Friday, May 30, 2014

Forgotten Phones and Good Ideas

I thought I dropped my cell phone into my bag before I left yesterday morning. Around lunch time, I'd searched well enough (you can lose your soul in that bag) to realize I didn't have my phone. And I didn't have time to run home and get it.
Worry, worry, wonder, worry. "Will an emergency happen?" "What if something happens with work and something is cancelled?" "What if someone needs to get a hold of me?" "What time is it anyways?" (Because I use my phone as a clock as well).
And to think, until 2007, that was how I lived my life. Without a phone. How have I become so conditioned? Why does everyone have to be able to reach me at all times? Yes, it is nice. It helps plans go off smoother. And yes, I am addicted to the added measure of control it brings to my life. Good gracious.
Since I didn't have a phone, and I did have books, I spent more time reading. I randomly found a book at the library and cracked it open. It was called "10 Days Without" by Daniel Day. He grasped on to the idea of going without something to raise awareness and focus on a specific need. So he went 10 days without shoes for those who have none. Another 10 without furniture (no bed) for poverty. No speech for modern slavery. No waste for the environment. No legs for those who are disabled.
I love this! I've done my share of "No ______ for ______" just to try it out (just rice and beans for a month, living in poverty for a month, fasting Ramadan for a month, living on $2 a day for a month...) and I a challenge/new project. Next Saturday is the Trek for Transportation--I want to do something more--No shoes for a week (it was that or no vehicle--but I still have to work, and need to transport my clients around all week. They might not like my bicycle).
No shoes to represent my brothers and sisters who often don't have shoes and their feet are their only/main source of transportation. No shoes to begin conversations about what it is like and why I am being crazy. No shoes for a constant reminder to me of something I want to focus on more--while I am in the USA. It is easy to forget.
And I am already starting to count the jogging next week--ouch! I hope they let me in the gym. Going to a friend's house should be fine--they will understand. Church? well, I am talking about the Trek and teaching Sunday school, so the kids will enjoy it. Work? Everyone else has their interesting quirks...
Truth is, I don't like thinking about Brazil all the time. Because it hurts. Because I miss it. Because I wish I was there. And being here is wonderful and I love it, but it is hard to constantly drag up knowing I am not there. And that is my job--my self-imposed, non-paying job--to represent Living Stones and Brazil to others. I can't live with or without it. It is an interesting road to walk. Barefoot.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Books I've Been Reading

Caid and Rachel reading:
Divergent, Insurgent, and now Allegiant by Veronica Roth (they are fun read aloud together books)

Rachel fun reading:
Anything by Shannon Hale (Caid calls them 'girly books,' I call them fairy tales)

To be a better teacher:
Brain Rules by John Medina (so fun!!)
Visible Learning for Teachers by John Hattie (amazing information--harder to read though)
Addicted to Camp by Chicka Elloy (someone I am proud to call my friend, with wise things to say)

What I am passionate about:
Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (BEST BOOK I READ IN 2013!)
The Locust Effect by Gary Haugen (He works with International Justice Mission, and is bringing out the truth that without ending violence and providing protection/safety to the poor, we will never end poverty)

Lastly, I am reading Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton. I am going to a conference about holistic ministry soon, and Lindsay Turner (co-worker in Brazil) suggested this book. I couldn't put it down. I was excited about learning new things, and scared of what needs to change--because even with all my good intentions, I've personally seen my charity turn toxic. EVERYONE IN MINISTRY NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK!

My notes from Toxic Charity:

“As compassionate people, we have been evaluating our charity by the rewards we receive through service, rather than the benefits received by the served. When relief does not transition to development in a timely way, compassion becomes toxic.”

Oath for Compassionate Service:
Never do for the poor what they have or could have the capacity to do for themselves
Limit one way giving to emergency situations
Strive to empower the poor through employment, lending, and investing, using grants sparingly to reinforce achievements
Subordinate self-interests to the needs of those being served
Listen closely to those you seek to help, especially to what is not being said—unspoken feelings may contain essential clues to effective service
Above all, do no harm

“Giving is no simple matter, not if giving is to be ultimately redemptive. Doing for rather than doing with those in need is the norm. Add to it the combination of patronizing pity and unintended superiority, and charity becomes toxic.”

 “The Bible places equal emphasis on both mercy and justice. Twinned together, these commands lead us to holistic involvement. Mercy without justice degenerates into dependency and entitlement, preserving the power of the giver over the recipient. Justice without mercy is cold and impersonal, more concerned about rights than relationships. Combined it creates
Immediate care with a future plan
Emergency relief and responsible development
Short-term intervention an long term involvement
Heart responses and engaged minds

Effectiveness questions to ask about the ministries you invest in:
Are recipients assuming greater levels of control over their own lives or do they show up, year after year, with their hands out?
Is leadership emerging among the served?
Are their aspirations on the rise?
Is there a positive trajectory?

