Sunday, May 24, 2009

Confessions of a non-Scholar

I'm still bouncing our Sunday School discussions off of you. Hope you don't mind.

"Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God." Luke 8:1

Glad tidings. Good news. Gospel. Good news of salvation? hmmm. Yes and no. The good news of "the kingdom of God." What the heck does that mean?

Average 21st century evangelical Christians tend to focus the gospel we share (at least theoretically if not in practice) on what we have been saved from. And I'm willing to admit that's a big deal. Sin, guilt, death, hell, eternal separation from God ---a huge deal in regards to life after death.

But most of us, God willing, have 75 or so years of life before death which begs the question: what are we saved to? I think the verse above (and the preceding chapters of Luke) tells us --the good news of the kingdom of God.

You already know by the title of this post that I am no scholar. I have no seminary education, but according to my understanding and some help from Luke and the Holy Spirit (I don't think they had seminary educations either so take it for what it's worth ;-)), the kingdom of God seemed to look something like lepers, prostitutes, and demoniacs being touched, loved, and restored; the rich selling what they have to give to the poor who are no longer outcasts; and systems that perpetuate neglect, abuse, oppression, and hierarchy in the name of religious piety and arrogance being challenged by justice, community, equality, and freedom in the name of and imitation of Jesus.

Not much has changed. We still have our cast offs -addicts, homeless, immigrants. We still have the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. We still have greed, systemic poverty, and corruption. While Jesus walked the earth, He lived the kingdom of God. Exampled it for us in every relationship. And His devoted followers did likewise. What about us?

Do we know what we've been saved from? Praise God! Do we know what we've been saved to? If Scripture clearly defines it --will we follow?

"Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Peeps on Parade

Mamoune gets the first frame for two reasons.
1. Her birthday was Sunday and I failed to post it.
Here she is with freshly permed birthday hair.
2. Because she is responsible for the next group of pictures featuring Isabella
wearing some... unconventional fashion creations .

The Gypsy-Pirate Wench Look

When you just can't decide between wandering aimlessly
and walking the plank. OR...

The red-carpet ready and slightly risque crocheted dress.
(Granny -do you recognize your blanket?)

Oh look! The paparazzi. you all...muah!
You thought that was revealing. Here's some serious flesh for you:

And last but not least today; here we are on our Mother's Day date.
It was peaceful. We were alone. We were happy.
We have really big foreheads. shrug.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Mamoune has been dealing with a bit of a bullying situation on the school bus. Actually, it's been an off-and- on, year-long ordeal but Monday was the worst incident thus far. (For all of you who watched Oprah's special on kids who are bullied and commit suicide -don't panic! We are taking care of the problem and the school Principal is working with us to do so.)

We were talking with her over dinner about how and when to protect yourself. Our advice was first, to try and avoid the conflict. Ignore the girl. At the very least, don't get into a name-calling, put down, word battle. And secondly, if the other student makes any move to touch her physically she has two options. 1. Look for the way out and get away from her. If the girl has cornered her then 2. hit her ONE time HARD enough to make a way out and then, get away from her.

If you know anything of Mamoune from this blog, you know that she is strong as an ox. She clearly has the lean, muscular, can-carry-three-times-my-body-weight-on-my-head, Haitian genes. So, we were completely perplexed by her hesitation to stand up to this bully. At one point I challenged her with this:

Amie: Mamoune, you have tried to stand up in my face. You've been so mad at me and Daddy for things that you did wrong and yet you aren't mad enough to stand up to this girl when she is wrong. What the heck?

Mamoune: I'm not afraid of you.

Amie: (eyebrow lifted) I can change that, you know?!

Mamoune: No. It's just that (get ready parents; this is one of the phrases you dream of hearing your child say) you guys are loving mean but she is hating mean.

Amie: (needing to finish the conversation but wanted to a gospel shuffle around the kitchen singing the Hallelujah chorus) So, you know that we aren't really going to kill you even when you bow up at us but you don't know that she won't. Is that what you're saying?

Mamoune: Yes.

That's certainly understandable. Now, for any of you who may be lamenting over my poor daughter's misfortune or inwardly chiding: that's what they get for putting her in public school. Pipe down! Because this is the BEST part of the story.

