Friday, December 24, 2010

merry christmas!

"Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." (Micah 7:18-19)

"And He shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.

And He shall be their peace."

(Micah 5:4-5)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

sweetness in the sour - lyme disease diagnosis

For those of you who have been praying for my health for so long (thank you!), here's an update. We're coming up on four years since my cluster headaches began and are somewhere in the middle of my eighth year with acute migraines, but I have never been so aware of the faithfulness of God and His power to sustain and keep a girl together. Yesterday, I tested positive for Lyme Disease; a disease which, YES (!! happy dance !!), can be treated. The doctor who has stuck with us for the last 19 years believes this is the answer to most of my pain.

Over the years, we've seen doctors all over the country and and have thought a lot of different diagnoses and treatments were "the answer." Of course, this one may fall through as well, but it feels so good to hope, you know?

Last night, after my mom started talking with friends who have fought their own cases of Lyme, we discovered that just one month of antibiotics would probably not get rid of my headaches. Once symptoms become neurological, and if you've had the disease for a long time, it may take two years before they go away. Those 'two years' began to feel like an eternity as another cycle of cluster headache episodes kicked in around 4:30 yesterday afternoon. The idea of knowing I'd keep experiencing that kind of pain was so overwhelming, I started crying when a waiter asked how I was doing. I'm fine.

This morning, I woke up to the words of Psalm 125: "Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever." Who do I trust? What do I long for? Where is my hope? In doctors, in the dream of a pain-free life, in myself? As long as my trust is all over the place rather than in God alone, I'll not only move, but experience has shown that I'll completely fall apart.

"I don't know when this season of pain will be over. Maybe, in God's grace and wisdom, He'll say, 'Enough!' and banish the pain within the hour. Or maybe He'll say, 'Enough!' allowing me to step out of this long-disabled, deteriorating temporary housing into my 'building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands' (2 Cor. 5:1).

"In the meantime, these afflictions of mine - this very season of multiplied pain - is the background against which God has commanded me to show forth His praise. It's also that thing that I am to reckon as 'good and acceptable and perfect,' according to Romans 12. God bids me that I not only seek to accept it, but to embrace it, knowing full well that somewhere way down deep - in a secret place I have yet to see - lies my highest good.

"Yes, I pray that my pain might be removed, that it might cease; but more so, I pray for the strength to bear it, the grace to benefit from it, and the devotion to offer it up to God as a sacrifice of praise. My strength in prayer these days is scant - I'll confess that. So for all the concentration I can muster in prayer, I must not dissipate it in seeking physical blessings only. Rather, I must spend a good portion of it seeking spiritual growth and praying for Christ's kingdom to go forth into this dark world. For such prayers are a way for me to know God and to know Him deeper, higher, richer, wider, and fuller - much fuller than if I comfortably cruised through life in my wheelchair.

"To this point, as I pen this chapter, He has not chosen not to heal me, but to hold me.

"The more intense the pain, the closer His embrace."

(Joni Eareckson Tada, A Place of Healing)

"Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds His people,
from this time forth and forevermore." (Psalm 125)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

and a lovely thing she is, too.

On the first day of December, a fourth grader said to me . . .

"I can't find my scorpion."


But let's rewind. The story begins with an abandoned tub of butter. (It always does, you know.)

Late one afternoon, a worn out bus driver weaved through the last neighborhoods of her daily route and yanked the brakes in front of a house with white pillars and bright Christmas-colored ornaments hanging above the door. To the right of the driver’s window, one smushed nose stared out at the sweet elderly man scooting down the street. As the nose backed away from the window and the sun shined through the glass to display the resulting print, the nine year old (C2) I babysit, passed in front of the bus and hopped onto the sidewalk. As he bypassed the nest of leaves stacked on the stone walkway, it became obvious he was up to something.

“Did he bring it?” Hey, C2.

“Hey. Did he bring it?” Did who bring what?

An answer worked its way to the front of his mouth but appeared to get stuck at the end of his tongue, as C2 picked up a tub of Country Crock butter and peeked inside. “Guess what kind of pet’s in here?” Oh no.

He walked into the house keeping the container steady and placed it on the coffee table. With the alarming tap of plastic-containing-critter against wood, the race to build a habitat was on. “Katie. Go to the computer and find out what kind of food it eats.”

As I walked from one side of the house to the other, C2 took off running. He sprinted up the stairs and slammed a few cabinet doors then latched onto the banister and slid down and spun in circles around one very dizzy kitten and flung open the back door and jogged back and forth, back and forth looking for sand – “NO SAND?!” – and waved as he ran back inside and back upstairs and then finally sat down and looked at me. “So, what does it eat?” I read to him from the website, and he nodded. “That’s not a problem.”

He went back to his pet – What’s its name? “Corpus.” – and I dug through drawers for the cotton ball that C2 planned to use to hydrate Corpus.

I soaked both ends of a Q-tip with filtered water and listened for the shuffling of my mini-arachnologist. “I would watch where you step. I can’t find Corpus.” Ohhhh no.

I looked down at the carpet and saw it: the sand-colored scorpion crawling into the kitchen.

C2’s gaze started at my elbow and slid down my forearm to my finger to the floor.

“Oh, fudge.”

He crouched down, but that critter had tasted freedom, and heck, he was going to get it. As the two of them square-danced on top of the tile, I snapped pictures. The flash of the camera startled them both: “You’re not going to show my mom, right?” Seconds later, Corpus landed in his container.

As we sat on the couch and stared somewhat incredulous at how well the scorpion blended in with his surroundings, C2 explained that he found the escapee while he was hunting during Thanksgiving.

Oh, Thanksgiving, you have left so many reasons for gratitude: the discovery of “the coolest thing ever,” the joy which comes when a potentially poisonous arachnid is no longer loose in the house, the duct tape that keeps a lid down, and the awe of a nine year old boy completely amazed by the handiwork of our Creator-God, whose birth we’re celebrating this month.


Okay. So it's not as pleasant as a partridge in a pear tree. But it's a scorpion from under a log. That has to count for something.

Friday, October 22, 2010

proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


If you stick the words "human trafficking" into a Google news search, you might just kill your feed reader and fry your brain sorting through the hundreds of articles. To save you an afternoon, some crucial pieces from the week (October 9 through October 16) are listed below. Be forewarned: once you're aware of what's happening around you, you'll want to do something about it.

