Tuesday, December 27, 2011

No idea what I would call this blog if this is how The Wizard of Oz had ended

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Who's ready for green bean casserole???

Thanks Mom!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

FUZE Week 31 & 32

The MTW Asia/Pacific Area retreat in Malaysia was this week (and a bit of next, hence the same theme for two weeks).  The term retreat comes with two distinct and opposed meanings for me.  First is the idea of escape or holiday, as this retreat was intended to be.  There is also the idea of running away, retreating from battle or an enemy.  The theme of retreat was deliberately chosen for that very reason and to be a reminder to rest and not to be running away.

When I left for Malaysia I had a 1,000-page book, fully loaded, fully charged iPod, and a big bottle of SPF 50 in my suitcase.  I was fully prepared for a week of resting, relaxing, and retreating alone, poolside.  They were the first things I unpacked upon getting to the resort and the last things I put back in my suit case when packing up at the end of the week.  The battery on my iPod was still fully charged and I was no further into my book than I was before.

What I discovered this week is regardless of retreating, or battling, it’s the people we do it with that is important.  At the area retreat I was able to meet tons on people on the field and from the home office.  The teaching, sessions, activities and worship that had be planned and organized for us were great, but it was the fellowship that happened between those events that was of most value to me.   That made my time a retreat a time of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation compared to the running away kind of retreat.

Here are some of my sweet friends from all over AustrAsia in Malaysia...
Dr. Kooistra (the boss of all MTW) Joy and I loving the pool
Shopping buddies

Erika, Joy and I, aka the cool room

Singles gang
Beers in Kaula Lumpur with Steve

If a picture is worth a thousand words this one is Anna Karenina!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Minor Prophets, Minor drawings

Hosea 2:6-8
Joel 3:16
Amos 5:13-15
Obadiah 17
Jonah 4:10-11
Micah 5:6

Nahum 1:3
Habakkuk 3:13
Zephaniah 3:15
Haggai 2:4-5
Zechariah 9:12
Malachi 3:17

FUZE Weeks 28 & 29

            Due to crazy schedules and different responsibilities around the world Steve and B were doing a lot of traveling these weeks.  So, to keep things simple and sense B and I wouldn’t be able to do our regular weekly wrap up we set the theme knowing that it would be for two weeks.
                        In preparing to go to Malaysia in a few weeks I started researching the country.  We called it MY-Laysia week.  I spent some time in the library and on the internet researching culture, religion, language, art, ect…  I also intentionally spent time with several people I know who have lived in Malaysia. 
                        The overwhelming advice that I got from all of these sources was to look and watch and to eat anything I could get my hands on!  That last bit made me nervous when I read about Sup torpedo!
                        The thing I notice most about looking into and preparing to go to this new country was how much it became about being here.  The most valuable information I found was through friends.  Friends who live in Perth.  My conversations with them became less about my going to Malaysia and more about my deepening bounds here.

                        Just for the record… I didn’t try the soup, but the rest of the food was AWESOME!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

FUZE: Week 39

     At the end of Cost week, knowing we were moving into Thanks week I made a one page list of all the things that bug me.  I was a bit shocked at how easily I got through that page.  Just for fun and in the spirit of honesty and transparency, here is my list…

