Sunday, December 25, 2011

Streetwalking with Jesus

I just finished reading this fascinating book by John Green, who, along with his wife Carolyn, started Emmaus Ministries in Chicago, reaching out to people most of us would steer clear of, not wanting to become "contaminated."

Here is what the flyleaf of the books says: "
Green didn't set out to be another Dorothy Day or Mother Teresa, and would be quick to tell you he hasn't become one. Struck by the words of Micah 6:8 and the acts of a homeless man who gruesomely ended his life in Green's presence, Green vowed to constantly ask himself: How can I live justly? To whom do I show mercy? How may I walk humbly with God?

Green shares the lessons he learned regarding these hard questions through the stories of men who struggle to escape poverty, addiction, and sexual sin - while encountering Christ in the process. But this book is much more than the account of out Emmaus Ministries combats a social problem to which most of us wish to remain blind.

It is about finding joy in service to others and experiencing love in reaching out to the suffering, all under the shelter of God unconquerable, abiding love.

Yes, Streetwalking with Jesus will sober you..."

I highly recommend that you read it! It will change how you look at those who are suffering and help you see the amazing things God is doing in the lives of those who come in contact with Emmaus Ministries.

Friday, December 23, 2011

And the Christmas season continues

Last night we visited our neighbors Jorge and Azucena. We spent a couple hours just visiting and enjoying the snacks they had put out for us. They are Nicaraguan and have been gone to Nicaragua for the past several months. We always greet each other, but this is the first time we've actually been able to visit. Pray that we'll be a witness to this couple.

And more Christmas season was very obvious at the market today. The first one being that it was PACKED! We were getting a little claustrophobic by the end of our purchases! Bethie couldn't get through the crowds with our little market cart and I barely could get through carrying two market bags. If in the pictures it looks crowded, well, it was!

We don't see snow, or Santa Clauses - a few, but very few - or the usual Christmasy items you expect in the U.S., just lots and lots of piñatas, candy and more candy, fruit to make ponche (sugar cane, tejocotes, guayabas, tamarind, apples), oranges and tangerines galore that are in season right now, and yes! More piñatas! They´re everywhere! And yes, we have one in our house that´s STUFFED, ready for the Bible study group on Christmas Day!

Any guesses? You see quite a lot of this during this time of year. Yams, cooked with enough sugar to give us all diabetic heart attacks (is that possible???) Amazingly sweet. And it was amazing that in the short time I stood there, at least four people stopped by to get their stash for the Christmas celebration. No, not my favorite.

Another very Mexican custom, the posadas. These strings of decorated ribbon are put up all along the street, indicating that there is a posada being held there. And traffic is cut off, making for terrible traffic jams. But that's OK! The posada must go on!

The best waited for us for on the way home. This piñata store sells the BEST piñatas! We don´t usually buy here, because they´re a bit pricey. Can't imagine how much that huge star would cost - didn't ask - but it's beautiful to drive by and look at!

Christmas programs, barbacoa, ponche, Christmas games, gifts, and much more!

It's feeling a lot like Christmas these days. It's even beginning to LOOK a lot like Christmas (no snow though, thankfully!). At the church's Christmas dinner/program, we started out with some Christmas songs with some of the junior highers and their teachers Rosy (R) and Gaby (L).

Followed by a radio program, which included a "spot" with cooking tips. Like, how to serve yourself a bowl of cereal!! And Yeyo on the right, was happy to test it out! The entire radio program was very creative and fun.

Then dinner! Barbacoa (BBQ), which is NOTHING like U.S. BBQ. The meat has been cooked for several hours, and is then chopped and put into tortillas like a taco. You can add salsa, onions, cilantro, lime juice and ENJOY! Our own Francisco and Gaby, who have a barbacoa stand, made dinner for us. It was accompanied by all the ponche (hot Mexican punch) we desired. Very delicious.

Sunday morning I joined Alan and Beth's Bible study group in our home, since our dinner at church was Sunday evening. We had a time of carol singing, a video message, then a Christmas object lesson by daughter Bethie.  She didn't know she was going to give the lesson, but she's as good at ad libing and impromptu messages as her Dad was! Very fun lesson!

Sunday afternoon a bunch of us "gringos" got together for a potluck dinner, then games. The following pictures show the "opening-the-gift" game. You need a chocolate bar covered with about 50 layers of Christmas giftwrap, large gloves, a hat, a scarf, two die and a knife and fork. The one to finally get through to the candy bar is the winner! That is, if there's anything but crumbs left!

Bethie's turn
Cameron's turn

The adults played one game, the children another. Here Kara has finally gotten to the chocolate!

On Monday our ladies' prayer group met at a local restaurant for fellowship and a gift exchange. We need to meet like this more often!         