  • Bill Hillar is a retired U.S. Army Special Forces colonel and the inspiration for Taken, a film about a man’s efforts to rescue his daughter following her abduction. Unlike the movie, Hillar’s daughter didn’t survive. According to Hillar's keynote speech,
  • · Two ways to fight the [the modern-day sex and labor slave trade] are through education and informing legislators of the need to change laws to prosecute pimps and employers, rather than the victims.

    · The crime is so lucrative that drug cartels are switching to selling women.

    · Someone can buy or sell a quantity of drugs or a weapon only once. They can buy a female over and over again.

    · The average age of sex slaves is 12, although in some foreign countries even infants are for sale.

    · During the world cup in Berlin, politicians rescinded a prostitution law and imported nearly 30,000 prostitutes.

    · This said, victims often are prosecuted when they have run-ins with the law…. It’s a problem because they aren’t prostitutes – they’re victims. Prostitution indicates choice.

    · Where do the 80,000 pedophiles come from? They come from this country, the United States.

  • "They sell illusions, they sell dreams. It's no surprise that people fall for all kinds of attractive offers from abroad pyramid schemes, lotteries, Nigerian letters [...] It's all good salesmanship." (Eda Mölder) What happens after a person falls prey to these lies?
  • · They may be trapped into marrying an immigrant whose intention is to get visa entry into the EU. Dozens of Estonian women have been lured abroad in recent years.

    · Others may be abandoned after a month or so. According to an Egyptian activist, about 900 children born to Egyptian women and Saudi men are left following "misfar" marriages. The article defines this type of union as one "contracted so that a woman may join her 'husband' for the period of time he travels in a foreign country.'" 90% of fathers leave the children born out of such relationships.

    · Some victims are forced to work at restaurants - including a Chinese buffet in Patchogue - at below minimum wage and live in squalid conditions controlled by their smuggler.

    · Victims may have their kidneys removed and sold to foreigners for up to $200,000.

  • Many types of exploitation exist, and many types of people are used to fill demand.

  • · Children are the most vulnerable. For example, children in Kenya have been subject to sexual exploitation and domestic work and are often lured by the promise of school. In Tanzania, children have been trafficked for street begging. (This week, British police found 103 Romanian children - including a 3 year old - who had been instructed to steal on London roads.) Children have also been employed in hard labor on farms. Child prostitution also occurs: Seattle is currently listed as first in the U.S. In Manitoba, child victims of sex trafficking are held captive in "micro-brothels" controlled by gangs. (For more information on the sex trafficking of children, check out this article by Rev. Shay Cullen published on Friday.)

    · Young women are generally targeted for prostitution. The Daily Evergreen writes of a need for reform in this area:

    - A "disgusting aspect of all of this is how desensitized prostitution is in today's society. states that the word pimp in today's culture refers to someone who is cool, rich, and successful with women. The reality is that a pimp is a slave owner who takes advantage of the vulnerable. It is a grotesque term.... As a culture, we must change this perception if anything is to be done about how these women are treated."

    - "These girls are usually taken from foster homes or from households where they were already abused. Then a grooming process is started where the pimps seduce the trapped young girls to fall in love with them. For girls from broken homes or those who never had one, it is easy to forgive a few bad traits just to have someone care."

    - "Then the abuse begins. It starts with emotional trauma, being told that they are worthless. It escalates to physical violence where they can be beaten within an inch of their life. The point is to bring a message across, that they are property and if they try to run away their owners will find them and hurt them."

  • In case you were wondering...

    · Benjamin Perrin said: "Craigslist has been called the Wal-Mart of child sex trafficking." (Canada)

  • · Blood Money: In the UK, "editors and publishers are likely to find themselves in front of a judge if they refuse to stop running sex ads which are later found to be linked to human trafficking."

    · Human Trafficking Blacklist: Malaysia was added after seven immigration officers and two officers were detained. This is not a new problem. The 2009 U.S. State Department Trafficking in Human Persons Report records that "Malaysian immigration officers sold [Burmese refugees] for about $200 per person to human trafficking syndicates operating along Thailand's southern border." The traffickers demanded ransom which victims were unable to pay; the victims "were sold for the purpose of labor and commercial sexual exploitation." On Thursday, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein announced: "I wish to remind all officers and staff who are entrusted with safeguarding all entry points of the country to carry out their duties and responsibilities with integrity. Do not betray the country to pursue material wealth."

    · Islamabad: Most Wanted Criminals Backed by Politicians: "Human trafficking has been a lucrative business worldwide, but its gravity dawned upon Pakistan as Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) intercepted over 40,000 persons at the Pakistan-Iran/Afghanistan borders since 2005." Director General FIA, Wasim Ahmad said that action is being taken against the immigration officials allegedly involved in cooperating with human traffickers.

    · The Simpsons: A video featuring a redirected opening sement caused quite a stir: "Asian laborers toil in unsanitary, dangerous working conditions, under ground, behind barbed wire, drawing the animation cells of the cartoon, stuffing Bart Simpson dolls and putting together DVDs. [Street artist] Banksy, no doubt, was making a dig at the fact that The Simpsons’ animation is partially subcontracted to studios in South Korea—a cost cutting measure for 20th Century Fox."

    · The Path Forward: Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large, Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, gives a speech at the University of Luxembourg on the Global Fight Against Human Trafficking.

  • Check out the abolitionist featured this week in the New York Times: Suzanne Daley showcased Romania's leading advocate for the victims of trafficking. Iana Matei, a psychologist by training, has been "pulling young women out of the hands of traffickers" for more than 10 years.
  • · In 1998, she answered a police call to deal with three young prostitutes. She said, "I was annoyed until I got there and saw these girls. The mascara was running all over their faces. They had been crying so hard. Journalists had been there and made them pose. And they were minors. They were 14, 15, and 16. But no one cared."

    · Matei "does little to disguise her disgust with legal systems around the world that fail to take trafficking seriously enough. 'When these guys get caught, they get what? Six years? Maybe. They destroy 300 lives and they get six years. You traffic drugs, you get 20 years. There is something not right.'" (Read more of Iana Matei's story on the New York Times' website.)

