Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Merry Christmas






I ordered a Christmas card this year from Shutterfly.com and I really liked them. Unfortunately I didn't get even close to enough. And I haven't even addressed any of them yet.
You, my dear blogging friends, may have to just look at this post, and feel the love. We do love you, you know.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Acceleration



Doesn't it seem like once December arrives, it just accelerates at an exponential rate? Kind of like you're a snowball rolling downhill, gathering speed. I feel like even my heartbeat is a little bit faster this time of year. Everyone's driving faster, rushing to get their work done so they can go Christmas shopping, getting all their decorations out. The countdown from 25 days till Christmas jumps to 1 week before you know it!

This year, as usual, I have bought almost all my presents online. I love doing that! The best thing about it is that you can usually get the free shipping offer around Christmastime. So it actually costs you LESS money online (no mall walking, no gas to get there either). It's totally the way to go. If you are looking for a good website with offers on web shopping, go to www.flamingoworld.com. It is really my favorite.

Several fun events happened this weekend:

1. The HYG Christmas Party on Friday night. We go on busses to a progressive dinner around the city, ending with a concert and coffeehouse in our own youth mission. This year's band "Kings of Crunk" was a big hit.

2. HYG worked at the Memphis Urban Ministry (MUM) Christmas Store. This is located very close to several poor neighborhoods in Memphis. The families can come in and buy the toys at a very reduced price (25 cents to $7). The toys are donated by people around the city who support MUM. Our teens got to help parents and grandparents shop for their kids. This provides a way for these families to able to provide Christmas for their kids and be treated with dignity. 33 of Highland people joined this effort. It is always great to give back!

3. Josh and I were able to spend some time with our dear friends Joel and Beth last night. They are about to have girl twins! There couldn't be anyone more deserving of this gift. We are so excited for them. They do not live here in town anymore, but we remain bonded by so many memories of Farkle, Pass the Pigs, Reach Group, and the BOB. We miss you Beth and Joel!


Happy 1 Week Till Christmas Everyone!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Why adopt? The answer

I have told most of you now about our impending adoption. The news on that front has not really changed much, but I still appreciate all of you asking about it! I may not be having morning sickness or growing a belly, but I am feeling some of the "pains" of childbirth so to speak. All people who are going to be parents feel anxious, nervous, worried that they can't really do it, fearful sometimes. These are all feelings I have had off and on through this process.

I will tell you that every single day I have an even better feeling in my gut about what we are doing. Many of you have asked me, why adopt? are you infertile? did you have a miscarriage? The answer to these questions is no, we have no reason to think that we cannot have biological children. I answer it only so you will not be feeling like you cannot ask me about it. So, the why question comes up again. I hope I can help you understand.

Here's part of that answer. This is only part because some of this will be only my half. Josh's and my stories intersect, but I feel that our adoption was born in our hearts long before we met.

Ever since I was a teenager doing Power Hour (a Bible hour the youth group would do for kids in an impoverished community in our town) I would always meet a child there that I wanted to take home. I would find that one little girl or set of siblings that my heart just went out to, and I would find them every week and sit with them and color with them and sing with them. There is a picture in my Bible that I have had ever since then of me and three little girls with whom I fell in love. I don't remember their names, but I remember them. I have always had what you might call a "soft spot" for kids in tough situations.

I also have a cousin whom I love so much who was adopted at birth. Her parents adopted her from a reservation. It has never been an issue for us, she was a cousin and that was that, I have never thought of her as anything but my family. My aunt and uncle have been a great example to me, because I feel that they treated their daughters (one adopted and one biological) the exact same. This is just more of what my framework was growing up regarding adoption.

Later in life, I would see families at church who had fostered or adopted, and I thought it was something I'd like to do someday, perhaps when my kids were older. After I was married to Josh, we often talked about how we wanted to adopt or become foster parents "at some point"... Then, one day, that changed for me. I will mention here that perhaps this sounds cheesy, but I had a revelation at a Steven Curtis Chapman benefit concert for AGAPE. First of all, his stories and songs about adoption make you want to just go open your home and let the kids flood in the doors, and the work of AGAPE (adoption/foster care agency in Memphis) that was presented that night touched me so much. I started thinking that perhaps we could adopt now! Why not? I thought. This way our child will have our full attention, and the honor and precious place of being our first.

After presenting this to Josh, he was all for this idea. So we quickly starting investigating all the many options from which we could adopt a child who was in need of parents. There are so many children in need of families. Here in the US alone, there are over half a million children in the foster care system. Worldwide, the number is even more staggering. We looked at many, many options. We did not pursue any particular "type" of options: we were open to all races and all cultures from the start. We began to research adopting from other countries. The international adoption scene, however, if you are not involved in it, is quite complex. Each country has its own rules and stipulations. Some countries have been allowing US adoptions for many years. Most people know a family who have adopted from Russia or China. Guatemala and Korea are the next most common places from which to adopt currently by US citizens. The Ethiopian program was not the first one we seriously considered, mostly because we didn't hear about it until much later. But it was the one that after all was considered, met the qualifications we were looking for. We felt drawn to this country for many reasons, not the least of which was that we grew up in an age where images of the famine in Ethiopia were all over the television. Those don't leave your mind. The need there today to care for orphans was a strong reason that Ethiopia was our choice as well. According to UNICEF,

"Ethiopia counts one of the largest populations of orphans in the world: 13 percent of children throughout the country are missing one or both parents. This
represents an estimated 4.6 million children – 800,000 of whom were orphaned by HIV/AIDS."

...and also from UNICEF:

"Preliminary results from the 2000 Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey (DHS
2001) indicate roughly that:
• one out of every 20 children born alive die in their first month of life
• one out of ten die before reaching their first birthday
• one out of six die before reaching their fifth birthday."

And lastly, we felt in our heart after much prayer, reflection, talking with our families and other wise people, that Ethiopia was where we wanted to pursue an adoption.

Then fast forward 15 months. We have done the paperwork, the background checks, the notarizing, the letters, all of it. We are just waiting now for the agency to call us sometime in the next 4-6 months. And as we go, sometimes I still get scared. There are many things that could go wrong, I know this. There are questions I haven't even thought of, and scenarios I haven't yet imagined. (However all the books on adoption could scare a person to death!) And not just being an adoptive parent... but being a PARENT.... that is a scary thing and I am not sure I am ready.

But it seems that on the day I get up and feel a little anxious or unsure, God sends someone or something my way to tell me to calm down and be joyful. God has a way of continuing to use people to confirm our path. First, I want to mention here a little about my husband. He has stood by the decision to do this from the start. Never has he wavered from this. He is the first confirmation I would mention about whether this was something that we felt called to do. One of my favorite things about Josh is that when I get worried and weighed down by this process, he is still dedicated. He will not let me be burdened by all there is to do to actually get this child! He has been a rock for me, and even more he has pointed me to the reasons we wanted to do this in the first place. More than anything we share the belief that this is the direction to which God is calling us.

