Saturday, December 23, 2006

From a believing soldier in Iraq. A prayer request.

Hello Friends,

I'm part of an online blogging/discussion community: Worldmag blog. The following is posted by Brad. He posted the following in frustration, but then went on to ask believers to pray through his post asn treat it as a prayer request.

Please join us. If you click on his name, you can send him an e-mail. --- Evelyn.

A grievance from a "boot on the ground":

Forgive me for griping.

I have little respect for the civilian politicians here in Iraq. They seem to want the perks/prestige and pay but NONE of the responsibility. The Gov of Diyala Province came here. He came in to greet wounded iraqi troops. We were going to send them to the local Baqouba Gen Hospital. "Oh they cannot go there. It's not safe." Excuse me?? You're the territorial governor. If some place isnt safe you should be able to assign a security detail or battalion for that matter to protect the hospital. [Terrorists walk right in and shoot Iraqi doctors or "finish off" wounded Iraqis.]

The Iraqis claim they cannot do anything with their forces without American approval. Well I'm one American who is now giving his approval for them to defend themselves. Grow a backbone and step up to the plate.
In 2003, 2004 a PA who was here then told me that the Americans provided health care to one and all. The military hospitals and physicians were more or less medical missionaries--albeit with weapons and identical uniforms. Now our ROE (rules of engagemt) wont allow us to see folks who are non-life threatening diagnosis or whose injuries were not caused by us.
We had a LCN (local civilian national) and base employee show up at the gate with his kid. The kid has an infected foot injury or so the report said. We had to send the Dad away. I wonder if he's still proUSA or now siding with the terrorists.
The people we get present with odd wounds. One guy had the back of his shot out. At close range. Powder burns on the skin. One toe amputated. He was obviously the victim of torture. His tormentors left him to die and he was eventually taken to the local civ hospital and they in turn had him brought here. He required about 4u of blood! I think his leg will be amputated above the knee. And all the kids we've had with gunshot wounds to the head? I thought those were just unfortunate victims of stray bullets but now I'm not so sure. I suspect the rebels/terrorists/insurgents threaten the parents by shooting or harming the kids with the hope that it will make the parents cooperate with them.
I'd rather walk into a room with 10 wounded adults than even one child with a bullet wound. We had a call about an incoming 2 yr old with bullet to the head. I dreaded seeing that one but mercifully the child died enroute to us and went directly to the morgue

Yall, what's to be done?? If we will stay here until the local govt and military "stands up" I dont see an orderly withdrawal coming for several years if even then. This nation needs draft horses instead of lazy show ponies.

Posted by: Brad at December 23, 2006 02:11 AM

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Still Bustling

Howdy all,
It's 17 December, and I'm home. Not a creature is stirring here at home, except me. The rest of the creatures are watching an Eagle Scout ceremony, where some friends are becoming Eagle Scouts and another friend is speaking. Needing to stop and rest this sabbath, I couldn't attend. So here I am, blogging in my pj's with a hot cup of peppermint tea, feet up.

School lets out late this year! I remember the wonderful, long Christmas vacations I enjoyed as a kid. Some years, school let out as early as December 17th. It was wonderful, because you had time to play, travel, visit and prepare for Christmas. If I wasn't a stay-at-home mom, I don't know how I would have managed this year. School lets out on the 20th, and in some cases on the 21st. That leaves only four days to shop and travel and bake and rest. Ugly trend. I hope this is the worst it ever gets.

Our son wants to be a Navy Seal, and is aggressively working towards that goal. If God grants him this heart's desire, this will be our second to last Christmas with our family as we have known it. Our daughter is laboring toward acceptance at Covenant College. We know, this year, that we need to enjoy our time together, because we may not always have it.

My life-long buddy, sister-like cousin from the Chicago suburbs arrives this week with her family. Our presents are all wrapped and under the tree. My husband has wrapped my birthday present in birthday paper and displayed it on it's own. I took the time to prepare and freeze food that I'll pull out for my visitors. I'll make and freeze hors d'eurves early this week. One of my dearest friends here in Florida baked for me her apple cake that she knows that my family loves. It too, will be frozen and wait for guests. Happy prospects this December!

