Feb 26, 2010

I wish we were friends in real life...

A facebook friend asked for a link to Malaika, after I posted it I couldn't help but watch more videos... Wombo Lombo is another favorite - thanks to one of my BFFs, Essi!




...and while I'm at it: Naima. Naima is her daughter, she wrote this song for her - so sweet!




Another good one, this video isn't great but it's funny at the beginning.

Can you tell I have this album? This is the song that made me love her.



I wish we were friends in real life. How much fun would that be?! I do know Georgeo Okudi. I have his cell. Don't believe me? Come over, we'll call him!

George won a KORA award for this song:



(KORA awards are similar to the Grammys!)

Here's another, you'll have to adjust the sound as it's not great.

Half the Sky LIVE - March 4th

A reader emailed me after my last post about Compassion. Check out the following for more information. Angelique Kidjo is one of my favorite singers! India.Arie makes an appearance as well. If you haven't heard her song 'Strength, Courage, & Wisdom,' you're missing out. And now that I've shared that, you should also listen to Angelique's version of 'Malaika' - my all time favorite song! Malaika is Kiswahili for 'angel.'

Feb 23, 2010

Do you sponsor?


I've been a child sponsor since 1993 (you do the math). It's something that I will always do. In 1997 I visited two of the girls I sponsored at the time, Monica and Mavis. That's another post, but it was an amazing experience. Right now, the children I sponsor are with Compassion International, but over the years I've had experience with a good number of organizations both large and small. Christian Children's Fund is probably my next favorite.

I love, love, love Compassion though and I love that they have a blog. A seemingly very transparent blog at that. Today's post featured a guest writer from India, Pastor Sam, of Immanuel Child Development Center. I wanted to share some of the words he wrote that basically jumped off the screen and screamed to my face:

"You play a major role in the development of children. You are instruments in the hands of God to demonstrate His care to children who don’t know what love is all about. When children receive no love at home, it’s common for them to seek from you the love they miss from their parents."

This is certainly NOT a new concept for me - not in the least. Between my travels, my experience with HAI, and the world as a whole, it is simply old news. What is different is that I can actually put a NAME and a FACE with what he said. It's not just "children." It's quite possibly MY CHILD. I use the term "my" loosely, but it's the way I think of the children I sponsor. I love them. I have learned what they like, what they are afraid of, what they pray for - intimate thoughts they choose to share with me about their daily life.

"When children receive no love at home..." WOW. I can't even imagine what that would feel like. I grew up in such a loving home... to have none, no love at all. What emptiness that would leave.

"...it's common for them to seek from you the love they miss from their parents." As a long-time sponsor, I sometimes take for granted what this whole business of 'child sponsorship' is really about. I send my monthly donation, I pray, I write letters - but I often forget what life is really like for my children. I forget that life is really hard and that is why I even know who they are. I forget that it is because of me that they are able to live better. Because of Compassion, my children are fed, cared for, loved. I don't know what their home life is like. I know what they tell me and what Compassion tells me in their updates, but I am not living it. I would like to think that my children are all deeply loved, but I am not there. Princy, my child in India, lives part of the year at a hostel so she can attend school. Her brother does the same. What is life like for her at home? Clara's mother used to write letters to me - I know she loves her daughter so much. Hilda always writes her letters from the student center. I don't know much about her mother or father other than that they live with her and her brothers.

"You are instruments in the hands of God to demonstrate His care to children who don’t know what love is all about." That's a big role. Sure, I know that I should be a role model for my sponsored children; I should always present myself as godly and as a good person, but to know that I am an instrument in God's hands. Um, did I sign up for that?! It's a pretty big role. And not a role to be taken lightly. These children -my children- are counting on me to not only help them continue to receive assistance from the student center, but to guide them spiritually - to teach them love. Exemplify love.

When Wess Stafford, president of Compassion, wrote Too Small To Ignore, I immediately bought and savored every bit of it. It basically says the same thing Pastor Sam said above, in many more words. For whatever reason though, I didn't get as much out of it as I did from Pastor Sam's blog today. I would encourage anyone who has children or works with children in the church to pick up a copy of Too Small To Ignore. It's a great book.

If you have any interest at all in sponsoring a child, but don't think you can afford the $38/month, I leave you with this from Pastor Sam:

"Even today, the Lord cries out with the same words that Isaiah heard, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

You are the ones who have responded to this call with the words “Here am I.” You are the ones who have responded to God’s commission."