One couple has been giving us fifty dollar checks every month ever since they heard about the adoption. This wasn't something we asked them for... it was them giving us support. And it has been one of the ways God has used people to confirm us. One thing that happened recently really blessed me as well. I was told by our friend Debbie's daughter-in-law that she had been talking to Debbie one night a couple of weeks before Debbie's death about my and Josh's adoption. She recounted to me their conversation and how Debbie was so supportive of our decision. I was amazed because I don't remember talking to Debbie that much about it. And then, out of nowhere, she is blessing me even after she has left this life. God is using her words to bless me today.

We feel so blessed and so supported throughout this adoption process so far. Thank you to all who are "rooting" for us. I absolutely cannot wait to bring our baby home to meet all the people who have been praying for him or her. Our desire to be parents is about to be fulfilled in a child who has a need for us, too!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Musings on recent events

It has been hard to get back in the swing of blogging after the events of the last couple of weeks. I have been thoughtful, and not really wanting to post my internal thoughts here, so I just didn't have anything to say!



I will say that while our dear friend Debbie has passed from this life, her influence will not quickly be forgotten. She was a person who made an impact in whatever setting she was in. She genuinely cared about people, and was a great advice-giver. She knew how to make a special occasion out of everything; hence, no one was surprised that she chose Thanksgiving to be her last day on earth... probably so no one would ever forget! Young people especially felt drawn to Debbie because she was "cool" - and understanding and godly. I began a Facebook group (if you don't konw what that is see my previous posts here) calling "People Who Are Praying for Miss Debbie" on November 16. By the day of Debbie's celebration service 11/25, there were over 250 members. Keep in mind that this is a relatively small demographic that can access Facebook - high school, college, and those recently out of college. What a tribute to a woman who loved young people. I can't help but hope that I can live a life that will be a light to others as hers has been.
Please pray for Alan (her husband), and Alex and Mitchell (sons), Leigha (Alex's wife), as well as all the family and friends who are grieving this loss. Especially during the holidays.

As for Christmas, I have not even gotten my tree up or anything! That has to happen this weekend. Josh and I will also be celebrating our 6th anniversary this Saturday! Yea!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Debbie has gone to be with the Lord

Click here for the latest update on the Moltz blog.

I will post arrangements here when I know them.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Prayers

Just wanted to let you all know the website www.moltz.blogspot.com is now being updated at least daily so you can know how to pray for Debbie. Keep praying!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Waiting in Line

I don't like lines, never have. Grocery stores, Six Flags, the interstate, going to ballgames, all of them very annoying. Even though just last week I waited in an unbelievably long line of people hoping to be Wheel of Fortune contestants (3+ hours), I am now currently in another line that is probably going to be even more frustrating and patience-testing. However, this line has a great reward at the end of it! (Guaranteed, not just a stupid drawing at random like the WOF tryouts!!!)

We were just accepted onto the waiting list at our adoption agency! We are very excited about being on the way to becoming parents. Here are a couple of things you might be wondering.

How long will it take to get our child? It should be 4-6 months from this point until we are matched.

Why do you have to wait so long if there are so many kids who need to be adopted? Here's my best answer. There are many, many children that need to be adopted, but because the interest in adopting from Ethiopia has increased dramatically in the last couple of years, it is taking longer to get adoptions processed. Also, our agency's care center is receiving children in as other children are adopted out all the time. When a child that fits our family (we have asked for a 0-12 month infant) comes into care, the agency will match that child to the next family on the list. They estimate 4-6 months from now we will be at the top of that list.

More news about the adoption later.

Keep praying for Debbie Moltz! News about Debbie will be available soon at www.moltz.blogspot.com .

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Retreating

No, not backing up, I mean "retreat"-ing. This week HYG went on a retreat that was themed "24". It was a great encouragement to us all. Thanks to all the adults who helped so much with our retreat, and to all the teens who were so well-behaved and focused on growing in their faith and in relationships this weekend.
Todd Loyd, youth minister in Russellville, Kentucky, was our speaker and he added his own flare with baseball stories and movie clips and self-deprecation. :) He did a great, great job and I think our teens were really encouraged about how to live PRACTICALLY day to day as a Christian. The best thing I heard all weekend was a little idea for what to do before you ever leave the house each morning. As with all good youth group lessons Todd had a pneumonic device for each point. Now I'll share it with you, my blogging audience. (p.s. Just so there's no copyright violation, I'll give credit to both Doug Fields and Todd Loyd.)


Shout it!

This one has to do with telling God how amazing He is. When you wake up, acknowledge who he is, our Lord! Tell him in a quick word of prayer. Deuteronomy 4:39 - Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.


Feel it!

Bask in the knowledge that God loves you, and his love is better than life! Psalm 63:3 -Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!





Hide it!

Make time for reading and memorizing Scripture. Then when you are in a situation, maybe a word from God will be triggered in your memory! Psalm 119:11 - I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.





Say it!

Open up your day long conversation with God before you leave the house. Ask Him to be a part of your day. Then talk to him all day long! Psalm 5:3 - Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.

HYG: Hope this helps you remember some of the points we learned this weekend. Try this tomorrow before you leave the house... and then tell me how it goes!

Hilarious

You may remember a certain dream I mentioned recently.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Another Look at Generosity


Matthew 6:3-4 But when you give to charity, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, So that your deeds of charity may be in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you openly.


Last week on one of my rare Oprah watching days, I saw her give $1000 debit cards and video cameras to the entire audience. Unlike some of her other giveaways, this one was different. Each person was supposed to use that money any way they like, as long as its NOT for herself or her family. She told them to find someone who needed this money and then film the act of giving it.
Admirable idea, I thought. I wondered though whether the filming of the gift actually took away some of the meaning.

Then, the other day in my grad school class we were discussing how as a minister, and as a Christian, we can avoid getting caught up in materialism and the love of money. But how do you measure whether you are "caught up" or not? How can one measure a heart of generosity or stinginess?

We might say, "Well, I give to my church every week, so I'm pretty generous."
Or, "I give to my child's school, that's a good cause."
Or, "I give to the local hospital, they really help our community."

All great things to give to; of course, church is obviously an important part of the life of giving to which God has called Christians. But as we were discussing this topic, I realized something. When I looked at where I am more likely to give, it is in places where it will benefit me directly or indirectly or where I can see the results. We all want our money to be used effectively and efficiently, to be maximized, to go the farthest they can possibly go. I think we claim some entitlement wherever we give, too. Surely you know what I mean. I heard a story once (this is not anywhere I've ever been) about a church member who was frustrated because they heard that the teens were buying pizza every week and "that is just not using the Lord's (read: MY) money for furthering the kingdom". I realize we are called to be good stewards of our money, and therefore, before we give we want to make sure our money is given to places where it will be used responsibly. I'm not saying we shouldn't do that to some extent. But, sometimes I think we/I take it to the extreme. We analyze the recieving end of our giving, and if it doesn't stand up to our standards of scrunity then we just stop giving. That can't be the answer.
Is this ringing true for anyone else?

