Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Yes You Can -- Ed's Spot

If you are ever in the neighborhood of 272nd and 99th in Stanwood after school, you have likely noticed lots of teens on the street. They're probably headed for The Spot, a teen drop-in center operated by Youth for Christ. Housed in a lovely brick home next door to Our Savior's Lutheran Church, its doors are open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 2:30 till 5:00 and Saturday evenings from 7:30 till 10:00. All kids 11-18 are welcome to hang out at The Spot, enjoy some healthy snacks, play pool or video games, chat with friends or one of the adult volunteers.

Director Briana Gibson has been involved at The Spot for nearly nine years. It wouldn't her first choice; she thought to be a youth worker you needed to be gregarious, loud, and live off caffeine, and that just wasn't her. But she felt the Lord confirming this in her heart, and finally she said "Yes."

She started as an intern but after a year her supervisor moved on. Briana managed The Spot alone for two years before she was made the director. The young woman who did not "fit the description" of a youth worker has fallen in love with the job. "I love it more now than I ever did!" she says.

I talked to Briana as she was on her way to the Kleisick farm where she was picking up a donation of organic apples and bananas. "There are cows running across the field!" she laughed. "They must be going to get food!" I'm thinking it must have been a bit reminiscent of kids rushing the kitchen at The Spot!

When the doors open at The Spot in the afternoon, the kids are served healthy snacks -- fresh fruit, sandwiches, even a hot meal one day a week. At 3:30, most of the kids gather in the living room where they share prayer requests and spend a few minutes in prayer. Lately they've added Bible reading and discussion to the agenda. The rest of the time is spent just hanging around inside and outside the house, chatting with friends and with volunteers. The gospel is lived out before these young people who may have no other exposure to Jesus than their days at The Spot.

A girls' Bible study meets on Monday afternoon and a boys' groups meets on Wednesdays. With a couple of winer camps plus day trips and a white water raft/rock climbing trip in July, there's lots for the kids to do. It's a significant ministry in the Stanwood/Camano community.

"But how did The Spot come to be?" you ask. Let me tell you about Ed Haslam.

Born in Japan in 1920, Ed's parents were missionaries. When they returned to the States his dad started a ministry to Japanese children in Seattle. Ed and his siblings would go with their dad on Wednesday and Sunday evenings, even when they were very young, and help their dad. And he never got over the love for working with children that was planted in his heart through this experience.

Ed loved kids, and kids knew it. His career was with the Seattle Public Schools, as a teacher and a principal, gave him a chance to express his interest in youth. And it was not uncommon for the kids in his neighbor to knock on his door and ask his wife or children if Ed could come out and play!

He retired and moved to Warm Beach in the 1970s and found his way into the lives of kids as a substitute teacher in the Stanwood Camano School District. It didn't take him long to realize that there was nothing for the young people of the community to do when they weren't in school. Just as Ed was dreaming of building a youth center for area kids, Seattle Youth for Christ contact him and asked if he'd  work with them in Stanwood.

In 1985 The Spot opened its doors on Saturday nights at the old Lincoln School. The building was big, with too many rooms to supervise well, and the group was often rowdy. At first the evening agenda was entirely fun and games and when they added a five minute devotional they met with some resistance. That's when they decided to have a weekly drawing, right after devotions. You had to be there for devotions to get your name entered in the drawing!

Ed's enthusiasm for The Spot caught on as he visited churches in the area, talking about YFC, raising funds and recruiting volunteers. He promoted good will for the kids of the community as well as brought youth workers from various churches together to pray and plan.

In 1988, Ed received the Man of the Year award for Stanwood. His deep and abiding love for kids was God's gift to Ed and Ed's gift back to God. It blessed many and is still touching lives today.

(The Spot has been duplicated in two other communities in our region.)

* * * * * * * * *

(Yes You Can is a monthly feature that tells the story of someone who has had a dream, followed their dream, and made a difference in their world because of it.)

Monday, May 28, 2012


Freedom. That's why we celebrate Memorial Day, to honor those in the military who gave their lives for our freedom.

Well, here's another kind of freedom for which we need to fight. It's freedom from modern-day slavery.

Yesterday Kevin Austin, the director of Not For Sale's Abolitionist Faith Community and a Free Methodist missionary/abolitionist, spoke at church. Since his years as a missionary in Thailand, when he first saw sex trafficking for himself, he has been active in seeking ways to expose and abolish this industry that destroys millions of lives.

The statistics are appalling. There are at least 50 million slaves today -- "people bound in servitude as the property of a person or household" (Free Dictionary). The first people to arrive on the scene after the Haiti earthquake were the sex traffickers, who picked up children and took them to various cities in the US to be sold into the sex trade. In the US alone there are 100,0000 domestic minors who are used as slaves either in labor or in the sex industry.

