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Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

summer school

In Uncategorized on June 25, 2009 at 7:30 am

so I have been a little over my head in school work these past two weeks. I suppose that is what happens when you forget every weekend that you have school work to do. I was also held up a little this week because I had to do some training for my job! I will be subbing in a pre-school this summer. I went in Monday morning to get acquainted with the kids I will have next week.

Back to the school work I am doing a policy analysis on the Welfare Reform Restoration Act of 2009. Basically a republican representative from Georgia is pissed that the Stimulus bill dared to make $5 billion dollars availiable on an emergency basis to states for their increased spending on welfare. I am following his bill that will most likely go nowhere, and studying the history of welfare reform since the Clinton era through the good ol’ Bush years until now with the passing of this Emergency Contingency Fund. It has been really interesting and I have appreciated all the research I am coming across. I chose this topic specifically because I will be working with people on welfare here in VA next year. So yeah. Probably boring to a lot people but the kind of things that stir me up.

I have lots of updating to do when this school work is done on the DR, DC, our garden and life in general.

Until then I hope you all have an amazing day. May we remember the poor the way God does. May we pray for them and learn to live in community with them. May we fight for justice for them that does not simply sustain them in their poverty but eliminates the causes of their poverty.

Forgive us Father…

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2009 at 10:28 am

for clearly we do not know what we are doing….

Every year the US government provides $16.5 Billion dollars to states to fund the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families or TANF. This is the closest thing we have in the US to welfare. It provides the most disadvantaged families with either subsidized work, emergency cash assistance, subsidized child care, job training, cash assistance, or some combination of these services and other more specialized services. Politicians and citizens alike complain about these people being lazy. They complain that they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Sadly that is extremely hard to do that on welfare. So the next time you here someone talk about how these people are getting a free ride…inform them that in VA that free ride for a family of three is $429 dollars a month. Try finding just one person who can survive on that for a month. Either way $16.5 billion for the millions of people in the US who live in poverty…many in extreme poverty.

Meanwhile last week Congress passed a war spending bill of $106 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Priorities.

Death over life.

Greed over generosity.

Fear over faith.

The sword over the cross.

“Any nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense (or outright aggression) than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom”. – MLK

We are there and Father we need your help and forgiveness for we do not know what we are doing.

In the summertime…a feeling in the air

In Uncategorized on June 16, 2009 at 3:37 pm

Ohh how I love summertime. This summer is certainly stacking up to be my most enjoyed summer thus far. In the midst of all the great things going on is the fact that I am experiencing all these great things with Phillip, which just makes it all infinitely better. Some of the highlights so far:

– Growing a garden. We love our garden. It is possibly one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I’ll post pictures soon to show how our children are growing.

– Travelling to the Dominican Republic and Washington DC for classes. I feel so blessed to have been able to go and learn from the people I met. God definitely used the time to shape, define, and expand the dreams in my heart about what I feel called to do. He/she also used it as a time to remind me that he/she will always take care of me…even when I am laying in a room without electricity, all by myself minus the tarantulas, sick as can be.

– Cooking. I have really felt that this summer is about taking time to recharge with Phillip and invest in serving him. Cooking is something that blesses both of us. It is cathartic for me and I know it means a lot when I work to create something good for Phillip. He cooks a lot when I am in school, so this is my way of saying thanks. I also just love the act of cooking. I love that it requires imagination. I love the way it fits perfectly with the evening news on NPR. So far this summer we have tried out a homemade zucchini cream over pasta and roasted asparagus, homemade spicy fries, black and pinto bean quesadillas, squash and white onion sandwiches, and tonight it is on to sesame and soy tofu and broccoli.

– Reading. Ohhh the glory of finishing books. I read Quisqueya la Bella and In the Time of the Butterflies for the Dominican Republic. The first chronicles the history of the Dominican Republic from before the time the infamous jerk, Columbus arrived, until the present. The second is about the Mirabel sisters and their fight against the thirty year dictatorship of Trujillo. I am still reading Why the Cocks Fight for that class, which focuses on the history of relations between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. I am reading The Audacity of Hope for the DC course. I finally finished Christians at the Border, which was a great read on how the church should approach immigration. I am almost finished with The Politics of Jesus, which I have been reading for far too long…but is an important read for people wanting to understand God’s call to take up our crosses and follow Jesus into a life of serving in a way that goes against the wisdom of this world. I read Jesus Wants to Save the Christians the other morning and was incredibly refreshed and challenged by it. It was great. Read it.  I am also about half way through Vegetarianism: A Way of Life. Phillip and I got it off the community bookshelf in Ellwoods Coffee. I think I’m going to give up seafood. To conclude I’m reading a book called Boundaries. It is really insightful and I am learning a lot. It is revealing dysfunctional behaviors that are not always fun to deal with…but deal with them I must. So that’s that. I’ll be updating on the reading. I am calling this my summer of reading and I have so many friends waiting for me on the bookshelf. I cannot wait.

– Patios. Apparently summertime in the city is all about the patio. Even Ipanama got one. All I can say is the more the better. Now Phillip and I can have the choice to eat vegan, Thai, Mexican, or vegetarian inside or out. I’m just pulling for these options to expand to my Ethiopian, Moroccan, Chinese, and Italian restaurant friends.