    On October 12, FM Droutsas gave a speech at the Foreign Ministry conference on "EU Policy and the National Action Plan for combating Human Trafficking." He ends by saying,

    "Ladies and gentlemen, if I could single out one basic message from today’s conference, it would be this:

    "We cannot and must not relax our vigilance. What we say and do will never be sufficient as long as the exploitation of human beings by human beings continues. We cannot have a clear conscience and we cannot be proud of the achievements of our culture as long as this phenomenon continues to exist.

    "Our country's goal is to be among the leading players in the international campaign for confronting modern forms of slavery. Our goal is not simply to meet our commitments....

    "Our goal is to be a frontrunner and - why not? - a model."

    In the midst of all of this, let it be true that our "eyes are ever on the LORD, for only He will release [our] feet from the snare." (Psalm 14:15) "The Maker of heaven and earth, ... who remains faithful forever .... HE upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, ... The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but He frustrates the ways of the wicked. The LORD reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations." (Psalm 146)

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    chim chim cher-oo

    During the months before school opened its doors and released its children to sunshine and sunscreen, the search for cool amusement gave way to the hopeless nurturing of spring fever cases. The virus began spreading like Silly Bandz throughout local elementary school, and all hopes for its containment vanished as the Houston-heat grew Houston-hotter. Thoroughly ignorant of the contagious nature of the disease, little boys stuck their heads out of backseat car windows and opened their mouths, contaminating carpool lines as they belted out Lady Gaga’s “Ale(-Ale-Ale-)jandro.” The fever passed through families, and children sought shelter in their neighbor’s homes, irrationally afraid of visiting grandparents.

    This kind of irrational behavior became a common symptom among the infected. Upon exposure to the disease, one nine year old admitted a severe craving for fish oil supplements. After placing a capsule under his tongue, he immediately expressed a need to retrieve an item left right outside of his home. However, the record shows that the child walked beyond his backyard gate, across his driveway, and under a tree before attempting to swallow. He then fell, knees to the earth, and began to dig a small hole. At this time, the vitamin was projected from the child’s mouth into the hole, covered with dirt, and marked with a dying daffodil. The child returned to the house empty-handed, refused to comment on the incident, and never acknowledged the four large kitchen windows which bore witness to the entire event.

    On a similar evening, a game began in the traditional way: laughter could be heard throughout a cul-de-sac as eight children ran to hide. However, no one is certain what happened between the counts of one and one hundred; a rash onset of the fever is suspected. The filed episode reported that when the seeker, Kid 1, opened his eyes and cried out, “Ready or not…,” he also found Kid 2 standing in front of him, hands over his eyes. Kids 3, 4, and 5 were lying flat, squished together like sardines, in the bed of a truck parked in front of a nearby house. As Kid 1 looked for the rest of his hidden friends, Kid 6 left his spot behind a tree to chase a squirrel. He picked up a soccer ball and threw it in the squirrel’s path. The ball smacked the hood of the truck and set off an alarm which was later reported several streets over. Kids 3, 4, and 5 sat up in confusion. Kid 7 was startled by the noise and stood up from behind the trashcan where he was hiding on the other side of the street. His sudden movements knocked the trashcan over and sent it rolling down the driveway. When it reached the bottom of the driveway, Kid 8 (litter-ally) rolled out of the trashcan.

    Neighborhoods who experienced the epidemic also reported unnatural amounts of string cheese consumption, several occasions where backyard swing sets were turned into water parks, and a couple of disillusioned victims changing the words of “La Cucaracha” to “Ra Mochalaba.”

    Vaccinations have not been created, but studies have found that several months of vacation between the months of May and August aid even the most severe cases. The start of school in August has been shown to encourage the reappearing of minor symptoms, but all traces of these particular instances have disappeared at the arrival of football season, pumpkin spice lattes, winds in the east, and mist coming in.

    "Can't put me finger on what lies in store, but I fear what's to happen all happened before."

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    make me Thy fuel

    "From prayer that asks that I may be
    Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
    From fearing when I should aspire,
    From faltering when I should climb higher,
    From silken self, O Captain, free
    Thy soldier who would follow Thee.

    From subtle love of softening things,
    From easy choices, weakenings,
    (Not thus are spirits fortified,
    Not this way went the Crucified)
    From all that dims Thy Calvary,
    O Lamb of God, deliver me.

    Give me the love that leads the way,
    The faith that nothing can dismay,
    The hope no disappointments tire,
    The passion that will burn like fire;
    Let me not sink to be a clod;
    Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God."

    - Amy Carmichael, Mountain Breezes

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    the ideal woman

    "Here we have a picture of God's ideal woman... Faith in God that sees beyond present bitter setbacks. Freedom from the securities and comforts of the world. Courage to venture into the unknown and the strange. Radical commitment in the relationships appointed by God.... This is the woman of Proverbs 31:25 who looks into the future with confidence in God and laughs at the coming troubles: 'Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.' Ruth is one of 'the holy women who hoped in God... [and did] not fear anything that is frightening' (1 Peter 3:5-6). It is a beautiful thing to watch a woman like this serve Christ with courage…. Whatever else the great women of faith doubted, they never doubted that God governed every part of their lives and that nothing could stay his hand... Nothing - from toothpicks to tyrants - is ultimately self-determining. Everything serves (willingly or not) the 'purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will' (Eph. 1:11). God is the all-encompassing, all-pervading, all-governing reality."

    -John Piper, A Sweet and Bitter Providence

    (originally posted on the Girl Talk blog)

    Saturday, June 5, 2010

    our first game is called 'well begun is half done'

    Yes, it’s true, and I'm sorry: this blog has been without babysitting-esque stories lately.

    Yesterday around noon, the phone rang at the exact moment a few blonde hairs appeared below the kitchen window. I ran the phone outside as C2 hopped from one rock to the next along the edge of the flower bed and then plopped down in the mud. He tucked the phone under his ear and began to dig.

    “Hello, sir? … No, sir. … What am I doing? … Oh, I’m planting a sunflower, sir.”

    C2 passed the phone back to me and continued to poke at the dirt and make room for the plant he uprooted (ahem) from the creek in his neighborhood. He stuck the long roots into the bottom of the mini-pit and shoved gravel around its perimeter to help it stand. The length of the flower made its head unusually top-heavy, but the core remained firm. C2 stood up and shook his head, dirt flying everywhere, and marched back into the air conditioning.