Worldwide, slavery is a $32,000,000,000/year business. In some places in the world, a child can be bought for as little as $3.00. This is one of the fastest growing criminal money making activities in the world today.

If a child from one of America's big cities runs away from home and is not found within the first 48 hours, he or she likely will be picked up by a trafficker. In Seattle, however, that window is only 45 minutes.

The good news is that people are waking up to the reality of slavery around the globe and are mobilizing to work toward its end. In 2007, the Free Methodist Church took an official stand against modern day slavery by passing a resolution in its General Conference session. Now, in partnership with Youth With a Mission (YWAM), Not For Sale, and other organizations, the denomination is deeply committed to seeing an end of slavery. The hope is that people who are trapped in slavery will find freedom physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Kevin told stories of people joining the movement to set people free. He spoke of a church youth group that organized a run with 60 participants who raised $6000. Several Christian universities have begun teaching courses to equip modern day abolitionists. Small groups and large are stepping up to address this crisis.

Moriah, a 5-year-old whom Kevin met, heard about modern day slavery and wanted to see it come to an end. She began sharing her passion in her Sunday School class, and each week these young children would pray about their concern. About that time, Moriah was learning to count to 100. She liked the number, and when the teacher asked the children what they would do with $100 if she were to give it to them, Moriah said she'd use it to help free slaves. When the word got out at her church that this was Moriah's desire, people began to give her hundred dollar bills. She presented them to Kevin Austin, who took them with him to Cambodia. There he presented the money to a ministry that was caring for several eight-year-olds who had just been rescued from slavery.

Out of the groups that are springing up around the country, the Set Free Movement has begun. They offer 20 ways to help end modern day slavery and create new futures for people. Look over the list and choose one thing that you can do, no, two things. Pray. That one appears twice on the list, so we know it is doubly important. And then choose one more thing you can do, and do it! Maybe that is all you will do. But just maybe you will find that it isn't enough and you just keep doing one more thing.

It's a daunting task, but, in Jesus' name, we can help people find freedom!

(You can contact Kevin Austin at

Friday, May 25, 2012

Quilts, Quilts, Quilts!

The nine quilts I've opened so far
Our Burundi team was approached by a group called Quilts Beyond Borders, asking if we'd take handmade child-sized quilts to distribute at Sister Connection's kids camp. If we could each carry 25 we could get them all to Burundi.

My boxes of quilts have arrived! There are three of them -- two computer boxes and another a bit smaller! I opened the smaller box and it contained just nine quilts; I don't know how many are in the larger boxes. I'm not sure how I can get these into a suitcase(!) but I understand that vacuum packers that suck all the air out of your items make it possible to get 25 into one suitcase. We'll figure out the logistics between us, clever folks that we are, and get the quilts all delivered.

But that's not the reason for this post. It's to show you the nine quilts that I have already unpacked. They are absolutely stunning! The children will receive them at the beginning of their time at camp so they can use them while they are there, then take them home to enjoy forever. I have had so much fun opening this one box and taking pictures. The kids will LOVE them.

Thank you to Quilts Beyond Borders, quilters who volunteer their time and supplies to create amazing, unique quilts. What a gift of love! If this is something you'd like to get involved in, let them know.


Back -- so intricately made!

Each quilt has a personalized label on the back

Two boxes to go

A peek inside one of the boxes. Can't wait to see them!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Kink

I discovered a kink in my string.
I pondered.
I fretted.
What's this? I bellered.
A kink? In my string?
Why a kink?
How shall I ever get rid of it?
For all my striving
I could not control the kink.
Soon the single kink
had become a trio.
I fretted.
I struggled.
All my efforts produced only frustration
and the kinks, joining forces,
became one obnoxious knot.
I struggled.
I fought.
But one never conquers a knot
by fighting.
I began slowly,
working at the knot.
In time the knot was once again
a trio of kinks.
And, really,
I can get by with three kinks in my string.

Ginger Kauffman

Monday, May 21, 2012

Thoughts on Prayer

"I used to play a game with my two children when they were young. I would clutch some pennies in my hand and allow them to pry open my fingers to get the coins. My children would sit on my lap and work feverishly to get the money. Once they captured the coins they would scream with delight and jump down to treasure their prize. I loved having my youngsters laugh and play while sitting on my lap. The pennies were insignificant. 

'When we pray, we often concentrate on the gifts in God's hand and ignore the hand of God Himself. We pray fervently for the new job, or for the return of health. When we gain the prize we are delighted. And then we have little more to do with God. If we are only after the coins, God's hand serves only as a way to pay the rent, heal the sickness, or get through the crisis. After the need is met, the hand itself means little to us. While God in His grace does give good gifts to His children, He offers us more than that. He offers us Himself. Those who are merely satisfied with the trinkets in the Father's hand miss the best reward of prayer--the reward of communicating and communing with the God of the universe." 
~Haddon Robinson's Discovery Series, Jesus' Blueprint for Prayer

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mini Art and Garden Tour

In honor of Karen's birthday this week, we spent the day in Seattle at what I dubbed a "mini art and garden tour." It was indeed mini, but it was lots of fun.

