Because of Gomer's unfaithfulness

I got the following summary about Hosea from:

The first part of Hosea records the tragic story of the prophet’s unhappy marital experiences. Hosea’s wife, Gomer, whom he married in good faith, proved to be an adulterous woman. Three children were born to her, but they were not Hosea’s. Because of Gomer’s unfaithfulness, the prophet divorced his wife and lived apart from her. Following her separation from the home, Gomer continued her adulterous life and eventually was scarcely different from an ordinary slave. But Hosea still loved her in spite of her unfaithfulness. To rescue her from her lovers, he sought her out and purchased her freedom.

I really enjoy the book of Hosea. I used to be really overwhelmed by the old testament, because I didn't understand it, because I didn't really "get" the relevance of it. Sometimes I still don't, but because of some very specific conversations I had in Mexico a year and a half ago there are parts of it that captivate me.
Hosea was a prophet, and the commentary goes on to say that they don't know if his marriage was real, or an analogy (which can get into the debate of whether the bible can be literally interpreted, which I SO don't even really want to get into, that debates exhausts me). Either way...it's a great parallel to the unfaithfulness of God's people. In the old testament (and the new testament, and now) people are unfaithful to God. I am all the time as a matter of fact.
But when I read the above synopsis on the forum today (because of a Third Day reference that bears no mentioning here), specifically the last two sentences, I was stopped in my tracks and slapped across the face

But Hosea still loved her in spite of her unfaithfulness. To rescue her from her lovers, he sought her out and purchased her freedom.

Replace Hosea with God, and Gomer's role with us.
Do you see it? Do you see that God loves us in spite of our unfaithfulness to Him. No matter how many times we push him away, try to hide from him, blatantly choose sin and separation from him he still loves us.
Who are our other lovers? How often do I choose my own damned road to walk down instead of patiently following God? How often do I try to manipulate who I am because I'm untrusting that who I am, who God made me to be is just enough for those it needs to be just enough for? How many times have I had to scramble to dig myself out of a mess that I created by not being faithful to God? How many beds have I crawled out of knowing that I was cheating, cheating not on a boyfriend or husband, but on God?
How uncool is it that I feel this way? But so much lately God has been working in my heart in the ways that I've been unfaithful to him. He's been pointing out here and there how I have continually turned my back to him and been disobedient. It is shattering me.
But I know that in those pieces, God is making a mosaic that will bring Him glory. I feel like that makes me the luckiest girl.

God has and continues to purchase our freedom through a relationship with Jesus. I mean, I feel like it's so obvious and that I've gotten it...but sometimes it just knocks me on my ass with the wonder of it all. God seeks us out. If it were just me, if it were just you, or you, or that person over there. If it were your closest friend and/or family member or your worst enemy, if it were that jerk that cut you off in traffic or the person that wounded you beyond repair. God sought all of them, and is seeking all of us. He is showing us again and again that he has purchased our freedom with Jesus on the cross.
Piece by piece I'm seeing the mosaic that God is making out of this shattered heart. It's the most exciting thing I've ever (and most likely will ever) be a part of, I mean it just blows my mind. That I get to play a part in this personally with my individual relationships is so great. But that I'm getting to play any part at all in building something that will last, that will grow into something so much bigger then me and my little world, that I'm getting to be part of that is amazing, energizing, and so many other words that don't do justice the excitement in my head.

Because of my unfaithfulness God is separated from me. But He has purchased my freedom with Jesus. He bought yours too, you just have to reach out and accept Him.


Did you know?

That a gallon of gas in Rwanda costs $5.57 per gallon and milk costs $7.34 per gallon?

I didn't either. Plus their earning power and capability isn't as strong as ours. They are land locked, and most of their imports come in through Kenya. Have you heard of them lately? There's a lot of political stuff happening in Kenya, so that's driving up the import costs.

All this to say, that we can become so insulated in what's so hard about our lives, and the way our economy is going. It's important to pay attention to that, but it's also important to note that we're not the end all be all of the world, and if we can't have cable, or those new cd's we want, or whatever to make sure we can have gas to drive to and from work it will be ok.

I don't know how I keep finding these foreign missionary blogs, but now I want to move to Rwanda dangit.


We'll do anything to get what's fair

So there is this woman that I "internet know". I mean I know her in real life, I've spoken to her in passing maybe 3 times, but I feel like I really "know" her through the internet.
I think she's so cool. Like in that ridiculous juvenile "you are SO cool" sort of way.
I'm like 99% sure she doesn't see herself that way, which is most likely the reason I like her so much.

But here's the thing with internet lurking (and trust that I do it a lot so I know a thing or two). You are trolling along peaking into people's lives and you read something that just stops you in your tracks. I mean I read what this woman wrote, and all of me wants to hug her the next time I see her and tell her that it may never be ok again, but it will be at the exact same time. Also, the giant dork in me really wants to give her a book that relates to what she wrote.
I can't though. Because I don't really know her you know.
There are a few other people too, that I measure my words when I see them in real life, because I don't want to reveal that I'm lurking on their blogs. Which is silly right? I mean it's silly, it's there for people to read, so why not me? That's a conversation for another day though...

