Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Library Book

Here's the thing. I hate to check out books from the library. I don't want to "borrow" books because I like to keep books, make a home for them on a shelf. Or in a cabinet. I just don't want to return them. If I invest my time, focus and concentration, expand my heart and mind, I'd like to keep it as evidence. I like the reminder. It's like looking at old photos. Sorta.

I took Asher to the library recently and we checked out several books for he and Shawn. With them, its different. We have about 100 books too many for the kiddos...okay I realize that you can never really have too many books....but my house can have too many messes, and so for now the books fall into this category. When the boys are older and more respectful of books, no longer transforming them into villages, towers, and barracades for secret hiding places, I'm sure the sight of them standing vertically in order on the book cases will make me smile. For now, I like to take them back to the library, with pleasure. But the other day I did something I never do. I grabbed a book for me. I didn't investigate it at all. It's free right, so if it sucks I knew I didn't have to read it. But, it doesn't suck.

The book I am reading is: "The Short Bus....A Journey Beyond Normal", authored by Jonathan Mooney. It was published in 2007, and he is also the co-author of a book "Learning Outside the Lines". Jonathan was diagnosed with learning disabilities when he was in 3rd grade and after a series of testing, was placed in special education and had to ride the "tard cart" aka, short bus, to school. He is younger than me. He eventually graduated from Brown University with honors. The book is part of an experiment. He bought a short bus and drove it all over the United States and interviewed various kids and families with disabilities.

For this blog post, I really just want to quote him for the purpose of remembering it. I have to give this book back, dangit. It will not be living in my book case.

"The normal, norm, or normalcy do not exist in the real world of people, despite the fact that we are told that we can modify our behavior and train our bodies and minds to reach it. We are told to chase it - in our culture, in our families, in our lives. But when we chase it, it disappears. Normalcy is like a horizon that keeps receding as you approach it."

I love that quote. I've never felt "normal". This quote frees me in some way. And I hope to be able to instill in my children that they never need to chase the fleeting horizon. They can be who they are without ever feeling that it isn't enough.

And while I'm on the topic of books, I thought I'd recommend a few books that I've read recently in case you are looking for a good read. And by the way....if I finish it, I feel it is worth recommending. If I don't like a book I usually cannot make myself finish it.

"Crazy Love" - Frances Chan (a book about loving God, radically)
"Say You're One of Them" - Uwem Akpan (a collection of stories based on African children)
"Mrs. Kimble" - Jennifer Haigh (fiction, about 3 women over time who married the same man)
"The Great Gatsby" - F. Scott Fitzgerald (yes I just read this for the first time)
***"The Lost Continent" - Bill Bryson (FREAKING HILARIOUS)
"Redeeming Love" - Francine Rivers (Christian fiction)
"Same Kind of Different as Me" - Ron Hall & Denver Moore (LIFE CHANGING, AMAZING, TRUE STORY)

These are all great books worth reading. If you do, let me know. I'd love to know your thoughts.

What book do you think I should read next?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Life Updates

I realize it has been a week since my last blog post. Here I am.

Things are happening around here. You don't mind if I share some real life junk, do ya?

The hubs and me started marriage counseling a few weeks ago...then we missed a few weeks due to holiday/work schedules, and now we are back on this week. Don't worry....I'm not about to air our dirty laundry for you....but just keeping it real. We're just not above admitting we need help relating and we need surgery, so to speak. Praying we can mend and be strengthened.

I have a real estate closing this week, and am busy busy with several clients. Yahoo. We need this!

We are refininacing our mortgage this week. We have been on a short term with a fast track to pay off our mortgage, but our current economy has made this incredibly strenuous. Soon we'll be back on the long track and will make minimum payments for a while, until we can really afford to chunk away at it again.

I'm trying really hard to learn the couponing tricks. Yesterday I saved $40 after going to 3 stores. That was not a lot compared to the super couponers I know...but its a great start for me.

The BIG thing for me, the thing that is stirring in my heart involves Zim. Surprise, surprise! I have been in pretty regular communication with the woman in Zim who has started and operates 4 orphanages. Upon meeting her in 2008 I learned that she is in desperate need of a vehicle. When I returned in 2009 I was surprised to learn that she STILL needs a vehicle. I guess I just assumed that it would happen. God has really placed this on my heart to spearhead. I've been collecting information from her and will be gathering it soon to begin the fundraising for this project. I (SHE) needs help. We need some big givers. I have come to understand in my heart that I cannot return to Zim to visit the children until Mrs. Maruta has a truck. And I have also come to understand that I have to give a large financial contribution to this cause, myself. SO....get ready because I'll be posting this info soon. Please be thinking about how you can raise money within your communities and with your sphere of influence...your friends, family, bible studies, at your work.... God bless you! Really!

