Thursday, August 30, 2007

i'm not healing.

i thought this awkwardness.
this uneasiness.
these sudden emotional gardens of fury, loss, grief.
this broken walking stick.
unbalanced see-saw.
broken wave of essence.
raging self-forgiveness. injustice. fear. God.
stretching unknowns.
this broken swing-set.
shouting silence.
inspiring curse.

i thought this would all be over by now.
yet, i think it's just beginning.

two sundays ago as we were singing in church.
a song of freedom.
i heard jesus tell me i am no longer free.
instead under the burden of


i truly am no longer free.
i am hurt.
i am lost.
most all the time.

i need a healer.

p.s. please read my husband's posting below - it's much more enjoyable and truly needed for your eyes after reading my most udder bankruptcy. although i did in fact make myself laugh using the word "udder" instead of "utter".

Chainsaw work

Jess and I are a little down today. I got a solid rejection from the job that I really wanted, and still haven't heard back from that other job that would have been pretty cool.

Jess has had two interviews recently and she just didn't feel like the interviewers got to see the "real" her. They may have gone well, and she may get one of them, but the feeling of confidence just wasn't there. In her words, "I just wish they could tear my heart out and see it."

So, in that spirit, today I began looking for jobs in Alaska. Why not?

The best job description I have ever seen. Really, I mean it. I found it on this morning. I could live forever with my job description looking like this.

Remote Flyfishing Camp Manager
Reply to:
Date: 2007-08-06, 3:59PM AKDT

Skills Required:
Mechanical Skills
Operate Chainsaw
Firearms use and maintenance
Operate Jet boat
Be able to lift min 75 lbs
Must be able to work unsupervised

Excuse me? Did you say operate chainsaw, firearms use and maintenance, and JET BOAT in the same sentence? That job has ME written all over it!

Now all I have to do is get out of my part-time teaching contract.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Busy week on the block...

It was pretty crazy here over the past few days. Last Thursday we had some amazing storms that brought down over 1,200 trees in the area and killed power for many parts of Chicago.

Then on Saturday, just a few houses down the road, 2 homes burned completely down. I have heard two different stories, but both seem to contain a couple of the same facts. It seems that one of the houses was either grilling or deep frying something outside, but under a porch. When there was a flare-up it caught the whole back of the house on fire, spread to the neighbor's house as well as the garage. No one was too badly hurt from the homes, but a fireman was slightly injured when a power line fell on him while fighting the fire. The innocent house in the mix was also a day care service.

That same night we had a man (a husband and father) from the neighborhood shot and killed on the corner just a block away. Although the area has cleaned up, there are still problems. Regardless of whether or not he was involved with gangs or drugs or anything, his wife and his two children were not. It is a great loss.

And some still say, "that's just how it is in the city."

In good news, however, Jess and I have been meeting a lot of new people in the area. Some are on our street, and some are not, but they have all been pretty awesome people.

Life in the city moves on.


Saturday, August 25, 2007


I know we have had a lot of photos lately, but I guess we are just making up for all those times we did not have a nice, dependable, virus-free location to work from and post all the photos we wanted. We are really making use of this new internet connection...

Throughout our honeymoon and year of travel we have taken lots of photos. You have seen many of them here, or at least a nice, representative cross-sample. But one genera of photos that I have not really posted here has been of my macro focus work.

I call it work, like I'm a pro or something, but it really means that I saw something cool that was small, clicked on the macro function on my camera, stuck the lens up really close to the "cool something-or-other", and clicked the shutter.

I think the reason all of this work hit me a-new recently is that, in retrospect, that is what Jessica and I have done with our lives over this past year. And as I prepare to dive back into the photo archive and write stories that were forgotten over the past year, I need to be careful of my bias, skew, and view on everywhere we were and everyone we met.

For better or worse, through this blog, we have posted intermittent snap shots of the world around us in a macro-focus-kind-of-way. We treated every country unfairly because we could not express the true depth of anything we experienced.

Morocco got the shaft many times because we 1) only met a limited number of people, 2) had an even more limited grasp of the language, 3) shared very little of the lives of those who made the experience amazing, and 4) had some bad experiences that tainted our ability to view the country in an even-handed manner.

In India we were guests in a microcosm of disease, death, dying, and the natural reciprocal of that which is love, life, and the unexpected. How can we speak on any experience in India when 90% of what we saw existed in this little world? India is undergoing a major economic growth period, of which most people are not benefiting. But those who are benefiting, and those who have been doing well for generations know very little of this painful side of life. They live in sprawling cities, nice homes, eat good food, have lots of meat, talk on cell phones and drive BMW's.