But this woman, I mean I would just about give anything for something fair to happen for her. What's fair though? Who defines and decides what's fair? If I did, this is what I would decide.

She would feel safe, that there wasn't about to be a cave in. The longing that is happening in her right now would be fulfilled and that she could hold that dream in her arms.....and so much more.

It just isn't fair. I mean it's just not FAIR in the I want to stomp my feet and storm out of the room sort of way.
But I can't say anything...because it would be weird and awkward, and even if it wasn't really that way I would so make it that way.


Keeps farting and it's really starting to annoy me.
Yes, I said farting.
Yes, it stinks.


A joy that doesn't deny affliction

Joy: the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation

Affliction: a state of pain, distress, or grief; misery

I've been thinking a lot about joy and affliction lately. So color me surprised when I randomly selected a Mars Hill podcast to listen to at work today and that's what it's about.
Bell talks in this sermon about Paul, and speaks of how in Philippians he writes to the church about how he is glancing between wanting to just be gone, pull up stakes, and go home to be with Jesus, but he is held here by the love of his fellow believers.
Now not necessarily the idea of going to be with Jesus, but the idea of pulling up stakes whether physically or emotionally is something that I've been struggling with.

This idea that when it gets hard relationally I want to just cut and run. I pull in and away and stop intentionally reaching out to connect with other people.
This hurts people, I know. This can be selfish if pulling away lasts to long. (Understanding that there will be times to pull away for refreshing).

I feel like the church I grew up in there was a lot of "fining" going on. How are you today? Fine. How's the family? Fine. How's the marriage? Fine. It became the status quo, so that if you didn't keep up that facade of fine then people were aghast that you didn't have everything going fine.
It caused me for a very long time to think that people can't possibly function in a living breathing embodiment of Christ's church unless they were...fine, which translated into perfect.
I was no where close to perfect, I was a mess.

But I think the danger can be at the other end of the spectrum too. What if we fall so far apart that we begin to rely on pop culture psychology to ebb the flow from our wounds? Dr Phil, Oprah, even Jerry Springer. What if we begin to worship our woundedness?
I've met people, and so help me I've been that person, who when you speak to them you have to carve out time just to say hi because their wounds are so close to the surface all the time that they just can't contain it. That's how I've felt of late.
But like physical wounds, in order for them to heal, we have to clean them out and then let them heal. Picking away at them, nurturing the wound, discussing it until the mind numbing end...all these things don't allow it to heal. It just stokes the fire.
What if church becomes like AA or some other 12 step program? How much has it already become that?
We go to the church with the worship music that we like, with the pastor saying things that we like, with the people that we like. It's all just so comfortable and nice, it's all so.....fine.
We become incapable of feeding ourselves, and maturing ourselves as believers when isn't that what we should be doing? So that our time in church, our time in a body of believers is to act as a body and feed others?

Part of the reason that I like my church so much (cough www.4cornerschurch.com cough) is that while they have a style that is consistent, they embrace people where they are, they let them get comfortable, but they don't stay that way for long. They push you to grow, to take bold steps in your relationships with Jesus, and not to stay stagnant in your faith. At least on some level they challenge you to dive in and feed yourself by reading the bible and actively engaging in a prayer life. It may not be the only food you get, but it should be a significant portion (is it weird that I'm hungry now?).

I have a lot of reasons to feel afflicted. I could, and have, listed them out for many people over many years. But as I dig deeper into this relationship that I to often take for granted, I realize that there is so much joy in the face of that, and that joy...it is no longer denying that the affliction is there. It's showing me pathways out of it, it's showing me lessons to be learned in the affliction. The joy that I find in my relationship with Jesus is showing how God is using those afflictions to grow, to feed myself more consistently, and to begin to feed others.

Philippians 4:4-7
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your
gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about
anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present
your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.



Filled up with so much frivolity
So scared and determined to find that which is terrible in you
It would be so much easier if I could just hate you, loathe you, and cut you out
But I can't.

To long now I've been filling myself with things that don't last. I expected you to be the same.
Fleeting, full of flavor but no sustenance.
I can't shake you, I can't walk away as much as I want to.

I'm done, I have to be done losing myself in these things that have no meaning, no consequence. For as long as it fills me up, I feel emptier still when the moment has passed.
Irrationality and the seductive lure of manipulation keep trying to settle into my mind.