Please read Pastor Sam's full blog post. It's pretty powerful. Maybe it will speak to you, maybe it won't, but sponsoring is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Until today, it never occurred to me that I might love my sponsored children more than their parents love them. I just cannot imagine. That sentence redefines child sponsorship for me.

Feb 21, 2010

Hope for Haiti


I almost forgot! Last weekend, I got an email from Wild Olive about their t-shirt for Haiti. 100% of the cost ($24.99) benefits Eyes Wide Open International. There doesn't appear to be a website but I loved the shirt and I trust Wild Olive's partners (based on their past partnerships), so I bought one. It arrived three days later! I'm wearing it today, which reminded me that I hadn't blogged about it yet. I put their button on my page. Check it out!

Domestications (that actually used to be the name of a company that is now called The Company Store and is a little better quality)

We had the best weather this weekend! Saturday was 57 and today was 61 - so warm! Since it was so nice, we decided to tackle one of our t0-be-done projects, painting furniture.

A few months ago, we started shopping for bedroom furniture since we are planning to get a new bed and both of our furniture sets are at least 300 years old. (Ok, almost 300 years old.) The more we thought about it and really looked at where we wanted to spend money, we realized that this wasn't one of our priorities. BUT - I still wanted a new look, so - let's paint! It's been sooo cold lately we just haven't felt like doing it, so this weekend's weather was perfect.


(I don't know why the pictures are so small, blogger's upload must be having a bad day.) It took us ALL day to get this done and we might have rushed it... there is a chance we'll be stripping and re-painting in a few weeks, but I LOVE the way it turned out.

It is going to look sooo nice with the grayish color I've picked for our bedroom. We'll also be painting another piece similar to this one that will be the same color with the same hardware (that I found for $1.47 a piece at Home Depot - score! We used different drawer pulls on the top drawer because those were smaller).

I also went out on a limb this weekend and tried three new recipies. They all turned out great! On Friday, we had this souffle - oh man, it was SO good! I added mushrooms and a tiny bit of green pepper. I probably wouldn't add the pepper next time but will always use mushroom! The pepper didn't make it bad, you just couldn't really tell they were in there. I also used regular monterrey jack cheese as I generally don't prefer too much flavor. I didn't have enough small baking dishes (might be updating our registry!) so we only made three, but they were delish! We saved the other one and ate it Saturday for brunch and it was great for a breakfast too and still tasted just as good as it did when I made them Friday. The fluff was gone but everything else was the same. I will be making this a LOT!

On Saturday, we had cinnamon bun pancakes - SO YUMMY and potato soup for dinner. I got the recipe for pancakes from Tastey Kitchen, Ree's cooking blog/community. Did you know that Pioneer Woman had that?! I didn't! I made the pancakes just as the recipe called but then added a lot more milk later because the pancakes were too thick and I was having trouble cooking them. The potato soup was REALLY good! I didn't use ham though as I don't eat meat and I added an extra chicken bouillon packet and some left over green onions from the souffle. I also added a little more butter and salt/pepper and milk. It was easy enough that you can pretty much modify it as needed and it was super easy. I'm learning that I really enjoy cooking and I actually eat a LOT less when I do cook because I'm so tired of being in the kitchen smelling the same things. Ha! Who knew that you could lose weight by cooking more?!
I have to share this, the ENTIRE time I was making the potato soup, I laughed because of THIS video my friend Liz showed me at work around Christmastime. I've never really used bouillon much and this is probably the first time in years that I've had to buy it and I just couldn't stop laughing about the "booyons" while I was cooking. You have to watch the video! It is hilarious!
Since I've become a weekend chef, if anyone has great recipes, send them my way! I'm thinking I might try this breakfast casserole this weekend. Looks yummy (with some modification of course)!

Feb 19, 2010

Lent


I've had a few people ask me what I'm giving up for Lent.


As I understand it, lent is a time of preparation. A time for prayer, penitence, almsgiving, and self-denial. It can also be a time when those who have separated from the church can rejoin the community. I was sad to have to miss Ash Wednesday services this year because I had to teach that night... I love seeing the alter stripped and bare and then full of life and decorated again on Easter Sunday. This is symbolic of the season of lent, stripping the non-essential and unimportant. By doing this, we are able to focus on the bare - what is important.


