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9.30.2013

there's waiting in the wings

When Kaitlin brought home her caterpillar for the monarch life cycle project in science class, I think I was more excited about her homework than she was. I couldn't wait to see the process of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. I would be excited about it anyways, but a couple years ago I read a book that had me thinking about the whole process.

No, not Eric Carle's beautifully illustrated book, though when we ran out of milkweed I kept thinking of his very hungry caterpillar. It was a book that my counselor suggested I read called When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd. In it, she speaks of "the spiritual act of cocooning." She emphasizes the importance of not just waiting, but doing the work of waiting. The transformation happens in the waiting, in the cocoon.

While watching Bon Qui Qui Jr. transform from a caterpillar to a butterfly, I dusted off Sue Monk Kidd's book and reread the passages that I'd underlined when I'd read it a couple years ago. I underlined a few more passages as I skimmed over what had spoken to me then. Her writing of the transformative work in the cocoon is why I have a tattoo of a butterfly on my shoulder. It touched my heart then, and it's touched it once again.

The following are her words, not mine. I can't express it any better than she does:

9.28.2013

Happy Dance!


The Mercy House vehicle has been fully funded!

Now we can get on to Phase 2 of the in(mercy) project: 
helping them get classroom additions!


Thanks for your help.

9.27.2013

my week in review: 9/20-26//2013

Sometimes I post pictures on Instagram because of the beauty of the picture. 

Other times I post pictures on Instagram because of the story behind the picture. 

Like the story behind this one:
These pants of Sarah's were my favorite. I was so sad when they became too small for her. I was admiring them as I set them out for the garage sale. Such happy pants.

Kaitlin came into the garage, picked them up and said "I'm so glad you're getting rid of these."

"What? Why?" I asked. "They were my favorite. No one else had pants like those."

"Exactly," Kaitlin said.

That pretty much sums up my style philosophy. And it probably explains a lot.


[bonus feature:]

A while ago Kaitlin was looking through some photos of when she was younger.

"Mom, why did you let me dress like that?" she asked, horrified by her striped/flowery/plaid ensemble.

"Because you wanted to dress like that." (Duh.)

"Well, you shouldn't have let me dress like that, even if I wanted to."

"But you know what? I really believe that this confidence you have now is because you were confident in your choices then. If you felt good in that striped/flowery/plaid outfit, I wasn't going to take that confidence away from you by telling you it didn't match. Besides," I added, "you looked cute."

"Still!" she said emphatically and ended the conversation.

[end bonus feature]



That glider got me through three babies.

The garage sale was a success. We had it at my mom's. I pretty much told her that she was going to have the garage sale. I live on a cul-de-sac in the back part of a neighborhood that you don't go through unless you live there. But she lives on a main street, so it was busy all day even though we didn't advertise.

It was only my 2nd garage sale ever. I learned some things:
  • People are sometimes willing to pay more than what I would expect them to pay.
  • People will bargain even over ridiculously low prices.
  • People probably just went to the ATM and will pay with 20s, so have lots of 1s and 5s on hand.
  • It's handy to know someone who owns a clothing store who can lend you rolling racks for clothes.
  • There are a significant amount of men who shop garage sales.
  • Having a garage sale is a very American thing. The Chinese girl who lives with my parents was pretty amazed by the whole spectacle.
It's a lot of work. But that junk in my basement is money. We'll be having garage sales more often.

The problem with having a garage sale with my mom is that I saw a bunch of stuff she put out that I wanted.

I had to get a picture of this guy when he came to see us at the garage sale and told us that he'd just asked his friend to go to homecoming with him.

All along, with Homecoming coming up, he'd been saying that he wasn't going to ask anyone. So when he decided to, I asked him why he changed his mind. "I just thought it would be better to go together than neither of us having a date." What a nice guy.