John 6:35
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
I need to stop filling up on things that don't sustain me. I need to stop searching for and latching on to things that aren't true. When I was a kid I had this dream, based on a story that I was told by messed up adults. For years I believed that the dream was true. I was so scared to tell anyone, to mention what I thought was real because I knew that I would get in trouble, that I had disobeyed. It was true to me.
I joke about these imaginary things, I write about them and write them off. But I live there. I really do.
Easier to live somewhere that I know is a dream, isn't true, isn't real...then to live in what I think is reality and realize one day years and years later that it's a dream.
But it has to stop.
One inch at a time, I'm removing myself from that world I've created. I'm still dreaming, but about eternal things, things that when I invest in them I'm helping to create something that has a lasting and sustainable impact.

I'm feeling less empty these days, more stable and focused then I have in so long. It's an odd feeling. If I'm not careful, I'll get used to it.


leading, growing, and learning to get up faster

We're getting ready to launch a monthly outreach group at church and I'm really excited. In the last month it has been insanely busy with outreach stuff and getting all the ducks lined up with that...in addition to life in general and a 40 hour/week job.
But I think that it's coming along.
I'm learning more and more how to verbalize what I see in my head when I think about outreach and I was telling Ryan the other day that I'm surprised my head hasn't exploded because of the influx of everything I've learned in the last few months through reading, and doing, and just experiencing everything.
It's like this parallel that is happening in my life that I'm still figuring out how to adjust to. This week, while feeling this extreme grief and inward sorrow I'm able to for long periods of time focus intentionally on other things. In the past I've been able to do that but it's been more of a coping mechanism, busyness that I've hidden in.
I think that in all my panicked grief the other night I lost sight for awhile of how different it really is this year.
I drank yes. But not for as long as before, and I called someone while sipping the 2nd beverage and talked about what was going on in my head.
I didn't drink last night....that's an improvement.
I'm not hiding in inappropriate relationships either.

It's like the day you look at your kids, or your nieces/nephews and realize that they've all of the sudden grown 3 inches overnight.
It's refreshing.

Allowing myself to be comforted is something new too. Even as recently as last year I held this grief close to me and pushed those away that might have helped me. Even, and often especially God.

Psalm 77:2
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched
untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted.

For the last several months I've been on a growing spree, and not just in my leadership capacity, but personally, and in my heart, and in the wounds that I've been nursing, some for 20+ years. It knocks me down, and throws me against walls a lot, but I'm learning to get back up faster. I atribute this to leaning more and more on God then I've ever dared trust him before, but I also believe that a lot of it is you all. I've found myself opening up more to people, and not just on the internet then I've ever done before. So far only one of you has run screaming (kidding!). I love all of you that are concerned and comfort me. It means more then I can say without being all socially awkward and throwing up right before stumbling away in embarrassment.
You all being here, just listening, and putting up with my sorrow is exactly what I've been needing. I so appreciate it.

2 Corinthians 1:3
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of
compassion and the God of all comfort


Please God

You speak to me on the rise of my chest as I breathe. I see you in the girl at the auto shop that doesn't know how she's going to pay the bill.
I hear you in the music that I have just discovered.
But on this one thing, I hear your silence most of all.
I hear the silence as deafening as it is roaring in my ears.

Your silence shatters me like little else can. How do I find my way without you?
God, please answer me....
On this one thing, if only this thing please answer me.
When will it be enough? When will peace come? How will it come?
When will someone be able to bear witness to this without trying to fix it or offering patronizing platitudes that only make me want to run screaming from the room.
When God? When?
I don't know what else to say. I don't know how to articulate this more to you.
You have my heart, you have the very soul of me. You know, please help me find the top to this glass that I'm drowning this sorrow in.
Please God Please

Looking for you: Over my Shoulder

The night is pregnant with possibilities of betrayal.
I hold my breath, waiting for the anvil to drop.
There is a reason that I stopped drinking during this week. Yet here I sit, on my computer, drinking.
With each swallow, I push it farther down.
You that I miss, that I love, that I still talk to when no one else is looking.

I opened my bedroom window. The drink was making me warm. On the breeze floated the smell of your hair the last time I saw you alive.
In the music that is so opposite to what it is you always listened to I hear our conversations and laughter. I hear the plans you told me about and the dreams you dreamt for your kids.

How has it been this long when I saw you smiling just yesterday? How do I feel hundreds of years older this one week then any other day of the year?
Little did I know, how long this would go on, how deep this has cut me, nearly in half.
I have no capacity to process this still.
Most days I feel like it's just an intricate balance of keeping the appropriate emotion at the surface until I can be alone with my memories of you.

I don't want to sanctify you. I want to remember you as a reality, not some put together idealized version of who you were. But this week. This one week, I let myself dream and think of you. This week I look at you more closely and directly then I can let myself any other time of the year. This week I let myself imagine what it would be like if...
This is the week that I realize there's a very good reason that I confine that imagination to a week. The grief would damn near kill me otherwise.

Just in case you were wondering

I just bought tickets to see Maroon 5.

