Previous month:
November 2010
Next month:
January 2011

Entries from December 2010

42 Books Read

I managed to read 42 books this year. I know to you fanatical readers out there that’s nothing, but I think that must be the largest number of books read in a year for me, since high school.

Actually finished that last one a few days back, and before I start another was catching up on a few articles or papers I had printed out. Some have been sitting on my desk for a year at least.

Like, How Can the Bible Be Authoritative?, by N.T. Wright. I would recommend reading it if you are interested in the Bible and how we should interact with it as a church. Good stuff in there.

 

O.K. didn’t occur to me to include the list, till someone mentioned it in a comment on Facebook. So here is the list for 2010 (The links are for my reviews.):

1) The Fidelity of Betrayal by Peter Rollins

2) Matthew a Self Study Guide by Irving L. Jensen

3) The Wal-Mart Effect by Charles Fishman

4) Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Books 1-3) by Rick Riordan

5) 500 Cocktails by Wendy Sweetser

6) The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

7) The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

8) I Am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne

9) It’s Really All About God by Samir Salmanovic

10) Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

11) The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin by Gordon S. Wood

12) Facing the Lion by Joseph Lekuton

13) God’s Politics by Jim Wallis

14) Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

15) On Writing by Stephen King

16) Tom Swift Among the Diamond Makers by Victor Appleton

17) The Church of Facebook by Jesse Rice

18) Point Blank (Alex Rider book 2) by Anthony Horowitz

19) Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer

20) Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn

21) Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work by Eugene H. Peterson

22) Everything’s Eventual by Stephen King

23) Eternity in Their Hearts by Don Richardson

24) Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

25) Leading with My Chin by Jay Leno

26) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

27) The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

28) The Seeing Stone by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

29) Lucinda’s Secrete by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

30) The Wrath of Mulgarath by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

31) Thanksgiving by Glenn Alan Cheney

32) The History of Farting by Benjamin Bart

33) Aqua Church by Leonard I. Sweet

34) Love Has a Face by Michele Perry

35) In the Shadow of the Warlock Lord by Terry Brooks

36) The Next Christendom by Philip Jenkins

37) Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

38) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

39) Mosaic by Amy Grant

40) A Purse Driven Christmas by Anita Renfroe

41) Insects by Barbara Taylor

42) The Tulip Touch by Anne Fine


Mass Emails?

If raw thoughts and feelings that haven’t been completely sorted out bother you, then you might want to click somewhere else today. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, because that would be a lie.

I used to send out a mass email, about once a month, to all our friends, donors, family, and anyone who had expressed an interest in what we are doing here in Nakuru, Kenya. I tried to write them so as to be free of manipulation or pressure to give to us, though often the needs were discussed in the emails.

I despise manipulation of any kind, and do not want to be that type of missionary. Sure I fail, just like anyone else, but scroll through this blog or my Facebook page, and you will be underwhelmed instead of overwhelmed by the pleas for money. God knows it’s not because we don’t need any. I firmly believe God asked me to just be me and talk about what is going on. Whomever wants to give will give, no need to pressure them or send out 15 reminders, or to try and manipulate emotions.

It’s tough trusting Him sometimes, but I’m getting better, or at least I think I am.

I say all that because it’s been bothering me. We had a friend we met online, never in person, give some money sometime back. This person ended up on the mailing list, as anyone who donates usually does. I figure if you like us enough to give money, you wouldn’t mind an email once a month.

Well he emailed me and asked me to remove him. I will not go into all the details of his email, but the gist was he didn’t want to read another plea for money.

I was upset, still am to be honest.

How could I do the very thing I was trying to avoid? The thing I felt Father did not want me to do?

I blame myself of course. Not trusting enough, trying to think everything out on my own.

So I stopped the mass emails. Haven’t sent one since. I figure if it’s a challenge to write an email without asking for money, then I better not write it.

Same thing with the blog. We delete so many drafts, because of manipulation, pleading, or compassion on the readers who are inundated with requests for donations.

Wonder if this post will make it?