    An hour later, we walked back outside, and he paused to check on his prized plant. The top fourth of the sunflower drooped toward the earth. As my little gardener crawled to examine it, I asked him what he thought the problem was. He lunged for the hose to rehydrate the flower and then stopped and looked up at me.

    “I don't know. Maybe it’s in shock.”

    He nodded then knelt back down to tend to his project.

    So, why has my blog lacked Nanny Diaries' posts? I don't know. Maybe it’s in shock.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    peter pan nightmare

    Mick LaSalle, film writer for the Houston Chronicle, wrote an article about the perception of age as portrayed by actors in movies of today compared with those of yesteryear. If you read a hard copy of the paper, you might have skipped past this easy-to-miss piece on the back page of the entertainment section. LaSalle begins with commentary on modern movie releases and ends with a hard critique of our culture.

    (Is his analysis correct? Read the article in its entirety.)

    LaSalle begins by saying, "We're seeing this more and more in movies, not actors playing younger than they are but rather actors playing their age — middle age — as a time for beginnings. Look at the Sex and the City women, who are in their 40s and 50s playing women in their 40s and 50s, yet their whole atmosphere is young, and their whole story is one of constant renewal. There's no sense of settling down or turning from the world." He goes on to explain why for certain reasons this is due to perception: Baby Boomers and Generation Xers set the cultural agenda; and then he shows that for other reasons, this goes beyond perception: modern stars tend to take better care of themselves.

    LaSalle then moves on to his final, and most important reason:

    "There's a refusal to get oldto some degree it's a refusal to become maturethat's just part of our culture. . . . Adulthood just isn't what it used to be."

    "In fact, when I see movies like Sherlock Holmes or The Losers, I wonder if we're not lost in some Peter Pan nightmare, in which adult characters can behave like children and yet no one seems to notice.

    "Let's be fair to the past. Gardner may have been practically an old woman at 41. But in The Killers, at 23, she was more of an adult than most of our current actresses will ever be. Gable may have been an old fat guy at 47, but at 31, in Red Dust (1932), he was a man. Not a young man. A man. He was a year younger than Ashton Kutcher is today.

    "Kirsten Dunst is 28 — the same age as Greta Garbo in Queen Christina (1933) — and yet she's still an ingenue. At 32, Hilary Swank tried to act the femme fatale in The Black Dahlia (2006) but seemed like a girl playing dress-up. Meanwhile, Jane Greer — perhaps the sexiest, slinkiest and scariest film noir heroine of them all — was only 22 when she filmed Out of the Past (1947). And Jean Harlow was only 26 when she died. She was a woman from her first appearance onscreen.

    "Perhaps it takes a Depression or a World War II to put miles on people's spirits and make them seem older. By comparison, later boomers and Generation Xers have lived their lives in unchallenging times. I'm not complaining — that's a good thing — who needs calamity? Who needs to feel or act old a minute before it's necessary?

    "Yet I wonder: Maybe we're seeing in our buoyant, middle-aged stars a representation of our own consciousness — the unclouded consciousness of a people who have evaded life's deepest and most meaningful lessons.

    "That would even be worse than aging, to go through life and miss the point."

    Saturday, May 22, 2010

    "You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
    You encourage them, and You listen to their cry,
    defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
    in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more."

    -- Psalm 10:17-18.

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    the "s" word.

    (Top 10 Facts About The "S" Word from Free the Slaves )

    Certain words have haunted me for weeks now, words that came from a magazine article I read over a month ago. To be honest, I don’t subscribe to the magazine, and when I went back this morning to grab the link, the article had been removed for those who aren’t paying readers. But I’m not here to promote the original work; if you can get past both my voice and the authors and let the content speak, you will be better off.

    “Imagine you live in a country riven by war or poverty or both. There is no work. There is not enough food to feed your family or money for medicine when someone gets sick or injured. Education is nothing but a pipe dream. If you are a woman, your value is even more tenuous; you have probably been beaten or abused in some other way by a father, a husband, or an employer. You’re smart enough to understand that this life promises to be the only one you will get. It will last for another thirty or forty years, with no improvement. And that will be it.

    “Then one day someone says he can help you escape to the United States, where you can be free and make plenty of money for yourself while supporting your family back home. Well and good, but who has the money to get there? No problem – you can escape on the installment plan. All you (or your parents, if they are sealing the deal) have to do is sign a contract that promises to pay back the money you have borrowed by working for the agent’s connections in the U.S. at a restaurant or a factory. The going rate is about $30,000, which sounds like a lot of money, but in America everyone gets rich. And so you sign, ignoring a clause that says your family will be held responsible for your debt if you cannot pay it.

    “You get on a gigantic airplane – most likely you’ve never flown before – and land in a brand-new country where you cannot read the signs. If you have any identification documents at all, they are phony ones that you paid a fortune for back home, most likely adding to the debt you are already trying not to worry about. Someone picks you up and drives you away, and leaving the airport, you catch a glimpse of your future: teeming freeways, skyscrapers so tall they block out the sun, shopping malls that would dwarf your entire village. Your new ‘boss’ buys you lunch, and you cannot believe the size of the portions put in front of you. All around you are people who want for nothing.

    “While you are in this state – dizzy, disoriented – your boss takes you to a place that isn’t a restaurant or a factory and tells you to unpack your few belongings in a dingy back room. He tells you that this is where you will work to pay off your debt. You will be a prostitute, he explains, and by the way, you will be charged for room and board while you are paying off that $30,000. When you protest, he beats you, starves you, or keeps you awake for days on end. Then, just to make himself clear, he holds up a picture of your son or your parents or your sister and tears it in half. Or maybe he just says, ‘We hear your father has a bad heart.'