I hope it won't be awkward for my friends if I start making out with Adam Levine in front of them....because if I get close enough to plant one, I WILL



You told me I was beautiful

You may never know, because I will never tell you, but you may never know that by telling me I was beautiful you threw me a lifeline.
I was drowning in my mind, playing the what if and maybe I could just game. Wandering about applying concealer to the cracks that have been showing in my facade.
You stopped and pulled me out, told me I was beautiful and asked me how I was....and listened when I said ok. You asked me again, as busy as you were, how I was. I said ok, made and excuse and went staggering away.
What if and maybe I could just have grown wearisome of late. I'm wounding myself by continuing to foster this sense that it could be the way I want it to be. I'm wounding myself far worse then anyone else could.

But when you told me I was beautiful, I staggered away and threw the concealer in the trash along with the hopes that it would work.
I walked away from that trash can, taller, more stable, and with the obsessive necessity to speak about it safely under wraps.
So you may never know what it is you did when you told me I was beautiful....but I won't ever forget it.

What it is that I want

The truth is something that I've been avoiding. Thinking that if I just keep dodging to the left and hiding behind activity and fantastical imagination that it would all just go away.
But it's not.
I've tried to tell you. I've tried to tell other people. But they don't understand, and the more I try to explain it I sound like a silly girl that can't get a grip on the reality of the situation.
I get the truth. It's very clear to me. But the truth, the truth that I can't type out here, the truth doesn't really matter does it?
There are very few exceptions when I think that the truth doesn't matter. But in this, the truth seems to be elusive. There are two truths and one of them is the truth of my God, the other, the other is the truth of what I want. Without question, what I want will not end well....so I'm learning to not want it.
Which quite frankly stinks.

But if I were to step back, and take a breath, and stop the yammering about that is happening in my head, I would see that what it is I really want, what the true and deep desire of my heart is the truth of my God.
This truth that I wanted, that I've been fostering and nurturing inside....I'm starting to see the cracks it's creating in my heart and I'm just so done pursuing that truth.
Which quite frankly, is like a breath of fresh air.


Knowing You

I want to.
Are you in?

Is it even true?

I was reminded at my dinner with Bobbie tonight of something that's been rolling around in my head for awhile. A few months ago we had a customer service training and they talked about peoples preconceptions about other people. We talked not only about customers preconceptions about service employees, but co-workers etc. After talking for awhile the woman said something along the lines of:

The question we never seem to stop and ask ourselves when people have these notions and interact with us in a certain way because of them, that question is, Is it even true?

Is it true this idea I have of how people see me? How much time have I wasted behaving as if those notions are true? How different would/could things be if I were to just begin to operate out of the assumption that my complete and total identity and worth comes out of the woman that God has created me to be? Would I be more confident? Would I be less boisterous and embarrassing to people, and if I were still those things, would I care?
As I'm slowly excavating these things from the depths of my damaged and broken heart I see these ideas that I have about myself and I don't really understand where they came from. I don't understand how these things from decades past are still clinging to my heart like burrs on a jacket. Picking at them, trying to remove them is painful. My fingers are being pricked and there is more then a fair share of bloodshed.
But it's becoming clear to me now that this path is a necessary one. The revisiting of these wounds is necessary in order for the wounds to be cleaned and cauterized and then sealed shut for good.

I was telling Bobbie a sampling of stories that have helped to form and cement the notions I believe that other people have of me. As I was talking, I realized they were changing, evolving into something that helped me to understand the truth, no longer to shield it.
It's not over, but I really can see improvement.
So many conversations that I've had with a few people about this have helped. Encouragement. Not necessarily in regards to this process, but just encouragement and conversations that reinforce the notion that I'm not a complete and total failure and waste of space, people seeing me and counting me as worthy.
All of these things are helping me to believe those things about myself. Little by little, inching forward, leaping back, leaping forward inching back I move.


Wow...almost a week

It's been almost a week since I posted? Wow.
It's been a rough week.
I was sick...gross and irrationally filled with rage sick, not good OR fun. I ended up going home early twice this week...and that's SO not something I do unless I'm pretty sure I'm going to die. Luckily I pulled through at the last minute with the help of some hefty pain pills and sleep, sweet glorious sleep.
Friday Stephanie came into town YAY! We met up at Target in Tri-County and I got the first season of How I Met Your Mother (smurf penis!). We went back to my place and I was humiliated in several games of Skip Bo while we watched the first 7 episodes and laughed our asses off.

Saturday I got up and went with Peggy, Stephanie and Laura (and her cute little boy Eli) and we gave away 6 dozen donuts to workers at stores in the Tylersville-Cox shopping area. Boy were they surprised and excited! We just wanted to give them a treat and tell them practically that God loved them and we appreciated them showing up and working on a Saturday.
After that Mom, Sharen, Aunt Cathy and I went to Davids Bridal and Sharen BOUGHT A WEDDING DRESS! It's so pretty and I have it in my closet...but I won't be wearing it a la Monica on Friends :)
After the dress shopping Sharen mom and dad went to Manor House to finalize reception plans and Aunt Cathy and I took Matthew to Meijer so I could grocery shop. Matthew rode the horse twice. As I was loading him in my car he said, "Aunt Bethany that horse was going to fast, it made my belly hurt." Oh, ok I thought. Well......
About half a mile from my house Matthew burped once, and then projectile vomited all over my backseat. Luckily Aunt Cathy was in the backseat with him and caught a bunch in her hands. We rushed to my house and cleaned up Matthew. I went to pull the car seat out of the back seat to clean it off and saw that there was puke (well, hot dog chunks mixed with puke) CAKED under it into the light gray interior of my Camry. I was a good aunt though and was mostly more concerned about the well being of Matthew :)
In case you need this information:
Resolve Pet Stain Remover also works on kid puke stains.....

