Birthday Stuff

We headed to Oregon last Sunday. My brother is turning 40 early next month, my nephew turns 10 Saturday and my niece turns 7 on Sunday. They always do the kids' birthday party on the Sunday before Memorial Day and this year my sister-in-law surprised my brother with a party, too. It worked - he had no clue. We had a great time, even with the rain and cold. It was a bit hard to drive home since we had just driven down there Sunday morning. I haven't been up past midnight in I can't remember how long! We stopped several times on the way home so I could stretch my legs and keep myself awake.

Monday we headed over to visit some friends in Port Townsend. I am not unique when I say if I had the money, I'd buy their place today. Most of their friends and family have said the same thing. It is on the market and it is one of the most peaceful, beautiful places I've been in a LONG time. I hope we can go back before they move to Texas!

That was our Memorial Day weekend. The traveling part of it, anyhow. We did see the new Narnia movie. Loved it. I'm already looking forward to adding it to the DVD collection. There was one part I could have done without and I can see why our friends covered their sons' eyes. Other than that, though, it is really good!


Clothing/Blanket Drive

A friend of mine has come up with an awesome idea to hold a gently used or new clothing and blanket (manly, only, please) drive for the Everett Gospel Mission's men's shelter. If you would like to contribute, please let me know.

The biggest need at the men's shelter is jeans. They need as many pairs of them as they can get. Also, since its coming up on summer time, shorts and t-shirts are great, too.

Additionally - blankets. Most of you know about my recent tour of the Mission and how affected I was by the fact that so many of the men sleep under blankets that have cartoon characters on them or the hardest to see was the pink blanket with the daisies on it. So, we'd love to donate comforters or blankets that are a bit more manly. Twin and even "extra long" twin would be great.

If you'd like to contribute, just get in touch with me and I'll figure out a time to pick up your donation.

Thank you!

Books Read

I spent some time reading this weekend. It was a bit different because I really haven't come across too many books that are "can't put them down" type of books. The last time I can remember reading a book like that was about 5 years ago. However, in the last couple of weeks, I learned about two of them. Since I don't have much stop-at-the-store time and add to that the fact that I don't even LIKE to shop in stores, I ordered them online. They both showed up last Thursday. I read the first one on Friday (Under the Overpass) and finished the second one (The Shack) about 6:15 this morning. The Shack, the one I finished today, I started reading yesterday morning and it touched me so deeply, I was awake at 5AM again today to finish it.

Under the Overpass (http://www.undertheoverpass.com/) is the work of a young man who, with a friend, chose to live homeless for five months. They travel through six different stories and the book is a journal of their time on the streets, their experiences, the people they met, those who helped them and too many who didn't. Some of the response they received will leave you slack-jawed in disbelief, even though you already know how non-Christian Christians can be.
Then there is The Shack. I wish I was more eloquent in my written expression but this book, if you choose to read it, will give you such an incredible volume of "stuff" to think about. It is incredibly difficult to read in some places, I had tears streaming down my face for the last several chapters. It does, however, challenge every (or almost every) thought, perception, idea you have about God - who He is, what we mean to Him and how He, Jesus and the Holy Spirit relate in the Trinity and what They want for us. It's not a "feel good if you only love Jesus" book and it's not a self-help book at all. It's fiction and needs to be read as fiction but its thought-provoking fiction and I, in all of my normal cynicism and pessimism, have yet to figure out how it's "wrong." I have already started reading through it for a second time. It's that good.

One thing I will say, if you choose to read either or both of these books - let me know what you think, what strikes you, what you want to do next, etc. I'm curious to see if anyone is as affected as I have been.


Just... Wow!

Sometimes I find myself so incredibly busy that I go through life mechanically. Half the time, I can't remember what I've said to whom when or what I've done. I try to be "present" when I'm doing something but afterwards I'm often left trying to remember exactly what happened and then frustrated with myself that I apparently wasn't paying as close attention as I thought. Not so with this past weekend, though. It's all still whirling around in my head and while all of it was awesome, only one part seems to want to sit and stay a spell in the "mulling over my memories" section of my brain. Saturday morning I went to a "Meet the Mission" event at our local shelter and it was an amazing experience. Eye opening, too, in many ways.

I ended up at the meeting because I plan to start volunteering twice a month doing devotions at the womens' shelter (Technically, I was only going to do it once a month until I spent 2 hours at the shelter on Saturday. I'm fighting the urge to say every Sunday just because I know better than to trust myself with that kind of commitment right away!) and they ask that you attend the meeting to familiarize yourself with all they do.