    “At that point, your predicament becomes very clear. You do not speak or read the language. You do not have a cent to your name. You have no idea where you are in this vast country, and you have no way of finding out because no one lets you go anywhere alone. What do you do? Most likely, you do what you are told.” (Mimi Swartz, "The Lost Girls", Texas Monthly)

    It's Monday; I would imagine it's an ordinary one. You wake up wrapped in clean sheets in an air-conditioned bedroom within a perfectly cooled house. You turn off an alarm clock, click on overhead lights, and hop into a hot shower (where, I imagine, you hang out a little bit longer because it IS another Monday). You most likely saunter down a carpeted hallway and eat breakfast with the talking heads from CNN; maybe you're listening, maybe not. It’s not like the world issues they analyze will actually affect you this morning. (Possibly they will, but probably not.) I imagine you jump in your car and speed through the drive thru at Starbucks (settling for the smallest size drink because we are in a recession, you know), fully conscious of the inconvenience that parking and walking-in creates (not to mention the horrific traffic experience that occurs on the freeway with a 10-minutes-late-departure). You probably make an appearance at class or work (in the cute new shoes you bought over the weekend) and mention how the days off passed by so quickly. At this point, you probably remember that you are working your way to a better life, so you close Solitaire on the computer and work a little harder. I imagine you end your day and head to the gym (possibly, but probably not) and drive home and cook dinner and call a friend and check Facebook (from your iPhone while you cook dinner and talk to a friend) and study a little longer and curl up in your cozy bed and wake up to face Tuesday morning.

    This (for the most part) isn’t meant to be a guilt trip. (Geez, I just made myself feel guilty, and I know already that this post really does have a greater purpose!) I follow most of the above routine myself. I'm not even sure if I am capable of forming a coherent sentence without the smell of coffee (preferably Dunkin Donuts – yes, please) wafting into our study. Not to mention that my biggest complaint today has been a fever-driven headache: with a few steps and a few Tylenol, that pain will disappear. I’ve been able to sit at a desk surrounded by textbooks and type out essay after essay to the soundtrack of family members who want me to succeed. But back to that headache, if it was to get worse, I could always make a quick trip to see a doctor or visit a local emergency room with little effort. And then everything would be fine again, or so I’d imagine.

    The American dream…

    And we’re at ease. We’re safe. We’re free.

    "All around you are people who want for nothing."

    The article estimates that between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the country each year. 25 percent of all trafficking victims in the U.S. end up in Texas. Many sources claim Houston, my hometown, as the leading trafficking site in the U.S. because of its international airports and its central location with highways between Los Angeles and Miami and between the U.S. and Latin America.

    The land of the free…

    And my neighbors are suffering. They’re held captive. They’re put up for sale.

    At what point are we going to look past our pretty, “perfect” lives and take note of what is actually going on… 10 miles from our houses? 5 miles? 2 miles? I’m not against the suburban lifestyle; I’ve been out here all my life. But the apathy scares me. It’s insane to deny trafficking is happening or pretend there’s nothing we can do to stop it. If our brothers and sisters were the faces stamped with a price tag and sold online, would we sit still and hope for the best in their situations? Did you notice the average price in the video? $90. Can you believe it? We often spend more than that before noon. What if the kids we babysit, the ones whose lives are interwoven into ours, were kidnapped and traded for $90? Would we still do nothing?

    “According to ECPAT (End Child Prositution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes), as many as 100,000 U.S. Children are forcefully engaged in prostitution or pornography each year. Approximately 300,000 U.S. children are at-risk.” (

    If anything has been learned from slavery in the past, it is that change does not appear overnight. Step 1 simply involves becoming aware. You have to know the problem in order to solve it.

    Step 1 complete.

    Before acting, before anything, we need to humble ourselves before our sovereign ruler and trust His will for our lives. He still reigns, and He still is the One we serve. (Isaiah 61)

    "Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed.

    The LORD sets the prisoners free;

    the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
    The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down" (from Psalm 146)

    I’m hoping to slowly post what I learn as I work through stacks of research and wrap my mind around this problem. It’s an enormous issue. However, it can be solved. Did you catch what the video said? Twenty-five years.

    Let freedom ring . . . .

    episode 25 / episode 26 / episode 27

    A Poem for Caleb:


    The Future Decided:

    Saturday, April 3, 2010

    reason #49.

    “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
    - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

    So, why did He suffer and die?

    Reason #49 … so that He would be crowned with glory and honor:
    (The following is from John Piper's The Passion of Jesus Christ )

    “But we see...Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death.” (Hebrews 2:9)

    “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every other name.” (Philippians 2:7-9)

    “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12)

    “The night before he died, knowing what was coming, Jesus prayed, ‘Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed’ (John 17:5). And so it came to pass: He was ‘crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death’ (Hebrews 2:9). His glory was the reward of his suffering. He was ‘obedient to the point of death…. Therefore God has highly exalted him’ (Philippians 2:8-9). Precisely because he was slain, the Lamb is ‘worthy… to receive… honor and glory’ (Revelation 5:12). The passion of Jesus Christ did not merely precede the crown; it was the price, and the crown was the prize. He died to have it. “Many people stumble at this point. They say, ‘How can this be loving? How can Jesus be motivated to give us joy if he is motivated to get his glory? Since when is vanity a virtue?’ That is a good question, and it has a wonderful biblical answer.

    “The answer lies in learning what great love really is. Most of us have grown up thinking that being loved means being made much of. Our whole world seems to be built on this assumption. If I love you, I make much of you. I help you feel good about yourself. It is as though a sight of the self is the secret of joy.

    “But we know better. Even before we come to the Bible, we know this is not so. Our happiest moments have not been self-saturated moments, but self-forgetful moments. There have been times when we stood beside the Grand Canyon, or at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, or viewed a stunning sunset over the Sahara, and for a fleeting moment felt the joy of sheer wonder.

    "This is what we were made for.

    "Paradise will not be a hall of mirrors. It will be a display of majesty. And it won’t be ours.

    “If this is true, and if Christ is the most majestic reality in the universe, then what must his love to us be? Surely not making much of us. That would not satisfy our souls. We were made for something much greater. If we are to be as happy as we can be, we must see and savor the most glorious person of all, Jesus Christ himself. This means that to love us, Jesus must seek the fullness of his glory and offer it to us for our enjoyment. That is why he prayed, the night before he died, ‘Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory’ (John 17:24). That was love.

    "‘I will show them my glory.’ When Jesus died to regain the fullness of his glory, he died for our joy. Love is the labor – whatever the cost of helping people be enthralled with what will satisfy them most, namely, Jesus Christ. That is how Jesus loves.”