 “John McKnight’s extensive research concludes that services rarely empower the poor because 1. They divert money away from the poor people to service providers, 2. Programs are based on deficiencies rather than capacities, and 3. Services displace the ability of people’s organizations to solve problems.”

(Spoken by a recipient of charity) “Blacks know a lot more about whites than whites know about blacks—that’s survival. Trying to get rich white folk to change their deep-seated views by putting on a one or two hour sensitivity class isn’t going to change anyone. That kind of change takes years of close relationships. No, it is better just to let the neighborhood to do the inviting, and maybe talk together about the cost of accepting charity from good people who aren’t aware of how insulting they can be. If neighbors agree that the price is worth the help, then they’ll welcome the volunteers and let honest friendships develop naturally over time if they’re going to.”

Six Months Married

I still roll over in the middle of the night, put my head on his chest, and wonder,“Who is he?” 
I still look up and see him looking at me and think, “What is us?” 
I don’t know if that ever will go away. I hope it doesn’t.
Growth and discovery should never end.
When do you ever truly know a soul?

Our patience wears thin quickly with his knee sprain. Our major accomplishment this month has been getting through all this knee stuff. We have found that I am a good nurse for short periods. Unfortunately, this is a long period. All the questions: What does this mean for us? What expenses? How do we get through this? Day-by-day, without yelling when I have to run to get another ice pack from the freezer. When he can’t get into a comfortable position. When we have to cancel some more plans.

And enjoy the moments. Pausing more to just lay there together. Stopping to talk and share and re-evaluate. Caid asked me how he could live this intentionally when NOT in an emergency crisis. I don’t know. But good to learn. And learning how to be grateful for the opportunity. 
And an amazing interlude to knee issues in California: California, part 1 and California, part 2, and then came back to find out Caid needed surgery. The actual surgery was on our 6 month anniversary, hence this post is late. 
The surgery went well--he had to have a partial meniscectomy, and was a cute goofy out of anesthesia, but it went well. Day two was the painful one, coming off the medication, but it seems to be balancing out now. We will see the doctor in two weeks, and he may be able to drive/return to work soon after that. The scary part is, recovery is different for each person, and so it is unknown if Caid will regain full use/ability in his knee. But he has everything he needs to heal well and quickly. 
I was able to run the Mini, and my friend went in Caid's place, with Caid waiting at the end--making it a wonderful experience and a check off my bucket list. I am also so thrilled to be learning and stepping outside my comfort zone with Caid at Supercamp
(Celebrating 6 months in Disneyland)

We feel more settled. We knew we could make it through anything, and now we are walking through those "anythings," the "sickness" in "sickness and health." And it is still filled with sweet moments. Amid the insurance scare and Caid not being able to work, with the generosity of so many we love (I am still writing thank you notes from our March weddings), we have been able to pay off over half of our student loans. Amazing! 
We are also looking ahead and seeing what God is preparing us for in the future. Check our out vision video, and pass it on: 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Mini

Check one more thing off my bucket list: Rachel ran her mini.
Caid and I decided to make it happen this year, and pay the nonrefundable bucks (a lot of bucks for poor newlyweds) to run the Indy 500 mini (the largest one in the nation--yeah!). We made sure to start running longer and at least 4 times a week. And then Caid hurt his knee. And then I realized longer runs were supposed to be longer than 30 minutes (5k). Opps.
But that NONREFUNDABLE kept glaring at me. So I asked a friend to join me as "Caid," and went for some longer outdoor runs once the snow stopped (by some, I mean two). We came back from California Friday evening, and the race was Saturday morning--5am California time. I decided that walking Disneyland counted as training.
But Carina was amazing, and the weather wasn't too cold, and having thousands and thousands of people around you is an amazing feeling (I will add that I also felt better after seeing some of the other racers who were less prepared than myself--but that one old man KILLED it!). The music was pumping from speakers everywhere and I felt proud of my Indianapolis--we rock. 
We were in the last wave, letter "W," and the bagpipe players played us off the starting line. Carina and I gave each other high fives and yelled "Come on 3 hours!" as our goal. Every quarter mile or so there was either a band, someone singing, someone with signs, or someone cheering us on. It was like the world was on Supercamp fire, and I lapped it up. 
Mile 6 saw us entering the Speedway, which is pretty cool, because everyone in Brazil only knows my town by "Indy 500." Now I get to brag that I've actually been there (first time). By mile 9 we were talking about boys and relationships, and when we got to mile 10 and the Clif break, I was grossed out to find it was Clif shots instead of a Clif bar...what? GROSS--runners eat that gummy sugar goo? 
Mile 11 saw cramps and blisters. I was sure I had at least six, but currently only one shows, and it is on my fourth toe, left foot. Mile 12 and 13 were challenges, but Carina and I knew that if we could do this--anyone could--gotta prove that. Finish line, people yelling "Go random stranger Go!" and then lots of free snacks. Exhausted plopping down under a tree. And, of course, the final selfie. 
And guess what? First mini? 2 hours and 39 minutes. Pretty darn good. 