Yesterday, I spent the morning with two girlfriends helping prepare for a sit down dinner Christmas party with friends. Scratching his head, one of their husbands asked, "Do you all know the meaning of 'simple' and 'austere'?"


We just looked right back at him in reciprocal open curiosity, shared a laugh, and continued to bustle. At the party -which was a huge success- we played The White Elephant Game with 23 participants. I brought a fruitcake (which people either love or hate) because I knew it would be something people would either want to unload, or want to hold on to. As it turned out, a fruitcake lover 'stole' it from a fruitcake hater. Perfect ending. We sang every Christmas Carol we could think of. We didn't leave until after midnight. That's a six hour party!

This year, I'm enjoying the planning just as much as I'm enjoying the actual events. Middle age has it's privileges, and slowing down and savoring the moment is one of them. So which shall I wish on you this Christmas: middle age or the ability to enjoy the moment?

Enjoy your moments.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Thank God He Remembers Me at Christmas

Hello and Merry Christmas, so far!

When last I checked in, I was busy decking every hall I could get my hands on, near and far. Finally, I ran out of poinsettias and had to stop (until I could procure some more). All the while, as promised, I was ruminating on how best to remember Jesus this Christmas, praying that God would help me and my family with that. He sure has so far!

The first thing that happened was this: On Divine prompting,I reinstated the standing prayer meeting that I had cancelled for the month of December to give moms a chance to Christmas shop, bake and decorate their trees. What a blessing that meeting was! I love all the lights and decorations and sips of hot cider, but there was something very settling and grounding about stopping all the bustling and sipping, being in an undecorated prayer room and being with God, quietly.

In that place, I experienced some of the exquisite simplicity of the manger. Don't you just love God? He is enthroned in majesty, He created the world and hung the stars; there is none higher than Him. Yet, He chose to come to us, naked and helpless as a baby in a lowly manger. He met with us so meaningfully in the spartan little prayer room that night. We emerged all the richer for the experience. It would have been so easy to cease meeting, because, after all, what mom couldn't use a few hours while her family was otherwise occupied? There is so much to do. It even seemed neccessary. I'm so thankful for God's faithful promptings: It was one of the most special times I've had with Him in a while, and I almost cancelled it!

The second thing that helped my family remember Jesus this Christmas season was that we went to see The The Nativity Story. What a beautiful movie! We all loved it: It was truly breathtaking. The movie makers got out of the way and let the story speak for itself. Aside from the fact that they didn't fill the whole sky with angels in the scene of His birth, it was accurate. It was even deeply romantic. Joseph and Mary's humility, earthiness, bravery and obedience both convicted me and brought me to tears.

I've always objected to Joseph being depicted in art as the guy in the background, leaning on a staff. After all, once the angel appeared to Mary and she consented to the immaculate conception, all further angelic communications were directed at Joseph. He led, sheilded and protected Mary and Jesus. What an awesome calling. This movie showed Joseph in action. It was beautiful to behold. Joseph is a fine example of godly manhood, and this movie showcased that fact.

Mary was humble, earthy, beautiful, courageous, virtuous. It seemed an honest portrayal. She was shown in the context of her family and community. Her upbringing and personality showed. But so did the love and hate around her.

Something profound, yet almost inexplicable happened to us as we watched the story unfold. We were left in awe of God's ability to accomplish His will, regardless of who tries to thwart it. We're still marvelling that God acts in ways that man just can't expect. I think we're just floored by His majesty, strength, humility and power. WOW.

I hope you go see this movie. My prayer is that it'll intersect you the way it did me and my family: it didn't leave us satiated but rather, longing to know this magnificent God of ours better.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Decking the Halls , Aching Feet and Remembering God

My feet have been aching for just under a week now, but I can't really blame bad shoes or arthritis or even bunions (I don't think I have any). My feet ache because I've been on a non-stop Christmas decorating spree, at my own house, for the church and for others.