Stripping the alter is just the beginning. Lent is a personal journey - and in that journey, we should look both inward and outward. We take reflection on our lives, what is important to us, and how we bring Him glory. The outside is like the alter. We strip the non-essential, unimportant. For many, myself included, that includes a lot of what we think makes us who we are. Reality proves that very untrue. Lent is a time to confess that our clothes, cars, decorative finery, jewelery, etc... is not who we are. Those things do not define us. We are but dust, standing before the Lord.


This year, I am on a journey towards simplicity and contentment, and that means learning to live without things that I've ranked as 'important.' I'm not sure what that means right now, but this year, I'm not simply 'giving up' something, I'm taking this time to evaluate what is truly important. I'm using this time as a true journey. One that I hope I can look back on and smile, knowing that it somehow changed me - changed my perspective.

Feb 18, 2010

My new favorite reference book

I got this AWESOME book from Thomas Nelson a couple weeks ago and cannot put it down! I realize this is self-proclaimed nerdom since it's a reference book, but it is sooo good! It should be noted that I'm a complete Bible reading novice though - so everything in this book is helpful to me. There is an overview in the beginning of the book and then it is divided into 'chapters' by the Books. This arrived in the mail as I was finishing Job as part of my one-year chronological Bible reading plan, so I immediately read the chapter about Job. I couldn't have imagined a more helpful book. Since I am reading chronologically, I have a lot of questions about the timeline of things. My Bible is an NIV study Bible and I LOVE that it has some commentary at the bottom of the pages, but that still leaves a lot to figure out for Bible-dummy me and I love, love, love how this book takes over and pulls things together.

I'd previously been reading What the Bible is All About by Henrietta Mears and I thought THAT was my ticket but this book is even better! It's also more up-to-date in terms of things recent scholars have said, etc... so it's nice to read with some modern snippets.

Not all chapters have maps included, but there are all sorts of charts and timelines - including lineages! I have learned even more with this book and I think anyone who has a true interest in studying the Bible would enjoy it.

Feb 14, 2010

In which a snowman tries to eat her...

We are finally back home after a loooooong drive...
We only got an inch or so of snow in VA this weekend, but back home got about 6" - we started to see snow about 40 miles outside of the city.
My girl loves snow so you can imagine how psyched she was to find several inches still on the ground. Unfortunately for her, I didn't think to put her booties on since we were out for such a short time, but when we got inside I noticed some blood on her paw and then realized that all four of her paws were inflamed and bleeding. I feel horrible... poor Bells.
The neighbors made a really cute little snowman, but Nola wouldn't get within about 3 feet of it. She was convinced it would eat her whole.

video

Hope everyone had a fabulous Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

We stopped by the Bass Pro Shop today because Chandler needed something 'manly' to do...
Nola met what she thought might be her one and only.


... but it didn't quite work out. Poor Belle. Don't worry, her heart wasn't broken, but Chan's might have been. I think the only reason he wanted to go was to see the fish...
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!!

Feb 13, 2010

Tulip's Surprise!

We were driving through the neighborhood and I referenced a house near ours that had the same siding color and said, "hey, that's what our siding will look like, is that okay?" He said, "you mean like that?!," and pointed to our house! SO cool! We had no idea... The guys were working today and they said they would be working tomorrow too. On Valentine's day?! They should finish the outside tomorrow and after that, the exterior won't change again until it's time to landscape - which could possibly only be six to seven weeks out! Very exciting!

Feb 8, 2010

Tulip

Feb 4, 2010

Pink

In case you missed the Grammy's this year, I feel obligated to share with you, the most amazing performance - ever! (The embedding feature was disabled but it's a super high quality version so I don't mind too much.) Pink's five minute, twelve second performance was awesome! It gave me chills. I don't know if it was the raw words she spoke that made me sad for her loneliness or the extreme display of vulnerability - but she rocked it out! If you're my Facebook friend you would have seen my status update as she was performing that said, "oh my! pink is naked!" ...and honestly, it wasn't until somewhere in the second minute that it occurred to me just how amazing the performance was. I loved how, in her extreme vulnerability, she made such an impression on everyone watching. It was equally amazing to see the entire audience study her every move during her time on stage. She clearly knocked it out of the park.

What did you think? Moved? Offended? I loved it - obviously - but I could see it going the other way as well for some.
"Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it, but I'm afraid God would ask me the same question."
-Anonymous
You don't change the world by trying to change the world; you change the world by changing yourself.
-Gerry Straub