So how I test my own heart? Perhaps if I am able to give money to where I see a need and then let it go. Set it free. Let God take care of the rest. That is the kind of giving that would be a real sacrifice for me. So, join me and try it. Give to someone or something today where you think God would be honored. And don't obsess over whether it is used in the absolutely best way that you think it maybe should be. Just rejoice in the act of giving. Pretend you have $1000 in your hand right now! What might you do?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Praying



A dear friend of our family, Debbie Moltz, is in need of your prayers. Debbie has been around as a second mom to me for many years, because she and my mother are the best of friends. She is beautiful inside and out. She and her husband Alan are active leaders and encouragers among our youth and our entire church. She is always throwing a party or getting ready for the next one. She is constantly giving and showing love for those she cares about. There are few people who are as full of life and faith.

In the last year Debbie has been diagnosed with melanoma. She had been clear of this for awhile, but now more difficult news has come. Her melanoma have metastasized and is now in her bone, particularly her femur. She had surgery last night to repair this bone, during which they found out this out. Now only does she have to recover from this surgery, but also face decisions about how to proceed.

But Debbie being Debbie is very optimistic, and feels the prayers that surround her! Here are two of Debbie's current favorite psalms, quoted from the Message.

Psalm 71: 1& 2
"I run for dear life to God,
I'll never live to regret it.
Do what you do so well;

GET ME OUT OF THIS MESS AND UP ON MY FEET."

Psalms 18: 20. . .
"God made my life complete
when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together
he gave me a fresh start.
Now I'm alert to God's ways;
I don't take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works;
I TRY NOT TO MISS A TRICK.
I feel put back together,
and I'm watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."

Thanks for adding her to your prayers today and in the coming weeks. I love you Moltzes!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dream Come True... Almost


I am absolutely devastated. No, there is not a tragedy in my family or anything horrible, don't panic. It's not that big.


Today I found out that the Wheelmobile is coming to Memphis (ok, actually Tunica) to find contestants! This is only bad news to me because I have the HYG retreat that weekend. So I can't figure out how I could get there for the tryout. I have been checking the Wheel of Forture website for years, trying to figure out when they would be in Memphis. I have joined the "Wheel Watchers Club" so get the latest updates. And, now, my big chance. Completely blown. I am so disappointed!


I have been loving the Wheel of Fortune show for years. My dad and I would always watch it and I can usually get the puzzles with only a few letters showing. Not to brag, but we all have our gifts. Looks like I won't be on the show anytime soon, friends. But someday...someday, it will happen.

Halloween Crazed, Updated

I told you they weren't finished. Don't you wish you could trick or treat at this house??? You can if you know where I live. Just go to the house right across from me!

Seriously, I am thinking about telling the news, so that they can win some kind of award.





Sunday, October 22, 2006

Halloween crazed

Has anyone else noticed that Halloween is the new All-American commercialized holiday? Wow. I went to Target yesterday and noticed there is a ridiculously huge section dedicated to the pagan holiday. Everything you could think of related to Halloween, including strange trinkets in the $1 Spot aisles. Every church in Memphis, I think, is having a Pumpkin Carnival or a Trunk or Treat. I also have noticed that the number of people who decorate their homes for Halloween has risen in my neighborhood. I posted a picture of my across the street neighbor's houses last year and thought I would do it again. I regret to tell you that if the SUV was moved you could see the whole little graveyard that has been set up. Don't miss the little ghost children holding hands in a circle on the left side of the picture. Oh, and there will be more by next weekend I'm sure. I, on the other hand, have one pumpkin on my front porch, and might get some candy to hand out. Probably will go to our church's Trunk or Treat, but that's it.

I am just not that into Halloween, never have been. How about you?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Madonna, Angelina, and me

With all the news coverage on Madonna these days, and the last few years' about Angelina, everyone is suddenly talking about whether adopting these kids from third world countries is really good for them. I would like to post here a short article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune today that is written by a mom who has adopted from Africa.

http://www.startribune.com/blogs/cribsheet/?p=74#comments

Kind of a hilarious post. It's true that when I say Ethiopia, people say Angelina or Madonna. But it doesn't really bother me. I think it's pretty obvious I am not modeling my life around them. I do hate the bad publicity the media is creating about the issue. Here's the thing. There are 4.5 million orphans in the sub saharan region of Africa. That's right, 4.5 million. Adopting all the children isn't the answer to the problem, I know that, anyone knows that! There is a bigger issue here that the whole world needs to pitch in and help with. Funds for Africa, drugs for Africa, relief for Africa, these are the ways to possibly help the problem at large. I am not, nor do I think that celebs or any adoptive parents, think that their one adoption is saving Africa or whatever country they are adopting from.

Also I do not think people who are adopting from these places are trying to have a "token" child or something cute for their family picture, nor are they seeking to bring them to "God's country, America" as if children can't have a wonderful and blessed life unless they live here... You don't bring a child into your family (not to mention go through the red tape, saving up, anxiety, etc.) for petty reasons like that. People who have adopted (that I have encountered) are motivated by one or more of the following: (a) wanting to be parents, (b) wanting to give one child loving parents since he/she doesn't have any parents, (c) wanting to do something to help with the orphan crisis, particularly in Africa. Perhaps these celebs are motivated by these same reasons.

Some may criticize us, asking why would you choose Ethiopia? There are so many kids here in America to adopt, they say. Yes, this is true and I would love to do that at some point; by adopting from Ethiopia does that mean that I do not see these kids in our cities who need homes? Oh and by the way, have you adopted any children from anywhere? (Oops did I say that out loud. Sorry.) There are children in every country in every continent around the world, should I adopt one from every single place? These criticisms are just not rational. I like the anonymous quote I read recently:
"Adopting a child won't change the world; but for that child, the world will
change."

{stepping off my soapbox now}

Sunday, October 15, 2006

P.S. please

If you think my blog is turning too "mommy" for you, sorry. Witty and ridiculous posts of random topics are still sure to turn up, so don't worry.

Ok, now please read below. :)

Announcing the newest Ray...on the way

So, some people have asked me if they can tell other people about our adoption. The answer, if you're wondering is yes. The start and end dates are more vague than the traditional "pregnancy" so it's been kind of weird figuring out when to announce to everyone... When we start the home study? finish the home study? are approved by our agency? are approved by the US government? Who knows, really, but its definitely time, I think. I announced this to my elders - who are technically kind of my bosses, since I work for a church - tonight and they prayed for the new addition to our family. If I haven't called you and you're our friend, please don't be offended. We're not ignoring you! I will eventually contact you, or just email me!

I have been working on my answer to all the questions "why are you doing this? why ethiopia? etc. etc. etc." blog for a while now, and now I think it is just too much to put into one post...So I am considering opening a second blog, which will focus only on the adoption. What do you all think? I visited a blog today of a couple who is adopting and I feel like the thoughts and feelings I have about this adoption are nearly echoed by this family. It felt so good to read the way they came to their decision. You may find it interesting as well.