– Having friends over. You know who you are and we have loved having you. There is just something so wonderful about friends. So far ice cream cones have been enjoyed, mancala has been played, and harry potter has been watched. Does it get any better. So if you aren’t doing anything at some point give us a call. Our front porch has the perfect spot for your butt.

– Freedom from school work…well not completely. I have just become good at telling myself I have no school work to do. Either way it is less than the normal load.

– More time to spend with Jesus. He/she is the one that creates all the wonderful things that I have been enjoying so far this summer. However having more time to set aside to spend with God is such a blessing and a need. It becomes so easy for me to “handle things on my own” and the fruits of that are never good. While I have these school breaks I am relishing that they give me the opportunity to have retreats with my Maker.

I hope you all have a wonderful summer day.

I’m amazed

In Uncategorized on June 11, 2009 at 1:50 pm

that people still think that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is about homosexuality…and use it in their rants about how Christians in America need to be really scared for the fire and brimstone consequences of our acceptance of people who are homosexuals. First, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is not about God punishing people for their homosexuality. It is about God punishing a people who were known for their gross lack of hospitality to strangers…Kindness and love of “strangers” and the “foreigner” are part of the very heart of God. It is who he/she is. Throughout the Old Testament God put down guidelines about how his/her people were to be set apart. Those things which were to make them look different so that the whole world would take notice and turn to God. Kindness and hospitality were such a huge part of God’s guidelines. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah were given the chance to welcome Lot’s visitors. When they did not God had had enough and destroyed them.

Second,  I do not believe that the church in America, for the most part, has accepted homosexuals. We are known more for our hate and intolerance than our love. Sad. I do agree that Christians in America have reason to fear God’s judgement. I believe though that it has a lot more to do with our lack of love put into action for a world in need…and our seduction by this empire we reside in. If we were really following the way of Christ here then a lot more of us would be getting executed or disappearing to Guantanamo Bay.

May God give us the courage to stand true in the midst of the empire. May we live out our calling to live counter to the culture. To live lives set apart to the only true God. To be willing to follow our God to the cross because of how much we love people.

the kindness of strangers…yet strangers no more

In Uncategorized on June 4, 2009 at 10:06 pm

It is about 10:30 at night. Right now I am sitting on a small single bed, typing and listening to the rain fall outside. Beside me on the floor is the suitcase that I have been living out of for going on three weeks. Across the room is a picture of a girl I have never met. Her name is Elizabeth, and it is her bed I am sleeping in.

I came to DC this week to take a class on public policy and advocacy. While I have learned a lot in the class, I have learned a lot more about kindness and generosity. On Sunday night after class I asked the women, none of whom I knew, if someone could give me a ride to the metro. One woman, Ann, told me she could. Ann did not take me to the metro though; she drove me all the way to my hotel. Looking back I am so thankful because I was actually confused about my metro stop and would have wound up lost in a not so good part of town. I was also sick at the time, which would have added to my misery. So I get to my hotel…and it is the first Comfort Inn I have stayed in that has a bullet proof window lining the reception desk. Needless to say this did not make me feel more at home. I felt even less so when later that night I started feeling light headed and nauseous every time I stood up.

So Monday morning I head into class and some of my classmates from DC ask about my hotel. I tell them about it and what part of town it is in. A woman named Barbara looks at me and tells me to check out of my hotel the next morning and come stay with her. She then tells me that the previous night when she heard about me being by myself she put her daughters sheets in the laundry in preparation for me to stay there. The thought of staying with someone was comforting since I was sick and my hotel was slightly scary, but definitely lonely. So Tuesday morning I checked out of the Landover Comfort Inn and went to stay with Barbara, her husband Scott, her daughter Lindsey who is home from college for the summer, and Cal the golden retriever who is my new best friend. Their daughter Elizabeth, whose room I am occupying, is currently studying abroad in China and so I cannot meet her.

I have felt overwhelmed, challenged, and encouraged by this family’s  kindness and generosity. All week long they have taken care of me. I have been fed great food. They have taken steps to make vegetarian options for me. I have eaten dinner at the table with them each night. We have talked and laughed together. It is amazing how friendship happens. With them it was instant. It happened on the metro. Over dinner. Over bad reality tv. Over a glass of wine. Over the dog. Over an ear piercing that did not want to come out. It has not just been this family though that has shown me this kindness and openness. Every morning one of Barbara’s friends has let us carpool in with her and her daughter to DC where she drops us off at Union Station. We have rode together and talked for just two morning and yet tonight I found myself sitting in a restaurant having a celebratory drink with her and her husband over the news that his colonoscopy was clear a year after he battled colon cancer. It was a beautiful moment that I was generously invited into.

I do not think that I will ever forget this week of my life. It has been such a sweet gift. Barbara’s home has such a peace to it. I have spent time sitting outside in their beautiful garden. I have wrapped my arms around Cal and buried my head into his silky hair and felt so appreciated. For my third straight week of being out of town God has blessed my weary heart with a place that feels almost like home. Last night as I laid in bed I was talking to God about all of this and how overwhelmed I was by it. God simply reminded me that he/she loves me a great deal and this was one of the ways I was shown it. 

And with that I am out of words except to say that I cannot wait to return to my real home tomorrow evening and that I hope Phil and I will have chances to return the blessing I was given this week to others.

be blessed friends. good night.