Cancer.  Child abuse.  Domestic violence.  Rape.  Neglect.  Hunger.  Poverty.  Ungratefulness.  Pride.  Arrogance.  Ignorance.  Judgmental people.  Lack of tolerance.  Unwillingness to learn.  Know-it-alls. Hidden agendas.  Broken promises.  Unfulfilled expectations.  Stinginess.  Fear.  Boring artist’s talks.  Boring lectures.  Ill prepared presentations.  Self-centeredness.  Tardiness.  Missed deadlines.  Running out of shampoo before conditioner.  Shaving my legs.  Razor burn.  Being alone on holidays.   Spoiled milk.  Presumptuous people.  Goodbyes.  Lies.  Change.  The lone broken cracker left in the box.   Dust bunnies.  Inconsiderate smokers.  Addiction.  Suicide.  Weddings.  Cake with too much frosting.  Waxy chocolate.  Paintings under glass.  Gallery fees.  Fake people.  Forced vulnerability.  Shoes that pinch.  Sweat stains.  Hate.  Homelessness.  Short shorts.  Noisy neighbors.  Noisy housemates.  Alarm clocks.  Drunkenness.  Swearing.  Sexism. Euthanasia.  Abortion.  Disrespect.  Music snobs.  Crowded pubs.  Uncomfortable chairs.  Country music.  Rap.  Apathy.  Stupidity.  Blaming culture for bad attitudes and actions. Buying toilet paper and tampons.  The cereal dust in the bottom of the box.  Trying on jeans.  Packing.  Chipped nails.  Pantyhose.  Broken sunglasses.  Crowded trains.  Bad elevator courtesy.  People who talk loudly on cell phones in public.  False piety.  Strapless bras.  Heavy backpacks.  Asking for help.  Asking for money.  Needing money.  Showing up underdressed.  Forgetting things.  Paranoia.  Whales.  Sharks.  Being out of control.  Other control freaks.  Always being far away from someone.  Being left behind.  Shin splints.  Bruised fruit.  Gray roots.  Getting lost.  Whining.  Pushover parents.  Undisciplined children.  Long lines.  Hairy legs.  Superficiality.  Insecurity.  Barbies.  Carrying groceries home.  Difficult locks.  Sticky keys.  Inconsistency.  The song “Happy Birthday.”  Double standards.  Mustaches.  The unknown.  Weak coffee.  Bitter tea.  Bragging over sin.  Bad habits.  Breaking habits.  Cheap paintbrushes.  Stereotypes.  Politics.  Cliché clothing.  Vegans.  Paying more for organic food.  Coddling.  Late buses.  Bad public art.  Clothes on dogs.  Matching outfits.  Failed blue tack.  Tattoos drawn with sharpie.  People who say, “tats” rather than tattoos.  The word moist.  Washing getting rained on.  Dead batteries.  All lids and no Tupperware containers.  Broken umbrellas.   Sunburns.  Blisters.  Gossip.  Entitlement.  Complacency.   Pride.  Clogged drains.  Cards with too many words.  Bad art.  Blame shifting.  Being ignored.  Pity.  Being set up.  Dating.  The dentist.  False accusations.  Getting left out.  Receiving obligatory invites.  Jealousy.  Manipulation.  Dry skin.  Oily hair.  Failure.  Waiting.  Having to rely on others for your need to be met.  Low quality paper.  Sticky lip-gloss.  Racism.  Bad customer service.  Overly sensitiveness.  Migraines.  Warm beer.  Unclear expectations.  Excuses.  Complainers.  Gossip.  Canceled appointments.  Going to the doctors.  Calling things vintage when they’re just old.  Oatmeal colored clothing.  Melted crayons.  Being called crafty.  Torn contact lenses.  Yard work.  Paying for health insurance.  Stubbornness.  Cockroaches.  Humidity.  Cheap glue.  Dirty feet. Uncomfortable silences.  Weak handshakes.  Soaps that smell like food.  Confusion.  Being short.  Car trouble.   Socks with sandals.  Elitism.   Lame pick-up lines.  Religious speak.  Folding laundry.  Picky eaters. 

     I know what you’re thinking… “Great way to start Thanks week Shannon!”  That exercise was done to set up a contrast for this list, one page of things I’m thankful for.  Here’s that list…

