Thursday, October 30, 2008

Two Transformers and a Doll

Happy Almost Halloween from...

Optimus Prime,


and Raggedy Ann. Hey, her brothers tried to convince her to be Arcee, but she wasn't having it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wrestling with Manna

Last night Carter and I read Exodus 16 before he went to bed. I know what you're thinking, "Seriously? You read 36 verses to a 5-year old?" I did not. I read a whopping total of 11 sentences from his children's Bible that so impacted me that I had to sit down tonight and try to mentally sort through it. Which just goes to show, you should never underestimate the power of the Word of God in any form. Even a highly condensed form.

Here is the passage we read in all of its abbreviated glory:

The whole community told Moses they weren't happy. "In Egypt we ate all the food we wanted. But you have brought us out to this desert to die of hunger."

The LORD said, "I have heard the people talking about how unhappy they are. Tell them, 'When the sun goes down, you will eat meat. In the morning you will be filled with bread.' "

That evening quail came and covered the camp. In the morning thin flakes appeared on the desert floor. Moses said, "It's the bread the LORD has given you to eat." The people called the bread manna. They ate manna for 40 years until they reached the border of Canaan.

Jeff and I have some friends that are missionaries in Sudan. This was their blog post last Monday. This was their blog post on Friday. I had an impossible time reading through either of them without feeling compelled to try to find a way to help. Should I send baby formula, baby clothes or money? Bethany responded to me by saying (among other things) that they wanted to make sure they started something they could sustain.

Right. About that issue of sustainability. I'm in complete agreement, but last night I was also angry to the point of distraction. I serve a God who supplied fresh bread six days of the week for 40 whole years to the Israelites. He clearly gets the concept of sustainability. My question is why help the whining Israelites and not the dying Sudanese? Baby Amana and baby Rahab are no doubt just the tip of the iceberg in Yabus. What stops God from seeing their desperation and coating the entire country in manna?

My combined sense of helplessness and uselessness continued into this morning. Thankfully, as we drove to Lowes to pick up some supplies for a class I'm teaching tomorrow, the haze began to clear. 2000 years ago, God did not have another entire continent full of people fully able to acknowledge the problem and choose some element of self-sacrifice in order to meet the need. It was He, and He alone that had to come up with a sustainable feeding program.

It seems also that the hands that are outstretched to embrace and provide for the orphaned and destitute matter. The Israelites had full comprehension of God and had a relatively interactive experience with Him. Compassion wasn't a requirement to convince them that He cared. But we live in 2008 and 1 John 4:7-12 seems crystal clear that there is no other way.

For the last decade, Jeff and I have felt very much at peace with the decision not to return to Africa. It has been a difficult decision at times because to some degree you feel like you sold out. You choose to embrace comfort, materialism, and accessibility, over ministry and/or helping people who simply cannot help themselves. That said, we have never felt out of the center of God's will. We have been abundantly blessed to be in a place financially where we have been able to enable others who did make the decision to return. Giving has always been a high priority for us, but writing a check is no longer feeling like contribution enough. I know money is useful, but because I'm not personally motivated by it, it almost feels like I've missed the true point of sacrificial giving. And if I should get the point, could my circle of influence be larger? Could my impact on the world be greater?

I was going to try to end this on an upbeat note, but I just don't have it in me. I will say this one last thing: I think it's no accident that I received the 2008 SIM Gift Catalog in the mail today. I couldn't help but notice for the price of my new Italian ceramic and travertine tiled shower a deux, that I could have fed 40 orphan children in Malawi for 8 years.

I wonder if those 40 kids would have considered that a sustainable feeding program?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Building an Indoor Pool

This is our bathroom as of this morning. What's a month or two, or possibly thirteen, without use of your master bathroom? Sometimes I actually forget we have master bathroom...until I went in yesterday and spotted the pool that we ditched the garden tub for. If this doesn't eventually turn into a slammin' shower, I'm holding all 15 of you who voted for it accountable.

