Wednesday, November 29, 2006

When Time....

What happens when I am given unrestricted space to be. Think. Read. Ruminate. Pray. Bicycle. Talk. And not least right now?

I'm amazed at the deep passions that are welling up within me. The deep convictions that are challenging the way I'm living. The deep Truth in which I am longing to be transformed. The deep church/community that I long for.

As I learn, I'm antsy to act. I called Nancy down in Fresno wanting to invest in her and in her deep community with poor and rich, Black, Latino, White, homeless and home owners. I wanted to invite homeless people to come for tea, wash their clothes and maybe stay in one of our 3 empty rooms. Today I saw a family's belongings out on the lawn in front of an apartment building and I wanted to make sure they had a place to go. If not, they could stay with me. I want to hang out at the homeless shelter and get to know my neighbors on the street. I wanted to give away all of the extra sleeping bags (at least 2) and tent I have to those who are “camping” every night.

I remember last year when I was down in Biloxi the joy of going to Wal-Mart and buying $100 worth of sleeping bags (about 8) and going down the block and handing them out to the beautiful families who were without homes. God's economy?

I was talking today to a new friend who shared that her favorite experience in life so far was the year she spent in Mexico on a “missions” trip. She went to share and serve and instead came face to face with the mission of God – the kingdom of God...a community of sharing – caring for needs as they arose. Who got missionized – the community or my friend or both?

My happiest times (when not in the mountains) and the times that I am most content happen when I am joyfully giving myself to others in service and in community whether in Fresno, Biloxi, Beyond's like we are supposed to live it daily instead of as a mission trip “high”.

What does it look like here? What does it look like in the midst of a new marriage? Who is my community? Do I need to seek it out or will it seek me out? I read today something new... something about there being a salve in salvation...a healing balm in salvation...can the salve be applied without anyone there to rub it in? I don't think so... Plus, salves tend to smell rather exotic and peaceful...think of Tiger Balm...don't you want to be around the fragrant salve of Christ?

Attention Sunday PM: What does a community of children playing in the mud and sharing sandwiches and the Lord's table look like in that holy space? Because it is HOLY...God dwells with you every time you walk in to the Fireside room or the Crown and Anchor. The salve is applied every time the ladies meet for tea and ruminate with Lisa on the the Scriptures. The fragrance permeates the room when Brian and Bob and Jeff and Clyde and Greg and Brooks and Michael “bond” - the fragrance of Christ and other fragrances as well- Be church to each other, be community and pray for us who are wandering looking for what has been lost...Jen Summers, Kari who married the Turk, Jenna and Dan, Wayne, Josh and Dana, Kim and Scott, Juliette, Doug and Lyn and Haley, Mark and AriAnn, Billy and Pamela, Rodger and Cathy, and me!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Some fun thoughts

Every once in a while I will pick up a book where within the first few sentences I realize that the book has the potential to change how I view my life and my word. That happened this morning when I picked up Shane Claiborne’s “The Irresistible Revolution”. Shane is a quirky fellow of 30 who has decided to live his life as if the words of Jesus are true and worthy to be followed. My husband Alex is reading the book with four 9th grade boys – pretty life changing stuff kids who are just beginning high school.

If you are looking for a change of pace, you might want to be refreshed by the words of a young man who is seeking a new Way and a new world – one dreamt about by the fathers of faith and promised by the Son of God.

A few reads that have profoundly encouraged me:

Soul Survivor by Philip Yancy

Till We Have Faces by CS Lewis

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

Romans 8:5-6 (NRSV)

May we seek the Spirit today!

Lots of Love,


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

3 story high Jesus

So Jesus had this funny way of relating to people... he'd always talk to his friends (and enemies) in code and metaphor, kind of like a puzzle for others to figure out... point and case -
John 10:

John 10
The Shepherd and His Flock 1"I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." 6Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. (huh?)

7Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

We apparently are suposed to respond when we hear his voice... If Jesus talks in person in a way that is shrouded we can probably expect that Jesus will speak more shrouded now that we can't see him...