Why can't I do that on a small scale? You know: less is more? Where does all of that go for me over the Holidays? Why is it that I must see pointesettias and nutcrackers and snowmen and nativities in every room? Why is it that late November and all of December meals need to be eaten by Christmas tree light? (I've got three main ones this year: one in the living room, one in the dining room and three in the kitchen. But, they're a grouping so I'll count them as one unit).

I can't apologize for it. For all I know, this could have been God's idea: after all, all of my occasions land between the week of Thanksgiving, all the way to New Years. As you already know from a previous article, we just had our wedding anniversary. My mother's and one of my sister's birthdays are in early December. Mine is right before Christmas. I have a few parties I usually attend, and one I always throw when I'm in town: My Christmas Open House. This is my time of the year!

The weather is wonderfully agreeable this time of year almost everywhere. I love Christmas music; I collect nutcrackers, buy Christmas ornaments wherever we may travel, love Christmas cards, holiday photos, Christmas china, Christmas cookies, hot cider, and hot cocoa. Aside from all of the expense, and the aching feet, what's not to love?

When else can you wear bright colored sweaters and Christmas ornament earrings, play the gift exchange game and sing along with friends? No. It's defintely the best time of the year. Except for one thing... usually my birthday gets completely lost in the shuffle of holiday doings.

Last year, I complained about it to God in prayer. "Lord! I always feel like my birthday gets forgotten in the holiday whirlwind." I stopped and sighed.

And then distinctly heard Him reply to me (not audibly, but better) , "I know what you mean!"
I'm sure He does!

So, the challenge for me is how best to celebrate Christ: the incarnation. For now, I'm going to leave that question open ended for you, gentle reader, to ponder this point.

I do pray, meanwhile, that we will all have a meaningful, God-honoring, relationship-building holiday season this year. May He show us how.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Happy Thanksgiving!

I feel great! And for me, that's saying something. I have struggled for years to be able to say that.
I had gone to doctors, over the past two decades, who were unable to help me. But in recent years, God has led me directly to the people who could help me recover my health. And, like I said: I feel GREAT!


Feeling physically great has helped my perspective in other areas. This Thanksgiving, I'm overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude that I was heretofore, too run down to experience.

I want to praise and thank God for the following things. This won't be an exhaustive list.

1) I've recovered my health after a long season of assorted, non-permanent, yet hindering and debilitating health issues. I feel fantastic, and I'm grateful to God, my doctor, my husband, my parents and the medical community in Cartagena, Colombia and everyone who helped put me on my feet.

2) I'm grateful for my marriage to my best friend, Michael.

3) I'm grateful that our children are still with us, and that we can enjoy the holidays together.

4) I'm grateful for the completion of homeschooling and that I'm now enjoying other pursuits, like this blog.

5) I'm grateful for friends who are like family, and family members who are like friends. Also, I have many, many nieces and nephews, and a few 'sons' and 'daughters'

6) For my children's goals, which they are very excited about. I'm grateful that they have them, but also that they're working towards them, having faith that God is with them. That's exciting to us as parents. They're not only dreaming, they're putting feet to their dreams.

7) For experiencing God through easy times and through trials. I know he'll never leave me or forsake me.

8) That our parents are still among us. I have friends who have lost parents. We know how that changes a person's world. We almost lost one recently, and so we're grateful to still have them.

9) A recovered ability to concentrate. Bible reading has become exciting again!

10) For mentors, teachers and prayer partners.

I'll probably add to this list throughout the day. Those are my initial thoughts.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

19 years of Marriage

Happily, it's finally cold enough in Florida to see your breath. So this morning, my husband, Michael, and I found ourselves in a warm, huddled mass at Five a.m.--the time his alarm clock rings. Ordinarily, I try to ignore it and sleep a while longer. But today, he greeted me with "Happy Anniversary" and "I'd do it all again". So would I.

19 years ago today Michael and I tied the knot. To my delight, he proposed right after college. Not believing in long engagements, he set the date for late November. We knew that at that time he would have completed his Marine officer training in Quantico, and had a few days before he had to report to artillery school in Ft. Sill. My mother had to work hard and fast to pull together our wedding by November. About 25 years earlier, my parents put my grandmother through similar stress when they gave her a week's notice. (You reap what you sow...) Both mothers performed admirably, and I'm happy to report that both weddings were beautiful, joyful celebrations.

