Saturday, May 29, 2010

current loves

After three weeks of either working or being in training classes six days a week, having yesterday and today off was utter bliss. As a result, my yard looks as though someone actually lives in this place. Mowing the grass was an adventure in itself. The grass was about three inches too long for my most awesome reel mower to be much help, so I hauled the "normal" mower out of the garage. After a moment of begging God to make it start, I yanked the start cord. It promptly stopped dead at half length and repeated to do so occasionally, surprisingly, my arm remained attached to my shoulder even at the point where I glanced at the driveway, fully expecting to see it lying there. Maybe the mower needed more oil. It did. Nothing to do but swallow my pride, walk into Advance Auto, and politely inquire, "What type of oil do you think my mower needs?" But wait, it gets better. Obviously, the mower engine is of a rather delicate sort. If I took more than a half swath and pushed any faster than a snail's pace, it died. And so, every few minutes, I was hauling away at that ol' starter cord again. I think I'll get the blades of my reel mower sharpened next week.

An errand to the Post Office resulted in these great finds at the next-door thrift store:
I'm always on the lookout for good kids' books. I don't know why; I just like them. Besides, I don't want my house to be completely boring when little people come to visit. "Black Cat" is beautiful. It won the Coretta Scott King Award for non-violent social justice. It says a lot in just a few poetic words and modified photographs that are almost abstract. Stunning. I won't do reviews of all the others, but if you ever see them, snatch them up! :) I was especially happy with "Little Women" and "The Hundred and One Dalmatians (unabridged)"... favorites from my early adolescence... and I could NOT believe my eyes when I saw "A Wrinkle in Time"! I started reading a friend's copy nearly a year ago and never finished it. You know that feeling? Like being caught in midair mid-bungee jump? Always wondering what happened? Anyhow, it's been on my "buy the next time I place an Amazon order" ever since. Amazon sure can't beat fifty cents. :D 

Speaking of happy things, my back door makes me smile every time I come home:

The white peony bush in my backyard is absolutely breathtaking... what is more luxurious than bedside flowers?

A little girl from the "Shelter" unit sat beside me at the staff meeting on Thursday. She's at Bethesda only temporarily, so she wasn't at school with the rest of the kids. I haven't worked down on Shelter yet, but she took to me quickly... too quickly. Beautiful little her. She drew this picture of me:

(I don't think I'm breaking HIPPA by posting this; she wrote her nickname.) Halfway through the meeting, I looked down at her to see her staring at me intently. I smiled at her, and she sighed and laid her head on my shoulder. How can a person smile and cry simultaneously? 

I love my job.

Wait, did I say that before? ;)

It's by far the hardest job I've ever done, but by far the most rewarding. Some mornings I come home, thinking, "I can't believe I get paid to do this!" Other mornings, I stagger home, utterly exhausted both physically and emotionally, and think, "I better get paid for that!" :) 

John, I'm going to take your suggestion and give a little run-down of what Bethesda is and what I do. :)

"Bethesda Children’s Home, Lutheran Social Services is a Christian ministry that provides superior Behavioral Health Services to children, youth, and families." That's their mission statement. Most of our clients come from Philadelphia, sent here by court-order due to circumstances and conditions making foster placement not the ideal option. We are not a "secure", or "lockdown", facility. However, we are regulated enough that we are required to not let clients out of our sight for more than twenty minutes, day or night. Based upon their needs, an I.S.P. (Individual Service Plan) is developed for each client, and the clients are integrated into routines for each segment of the day to establish good habits and provide a secure atmosphere. As clients complete routines well and complete the four levels of social and psychological treatment, they can graduate from the program and go home... If they have a home. Some don't. One of the clients kinda tears my heart. He's smart, funny, good-looking, likable, and not doing well in the program. He has no incentive to do so because he has nowhere to go after he leaves. The thing I love about Bethesda is that it is designed to empower its clients to do well in life, no matter what their circumstances are. These kids are survivors of the saddest of situations, and, even sadder, their circumstances are not likely to change unless they change themselves. It seems cruel, to tell that to adolescents... but it's stark reality. I can't imagine being in some of their shoes, waiting for the state to tell me where I'm going to live next.

I've learned a lot from my co-workers and trainers about loving these kids well while being hard-nosed enough to not let them push you around. It really is my prayer that Jesus will make His love known to them through me... and that it would change their lives.

