intimately know the God who sent us in the first place.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Ethiopian Day for History

We are studying Africa in our History curriculum and Ethiopia was featured recently! A few extra hours were spent this week reading, map searching, and documentary watching. When I told Makaria it was Ethiopia night, she squealed in excitement. When I told Makaria that Mommy was making all the food, she solemnly replied, "Oh, that's not good." Thank you for that.

The girls performed a traditional dance while watching youtube videos. It was like karoake, but with dance moves. I think we should have youtube teleprompt what we should say in difficult situations. Like how to confront a friend. That would be an awesome invention. 

Charis' friend was spending the night. At one point, I heard her whisper to herself, "Well, I wasn't expecting this." Welcome to our home.

I made several Ethiopian dishes and served them on injera. My husband was excited that I found a non-fermented version of injera, which probably makes it non-injera. But for hubs, this made it edible. 

There were menus, welcome signs, burning incense, drumming, and traditional Ethiopian music. Before we ate, we thanked Jesus for the food and spent a few minutes praying for the Ethiopian church.  I love hearing our kids search the depths of God on behalf of these brothers and sisters there. 

The girls were the hostesses and ushered the guests to their seats while serving drinks.

The older 3 made replicas of the famous Lalibella church.
Each one gave a brief presentation of the building process and the festivals surrounding this historic place of worship.  These churches are dug into the ground into one solid piece of rock.


M-girl colored Africa and explained where Ethiopia was located. 

Despite looking like he just lost a bar fight, K-man also explained his map and spent 1 minute or so waving the Ethiopian flag and marching. 

My second oldest explained the demographics and economics of the country. Several times he pointed out Ethiopia's proximity to Djibouti. Emphasizing the pronunciation, "DID GYA BOOTY!"

My #3 danced and shared some more music with us. 

For desert, sugar cookies made by this dude. He arranged them in the colors of the flag. 

We had such a blast and I will say that the food was fantastic. My kids all requested we have Ethiopian food once a week. They all did such a spectacular job presenting their parts and learning about this fabulous country.

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