__________________________________________________________

One more thing. Today at church Dr. Harold Hazelip, our former preacher and former president of Lipscomb University, preached his famous "Dream the Impossible Dream" sermon. I had not heard it before. He focuses on the Sermon on the Mount, and uses images from the story of Don Quixote as illustration. One thing that stands out to me he said was: [my paraphrase] God is calling us to a standard that we cannot possible live up to... but through His work in us, we can attain this impossible standard. He makes us what we cannot possibly be on our own.

This connected with me right now. I feel quite overwhelmed when I think about this latest calling that God has given me. The calling of "mother"- yikes, it scares me just to write it - is one that seems almost too impossible to live up to. I feel sure that God has led us to this child we are adopting, and that he intends me to be his/her mother... but I just don't think I can do it on my own. Will I attach to this baby who is grieving for its birthmother, and more importantly will he/she attach to me? Will I know what to tell him when he asks about his mommy and daddy in Ethiopia? And not to mention all the questions which I'm sure all new mothers ask, adoptive or not... Will I be able to raise my child to love the Lord and its fellow man? Will I be able to instill in my child a positive sense of self? Will I do the right ________ (fill in, discipline, food, education, the list can go on)? Can I really give my own selfish needs for this child? Perhaps I am just over analyzing this... but I think Hazelip's principle applies to me. I can't do this on my own. I absolutely cannot. But God can make me what I cannot be. I have to trust in that. And believe in that.

What's the latest dream God has for your life? What has God done in you that you absolutely could not be or do on your own? I'd love to hear your stories, friends.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Adjusting



Last night Josh and I spent several hours working through an online education course about adoption, called With Eyes Wide Open. One thing I think the creators of this course are trying to do is to try to visualize what it will be like for your child when s/he is thrust into a new environment with no notice. So it challenged us to do things that would simulate the child's experience, like what the child will hear at our home, what we will feed him or her, what type of bed he or she will sleep on.




I thought about how I turned my nose up to most of what was fed to me when I visited the Ukraine several years ago. I of course, ate it to be polite but I was NOT a fan at all. What if I was picked up by strangers, moved there, and fed beet soup or borscht for every meal??? I would not be very happy. Or the sleep thing. I am a pretty good sleeper in general but for some reason when I travel, I snore. (My deepest secret is out.) I would probably have a horrible snoring problem if I was suddenly sent to live in a new country/time zone/house. And about what you hear. If you have ever visited NYC, then you've listened to the noises of the city, the honks, the cars, the airplanes. If you have ever been to the middle of nowhere, you've heard the nothingness, except crickets and birds. Totally different from when I'm laying in my bed at home.


Our baby will be hearing sounds and voices he has never heard, sleeping in a place unfamiliar and possibly uncomfortable for him, and eating foods he has never tried. And I kept thinking what an adjustment this will be for us, the parents, but it was good to put myself in the baby's shoes. It was fun thinking about our baby, who is probably soon to be born somewhere on the other side of the world.










Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Walking in Memphis


There is something I have been meaning to blog about. Last weekend, the day after the wedding, Josh and I and one of Jessica's bridesmaids and her boyfriend went to the National Civil Rights Museum. The museum is in downtown Memphis and is at the site where Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot at the Lorraine Motel. I have lived in Memphis for about 12 years except time in Searcy and Tuscaloosa, AL, but I have never visited this museum. A lot of people in Memphis say that about Graceland but I bet a lot of them have also not been to this place.


So, we ventured out there with only about 1 1/2 hours left till it closed, but we thought that would be just enough time. As it turned out we could have spent twice that much time. It was really amazing. It is set up kind of like a timeline, where you start in the WWII era and move ahead to the day of MLK's assassination. The amount of information, pictures, documents, videos, is so much to take in. I highly recommend you going if you haven't ever been and live in the Midsouth area.


Several things that have stayed with me:


  1. It is amazing to see how much has changed in only 50 years. One generation above me (my parents age) experienced the effects of the Brown decision - degregation of public schools - and actually saw the first black person enter Ole Miss, an allwhite university - James Meredith. Two generations above me (my grandparents) lived in a completely segregated world - buses, bathrooms, water fountains. Many religious leaders even defended the idea that the white race is superior based on (a faulty use of) Scripture! Thank God we have moved beyond such unbelievable acts of inequality and racism. But the fact that it was such a recent change...that saddened me and embarassed me as I walked through the exhibits.

  2. It is amazing to see how much change is needed. As I look at world of today, it is obvious that racism is still alive and well. Look at most high school cafeterias. There is likely a black side and a white side. And, sadly, look at most churches. Most consist of only one race. Memphis, the city where MLK was shot, is still a city divided by race.

As Josh and I have begun to explore the idea of adoption, eventually ending up deciding on Ethiopia, I have had a good opportunity to analyze my attitudes about race. James 2:8-9 says (NLT) that:

The royal law is found in Scripture. It says, "Love your neighbor as you love
yourself." If you really keep that law, you are doing what is right. But
you sin if you don't treat everyone the same.
The law judges you because you
have broken it.

This is what I've realized. As a Christian, I have an obligation not to be neutral about this issue. God asks me to love every person in the world the same. The laws in our country have improved, and for that I'm glad, but its not enough just to follow the letter of the law.


Just like Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (click here if you need a reminder) encourages us to take the Jewish law and go even a step further. Don't just not murder, don't even call anyone a fool! If someone takes your tunic, give him your coat too! Don't just keep from cheating on your spouse, don't even lust after someone you're not married to.


In this same way, I think God is calling me to go a step further. Don't just tolerate, Don't just coexist with, but LOVE every other person in the world as I love myself. Not an easy task, but who said following God was going to be easy?


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Home Study - Check!

Wanted to let all of you know that our home study was completed last night. Our house was spotless (I can say that, because I had someone clean it that morning) and our meeting with our social worker was great. We also had an "online meeting" with our agency and other families adopting with them from Ethiopia. Got some new info that was helpful to hear.

Some of you have been wondering about our adoption. Here are the answers to a few of your questions:

We are planning to adopt a baby under the age of 12 months. We cannot choose the gender because we don't have any kids yet. This is a policy of my agency only, not the country.

The basic process is this: Local agency home study, apply to immigration, apply to large agency (in our case CHSFS), dossier sent to country, wait for referral (the child is a match for us), then travel 6ish weeks later.

Time to wait on a referral is about 4-6 months. That time will start when our dossier is accepted in Ethiopia, as I understand it.

So when will we be parents? Probably looking at early spring at this point.

Glad to be moving on to the next stage of the process! Thanks for your prayers.

Want to see what another family had to say? Click here for a short video.

I plan to address the "Why are you doing this?" question in a coming blog. :)

Monday, September 25, 2006

The new couple


DSC02632
Originally uploaded by bray232323.

The rain held off...

Well, the wedding weekend was a great success. The weather posed a big threat since there was so much rain in the area in the last week, but we pressed on and had the wedding outside. There were two tents just in case, but it turned out that it only rained for a few minutes during the whole evening! Click here to see a few pictures. You may have to copy/paste the link below because I am posting from Safari and it doesn't work quite right with Beta Blogger yet.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bray232323

Monday, September 18, 2006

prayer requests

Two things to share with you today. I would love for you to join me in prayer about these things.

