Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Jerry, Alabama and me

Jerry's first week in Alabama has been good. He is exhausted in the evenings when he calls. He has been cutting up trees that were blown over, fixing roofs and cleaning up houses that were flooded. He is working with four other men for MDS, a disaster relief organization headquartered in Akron, PA. At this time, they are making the connections for jobs with one of the local churches of that area. They are staying in an apartment at the church.

He is now working in the area south of Mobile, between the city and the gulf. Next week they head farther south to the town of Bayou la Batre, AL. It is located along the gulf and has suffered severe damage. The challenges for the MDS officials is picking an area to setup in and then locating housing for volunteers. Because housing is short, they may end up renovating existing space or pulling in temporary housing units. They want to be able to have groups of volunteers come for a week at a time.

I am doing okay with him gone. I'm taking one day at a time. Three weeks looks overwhelming, but one day does not. Actually, our schedule is more relaxed ... he better be careful, I could get used to this :) just kidding. I will be thrilled to have him back.

Where is God in All This?

I like this essay and want to share it with you. I am beginning to understand that God is all around us ... we just need to be aware, to think about, to look for Him in the midst of our lives. A formula or a set of rules is not what living a Godly life is all about. It's a relationship that we cultivate by being aware of His love and care for us.

Where Is God In All This?
by Max Lucado

When the ambulance takes our child or the disease takes our friend, when the economy takes our retirement or the two-timer takes our heart-can we find Christ in the crisis?
The presence of troubles doesn't surprise us. The absence of God, however, undoes us.

Recently, a young woman died in our city. She was recently married, the mother of an eighteen-month-old. Her life felt abbreviated. The shelves of help and hope go barren at such times. But at the funeral the officiating priest shared a memory in his eulogy that gave both.

For several years she had lived and worked in New York City. Due to their long friendship, he stayed in constant touch with her via e-mail. Late one night he received a message indicative of God's persistent presence.
She had missed her station on the subway. By the time she realized her mistake, she didn't know what to do. She prayed for safety and some sign of God's presence. This was no hour or place for a young, attractive woman to be passing through a rough neighborhood alone.

At that moment the doors opened, and a homeless, disheveled man came on board and plopped down next to her.

"God? Are you near?" she prayed.

The answer came in a song.The man pulled out a harmonica and played, "Be Thou My Vision" - her mother's favorite hymn. The song was enough to convince her. Christ was there, in the midst of it all.

And you? Look closer. He's there. Right in the middle of it all.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Book Club

I have always loved to read and I was thrilled recently when I heard two friends, Pearl and Mary talking about starting a book club, so I volunteered to do it at my house. We had our first meeting, basically a brain-storming session, last week. A lot of my friends are also readers, so there were eight of us here. Though we are all readers, we each have a certain type of book that we tend to gravitate to. I like current authors, Lynne and Mary are fascinated with classics, Lisa generally only reads books about the middle ages (why?) and Deborah likes happy endings. One of the desires expressed by most of us for being in a book club is to broaden our reading selections. After some discussions, we settled on meeting once a month, having good coffee (we had wonderful fresh-roasted Guatemala coffee, because Lynne's husband just started roasting coffee beans and he generously shared some) and reading a book from a different genre each month. Also, we like Pearl's idea of discussing the book by each one coming prepared to read their favorite paragraph or two and telling us why they like that part. We are starting with a classic ... 'To Kill a Mockingbird". We always have room for more, if you want to join us, either in person or online with comments, we would love to have you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Roller Coaster of Feelings ...

Jerry is on his way to the Gulf Coast tonight. He will be gone for three weeks. I have had mixed emotions the last few days as he prepared to go and again today as I watched him leave. I am glad he can go and help, but I am not sure I don't need him here. I'm not sure our family is ready for this, then again none of those families affected by the hurricane were ready for it either. I have more than so many others have right now, I have a comfortable house, plenty of food, clean water to drink, family and friends close by. One moment I am thankful that he is a caring person who wants to help others. The next moment I am surprised that he left me and the boys for three weeks. One moment I feel I am still recovering and I need him, then the next moment I feel selfish for wanting him to stay home. It is a roller coaster ...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Chocolate and God

God gave us...

