What do you do?

Jeanette MacDonald's photo.

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Why Am I Going?

Cambodia girlsI am preparing to leave on a mission trip to Cambodia in November. Our team of 13 people will work with Agape International in their fight against sex trafficking of little girls.

In preparation for this trip we have been studying what it means to be “ministering cross-culturally”. In doing so, it has been important to understand the history of Cambodia.

Where were you between 1970 and 1975?

My first child was born in 1968; my second in 1970. By 1975, my daughters were seven and five. I was practicing the art of motherhood, honing my “June Cleaver” skills. My beautiful girls were learning all about school and making friends. They were safe.

At the same time, on the other side of the world, the Khmer Rouge noose tightened around Phnom Penh; the US began airlifting food, medicine, and military equipment into the city. Finally, in early April, Khmer Rouge troops advanced on the city, the airlifts stopped, the US evacuated its embassy and the leadership of the Cambodia’s government fled.

“The soldiers set to their job right away, evacuating Phnom Penh, forcing all of its residents, at gunpoint, to leave behind everything they owned and march toward the countryside. Hospital patients still in their white gowns stumbled along carrying their IV bottles. Screaming children ran in desperate search for their parents.

Yet while the mass evacuation of 3 million people was stupefying, the foreign correspondents saw little bloodshed before they were deported. And that is about all the world knew of the new Khmer Rouge.” (Cambodia’s Curse, by Joel Brinkley)

The Cambodia of today suffers from little or no moral compass. Much of the population still suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. In one of the communities where we will be working, 90% of the girls in that country face abuse and/or sex trafficking before their 13th birthday. The average age of these girls is nine.

For the next few months, I plan to dedicate this blog to the journey ahead of me and the team. Many have asked why I’m going. I ask, “Why wouldn’t I?”

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Here’s Lookin’ at You, Pardner!

john wayneAugust is my sister’s month. As soon as August comes around, I think of my dear Peggy. She was born on August 26. She is gone now, but memories — thank God for memories — keep her alive in my heart.

I’ve been practicing race walking. The form one must perfect is quite odd, really, and I’m sure when people see you race walking they question if you’re “ok”. I call it the John Wayne walk. Anyone who is 60-something knows what I’m talking about, and that reminds me of Peggy.

So, it’s 1950-something and Peggy and I enjoyed putting on skits for mom and dad. Typically these grand shows would occur in the living room, after dinner, homework done. On this particular eve, we decided to be cowboys and mimic one of those scenes where the two make their way to the saloon and belly up to the bar (kitchen counter). Well, Peggy had the John Wayne walk mastered. Both arms held out in front of her, she swaggered in, cowboy hat perched in a cockeyed fashion on her head, mumbling something John Wayne-ish, like “I’m gonna rope every calf, cow, steer in the corral…”.

We greeted each other at the “bar” and I said to the imaginary bar tender, “We’ll have two whiskeys, bar keep!” in my deep, cowboy voice. “John Wayne” runs behind the counter and puts two shot glasses up on the bar (jelly glasses that mom got free from the gas station!) and fills them with root beer, and runs back to the other side of the bar.

“Here’s looking at you, pardner!” I said, as I raised my glass in John’s direction. “Here’s lookin’ at you, pardner!” John bellowed. And at that, we raised our glasses and slugged our shots down. With one exception. As I raised my glass , I completely missed my mouth and root beer flew all over my face!

I can still hear mom and dad laughing. Dad slapped his knee and let out a hoot, and John Wayne and I laughed til the cows came home!

Here’s lookin’ at you pardner!

 

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Keep Your Game Face On

Some days are harder than others to keep your game face on. The good news is, the day ends and there’s a new one to look forward to.

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Let’s Start Over

I’m going to refresh this blog. Today is a new day and a new beginning. Get ready. Not sure what’s going to come of this. Just know that life is too short to screw around worrying about it too much!

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Tai Chi and Polenta

Sunrise Jan 3Some days, I feel so happy to be alive that I’m compelled to do a shout-out to our maker.

It started with polenta. Last night, a friend said “Why don’t you cook up some polenta and I’ll grill vegetables and we can enjoy a nice, healthy dinner.”

For those who know me, I know you won’t be surprised when I say, placing all work on hold, I immediately googled “Polenta” and thanks to today’s technology, came up with a “Cheesy Polenta” which sounded not-so-difficult to make. I drove to the store and bought all the ingredients — and I mean, all of them, as I don’t typically drink whole milk, or eat butter, or corn meal. Long story short, the polenta was fantastic and accompanied with grilled vegetables, I was feeling ever so top-chef-ish.

This morning, the same friend and I headed out for a walk along the bay, warmed by a spectacular sun and promises of a great day ahead. We walked to the water’s edge, eucalyptus leaves and angel’s caps crunching under our feet along the way. There, we stopped to relax, breathe, and focus on the horizon. Stepping into our first Tai Chi form, I smiled at the two of us and our new-found bravery. We knew walkers on the path were going to scoff, but we didn’t care. It was super.

Bidding my friend a good day, I came home – checked my emails. Awesome, no work-related fire drills — and remembered the left over polenta. Happily, I reheated a dainty portion (OK, fine – a huge bowl full) and sat down to watch the sunlight wake up a eucalyptus tree and listen to the birds greet the morning.

It simply doesn’t get better than this.

And so I shout: Thank you, God!

 

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Floating Peep

Easters come and they go. Some Easters are happy memories in the making; others, not so much. This Easter was one of those memorable ones.

EASTER SUNSETI followed His path through Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, celebrating His resurrection on Easter Sunday. It is amazing to me how I can hear the gospel year after year, and each time, learn something new. In the gospel of John, he talks about “the disciple whom Jesus loved...” Wait a minute! He only loved one of them? Which one? Interestingly, I was asked to read scripture at the Maundy Thursday service. I read John 13:21-35. This phrase can be found there and several other places in the Bible too. Well I questioned it, but didn’t want to embarrass myself and ask Pastor. Would you believe that on Good Friday, as Pastor gave his homily, he spoke of this very scripture and explained that “that disciple” is you and me.

And so I continue to grow in my Christian faith. And I leaned heavily on it this year, as for some reason it was harder than last. Sitting in our old pew – yes, you tend to claim one and call it yours forever — but this time, alone. I opened the church bulletin to find my husband’s name in print several times, as his daughters had donated lilies to the church in his memory. I attended an early service so that I could go to brunch later that morning. My stepdaughters would undoubtedly be attending late service — and so, I sat alone, fighting off melancholy. It was not about me, I reminded myself. It was about Jesus, who gave up His life for me. It was about His resurrection and the promise that came with it.

And so I think this is what faith is all about. It is the balancing act between life’s realities and remembering that promise made so long ago and having faith in it. It is getting past the sadness and loneliness and looking for those beautiful signs of new life, and new hope, that come with each Easter season. It is truly remembering that God did not promise us an easy life, but He did promise He would be with us every step of the way. And for me, He has and I am so thankful.

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So, it was time for me to find a new way to celebrate an old holiday. Bolstered with provisions of chocolate in our pockets, my daughter and I set sail on two kayaks; watched a beautiful Easter sunset, and freed a Peep!

(No, we didn’t leave him there for a seagull to choke on, but it made for a great laugh, and a wonderful ending to this Easter Sunday!)

Celebrate life!

 

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