Friday, August 20, 2010

The potter a world away...

    When I traveled to Ethiopia from Oregon in 2004, a good friend of mine, a potter, sent one of her bowls with me. It was to be a gift to a potter a world away. “Just find a potter and make a trade,” my friend said.

     Our travel group made time one afternoon and visited the regional marketplace. I waded into the sea of humanity in search of the unknown recipient of the bowl, the gift I had carried so long and so far. Our guide knew I was looking for just the right person. Together we found her.

     She had walked for two weeks to bring all that she had to offer that day. We stopped to talk. I knew she was perfect for the gift. I told her through our guide about my friend, the potter, and how that bowl was my friend’s gift to her. The woman was moved to tears. She was surprised and thankful when we bought everything she had brought to sell that day, all four bowls. She blessed us many times over, and happily began the long journey back home. She had no shoes on her feet but a beautiful gift in hand.

     I not only left with shoes on my feet, but the woman’s pottery, which I shared with my friend back home, and an even bigger gift in my heart, the smile of a potter a world away.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ouch! That hurts.

     I really don't like it when people I love are hurting. Those moments when all we can do is pray and wait really suck sometimes. The good news is, God is there. God is with us all in every moment of every day. He knows where we are at, and why we are there. The sign at the church down the street today read, "God won't bring you to... anything He won't bring you through."

     A memory comes to mind. Don't know why it is this one, but here goes...

     When my son was maybe four he caught me staring at him. It was one of those moments when you just can't get over how beautiful your kid is. He looked back at me and said, "What Mommy?" "Alex, I said, I thank God for you." He replied, "You're very welcome."

     God Bless all who suffer today in body, mind or spirit. Help us all, Lord, in those moments when we just don't know what to do. Please give us grace and strength whether we are the one suffering, or the one trying to help. Amen.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bad Jokes at a Yard Sale

     Our yard sale was an immense success! Had a neighbor of ours come by and didn't recognize her. Maybe it was the heat, or the fact that I was exhausted. Still, I felt like a dork.

     We sold a ton of stuff, and could not have done it without the help of my family. Whenever help is needed they jump right in. The best part is, my family can turn just about anything into a good time, and there really is nothing quite like people watching at a yard sale. Even better is when you realize that the people you love watching the most are your family. We laughed and laughed.

     Our inventory was a collection of things from several different sources, some of it had belonged to my father-in-law, John. He passed away last summer. It was great to see his things go to those who needed them most, and for such great low prices!

     I was shocked and a little frightened when I realized one of John's items was a nasty joke book. It had sat out in the open for two full days and the first hour of the last as though we wanted it to be there! I wondered what it was that so many people were reading for so long in the book section. Such filth! Most of it didn't even make any sense. I remember toward the end of John's death he would tell me jokes. I thought he was confused, forgetting punch lines, and unable to control his "appropriateness filters." Now I know that was not the case. Just about every joke John told in those final days came straight from that book!  I'm sure he must have been laughing in heaven knowing that we got to hear them again.

     I know we can't take our stuff with us when we die, but I think John should have been required to take that book.  Come to think of it... where is the author? He's the one who should have to take every single copy as a punishment of sorts.

     Our yard sale was an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and our family. We saw our stuff laid out before us, and reminisced about when and why it was purchased. In the end we took back what we couldn't part with after all, and donated the rest. It was a wonderful way to spend the weekend.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Yard Sale!

     Yard sales bring out the best and the worst on both sides of the fence.  Well, we've got great weather, that's good.  Last summer I learned that death is a process. This summer I am learning, so is life. Yard sales are just part of the process of both I guess. We all outgrow our "things."

Friday, August 13, 2010

God in Las Vegas

     My mom, my brother and I hopped into the back of a cab on the strip in Las Vegas. On the way to our next appointment with fun and craziness, I noticed the driver's name, Habtit Michael Zere.

   Are you from Ethiopia? I asked.  "I am Iritrean" he said politely. (There is a big difference where he comes from.) I asked if he spoke Amharic, the primary language spoken in that part of the world. He said, "Yes." Unable to control myself. I told him I had a song for him. God's Spirit welled up inside of me. I knew somehow there was no turning back.

     You see, a little over a year before that trip to Las Vegas, I had traveled to Ethiopia to witness the beautiful work of Project Mercy, an organization started by Marta Gabre Tsadick and her husband Demme.  Marta was the first female Ethiopian senator under Haile Salasse in the seventies. When communism took over she and her family were forced to flee. To make a long and faith filled story short, they ended up in the United States making parachutes for the US Navy. After years of hard work and constant prayer they began making trips back to Ethiopia to help with the Refugee situation there.  Since that time they have saved hundreds of thousands of lives from certain death.

      I heard Marta speak at a hotel in Portland, Oregon in December of 2003. It was meeting her that inspired me to have one of my songs translated into Amharic.

  "What can I possible do to help?" I asked her, after the program had ended. I don't have any money to give you, and what good would it do to write a song?"

     Marta replied, as she touched my cheek, "Oh my dear, a drink of water for the soul does far more than a drink of water for the body."

     I was inspired and moved to the impossible.

     Less than than two years later there I sat crammed between my mom and my brother in the back of a cab in Las Vegas. In Amharic, I sang:

I have found that in this world
there are those who give
never thinking that they will receive.
They seem to know and have the heart of Jesus.
They give their love without condition.
In their eyes I see the heart of Jesus.
Through them God has touched the heart of man.
Though them God has touched this heart of mine.

     I don't know if a pin has ever dropped in a Taxi in Las Vegas, but you could have heard it that day.

      Habtit Michael was moved to tears.  He asked "How is this possible?" "God has sent me a gift!" "You are an angel!"  Well, I'm no angel, as evidenced by the amount of fun I can have while in Las Vegas, but in that moment God did something good.  In spite of myself and all my failings I did as I felt called to do and God's Spirit moved in us.

     When we arrived at our destination we slid out of the cab.  Habtit Michael met me at the curb. We hugged and he thanked me.  I asked for his address to send him a CD with that song on it, he most willingly wrote it down for me.  My mom and my brother stood on the sidewalk shocked and a little embarrassed, I think.  My heart still pounding, my brother asked, "What just happened there?"  Knowing only this, I replied, "Oh that's just God, gettin' stuff done in Las Vegas."

     I sang for Habtit Michael's wedding a couple of years after our meeting.  We were just chatting on facebook last night.  I call him my brother.  He calls me, "Sis."

Project Mercy's website.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Window

      Perhaps you have opened a window to my heart. Where God says, "I know you don't know how or why, just keep doing as I am calling you to do."
     My whole life has been filled with inspirations and faith, inspirations and faith... over and over again. I resign myself, every day, to the fact that I create because I am inspired. While discernment, right judgement and a modicum of good taste are underlying and necessary, it is not for me to reason why. That's why God gave me my husband.

     That was my first blog. I think I can do this.