Monday, February 26, 2007

Welcoming Wilson

We now have another pup, Wilson, who is 8 weeks old. I'll post more about him soon.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

my letter to you

I am mailing this letter to many of you, but I'm posting it for those who aren't getting a letter (I ran out of envelopes and flyers!).

Hello friends and family:

I hope that you and your families are doing well. Andy and I are enjoying Stillwater very much, although we do miss our biological families and our spiritual family in Russellville. We’re working toward being an integral part of a local church body. For us, being the “new” people is extremely uncomfortable. I may seem bold to some of you but it is only me overcompensating for my shyness. I don’t want to be shy; I want to reach out to people in order to love them. Not only am I actively trying to reach (out of myself) out to people in Stillwater, I am also planning to love others through a short-term mission trip.

If I could choose a place to minister to others, outside of the town God has placed me in, I would choose Africa. That’s why when my sister, Audrey, asked me if I would serve there I instantly and wholeheartedly agreed. I believe God has been shaping me for this trip. I’ve never been on a missions trip and I have (through Geography classes, through literature, and through those wonderful educational television programs) felt a longing to do something for the hurting people in Africa. I didn’t know what I could do – nothing seems like enough. But, God placed in me an intense love for children (for playing games with them, for affirming them, for talking with them, and for picking them up to give them hugs) and I believe that loving the group of children that God assigns to me will have a lasting and beneficial impact.

The organization I am going with is Family Legacy Missions International and I am planning to serve for two weeks this July at a camp designed solely for Zambian orphans. Most of these children have lost their families to AIDS. You may be familiar with the dire situations in Africa, but I would like to give detailed information for you about the area in which I’ll be working. Eighty percent of the population in Zambia live on less than one dollar a day. Zambia has the eleventh highest death rate and the seventh highest AIDS infection rate in the world. Over one million children are orphans; fifty percent of the country is under the age of sixteen and fifty percent of the children are so malnourished that their growth has been stunted. If an orphan does not have older siblings, grandparents, or other family members to take care of them (which would be difficult with the rampant poverty) they are likely to be lost to the streets.
I shared this information with you so that you could see the intensely stressful conditions that these children live with and so you could see how much they need someone to give them love and hope. You can also see how much I’ll need, and the children I’ll be ministering to will need, your prayers. With the Holy Spirit, I hope to love them with God’s deep love, not simply with my own pity for their position and my affection for small children. I also hope to give them God’s peace and the hope I have in heaven and in knowing that this life’s struggles are temporary.

I’m sure you can tell where this letter is going. I’m going to ask you for something now. First I’m asking for prayer. I need prayer for the children as I explained above. Also, I need prayer for safety, for enthusiasm, and for God to work through me here in Stillwater in preparation and when I’m in Zambia. I want to make the most of my time there and I need help to know how to serve the children who do not know English or who are only beginning to learn it. I also need help with the trip costs and with other non-monetary donations. Please do not feel obligated to send me money — God will make sure that the funds will be raised if He wants me to go to Africa.

I am hoping to raise $4,000, which will pay for my airfare and accommodations and will pay for fifty children to attend the camp. If you want to contribute financially, please mail a check to Family Legacy Missions International, 5005 West Royal Lane, Suite 252, Irving, TX 75063, and write my name in the memo line. If you would like to donate something else, there is a list attached of common items (many of which I’ve collected from my own home) that the Mission sends to Zambia. You can either collect the donations and I’ll pick them up or you can mail them to the address on the donation list. I will be making a trip to Russellville, probably in the late spring, so if you would like to help I’m taking several suitcases hopefully stuffed full of needed items.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. Know that in receiving this letter I count you as my friend. Please, let me know how I may serve you.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

"I can't afford to pay for most of what I say..." Derek Webb on "Mockingbird"

I'm experiencing something different lately. I'm not in school. That's strange. I've only had one summer off from school since 2000 and that was the summer I was married, 2003.
I took a short break from reading fiction.
I've been thinking a lot more about who I am and I'm feeling empty but also closer to God. My closeness or intimacy with God never changes for Him, but I'm prone to retreating into myself. I'm a little secretive and that isn't healthy sometimes.

I'm enjoying my job still. I'm learning more about the people I work with (as Andy said they are a motley crew) and realizing that I like people more the more I get to know them. This reassures me because most of the time I feel as if I'm alien to all other people besides perhaps Andy and Audrey (and not even them all the time, of course). I'm feeling very thankful for the people in my life. For the family who truly love me and the people who befriend me. For the people who God has placed in my path at each new home Andy takes me to.

I hope everyone is blessed with someone (a brother, a sister, a niece, a spouse) who loves them and supports them. If you're reading this and you don't have anyone, I'll be your friend. I don't have too many anyway. If you're reading this and you don't have anyone to call when you're upset, call me. I'm being mushy. I'll stop now.