What do I do? My official title is "Child Care Counselor". I'm working 3rd shift, which means I do bed checks every 20 min., file papers, and other legalities until it's time to wake the kids, get them through their morning routines, and take them to school. No, it doesn't always go like clockwork. :) Each unit is comprised of up to sixteen 'tweens and teens, and a lot can happen in a morning. On the whole, though, I love what I do. 

Please pray for me... I still have a lot to learn, and the job is pretty high-pressure sometimes. My greatest desire is that God uses me to speak Truth to these kids... in all its relevancy.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I interrupt your regularly scheduled reading material to bring you this advertisement., a blog I read pretty often, is doing a giveaway for Red Letter Words. Why did I enter? Because this print... too perfect. :) Man, how cool would it be if I won? The odds are staggering. One can always hope, huh? ;)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lisa [ii]

She is Lisa.

She is confident.

She laughs when I say scandalous funny things. 

She possesses depths of heart.
She is grounded in her love for God.

She is beautiful.

She is my friend.

I am honored.

Funny, how "friend" does little to convey all the mountains and valleys two people have walked together.

Funny, how one's "friend" can give you the confidence and courage when you kinda really need it.

Funny, how God manifests His love and presence through people who love Him.

Lisa is one of those people. 

...and she graduates from Faith Builders this Friday! Congrats, Lisa... you deserve the very best.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

today is thursday

that is a happy fact. because it is thursday, tomorrow is friday. because tomorrow is friday, tomorrow is my last day of training this week. sitting in training classes for seven to eight hours a day is somewhat similar to trying to drink out of a fire hydrant. not that i ever tried. the trainers do a great job of making all the information and regulations relevant, but trying to absorb all that info - while knowing i'm legally held to following it - is somewhat strenuous. one more week of training, then i go back to work. i absolutely cannot wait. i worked two shifts last weekend before training started this week. upon hearing my phoned synopsis, my dad remarked, "sounds like you got your dream job." indeed.

i love the fact that our house has a mail slot. all of our mail comes flying in and lands on the little antique table in the entryway. i feel cultured every time i get mail... which i did today! both get mail and feel cultured, that is. the feeling cultured evaporated upon my emitting a squeal when i realized one envelope contained the dearest letter from one of my dear club girls... the very one who has been a bit heavy on my heart and the subject of many talks with our good Father. her letter entirely warmed my heart. my girls are in lancaster and i'm here... that's The Thing.

another happy thing is having my own house. i'm having fun sprouting rice that should be ready for dinner tomorrow evening, hanging things on the walls, and hosting friends. now that the danger of severe frost is (hopefully) past, i can plant the tomatoes, peppers, flowers, and herbs i raised from seed (as in, as soon as i get off this computer!). so much satisfaction in such little things. the only bitter drop in the joy of domestic activities is that no one is here to enjoy them with me... but only a month and a few weeks until bekah moves in. yay!

upon reading this post, i have one observation: prose is ponderous. it does little to convey the richness of the music of today. oh, well. i wanted to give you all a little window into it, so be consoled that i'm doing well. :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010


i am who you think me to be

reach past

touch my humanity

make me myself

Thursday, May 6, 2010

last...' club last night. of work at Kauffman's today.

...meal with Clair and Anna as part of the household this evening.

...round of packing and cleaning.

This is finally feeling final. So much excitement. So many possibilities and answered prayer. So much completion at finishing details and handing responsibility over to others. So much sorrow at leaving the people who have been my home and my community for the past five years.

Changes are good. Hard, but good.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

National Day of Prayer

I'm caught between two straights as the National Day of prayer approaches. Ambivalence reigns as I feel a pull between pros and cons.

