Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

The toothbrush symbolizes how Jesus has brushed us clean. Or I just couldn't get it away from Alex...


Here Alexandra is in the group of kids just before the Easter egg hunt - on the left in the back.


She understood the concept of picking things up and putting them in a bag, but she was fairly liberal in what she chose. She picked up one Easter egg, along with a rock, some garbage, a pine cone, and a twig. 

This weekend her grandparents from Sterling came and we got to go to the zoo and on a nice hike too. 


She wasn't keen on being carried, so she had to hoof it quite a ways, which she did rather unwillingly, although her new best friend, Owl, helped her. 



We got to take a lovely Easter walk today in the warm weather at Woodmen Valley Park.
  

 
Alex's cousin also came down this week for spring break, so she got to hang out with him at Garden of the Gods. 



Have a happy Easter! 
 
"This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations." Luke 24:46-67

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ecclesiastes 2



Here's my second installment of  Ecclesiastes, based on Ecclesiastes 1:12-18 and Ecclesiastes 2. Alex only took a 45 minute nap in which I wrote it, so this one is pretty rough. But if I wait to publish for perfection, it will never come. I find writing these very fun. I assume I get that same thrill that others get from doing crosswords or Sudoku. I realize, though, that I've never like those because they're too close ended - there's a right and wrong answer and no room for imagination. So this is my official crossword puzzle.

****************************
To test this life and see what is worthwhile
I spread my arms and welcomed in all ease.
Stacked gold and wine and cash in one great pile,
But in the end it smelled like rotten cheese.

Instead I turned to study all that's wise.
But with much knowledge comes a lot of grief.
Unlike the fools, the wise at least have eyes.
But in the end death takes both like a thief.

And so I turned to build something so grand.
From homes to gardens—even reservoirs!
But in the end they will dissolve like sand;
I'll be forgotten just like all the poor.

All that is left is to enjoy my lot.
For God has given me all that I've got.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Meaningless

Though you might not be able to tell, I actually started this blog to practice writing, and not simply as a baby video depository. Today I had my quarterly review with my boss, and he suggested I take some time to write in another genre to keep my skills fresh. So, inspired by John Van Dusen who occasionally rewrites Scripture in sonnet form, I decided to rewrite Ecclesiastes (or at least some of it) in sonnet form.

Of course, Ecclesiastes is one of the most beautiful and poignant pieces of ancient literature, and any recasting of it will pale in comparison to the original. But that knowledge won't keep me from having a little fun. So without further ado, here is my sonnet based on Ecclesiastes 1:1-14.

****************************

Absurd, inane, in vain are all our trials.
Our work, our play, our love are but a joke.
The old and young both die, despite all guile.
The sun looks on and laughs; we are but smoke.
 The world echoes itself, an endless mime.
The wind blows north, then south in aimless chase.
The sun comes up then sets a million times.
And to the sea all streams endlessly race.

Just as the sea, our hearts are never full.  
But what will be has already been done.
It is banal and irksome and too dull.
No novelty exists under the sun.

We might as well go try to grasp the breeze.
This world is an absurd and futile tease.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Adorapuss

Mike says I'm being indulgent, but I just had to upload both of these videos. Isn't she pretty? And funny? The former comes from me. The latter from her daddy.





Oh, and for my family who isn't on Facebook, look at the new life skill we've taught her.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ant, Ant, Ant, Ant, Ant, Ant, Ant

Alex got pretty excited about an ant today. Well, actually she got pretty excited about a ladybug and said, "red, red, red, red, red, red, red, red, red, red" for about 10 minutes. But then we inadvertently killed the ladybug, so I diverted her attention to the ant. Then she said "ant, ant, ant, ant, ant, ant, ant" for about 10 minutes straight.


We also took her to her 18 month appointment today. For the inquiring minds who want to know, she was 21.5 pounds - 12th percentile for weight and 45 percentile for height. The doctor, being very perceptive and wise, said that Alexandra is perfect.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Super-Duper Hyper-Exciting News


Now that I've typed that headline, I realize you're all going to assume I'm pregnant. No, my super-duper hyper-exciting news is less personal than that. But it is news I've been waiting to talk about for about three years.

Dr. Bruce Wydick is a professor of Economics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco. He is a sponsor with Compassion and has a heart for helping other people. So he wondered, "What research has been done to show the impact of sponsorship?" The answer was nearly no in-depth research had been done on the topic, which is surprising because $3.2 billion goes to various sponsorship organizations each year!

So Dr. Wydick set out to study sponsorship. He intended to do a comparative study of various sponsorship organizations, but only one organization agreed to be studied - Compassion International. (Which isn't surprising only one agreed; it's scary to hand over your organization's good name to a secular, academic community.)

The results of his study, which have been many years in the making, will be published in this April's Journal of Political Economy. I had the chance of hearing Dr. Wydick speak about his research about three years ago. I was really impressed with the rigor, depth and balance of the research.

So you're probably wondering what the research showed.