Family.  Hope.  Coffee.  Art.  Art Galleries.  Reese’s Pieces.  Shade.  Free bus rides.  Tattoos.   Aloe Vera gel.  Sunscreen.  Prayer and financial supporters.  Grace.  Redemption.  Paul’s letters.  Cross references.  Beauty.  Skype.  iTunes.  Free wifi.  Brunch.  Sharing brunch with friends.  Eggs Benedict.  Air conditioning.  Fans.  Heaters.  Creativity.  Messy studios.  Good critiques.  Art magazines.  Naps.  Bubble baths.  Mani/pedis.  Baristas that remember your order.  Sales clerks that remember your name.  High heels.  Routine.  Soft beds.  Tinny roses.  Big sunflowers.  Donuts.  Maps.  Google.  Generosity.  Champagne.  Hot showers.  Red toenails.  Nieces.  Nephews.  In flight movies.  Latex free Band-Aids.  Midol.  Homecomings.  Long talks with old friends.  Sleepovers.  Snuggling.  Family game nights.  Might-as-well-be-family.  Humility.  Honesty.  Proximity to the people I want.  Margaritas and guacamole.  Personal space.  Friends to be quiet with.  Knitting.  Clean sheets.  Spell check.  Yoga.  Dancing.  Sparkles.  Wax.  X-Acto knives.  Sleeping in.  Lazy mornings.  Friendly bus drivers.  Eyelash curlers.  Care packages.  Good graffiti.  Power point.  Prayer.  Scented candles.  Cool weather.  Rain.  People who “get it.”  People who support you even though they don’t “get it.”  Secondary colors.  Nibbly platters.  Belief.  Stories.  Materials.  Meaning in objects.  The stones that cry out.  Accents.  Sisters.  Pretend sisters.  People that it’s hard to say goodbye to.  Multitasking.  Listening and good listeners.  Train rides.  Surprises.  Comfort food.  Butter.  Adventures.  Discovery.  Overlapping of ideas.  Good paint.  Reusable shopping bags.  Lilies in the bush.  Fresh herbs.  Fabric softener.  Long afternoon teas.  Girly china teacups.  Girl time.  Daddy dates.  Whoppers.  Nicknames.  Driving with the windows down.  Facebook messages.  Spas.  Learning.  Teachers.  Crossing things off the to-do list.  Clever kids.  Hugs.  Cotton thermal blankets.  Baby animals.  Kind sarcasm.  Inside jokes.  Being home alone.  Picking people up at the airport.  Wondering aimlessly.  Being read to.  Day dreaming.  Podcasts.  Back rubs.  Stupid TV.  Couch time.  Days off.  Peacemakers.  Wind.  Mentors.  Scientist and mathematicians and knowing that I don’t have to be either.  Internet banking.  Home cooked meals.  Bravery.  Kindness of strangers.  Intricateness of our bodies.  Hair dye.  Ancestry.  History.  Dinner parties.  Guests.  Babies with milk breath.  Humor.  Play.  Patterns.  Swinging.  Common grace.  Literacy.   Letters of reference.  Unsuspected opportunities.  Collaboration.  Being appreciated for who we are and what we can offer.  Freckles.  Laughter.  Freedom.  Feminism. Femininity.  Audio books.  Narnia.  Imagination.  Church.  Kitsch.  Art history.  Paisley.   Resolution.  Family recopies.  Tradition.  Pajamas.  Wine tastings.  Being amazed.  Old family snap shots, even if it’s not my family.  Gifts for no reason.  Thunderstorms.  Analogies.  Metaphors.  Happy accidents.  Parades.  New journals and sketchbooks.  Filled journals and sketchbooks.  Postcards.  New pens.  Post-it notes.  Travel mugs.  Turkish delight.  Dreams.  Family trees.  Sweet-tea.  Cartoons.  Sale racks.  Warm homemade bread.  Art books with lots of pictures.  Authenticity.  Unlimited text messaging.  Irony.  Stamps in passports.  Big earrings.  The Bauhaus.  Hand sanitizer.  Raw edges on wood and fabric.  Honest compliments.  Spontaneity.  Tweezers.  Road trips.  Unsolicited encouragement.  Ladybugs.  Courtesy.  Graphs.  Factoids.  Love. 

      Why go through this exercise?  To remember that in the midst of extraordinarily costly things, and mountains of things that get under my skin, there in much to be thankful for.  Often it’s the little, everyday things that I’m thankful for.  Choosing to take notice of the things that make me thankful somehow makes the annoyances more tolerable and the cost seem not to great.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

FUZE: week 38

          Cost week started with a phone call that I knew was coming sooner or later, but thought was still about a month away.  My support account at MTW had tanked.  It was before noon on Thanksgiving Day when I got this call.   Although there were many things this week that revolved around financial matters

          A true blue Aussie saying goes “Can’t be bothered.”  The rough translation of this would be, “Meh, it’s not worth it.”  As I reflected on the idea of “cost” this phrase kept coming to mind.  Generally it was followed by the thought of how much of a bother am I?  Everything costs us something… time, money, energy, resources, pride, emotion…  I cost Jesus everything.  And he didn’t hesitate to pay that cost.    How much more willing should that make me to pay my time, pride, energy, ect… for Him? 

          I am making a real effort to not say, “I can’t be bothered.”   Because I’ve been called to bother, we all have.