I never did the Homecoming thing. When I was in 9th grade in the States, I wasn't really into participating in high school events. I don't think Homecoming was even an option for Freshmen at that time. Then, when I was in Germany at a missionary kid boarding school, we weren't allowed to dance and we certainly didn't have Homecoming or Prom. I am navigating these high school events along with my kids. It's kinda fun!

Saturday as soon as the garage sale was over, I booked it home and got ready to host book club. We read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. In the book, one of the characters had bottles that contained memories, so I decided to make some of my own memory bottles to decorate the table.

Black and white were the colors of the Night Circus, so I made those black and white paper place mats I got last week work triple-time as a table runner, snack basket and cup sleeve. I was happy with the results.

Sunday I went shopping with John for his Homecoming outfit. Evidently boys need to match the girl's dress. I snapped this photo for him to send his friend to get her "okay." We didn't know exactly the shade of blue of her dress, but John didn't care for the patterned ties with lots of different blues in them. She texted her blessing on it so we are good to go.

Monday at work I attended the funeral of one of my residents. I like all my residents, but a few I really love. Jeannette was one of those. I'm going to miss her walking by my office and saying "you still here? Time to go home" at any hour of the day.

Jeannette was my mom's best friend's mother-in-law. She would always tell me to tell my mom about the lutefisk dinners that her church held each year because she knew my mom loves lutefisk. Mom and I never did get to the lutefisk dinner, but we finally got to her old country church for her funeral. I'm glad I got to go to it with my mom.

Monday night we drove 45 minutes to the 9th grade football game in Owatonna.

John had two touchdown passes. We won.

Sarah has been on a baking kick lately. In this picture she and her friend are making some muffins.

She's really good at baking. Doesn't need any help except to put it in and take it out of the oven. Earlier this week she made some zucchini bread. After I put it in the oven, as we were cleaning up, I asked her if she put the egg in (because I didn't see any egg shells lying around). Her whole face fell. I quickly salvaged the situation by declaring it an experiment. We decided that it was going to be a baking experiment to see what the egg does in baking. Some recipes don't call for eggs and some do. It didn't rise quite as high, and wasn't quite as moist, but it still tasted very good. It was a baking experiment success!

One morning I woke up to this:

The work that goes on in the chrysalis is amazing to me. So important. So significant. So holy.

That green little cocoon that hangs there for days the same, as if nothing is going on, and then suddenly one morning it's black. Black like death. Except you look closer and you see orange and white and you realize it's alive. It's a wing! Very soon something emerges that looks entirely different than the creature that wrapped itself inside.

It was pretty epic.



I'm @annebickle. Linking up with @jeannettg for InstaFriday.

life rearranged

9.25.2013

getting behind something good: Mercy House Kenya

You know what I love? 

Seeing people get behind something good.

After two weeks we've raised $7,500 towards buying Mercy House Kenya a much needed second vehicle. 


We still need to raise $1,200.


You guys! That's only one hundred people giving $12. 

Or twelve people giving $100. 

In this day and age of social media, we can do this!

And, why are we doing this? 
Because they need help and we can help them by giving towards their needs.

Because they need a van. Among some other things.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you. Proverbs 3:27-28


I asked Kristen Welch, founder of Mercy House, to tell me why having a second van is such a necessity for the ministry there. Where do they go that they need another vehicle? What does having transportation mean for them? Here's her reply:


On a weekly basis, the girls attend church and a leadership class at the local church. They have doctor visits initially for themselves and then their babies. There are also market trips to buy necessities for the home (a few girls only go at a time due to space) and an occasional girl's night out. 

Transportation in the Nairobi, Kenya is crazy! It's filled with hours of traffic and often is at a standstill. Most people are dependent on matatus or taxis that seat eight people, but are actually stuffed with about twenty people in an un-air-conditioned, over crowded van. These are often dangerous as the drivers in the city can bully their way through traffic. 