“Children who participated in Compassion’s holistic child development through sponsorship program stayed in school longer, were more likely to have salaried or white-collar employment and were more likely to be leaders in their communities and churches than their peers who did not participate in the program.”

Compared to their unsponsored peers:
  • They were 50 percent to 80 percent more likely to complete a university education.
  • They were 14 percent to 18 percent more likely to have salaried employment as adults.
  • They were about 35 percent more likely to secure white-collar employment.
  • They were up to 75 percent more likely to become community leaders as adults.
  • They were 40 percent to 70 percent more likely to become church leaders as adults.

(From the Denver Post)

If you want to read a little more in-depth about the results, you can read here. Or if you want to read the whole 44-page report by Dr. Wydick, you can read it here.

If you have sponsored children over the years with Compassion, you don't need to wonder if it made any difference in their lives. It does make a real and lasting difference. Your sacrifice and generosity have not been in vain.

And if you have been thinking of sponsoring a child...DO IT! You won't regret it, and it will make a huge difference in the life of a child who is living in conditions that are hard to imagine. It costs less than $1.25 a day to give a child opportunities that we take for granted, like the chance to go to school, to get health care, to eat nutritious meals, to learn skills to earn an income, to learn that they have value as individuals, and to learn about God's love from caring church workers in their local community. 

If you're not sure where to start, if I were to sponsor a child today, I'd pick one from Bangladesh. Children in Bangladesh are some of the most malnourished in the world. Kids go to the Compassion center five to six times a week, so it makes a huge difference. Compassion Bangladesh also works with some of the most rejected people groups in the country - people whom others would consider untouchable. You can touch those children with your care and support! Bangladesh is also 89% Muslim, 9% Hindu and 0.3% Christian, so Compassion has a huge opportunity to share the gospel with people who would never otherwise hear it.

If you're not feeling Bangladesh, I'd sponsor a child in the slums of Kibera or Mathare in Nairobi, Kenya. Kibera and Mathare are two of the biggest slums in Nairobi and are very dark places for a child to grow up. Being sponsored means these kids get to escape the darkness of their surroundings and find a home at a local church. (You can call Compassion at 1-800-336-7676 and request a child from KE-916 in Kibera or KE-320 in Mathare.)

If you're not sure how long you can commit to sponsoring a child, why not start by sponsoring an older child in their teens? (You can search by age range on compassion.com.) Children typically graduate from the program around age 18 or 19 (or 22 in Kenya). 

And while I'm on the topic...If you already sponsor a child and haven't written in awhile, go write your child! You don't have to say anything particularly witty or even very interesting. They'll just be SOOOOOOO excited to get a letter. Tell them you are proud of them. Tell them you think of them. And tell them you are praying for them.

OK. Soapbox over.

Monday, March 18, 2013

What meals do kids get at Compassion?

Here are some articles I've been working hard on. A lot of sponsors want to understand what food children get through Compassion. It's a more complicated answer than you might think! So I wrote three articles about it. Maybe I'm a nerd, but I think this is one of the more interesting things I've gotten to write.


I hope these will help you understand Compassion's ministry better!

Part one: It's contextual. 

Part two: It's developmental. 

Part three: Nutrition is important!

Ready for Easter

Alexandra loves her Easter basket from Grandma and Grandpa. If only she could decide where to put it...



Sunday, March 17, 2013

18 Months and Counting




Alex says, "Thanks for the dress, Haylie!" (To see past "months and counting" posts, click on the tag at the end of this post.)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Giraffes

Alex loved the giraffes at the zoo today. She was definitely the loudest person there. She also got a lick on the cheek from one.




She was so excited that she learned the word "animal" on the spot and would shout "Ammal! Ammal!" if Mike and I would dare to stop somewhere without an animal, as if to say, "No stopping! Take me to an animal!" I stopped into a new food kiosk where they are serving waffles. I got a waffle with bacon, smoked gouda and apple. I love whoever came up with that idea. But Alex would have none of it. As soon as we stepped into the store, she started shouting "Ammal! Ammal! and pointing at the door.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Duck Butts

John and Kerry are my friend Sarah's parents. They're the quintessential cool parents. Now they're cool grandparents. Kerry reminds me of Lauren Graham. She is funny and pretty and talented. John is hip. (He's a worship pastor and musician. That's kind of their bag.) He's creative and thoughtful and kind. That's probably why they have two such wonderful daughters, including one of my favorite people on the planet. When I'm around them, sitting at Sarah's counter and talking over food, I feel like I must have just wandered onto the set of a sitcom because they're all funny and interesting and good-looking.

All this is to say that John wrote a book, Duck Butts, a collection of his writing from over the years. Slipping through the pages is like rummaging through his brain. There are thoughtful meanderings, sonnets, prayers and songs. 

John has the sight of a poet. When he looks at the world, he doesn't see what most of us do, but something hidden, perhaps tucked away just for him - the way God likes to surprise those who take time to peer a little longer into the water.