Our experience reflects very little on this side of India, even though it is there. All we know is the other end of the spectrum; homelessness, rickshaw pullers, sewer cleaners, disease, unkempt wounds, untreated diseases, and death from preventable infections.

So when people ask us, "how was India?" We often times don't know how to respond. We really can't speak on the country as a whole, but only of our little world.

And Thailand, poor Thailand gets glossed over because, compared to where we had been (India and Morocco), it was nice, easy, clean, accepting, accessible, and "westernized". Is it really? According to a friend or two of mine who have lived there longer than we did, and did not come directly from a TB hospital in India, NO, it is not. It only seemed that way to us.

So just like this spider picture, our stories are only a glimpse of the world from a short focal length in a split-second in time. Looking at this photo you would have no way of knowing that just a few inches over, this identical scene was taking place with another spider and fly. You could not know that the day was beautiful, crystal clear sky, not a cloud in sight, with a light breeze and low humidity. You would never know that just 50 yards away, 12 men lay dieing from a preventable and treatable disease, and that 45 miles down the road lay a HUGE developing and thriving metropolis full of people driving everything from Mercedes and BMW's to Ox carts and rickshaws.

So with that recent knowledge and insight I feel as thought Jess and I need to be especially careful about who and how we talk about the past year. What we saw was so small. Significant, yes, to us at least. But not significant when it comes to having enough experience to be able to talk about a whole country, region, or even city.

I think what we will try and do is simply share some stories. We want to give you just a silhouette of more things that happened, people we met, and places we experienced.

Perhaps we can make you a "fly on the wall", or in this case a "gecko on the bed" for some important events during our past year.

And, perhaps, through all of this, Jess and I can make better sense of the things we have seen, you can gain a better understanding of what happened, and we can do it all without dishonoring the reality or the memory of the people and places that we were.

We hope you stick around to see what happens.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

jake's at work. the kids aren't home. already stalked my other neighbors today. i've already done my job search quota for the day. really should write some of you back (and also write some long over-due thank you notes as well) but thought posting some long over-due pictures tonight would be just as well.

*jake and his dad blowing things up in the yard - what more is there to say*

*in between parents our dear friends at Indian Lake (yes, Indian Lake Papa lives there) threw us a lovely potluck. as an added bonus Krista, a kindred spirit, made a presence from Ohio with a miracle growing inside her belly! with her grandma, Lois, we had a ball together - enjoying the miracles of life.*

*i shared long ago that on our one year anniversary Jake and I became god-parents to a beautiful girl, Amelia Rene - daughter of Richard and Rene (my twinkie). we could not think of a better way to celebrate our first year of marriage together than to celebrate a new life in Christ. we are honored to now be part of a family we so much admire and receive much love (and laughter & sarcasm) from.*

*as an added bonus we were surprised at the baptism celebration with our very own "first anniversary cake" which we demolished in days. thanks Rene.*

*during our time at my parents we were blessed to have a number of good friends come and visit, rest, play, almost drown (wink, wink to you Longenbaughs)... sorry we don't have photos of/for all of you but here are a couple from a day with my dear friend Rona and her three kiddos (Anna, Andrew and Kate).*

*Home, finally.*

*our three-tier homemade dresser*

*our kitchen. yup, that's it.*

*and as an added bonus: although a little side-ways, my husband. all of you who really know him can attest, this is jake at his best.*

still, the best is yet to come.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I know, I know, I keep promising to write stories from our past year, and I have not yet done that. I am sorry.

But in the mean time, read one of the best articles I have seen in a while. It is sassy, and it may hurt a bit, but it is completely true (even his figures and stats).

Orphans Vs. American Dream

Excerpts. And I quote:

According to the American Religious Identity Survey, conducted by the City University of New York, there are over 224 million Christians in the United States. So, why are there 115,000 orphans in a country that has over 224 million Christians?

And again:

Let's break this down further. The Washington Times reports that there are about 65 million evangelicals in America. So, again, why are there 115,000 orphans in America's foster care system? Does this mean that there are 65 million people missing huge sections of their Bibles? Would someone please alert Crossway and Zondervan!


Till next time,

Saturday, August 18, 2007

a good magazine.

some good videos.

although, the previous two points of information are both good, this is even better. This afternoon we attended their end of the summer kids program. These children know joy. They know Jesus.

if only they knew the kids next door.

we'll see what we can do.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I know, two posts in one day.