  1. My sister-in-law Jessica and her fiance Grant are making final preparations for their wedding this Saturday. Please pray for them as they take this step! We love Grant and all of us are excited about his joining our family. Also Josh is doing their ceremony, so pray for him to be able to control his quivering upper lip. :)
  2. Our final meeting to complete our home study is next Tuesday. Please pray that it will go smoothly. Thanks!

Have a great day.

Monday, September 11, 2006

My soundtrack

Tonight while driving home from the Y, I was listening to Josh's XM radio and came upon a song that I hadn't heard in a while. It was just perfect for my mood. Don't you love when that happens? It like your own movie soundtrack has been handed to you.

The song, you ask? "Man in the Mirror". Yes, by Michael J. It was so funny but I forgot how inspiring the words are to that song. Maybe you have too. (I'll remind you here.)

I'm gonna make a change, for once in my life
It's gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right.

As I, turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat
This wind is blowin' my mind
I see the kids in the street,
with not enough to eat
Who am I, to be blind?

Pretending not to see their needs
A summer's disregard, a broken bottle top
And a one man's soul
They follow each other on the wind ya' know'
Cause they got nowhere to go
That's why I want you to know

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change

I've been a victim of a selfish kind of love
It's time that I realize
That there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan
Could it be really me, pretending that they're not alone?
A willow deeply scarred, somebody's broken heart
And a washed-out dream
They follow the pattern of the wind, ya' see
Cause they got no place to be
That's why I'm starting with me


You can even watch it on video of him in concert: (no, I don't know the guy that created it, its from Youtube so you never know)



The actual MTV video, I just discovered when looking at youtube.com, was of people around the world who are/were in need. Phew, you'll have to go get that one yourself. Its tough to watch!

Funny how insightful this song is... from a secular artist no less, I have no idea whether Michael Jackson lives by this anthem. But I sure need to make these words true in my life. Thanks, Mike, wherever you are.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sometimes you just hit it right


Usually, when you need a new dress, you absolutely cannot find one. Either they're out of your size, or everything cute is just too expensive, or the current styles do not fit your current body shape. It's a woman thing, guys. However, today, I defied this law. I walked into Marshall's. 10 minutes later, found 10, no kidding, 10 dresses my size that were 12.00 and under. Three of them fit perfectly. I bought two. Tonight I wanted to wear a badge of sorts that advertised my thriftyness.Perhaps a sign that said, my dress is as cute as yours but I bet mine cost less. :)

Congrats to my friend Robin Bennett and her new husband Jeremy! May God bless you in your life together. Tonight at the wedding I caught up with a few old Harding buddies, such as Katie Fant and Amy Dozier (both are married and their married names escape me right now). Both also have little babies who are super cute! Always good to see old friends.


Speaking of friends, please continue to pray for Max Julian, baby son of John and Kelly Julian. You can click the link to the right for regular updates on his condition.


Small panic

Ok, so this blog has now been updated to beta blogger but now after two days of panic that my blog was lost forever! I don't even know how, but suddenly its back! I feel really back for my new friend Roberto who I read about in the Blogger Help Group, his problem was the same as mine but mine is fixed!

Whew!

More later.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Latest with the Rays

1) Josh started graduate school! He is taking two classes at Harding Graduate School of Religion, working toward a Masters of Divinity. He has not officially finished at UofM yet. He has a senior project that has to be turned in this fall; then he'll be completely done! Since I met Josh we have been working toward his desire to be educated and trained for ministry. Now, after 5+ years of working full time and going to school full time, he is finally where he wants to be. He has been an amazing example to me of setting goals and working very, very hard to reach them. It has not been a totally smooth, easy time but I think both of us have grown through these years of his undergrad work. I am so proud of him!

2) Now about adoption. Thanks to many of you who have asked me about this since my last couple of posts. There is much to say about this. Many of our close friends have known for some time about our desire to adopt. As we discussed our desire for a family, we realized through a series of events that we both had an interest in adoption. Since then, we have been through months of praying, researching, talking to others, and becoming knowledgeable about our options. So far we have discerned that for us, the best route is to adopt internationally from Ethiopia. As you probably guessed if you watched the video from my last post, my heart has been touched forever by learning about the state of the people in Ethiopia. There are so many children out in the world and in our own city who need homes and families. We are not doing this to be heroes by any means. We want to have a family. We want to be parents. By adopting a child we can accomplish this while also giving a child a chance at a life with a family. As I read in a book recently, God has blessed each of us in order that we may bless others. I feel so blessed by the life I was given. I now hope we are going to able to bless the life of a child. I plan to post a more detailed synopsis of how we came to this decision when we are further along.

For now, I hope you will pray for us as we begin the home study process. We meet with our social worker this Friday. Also, please feel free to look at the website for the agency we are using. There are many photos posted there of the beautiful children from Ethiopia.
As for timeline? We will know more after our meeting Friday about the timeline of our homestudy. We think the entire process will take 6-12 months... so as I said there is much time to tell about the "rest" of the story. So I will give more details as we go along.

3) School is now on a roll for the teens in HYG. They are already facing so many challenges and temptations again that they were able to break from during the summer. Please join me as we pray for them to be strong in their convictions to live up to God's standards and for them to want to do right because they are motivated by God's love for them.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A link for you

Here's a little video I watched today that made me bawl. If this doesn't get you, you seriously have a hard heart. :) So, if you have nine extra minutes and a desire to feel sentimental and inspired, click here. Then click on "watch video". The topic is "Out of Africa" and its about adoption from Ethiopia.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The heat is on

Have you noticed that the whole country is so HOT this year? I am not very knowledgable about the "global warming" warnings we have been receiving since grade school, but this year I would have to say I am seeing it as a possibility. I just don't remember a summer this hot ever in Memphis. Our camp week was in the low 100s all week with not a drop of rain. Two days ago we had the first rain in a long while and it finally cooled the temps down for a day to the 80s. Wow, it was great. I am such a summer person... I love the sun, I love how it gets light so early in the morning, I love the late sundowns, I love vacations (not that I've really done a sun vacation this year) and I love the youth group in the summer. But I am actually ready for a change.

Luckily our night at the Redbirds (the Cardinals's AAA Team) game was the less hot night, in the 80s. I loved it! A few pics of the evening can be found on my flickr.com site. (click here)

On another note: I have had many of you ask questions since I mentioned adoption in a recent blog entry. I plan to be more detailed about our plans very soon. For now, visit this site for a clue. Thanks for your prayers!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Reflections on the summer

The office is quiet today. The interns are off and they have already cleaned out their offices. We have a goodbye party for them on Sunday after church. As usual, I have a mixture of emotions. I am sad to see them leave. All four have given their heart and soul to this youth ministry, and each one has had an impact on individual lives.

