Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wondering How to Fill the Hole

The probability that we may fail in the struggle out not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just. Abraham Lincoln

Last Thursday I was wave jumping in the Atlantic when a thought flitted into my mind. Across that wide expanse of water laid Africa and within Africa is Ethiopia where the future of our family awaits. Standing with waves lapping my legs and the sun scorching my back I was painfully aware of what was missing. So there in the water I prayed. I prayed that our wait would not be as long as the 'possible projected wait time.' I prayed that during our wait we would grow as a family and our faith. And I prayed for our future little one(s). I prayed for safety, good health and that amidst the loss of being orphaned, he feels loved and wanted.

And then I turned away from the ocean, walked up the beach to our house and joined Matt and Gabe for lunch. After lunch, Matt put Gabe to sleep and I set out to read.

I started reading The Hole in Our Gospel about 2 weeks before vacation thinking I would be done in a couple of days. However, Richard Stearns book took me much longer to read than anticipated. Reading with a toddler at home is difficult but what kept me from reading were the distressing statistics noted (that my compulsiveness made me check which was time consuming on my kindle) and the Bible verses quoted (which I then had to go read the passages around them to fully understand Stearns' point.

Here are some of the statistics (taken from the book):

  • 3 billion desperately poor, 1 billion hungry, millions trafficked in human slavery, 10 million children die needlessly each year

  • 26575 children die each day of largely preventable diseases related to their poverty

  • Of the more than 6.4 billion people in the world, 1 in 6 does not have access to safe water

  • At any given time half of all people in developing countries are suffering form a water related illness

  • Roughly every minute, three children die because of unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation.

  • Of the 6.4 billion people in the world; 1 in 6 does not have access to the most basic health care. 1 in 3 is under the age of 5

  • Every 30 seconds a child dies of malaria

  • More than 15 million children have lost one of both parents to AIDS

  • Out of the 6.4 million people in the world, one in seven does not get enough to eat

  • Nearly 800 million go hungry every day

  • Every 7 seconds a child under 5 dies from starvation

  • Of the 6.4 billion people in the world one in two live on less than 2 dollars a day

  • The U.S. is the second to last of the rich nations in giving to poor nations but the American people gave private donations of 136 billion dollars in aid (statistic from 2005).

  • Of the more than 6.4 billion people in the world one in 7 doesn't get enough to eat

  • In the US, 1 of every 6 children lives below the federal poverty level

  • 6 out of ever 1000 babies dies in the US before the age of 5

  • 104 out of every 1000 babies dies in Myanmar

  • 257 out of every 1000 babies dies in Afghanistan

  • If you make 50,000/year you are wealthier than 99% of the worlds population

Did you read those statistics? Read them again and let them sink in.

Finishing the book while on vacation was a little humbling because we were so blessed to be able to go on vacation when millions of others struggle to have enough to eat on a daily basis. But at least it motivated me.

Let me digress. Before moving to Texas I had high hopes of starting an orphan ministry in our church and was looking into starting a nonprofit. I had no idea the scope of the mission for the nonprofit but I knew I had to do something.

And then we moved to Houston. We're attending a church that we like but it's certainly not 'our' church yet. And I've lost any and all contacts in starting a nonprofit. So for a while I've felt like I'm back at square one. In most ways I still am.

However, I have found my motivation. And from my friends that have traveled to a 3rd world country, I know that the motivation to help make a difference only gets stronger once you've been there, seen the poverty and connected with the people. Our old life group pastor, Dan, wrote a blog post about how to make a difference here: Action. In many ways I feel like we're trying to do what we can, but deep down I just feel like it's not enough. Finding out the next step, figuring out what to do and where to start... right now that's where I'm stuck.

I know I want to make a difference. I know I want to live more radically and fill the hole, I'm just not sure how yet. While we wait to bring our little one home, I want the waiting time to be worthwhile.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vacation Part 2

Tuesday September 20, 2011 the Murnan's and the LaGorga's traveled southwest to Olando. The destination being Universal Studios Island of Adventure. Or more accurate The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Yes, just 2 short months after the culmination of a long lasting love affair with Harry Potter, I was surrounded by all things Harry Potter.

Sondra and I on our way to Orlando

I felt like singing "now I've got a golden ticket" but I refrained. You're welcome!

Our first glimpse of Hogwarts! I'm not embarassed to admit that there was some girlie shrieking, sweaty palms and racing hearts. It was just that exciting. I have to wonder though how I'd be able to contain my excitement if I ever had the opprotunity to meet Daniel, Emma or Rupert or go to London and see Platform 9 3/4. I'd probably need a sedative, a strong one [smile].