 

Additional Note: This person was not a jerk, and is not. Seems like a really great person, in fact they wanted to focus on their community and it’s needs for awhile. I was trying to express how I needed the reminder to not focus on fund-raising and all the restrictions, constrictions, and hiding that must go with it.


Doubt

Today I actually feel like I love Jesus. I mean there is that weird almost butterflyish feeling deep in my gut when thinking about Him. Feels nice and restful.

Most days I just feel like he is a distant friend. You know one you appreciate, but don’t get to hang out with too much. Or perhaps like a Facebook friend you have never met in person. Someone you have grown to love and appreciate, but you still don’t know how smelly they are.

I suppose that makes me sound somewhat odd, especially for a missionary.

I doubt.

His Word.

His Wisdom.

His Goodness.

His Intentions.

His Existence.

His Love.

That was not easy to type, and it’s even harder to not delete it. I have always thought of doubt as something negative, but I’m beginning to wonder.

Honestly I wouldn’t be here in Kenya rescuing children and other oppressed people if it wasn’t for my doubt. My doubt allowed me to question my practice of the faith. To experiment with how to be a Christian.

Doubt is no threat to me. I embrace it.

Today it’s no big deal. I feel those warm fuzzies. Tomorrow? Who knows?

I see what my faith has produced in my life. Children who are fed, clothed, and above all loved. Hungry sick people fed and cared for. Prisoners visited, and even set free in some cases. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God preached.

All this stuff happens not in spite of my doubt, but because of it. Allowing myself to question leads to answers that I could not have had without the questions.

I would not know Jesus, if I had never doubted the Jesus I knew.


There is Hope

Yesterday I wrote about some of my frustrations with the holiday season, but to demonstrate that I am not 100% negative I figured I should post about what I like about this time of year.

I like completing the year. Finishing it up and preparing for the new year to come. I’m not sure why but coming to the end of something brings me great joy. For example just the other day I finished up this bottle of vitamins or supplements. Not that I enjoy taking them or even really believe they are useful to the body, but I do like finishing up the bottle. Gives me a sense of accomplishment. Same thing about December. It finishes the year. I did it. Survived another one. So many things in life are ongoing, perpetual even, at least till death. We need to cherish the end of the year. It’s a way to finish something without dying.

Coming from the U.S. my cultural idea of Christmas has nothing, or at least very little to do with Jesus, and more to do with food, gifts, decorations, Christmas Spirit, etc. In fact I grew up with a commercialized view of the holiday. It was always about gifts for me, despite the knowledge and even faith in the virgin birth of Jesus. This is what I saw reflected in my culture.

I do have hope in the future though. Especially as more and more people are abandoning this commercial view, or at least more people that I know are moving towards a shift in focus during this holiday time. As I mentioned yesterday I think it’s a perfect time to remember others who need help, are lonely, or unloved. This is a time to teach our children that it is better to give than to receive, a truth that is not true until practiced.

Of course I couldn’t write about what I enjoy during the holidays without mentioning food. I do like holiday foods and even enjoy preparing them and serving them. Especially here in Kenya, as so many people have never eaten what I would consider staple holiday foods. The reverse is true as well. I enjoy eating with Kenyans in their homes this time of year. Lots of chicken, chapati, beef stew, grilled goats, beans, and such.

O, almost forgot to mention the eggnog. With real raw eggs of course, and lots of rum.


Seasons Greetings or Is It Merry Christmas?

Tis the season, to be annoyed. Sorry, but I’m not really looking forward to the next 30 days or so. I’m sure to get lots of reminders through email, Facebook, Twitter, and wherever else possible on the proper way to greet someone during the festive season.

Really? Is there that much difference between Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas? Let me answer for you, “NO.”

Do you really think Jesus cares if you write X or Christ before mas? I’m thinking not that much. (People really need to do a little research on that X before sending out those emails.)

Is Seasons Greetings really a tool of the devil to remove Jesus from the holidays? Actually I’m amazed that I even have to ask that question. As if Jesus cares if we remember Him while buying Ipads and Wiis.

I better wrap this up before I step on my own toes here.

Let me tell you what the true meaning of Christmas should be. It should be a time when we endeavor to make sure as many people as possible can have a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.