Daphne is over her hives. We're a little perplexed about the whole ordeal, but we're also just glad they are gone.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

sleepy sunday

We visited Grace Stillwater Church again and I think we'll probably attend it. (We almost missed it because we slept so late, and then this afternoon we had a nap -- I can't believe we slept so much.) We went to a pot-luck lunch and we were both very nervous, but we leached ourselves to an older couple who were nice enough to eat with us. We felt awkward but we still really enjoy the format of the service. I was able to worship this morning during the music and I haven't genuinely done that in awhile. I've been thinking a lot about my letter for requesting prayer and donations for my trip to Africa. So know when you receive it, that I spent a lot of time in thought.

I'm enjoying my job. I realized Friday as I walked to my car that I enjoy it so much because it differs so much from my previous employment. It is not vague in any way. The procedures are mandated by federal law and there is a word document describing in detail every step of every process I have to perform. And if I have a question, I ask Matt, my supervisor, who is a nice guy and an active Christian and a reader and a tea drinker and a peppermint patty eater. Soon he'll be able to stop training me, I hope, so I can sit in my little cubicle. Something strange I notice is that no one (and I mean no one) checks their email, shops on eBay, or talks on their cell phone in the office. And they work promptly at eight all the way until five. They are all punctual from breaks and lunches. It is amazing. I feel productive just standing next to these robots. And I'm pleased when I perform to their standards and I enjoy the lack of laxness -- probably only because I had too much of it in my previous position. So yeah, I like it. Now my tutoring... I don't like it as much. I would like to quit but I can't because I need the reference and I don't know if they have anyone to take over my students. So I'll stay and hope that the students actually do their homework before they come to me.

Daphne has been a little sick lately. She had an allergic reaction to something (probably a plant in the yard she's been chomping on) but we didn't know that the bumps all over her were hives so we took her to the vet and spent a little fortune. But, as I told Andy, at least we now know what hives look like and we can just give her an anti-histamine (s/p?) in the future. So, I better go home and make sure she's not vomiting anylonger. Gross, I know.

Monday, February 05, 2007

new news and fun game

Andy sent me this website; it's a bird quiz.

And I finally got a full-time job. I'll be working in the financial aid department at OSU, which is good because I get a free gym and free insurance and hopefully there will be a few classes that I'll want to take -- for free. Thank you for your prayers!

Correction: I can't take classes for free, I assumed they would be at OSU since they were at TECH. But I suppose the school is too large to support the entire staff in that way. I get a discount though and that is a blessing.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The best Onion article ever

I've posted this on Myspace, but I wanted to share it with you who don't waste your time on Myspace.

Girl Moved To Tears By <i>Of Mice And Men</i> Cliffs Notes

The Onion

Girl Moved To Tears By Of Mice And Men Cliffs Notes

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA—A visibly shaken Grace Weaver said she never wanted the synopsis to end.

church-shopping and misc.

Today we visited a PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) church called Grace Stillwater.
Andy and I were impressed with the authenticity of the service. The layout of the service, especially the confession of sins part, was enjoyable because it was very planned and structured. If you know Andy and me, than you know that we prefer a worship time that is not focused on how we feel. I believe you should bring your burdens and joys to worship, but the service itself should be structured and more focused on truths than emotions. I enjoyed the confessions of sins part because it seems to me that this is a vital part of worship, a part that is often forgotten, and it gets forgetful people like me in the habit of confessing. So, if I confess each week at worship, I'm more likely to confess during the week. As I become more comfortable with coming to the Lord in confession, I'll hopefully confess directly after sinning, which would be an active part in obtaining purity, which is something this PCA church attempts to accomplish. We're going to return next week and see what we think. We don't like to church-shop, but we want to make sure this church is a good fit for us.

I had an interview Friday. I'm not sure if I'll be offered the position or if I should take it. I need some direction.

I've been cooking up a storm since I've been unemployed. I finally made fried catfish correctly and it was wonderful! This was my third attempt at catfish (once fried in a pan, once deep fried) and this time I bought fresh rather than frozen and I soaked it in leftover buttermilk that I wanted to get rid of. It was very good, but my tartar sauce was gross. But tartar sauce is gross anyway, so I'm really not a judge.

Andy and I are watching the "Band of Brothers" series. He's asked me to watch them for several years and I was tired of him asking. I like (not really a good word for this emotion, perhaps I'm simply interested) but do not enjoy war movies -- especially documentary ones. I don't like remembering what people are capable of and what people have suffered. But, it is an excellent video series and I do recommend it. I wouldn't purchase it or anything, b/c I don't see why you'd want to watch it more than once.
We recently went to see "Children of Men," which I also highly recommend. It was filmed well because it set the tone of the movie so well and because the background (rather than only the foreground) was interesting. Andy and I noted several times during the movie that our attention was on the background and the progression of the scenes. It was easier to watch (even though it is more violent that "Band of Brothers") because it is fiction and only raises the issues of human depravity and extreme heroism rather than showing true examples of it. The is worth watching because it helped me remember (as do the B of B) that things like this (meaning the events in the movie) have happened, are happening, and will happen. This is a beneficial emotion because it makes me want to help those who hurt or need and because it reminds me to value all human life and all of God's creations. And I'm thankful that I'm not living in the midst of war. War is going on though. And we shouldn't forget it or harden ourselves against it.