Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Countdown to Grenada Mission Trip 2016

We are excited to announce the four week countdown to the 2016 Kingwood Christian Church (KCC) Grenada Mission Trip. Our Mission Team of 14 people will travel to Grenada during Spring Break, March 11-21. This our 3rd KCC Mission Trip to Grenada, having previously gone in 2012 and 2014.

You may be asking, Grenada? Where is that?  Why take a mission trip there?

Grenada is a tiny island in the Caribbean, only 12-22 miles and it was the home of my husband Ryan for the first 28 years of his life.

That is, until a young Peace Corps worker (me) was assigned to the primary school where he had just begun teaching 2nd grade. He wooed me with guitar music wafting through my window during those first weeks when I was dealing with insomnia due to the heat, mosquitoes, and the bats. The rest is history! We worked together, fell in love, and Ryan immigrated to the US in 1994. We were married in Kingwood Christian Church later that year. Ryan had always dreamed of “giving back” to Grenada but it wasn’t until 2011 that the idea took wings and became a mission trip.

Over the past five years, we have built a relationship with the churches in St. Patrick parish. We have worked beside them building new pews, launching a women’s Bible Study, setting up a computer lab in the school, working in the library and worshiping our common God.

In four weeks we will be re-acquainted with our friends, our brothers & sisters in Christ, who quite frankly, are still amazed that members of a church in Houston, Texas, 2000 miles away, care enough to take time away from work and family, to come all that way to say, “How can we help? What do you need?” and then show up and meet that need.

This year we are working in a primary school in Chantimelle,  at the northern end of the island. We will be supplying laptops and the computer know-how to set up a computer lab. We will also be helping with a face-lift for the kindergarten area, including new flooring, paint, and storage. In the course of the week, we will experience the welcoming Grenada hospitality and we will worship in two different churches. We will also participate in a cultural exchange night, sharing our musical gifts as well.


One of the most exciting things about this trip has been the way our church family has gotten behind the trip with financial support, donations of school supplies and materials and praying for the Mission Team. We are again asking for support for this trip. 

The total cost for the computers, networking supplies and work materials is around $10,000. Kingwood Christian Church has committed to $2500 from our church budget, to help with materials. We have just gotten the news that we have received $1000 from our Coastal Plains Area of the Disciples of Christ to help with our trip. We are over half-way to our goal thanks to donations from church and community members, but we are not there yet. We are also gathering school supplies which we will  present to the Chantimelle RC School. We have seven students going on the trip, who are still working hard to come up with the final payments due for their food, lodging and transportation expenses. Each traveler will be asked to carry an additional bag ($30) full of supplies. If you would like to donate toward our project or help with scholarships, we would be grateful!  Donations can be mailed to Kingwood Christian Church (3910 W. Lake Houston Pkwy. Kingwood, TX 77345) with “Grenada Mission Trip” in the memo line. 

We know that not everyone can pay the $1500 per person that it costs to make this trip. Not everyone is physically able. Not everyone may have the time off from work. But everyone can pray. Please pray for the Mission Team preparing for the trip, for smooth travels, good weather and a life-changing perspective. 

We have thought of ourselves as grateful and willing ambassadors of Kingwood Christian Church, carrying God’s light and love to the people of Grenada.

So all this starts and ends with a love story: a love story between two people of different races and cultures, who found enough in common to take a risk at a life together. And it grew into a love story of a church loving a couple and then loving their children. And then it grew into a church falling in love with a little island in the Caribbean and its beautiful people. A love story fueled by the greatest love of all, the love of our Creator, who equipped us and filled us with this kind of love and then asked us to take it out into the world.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Reflections from a 6th Dance Chaperone

6th graders come in all shapes and sizes, colors and varying degrees of confidence and style.

Some look as young as 3rd graders and are about as mature. Some could easily be in high school and show that maturity, too. 

There's always a "player", even if he's only 12. 

Requesting songs is always fun.

Everyone could have worn a LITTLE more deodorant.

Everyone likes to dance to familiar songs that have familiar moves. 

More walking around in clumps happens than actual dancing.

When a couple is brave enough to slow dance during a slow song, their friends form a circle around them and spotlight them with their phone lights. 

Lots of videotaping happens. Quality just CAN'T be great in the dark to the flash of laser lights.

Some girls really like to dance and are great. Others just like to do ballet moves. Or herkies (sp?)

More than a couple of songs sounded suspiciously like 70s disco and 70s TV theme songs. 

Most of these kids have better phones than most of my friends.  

The majority of the boys are like puppies: playing tag, chasing and running. At least no one piddled on the floor. 