Our destinations were the Ballard and Fremont neighborhoods of Seattle. We started at the Ballard branch of the Seattle Public Library, a seven-year-old eco-friendly building. We went to the library to see the art -- a display of perhaps 100 pieces of artwork in various medium created by students at Ballard High School -- and the garden on the roof of the library. The library's most intriguing feature is its 18,000-square-foot sod roof, which provides thermal insulation, serves as bird habitat, and moderates rain runoff. Any water not used by plants is filtered through the soil and slowly released. 

According to The Seattle Weekly, the library itself collects solar energy through panels on the roof as well as special glazing in the vertical window panes. This is fed back to the grid, reducing the library's dependence on Seattle City Light. Although not all of it was functioning when we were there, the library was designed with functional public art that monitors and displays data about the microclimate around the structure. Wind direction and speed, energy use, light, and rainfall are artistically presented along building spines.

We went up to the viewing windows to see the roof for ourselves. Here's what it looks like up close...

...and here's what the roof looks like from across the street.

We took a walking tour of a few blocks of Ballard, then ended up at Ballard Commons Park for a picnic lunch, including the gluten-free cupcake and the scone that we bought at Bouteloua Bakery, vegan establishment on Market Street.

Just inside the front door of a lovely little place called Venue Ballard (featuring work studios for artists and a boutique of original pieces) is a vending machine called an Art-o-mat. There are over 90 active Arto-o-mats worldwide,  these converted cigarette machines that dispense art. This is the only one in Washington State. When I read about this one in The Herald last month, I knew what I would give Karen for her birthday -- a chance to choose an artist whose work can fit in a box about the size of a cigarette pack.

Each window in the machine features the art of one specific artist. Whether the artist has painted on a button or created a tiny doll or a piece of ceramic, each artist's name and type of art is displayed above the pull knobs. But you don't know what the work of art actually is until you put in your token, pull the knob, retrieve the box that is dispensed and open it.

I paid $5 for a token for the machine and inserted it into the slot.

Karen selected the Fiber Art by Shirley Ruggiero of Hewitt, NJ. (There are over 400 artists who contribute to Art-o-mat.) I pulled the knob and her gift dropped to the bottom of the machine, where she retrieved it.

She opened the box and pulled out a  fish design for her wall! I chose "button art," expecting to see something made from interesting sewing buttons. I was surprised to discover that it was actually the type of button you use for political campaigns with a picture of birds on a telephone wire painted on it!

Now off to Urban Earth, a nursery on a small plot of ground in the Fremont neighborhood which Tom and I saw through it's fence in February, a view of not much in bloom but full of promise. And we weren't disappointed! It was full of life and fragrance and fresh air! We sat for a moment and the owner took our picture. 

In February

In May

Our final stop -- Archie McPhee's, a store full of goofiness. My first knowledge of Archie McPhee's was several years ago when Karen was trying to locate a rubber chicken for her husband's birthday. It was our first time to actually go to the store. It had nothing to do with gardens or art but it was on our list because of its photo booth. We popped in and acted a little goofy ourselves!

All in all, a great day!

Photo Credit: Archie McPhee store

Monday, May 14, 2012

Delivering Love and Smiles

Did you order flowers to be delivered to your mom or grandma for Mother's Day? If so, you were among the 25% of all American adults who did so. As a nation, we spent $1.9 billion for those Mother's Day florals!

Suppose your mother lives several states away and you knew you wouldn't be able to see her for Mother's Day. You thought about how you'd like to show her your love and you decided flowers delivered to her door would brighten her day. So you picked up the phone or went online and ordered something that you knew she'd like. You sat back and smiled, imaging her expression when her flowers would arrive.

You did you part. But how did those flowers actually get to your mom?

My friends David and Stacy Boulton are the owners of Flowers by George in Arlington. Like other florists, Christmas (the whole month), Mother's Day (in florist language, Mother's Week) and Valentines Day are their busiest times of the year. They need help to get the orders out. So they call in the troops! With a few extra hands helping with the arrangements, they set to work, filling a semi-trailer with all their orders. Mind you, they have to put all florals in the trailer very systematically because eventually they will be unloading the trailer and loading up several vans to send them out on delivery routes.

On Friday and Saturday before Mother's Day they bring in five or six extra vans and fill them with flowers. Then the fun begins.