But on this anniversary, I'm not really thinking about the proposal and the wedding day. Instead, I'm marvelling at the journey. The nineteen years -21 if you count our courtship. I'm left in awe of God's plan and provision in uniting us. Who else but God could devise such a beautiful mystery? Who else could take two people and make one, easing their aloneness while refining them?

Ideally, in marriage, we grow up and we grow together-- despite our natural tendencies. It sounds simpler than it is. Where to begin?

Initially, there was a certain need to detox from Hollywood depictions of marriage and to embrace the biblical model, instead. In the early years, we learned what we're still learning: Love is not a feeling. It's a commitment. The rapturous feelings come and go--we all love it when they're present-- but the commitment is part of the glue God uses to cleave us. It's comforting to know that Michael is still committed to me on bad days, bad hair days, and days when I'm less than loveable. I know he's comforted that I'm with him in plenty and in want,and I don't mean just money. Sometimes it's time, attention, etc.

I think we enter into the covenant thinking we're always going to be loving and loveable. But, in the daily walking out of it, we are sometimes myopic, critical, distracted, self-centered and mean; in other words, less than loveable.

Ironically, that's when we learn to love: not when it's easy and enjoyable, but when it's hardest, when we're giving and receiving grace. It's when we look back that we realize that our love deepened not because of our perfections, but because of our commitment and for the way we dealt with our mutual imperfections.

I remember being married for a pair of months, when an eager young woman who was soon to be married asked me, "What advice can you give me?" I don't know where I summoned this sagely wisdom, I can only claim divine inspiration, because "Go into marriage poised to forgive." came out of my mouth.

Both she and I stopped to consider the importance of those words! Of course we have to forgive. Spouses are only human. As our ideal of them gets replaced by the realities of selfishness and conflict, we either forgive, or keep our love from growing. It's when we're offended, and we choose to love and forgive that love blooms. Forgiveness allows for fresh starts, new growth and the strengthening and beautifying of the marital bond.

We have also learned and are learning how to stop in our tracks, think about how we're effecting the other and say things like; "I'm sorry" , "Please forgive me", "Let's just sleep on it", "Why don't we pray", "Let's discuss this a little later" and "Let's try that again".

Of course, we wouldn't know how to do that if we hadn't been for the work of Jesus Christ; who paid for our sins so that we could be forgiven. We love him because he first loved us. That principle holds true in marriage, too. We can love, because God first loved us. We can forgive, because we've experienced God's forgiveness in our own lives. Our 19 years have been, in large part, fruit of what he did on the cross. We both know that it is God who has held us together and equipped us for togetherness. Thank God that none of us have to face the flesh alone; neither ours nor our spouse's.

Our 18 year old daughter wonders which romantic way we're planning to celebrate our anniversary. This year, even though we'll probably go out to dinner, our gratitude is our celebration. We said, "I'd do it again." and we meant it. Thank You, God for what you did and are doing for us through Jesus' Christ.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

O.K., This was funny

I read that Jay Leno said this the other night about the current Play Station 3 craze. I loved it:

"People are waiting in lines for that thing.
There’s been pushing, shoving, riots – this is the most exercise most of these people will ever get."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Laboring to Share from the Heart

One of my very favorite movie scenes is from A Walk in the Clouds. In the movie, Keanu Reeves is an American on his way to marry a girl from a wealthy, aristocratic Mexican family. Their relationship is too tangled to explain now. So I'll simplify it: They get into a fight and are sadly estranged from each other for a time. Anthony Quinn, who plays her grandfather, steps in and gives the young American the following advice from his Latin heart:

'Words are a waste of time. Men and women cannot talk about their differences. Women, are creatures of the heart. I know just what you need.'

He proceeds to enlist musicians, ply the young man with wine and teach him a Spanish love song with which to serenade his lady. He knows that this will soften her heart. (By the way, the strategy works). The old man, tipsy from too much wine, tries to share the Spanish heart to the American. He can only do that by percentages. Keanu tries to absorb the meaning while the Mariachis sing the love song.