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Under the Radar" People

I have not been to Haiti. But some of you know that I have traveled to the Dominican Republic with my church. The DR shares the island of Hispanola with Haiti. They are border countries in conflict, sharing a tiny island. The church that we serve and support in the DR is the church home of a Haitian pastor and a Haitian congregation. They are refugees who are in the DR illegally. They work to send money back home to their families in Haiti. Many of them have lost their families now. And still many do not even know yet if their families are okay or not.

When I was in the DR, the Haitian people really made an impression on me. They had such gentle spirits about them. It is probably a fair assessment to suggest that as many of them are in the DR illegally, and the tension between the peoples is very threatening, many Haitians are just trying to stay under the radar. I could feel this. I think I have always gravitated toward the "under the radar" people. And that goes for any race, in any place. One of my most memorable experiences in the DR was on our last day when our group made a short trip to the beach for some R&R before returning home to the states. I did a little souveneir shopping. There was a kind of outdoor flea market along the beach. One of the places I ventured into was being run by a Haitian man on that day. I wish that I could remember his name. He wanted me to purchase something, naturally...and so he quickly engaged me in conversation. I was not necessarily shy in letting him know that I would prefer to shop quietly and that I would only purchase something if I really desired to. He assured me that I would desire to. Of course.
Details escape me, but I recall talking to this man for a long time. I really wanted to tell him to leave me alone, but I never did. The less that I wanted to speak with him, the more I felt prompted to. Before long we were like old friends. As I was getting ready to leave his store (and yes I did purchase some things)... he stopped me and asked me why I was so nice to him. I'm sure I looked at him with a confused expression. But he stated again in his beautiful creole accent, "most people are just not very nice....why are you so nice?" My response was, "I love Jesus and I have no desire to not be nice to you." He asked me if I would come back later and talk to him some more. Sadly, I had to tell him that we were leaving in a few minutes. He was truly disappointed. Gosh, his name is on the tip of my tongue. I wish I could recall it. It started with an "E". I hope that "E" is curious about Jesus. Or better yet, I hope he knows Him well. Today I am wondering if he has lost his family.

Yesterday on facebook I saw a truly disturbing photo of a young dead child being tossed into a mass grave. Grotesque does not even begin to describe it. I will not be reposting it....because I am already struggling to try and get that image out of my head and I don't want to do that to anyone else. The photo however, was of the child in mid-air, almost upside down, with its stiff body unaware. The photo also revealed the other bodies in the grave......contorted and broken. Not even gently laid to rest. I cannot fathom the number of the dead that is being projected. For some reason my mind is trying to experience it, and I don't want to experience it. But my mind takes me to the shaking and jumping of the earth. The cracking and breaking of massive buildings, and the caving in of the very structures that are supposed to be the shelter from the storm. I can imagine a mother helpless to protect her children. And I can imagine the child spending horrific hours and days trapped, afraid. I can feel my own body going limp and unable to move from a lack of nourishment. I'm torn between wanting to live and wanting to die.

Haiti is a troubled nation. I have found a great deal of comfort in learning that there have been hundreds, and maybe even thousands of missionaries serving in Haiti (prior to earthquake)....and that many Haitians are Christians now. I read a story today about how one man preached to a crowd on Saturday, and the result was the baptism of 21 Haitians. I so deeply admire the people who love Jesus so much to venture into the least safe places in this world (least safe for Christians)... just to share the good news of the love, hope and promises of Christ Jesus. That is such an incredible sacrifice. So honorable. So beautiful. So hopeful. But it is exactly what Jesus has instructed us to spread His word to the nations. Even to the voo doo tribes in Haiti. I'm so thankful and inspired by everyone who has done that. What a glorious jewel in your crowns. I think, now, I am speechless.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dreamin' Big!

It took several days for the birds to even notice that I had filled up their birdfeeder in my backyard. They are eating now. Like little pigs.

Yesterday I had a group of people over to do a little Africa "show and tell". It was lovely and I so enjoyed sharing my experiences. It might not surprise you that now I'm dying to go back again. I'd really love to go back in July when the kids have a break from school. They pretty much go year 'round. Guess I should start praying now. And if my heart has its way, Asher will go with me. That's huge, right? I need to raise and earn a lot of money. A lot. A whole lot. Because I also want to buy a truck for the wonderful founder of so many wonderful orphanages while I am there. I've blogged about her before. Wanna help me? My prayer is that you will rally up some friends, bible study groups, co-workers, etc. Just raise as much money as you can. Collect it and hold it yourself...and when you feel like you've raised all that you can, contact me and we'll get together. I'm dreaming big y'all. Real dang big.

