Friday, May 30

Let's have a little weekend fun, shall we?

I've been in a writing mode lately, the latest which has been some groovy kids' stories. You know, the types with dragons and giants and kingdoms and heroes. So let's write a story! I'll start us off and you add one sentence at a time to the story in the comments (you remember this game, right?). Come back as often as you'd like this weekend. If you don't, it will be a lame (and very short) story.
You know, there's nothing as interesting as a locked door.

Wednesday, May 28

So Much For Flattery

This is what happens when you have a marriage built on honesty...

Allan: You sure do have a lot of gray in your hair.
Kristi: It's true. Should I color it?
Allan: Hmmm...yes.

Okay, then. There you have it. Don't hold back, hon, really.

Tuesday, May 27

Things I Learned (or was reminded of) In New York

* You never, ever wait for the cross signal to change to walk. You go when there is a gap in traffic; otherwise, you will be trampled by all other pedestrians.
* One could spend weeks exploring the MET.
* One could spend weeks exploring Central Park.
* It's really, really easy to lose one's sense of direction in Central Park.
* It's hard not to laugh when a guy says, "How you doin'?" just like Joey from Friends.
* They know how to cook in that city. I don't think we ate one mediocre meal - it was all fabulous.
* Front row, center at Hairspray is about one of the greatest places on earth.
* Singing along with YouTube videos of Journey is a great way to annoy twenty-year-old roommates (who did not know Journey!!)
* Cheryl sleeps with one sock. Then she focuses on whichever foot will bring her to a comfortable temperature.
* A $10 umbrella will last less than ten minutes when the wind blows.
* No matter how cute you want to look, comfortable walking shoes are a must.
* It is really, really hard to get large luggage through the turnstiles in the subway.
* Cheryl is not strong enough to ram herself through a turnstile.
* Only idiots don't see that there are doors right next to the turnstiles to be used when one has large luggage.
* Even those who claim to not care about those who are famous, can become completely star struck in the right environment.
* Donald Trump's hair is actually worse in person.
* It seems that those who have been in show business the longest recognize the wisdom in schmoozing with fans more than some of the newbies.
* If you want to do any major tourist thing, like the Statue of Liberty, get up early.
* Everyone is quieter in the vicinity of Ground Zero.
* Taxi rides are a lesson in personal and intestinal fortitude.
* Taxi drivers do not speak English (at least none of ours did), yet they can get you where you need to go ("80th?" "80th." "8-0?" "8-0.").
* Texting friends back home adds a great dimension of fun to a trip.
* Times Square at night is amazing.
* New York never sleeps.

Sunday, May 25

Needed: Forever Families

James 1:27 - Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

Today there are around 3,000 children in the Oregon foster care system who are waiting to be adopted (around 130,000 nationally). Around 20% of those children have been waiting for four or more years. Did you hear that? For four years or longer children have been waiting for someone to choose them. Waiting to go home to their family. I don't have stats on international adoptions, like the one we have been reminded about this week because of the family of Steven Curtis Chapman. It is unfathomable to imagine the number of children in this world who need a mom and dad to love them and teach them Jesus.

To our almost-daughter, happy 5th birthday, sweet girl. We'll be blowing out candles in your honor today and praying for you as always.

Saturday, May 24

New York Hat

Allan assured me that it was perfectly acceptable to put my own picture up on my own blog. I had to show you my new hat!

Friday, May 23

Women In Ministry Conference

I've got to fill you in on New York! It was such a great adventure - so much fun and freedom. I think I would really enjoy living in New York - you know, except that I would be homeless because I couldn't actually afford to live there. But that's beside the point.

Lest anyone think I just went there for the fun, I'll start with the conference of which most of you have never heard. This was the fourth annual Women in Ministry Conference, sponsored by Pepperdine & the Manhattan Church of Christ. When I heard about this gathering, I knew I had to go. I was so excited to be in the same room with other women who are serving Christ as leaders and pioneers in their congregations.