So Aunt Cathy and I bundled Matthew up in a blanket and rushed him home to his house. I cuddled him on the kitchen floor after he puked on me and the living room sofa (helllllo linoleum!) and basked in the stench of revisited hot dogs and the rhea gilberts. He just kept falling asleep and then waking up while puking. It was so tough seeing it because the poor guy didn't really understand what was happening, he just kept saying noooooooo right before he retched.
Sharen and everyone got home and we settled Matthew into "sick camp" in the living room...also known as a futon mattress and puke bucket. I tried to cuddle with him once, and he mustered up enough energy to lift his pale face and demand that I get my own sleeping bag.
He finally stopped puking about 930. I left about 10 and headed home. Stephanie came back from her sister and brothers a little bit later and we hung out for a bit before crashing.

Sunday I got up and worked at early church with elementary kids. Phew, they were WOUND UP. Rainy and gloomy days mean no bouncies and lots of pent up energy in one room. I was pegged in the side of the face with a ping pong ball and had to pull some boys off of the netting of a basketball game (that they were CHEATING at) and tell a little girl that telling her teacher that the lesson was dumb and boring wasn't following the respect rule. Good times. Oh, and keep in mind todays lesson was on OBEDIENCE.
I rushed through chatting with some people and then headed out to the mall to meet Mom, Sharen, and Cathy at the mall to shop for mom's dresses for the rehearsal dinner and wedding, I even tried on some dresses too! (I know!)
Then lunch at Tavern on the Green with the family and mom and dad headed home.
Sharen Cathy and I still had a few dollars burning a hole in our pockets so we went to Kohl's. I got...the cutest outfit. I mean, it's soooo not a Bethany outfit but I think it's really cute. I may wear it with actual styled hair and makeup...who knows, I may look....gulp, cute.
I also bought shorts.

So that's what I've been up to. What have you been doing?

Oh, and dinner with Bobbie on Wednesday woooooooo hoooooooo!


Rumors, Gossip, and why you think that everything should be free

So we're having this discussion on the forum about how there's a DVD called Free Market Jesus by Don Miller for sale for $29.99.

Someone made the comment on how it shouldn't be so expensive, even though it comes with small group resources or something like that.
Then someone commented that his fee for personal appearances is $4000.
Now, it's not those comments that got me going. It's this idea that because someone is a believer they should be giving away their marketable value.
Only Don Miller can give a Don Miller talk right? So supply is limited.
Not to mention, we don't know if he gets that lock stock and barrel or if he splits that with commissioned agents or publicists or whatever. Does he pay his own travel expenses as a part of that? How much of that does he tithe to Imago Dei, how much does he give to other charities or just people that he's in relation to that have needs?
Does he negotiate with churches that can't afford this fee? Because there are certainly a lot of churches that can afford this unless they have to much debt from their new $20 Mil "campus"
We don't know what the whole story is.

Yet it's so easy to sit on our high horse and look at the wealthy, or semi-wealthy and say that we're more Jesusy then them because we're poor like the people that Jesus spent time with.
I mean, I have a big enough chip on my shoulder towards the wealthy, I rarely need encouragement to think poorly of them...which is also wrong.
Mostly, mine is towards the "mine mine mine" wealthy though. The wealthy that earn and don't bless others and just spend spend spend all the time on crap that is soooo extravagant.

So we're not rich. But we still are more comfortable then we really need to be, most of us at least.
Do you eat regularly?
Do you have access to clean drinking water?
Do you have a home or some sort of roof over your head?
Do you own a car?

Before we get all mounted up on our high horses about the wealthy maybe we should look at our check book and see how much we help other people, ministries, other organizations in comparison to the times we go out to eat, or buy cds, or add that movie package to our already bloated cable selection, or _____ insert any number of other examples here.
This can continue into the ridiculous, but seriously, it's so easy to condemn the rich for what we ourselves do, just on a smaller scale.
How often is what we just HAVE to have a want not a need?
Wants and needs are two different things, but we get them confused a whole heck of a lot (myself included)

It's so easy to spot selfishness in other people, it's MUCH more comfortable for me to point at you all and say, SEE! See your sin and selfishness?!
But the sin I recognize in others, is most often the sin I'm trying to hide from myself.