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    episode 22 / episode 23 / episode 24

    St. Patrick's Day:

    A Look at Real Love with Richy Fisher:

    A Big Announcement:

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    what did I tell ya? there's the whole world at your feet.

    It’s been over a month since the last Nanny Diaries post. I apologize. In all honesty, it seems like every time I sit down to write an interruption alwa –

    “KAAAATIE, how much longer?”

    29 minutes and 57 seconds.

    “How long has it been?” 3 seconds. “Are you sure?” Would I lie to you? “No.”

    – and I’ve been trying to keep a record of my adventures with my kids, so I could tell you some of our stories, our moments.

    “Wait, how old are you again?” Eighteen. “I thought when people turn eighteen they do bad things and get arrested and go to jail.” What?! Where did you…. Hold up. C2, focus for me, okay?” “Okay. “So, how much longer now?” READ.

    C2 squints at me and props his book up on the coffee table. The light from the ceiling fan hits the shiny surface of the page, and the outline of a highly uncommon, African snake bounces off the glass. I turn back around in my chair, close my eyes, count (5, 4, 3, 2). “Hey Katie?” Hey, C2?

    “How much longer?”

    28 minutes and 11 seconds.

    “No way.” He hops up and stands underneath the microwave. “Oh yeah. You’re right.” Thank you. He wanders from the stovetop to the sink to the pantry. Hey mister, if you don’t sit down now, I’m adding time to the clock. He skips back to his exotic reptiles.

    He sinks to his knees and presses his bare toes against the base of the couch. The cat waddles over and curls up on the pillow behind his head next to Pancho, C2’s favorite stuffed monkey. Behind the pillow rest two remote controls lying in perfect parallel lines, one product of the slightly OCD, after-school routine he’s established for himself.

    Over the last seven months, our time together has molded into a slightly predictable pattern: the bus drops off my kiddo clad in his Peyton Manning jersey at the same time everyday; he takes his shoes off and tosses a sock at my head; I interrogate him about school and miss-what’s-her-name from the back of the bus; he tosses the other sock at my head; and he wanders into the kitchen, back into the living room: “I like to watch TV in peace after a hard day of work.” Okay, you’re EIGHT.

    A few weeks ago, my kid wandered straight into the house: no frogs in hand, no stopping to attack zombies. He wandered in and smiled at me. (Uh oh.) The first sock landed on my shoulder but without the chatter which normally accompanies it. I began questioning C2 about life (think soft-core Jack Bauer), but he shook his head and didn’t respond. What? He began an elaborate combination of sign language and charades until I understood: he lost his voice. I followed him into the kitchen to check for fever and to find out if his throat hurt as well; he reached for a pad of paper and jotted down: “no, voice only.” He kicked off his (extra-quiet) half-hour-in-peace in the usual way: the wooden doors separating the kitchen and the living room closed, and my little mime bounced out of sight. As I pulled out homework, I listened to Candace yelling for her mom, and I heard my child as he jumped on the futon. (That’s right, C2, I know what you do in there.) As Phineas and Ferb said goodbye to the Lake Nose Monster, the wheels of C1’s bus wheeled to a stop. Like clockwork, the front door slammed shut, his backpack hit the floor, and the tennis-shoe-shuffle grew closer and closer to the shut wooden doors. (5, 4, 3, 2) “Wow, C2, why are you watching that?” C1 dived for the remote, and from behind closed doors, I mouthed “STOP, C1” at the exact moment as my voiceless C2 in the next room. Wait a minute. My textbook hit the kitchen bar, and the wooden doors flew back open. Child, I thought you lost your voice?! He grinned. “Oh, yeah.”


    “KATIE!” Yes? “Katie… you’re not reading.” I know – I’m working on a story. C2, you’re not reading either. “Yes, I am!” If you’re talking, you’re not reading. “Nuh-uh, I AM reading.” If you want to keep talking, you can read aloud. He considers this. “How much longer?”

    12 minutes. He turns the page.

    At the end of the last month, in the bathroom down the hall from the spot where he’s reading, C2 and I sat on top of the counter, cross-legged, staring at the mirror, waiting for nearly 45 minutes. C2 had his finger in his mouth, squeezing a little white tooth that dangled from his gums. After telling stories about how he was going to get a string and tie it to the door, he lowered his hand from his mouth and showed me a tight fist. His fingers opened gently, slowly, and his big brown eyes flashed from confusion to horror to utter glee. He called his mom and, later, ran to the door when his dad walked in: chin tipped toward the sky, tongue in the new hole, smile stretched as wide as his cheeks could manage.


    C1, I can see you. His floppy-haired-head pops up from behind the kitchen counter. Go sit down. “I didn’t ask!” I know, kiddo. And guess what... you’re almost done. He walks past the TV’s black screen and kneels down one last time.

    A week ago, he begged me to watch a fictional documentary he had seen the night before on Animal Planet. We curled up on the couch, and as the scenes became graphic, we started talking about aliens and space and heaven and Jesus. “I’m going to go into space and fly to the end of it to see what’s there. I want to fly to the very top.” You’ll fly and fly, but God created billions of galaxies out there. He spoke and the stars and the planets and the world all lined up and were stretched way out there. He’s THAT powerful, and He still knows and cares about you and me. Cool, huh? He looked up at me and out the window.


    “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY LONGER!! I CANNOT TAKE IT. What does the clock say?”

    3 minutes.

    I don’t know. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be in this place, within THIS moment. However, I want each story captured and recorded, so I can look back and say: Look where we’ve come from. Look what my God has done. Look at how He’s worked HERE and set THIS thing up; look at how He’s changing us. Look at who He is. SEE IT. KNOW IT. It’s real. HE’s real. That one time, when we thought it couldn’t get worse, He was there; He was comforting. And then when we were giggling so hard we couldn’t stand, He was there; He rejoiced in our joy. He spoke that joy into existence. It’s HIS. And when it hurt, when the pain was so bad, He was there; He understood. He was with us: our rock, our comforter, our healer, our refuge, our God. And we’ve seen what He’s done, and we don’t know what’s to come… but He’ll be there again. And again. And again. And we’ll give Him all of our moments.

    “…. KATIE, what does it say?”

    10 seconds.