His writings are honest and raw, and in a world of Pinterest perfection, I could use more raw. But in his honesty, he always points back to God. He makes me want to know God like he knows him.

He includes things such as the book of Jonah rewritten in Shakespearean sonnet - a way to recapture the Scriptures. He writes of ranchers and Nebraska and dusty Texas. And he has changed the way I'll look at duck butts from now on.


His writings in all their diversity all lead back to God and to grace. A refreshing, calming, overtaking grace.

I've been reading a lot of books so far this year. I've stopped reading three of them because they simply brought me down rather than lifting me up. I already have the news, I don't need anything else to bring me down. But John's writings cause me to look up, rather than weighing me down. If you want to spend some time in reflection on God's truths and his grace that overcomes everything, I recommend it!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Welcome, Spring!

It's that time of year again, when I'm so eager for summer, I can't remember why exactly we all don't live year round in Hawaii.

Alex loves to go outside ("hi-yi," as she puts it) and is getting to play out of doors so much more now that it's warming up. Here's a video of her wearing Haylie's shirt and hat. (Aunt Krista wanted to see documentation that the hand-me-downs are living another day.)



She just learned to say "dollie" today. I'd never heard her say it before, but when she woke up for her nap today, she wouldn't stop calling out for her. (But it took me about 10 minutes to figure out what she was saying.) She's learning so many words that it's hard to keep up with her pidgin. As I sat in the doorway during this video, Alex repeatedly came up to me and said, "No, no. Wa, wa." Which means, "Stop sitting inside and come walk!"  Pretty cute.

And did I mention that it's so warm, I can start dressing her in little tank top onesies? At least for a couple days.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Meow, Meow

This is an exciting time to watch Alex. She's saying several new words every day. I've been asking her what a cat says for months now, and today she finally answered back. :)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Just an Ordinary Day with Alex

Back by popular demand, here are some videos of Alex. (By the way, we've started calling her Alex more these days. It fits her feisty personality.) Here she is playing with her car, which she likes to drive all over.



She also is enjoying wandering around in the yard in this beautiful weather and babbling to herself.



And here she is saying "bird" and barking at dogs.


She also likes feeding Ollie the Oliphaunt blackberries.



She also loves straws.


And for good measure, here's just one more video of her wandering around not doing much.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Stop Insulting Yourself

Recently I posted a video of Alexandra kissing me. It was so cute. But it was hard for me to post it because of my chin. I have a hate-hate relationship with my chin. I had to physically restrain my fingers from creeping up the keyboard to type an insult about my chin in that post. The other day, my husband posted a photo of me on Facebook in a less than flattering dress. A friend commented, "So cute!" I wanted to scream in capital letters, "Oh my gosh, that's the least flattering picture that's ever been taken of my tummy!" But I thought that might be undignified.

I'm not the only one who twitches to insult myself. It's the favored past-time of many a woman. Why do we do it? It's self defense. Quite poor self defense, but self-defense nonetheless. I perceive that there is a weapon out there - my wonky chin or my pudgy tummy - and I need to take it out of the hands of those who might turn it against me. So in a preemptive strike, I declare to the world, "Look, I have an ugly chin and I know it!" Thus giving myself the upper hand, through my self-inflicted wound.  

But the truth is I'm not only injuring myself, I'm also injuring others.

When my words to others are seasoned with self insults, I'm sowing seeds of criticism. I'm reinforcing the message that my looks are important enough to call myself names I'd never call others. I'm not spreading what's lovely, but what's ugly.

The other day I was talking to a beautiful woman. I mentioned that she had a beautiful smile and she immediately hid her teeth and mentioned how yellowed they were and how much she needed to have them whitened. My first thought was, "Oh crap, if she thinks her teeth look bad, what must she think of mine?!" (Remember my pot smoker tooth.) I proceeded to play the game and insulted my own teeth as well.

I don't recount the story to call out this woman (or to insult my teeth). It's simply such a perfect example of how easy it is to play this game. Someone compliments us, we deflect it with a self-insult, and the other woman joins in the game with her own insult. Rather than encouraging an atmosphere of acceptance and grace, we perpetuate a culture of self-criticism and even disgust.

The truth is that when we insult ourselves, we are inviting other women into our game. We're not just hurting ourselves through our pseudo self-defense, we're hurting others.

Now that I have a daughter, I feel even more strongly on this issue. My goal is for Alexandra to never once hear her mother insult herself. I want Allie to grow up with a mother who models acceptance and grace, not scrutiny and criticism. So join me in a crusade against self-insults!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Our Little Hiker

Alexandra went on her longest walk ever at Palmer Park. She was quite a trooper and walked about 3/4 of a mile to 1 mile (we carried her the rest of the way)! She got distracted by the cactus, mud and rocks, but had a great time running down the path and screaming like a monster.


She also took a walk the other day at Garden of the Gods with Mike. She's getting much better at walking on uneven terrain. We can't wait until she can do some real hiking with us!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Three Little Monkeys

Hadassah and Ansel came over for a play date today. Aren't they cutie pies?