Saturday, June 28, 2014

Preparing for a mission trip

When I woke up this morning, the first thing on my mind
was that tomorrow I am leaving for a mission trip.
It's the first one in a long time.

The last mission trip I went on was back in 2002,
with baby Eva in tow.  We went to Kentucky with the youth from my congregation.

Tomorrow I leave with pre-teen Eva 
and a few other members of my congregation.

I have been oscillating between deep grief and tolerable grief since
my brother died a little over a month ago.
At times I feel like I am moving through jello, in slow motion, not really
able to see very clearly or hear very well.
Touched at times that people give me their condolences and at other times
heart broken that they mention it because I know that it will take
everything within me to keep from crying and going back
to the place of moving through jello.

So this morning I thought about the number of years that my brother
spent in Nicaragua with orphaned children and I know that he
would want me to go and help out people in Oklahoma.

I got up with a new perspective, hoping that it would work. 

You see we have this fablous time planned for my family after 
the mission trip.  But I just can't seem to get into any state
of planning or preparation.  It's like just breathing and getting
through the day is all I can handle.

Then something changed.
The minute I got on the highway, driving the rental van
we have for the mission trip.  I got excited!

Eva and I started talking about the week and I was able
to think more than one day in advance.

I can say from a place of sincerity that I am so hopeful about the week ahead. 

So here is to a new adventure, with my daughter 
and the faithful others going to Oklahoma City
to meet hundreds of others with the same call in their hearts.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My older brother Tom

My amazing brother died on May 26, 2014 and I have been wanting to write something about him.  I wasn't ready to share my thoughts at his funeral and am grateful that my mother was able to.  

Tom was a larger than life presence in my life.  I can remember at a very young age wanting to be in his "club".  The requirements were to be able to blow a bubble with your gum and to learn how to whistle.  Man did I work on that because I wanted to spend time with him and his friends.

On Halloween when I had to be either three or four, I had a pillow case to collect my candy in and I was too short to keep it off the ground and so it dragged behind me and all of my candy came out on the sidewalk.  I didn't realize this was happening until I got home.  And this is how I want to remember it (I don't know if one of my parent's suggested Tom doing this), Tom gave me half of his candy.  And you know to a kid, candy is worth it's weight in gold!

Tom's energy in life was contagious.  Everything he did in life, he did to the fullest and excelled at it.  With painting, with sculpture, with ceramics, with cooking, with photography, with carpentry, with care for orphaned children in Nicaragua and with his care for his daughter Terri Anne.

Tom had a heart for the underdog.  I can remember when he was in college and I was in high school, my parents were out of town for the weekend and I was at a friend's house.  It was at a difficult time for me as I was realizing how mean girls can be and I was quickly realizing that my friends were the mean girls, so I called my brother and asked him if he could come home so I wouldn't have to stay there for the entire weekend, and he said yes.  It was one of the most memorable weekends of my high school years.  We had coffee ice cream for dinner and I finally got to hang out with his friends!

It was hard in many respects growing up in the shadow of my older sister Karen and older brother Tom.  Both are/were incredibly gifted and talented in their own right.  Karen was an amazing piano player, I was so-so.  She also was gifted at flute and I was so-so.  Tom was an amazing artist and I was well, so-so.  He was also a gifted cook and while I like to think I am not so-so, it is hard to stand in the shadow of someone who is so incredibly gifted.  But I didn't remain in the shadows, I was able to find my own strengths because of them both.

For most of Tom's life, he and my sister were often at odds and I found myself being Switzerland, a neutral force between the two poles.   This has helped me enormously in my ministry.  

One Christmas many years ago, Tom decided that he needed to drive his red truck all the way from St. Louis, Missouri to Nicaragua.  It was an old beat up truck and we were all sure it wouldn't even make it out of St. Louis county.  In our minds there were much more sensible things to do with the truck, but he was determined and God love him, he eventually got the truck all the way to Nicaragua so that the home for orphaned children would have transportation.  It is the kind of compassionate, imaginative energy that I am going to miss most.

I am also going to miss his humor.  He had a keen, satirical wit and he would have us laughing so hard that my sides hurt.  Nobody and I mean nobody could get me laughing harder than Tom and it really made family gatherings amazing.  He just needed to get that sly smile on his face and I knew something unbelievable was going to come out of his mouth. 
  
I can remember as a kid, in high school, being so excited when Tom would come home and that feeling never ended.  

One of the worlds' dreamers and vision casters is gone.

Rest in peace beloved brother.

Waiting

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