Also, a really important reason we need a second vehicle is our Executive Director lives off campus due to space and for privacy. She often uses the van to perform her duties and it leaves our home without transportation. This can be risky with pregnant girls who might deliver, so it's a big balancing act with transportation. 


Once our girls have completed two years in the home, if they aren't ready to graduate, they will be attending a local school (our on-campus one is not accredited and serves to keep them from falling behind, offering one-on-one tutoring) and it will add another need for transportation to and from school.

One of the things about the ministry of Mercy House Kenya that I love is that not only are they providing pregnant girls who have been abused and neglected a place where they can receive care and love during and after their pregnancy, but they are making sure they get an education.

From the Mercy House website:

Our residents are school-aged girls and since many Kenyan schools don't allow pregnant girls to continue their education, they need tutoring because they have fallen behind. The maternity provides a safe, positive environment for the students to continue their studies in core subjects. 

During the first year in the home, the girls are home schooled. There is a certified teacher on staff who will help the girls a few hours a day with their studies. Once our girls enter their second year in our home and have reached certain milestones, they will attend a local girls private school. 

Education is absolutely crucial in Kenya and we want to do everything in our power to help them pass their Form One test (primary through 8th grade) and then go on to high school.

Not only are they making sure that they go on to high school and graduate, but they teach the girls life skills such as preparing and cooking nutritious meals, gardening, shopping in the local market, bargaining for the best price, cleaning, laundry, budgeting finances and childcare. Two hours are set aside each day to learn a job skill that will help the girls earn an income. 

It's not just hope for the present, but it's hope for the future, too. That's good stuff!



"Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." Hebrews 13:16 

We might not be able to travel to Kenya, but we can do good and share what we have with those in need. 

Will you join me in making a donation

Will you share this opportunity to help Mercy House with others so that we can meet our goal? 

Together we can do this!



9.20.2013

my week in review: 9/13-19//2013

Sharing my photos. Sharing my stories.

Because.

Rubber band bracelets is all this girl has talked about lately. They're the new thing, I guess. We looked all over town for the colorful little rubber bands. We found them at Michael's, where she was finally able to buy herself a Rainbow Loom. She hasn't stopped making them since last Saturday.

9.16.2013

Soup's On: Alpine Veggie Soup

I love soup meals.

For one, they're simple. Simple to make, simple to serve.

For two, they're economical. When I was desperate to reduce our grocery bills, I read a book that suggested incorporating a homemade soup meal into the weekly menu for that very reason. Since then I've tried many soup recipes, and this simple soup is one of my favorites.

9.13.2013

my week in review: 9/6-12//2013

Sharing my camera phone photos. Telling the stories behind them. And bonus features. Every Friday. It's what I do. 


John got to suit up for the varsity game on Friday night. They have a couple freshmen suit up each game. He's third from the right in this photo. His job on the sidelines was to chart the plays.

9.12.2013

(in)mercy

One of the things I wanted to do when I started this blog was to write about Good Things.

That's one of the reasons for the blog's name. Mostly I'm getting my story down in this space, posting about our family's weeks and my thoughts. And that's a good thing. A good place to start.

But this post? 

This is the kind of inspiring stuff I originally wanted to write about, good stuff like people helping people in need. Good stuff like Mercy House Kenya.

Except then I didn't know how, or have the opportunity, or feel like my blog really mattered. Someone else is doing it better somewhere else I thought. But when the opportunity to write a blog post about Mercy House Kenya came into my inbox, I left my excuses behind and jumped at it.

Because it is good.

But more importantly, it's important.


I look at those pictures and I just want to love on some babies! I want to take those little fingers and wrap my own around them. I want to get lost in the soft fabric of the nursery. And scoop that precious little baby in my arms. Such beautiful images captured by Bess Brownlee.

Beauty from ashes. Babies rescued from abortion. Girls rescued from the streets of the slums in Nairobi. Shown mercy. Given hope. That's what Mercy House does.