Supercamp 2014

It always feels good when what you learn only confirms what you've already been learning. I spent 31 years learning to live an intentional single life. And I got pretty good at it. And then I got married and some of that learning had to change. There are some deep differences about sharing your life with someone else, and I have been working toward intentionality in building a beautiful life together.
Supercamp is also about being intentional: about knowing yourself/your craft so well that you can make every word/teaching intentional and powerful. It helps you be aware of every movement, inflection, every choice of word and order. But the purpose of this knowledge and awareness isn't to become the best--it is to be able to reach the listener, and to be able to spark something inside of them, being fully present.
Training (this one was called "Know It By Heart") always pushes me out of my comfort zone, and I never remember to enjoy that until afterwards. Camp, with the kids, is my zone: but training, with peers, is red zone. I haven't been pushed in awhile, because good "pushing" is also an art form. Supercamp does this through feedback.
The kind of feedback Supercamp gives has been honed into an exponential growth skill, helping you focus in on small aspects of how you teach/facilitate/present and make them better. As I was being coached through this, I jotted down these thoughts:
"Those who are great at what they do nit pick their craft (in practice) so each piece is perfect for the picture to be seen as a whole (in rehearsal), to be present and purposeful for that one listener (in presentation)." Being intentional is such hard work.
When I first started working for Supercamp in 2010, they asked me WHY I wanted to work for them. As I spoke the words, I realized they were true: "Because I work with kids that often times won't get any other chance to hear the words they need to hear, and I might only get one chance to say them. And you can teach me how to do that the best and most powerful way possible."
So excited to facilitate at the University of South Florida this summer...with these amazing people:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Stages of Waiting

1. Getting the Call
Caid called me, saying he was on his way to the emergency room. He had injured his knee wrestling in high school, but it had healed. Then, early April he was playing basketball and felt something happen--so took it easy. He didn't realize that he had torn (reinjured or injured worse) his meniscus. Then, while walking on April 11, he stretched and tore his meniscus...part of it (from the MRI) looks like it is running around lose in there. But we didn't know any of that then. We just knew it hurt and he couldn't walk.
2. Waiting for the Specialist
We settled into the routine of icing 15 minutes every hour and elevating his leg. He had a huge brace and we took over my parent's room, since our rooms are downstairs, and stairs are out of the question.
3. Waiting for the MRI
The specialist is a nice guy who told us it is either the MCL or the meniscus--and we won't know anything until there is an MRI. But, he says, lose the large brace, and yes, you can still go to California.
4. California Break
I pushed Caid in a wheelchair through the airport and we were able to sit together since we had pre-boarding. We had Supercamp training and it meant the world to me to see everyone caring for Caid--grabbing him a chair here, bringing an ice pack there, and scolding him for dancing always. After the first day he stopped using the crutches, and was able to participate in almost everything (the run-around town scavenger hunt was tricky). We then had time with family, visited Mexico, and met Micky Mouse--such a blessing.

5. Waiting to read the MRI
We prayed much and crossed our fingers for the best, but now discovered that it was the meniscus, and it needs surgery. They will either 1. repair it by holding it in place with hook-things , or 2. remove part of it (meniscectomy). They don't know which until they see it with the arthroscopes during surgery. It is outpatient surgery that should take an hour or less. If repaired, there will be about 6 weeks healing/rehabilitation, and then exercises after that, but within the year he should have a complete recovery. If removed, he can walk/drive in a couple weeks, but it takes a couple months to walk smoothly, and there are permanent effects/limitations.

  • Please pray for the surgery at noon on Friday, May 9 (our 6 month anniversary) 
  • Please pray for insurance issues
  • Please pray for Caid, as being immobile is difficult for him, and the idea of permanent damage/limitation is horrible
  • Please pray for Rachel as she gets used to doing things for two people