God gave us the sun and the stars and the winds, and people worshiped the sun and the stars and the winds, instead of the God who made them.

Then God gave us the Law (in the Bible) and people worshiped the Law instead of the God who spoke it.

No matter what God gave people, eventually they were worshiping that thing, and not God.

So God gave us himself instead...

- Author Unknown

As people, we have a need within us to worship something other and/or bigger than us. We also long to be a part of something bigger than us; hence all the wannabes in the world (movie/music stars, writers just to name a few).

So what are we worshipping?
Worship means 'great or excessive love, admiration, and respect felt for somebody or something.

As humans, when we love something, we like to be able to see, touch, and even smell the object of our love. I love chocolate. I like to look at pictures of chocolate and I like to read descriptions of chocolate and how it is made. I even like to hear someone else talk about a great piece of chocolate they have enjoyed. I like to smell chocolate, but those things alone would never satisfy my love for chocolate. When I am blessed to be standing in front of a display of chocolates, especially homemade, I am a happy girl. I take time to select just the right piece, am I in the mood for nutty, fruit, milk, dark, salty. I love to consider all the choices. (Dark is my preference of late) After holding up the line too long, I make my decision. I slowly, almost reverently open the bag and take a deep breathe ... ah! Life is good! Then I get to enjoy the taste of it ... on a good day, it is everything I wanted it to be. Then and only then is my love for chocolate satisfied ... until the next time.

God's Word to us, the Bible says ... Love God with your entire heart, with your entire soul, and with your entire mind. So what does that look like? How do we love God? Do we walk around looking upward, reciting Bible verses, hugging holy statues or maybe we send God cute valentine cards? Is there a correct formula to follow ... steps 1, 2 and 3?

I have not yet found the formula for finding perfect chocolate ever time. Sometimes the displays of chocolate that look the best end up not tasting all that great. Other times I am in the mood for chocolate in the midst of an ordinary day and I have a quick bite of a Dove dark chocolate bar before I head out the door on an errand. I've had Dove before (often, actually) it is a good chocolate, but nothing extra ordinary. But that day, as I step outside, the sun is shining, my son is out the door on time and heading down the road, one of my favorite songs comes on the radio. With the flavor of chocolate lingering in my mouth ... the moment is wonderful.
I have been finding my walk with God to be similar to that. Some days when I am in a so-called 'perfect setting' to express my love to God, I am flat, feel lifeless and empty. Other days in the midst of life, in a moment when I least expect it, I am aware of the love/presence/joy of God in a very real way. Then my spirit responds with love to Him.

Those moments can be anywhere, whether it be observing His creation, teaching my boys, interacting with people or even doing laundry. And of course, when eating chocolate.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Gulf Coast

I have been sad at all the destruction and sadness in the south, wondering what can be done to help. Jerry has wanted to go help since the day of the hurricane. I want him to be able to go, but I don't know if I want him to not be here. (hope that makes sense)
When we were traveling in the spring of '04, we had done a few weeks volunteer work with an organization doing clean-up from forest fires in California.
That group is getting set up in the south now and Jerry has connected with them again and he is headed to Alabama next week for a few weeks. I am glad he can go and help with the need.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


"Help me, wherever I may be, to spread your perfume. May I preach you without preaching - without words but with my example, through the force of attraction, the example of my actions, the obvious fullness of love that carries my heart to you" Mother Theresa

In order to spread the fragrance of perfume, we must first apply it to ourselves ...
Creator of Heaven and Earth, help me apply you to my life today, then and only then, will there be a pleasing fragrance for others to enjoy.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Smallest Drop creates a Ripple

Saw this posted somewhere ...

The smallest drop creates a ripple. The simplest thought can cause a change reactions of events. The air I breathe in, you had breathed out. What I do touches you and what you do touches me. Exploring these connections and tasting our overlaps is the joy that I am discovering.

Photo by Janet '05