Seeing my 6th grader in the context of a group of other 6th graders is reassuring & comforting, especially since I tend to worry about mine in isolation. This reminds me that she is doing JUST FINE. 

My friend, Denise Morris is a bada** chaperone. I think she even scared a few of the other newbie chaperones into behaving. 

Boys still cry when they get their feelings hurt. And girls know how to cheer them up. 

Most of all I was amazed by these unique bundles of potential and nervousness and hormones, who share the same desire we all have, the desire to belong. Bless each one.  

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A New Life for Donkey

Our home has a reputation for animal rescues (13 kittens found, fostered and adopted in 2013, "The Year of the Kittens") and we've extended that hospitality to people on occasion, but I didn't realize it included stuffed animals until yesterday. Saturday, my 11 year old daughter Chloe found the sad evidence that the puppies had gotten her beloved stuffed donkey from camp and given it the usual canine vampire treatment: chew off the button eyes, creating a hole to pull out all the stuffing (all over the house), leaving simply a lifeless skin. Truth be told, I had noticed the latest "victim" earlier in the week, but wasn't too concerned. She only has 1262 other stuffed animals; she wouldn't even notice this one. Ahhhh, but there I was mistaken. As she cried angry tears, furious at Gonzo for eating the mascot of his own namesake, I remembered that this one was special and I felt bad. But as the drama tornado gained velocity, and before the real damage started, Chloe was "invited" to her room to chill out. And I got back to watching my movie.

After some time, I noticed Chloe was engaging in some top secret activity. If I were in Mama Sleuth mode, I would have put together the clues from her questions like, "Mooooom, do you know where my sewing kit is?" And Mooooom, where are the buttons?"

But I wasn't prepared for her reveal. Giddy with excitement, from behind her back she pulled out the little donkey, brought back to life.  She had re-stuffed the little guy, sewn his little body back together, and replaced his right eye with a button, waaaay cuter than the original eye. But the best part was the eye patch on the left eye. Apparently that hole was too big, so donkey was just going to have to live with one better-than-before eye. I squealed with delight as she showed me and she beamed with pride over her good work. But her care for donkey did not end there. After all, he had been through quite a trauma and she needed to keep him close to make sure he was ok. While she ate dinner, she made sure he got sustenance, too. Of course he couldn't be expected to walk after such an injury, so thankfully she still had that baby doll stroller. And he needed a safe, comfy place to sleep, under the watchful eye of his concerned mama! 

Chloe has once again humbled me.  What I had discarded as beyond ruined, she saw as fixable. With a little time and attention, she restored her beloved donkey, in some ways literally better than before. How much more does our Heavenly Father love us? When we feel beyond ruined, God can restore us. What hope, what grace! A reminder through the eyes of an 11 year old child of God.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Prayer Through a Teenager's Eyes

Seven days or 168 hours or 10,080 minutes of prayer.

A favorite event at our church is our 24/7 prayer room. For three years now, our pastors Robert & Mindy have created a sacred space with many different opportunities for prayer, from candles to scripture, art and music, communion and praying for our leaders. We are a medium-sized congregation. Some might say that filling 168 hour time slots with willing volunteers is unrealistic. Some might say that just sitting and praying for an hour is daunting, boring or impossible. Yet, here we are in our third year.

My whole family enjoys time in the prayer room. Sunday night, I signed up for 8pm, hoping my son Trent would want to come with me. He did.

Here's a recap:

First things first - cappuccino!
Where does he go?
To the place where he can make music:
     Guitar strums
          Drum beat
London Bridges on a small accordion and
Hot Cross Buns on the sliding flute.

Some might say, "Is this really worship? Do you call this prayer?"
And I would answer, Yes.

When a 14 year old boy chooses to come to church on a Sunday night with his mom,  for the purpose of praying, I believe God smiles.

When a teenager feels comfortable in God's house, I believe God rejoices.

When that boy, unprompted, signs up for another time slot after school and invites his friend to join him, I think God is pleased.

How will God speak to him?

Through music? Most definitely.

Sacred objects grab his interest next, a wooden cross in his palm, some jingly bells.

He feels a pull toward the craft table and starts to create something with clay. Each year we have tried to create something with clay that the others might add on to. He says that creating something makes him feel like an elf and he begins to whistle a jazzy version of "Jingle Bells."

I close my eyes, enjoying the stillness, savoring the quiet.

"Mom!" I open my eyes as he says excitedly, "let's finger paint!"

Not even a moment of peace and quiet?
I resist the urge to resist.