Another view of Hogwarts

But first, Suess Landing

Gabe was not having the carousel ride this time.

The Cat in the Hat, Matt and Gabe

And the real fun begins...

Hogwarts Express

Flourish and Blotts (with books by Gilderoy Lockhart and his moving photo's)

Beauxbotons and Drumstrang

and the Hogwarts chorus, complete with croaking bull frogs

Pumpkin juice - much better than expected!

Butterbeer!!! Absolutely fabulous! A touch of cream soda, a taste of root beer and a whole lot of frothy goodness. It's no wonder that J. K. Rowling approved it! Even Gabe liked it, although it had a bit of an elfin effect on him [smile].

And now into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Mandrakes (check out the little eyes peering above the soil)

flower in Professor Sprouts greenhouse

the phoenix that allows you to enter Dumbledore's office

the sorting hat

the pensieve

Back outside of Hogwarts. It's called Hogsmeade but it's a complimation of the village of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.

Gringott's ATM. Super fun!

Olivander's Wand Shop. You actually get to choose your wand here, or better yet the wand chooses you. There was always a ton of people waiting in line so we never made it in. One of the coolest details of Olivanders is that the upstairs window is piled to the top with wand boxes.

Chocolate Frogs complete with wizarding cards. Mine had Salazar Slytherin

Cauldron Cakes and other yummies

and finally some Fizzing Whizbees!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was absolutely amazing. The whole visit I felt like I was using an insane amount of superalitives to describe what I was seeing but there was no way to just use nouns! From the snow topped roofs, detail orientated shops to the very character-ish workers, it seemed as though every detail was thoroughly thought out.

Lunch in the Three Broomsticks was a plethora of English cuisine and the Hogs Head was right next door. We didn't go in, because well, it'd just be weird to have a baby in a bar but looking in, it was picturesque to how it's described in Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix.

The only ride we went on was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (which was orginally supposed to be called Harry Potter and the Flight of the Pheonix - not important but just a fact!). It was a tour of Hogwarts and again it was utterly fabulous. There were dragons, dementors and you followed Harry, Ron and Hermione the whole time. We all loved it and then browsing in Filch's Emporium afterwards was superb as well.

Everything about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was memorable.

September 20, 2011 was definately a day I'll remember. Besides spending a week at the beach with Matt, Gabe and my lovelies; our day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter tops my list of vacation memories.

Monday, September 26, 2011


September 20, 2011 was just an ordinary Tuesday for most people. For me though, it was extraordinary. Have any ideas why?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Vacation Part 1

Over 15 months ago, we started talking about going on vacation with our friends the Abel's and the Murnan's. After some discussion and lots of house hunting, we decided we were Daytona Beach bound. Amazingly the time went quickly and last friday we found ourselves on our way to Daytona Beach.

Last Friday, Gabe was ready to go in the backseat of our overly full SUV. It's pretty crazy the amount of stuff that we 1.) brought with us and 2.) needed for a week at the beach.

After 15 hours driving from Texas to Florida we were there! Our house was lovely and directly on the beach. Quick showers and lunch were on the schedule before we walked down our little path to the beach.

And then Gabe met the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. And. He. Loved. It. Was there really any doubt. Sitting in the sand letting the waves splash over him brought giggles and smiles from Gabe. He loved when the water would rush back into the ocean and Gabe helped the ocean out by pushing the water back in with his hands.

We went to the beach as often as possible. Gabe never wanted to stay too long after he'd taste the salty water, so we tended to make frequent short trips. Morning, afternoon and evening walks on the sand is on my list of favorite things we did at the beach as well as wave jumping with Meg and Sondra.

Matt's dislike for the ocean, or at least his dislike for going out in the water past his knees was actually fortuitous this vacation because he would always stay on the beach with Gabe whenever I wanted to go out far.

Vacation is certainly different with a toddler in tow. I usually read for hours while sitting on the beach. This vacation I finished 1 book and read 2 others but my reading time was only when we were driving or at night in the house. Sleeping in past 7, relaxing on the beach or sitting on the back patio were definitely things of the past but I wouldn't want it any other way.

Sitting in the sand burying our feet, pushing a stroller up and down the beach looking at birds, getting sand everywhere and giving a naked baby a bath on the back patio with the hose. Yep, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't change a thing.

jelly fish left on the sand after the tide rolled out

writing Gabe's name in the sand

the girl behind the camera :)

the back of our little beach house

fresh and clean Gabe straight from the beach

the crane that made it's home in the bushes in our backyard

Spending a week in a beach house on the Atlantic with Matt and Gabe and the extended family I have in my lovelies was utterly amazing. And so much fun!