Optimists that we are, we expect the pace of the remodel to pick up from here. Famous last words, I know.

Red-Necked For a Night

Back in August, my parents gave Jeff tickets to the Dollar General 300 for his birthday. I don't know about the rest of you, but anytime someone wants to give us an experience rather than more stuff for our birthdays, we are all about it. For one thing, we don't get out much. For another thing, we already own way too much stuff. It's a problem we should probably be seeking some sort of therapy for.


On Friday night, Jeff and I loaded up the boys sans ear plugs and headed out to Lowes Motor Speedway. That was a mistake. We definitely should have brought ear plugs because 43 cars going 200+ miles an hour around a track is much, much louder than watching a race on TV would lead you to believe. Fortunately, the family sitting next to us was sympathetic to our plight and passed down a pair for Griffin.

Thank you Kasey Kahne fans for saving the night. We're sorry Kyle Busch had to win. But he dominated the field, really, he did. Even we race virgins could see that.
The field? Is that what you call a fleet of race cars? Or are too many hours spent watching the Golf Channel starting to take effect?

Carter was significantly less bothered by the noise because he was transfixed by the gourmet fare served at the track. The race started at 8:00pm, so we had eaten a light dinner prior to heading out. That didn't stop him from consuming a hot dog, a Sprite, nachos, a Coke, popcorn, and a slurpy. He basically ate his way through the evening. I'm not even sure he knew there was a race going on or that we were there for any other purpose than to sample the various and sundry delicacies of the track. All this to say, Carter's compliments to the chef. Manna itself could not have made a better impression.

I am regretful that I did not capture Carter's gastronomical excursion on film, but I was focusing on the actual race.

This is the first lap with everyone following the pace car - which is not entirely unlike what we did in our minivan last year, but without the screaming fans. You'll note the blue Citi car in the bottom left hand corner. Feel free to BOO each time he passes. We don't like Citibank. They made our lives miserable last week.

And this is the same group of cars flying off of the turn we were sitting on. Sorry it's not as sharp as the above picture. Somewhere between 70 mph and 200 mph, my trusty Nikon exhibits some limitations. As luck would have it, my children cannot yet run 70 mph so this does not often prove to be a problem.
This is where the cars pit during a rain break, or to get tires, or to get gas, or to get other bits and pieces I know nothing about.

On a sunny day, it's also a great place to feed your month-old infant. What can I say? I'm a big proponent of feeding on demand and if that means I have to shamelessly expose myself at a gas pump at the local speed track, so be it. There's really no explanation for the camoflauge pants. Perhaps I was planning on going hunting immediately after. Or maybe, just maybe, they were the only thing in my closet that fit. Let's assume the latter to be true since I do remember those pants to be supremely comfortable.

While I was shocking the overwhelmingly male population at the track that day two short years ago, 3-year old Carter and 2-year old Griffin were checking out the Cars exhibit.

(Who has kids this close together? Something about it just doesn't seem right, though I'm sure it will make perfect sense when they are all in college at the same time.)

The whole evening really was spectacularly fantastic. Jeff, the good parent, started making moves to leave around 10:30pm, but I insisted we stay until 11:00pm because I was so into it. There is just something about seeing the rush of cars flying at you around the turn, the acrid smell of the exhaust, the screeching of tires, and the promise of wrecks that kept me mesmerized. I'm actually contemplating a trip to the Wal-marts (grrr) to get some real ear muffs for future races. Yes, a little bit of red has finally invaded my Yankee self. I'm not proud, I'd just like to get on NASCAR's mailing list.

This last picture is for the Gisberts. In case you guys ever get tired of the "magnificent ocean" at Bolsa Chica, you might want to consider inside the track of Lowes Motor Speedway for a family vacation. I can promise plenty of RV hookups, Carolina BBQ, deafening noise for hours upon end, and no sleep whatsoever. Also, I can guarantee that the track as well, as your neighbors, will be well lit. Come on, it will be fun. We might even be convinced to rent a trailer and park next to you.