  • I AM thankful I can pray in public without being arrested. That freedom is amazing, one that so many of my brothers and sisters can hardly fathom.
  • This country's people and leaders need prayer, and it's pretty cool to have a day dedicated toward asking God to bless them.
  • I cringe at the bigotry Christians can display when demanding religious rights. Hardly as "wise as serpents and harmless as doves". I sometimes wonder if the National Day of Prayer would be observed so religiously by Christians if they would release the notion that practicing publicly gains them a foot in the door of power on the political scene... or the notion that people are drawn to live as Jesus teaches by being told how wrong they are.
  • I am uncomfortable with the impetus to pray for our country. We're concerned that the "Christian nation" is losing favor with God? 
           Was it ever a Christian nation? Can you imagine Jesus either in Washington's place or under his     command on his lauded surprise Christmas Day attack? Ironic, that a "Christian" nation was in the throes of a bloody birth on the day set aside to commemorate another bloody birth... one of a Man preaching peace and offering His life instead of the lives of others... healing instead of killing. How can followers of this Man of Sorrows ask God to bestow more wealth and power on a superpower when others created in His image are suffering... and some at the hands of this superpower? The focus makes me shift in my seat. While flipping through radio channels recently, I came upon a Christian talkshow. An unknown political guru was saying "Some Christians say, we're a superpower, whether we like it or not. I ask, why are we so apologetic? I'm GLAD we're a superpower! Who else do you want the superpower to be?" He went on to say that America is saving the world by spreading "Christian politics". I groaned aloud. Do we know ANYTHING about the Kingdom and how Jesus wants to save the world?
  • If we are to be salt and light in our country, why are we more concerned with the posting of the Ten Commandments in public buildings and holding massive prayer rallies than we are about knowing and caring for our neighbors?

Brian Miller, pastor of Sunnyside Mennonite here in Lancaster offers these timely questions:

"What if Thursday, May 6 was National Day of…
1.  turning the other cheek to the evil person (Matthew 5:39)
2.  beating our weapons into farm implements (Isaiah 2:4)
3.  loving our enemies and praying for those that persecute us (Matthew 5:44)
4.  loving our neighbors as ourself (Mark 12:28-31)
5.  selling everything we have, giving to the poor and following Jesus (Mark 10:21)
6.  having no other gods before Yahweh (Exodus 20:3)
7.  “I hate all your show and pretense–the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies…”   (Amos 5:21)
8.  doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God (Micah 6:8)
9.  treating the alien who resides among us as a citizen…of loving the alien as ourselves… (Leviticus 19:34)
10.  asking God to forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us (Luke 11:4)
11.  confessing our sins one to another that we  may be healed (James 5:16)
12.  trusting in God rather than military might (Psalm 20:7)
13.  sharing our daily bread
14.  reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18)
15.  proclaiming the Gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15)
What if…
we would gather around a cross rather than a flag
What if…
we would listen rather than speak
What if…
Jesus’ kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven"

What if?

What if the church would remember that
"my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man
my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
it's to a king & a kingdom"
-Derek Webb

Monday, May 3, 2010

confessions of a pack rat

Life at present and in retrospect has been dominating this blog lately. Might it be because my life is fairly bursting? You know what? All this busyness and transition makes me realize... I love my life.

Guess what else? Being a pack rat helps me remember.

I sat on the kitchen floor of my new house for hours this weekend, sorting through boxes of possessions and keepsakes from eras of my life. Like walking through a museum, rediscovering familiar paintings.


  • I owe who I am to hundreds of people. My family. Countless friends, role-models and heroes. Teachers who affirmed my accomplishments and whose belief in me pushed me to earn honor roll certificates. Fifty-five second-grade students and tons of urban kids. Myriads of authors, who introduced me to lands, peoples, ideas, and animals since my mom taught me to read the ripe old age of four.

  • "Life for me ain't been no crystal stair" (-Langston Hughes), but in every era there was always found salvation. And memories that made me smile fondly and laugh hysterically. Relationships change and some scenes are gone forever, but remembering both the painful and heartwarming leaves me with a more solid picture of who I am... and leaves me in awe of the God that kept His loving, guiding finger on me through the entire trip. I really don't know why I am who I am today; I can only attribute to God's protection. At so many points, in retrospect, I can't fathom why I didn't make some really hurtful choices... or even opt for a mediocre existence. It seems there has always been something... Someone... who, even when I didn't know it, assured me I didn't want that. Someone who gave the (once) timid, shy girl the guts to take the "road less traveled by... and that has made all the difference" (-Frost).
  • I have a renewed trust that the Author of my life will finish the good work He's begun in me. I've found Him faithful, and the fact that the finding has come through complexity and gut-wrenching searching only adds to the beauty of where I am now. There is an exhilarating simplicity in the green pasture beyond the complexity of forests. 
The downside to being a (rather sentimental) pack rat is that stuff is a pain to move. And store. Something had to be done, so I did manage to cull two BOXES (I must admit) of keepsakes and narrow it down to one. (Look out, Salvation Army! You're about to receive a doNAtion... Before I have second thoughts about giving away all the cool things my students and friends gave me that in no way match my decor.)

Anyone want my childhood-long keychain collection? No, I'm keeping my grosmommy's tin penny bank that she gave to her namesake.