Just a little message for each of them:
Jess: I love your passion for teenagers. You are so gifted for this type of ministry. When you walk in a room it's instantly a "funner" place. Yet it is obvious that your relationship with Lord is what you are serious about. I cannot wait to see how God uses you in the future!
Jenna: Our mission trip to New Orleans will be a forever memory. You are one of the sweetest (I know, that's so cliche, but seriously!) people I have ever known. You have a tender compassionate heart toward all, and I know that God will lead you to the place where you can serve Him best.
Ty: It has been such a blessing to watch you with people this summer. You have a way of blessing others just by how you interact with them; with gentleness and genuine interest in them. You are fair and have not played favorites, you just loved on whoever was around you.
Matt: Again, New Orleans mission trip was a great memory. I am thankful for your desire to be serious about growing in the Lord, and I know that you connected with some teens who are also serious about it. I know you will continue this growth and I am sure God has a ministry for you regardless of your "job" in the future.

My prayer for each of you in HYG for this fall is the same as always. I pray that you will be a light to those around you. I pray that you will be confident in yourself, not because of what you have accomplished, but because God made you in his image. I pray that you will not fall to the pressures of the world, but that you will be able to stand strong and hold to what you believe. I pray that all of you will avoid the pitfalls teenagers typically face today, especially those sins the consequences of which are long lasting and so damaging. I pray you will pursue righteousness (doing right, as Cade said) at all times and you will pursue a relationship with the Lord above all else, even grades or sports or music. I pray that when you are in your schools, you will love those around you who are hurting and ignored, those who are hardest to love, and that when people see you acting this way, they will see something different in you. I pray that God will give you at least one friend this year with whom you can share you faith in a natural and authentic way. I pray that you will feel loved by your family and your church family and that you will feel a sense of community when you come to church. I pray that you will find friends who share your desire to be faithful who will remind you of Jesus when you are being pulled by the world.

Lastly, I pray one of Paul's prayers for you:
Philippians 1:9-11 (CEV)
I pray that your love will keep on growing and that you will fully know and understand how to make the right choices. Then you will still be pure and innocent when Christ returns. And until that day, Jesus Christ will keep you busy doing good deeds that bring glory and praise to God.

For all your educators out there, you are in my prayers as well.
May God bless this school year.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Cubbies and Me

So, if you've known me for very long, you know I'm not exactly an athlete or a big sports fan. However, since my marriage to Josh, I have gradually accepted the Cubs as my own. I actually know the players and a lot of what is going on with the Cubs. And I have tshirts and everything.

This weekend, Josh and I are back in Chicago to go to two Cubs games. Not just any Cubs games though, but two Cubs/Cardinals games. This is significant because so many of you readers are Cards fans. Sorry about today. (Not really.)

You may notice that our seats were amazing. Where we're standing, that's our seats. Right behind the Cubs dugout. We saw all the players close up... it was really cool. And, tomorrow, we have the exact same seats. (These were a gift, don't go thinking we must've hit it big recently to get these seats!) Tomorrow also we hope to get there early to get some autographs! I am actually excited about this. Hopefully we can Aramis Ramirez and Greg Maddux.

Just wanted to share a few photos of our day.















Me and Josh at our seats.
















The team coming off the field - that green plastic thing behind him in the dugout
















You will appreciate this shot... Josh picking someone else's plastic Cubs cup!!! Don't worry, he wanted more but the others had been picked up already by other males! (If you don't understand this, read my previous post on this very controversial subject.)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Random thoughts

Ok, so this is so random, but I have been wondering lately, where is the internet stored? I know, sounds ridiculous but I really want to know. I mean, for example, this blog. Where is it? Where is all this data stored? I have lots of pictures and text and I can access it from anywhere.
And, like on Gmail. They say I have used like 6% of my storage. Where exactly is all that 6% much less the 93% more I am allowed to keep wherever they keep it.

Weird.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Birthdays and Weddings

For some reason, all day I have been thinking about one thing, or actually one number.

29.

Why it seems so old to me I don't know. They say the average age at time of death is 76 years old in the United States so its not like I'm almost over the hill or anything. But for the first time, my upcoming 29th birthday is kind of depressing. Anyone else have this feeling at 29? Its ridiculous, and I'll get over it, but tonight I am dreading having to say that I am 29 instead of 28. This too shall pass.

Random - I went to the site http://www.famousbirthdays.com/ and the only semi-cool person I knew in the list of famous people who share my birthday was our 6th President, John Quincy Adams. If only I was born on the 12th - Bill Cosby, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Richard Simmons are all on that day. But, at least I'm not born on the 10th (Jessica Simpson).

Tonight my parents and my cousins, Macy and Mackenzie who live with my parents in the summers, took me out to dinner for my birthday. It was really great, and they gave me several wonderful gifts and among them some money to put toward our adoption. It was a great night. :)


















Also tomorrow I am going to look at wedding dresses with my sister-in-law, Jessica, at Low's Bridal in Brinkley, AR. I love Low's and have visited at least 20 times over my bridesmaiding history. It should be really fun. Many of my readers here probably got their wedding dresses from there (I did!). Bringing back memories of asking your salesperson to get you a different slip so you can take a quick picture of your friend in the dress while she's gone!!! (Karie Stewart Green is the queen of this!) I might have to pull out the old tricks!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Les Miserables



Last night the Bennett-Ray fam went to see Les Miserables. This is my dad's favorite thing in the world so he treated all 10 of us! What a great musical. I had forgotten how amazing it is. This Jean Valjean was so unbelievable. The story is so gripping too. It was really fun because my sister Emily and Jarrod, her husband, got to come over from Arkansas, and Josh's sister and her new fiance Grant Dasher came too. Thanks Dad for the tickets! (Sorry we were late. Oops.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Generation Gap = Varying Levels of Internet Savviness

Tonight I joined Facebook. I know, half of you are like "what's Facebook"? If you said that, you're probably over 25. The other half of you, is like, "how can you not know what Facebook is?" Well, keep reading.

I have a unique situation in my job - I am around a lot of people younger than me and so I get a glimpse into what they're into. And, I have friends my own age, so I know what they're into. So I decided to do a little rundown of what each generation uses so everyone will understand each other better and we'll all be more wellrounded. Basically, the internet communication of which people use really depends on one's age. Now, of course I am generalizing, but I think you'll agree once you've read through. I am totally fascinated by this.

Level 1
Myspace.com - This is the level most used by the teens in HYG, at least those whose parents allow it, because you can access some very raunchy material here posted by others of their generation. (And sadly probably older predators as well.)Mostly this is a webpage about oneself, and has a list of one's friends and pictures, etc., and often has a fancy background or music that has been personalized. Up till now I have had a login name but never really developed my page. This is so I can get on the teenager's myspace and look at the pictures/comments. Kind of a peek into their everyday life. Rarely do I ever hear someone my age even mention Myspace. P.S., if you're in HYG, I've probably looked at your myspace, so if you have anything "objectionable" I've seen it.