So what would be the answer here? That every believer with a marketable trade give his/her talents away for free? Hardly. If you're a believer and you're good at your job, then shouldn't that mean you should tell your boss you're more then happy to do what the Lord is calling you to do for free?
Should pastors work for free? How about youth pastors? How then would you suggest they live, retire, send kids to college, support other ministries?

I don't know about you...but that doesn't make a LICK of sense to me.

Now I want to move to Uganda (again)

This is Maate. I saw his picture on this blog: http://paradoxuganda.blogspot.com/
He's 15 years old.

Seeing these pictures and reading about these doctors in Bundigbugyo Uganda makes me want to move to Uganda.
I have this pull, whether it's reading this (or other foreign missionary) blog(s) to run to wherever it is and just become absorbed doing anything and everything I can do to help. I felt that way with Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne and Under the Overpass by Mike Yankowski, so it's not just to foreign countries. It's to anywhere there is such extreme need.

Some days, it's just to much to bear, the malnutrition, death, TB, Ebola, malaria, poverty, homelessness and more and more. It's all so overwhelming, but I can't look away. I want to do so much, but feel paralyzed to do anything.
I try to keep reminding myself that all will come in time, I try to keep my eyes focused on the end goal and not the immediate. I know without a doubt that what we're building at 4 Corners can be something great. I know that God is moving in that and it will all come in time.
But some days....some days the ache in my heart is just to much to bear.
This call to move, to act, to help, it's overwhelming.

Sometimes I feel like it's just cotton candy, kites, and the sort. But I know that stuff is important too. I know it's necessary.
But my heart, my heart screams for total immersion into a culture that I don't understand or have any frame of reference for. My heart is crying out for the chance to hold these people that I've never met and just live in community with them, love them.


Exhaustion: Why listening to slow depressing music isn't a good idea

I'm so freakin tired!
Saturday I served at Kite Fest from 11ish-5 and had to hike the back forty to and from my car.
Sunday I did preschool worship 4 times (2 classes each service) and was jumping and dancing and shouting the whole time
As soon as church was over Sunday I sped (literally) to VOA park to serve at Kite Fest again until a smidge after 5. Then I had to hike about 8,000 miles (no I'm NOT exaggerating and I'm insulted you would imply that) back to my car, where I fell to the ground weeping with joy that I was finally there.
Then I sped (literally) to Finneytown for a bible study at 6. I was there until 8ish and then crawled home and just layed in bed...I was so tired.

Then I got up this morning and 5am and went to City Gospel...boy that alarm went off sooner then I would have liked..I was soooo tired.
But I got up and went, holding my eyes open all the way down 75. Then work today. Well I was feeling like I needed some calm music, because all weekend it was screaming kids and loud music and all that fun stuff you find at festivals. So I started listening to:
The Weepies (Happiness)
The Frames (For the Birds)
Sufjan Stevens (Seven Swans)

I mean they're not all depressing, although some of them are (Like, When your heart just stops...I almost cried). Mostly it's like alternative, folky goodness that lets me just focus on work and not be overwhelmed by auditory stimulation (because that + a tired and cranky Bethany doesn't end well for anyone)
But the problem was, some of the songs that are mostly instrumental LULLED me to sleep! I fell asleep a few times. I mean not for more then like 3 seconds...but it was the whole head drooping and when my chin hits my chest or shoulder I jerk awake thing.
Man I'm so sleepy.

I've been trying to drink ice water and a mountain dew to stay awake and all that did was make me have to pee a lot...which annoyed me because I had to move.
Oh, I can hear my bed calling my name!

Here are the lyrics to "When a heart stops working" by the Frames. It about made me cry (which you know I hate)

So what happens when the heart just stops
Stops caring for anyone
The hollow in your chest dries up
And you stop believing
So what happens when the heart gives up
But the body goes on living
The blood crawls to a slow and stops
And flows away
Well we got no-one to meet
No love we would beseech
We only have ourselves to blame for everything
The was no answer in the dust
And I'm missing you so much
And now you're sleeping
And I'm leaving Empty-handed waiting
Time it will subside and we'll agree
It was a given
Well there was no standard we could set
And the world it does regret
To have to leave you in this state of bereavement
You see I'm feeling everything
Nothing gets by
There is a hollow in my chest
The time I won't forget
There is no comfort in the eyes
They put us always to the test
I can't prepare myself for that
But I work it out in time
There is a love that flows between us
Ever-changing everyday
I worked myself up to a crawl
But I'm not fearing it at all
We have no reason left to stay
And that's why we're leaving
And there was no answer in the dust
And the one I feared to trust
There is a lie that drags us
Beating and pulling into disappointment
I'm disappointed I'm disappointed I'm disappointed
It's so late, till you're gone


