Category Archives: Memories

Gifts

You can’t always fully appreciate the value of a gift when you received it…

In winter of 2013-14 in Maine, a good gift-giver Chuck gave me a treasure that I only now appreciate as such.

Her name is Kaitlin.

Chuck had an amazing ability to entrust Joel & I with ministry inclusion that was outside our pursuits, but so good for us.

In this case, he asked if I would disciple his friend, Kaitlin. We actually met up at the local Taco Bell (there were no Starbucks in Farmington), and decided to start a friendship.

I didn’t instantly know Kaitlin was a treasure. She didn’t sweep in and say, “Here’s all I have to offer as a friend.”

But she might be my most treasured gift from God in a long time.

Kaitlin is an amazing listener. Not because she quietly listens. But she LISTENS, actively and rememberfully, to what & how you say things.

Kaitlin makes time for people. She drove 6 hrs each way at thanksgiving from her home in northern Kentucky for 48 hrs with us in Tennessee.

Kaitlin loves my children well, recognizing their value & setting aside time for each of them.

As I prayed today for companions in my daily life here in Friendswood, God brought to mind my sweet Kaitlin (and others) He has provided over my lifetime, filling me with thankfulness & hope.

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Observing Jody

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Back in Houston, Jody and I were pastor’s wives together at Kaleo.

But before that, I met Jody in Seattle. She was attending a conference with a group of Kaleo people, and Joel and I were tagging along, since we were ministering at a different church at the time. Jody was a new face in the midst of a familiar crowd, and she made a big impression on me.

She offered me friendship.

On the plane ride from Seattle to Houston, she invited me to a party at her house… an epic tea party. And if you know me, I’m not a tea party type of girl – I didn’t register for any china for my wedding, I don’t have a waist suited for hourglass style dresses, and I love my coffee.
But that didn’t matter. Jody invited me to attend a party because she was open to having a new friend.

This was profound then, but I can only now pin down why.

You see, I was living in Houston, a city where I grew up, with so many subgroups of friends/acquaintances from youth, jobs, and various churches. I rarely had any friendship-making on my radar… I could barely see the people I knew already.

I’ve watched Jody for 5 years, trying to figure out why her invitation was unique and made an impression on me.

Then I moved to Maine this summer.

And I started texting Jody questions. Realizing how enormously alone a new place is. Realizing how unconscious I’ve been to the various Kaleo women that came from far away to live in Houston… and who were usually cared for my Jody.

Thankfully, she gave me honest replies, admitting how hard it was for her to move to Houston, to let go of a job she loved.

And then I realized Jody already taught me what I needed to know to thrive here.

By offering friendship. By not already being so consumed by life that she overlooked a potential friend.

I’m loving all the amazing people I’m getting to meet in Farmington/Strong, Maine! I’m so thankful for a fresh start to meet these people and develop friendships.

Thanks for your example, Jody. Thanks for inviting me to tea.

Faith of a father

On the infamous September 11, 2001, I had know Joel barely over 1 year.
He had only met the Lord Jesus Christ as His Savior 3 months prior to our meeting.

Our year together was busy. We fell in love. We battled again our old man & our flesh vs. our faith. We got pregnant. We got married. We got news our baby may (or may not) have a problem & may not live.

Then on 9/11/2001, we started a 3rd day of labor with news of the tragedy in New York.

Moments like this shape & define who we are.
Where is our hope in chaos?

Clearly, we were all powerless that day. It wasn’t hard to realize there was no man to turn to.

But my husband led my family in turning to the only HOPE, & I remember this through the words of Pedro the Lion’s song, “Promise”, recited by Joel that day:

if i look up and the sky’s not there,
is there any reason i should be scared
when a promise, is a promise, i know

I am blessed to walk along side a man who only hopes in the Lord.

This is for Rowan Twosisters, my friend

Over the past several weeks, I have read at least 1,000 FB posts & blogs on the “Chick-fil-a” scandal.

I have kept silent.
I have kept silent as I do on most political or controversial issues, because I do not think Facebook is the appropriate venue for these.

I have kept silent because I didn’t think silence could hurt anyone.

But then it did.
Tonight at 9:50p, I read this post on Facebook from my friend Rowan TwoSisters:

That is why we’re so angry. This is personal for us. There are times in your life when you have the opportunity to stand up for your friends. When you let that opportunity pass, your friends notice. It doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, but it diminishes you, and it diminishes the friendship. That’s how it is, no matter what the issue or what the venue. (Including this link)

This stabbed me in the heart, just like The Kite Runner. For Rowan, my silence was the same as abandoning her during an attack. I can’t do that – I love Rowan.

I have know Rowan for a long time. I have always know that Rowan is a lesbian, an organic food junkie, a birth coach, a hula hooper, a wife, and a wiccan.

I have always HOPED that Rowan knows that beyond my other definitions – mother, organic food junkie, lactivist (barely), human trafficking abolitionist –  I am a follower of Jesus Christ, a Christian.

Only today, I suddenly realized that if she does know this, she might assume that I agree with the big “Chick-fil-a support rally” because some people misused my Savior’s name when they paid a lot for their super-fattening lunch.

So here I break my silence & take my stand.