We now have internet and npr keeps our marriage alive. We listen to it all day long - well, kind of.

On that note: We bought these in Thailand, one kilo for $1.

What a crazy world market we take part in.
idealism and reputation

A couple afternoons ago our landlady, Irene, called my cell phone and asked in I could stop by later in the afternoon to talk.

We really like Irene. At the age of, let's estimate, 81 she is a little rough around the edges but soft on the inside. She essentially lives as a shut-in in her own home. She feeds the stray cats meandering outside on our porch and is grateful for the groceries her daughter bring her every Thurs. She can count on it, it's consistent.

When we moved in her only two requests were that we not smoke or not play any of that, "boom, boom, cha-cha" music. We agreed.

The other afternoon after coming home after a long day of job searching, time with neighbors, etc. we found a small paper bag hung on our doorknob full of fresh tomatoes from her backyard.

She insists that if there is anything we ever need, not to touch or do anything ourselves. She wants to be a good home-maker and provide a good home for us. It is her job, she shares. She wants to keep up the house so "we feel at home."

I was a little nervous about this call though. The kids had started coming around more often, yelling up the alleys, calling our names, walking hard on our floors, etc. One day when we were out Irene shared that she had to stick her head out the window and tell them that if they needed us they needed to come to the front door and knock. Neighbors correcting little visitors can never lead to good things.

So I knocked on her door. She often can be found resting on her davenport paralleling her front window. From here she can see and take note of the daily happenings of life. All of that to say, she was within feet of the door when I knocked and offered me no time to collect myself in between "the nervous knock" and the time of entrance into her home (which I secretly hoped wouldn't happen and that by chance at that particular time in space, she wouldn't be available due to her tight schedule of feeding stray cats in the backyard).

Yet, she was there and I was there. She answered the door within seconds. I smiled and entered with the nervous knocking hand at my side.

After small talk of the weather, her tomatoes, flowers, door-bell issues and promises of a "better October" (obviously, according to her, September is going to be just as much of a bust as August apparently), she brought up the anticipating topic of conversation - the children.

She first asked if I knew of the reputation of the children, their parents, the drugs, yelling, prison terms, etc.

I said yes.

She asked if I knew the police were keeping a watch and eye on their apartment, known as a central drug-trading space.

I said yes.

She asked if I cared at all about my reputation in the community.

I said yes (I'll explain in a minute).

She asked if I thought it is a good idea to be involved with "that" family.

I said yes and this is why.

I shared with her that we do care about our reputation in the community. We want our home, both physically and spiritually, to be a home of peace, safety and rest where others, regardless of age, race, or belief feel welcome. We don't want known and unknown friends to see our relationship with "the others" as a threat (although we know this will happen intendedly and will unfortunately have to deal with the unintended consequences). We're careful still. We moderate the time spent in their home and am careful to hang-out where others can see me. Still, Kaylanie, Destiny, Jermaine, Ethan & Jeremy are His Beloved and there is still time... They're not "gangstas," yet. They're not beyond approach, yet. They're not lost, yet. There is still time.

I shared all this with her.

She smiled and tolerated my idealism.

I think she things I'm crazy.

I think I'm crazy too sometimes.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

My brain hurts from performing the tedious task of job-searching online. I have just two photos and no stories for you. These two images represent the rather intense floral patters that inundate our lives as they make up the majority of the flooring in our new apartment.

Not only does the job search hurt my mind, but so does the floral print.

Not surprisingly, Jess loves the floors (along with our pink and peach colored walls).

My Christmas wish is for an area rug...

and a job.

What's funny is that we both obliviously had enough of this job searching so much that at the same exact time we glanced over at each other's screen only to see one another up-dating our long-lost blog...

This is what my mind was focused on over the past hour+:

I remember the days when I would run the sink on low during the time on was on the toilet so Jake wouldn't hear me if I accidentally "squirted." There were also times when I would use the bathroom as quickly as possible as to not lead Jake on to think that I had some strange bowel issues that would lead me to spend hours on the toilet.

Today (well, actually before today really - but I was just thinking of it today) I grabbed the Sunday newspaper, went in on the toilet and accidentally "squirted" with the door cracked open and no water running to disguise the sounds...

How life changes...

Speaking of which - today we started the job search. Please pray for our sanity and ability to produce and submit quality work, resumes and CVs. That would be a fabulous gift...