Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Children - our hope, our future, ourselves

On Monday I went to DC ... to hang out with Florida Friends!!! The G's were in town because Dr. J ran a marathon. I know -- crazy!!! But, he rocked it out and made a reason that I got to see sweet friends in a city I love. And it was awe --- wait for it --- some! And more....

Here's my story:

I get to DC with the Metro which I thoroughly enjoy. To be honest, I might even consider moving somewhere just to ride the train everyday. I think it's a brilliant mode of transportation, and I think I've been a closet environmentalist all my life with the desire to ride mass transit. I made my mom ride the bus in Vancouver to get to a museum (at which I happened upon a nudist beach, but why would that not occur in my world?) It was the first time she was ever on mass transit. As I exited the train station in DC I noticed 2 Middle Eastern men walking with great intent, one on the cell phone. I thought, "What are they up to?"

Ignoring the men, I turned in the wrong direction. Making a u-turn because I went towards the Mall rather than the museum, I hear JG's voice. He was talking to the Middle Eastern men!! Yep, I had suspected a my friend's running buddy of being a terrorist. Worse than that ... I had met him before. Hello, goob!!! And then his brother started hitting on me. Have I told you that for some reason up North I'm hip? In Florida, not so much, but up here, the men flock to me.

After N's running hug and group squeezes we head to the Holocaust Museum. I've been to DC numerous times, have lived there one summer and can tell you where most museums are. However, I've purposely never gone to the Holocaust Museum. With relatives having died in Russia for being Jewish, I just didn't want to bring to mind the severity again. I have a pretty active imagination and have garnered many a vision as to what happened in WW2. I didn't need more. But, the museum is well worth it. We went through the children portion and then to the adults.

M has just turned 8. She has always been a deep thinker and we have very interesting conversations. While we were in the adult section of the museum she became quite upset:

M: I don't like this. I feel very afraid and sad. Those Nazi's were mean.
D: You should feel sad. People were really hurt back then.
M: Yeah, but he was just a bad ruler.
D: He was. But, who is our great Ruler?
M: Jesus.
D: Right. So, when you're upset by people being hurt, use those feelings to turn and pray for the ones being hurt to be comforted. And pray for the ones hurting others that God would save them.
M: But, my praying won't save them.
D: Oh, M. You know your prayers are heard by God and are sweet incense to his nose? When we pray it reminds his heart to find and save those people.

M immediately excused herself and stood by the wall. She started praying. When finished, we continued through the museum. She was frustrated that people weren't liked because of how God made them. We talked about how we are made in God's image and that Hitler didn't believe that about all people. She prayed again. Right in the middle of everyone.

We talked about the Torah, the Jews who were harmed, the conditions they lived in, the way they were transported. We walked through the barracks, the train, the rooms full of shoes. We looked at 100's of pictures from Lithuania. We shared how people helped others and that we can help others. We realized that there are people today being hurt in the same manner that the Nazi's were harming people.

By the end, N & M were with me and we made it to the Hall of Reflection and Remembrance. We found a little cove to sit and talk. Once N stopped exclaiming how cool the room was with all its candles, I suggested that we pray for people being hurt and harmed in our world. And that we pray for people hurting others that God would save them and change their hearts. N announced that he would pray first. Silently he bowed his almost five year old head and prayed. M then prayed. And with tears in my eyes I realized that these were kids I loved dearly. But, what I really loved was that they knew they could talk to their Father in heaven and he would hear them. He would listen to their little hearts with great interest and joy. And that he would act because of their prayers.

While in the musuem, I saw a doorframe used in a synagogue to hide the Ark of the Covenant. I was going to quiz M, so I said, "Do you remember what was in the ark?" N pipes up and says, "Ya, there were animals, and hay, and I made it!"

It was such a great time with laughs, hugs, tears, and a reminder of how we truly can impact kids. Love you G's! Thanks for letting me hang out with you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The moments that matter

This weekend, I traveled to Lancaster, PA for a women's retreat. Let me be honest, I'm often scared of these things. I know, it doesn't seem possible, but go with me... there is loads of pressure to be the funny one, or to be the spiritual one, or to do some thing about the hotel because of my travel industry experience. When Sundee said she had signed me up, I wasn't too sure I wanted to attend. She then informed me that I got to help in leading worship, and what else could I do but go?

Leaving on Friday to head to PA began with these words, "You can't expect much from me this weekend. I'm too tired and worn out to make any effort in entertaining people." Elizabeth and Sundee were ok with that. They helped in the entertainment factor and made me laugh endlessly. During our first session on Sat AM, the speaker noted that her prayers for us were, "That you'll laugh until you cry, cry until you laugh and have that women's retreat that you've always wanted." From imagining roadsigns, seeing hot air balloons (check out the flame in the basket!), and looking for wee/little people we laughed -- alot!!! Surprise!

About 1 mile from our hotel was a haven of comfort and good food -- Cracker Barrell. You have to remember that CB was about 1 mile from the condo in O-town. The closest one to my current residence is 45 minutes!!! WHAT!?! Argh. We took advantage of the close proximity of that country store and dined there multiple times!

While eating dinner on Friday Wendy was our waitress. She was quite a sport and joked with us and enjoyed our laughter. And then we told her why we were in the area. "A women's retreat from a church? I've been having a lot of faith questions lately, maybe I should join you." Excuse me? Does that ever really happen? I tell you, the Spirit is pulling on her heart strings. One of the ladies gave Wendy her card, and I wrote my name and email on the back. She's trying to move to Baltimore to become a police officer. We assured her, if she moved here, we'd get her connected. It was such a beautiful exchange of love amongst strangers. The six of us dining together were privileged to observe someone needing love and being able to provide it. The next day, we returned to CB for lunch and got to see Wendy again. We again told her to let us know if she's in town.