We all know how large a problem homelessness is and there are so many levels of opinions regarding the homeless themselves. What gets me, though, over and over again, is how close I came to being on the streets myself. For me, I didn't have an addiction and I have a family who was willing to take me in and didn't want to see my son end up sleeping in a car. The people I met over the weekend, though, don't have those luxuries. They didn't wake up one morning and set out to become an addict, lose everything they had, put their own and their children's lives in jeopardy, become a "burden to society," deal with the constant rejection of having people not even willing to look them in the eye or even refer to them as real people. That wasn't a dream they had, they didn't aspire to be the lowest of the low. Yes - there are those who choose to live on the streets but they are not the majority. Our host on Saturday told us of a woman who, when she was in a group at the shelter and introducing herself and telling her story started by telling of her mother who gave her & her siblings drugs when she was 8 years old to keep them quiet. That woman didn't choose addiction - it was chosen for her and for a good part of her life, she didn't even realize there was an alternative that she was entitled to live.

My heart aches for these people. C.S. Lewis once said "It will not bother me in the hour of death to reflect that I have been "had for a sucker" by any number of imposters; but it would be a torment to know that one had refused even one person in need." My experience in San Francisco has been a torment to me. There isn't a single day that goes by where I don't see that woman holding her sign saying she is hungry and this not two minutes after I left 1/2 of a club sandwich sitting on my plate in a restaurant.

Today, too, I read an article about Irene Sendler. She was often referred to as the "female Schindler" and she worked to save thousands of Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto in Poland during WWII. What got me, though, was her refusal to allow anyone to call her a hero. As much as she had done (over 2,800 children saved by smuggling them out in suitcases, boxes, etc. and then placed in homes all over Poland), she felt she should have done more. She was arrested by the Gestapo, tortured and sentenced to death. She survived because a community organization in Poland at the time was able to bribe a guard and helped her escape. She was left in the woods with both arms and both legs broken. At great cost to herself, she did what would seem to be impossible and because of her so many children survived the horror of the Holocaust.

I don't want to be a hero, I don't want any kind of recognition - I absolutely can't stand attention and do everything I can to avoid it. What I want is to stop turning my back. To stop pretending the problem is someone else's, that I can just write a check and have done my part. It's not enough.

Even this is incomplete. The thoughts, the ideas, the frustration at having to be at my job instead of off volunteering somewhere - all of that keeps me from focusing right now. Perhaps in a few days, few weeks, when I have settled down a bit. We'll see. I'm just going to go to work and see what happens next, see where God leads me.



Yesterday was my birthday and it's now official - I am "in my 40's." Ugh. I'm not sure how I feel about that yet. I'll have to let you know. I flip back and forth - sometimes I wish I was still in my mid-20's, I don't feel like I did enough with my 20's & 30's and other times I think 40's aren't too bad. I don't care about the same things I did when I was in my 30's and it's a bit liberating to realize what really isn't all that important.

My husband took me out to dinner and we had a wonderful couple of hours just us. I love spending time with Aaron. He is an awesome man in more ways than I could mention here and I still can't believe I am so blessed. He has to be an awesome man - he puts up with me every day (and says he likes it!) and he irons for me whenever I wake up late for work (which is, by the way, almost every single time I need something ironed...). AND he cooks... to me? That's better than gold!! Yesterday he fixed the grill and the lawnmower, cut most of the front yard, took Christopher to baseball practice and still managed to get home in time & ready to take me out to dinner. Yup - I'm blessed.

My oldest son watched our youngest as we went out to dinner but before I left, my youngest gave me my birthday present. Its the paper flower pot you see in the picture (the other one, the cherub holding the heart with the ivy in it was my Valentine's gift from Shortstuff). Christopher spent days planning this out and then making it. It is probably one of the best birthday gifts I have ever received. Aaron told me last night Christopher had come to him several days ago telling his Dad what he was going to make me. Today I asked him to make paper flowers for the box because the live flowers can't get water (it being paper and all...) so I can take it to work. I want to look at this thing every single day. Christopher tells me he can do that - he has some scrap paper he keeps in his backpack in case he comes up with a project idea. That made me laugh. He's 8 and he carries around different scraps of construction paper just in case he wants to make something. Our "little creator." He loves creating things - one of the requests for his birthday was yarn, shoeboxes, tape and just... stuff. Things he could use with his creations. Such an imagination, too! He has built a closet for his Build-A-Bear clothes, robots, windmills, he loves origami... He loves golf & baseball, too. We're going to sign him up for soccer in the fall. This is what I miss about Chris. His not being a kid and enjoying all of this stuff. My adult son is contemplating joining an adult basketball league. I hope he does it and I hope I can go to some of his games. I miss watching him do the things he loves and is good at. Chris on the basketball court was a wonderful thing to watch. All determination and happiness. You could see his love for playing on his face. I wouldn't mind watching that again.

I'm a rambling mother at the moment... I think I'll stop for now. I'm headed down some rabbit trails and who knows what I'd type. Hope you have a glorious day!