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dawn's Prelude

Since coming home, I've been really busy unpacking, organizing, getting ready for Christmas activities, one of which took place just a day after arriving home, etc. But there's always time to read! I just finished reading "Dawn's Prelude" by Tracie Peterson. I don't recall reading any other books by her, but WOW! This one was really good! It's a romance, but much more than that. It is the story of evil trying to overtake good, but of course not winning! Check it out!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I've been wanting to share this poem since finding it several months ago in Luci Shaw's beautiful book called Harvesting Fog,  I know it's still November (barely), but Christmas is fast approaching. Since I've spent the last few years in Mexico for Christmas, I hadn't noticed so much the way CHRIST has been taken out of Christmas. I definitely notice it here in the U.S. of A. this year. Try to find a "meaningful" Christmas ornament, try to say Merry CHRISTmas to anyone, try to listen (in public) to any Christmas songs relating to the ONE who brought us Christmas, and it isn't easy! I'm not saying it has totally disappeared - at my grandkids' school they will be singing CHRISTMAS CAROLS about Christ, no less, this year (yes, it's a public school!!), and I hope and pray that in every Christian home in this nation there will be objects, symbols, language, ways of being, songs, stories, Bible readings, and I could go on, that depict the real reason we celebrate this wonderful holiday. Christ came, not just to be born in a stable, but to SAVE the world from their sins! It's all part of the Christmas story from Christmas to resurrection, to ascension, to life everlasting.

Let's celebrate JESUS this Christmas!    

Reprinted from Harvesting Fog, Copyright Luci Shaw 2010, Pinyon Publishing.
Used by permission of the author.

In sleep his infant mouth works in and out.
    He is so new, his silk skin has not yet
            been roughed by plane and wooden beam
     Nor, so far, has he had to deal with human doubt.

                        He is in a dream of nipple found,
                       of blue-white milk, of curving skin
                    and, pulsing in his hear, the inner throb
                        of a warm heart’s repeated sound.

            His only memories float from fluid space.
     So new he has not pounded nails, hung a door,
            broken bread, felt rebuff, bent to the lash,
            wept for the sad heart of the human race.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Devil in Pew Number Seven

If you're looking for a fun, easy read, don't pick up this book! It's much, much worse than fiction! MUCH WORSE!

Shelley Breen of Point of Grace says, "As little girls, we're all scared of something. For five-year-old Becky, it was a bomb-setting madman in her daddy's church - with her family as the target. Against the odds she survived and has had to learn that 'forgiveness is the language of heaven.' This is a must reading for anyone struggling to forgive."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hangin' out at the Allems

Jeff and the boys made stilts, and there's been a lot of "stilt practice" since then. Kim still remembers how!

Jeff and Kim Allem with their children Jeffery 17, Jesse 17, Austin 16, Raquel 14, Toria 13, Calvin 11, Clara 9, Quincy 8 and Ada 6. Happy Thanksgiving 2011!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Passing On

I know it's Thanksgiving, and yes, there's so much to be thankful for, but I've also been thinking of all the dear friends and loved ones who have gone on to glory this year and several just in the last couple weeks: my brother Lee back in May, Marjorie Josi, David Ekstrom, Kathy Paul, Kathy Young, all just a short while ago, just to name a few. It brought to mind this beautiful prayer that follows.

Elisabeth Elliot finished her writing of the Newsletter with this: I bid you farewell with words from a hymn written by Anna L. Waring in 1850: 

Father, I know that all my life
Is portioned out for me,
And the changes that are sure to come
I do not fear to see;
I ask Thee for a present mind,
Intent on pleasing Thee.

I would not have the restless will
That hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do
Or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child
And guided where I go.

Wherever in the world I am,
In whatsoever estate,
I have a fellowship with hearts
To keep and cultivate .

That is my prayer tonight, tomorrow and every day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Man Named Dave

First I read The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer. It was rough reading, but I couldn't put it down. Then I read A Man Named Dave, which was just as difficult to read.

"Pelzer...inspires us all. He is a living example that all of us have the capability to better ourselves no matter what the odds,'' is what Jack Canfield, coauthor of Chicken Soup for the Soul, says. It's just amazing that anyone who lived through the childhood that Dave lived through could now be a "normal" human being. There's one book that comes before these called A Child Called "It". I don't think I could handle that one!

And there's another one: The Privilege of Youth. I'll be looking for it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Calvin and Duck Tape

Calvin had a birthday and among his favorite gifts were four, YES FOUR, rolls of duck tape - blue, silver, gray and black! Imagine what you could do with that!! Well, here are some of his creations:

First a tie for a handsome dude...

and ties for cousins Mikey and Del...

and in honor of Veterans' Day...

So young and already in the Air Force and Navy??

I spied some slippers around here made by the same young man and you can be sure he'll soon be creating more fun stuff - and buying some more Duck Tape to make MORE "stuff".

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What do Herrs, St. Peters and blizzards have in common?

A whole bunch of cousins, that's what! Yesterday and today were full of activities at Herr's Food Factory (potato chips and tortilla chips!), St. Peter's Park and last but not least, homemade blizzards!

We didn't buy the whole store, just a lot of it! After all, we're a lot of people!

What a bunch! Cameron, Calvin, Quincy, Ada, Toria, Del, his BESTEST FRIEND Raquel, 
Josie, Elia, Clara and Mikey!!

I got it Mom, don't worry!

All photos taken "pre" the fall into the water! Only two kids got wet - quite a miracle!
But those that got wet, did a good job of it!

Step right up and get your orders in for a blizzard, or milk shake, or just ice cream!
There's vanilla, strawberry, chocolate!
And besides, there's M&M's, Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfingers,
Heath Bars, you choose!
And lots of whipped cream, extra creamy!
On your blizzard, in your hand, in your mouth, you choose!