There are moments in all our worlds when we get to love. And too often we pass them by because it interferes with our time and needs. But, those little acts of love are just bold non-verbal presentations of the Gospel. I hope we hear from Wendy. She needed love and we had love to give. Where's your Wendy? Who can you love in the midst of your day? It takes people back when I ask them about their day. Especially when it is 8pm at Walmart on Saturday. I know those people would rather be somewhere else, but they are working so I can go to the store. Or they are working on a holiday, or they have to pick up the trash at a restaurant. Or they are a waitress at CB just needing a good laugh to remind them of the sweet goodness of God.

I think this will be a retreat that we'll remember for life. Of course, it didn't help that on the way home we passed a just-hit deer which turned its head and looked at us!!!! Seriously!

PS. Thanks to Jim and Kim for teaching me how to interact with wait-staff. Thanks to Carol and Jim for trying to come and see me this weekend. And three cheers for JG as he prepares for the big race .... can't wait to see the fam in DC!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Signs of fall and other things

Enjoy a few pictures I've taken ....

Some mums that were planted to supplement my previous post. This is only a medium sized one at about 2 feet across.

I was out walking the other day because the lovely roosters were having a crow-off outside my windows at 3pm on Sunday. Guess who didn't get a nap on Sunday?!?! Yeah! ME! That might explain why I'm so punchy this week. Hmmmm, must fit one in soon. Anywho, I went for a walk along the streets I live near. Lined with horse farms, the landscape is beautiful and full of horses just waiting for the paparazzi... that's me! This horse came right up the fence and just stood there until my photos were completed. How kind!

I live on the northern end of a resevior and this is the along my way to work. I had to stop, trapse down the bank and take some photos. I've been told this is only the beginning of the leaves changing color. Will keep you updated!

We are having a mouse problem here at church. We are in the country and as it gets cold mice need somewhere to stay as well as easily find food. So they come into our building. As we strive to bring peace to our neighborhoods, I found it only right and good to provide somewhere for the mice to stay....

I hear there are plans for even larger spaces for the mice to congregate: a village, a condo, perhaps with a security guard. Maggie, send up the sponges, they need some help cleaning!!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

My abode

The blogging natives are getting restless, so I'm posting some pics of my home.

Here is the property I live in as I turn into my driveway. I live in that house in the back, behind the trees. If you look closely you can see my car tucked behind the barn.

Pumpkins and gourds I got fresh from the farms! The big green one is called a "Swan Gourd" and I love it!

Here is some of my fall decor. My mom came to visit last weekend, so I figured I needed to get things set up.

Yesterday, I needed to take a break, so I stayed home and did some Debby fun -- went to Michael's, to Chick-fil-A (with my coupons!), to Baughers -- a farm where I got the little gourds, and found a woman's farm selling the swan gourds and big pumpkins. She was from Denmark. We had a great conversation about the purpose of church, how we need to be real in the midst of people, and about loving other people. I'm having these types of conversations with so many people up here. They can't believe that I work for a church and that I'd move up here just for a job. But, they are giving me great confirmation as to following where God has taken me. I keep hearing, "With your personality, it's a great fit." I knew that before, but I always thought it was either just in my head, or a slight side benefit. God is good -- changing this heart all the time!

Here is a video of the chickens at my house. And, while I pronounce it wrong a couple of times, the rooster has hackles. I've found my synapses are not firing on all cylinders these days. Am going in for a blood test ASAP -- seriously, I'm not running as normal. Enjoy the chickens!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Freezing - Florida Style

I'm not sure if you know this, being that most of you are still in the upper 80's, it's getting cold up here! This morning it was 54 degrees outside my window. As you might expect, I have no idea what to do in the winter months. It doesn't help that I'm cheap, frugal, tight-fisted, whatever you want to call it, Debby doesn't like to spend money! I'm refusing to turn on the heat for those few moments of using the bathroom in the middle of the freezing night and the quick change in and out of the shower. Please, water, warm up faster, I too cold under your freezing streams!

As such, I ventured to Home Depot to find for myself a space heater. I figured I could make it work for the few moments of chill that hit my body. And at the Depot of all Home things, I found Dave. Poor Dave. He was not anticipating dealing with me and my non-northern information quest. He did not think that when he arrived at work he would have to answer a barrage of inquiries on where I can put a heater, how often can I use the heater, what is the best type of heater to use. But, help me he did. I have purchased my first heating element ever!!! I know, big move -- $40 later!

Once home - which I will post pictures of soon, it looks so cute with my fall decor - I started talking to my PN (Professional Neighbor aka. my landlord) about what I could do to increase the heat in my house. Here's what I found out, hope it helps, and hope it makes you grateful if you live in the warmer zones!

1. Put down the storm windows. Who knew these things existed? I had to push up the screen and bring down the storm panes. Come to find out I have 2 extra panes of windows. I have some nicks from the window latch struggle, but I did conquer all 3 of them.

2. Put the shades down at night. In the summer, we put the shades down in the day time to keep out the heat. Now, I put them up in the AM and down in the PM. Debby doesn't really like a lot of prep to get things ready each day, but if it can keep my little toes toasty -- have at it!

3. Close the window in the attic! Oops!! Didn't realize that it wasn't a good idea when I put it down last week. Might be why I felt as if the frozen tundra of the north had come my way.

So, the chill is in the air, the mums (I have pics on my camera at home!) are blooming, the leaves are starting to change (Mom missed them by a week), and I'm carving a pumpkin on Saturday. Fall has arrived. And as my father would have said, "Put on a sweater and suck it up!"