It ended up being about as eclectic of a group as you could put together from within the CoC. There were a lot of women who volunteer as organizers in ministry within their churches, elders' wives, children's ministers, education, involvement & small group ministers, theology students, professors, and full-time ministers from gender inclusive congregations. We heard speakers discuss how to discern God's calling for your life, self-care & mindfulness (contemplate the apple), & story telling. We had lunch with those from similar areas of ministry and did yoga together as a large group.

The highlight for me was our first night which was set up as a beat poet, open mic, coffee house theme. If the world was to have a "So You Think Your Church Has Talent" reality show, I have no doubt PUMP could hold its own. But I'm thinking the crown would go to Manhattan CoC. Holy smokes! Let's just say that the worship leader for the evening is on Broadway as Joanne from Rent (soon to be leaving to become the Lady of the Lake in Spamalot). Then there's the jazz singer...the interpretive dancer...the actress playing the woman at the well...Sick, I tell you. Those women have more talent than is fair!

It was an encouraging time that, of course, rocked my world a bit (can't we all use a good rocking sometimes?). Girlfriends, check it out next year. It will be at Pepperdine, near the time of the lectures.

More of the New York fun to come...

Wednesday, May 21

Sad News

Terrible, tragic news from the home of Steven Curtis Chapman, one of the most recognized Christian artists and an amazing advocate for international adoption. His oldest son accidently ran over & killed their youngest daughter (pictured seated on SCC's lap) today.

Monday, May 19

Fill in the Oval Completely...

I really want to tell you all about my trip to New York last week, but I'll need to get back to that soon.

Today Trinity and I had a great conversation about national politics. It is a topic that I'm sure she overhears her parents talking about in car rides and at the dinner table more than she cares about or understands. Up until now, she has told me that she would like "the girl" to win the presidency. There's now a story circulating that the dad of one of her classmates was fired by "the girl" for "no good reason", so she wouldn't vote for her because "she's mean" (I'm not sure what that's about, but isn't that how politics goes?). I think there are a few others in the country who might agree with her assessment.

She asked me to find her the names of all of the Presidents from history, so we started with George and ended with our current George. We picked out the ones who were related, and we talked about some of the more prominent stories, including the assassinations of JFK, MLK, & Robert Kennedy. After we finished the list, she asked with a quizzical look, "Are they all men?" Why, yes, my dear, they are. We talked about how important this election is because there is a woman candidate and a black candidate (we also talked about the great war hero that McCain is).

As a woman in a male-dominated industry (religion), I empathize with the trailblazing battle in which Hillary has placed herself. Whether or not I agree with her, will vote for her, or if I think she is a mean girl, she has helped changed this country. There have been many, many excellent female leaders on the world stage throughout history, from Deborah and Esther to Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir. Many countries, even those which are more conservative and traditional, such as India, Ukraine, & The Phillipines, have great women leaders in place. I am so pleased that my daughter will live in a time when she can truly consider herself a viable option for a leadership position - whether in business or for her country.

Tuesday is election day in Oregon. Get your ballot, spend a few minutes here, and get it turned in here. These things really matter. We have been blessed beyond measure to be in a country where each individual - man and woman, white, black, or other - has a voice. In honor of all those people around the world who are kept silent by their government, vote today.

Update: I took Trinity with me to turn in our ballots at 7:50 p.m. (yes, I turn in my taxes in April, too). The library was abuzz with happy people and high energy.

Obama must have read my post. From tonight's speech: "Sen. Clinton has shattered myths and broken barriers and changed the America in which my daughters and yours will come of age." That's what I said.