    Moment: when C1 tackled C2 and accidently tore off a scab from a previous injury. Moment: when C2 then commanded that I take a picture of the blood dripping down his leg to show his mom, so C1 would get in trouble. Moment: when Andy (the newly adopted, deaf, 3-legged kitten) stopped running for the dark corner under C2’s bed every time he approached and, instead, started falling asleep beside him. Moment: when C2 took the phone I handed him and screamed bloody murder for no apparent reason. . . . Moment: when C2 climbed the fence in his backyard and fell into the neighbor’s yard. Moment: when he started singing on the other side of the fence. Moment: when I wondered if it was really necessary to walk around and ring the neighbor’s doorbell to retrieve him. (Just kidding) Moment: when C1 completed his first science fair (and placed). Moment: when C2 wiggled his finger at me and whispered that, you know, he didn’t reeeally think it was important to show his dad the picture I took of him attacking C1. Moment: when we lost a neighbor kid in the house and found him 20 minutes later in a closet by himself. Moment: when C2 zoomed down the stairs with a tiny, wooden airplane in hand and then zoomed right out the door. Moment: when he looked over his shoulder to make sure I was behind him: “You should see what it does with a BIG gust of wind!” Moment: when he skipped ahead and turned around one more time to double check that I was watching before he let go. “Ready?”

    Only through Your wonderful, beautiful, scandalous grace, Lord, will I find the strength to trust You with the moments past, with the moments I’m in, with the moments to come. Let my every moment contain all moments, let each one be wrapped around Your will for my life, let all bring You glory. Jesus, I’m so ready.

    You are the One who holds my life and my kiddos. You are the One who sustains us. You are the One who created laughter, story, moments. You are.

    5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

    episode 19 / episode 20 / episode 21

    A Talk Show with Derek:

    Personal Problems:

    Caleb Needs Your Help:

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    episode 18: pirates

    (Check out Episode 17: Old Skewl on Caleb and John's fanpage.)

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    surrender, surrender

    "Father, I want to know Thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from the the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus' name. Amen."

    - A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

    Saturday, January 30, 2010

    Wednesday, January 27, 2010

    beauty's link to terrorism

    The following is from Carolyn McCulley's January 26 blog post:

    "One of my favorite Bible passages is from Psalm 34. Verses 4 and 5 read: 'I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.'

    "I have seen that kind of radiant beauty on those whose hearts are contented in God, who are eager to proclaim all of His blessings and mercies upon their lives. I firmly believe that is the most attractive beauty there is, because it edifies and builds up others. Yet, I also know the strong pull of the cosmetic and cosmeceutical industries and the promises they make to stall or turn back the ravages of time. So I write this post with a bit of ambivalence, because I know the money I spend at various salons.

    "That said, I have never been Botoxed. My dermatologist did inform me a few years ago that it was time to start, because it would keep my fine lines from becoming deep wrinkles. I frowned (deepening those lines) and shook my head. There was no way I was going to stick a neurotoxin in my face, I announced. I was sure that in 20 years, we'd discover why that was a bad idea. She looked at me placidly and said, "I hope not because I have a face full of it." Maybe she was looking at me in wide-eyed horror, but I couldn't tell.

    "Likely it won't take 20 years. We're now discovering a new problem associated with the Botox craze: an increased risk of terrorism. Yesterday the Washington Post ran an article about how officials fear that the toxic ingredient in Botox could become terrorist tool:

    • 'In early 2006, a mysterious cosmetics trader named Rakhman began showing up at salons in St. Petersburg, Russia, hawking a popular anti-aging drug at suspiciously low prices. He flashed a briefcase filled with vials and promised he could deliver more -- "as many as you want," he told buyers -- from a supplier somewhere in Chechnya.'
    • 'Rakhman's "Botox" was found to be a potent clone of the real thing, but investigators soon turned to a far bigger worry: the prospect of an illegal factory in Chechnya churning out raw botulinum toxin, the key ingredient in the beauty drug and one of world's deadliest poisons. A speck of toxin smaller than a grain of sand can kill a 150-pound adult.'
    • 'No Chechen factory has been found, but a search for the maker of the highly lethal toxin in Rakhman's vials continues across a widening swath of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia. U.S. officials and security experts say they know the lab exists, and probably dozens of other such labs, judging from the surging black market for the drug.'
    • 'Al-Qaeda is known to have sought botulinum toxin. The Lebanese Hezbollah movement, which the United States has designated a terrorist organization, and other groups have bought and sold counterfeit drugs to raise cash. Now, with the emergence of a global black market for fake Botox, terrorism experts see an opportunity for a deadly convergence.'
    • '"It is the only profit-making venture for terrorists that can also potentially yield a weapon of mass destruction," said Kenneth Coleman, a physician and biodefense expert.'

    "That last quote is important. I recognize that criminal elements can run scams on most anything to finances their ventures. In some ways, we can't take responsibility for what they choose to contort. But in an age of responsible consumerism, we also can't ignore what kind of markets our consumption creates. This article contains sobering news. I don't offer it to shame women who have had Botox treatments, nor to add one more temptation to those who are prone to fear. I am posting it because I had never heard about this potential link to terrorism. And I believe that having this kind of information helps us to consider our actions and motives from a broader perspective. It challenges us to rethink what is packaged as normal and acceptable.

    "We live in an age that sells us a lie: that somehow or another we can get around the aging process. But we can't. Not in our own strength. Sickness, aging, and death are a consequence of our own sinfulness. They are inevitable consequences, but they are not irrevocable. Because there is One who paid the penalty for our sin and gave us His righteousness in exchange, this is not the end of the story. Jesus triumphed over death! His sinless life and substitutionary death on the cross for our sins has averted the Father's righteous wrath for all of our wrongs. Through this divine rescue, we can repent and receive Jesus' gracious gift of forgiveness, reconciliation with God, and life everlasting. And added to those amazing gifts is a new, glorified and ageless body."

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    i told you she was tricky.

    Mr. Banks: "Will you be good enough to explain all this?"
    Mary Poppins: "First of all, I would like to make one thing quite clear."
    Mr. Banks: "Yes?"
    Mary Poppins: "I never explain anything."

    I received a text before nanny duties began today warning that Rainbow (the bearded dragon) had been spending all of her time sulking in the corner of her cage, so C2 and I grabbed the grumpy lizard after all of our secrets were shared and cuddled in front of cartoons until she snapped out of her semi-depressed state. As C2 uncurled her from the towel and set her back under her heat lamps, a commercial for the new movie The Spy Next Door burst on screen: a potential classic (… I said potential), where Jackie Chan’s character is “part spy, part babysitter, all hero.”