The deepest desires of our heart

I can't believe I'm actually about to say this......
but I've been watching the first Harry Potter movie tonight because there's nothing else on (that I haven't already seen) and my head hurts to much to read.
It's actually entertaining enough...and I've been plugging away through it for about 2 hours now. I've just watched the part when Harry comes across the mirror of isirot (or whatever the heck it is)...but if you've seen the movie, Harry comes across the mirror and as he's staring into it...his parents appear and his mother places her hand on his shoulder. He's so excited that he runs to get Ron and show him his parents.
But when Ron looks into the mirror, he sees himself the captain of the sports team, looking very handsome.
So a bit later Harry is sitting in front of the mirror just staring into it, when Dumbledore (the headmaster maybe of the school) comes into the scene.
He and Harry discuss what the mirror does, how a happy and content man will look in the mirror and see only himself, but that it shows us the very deepest desires of our hearts. Dumbledore says, that men have spent their lives sitting in front of that mirror, in fact, some have gone mad because of it. He told Harry that they were taking the mirror away, and he must not go looking for it.
I know that my re-telling of that scene doesn't nearly do it justice, but it was one of those sit up in bed moments for me.
The deepest desires of my heart, those that I can barely bring myself to speak of but with a very few....I stare at them in my own mirror daily.
It has gotten to the point when someday's it's enough to drive me mad....longing for the peace, hoping for the resolution, looking for the forgiveness that alludes me.
I waste a lot of time looking to the past, like Harry did. At those that are gone and cannot be brought back. I waste hours and hours thinking about how it was in lieu of how it is or how it could be.
It takes a lot of energy to hold on to that. I'm thinking about stopping.

In my mirror, I see:
you.....just you and that's enough for both of us
peace, for the first time about all that junk I've been dragging along behind me for over 10 years, I'm tired and it is time to start lightening that load
hope, for an end to this drama, for the generations of bitterness and revenge to finally be over and for us to all just move on from the garbage that he and she tried to pass on.
trust, trust that I can have without it making me want to flee the scene, never to return

What is it that you see in the mirror that shows you the deepest desires of your heart?



So yesterday the powers that be here at the Luxury Apartments at Kensington Park inspected apartments and replaced furnace filters. They were looking specifically for any leaks as well. They advised that if we had dogs to crate them, and if we had cats we should lock them in the bathroom.
So I settled Agnes and Gertrude in the bathroom with their food and water (litter box is already in there) and some cat toys and shut the door, and left for the day.
I got home from work that night and the cats were out of the bathroom but still in the apartment.

Small aside:
When I resigned my lease last August I told the office person that I signed my lease in front of that I had gotten the cats and that I knew there was pet rent and a deposit, so I asked how much it was. She said that since I had already lived here a year, and was signing on for another year they would waive it for me. Are you sure I asked? Yes, she said. I told her that I didn’t want to get her in trouble and she said it was fine. GREAT!
Then in January when the whole counter stapling/ carpet stain/ broken deck sage was happening Sarah (remember that name) and the head maintenance man came over to my apartment and looked at all the issue. I distinctly remember Sarah walking in and the cats walked over to her. She commented on how pretty they were and bent down to PET them. Ok. Got that in your memory? Great.

Ok. So I get up this morning and go to work. Then I go to Sharen’s after for dinner and head home to catch CSI. As I’m carrying my dyson (YAY!) up the stairs I see a piece of paper stuck in my door. I grab it and walk in. The piece of paper says:

It has come to the attention of the management team that you are keeping 2 cats in your apartment.

This is in DIRECT violation of you lease agreement, which clearly states residents are not to keep animals, even temporarily, in the apartment of community without prior written consent from Kensington Park. The presence of a pet or animal (what other type of pet is there?) in your apartment constitutes a breach of your lease agreement and is cause for eviction. Your account has been charged $40 for the cats and a $200 pet deposit will be needed by May 1st.

Please contact the Kensington Park office within 24 hours with your response to this notice. We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.


Sarah Wade
Property Manager

I’m going to respond. I’m going to go in to the effing office tomorrow and tell SARAH WADE that it came to her attention 3 months ago when she was PETTING MY CATS that I had cats in my apartment. It came to the leasing offices attention almost a year ago when I TRIED to pay a pet deposit and pet rent and they said not to worry about it, it wasn’t necessary.



Dequan loves Kyanna

Saturday before I went up north Peggy and I went down to The Outlet


The Outlet is a place that people in the homeless community can come and hang out, play games and have a community that sees them.
I hadn't been down to CGM since Christmas Eve. I was sick a lot, and then on vacation, and then honestly...I just got out of the habit of getting up early and going down there. Each week I had good intentions, each week I snoozed my way through breakfast at CGM. But I went on Saturday with Peggy and I saw Joe.
Joe, who I talked about books with. Joe, who when I would miss a day here or there would miss me and ask if everything was ok. Joe, who sometimes says things that border on inappropriate but I know his intention is good.
I saw him across the room, and I sheepishly made my way over, knowing that I had to face the music of my lengthy unexplained absence.
I said hi, and he smiled ear to ear and gave me a humongous hug. Joe went on to explain that he was asking everyone he saw at the mission if they'd seen me, he said that he was very worried because it had been so long. I gave him my paltry excuses and he said, well this means you're coming back right? Will you be here on Monday? Of course I said yes.
So Monday, I got up and went to CGM. I saw Joe and he was SO excited to see me again. He came up to the counter after he set his stuff down he came up and motioned for me to come over. He whispered..."It's because you saw me Saturday that you're here today isn't it?"
I told him the truth, it absolutely was, and he floated back to his seat smiling all the way.
But back to Saturday...