Wednesday, May 7

The Behappytudes *

Happy are those who know who to depend on (poor in spirit)
Happy are those who know what to be sad about (mourn)
Happy are those who know how to use their strength (meek)
Happy are those who can only be satisfied by God (hunger and thirst for righteousness)
Happy are those who give people a way to start over (merciful)
Happy are those who keep it honest even when it hurts (pure in heart)
Happy are thse who never give up on making up (peacemakers)
Happy are those who won't quit doing right when it's hard (persecuted)

Last week I was blessed beyond measure when I was able to attend the Pepperdine Lectures. The flowers in Malibu were in full bloom, the sun radiated a steady 75 degrees all week, the views were spectacular. More than the refreshment received from the physical surroundings, though, I was nourished by the fresh look at Jesus' Sermon on the Mount given by amazing orators of the Word and by reconnecting with friends and mentors. I would never grow tired of sitting at the feet of Mike Cope, Don McLaughlin, Monte Cox, Prentice Meador, and so many others as they challenge and encourage. It was so good for my mind and spirit to be stretched in new and uncomfortable ways. Get it on your calendar for next year - it is worth it.

*from Don McLaughlin's fourth-grade class


If you are in the mood for an impassioned political letter, read & comment on this.

Friday, May 2

And, now, the rest of the story...

I love surprising my kids. I've learned not to tell them that we "might" go to the Carousel at Jantzen Beach or that I'll "think about" pick up a trinket for them. There is much greater joy in giving them a special treat when it is unexpected.

God is our Father, so I believe He feels the same way towards me, His child.

This last couple of months have been a bit of a rough road for me. I have struggled with depression, resentment, and confusion that stemmed from a myriad of sources. I also could sense God humbling me, which frankly, I didn't like one bit. Then came the fateful week at the end of March when I lost my keys, my iPhone, and my wedding ring. I was beginning to wonder if I could be trusted with anything of value, including my own children's lives!

In my humility, I prayed many times a day something like this: I know this stuff doesn't really matter at all; I know it has absolutely no significance in the eternal scope of things. I feel selfish and petty even bothering you with it. I also know that you find pleasure in gifting me with the desires of my heart; so please, Lord, show me where they are.

As the days and weeks past, I honestly did not lose hope. I believed that the Lord would reveal to me my phone & ring (keys had been found right away). My anxiety did grow, though, as I anticipated my two trips this month. I really wanted a ring on my finger when I was going to be away from Allan for so many days in a row. And how on earth was I going to navigate, photograph, & twitter my way through L.A. & New York without my iPhone?!!

Fast forward to this past Monday, the day before I left for Pepperdine. I was praying my same prayer for the millionth time as I packed for my trip, fully expecting the Lord to show me my phone, when ta-da!, there was a glint of something shiny under the leg of my dresser. MY RING! Oh, thank you Lord. I knowm this symbol of my marriage is more valuable in every way to a silly electronic gadget. Thank you!

That afternoon, after listening to me bemoan again the anguish I felt about going on this trip without my phone, Allan said, "Let's go. We're getting you an iPhone for your birthday." On the drive there, I felt strangely torn. I used this phrase to describe it to Allan: I feel unfaithful. I feel unfaithful because I believe the Lord desires to give me this gift in His time. Allan soothed me with words of comfort and release from guilt, and we made the purchase. I was absolutely giddy with the reunion (and yes, I absolutely know how terribly ridiculous it sounds to be so emotional about a phone, but you have to consider my emotional state for the previous months, and hey, it's an iPhone!).

Later that evening, as we're getting everything on the new phone just so, it rings. Guess what we found? says my mom, Your cell phone! After we talked a minute, I quietly hung up. The tears began to flow as I shared the news with Allan. The tears had absolutely nothing to do with a phone that had been found; they have everything to do with a Lord who takes pleasure in granting the desires of my heart. There is no way, in no one's explanation, that all of that was coincidence. For over a month my wedding ring and cell phone had been missing. Then the day before I leave on my trip, both items are found in two different places, by two different people.

The last couple of months have been tough, no doubt about it. But I was profoundly reminded through this story that I serve a God who cares. I serve a God who, with millions of children to watch over, many who are hurting in ways I could never understand, He remembered me and delighted in granting me a little gift.