We begin creating together.
First thumbprints made into critters.
Then messy fingers and colors blending,
Just like our lives - messy and blurring together,
sometimes beautiful, sometimes not so much.

Time slips away in those sacred moments
for this mother and son,
God's love surrounding us,
Filling us,
Sustaining us.

Mother and son,
Hearts open to the moment,
Hearts open to creativity,
Hearts open for God's love to move,
          in us
          through us
          and beyond us.
Hearts open wide for God's grace to flow in.

Mother and son.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Puppy Love

"All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all."
~Cecil Alexander

He's slow and chubby now.  He waddles when he walks.  Sometimes his legs don't work too well, and his bladder doesn't always hold.  But he's our pet, and he's part of our family.

Of noble Scottish descent, our McDuff is a West Highland White Terrier, a  Westie. He has been a member of our family for the last 12 years. 

This faithful friend has been fiercely protective of our children, especially our daughter Chloe who was born under his watch. When she went to sleep in her crib, he slept beside her. He insisted on "herding" her as she began to toddle and, much to her annoyance, never left her side when she began navigating the stairs.

One person who especially loves McDuff is my mom. He is her "granddog." She enjoys giving him extra special love like putting  ice cubes in his water dish in the summer, sharing her ice cream with him, and making him his own egg for breakfast. He loves going up to the lake to see Nana and Papa and he wants nothing more than to be with us, his family.

As McDuff has gotten older and slowed down, our kids get impatient with him. "Do we HAVE to bring him, Mom? He takes up so much room and he's kinda stinky!" Funny, I was thinking the same applies to my growing teenage boy!

When we started camping a few years ago, McDuff enjoyed our trips as much as we did. Now my son Trent has to lift him in and out of the camper, crane-style. On a recent, particularly chilly camping trip, McDuff went from his usual white to a sooty grey from hanging out with us around the campfire.  And there was nowhere else he wanted to be.

McDuff isn't as handsome as he was in his prime. He doesn't get around as well as he once did. But what gives me great joy is seeing how my mom still loves him as much as ever. She has patience with him and compassion.  It seems that when she looks at him, she sees the dog he once was. And it occurred to me, that is what family is. We are all moving through the stages of life, some prettier than others. It is our family who can remember us at our best, even when we can't remember.

God's love is like that. God doesn't love us less because we can't read the medicine dosage without finding our glasses first. God doesn't withhold his love when we choose thin mints over a work out at the gym. God loves us for who we are and whose we are, His.

What grace that our God is not concerned with our outward appearance and beauty that fades away. What grace that our God is not a score keeper, keeping a list of our failures.  What grace that when  God looks upon us, he sees only the very best of us.
Genesis 1:26 God said: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature so they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, and, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”

Creator of All,
Thank you for the animals who add so much joy to our lives. Help us take our responsibility seriously, so that we may honor your request of us. Amen.

Thoughts for reflection:
* How are you blessed by your pets?
* How have your pets shown you unconditional love? How have you shown the same to them?
* How does the love of your pets remind you of God's love?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How to Beat the January Blahs

The shopping is done. The gifts are purchased, given, received and put away. The festive Christmas decorations are put away for another year. Not even a crumb of a Christmas cookie remains. Sigh.

I’m not sure if anyone else gets a little blue at this time of year, but I recognize the January blahs as an annual visitor. I recognize it is reasonable to feel a bit let down after the non-stop activities and endless to-do lists in December. I’m also convinced that some of it is plain old exhaustion. We all know that the women single-handedly navigate the planning, shopping and orchestrating of family Christmas traditions. Weather also plays a part. As I get older, I notice that cold and gray days greatly impact my mood.

How do YOU beat the January blahs? I posed this question to my friends on Facebook recently and received a wide range of suggestions from exercise to starting a new project to curling up by a warm fire to getting a happy light.

My favorite remedy is the discipline of gratitude. This past year, I participated in Ann Voskamp’s “Joy Dare.” If we keep a record of three things we are thankful for each day, we will count one thousand gifts by the end of the year. Being intentional about gratitude and counting my blessings daily was a powerful testimony to me. There is proven scientific research to show that being grateful not only improves our attitude but also our overall health. My attitude and mood, even my sleeping were significantly improved when I was faithful with my discipline of gratitude.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hello There, God

Why, hello there, God.
Have you been there the whole time?
You have?

That was you?
The one
lighting bushes on fire,
sending sacred echoes,
smiling at,
delighting in,

If only I would stop and look around.
If only I would stop for just a moment.
Stop and bask in the glory of your love
that renews
that transforms
that refreshes
that comforts
that stills
that schedules
that times out prefectly.

If only I would come to the well...
and drink.