Saturday I sat and played Rummy with Donna Finnegan. I don't a lot of her story, but I know she's 37 and had a mom that taught her to smoke cigarettes. She has a seizure disorder and 8 piercings. She is a kick ass rummy player.
I had a lot of fun, and can't wait to go back to The Outlet. Because of my over committing I can't go until 5/3, but I think bobbie is coming with me so that will be so much fun.
While I was playing with Donna, people came and went at our table. One of them was a deaf Vietnamese man that appeared to be hitting on everyone at the table, but I think he was just lonely. The other one was Kyanna. (pronounced like Cayenne pepper with an A)
She sat down in her HS letter jacket that I don't know if it was really hers. She opened the conversation by asking for some lotion. Her hands were so ashy and cracking from being so dry. I didn't have any, and I could sort of feel my heart breaking as thoughts of how many little things I take for granted everyday flipped through my head.
Later Kyanna gave another volunteer Brittany some art lessons. Brittany kept saying that she couldn't draw, and Kyanna encouraged her and said the we can do anything we set our minds to, we just have to keep trying.

I heard Kyanna say something later. I asked her to repeat herself because I didn't hear what it was. She said, "I'm so scared"
Kyanna is 18. She just left juvie. Before that she said she was in foster care. But now that she's 18, she's considered an adult and is on her own. She's scared because she doesn't know what to do, how to live. She's living at the Drop In center in Cincinnati. She had Lighthouse Children's services help her get a state id. But she loves to draw.
So she started drawing a picture while she was talking. I asked her what she was drawing and she replied, "My feelings". She said she had a counselor that taught her to draw her feelings if she didn't think she could express them appropriately. Kyanna said that after she draws for awhile she'll add her words, and then sometimes she's able to share those with others.
So I resumed my game with Donna and would occasionally look over at Kyanna to see what was happening with her art wise.
When she finally started using her words she wrote:
Dequan loves Kyanna 4life

It really struck me that in the midst of not knowing where her next meal was going to come from, not knowing where she was going to sleep at night...she still was just an 18 year old....with a crush on Dequan

So often I hear people making excuses for why they don't serve. Especially now with leading outreach. Life happens. Our schedules fill up. We're so comfortable in out warm beds and dry houses. It's inconvenient and unfun sometimes to get up at 5am. But to Joe and Kyanna, Donna, and all the other people out there who I don't know the names of....it helps them feel seen and counted as worthy.
Peggy talked to a man at The Outlet. She said that he told her all about college, he's a college graduate, he talked about his job with a local company. He was a productive and socially valuable member of generally accepted society.
But the company wasn't doing that well and needed to make cutbacks. This man's job was one of them. He wasn't married, his parents were dead, he had no siblings, and no community to fall back on. He was already living paycheck to paycheck. So when he couldn't make rent...he was evicted.
Where does he go then? The drop in shelter in Cincinnati. I don't know if I can't remember how long, or if he just didn't tell Peggy how long he's been homeless. But the fact remains, he's homeless.

I know that I can sit here, typing on my laptop in my cozy home and think, this can never happen to me. But it can. It happened to this man.
None of us are immune to this.
It's convenient to think that we are. It helps us to sleep at night to think that the homeless are there because of their stupidity, their mental illness, their drug or alcohol addiction. Those things can be and are true. But it's not always the case.
Sometimes....life gets in the way for them too. We all make bad financial decisions...(hello!) but does that mean that we no longer are worthy of community and love?

So next time you're out, if you can afford it (and it's highly likely that you can afford it) buy some coupons at McDonalds, Wendy's, or any readily available restaurant. Then when you see a homeless person, pull the gift certificate out of your purse or pocket and GIVE it to someone that needs that Big Mac more then you.
This way you don't have to worry they will use your money for crack or brew. This way, their stomach will be full and you will have helped make a piece of the world a little better.

But better still, if you have a few hours, or even a few minutes, invite them to come with you to a local restaurant/fast food joint and order them food and pay for it. Then sit with them, and just talk. See them. Go to your local shelter and feed them food that doesn't cost you anything but your time. Not only will you be doing something amazing for another person, chances are, you'll be humbled beyond belief at how blessed you really are.

I'm still alive

Just crazy busy and overbooked....I'm running errands on my lunch breaks mostly.

But the good news is, I got a new laptop!
Aren't you excited?
I have a lot to say, just no time to say it. Hopefully soon!