When you’re hungry or your children are hungry you could care less if the clerk at Target says Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. When the thought of preparing a Christmas dinner fills you with dread, lets just say that remembering the birth of Jesus is not foremost in your mind.

Perhaps we have tried so hard to remember Him that we have forgotten Him?


Busy Month

December, a month of parties, food, presents, and reflection on the year past and the one to come. The Yule month is full of to do lists, shopping lists, the naughty list, and wish lists. Christmas programs at church, Holiday movies, and lots of people trying to sing Christmas Hymns.

In other words it’s a busy month.

Because of this busyness December is a hard month to be a missionary. Gift buying ties up people’s resources. Completing lists keeps them too busy to remember some folks on the other side of the world. In other words donations fall for the month.

Yet December is a month when we need resources.

This month we would like to feed 100 families, not individuals but 100 whole families, a decent Christmas dinner. We have been working with these folks through our main support group for people living with H.I.V./A.I.D.S. Most of them are single moms with several children, and just can’t provide that special dinner for Christmas.

We are scheduled to throw a party on Jamhuri Day (Independence day) on the 12th. Should be attended by up to 300 people. 300 people who need to hear and see that God loves them. This could be the best day of the month for some of them. It’s important.

Even though the girls and boys we care for are off visiting relatives for the month, we are still feeding and caring for them.

We still have our team working each day. It would be nice to be able to give them a Christmas gift.

We would like to take a few days off and visit Nairobi with our bio kids.

I don’t want to be just one more voice asking for money this month. Another pitch for that end of the year donation. I’m just a guy, who with his wife, some friends, and our children are trying to alleviate some of the suffering of this world.

No pressure. If you can’t or don’t want to, no sweat. I have seen God do it enough times, so I’m confident He will provide again. We will rejoice together.


To Go Or Not To Go (Guest Post)

Another guest post. I love answering folks questions about Kenya and what we do here. You never know where it will lead. ~Johnny

 

Last summer my husband went on a trip to Kenya with a group from our church to do some welding at girl's rescue center.  He came back a changed man.  He loved the country, the work he was able to do, and the people he met.  Although he missed us (me and our two children) he could not wait until he could go back. 

We prayed about it and decided that we should all go as a family back to the rescue center and use whatever; welding, teaching, love to reach out to others.  The verse that came to us was Matthew 13:44  "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."

We were ready to sell what we had and make the move. However, does it make sense to take little children (5 and 2) to a third world country?   What would our parent's say?  That's when I got on the internet and searched out missionaries in Kenya to see what and who I could find.  I was so excited to come across Pure Christianity.  A family that loves, that shows their love, and has very small children.  ( no I am not writing about how great they are, just writing my heart and what I was so happy to find!)  They said we could email with questions and so I did.  What about vaccines, sickness, all of that?  How do kids handle this type of transition?  I am thankful to Johnny for writing back and for their blog that has helped me to answer the many questions that people have shot at us.  We were very sure of the decision and so excited about our future. 

Then, my husband Clint went back again in October.  This time he came back sick with malaria and probably something else that has kept him sick for over a month now.  Fear has crept in.  Is this a spirit of fear or have we been given a warning?  Are we sure we are hearing God's will?  Is this really what God wants for us or is it our own desire?  But God will give us the desire of our hearts and He is who puts them there. Can we be like Jonathan when he went to attack the Philistines and say "Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf" and go anyway whether we will get physically sick or not.  Can we have faith like that of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and know "that the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us ... but even if he does not..." we will still go if that is our calling.  Can we be like the Brooks family and share love in practical ways to others in a far away land away from family and American comfort?

We have been thankful that the last couple of days have been better physically for my husband.  We are continuing to pray for God's healing and for his clear direction for our life. 

Our plan is to go to Kenya in April and stay for 2-3 months and then see where God will lead from there.  I appreciate Johnny's asking others to write and for this opportunity to share my heart with strangers, yet brothers and sisters in Christ.  Thank you Johnny and Kate for sharing your heart, your daily joys and struggles and for being an inspiration to a stay at home mom in Colorado.

-Shawna