Level 2
Facebook.com - This is a very popular level with college students and teenagers alike. Though it was started for those in college to be able to have a "page" on which other students could comment to each other and meet people from their school. Everyone has to register from a school email address and then you are a part of that school's section on Facebook. Also lots of pictures here and lists of friends. Tonight I decided to join Facebook. This was possible because I have an email address with Harding since I am a grad student. I decided that this will be a good way to talk to the teens and all my sister's and sister-in-law's friends, or the Highland interns after they're gone back to school, because they LOVE Facebook too. Pretty much anyone I know who is in college Facebooks, as they say. If you graduated college before 2002, I don't think Facebook was even around for us. That's why we are clueless.

Level 3
Blogger.com, typepad, etc. - Blogging is something I got into through some of my younger friends, primarily Jesse and Leslie who are a few years younger than me. Some people who blog also have a Facebook, I find. However this is the level in which many of peers reside. Recently, my same-age friends (generally late 20's moms with a baby or a couple of toddlers) are really into blogs. Many of you reading will be said people. I also love blogging even though I am not a mom and have no toddlers. Of course, this a common place not only to share thoughts but also pictures of all newest accomplishments and events of our families. Very convenient for our parents' (I mean, the grandparents of the kids) generation to go a website and look. (Of course very few parents have a blog themselves, however, another generation gap issue.) It cracks me up, because we (I mean my same-age people) are so much less savvy than the current college kids... Everytime one of us starts a blog (I did it too) we email all our friends asking "How do I put the links to my friends' blogs on there" or "How do I put the Flickr thing on mine?" Admit it, you probably did this. Say it! Seriously, you should see how amazingly complex and creative some of the myspace and Facebook pages are. They put us to shame.

Level 4
Email only - Though its been around a long time, some still haven't discovered it yet. Most people though have an email address. This level has become so far reaching, that many, including my 85 year old Grandmother, use email every day and check it throughout the day. This thought really blows my mind. When I was at Harding University, my freshman year, they started having email. Jean Bostic and I would go into the computer labs (because of course no one had computers much less internet in their rooms) and email to other people who were either in the lab with us or just across campus at another lab. Hilarious... how far we've come. So much of my work is done via email and I work on a fairly small staff of a church. Most of my communique with church members and my friends is by email.

Level 5
AOL. Enough said.

Basically I have learned to communicate through all these venues to all those I know and love. This doesn't even begin to touch on the other major communication tool used by this generation - cellphones! (Text messaging is another thing my peers are not really into, but all those under the age of 25 are pretty much used to it.) Who knows what will be next? Preschool Facebook? Myspace for hospital nurseries? Amazing how small the world can become with all this. I know for me, the blog has been such a fun way to reconnect with old friends, better than email has been for sure. Hopefully it will continue after people read this long explanatory blog - they may not return!

If you have not heard of any of the above, please comment! I'd love to know if my suspicions are right!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pictures from New Orleans

Read my post below before looking at these pictures. They will make more sense.

These are pictures from the first house we gutted (Mike's)





















These are from the Ninth Ward, the hardest hit area. The levee was only a few hundred feet away from us here.






Katrina today

I have been meaning to post about our trip, but I haven't had a minute to think about it. To sum it up, the trip was amazing. The things we saw were really unbelievable. You would think that the hurricane happened a few weeks ago rather than 10 months ago. Some areas are still untouched other than the big spraypainted "x"s on the houses. I really felt like I was on a movie set. Our group worked in St Bernard Parish, where the houses were under water with the tips of the roofs showing. I was just looking at some of MSNBC's stuff about this area just to see what it looked like at the time. Here's a link to some pics of St. Bernard Parish before the waters subsided.

We were tasked to "gut" two houses. At the first house we met Mike, a 43 year old lifetime military man, who is married and has two elementary aged kids. He and his family have relocated across the Lake (Pontchartrain, that is) for now, but would like to rebuild if possible. The government has told the homeowners they must gut their house (take out all the piles and piles of stuff and drywall, insulation, etc. and get it cleaned out down the studs) or their house will be bulldozed by August. Those who want to try to save their house must gut it. This is not an easy task. These house had hardly been touched for all these months. You cannot imagine what they looked like. Its unbelievable. I have a few pics I'll attach of what I saw.

And the neighborhoods are like ghost towns. In St Bernard, there were a few gas stations open and even fewer restaurants open, many of those operating as a stand in front of where their restaurant once was. Even the Walmart doesn't look like it will be reopening. Its questionable whether the area will come back to life, even though there are signs posted everywhere that say "St Bernard is coming back".

Back to Mike. Mike, a strong Catholic, told us that when the hurricane hit, his family was safe in another state, but he left just before with only a lifejacket and his crucifix. Prior to the hurricane he was just living his life, trying to pay off his house and almost had, trying to be a good dad, husband, citizen, and officer -- "living the American dream" as he said it. Now, Mike told us, he is in debt up to his eyeballs and he has been working like crazy to provide a new life for his family. Mike is thankful for his life, and that his family and loved ones survived. He was so grateful for our help. He said, "I am not used to others helping me, I am always the one helping people." He worked all day with us and then before he left, he lined us up and shook each of our 23 hands, looked us in the eye, and said "Thank you". What a moment that was. It was obviously very humbling for him. All of us were affected by that moment and won't soon forget it. Tears welled up in several of our eyes.

In our second house, a man named Ray had lived for over 30 years. He was a collector by trade and by hobby. He lost 100s of 1000s of dollars when his collectors' store was looted after Katrina. At home, each room was filled to the top with all kinds of things he had collected over the years: coins, baseball cards, other sports cards, postcards, books. Many of these were very valuable. As the baseball cards were uncovered during the gutting, several of us started looking through the cards. I don't konw much about this, but Ray told us, and others in our group confirmed, that many of the cards he had were worth thousands of dollars. They were in glass frames, some of them were signed or rookie cards. There is no telling how much value there was in his card collection alone. But not anymore. Everything in the houses is covered with a mud, they call it "muck", that was left after the waters subsided. All of those cards were just throw into the heap with the rest of the trash.

All in all, I think the biggest lesson I took away from the experience can be summed up in Matthew 6:19-21. I like how the Message paraphrases it:

"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being."

What an amazing lesson. And then now I'm back and here I go to Target or wherever else I shop, and I think, I really need this ____________________ (insert anything unnecessary or frivilous that often finds its way into my cart). I should get _________! It will make my life complete! --And I buy into the lie.