Please also remember that if you live in the middle Tennessee area, I am a Realtor. You can also help me by hiring me. I've been selling real estate going on 9 years. I'm a Broker with great references, a great track record, and I do believe I offer exceptional service. I work really hard in my career to serve people to the best of my ability, with the purpose and intention of honoring God with my work. Please remember me.

In fact, I have to go work right now! God bless your day. It is a gift.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Feeding the birds....and such

Do you ever notice the button on my blog "praying for Nate, Mercy, Jame and Isaiah"? They are 4 sibling orphans from Ethiopia who came home to a family in Middle Tennessee today. This is rockin' me. I feel like my feet are not even on the earth right now. I've been lifted up by my goosebumps and I'm just dangling in the air. I'm so happy for these children and their forever family. God has been so faithful, as He always is.

I spent a few hours organizing my Zimbabwe photos yesterday, into photo books to share on Saturday at my open house "show and tell". Please let me know if you want to come. The photos make me long and yearn. I really hope there is a part of Africa in Heaven.

Today as I was driving home from my morning stuff, I drove down a beautiful winding back road and came upon the remnants of some roadkill. This is typical. Normally there are large vulture/buzzard things picking it apart in a grotesque act of devouring carcass. Today, instead of a buzzard, I saw a teeny tiny bird eating the left overs. That struck me as really odd/sad/confusing....whatever. I immediately realized that I have abandoned my birds. I feed them through the spring and summer but when the weather chills and becomes uncomfortable, I abandon it all. The bird feeders reamain in my yard, empty. It disgusted me to realize this. No matter how unworthy I may be, the Lord God never abandons me. And these little worthy birds....they deserve better from me. I fed them today. They don't know yet. I deeply hope they find their food soon. I am so very guilty of assuming that they will be okay even if I don't feed them because I know that they are in God's hands, and I know He provides even for the birds. I don't ever want to be guilty of failing to provide what I can for my fellow man, my neighbor, my family, my friends, strangers, etc. I know that God is in control......but I beg to be a tool used for Him. How am I a tool if I do nothing?

Don't do "nothing". Don't ever be guilty of doing "nothing".

Do something.

Feed the birds.

Offer your hand to your fellow man. Feed a starving child. Encourage anyone you can. Pray...even when you believe God has got it covered....He still wants to hear from you and me. He wants to know that we are relying on Him. He wants to know that we know our prayers are like music to His ears. He wants us to know that talking to Him builds and strengthens our relationship. What is a relationship without words?

Feed the birds.

Give God your words.

Friday, January 1, 2010


Day 1 of this new year has been swell so far. The hubs is off work today, unlike we decided to celebrate Shawn's birthday today, instead of yesterday. He does not yet know the difference.

He does, however, speak Elmo cupcake language. He knows he is being celebrated and he knows that chocolate is involved. Lord help his sweet little fat cells, he takes after his momma. The funniest part of today, for me, was that Shawn nearly threw a temper tantrum once he got to the bottom of his icing only to discover that the cup"cake" was white instead of chocolate. This might not have mattered had he not already noticed that MY cup"cake" was chocolate. He grabbed my fork and stabbed my cupcake with determination that it would be his. Problem was quickly solved. We shared. He was a much happier camper.

Shawn actually participated in the unwrapping of his gifts, and enjoyed this activity for the first time ever. Cute. Fun. Wonderful. And he was surrounded by the people who love him most.

So if today signifies the trail head for the beginning of this journey known as 2010, I'd say we're off on the right path. Yesterday, the last day of 2009, Shawn pulled his diaper out from under himself while I was attempting to change it...and slung poo all over the room. That one incident really summed up the end of mostly poo filled year. So appropos. I didn't even get upset about it. I've been cleaning up poo all year it seems. I couldn't have agreed more with Shawn's sentiment.

Later today I am going to begin reading one chapter a day in the book of Proverbs, per a challenge at my church. There are 31 days in January and 31 chapters in Proverbs. This too is so appropos. We all need more wisdom and Proverbs is simply that. If I can get my rear in gear, I'll hope to post something each day about any thoughts or experiences I have in reading through Proverbs again. Please join me. I'd love to hear your thoughts as well.

If you need to link to my blog, you may do so here.

If 2009 left you feeling desperate, lost, hopeless or misguided, please commit to claiming joy for your life this year, regardless of what each day brings. Joy is a gift from Christ. We must claim it through Him. He will meet you on your path, anywere.

Wishing you all joy! And ME TOO, doggone it!