Apparently, coming up against a seemingly impenetrable force of blatant sin and the difference between love and hate makes a young lady ponder things. Monday night before going to sleep, Mamoune was thinking. Thinking about her life. Thinking about her owns sins. And thinking that she needed somebody to take care of both. Luckily, we just happen to know a Guy who is into forgiving sins and giving life. So, without any "repeat after me" from her parents; Mamoune prayed in her own words and gave her life to Jesus, her sins to Jesus, and even her enemy to Jesus.

Yeah public school!!!??? Nah. Yeah bully!!!??? Nope. Yeah God!!!??? Yes. For "working all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Table Scraps

Now, the juices are flowing again. whew!

I am notorious for using the words "shut up." Naturally, the children have picked it up and along with neighbor kiddos use it in abundance. Recently, Tim declared that "we will not be a 'shut up' family!" This was directed mostly to me. I tried to explain my position. I agreed that it shouldn't be over used but there are certain times when the kids are fighting or yammering on at each other about such nonsense, nothing else seems to fit.

Tim wasn't buying it. He shot me down with a look and I threw my hands up in surrender. Not even five minutes later, the two oldest engaged in a classic battle of "did not -did too -did not -did too." The decibel level inched higher with each round. I submitted, bit my tongue, and offered Tim a "what now?" look. He began with great confidence. "Since you two have so much to say to each other, I will turn this into a positive situation (a smug look in my direction) by having each of you say something that you like about the other." crickets. "Who's going to go first?" A tumble weed rolled across the kitchen floor.

"Nathan, you have nothing nice to say about your sister?" The reply was firm. "No!"

"Mamoune, can you think of anything that you like about your brother? Another wall. "No."

"Well, if you cannot say one single nice thing to each other should probably both just...just...shut...up!"

AHHHHH! Sweet freedom! Sing with me: "My chains are gone, I've been set free..." Oh, how I laughed. The fact that he tried so stinkin' hard makes me love him. The fact that he gave up makes me love him even more!

Bullet Points to the Rescue

Blogging is one of those things that moves in cycles. As you may have noticed, I have been on a cycle of nothingness. I open the account. I hit "new post." I stare blankly at the page. I sign out. Unfortunately, there is no tracker for blog attempts which means you aren't even aware of my feeble and wasted, good intentions. All you know is that the little marker in the corner still said "April 29, 2009" -- a week and 1/2 real time. Forty years blog time.

Today, I am going to try to bullet point my way out of this slump. It will give you a picture of the past couple of weeks and give me the freedom to move past those events and on to fresh topics of blogdom. Here's hoping. =)

  • We applied for passports for the three older kids. (No, we are not fleeing the country.) The boys' came back with no problem. Mamoune, however, needs further documentation that she made a lawful entry into the United States. Apparently, a Permanent Resident Visa issued by the Department of Homeland Security doesn't settle the issue. Crazy.

  • This past Friday, I took two 13 year old girls from the neighborhood out to celebrate their recent birthdays. We had a fun time and talked about EVERYTHING you can imagine. I only hope they learned as much as I did. ;-)

  • In about two weeks we will begin an in-house Wednesday night Bible study for twelve kids. (1st-4th grade) We'll be studying black heroes of the Christian faith and a couple of the moms have agreed to help out with crafts and such. We are very excited about this!

Addendum: The book that we are using for this study is by Dave & Neta Jackson. It is called Heroes in Black History (True Stories From the Lives of Christian Heroes) Each story is broken into four parts -an intro followed by three narratives. Each narrative has a scripture reference for some character trait exemplified by that person and three discussion questions. I could see it as a bedtime devotional, dinner conversation starter, short or long-term bible study. The set up makes it very versatile. We plan to do one historical figure per week and the children will choose one of the three verses to memorize for the next week's class. Also, there will be a craft time and I am mulling over ideas for a group project that will span the twelve week course: a freedom quilt or something along those lines. Anyway, the book alone is worth checking out!

  • The kids crafted delightful homemade Mother's Day cards for me. The fact that they fought the whole time they worked only added to the sentiment. But the real present was a date night with my hubby! (Thanks to the Rego family) Nothing says "Happy Mother's Day" like pawning your kids off on someone else for four hours.