Possessions are temporary. Stuff doesn't matter. Our faith matters. Loving people like God does matters. Living a life that has meaning matters. Today I pray for all of us that we will put our "treasure" in these things.
And I pray for all the people who are still in so much need in New Orleans. See this website for more stories and ways you can help.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Not really an outdoors kind of girl


For those of you who know me, you are probably aware that I am not that much of an outdoorsy type person. I have never been very good at sports (ok, I'm terrible), and my family didn't do a lot of camping or hiking, etc. But, as I have been involved in youth ministry for the past 10 years, I have done a lot more of that kind of thing. I have learned to enjoy camping out, being outside, and even playing ball and laughing at myself. Recently, I decided I wanted to buy some Chacos, because I think they will be great to wear on trips, you can get them wet, they are really comfortable, etc.
So yesterday I went inside a place I hardly ever go... an outdoors store. I am sure the very granola girl who helped me was laughing inside at me - I had on blue and white seersucker shorts from Old Navy and a white tank top with silver adornments, and silver sandals. I love shopping but this was definitely out of my element. Anyway, there were some Chacos on sale so I did it. At the checkout stand she tells me that these cannot be returned except for store credit. So I really hope I like them because I can't think of much else I could find for myself at that store. So far so good.
Even though the $65 (this is the sale price) really hurt, I am hoping it will one of those purchases that I am glad went ahead and got the real thing instead of the fakes. Kinda like my Seven jeans.
On a serious note, this weekend Josh and I are going on a mission trip with the teens to New Orleans. We have 18 kids and 5 adults going. I am excited about the trip and I know that God is going to really stretch us all physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Hope to have a lot of pics to share. Please keep us in your prayers over the next week.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Summer is underway


Summer is underway, and by that, I mean that I have been at my house for less than 5 waking hours in the last 4 days. And I don't expect that to change this week since it's the week of Memphis Workcamp. One of my favorite times of year, of course, but I am already exhausted.
Sunday the youth group kicked off the summer with full day of activities. We are using a theme that echoes the famous iPod commercials. See the picture of how we decorated the lobby of our church to advertise. We also handed out these cool backpacks to all the teens with awesome coupons inside. Now we're in the middle of Memphis Workcamp, a week of 400 teens serving in the more rundown neighborhoods of Memphis fixing up houses and trying to love people as Jesus did (and does).
Not much time to write this week but I'll try to update with some pics and stories from Workcamp!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Last Huddle of the year


Last Sunday, my Huddle - our small group of 10th grade girls that meets on Sunday morning - went out to lunch as our last huddle meeting of the year. We went to Lonnie Tant's Italia Pizza Cafe in Olive Branch. One of the girls' parents own the place. We ate a huge pizza and went around and told our "pow-wow"s of the school year. They all have great hearts and are seeking after God. I love them all! Thanks for a great year, girls!


Visit this restaurant! You'll love it!
[ Yahoo! Maps ]
Map of
1306 Goodman Rd E
Southaven, MS 38671-9514

Monday, May 22, 2006

The best blog ever

There is no possible way I can top my last post. I have actually been delaying to see how long I could let the last post go and the comments keep on coming. The comments have ceased, so I decided it was time to address my readers.

I just want to say that this post has so far surpassed my expectations! I had no idea so many of you would relate or disagree with my plastic cups issues. I hit a nerve with some of you, and I thank you for sharing this with the world.

Stay tuned for (hopefully) more of these stimulating and world changing posts.
Your dutiful blogger,
Brooke

Monday, May 08, 2006

Plastic cups phenomenon


What is the deal with guys and plastic cups? My husband only wants to drink out of old plastic cups that he obtained at various sports stadiums. Even if he is not a fan of said team, he still wants to bring home as many of them as possible to fill up the shelves of my kitchen cabinets. I on the other hand would prefer to drink out of one of the normal sized glasses that one of our loved ones purchased for us off our wedding registry. Chalk another one up to the Mars/Venus analogy.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Life in the military

Have I mentioned all the discounts you get with the military ID? Just in case anyone's wondering, there are tons! I just whip out the ID at, say, Quizno's and BAM! that's 10% off. 55 cents in my pocket. In addition to many fast food restaurants that offer a discount, you also get a discount at places like Blockbuster and Apple computers, Jiffy Lube and Bath and Body Works. I'm brand new to this military thing so this is fascinating to me. This weekend is Josh's first "drill weekend" - which just means he goes over to the base and does something? for Saturday and Sunday. He will also find out what kind of unit he is assigned to. I am hoping its one that would never be needed in Iraq, selfishly. :) Of course you never know, and he did sign up to be a Reservist.

As for me I am gearing up for the busiest time of year, the summer. Just this weekend I have a full Saturday and Sunday of youth activities. And more to come...I did get to see my grandmother this weekend and it was so good to see her. Can you believe she is almost 85? I hope I inherit some of her good genes.



Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Another wedding...check















The Bride and Groom















The Bridesmaids




















Me and the Bride
















Jarrod, Emily (my sister), me, Josh, Jessica (Josh's sister), and Grant


At the forefront of my mind as I went through the spring of 2006 was that I was going to be in two weddings (Jesse M. Faris was the first on March 11). See my post on March 11. It sort of shaped the weeks and months of the spring as showers and parties, fittings and shoe searching filled my time. I was honored to be a part of these two events. Some people have asked me during this time how many weddings I have been in. I think the total is around 11. All have been different but so fun. It is such a blessing to be a part of them.

A couple of notes about this one.
1 - Great party. The Peabody rooftop. Two great bands. (Including jetpack. It was good to see my old friend Sean there, whom I haven't seen in years.)
2 - Leslie was a mere teen when we became friends. (We are almost 7 years apart.) One thing I love about her is that she loves language. She complied the longest list of cliches ever when she was a teenager and tried to use them in sentences. Which made me laugh out loud every time.
3 - One really neat thing about Leslie's wedding was meeting her friends from Texas. It was great to see that she was exactly the same way with them that she is here in Memphis. They know and love the same Leslie. I like authenticity like that.
4 - They are totally in love. Ok, that is like other weddings I've been around, but it always heartwarming to see.

Congrats Leslie and Jonathan. Great job getting married.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I can't resist

Many of you know that I am an extreme Alias fan. Even though the last couple of seasons have not been the strongest, I am eager to see how they will wrap up this complex story/romance/mystery they have created. If you haven't seen the promo on ABC, here you go.



Small tear, coming to my eye.

Thanks Tesney for being willing to attempt my previous question. I am still chewing on it, maybe I'll have more to write after the weekend.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Difficult question, no easy answer

A friend of mine asked me today, "Why are you a Christian?" This startled me somewhat, and I thought I had an answer ready. I said that I believe its evident that there is a God by the complexity of creation. She told me she believed there is a "god" too, but why do I believe I have the right God. As in the God of the Bible, whose son was Jesus. Here I had to pause.

I know I believe that Jesus lived a life I'd like to emulate. I know his claims were unique in that he wasn't seeking personal power but in fact quite the opposite, as evidenced by his death on the cross. I believe he was really here on earth and that there is much evidence that what is recorded in the Bible about him is true. I know that the long lasting tradition of the acceptance of the Bible as truth for thousands of years makes me want to follow its teachings. But why do I know Jesus is my Savior, the one to worship, the one to whom I commit my life?

I must confess this question stunned me and I asked her to give me a day or two. So I'd like to pose the same question to you.

Why are you a Christian? If you are, that is.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Pics from Chicago for those who care to look

Near the Museums - great picture if that random person wasn't in it!












Josh and his favorite thing... Chicago-style pizza at Giordanos. It is ridiculously thick.












The view from our hotel window.















Outside our hotel.