    I chewed on my pen cap and wondered if Mr. Chan carried a carpet bag. C2 snapped the cage shut. I flipped a page in my textbook as the trailer ended. You know..., I’m a spy.


    Are you sure about that? He turned around and studied me.

    “There’s no way.” He grabbed my pen and examined it. “But if you were a spy, this pen would blow up if I threw it.” He threw it. Gravity pulled it across the giant snake painted on the wall and down to the carpet. The sleeping cat lying beneath the mural opened a lazy eye, saw C2, and ran out the open bedroom door. “It didn’t blow up.” Naturally. You didn’t use it correctly. He squinted.

    “Well, what about THIS?” My textbook hit the wall. (Sorry, Mom.) “It didn’t explode. You’re not a spy.” I smiled and jumped up to retrieve the nonvolatile study materials.

    I reopened my book but, out of the corner of my eye, saw him place one bare foot on top of his giant basketball-shaped-chair. Oh no. “Oh YES!” He sprung off the chair with the most unnatural screech to ever come out of an eight year old boy’s throat and tackled me, pulling at my hair and screaming, “IS IT A MASK? IS IT A MASK?!”

    He let go of my “real face” and toppled over my head. I sat up and grabbed my scalp to feel if any hair remained and heard him beside me, gasping for air, laughter filling the spaces between words,

    “If you are actually a spy, why are you telling me?”

    If I tell you, you don’t know whether I’m telling you because I’m not and want you to think that I am what I’m not, or if, in fact, I am and I’m telling you to make you question everything you know to be true.



    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    episode 14: a new season

    CALEB and JOHN kick off a new season of

    What is Your Problem? today!

    Click to become a FACEBOOK FAN, subscribe to their YOUTUBE PAGE, follow their TWITTER ACCOUNT, tell your friends, submit your problems, and stay beautiful!

    (To Save a Life - Trailer)

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    well, hip, hip, hooray! and don't stumble on the way out, deary

    The sky was gray that day, trees sighing with the wind, an overcast and blustery afternoon (rather an unhappy Winds-day, Winnie the Pooh) as my car sped through the trees lining the roads. The clock on my dashboard rolled to 2:58, and I let my fingers slip the volume knob all the way to the right; louder music changes a red light to green, correct? 2 minutes. Three school buses sped past, and the knob was yanked the rest of the way to the right. The light changed colors, and my speed gauge hit 102mph. Just kidding. Mostly. The clock clicked to 2:59, and my phone began to vibrate in the cup holder setting off a few angry dimes: "Mom calling." One minute. “Are you there yet?” No! The neighborhood came into view, and I swung my car onto the final stretch. I spotted a tiny yellow speck in the distance: the race was on. I hit the accelerator as the yellow grew in front of my windshield. As soon as we were shoulder to shoulder, I veered onto the street and jammed on my brakes. One street over, I heard the roar of engines and the screaming of children. 30 seconds. I sprinted up the driveway and behind the gate, grabbed the key underneath the “Alien Attack Center” built the previous evening, and shoved my body through the back door. With one hand, I threw my textbooks on the counter, with the other, I grabbed the cat before he escaped into the cold; together we sprinted to every window to allow the gray of the afternoon to explode into every corner of the house. A whistle sounded, and I checked beneath the newly opened blinds. 10 seconds. I chunked the cat in a corner (Just kidding! Oh, bother.) and calmly opened the front door and waved to the competition, I mean, bus driver as my kid stumbled against the gust of wind and down the steps, backpack in hand.

    (But C2 would have understood if I hadn’t made it back in time: I had a doctor’s appointment. He gets it. That one time when his dog pushed past him and out of the garage and down the street and beyond the neighborhood and all the way to Blockbuster he had to sit in the back, seat-belted in with my oxygen tank right next to him. He gets it better than most people. “Your headache-things hurt worse than having a baby, right?” That’s what they say. “Am I going to get them, too?” No, sir. “And I’m not going to have a baby either. Man, I am LUCKY!”)

    I watched my kiddo, clad in shorts despite the freezing temperatures (because he “wasn’t cold”; he “wears jeans in the summer”), bounce down the last steps of the bus, mysterious blue container in hand. I closed the glass door and stepped closer to him. He passed in front of the bus and tripped, mysterious blue container flung at my feet. I stifled a scream as the bus engines revved up, my child on the concrete between the two front wheels. As the bus driver and I quickly made eye contact, C2 popped up and scurried into the house. The bus driver’s eyes followed him in, and as her eyes met mine, they spoke every exclamation of horror and relief that crossed our minds in that one moment. She threw up her hands to the sky (or rather, the gum-covered-ceiling) and then smiled and waved good-bye. Who would have guessed when my family moved that she would become one of my few friends on this side of town? I waved back and picked up the blue container C2 had forgotten and jogged inside to be with my kid.

    “If the bus had started moving, would you have gotten fired?” Of all the questions…. You wouldn’t have been under there; we wouldn’t have let anything happen to you. He noticed the blue container I had in my hand and unzipped it’s long, slender body. He curled up against the pillows on one side of the couch and gently pulled out the piece of wood he had carefully stored inside. “I only know two notes.” Having already forgotten what occurred just minutes before, he began to play his tribal song for me (and at that volume, I assume, for all of the residences of the little planet we call Earth).

    After he finished practicing (his two notes for ten minutes), he took off running, expecting me to keep up. If I stayed under the blanket on my side of the couch as the shadows from the hovering clouds danced across the walls, it would have only been a matter of time before he exasperatedly yelled my name and then attacked me from behind. Hang on, hang on….

    "‘Come on!’
    "‘Where?’ said Pooh.
    "’Anywhere,' said Christopher Robin.
    "So they went off together. But wherever they go and whatever happens to them along the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.” (A.A. Milne)

    “Green pastures are before me
    which I have not seen,
    Bright skies will soon be o’er me
    Where the dark clouds have been.
    My hope I cannot measure,
    My path to life is free,
    My Savior has been my treasure,
    And He will walk with me.” (A.L. Waring)