Here are the issues, according to Mercy House's vision page on their website:
  • Every 30 minutes, a woman is raped in Kenya. (Nairobi Women’s Hospital)
  • 13,000 Kenyan girls are kicked out of school every year for being pregnant. (Center for Reproductive Rights)
  • More than 20,000 children are sex trafficked annually in Kenya. (Human Trafficking)
  • Mothers often force their daughters into trading sex for food in the slums. (CNN)
All these issues are horriffic. But that last one? Can you imagine being so desperate for food that you trade your daughter so that the rest of your family can eat?

Can you imagine being the daughter who gets traded for food? Who then finds herself pregnant?

I have the luxury of not being able to quite wrap my mind around it even if I try to.

But they don't.


I read those stats, then I see these pictures of these beautiful girls -- so young! -- holding their precious babies, and I want to hug them. For a very long time, hug them. I want to encourage them. I want to tell them they are loved. By me, by God, and by you dear reader.

They are survivors. Endured things we can't even imagine. In many ways I am in awe of them. I want to be there for them. Help them. 

That's what started Mercy House. Someone like me, Kristen, an American mom of three kids, who visited her Compassion child, saw a need and was willing to help. 

Maybe I can't go to Kenya, but I can help these girls and the staff at Mercy House. They have expressed a need for some things: a van to transport the girls to doctors appointments, class room additions, a new generator, a computer lab, and a second home. These things take money that they don't have.


(in)mercy is a project of (in)courage to help raise funds for these needed items. I agreed to be a part of the project because, like I said before, this kind of stuff is what I want to be about. I wish I could do more, but at this point, I can do this: I can give. And I can tell you about it, hoping that you might be open to helping them too.

They need us to do this.


(in)mercy has five phases, each focusing on one of the expressed needs. 

During this first phase, which is being kicked off today, we're raising $8,750 for an 8 passenger van. Right now the house only has one 15 passenger van. 

Personally, when I do the math, I think they should be asking for more than one van: 

12 moms 12 babies 2 house moms + 1 director + 1 social worker + 1 assistant = 29 people = 1 fifteen passenger van + 1 eight passenger van, remainder 6 passengers.

But, alas, they are only asking for one Toyota Noah van. To help them get the girls to their pre-natal appointments, and the babies to their doctor appointments. And to get everyone to the church on time. Not to mention all the other places they have to go.

I chose to be on the Phase 1 team, to write about funding a van, because I can relate to the need for multiple vehicles. And I only have three kids to get to their various appointments and activities! I can also appreciate the desire to have a reliable vehicle for transporting that precious cargo. 

I'm asking you to donate to this first phase of the (in)mercy project for Mercy House Kenya. However much you want to give, or however little you can give. But please give something. Consider it your Christmas gift to them. We're hoping to have all five phases raised by Christmas. Wouldn't that be a nice Christmas present for them?

I'm asking you to share about this project. Consider sharing this post or a link to the project itselfI believe in the power of multiplication by word of mouth (or, I guess in today's world, it's "by sharing of social media links"). Honestly, I don't have a lot of blog readers so I need your help to get the word out. 

They need your help to get the word out.


People helping people in need. It's good stuff, people.

"He has shown you, O man, what is good: And what does the Lord require of you? 
To act justly and love mercy, to walk humbly with your God." 
Micah 6:8 

9.05.2013

my week in review: 8/30-9/5//2013

 Sharing my camera phone photos, telling the stories behind them. That's what I do. Every Friday.

So, I thought it was time to update my profile picture on social media. My previous profile picture was over a year old. Taking self-portraits (vs. selfies) on a camera phone is hard! I'm not sure that I love it, but whatever.

In other news, I've decided to let my natural curl do what it wants to do naturally. One early morning this week while I was having coffee in my Cuppa Kim Mug Swap mug from Jenny, Sarah said to me, "Mom, your hair looks the same as it's looked for three days."

And I said, "Do you mean to tell me that I've had bed head for three days?!"

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