The recent “us” against “them” controversy surrounding Chick-fil-a is the most non-Jesus like thing I have ever witnessed as part of the Church. There is no them to separate from – we, the Church, are a bunch of people making life choices that are controversial too.

  • We have sex before we get married.
  • We get divorced and remarried.
  • We are stingy with “our” resources.
  • We forget the poor and orphans.
  • We vote Republican and try to prevent the government from taking can of the poor and orphans we have neglected.
  • We avoid the people who come into our churches looking different from us.

As I writing this, my husband showed me something to remind me of a story in the Bible on this.

John 8: Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery,making her stand in the center. “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?” They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse HiJesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger.

When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. 10 When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

I stand in unity with my friend Rowan. I have made choices that the Bible condemns. I did not turn from these choices because a big group of rule-followers condemned me. Neither will she.

Jesus drew me with His love.

I hope Rowan can see that I love her. I hope she can see Jesus living in me.

Rowan, I am so sorry for 8/1/2012.

Missing you is all I have

Tonight was Darin’s Rise School graduation.
All of my children have attended there… starting in 2002.

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Tonight was a night that should have included Darin’s Tummy-mama.

I missed having her there.

Noticing her absence is all I’ve got.

Could your teen become a Human Trafficking statistic?

As I’ve become a human trafficking abolitionist, I’ve come face to face with more memories of God’s grace in my life.

And since these memories are not horror stories with bad endings, most of them are secrets. Secrets I have kept silent to protect the heart of my most amazing mommy.

But I think part of abolition is EDUCATION. Education about risks.

So here’s a memory…

Today is Fat Tuesday, the end of Mardi Gras. As a lifelong Protestant, I barely know what it stands for.

But as a teenager, I knew it stood for one thing.
PARTYING!
In Galveston, only 45 mins from where I grew up, Mardi Gras festivities imitated the New Orleans activities. Parades by day, street parties by night.

As a deceptive teenager, I planned a “night at the movies” with my friends, and jumped in the car with another 16-17 yr old. We headed across the big bridge to the party. We parked on a secluded street and headed into the darkness.

My mom liked to keep track of me, so she paged me at one point, and I hiked to find a pay phone to report that I had gone to a later movie… Oh and could I spend the night with my friend?

She made the same plan. To spend the night at my house, that is.

And we wandered into the night.

No where near where we said we were.
Completely vulnerable.

Graciously, God brought me home from this particular night & many others when I did not take my safety into account, going to parties in cheap hotels or houses rented by adults who threw parties for teens.

Honestly, I wasn’t trying to get hurt.
I was just trying to have fun.
I thought my mom was just afraid my car would break down.
I DID NOT KNOW THE RISKS.

I did not know that the world was full of perpetrators.
The people in my life, my family, my community, had always cared for me.
This may sound dumb, but my world was so good I didn’t know about rape or sexual abuse.
My safe life BLINDED me to the real world.

Like I said, this story doesn’t have a bad ending. That night, I came home unharmed. Truly, I believe I was wrapped in the prayers of my mother as a shield around me. She did not know the details of each lie, but she knew I was running from her & from God.

The moral of this story:
1. Pray for your kids.
2. Don’t assume they understand what it means that 12-18 year olds are prime victims for trafficking.
3. Pray for your kids.

Salt-toasted Tofu

Back in the old days, we used to keep a little Vietnamese mom’n’pop restaurant called Pho Huy Tan in business.
Well, really Mike & Tammi Rice did, cuz they picked up the whole bill at least 80% of the time (which was a huge blessing, since we were living on $1000/month).

Anyway, my favorite food became Salt-toasted Tofu.
It’s got an awesome breaded-exterior like a popular non-veg comfort food.

Since Pho Huy Tan, then Mai’s, burned down, I’ve ordered Salt-toasted Tofu off-menu at every Vietnamese restaurant I’ve tried. And they always know how to make it.

So I started thinking it must be super easy & a Vietnamese basic known by all.

Now that we are Vegetarians again, I decide it’s time to learn to cook it at home.

I found this simple recipe and tried it last night.

Drain water from tofu. Wrap with paper towels and a kitchen towel, then place a pan on top. Let sit for 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, add corn starch, 2 tsp garlic granules, 1 tsp ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp salt. Toss in cubed tofu. If needed, add more corn starch so the tofu is completely covered.

Heat pan at medium high with canola oil. Cook tofu in batches, not too crowded. Some recipes call for cooking on each side for a few minutes. I cooked one side for 4 minutes, then continually stirred until all sides were golden. Place in separate bowl.

Heat pan at medium high with olive oil. Cook onions and garlic until soft, then add tofu. Toss in scallions until soft. Season if desired.

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Here’s our tofu-toss. I wish I know the proportions for the dry ingredients… Taste-wise, I should have done 2-2.5 times all the seasonings for 2lbs of tofu.
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It browned really great in 1/2″ of oil.
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Of course, we needed white rice to eat the tofu over.
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I was pretty impress with Arabella’s technique for carrying the cutting board.
She’s a huge help in the kitchen!
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Final product!
It was pretty good. I need alot more green onions next time, as well as the increase in spices… I only did 1.5x for 2lbs & it was a tiny bit less flavorful than I wanted.