The old man, almost in tears cries, "Have you ever heard anything more beautiful in your life?" (I love this, because I get this way often)

The song was beautiful, like so many aspects of Latin-American culture. I found myself wishing that the young man could experience it more deeply.

As a passionate Colombian-American married to truly wonderful Irish-American, I often long to REALLY share my culture with him. Recently, while grieving the emptying nest, by playing a beautiful bolero and crying; my husband, Michael, wanted to understand. So,I played the ballad for him, and tried to impart it's full meaning: I SO wanted to share its beauty with him. But I knew that the literal translation wasn't reaching him.

So yesterday, I undertook it's interpretation. It truly was a labor of love. Communicating the full meaning, emotions, imagery, and meter seemed too daunting a task. (I'd never tried it) The fact that I accomplished this feat was nothing short of miraculous.

Here's a link my sister found where you can hear the melody. The lyrics varied a little from the version I know.
I offer you it's rendering in English, from my pen. In Spanish it's called 'El Camino de la Vida" I think I've captured its full meaning, let me know.:

The Byways of Life

Swift like the rushing wind,
The days and nights passed
That marked our infancy;
While God prepared us.
An angel watched with care,
While we grew ready
For all that lay ahead,
on this life’s journey

And then we entered youth;
A time of learning
The games, the friends, our school,
Our hearts’ first yearnings,
Ours soul began to show,
What we were made of,
Our hearts began to dream,
and form a vision of
Our life’s ambition

And springing forth as from a brook,
The honeyed days of our first love,
Our soul just soared not knowing that
Illusions tend to disappear
And we sadly and resignedly, discovered
That our lives are made of ,
Happiness and sorrow.

And later when we joined as one,
Together, living for our cause,
We formed ourselves a nest of love,
A refuge that we called our home.
Thus began another season of our lifetimes:
A woman and a man, united by their faith,
And their ideals.

The fruit, born of our love,
When Heaven blessed us;
Brought joy and happiness,
With just their presence.
For whom can you love most?
If not your children?
They are the legacy,
Of our existence.

And later with our hearts,
and with our toil,
We work to give them all
that life requires.
So when they come of age,
They will to heights rise.
And have the happiness,
Security and bliss,
So dearly treasured.

And springing forth as from a brook,
The honeyed days of our first love,
Our soul just soared not knowing that
Illusions tend to disappear
And we sadly and resignedly, discovered
That our lives are made of,
Happiness and sorrow.

And later, when they leave the home;
Some leave and never say goodbye,
The coldness of our solitude,
Weighs painfully inside our hearts.

And that’s why, my treasured love that I must ask you
The way I ask the Lord,
That if we reach old age,
You’ll still be with me.

What a song!
Have you ever heard anything more beautiful in your life?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

When to say, "ENOUGH!"

Please read this newstory of how the makers of Borat misrepresented their motives, and then exploited and shamed the dirt-poor villagers they used in their film. These people are the hardest working poor that the film makers could find. And they have been cruelly mistreated.
The film makers actions are utterly reprehensible.
Not everything in life can be treated as a joke. There is such a thing as going way too far as to be abusive.
Please do not support this film. This is why I make this plea:


Today, 11/17, The actor speaks about the film. I include this link in an effort to be fair:

Friday, November 10, 2006

It's only politics: Thank God

I thank God
that I didn't elect Him, He elected me.
I thank Him that He's always in office.
I thank Him that He's not for sale.
I thank Him that He holds the future, and doesn't sweat it at all.
He is unchanging, despite the polls and election results and gossip and rumors.
Man's opinion doesn't sway His character.
He's dependable, good, able, merciful, all-powerful and kind.
In Him, I have what I need, regardless of who is in office.

Furthermore, I don't have to wait in line to meet with Him.
It's more like the reverse is true.
It would be easy to get tossed about by the winds of political change.
Without Him, I absolutely would.
I thank God that he's my Rock,
and He's hanging on to me, even as I hang on to Him