Most of the time, Jesus speaks to me through a combo of thoughts that come into my head (that clearly don't follow my own thought pattern), scripture as confirmation from God, and through my two faithful friends - Susan and Laura - as I share with them what God might me leading me to, they pray and let me know what they think. It seems to work out pretty well...oh, and then there's the hymn that is sung just prior to major movement of God in my life..."Here I am Lord"...I'd say 45% of the time that I've sung that song my life changes directions within the month. Wierd, huh?

How have you heard Jesus' voice? Ask someone or write a comment... it's an amazing to hear about. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Oh the passwords!

I'm entering into a crisis of memory. I can't remember passwords and user names and that's a problem...a big problem. I have people leaving comments on myspace and I've forgotten my user name. I have no idea what it might be. I've tried everything I can think of and to no avail. I'm doomed. My web based relationships are going to take a hit. My internet identity is going to have a blemish on it. What's going to happen to me?!?!?!?!!!! I'm on my way to sinking so low that I'll have to turn off my computer and go for a walk. You can always call me if worst comes to worst...or even come over, but that's only as a last resort ;-).

Thursday, April 20, 2006

the crazy thing about earth day

So, I'm doing some research on Earth Day...which happens to be this Saturday... and found some really fantasticly great news about it that people for the past 30 years have probably known but was news to me. First, some background. I struggle against being part of a religious structure that tends to put the cart (full of unmentionables) before the horse so to speak. I am talking of the american capitalist christianity that allows for strip mining, toxic spills, deforestation, polution, and brings polititians to power who advoate for this type of behavior all in the name of the HEALTH, WEALTH and WORLD DOMINATION gospel of "Jesus"... Yuck.

So what I found out was that EARTH DAY was founded by a lovely spry 90 year old follower of Jesus (the meek shall inheret the earth guy). He wanted it to be a celebration of God's creation, peacefully uniting God's people in caring for the Creator's Creation! How cool is that?!?!

General revelation is striking me once again right between the eyeballs. As Spring (aka the sun) finally hits the rainy left coast and allergies slow me down, I am able to see my flowers growing, (sun=green=reds & pinks & blues & yellows). As all cultures turn to the worship the unknown creator god of their folklore I look to special revelation and see that I've been commanded to take care of the earth so that God's spoken power can continue to shine like the sun.

Take time to sit and look and smell and pray and pick up a piece of trash...and than the Creator for the bumble bee...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

How does this all work?

One thing I haven't really touched on in this blog is the process the homeowners go through to obtain help from the government and what that help looks like. This is all 2nd hand information but I'll let you in on what I know...

Homeowners typically would carry hurricane insurance but not flood insurance (flood insurance is rather expensive). Insurance companies dodged the bullet by claiming that the majority of the damage was caused by flooding due to the tidal surge (25 feet in some places) rather than the hurricane.* Any damage caused by wind would be covered after the deductible is met. So if you lost part of your roof or you had water damage due to roof failure, insurance would cover the damages. Helpful, kind of. Any damage that was due to water entering the house at the ground level would classify as flood damage and is not covered. Very few houses survived the storm without flood damage.

For people with flood damage, FEMA has offered a maximum grant to homeowners of a little over $26,000. Any hotel bills and other expenses incurred would be deducted from the total grant. Homeowners can also apply for low interest loans through the Small Business Administration. For those who qualified for assistance, they would also be able to obtain a trailer that would be placed on their property for up to 18 months. Most mortgage companies will also give leniency to those affected by the disaster but the homeowner would have to lobby the lender themselves.

Current thinking is that materials alone will cost between $20-35,000 to fix the houses up. This does not include labor. Many are hoping to do the jobs themselves or have volunteer groups come and do some of the work.

Here's the rub as of this morning. Say you've purchased your home for $40,000 15 years ago. You have paid 1/2 of the mortgage off and still owe $20,000 on the home. The storm hits and destroys most of your house. You can rebuild by investing more money in the house (potentially more than the total initial investment) or you can try and get out of the house. Conveniently, the US Congress passed a new law allowing water based casinos to set up shop on land after Katrina so property values are rising as land becomes more precious. Casinos are now offering you $200,000 for your lot. It sounds like a good deal. You are actually making quite a bit of money from the deal if your home is located in the right area of town. The major hick-up in the whole deal stems around communication. Correct information is hard to come by. Casinos and the money they represent can be rather seductive and the communication on other options is slow to come by.

Apparently, many folks are thinking that selling their land is the only option. There is a new push to let homeowners know that there is help if they do want to keep going and rebuild. Today in Biloxi, volunteers are canvassing the area to let folks know what their options are.

In one sense, land is's not eternal, it’s not people, its stuff. But there is plenty attached to that stuff.

A few weeks ago, I met a woman who was affected by the storm. She works for Bell South and lives in the house she grew up in. She was adopted when she was a child by two loving people. Her adopted mother died when she was 16 and her father passed away 2 years ago. The house was left to her and was full of mementos of the love her parents shared with her. The storm waters reached up to about 6 feet in the house, destroying all of the furnishings. She voiced a deep fear that what was left of her house, memories, symbols of love have all been destroyed and she is now alone - orphaned again.

*Note there would have been no tidal surge without the hurricane.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Almost Famous...

The conclusion of my time spent in Mississippi working with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is nowhere near finished. Even though I’m clean and warm and sitting in my room in Monterey, the story continues to unfold. Some good, some bad and some just plain ugly.

Yesterday, I rode on 5 different planes in a successful attempt to get back to California. My journey started at 5 am and ended at 8 pm. I could have flown to Moscow, Russia and visited my relatives living there in the time it took to get home. During my layover between legs 4 and 5, I flipped through last month’s issue of Outside Magazine, which was running pictures of the Katrina aftermath, and was stopped dead in my tracks. There, on the front page of the article, was Wendell sitting in his wheel chair, shirt off, looking despondent. Some students from Carmel Presbyterian Church worked on Wendell’s house while he and 7 others were living there. As we worked I couldn’t help but notice how many cars stopped by the house. I heard last week that the house is a crack house, supplying drugs to the neighborhood. I was slack jawed at first but it didn’t really surprise me…it kind of sums up the dichotomy of the work we are doing down there. Did these people “deserve” to have folks come and help them out? Did they live lives worthy of having people help them? Not really. That’s not what it’s about anyway.

Popular misconception… Jesus’ love is warm and fuzzy…teddy bears and hearts and chocolate chip cookies. Hard actuality… Jesus’ love is big enough to send 10 high school kids and two adults 2000 miles across the country to spend 2 days striping the walls out of a crack house, not really expecting anything in return. We went in ignorance, which was okay because when it comes down to it even crack dealers have mold in their house that is spreading to their lungs. It’s an unsettling thought…especially to me. What’s next? Serving the poor? Seeking justice for those living at the hands of injustice?

On Friday before I left, I drove down every street that we had worked on in East Biloxi delivering pots full of tulip bulbs that we placed on the sites. When we turned the corner on Strangi St., I noticed that the landscape had changed dramatically. The house that Diane was living in (barefoot and off its foundation) had burned to the ground. June’s house next door, where the folks from Michigan had spent much of their week, had also burned. Apparently, Diane had started a fire in an attempt to warm herself in the cold weather. The fire spread and she left. It’s pretty amazing that her damp, moldy house would burn to the ground. It was really disgusting in there.

These are sad, troubling thoughts. I realize that many of the posts have been brimming with hope. Hope plays the lead role down there…it needs to…it must continue to. Yet this community is not without its challenges. The above two stories are reality. There is no way around it. That’s where we are. It is NOT where we need to stay. God's challenge is in making all things new...God's people are the hands and feet on the ground doing much of the labor. I'm thankful for PDA, UMCORE (United Methodists), Catholic Charities, Samaritian's Purse, Mercy Ships, Southern Baptists, Lutheran Disaster Response, Episcopal Disaster Response, Church World Service, even Islamic Relief f and the Burningman Bhuddist contingent for taking part in being the hands of God to the broken.