For the past 16 years, my brother-in-law Allen has been one of the drivers for David and Stacy's Valentines and Mother's Day deliveries. This year my sister Peach joined him. For six hours a day they drove their route, stopping by peoples' homes to drop off a little love.

Each arrangement or plant is in its own box or crate with an address card attached. When the van is empty, the job is complete. In those two days, Allen and Peach made 42 deliveries.

Most people are thrilled to get flowers. On Valentine's Day, one woman was giddy with excitement when they arrived at her door. "I wonder who could have sent me flowers!" she gushed as her husband, behind her, shook his head and said, "It was me!"

Nobody refused the flowers (although that does happen occasionally). Most of the folks were home to receive the deliveries, but nobody answered at the house with the barbed wire on top of the chain link fence and the warning sign about pit bulls. Otherwise the assignment was relatively uneventful.

When I asked Allen why he's done this for 16 years, he answered, "It's just really fun to make people smile."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

What Do Nurses Do?

Photo Credit
This is National Nurses Week. My friend Sara -- the one who works in a psychiatric hospital in Michigan and collects shoes and clothes for the patients -- wrote a great blog post about nurses. I'm passing it on to you. Also, I spent some time this week with my friend Sal, who is also a nurse. She still works in the same hospital where my kids were born and she came on her break to meet them both.

To Sara and Sal and all the other men and women who combine their compassion and their training to serve others through nursing, thank you.

What Do Nurses Do?
So what exactly do nurses do?  Well, let me tell you!
Nurses are mysterious creatures.  We work independently, with other disciplines and under the direction of physicians.  Our scope has been described as 100 miles deep and 1,000 miles wide.  
We can do a little bit of everything everybody else can do and we know who can do what we can't.  We are the gatekeepers and the watchmen of your care and the only ones that will be at your side 24 hours a day.  We are the gatherers of your story and the ones who add the new chapters throughout your life.  
We are the ones who can read the notes of the doctors and tell your family what's going on when the docs have all gone home.  
We have super powers like knowing something is wrong by the look on your face as soon as we enter the room.  We can hear things from the hall way or through our stethoscopes and know exactly what's happening even though no text book can tell you how we do it. We can smell the status of your wound. Gross but true.
We can work today and come in tomorrow morning, call the doctor and say, "Something changed," and if your doctor's smart, he'll come running.
We know what labs will reveal your body's secrets and what tests are a waste of time and, usually, we are the ones who got them ordered or canceled. 
We remember you from your last admission and know that you want your daughter called even if you're too sick to tell us and we know where to find her phone number.  We know you like your medicine after breakfast and that your feet are always cold and if you give us a few minutes, we'll know where your grandmother was born and what your hobbies are.  If we get a coffee break or a lunch, we'll probably spend it tracking down the earrings you lost in the emergency room or in the gift shop getting you a magazine. 
We will yell at the nurse that worked the shift prior to us if your pain meds were due and you didn't get them and we'll be the nursing assistant's worst nightmare if your bed needs changing and it isn't done now.  NOW. 
We'll go toe to toe with the biggest baddest doctor in the hospital and take him into the back room and point our finger in his face and threaten to break his knee caps if he doesn't do something about your constipation. 
We are over weight and under nourished.  We are 4'11" and 6'4" and everything in between and we can run like an Olympian when we hear a Code Blue.  We will knock a co -worker on their butts to get to you if you need us. We can lift you with one arm from the toilet and tell you how pretty your eyes are in the process.
We will walk your wife to her car and hold her while she cries.
We drive through blizzards to get to you and work 16 hours even though we were scheduled for 8 because someones kid is sick and they didn't make it in.
We tell our spouses we can't talk about it when they ask how the day was because we will fall apart if we do. 
We will tell our families we're never going back and get up the next day and go back.

We will be chewed out by our managers because you complained that we took too long to answer your call light when you had a question about how to order dinner.  And we will apologize.  And you will never know that we were delayed because we were four doors down singing Amazing Grace to an old woman with Alzheimer's so she wouldn't have to be restrained.
We have survived on stale crackers we found in the pantry and carry in our pockets and we never pee because that is exactly when your blood pressure will bottom out.
Our job descriptions say, "Duties as assigned." 
If only it was that easy.  It's the unassigned stuff that makes us nurses. 
What do nurses do? 
It depends, what do you need?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hymn of the Month -- Wonderful Peace

This song was written in 1889, with the lyrics written Warren D Cornell, and the music composed by George Cooper. They were at a Methodist camp meeting in Wisconsin at the time. According to George Sanville's Forty Gospel Hymn Stories (1943) this is how it happened:
One day while seat­ed in the tent, Mr. Cor­nell, fol­low­ing a per­i­od of deep in­tro­spect­ion, wrote down the thoughts with which his mind had been bus­ied. They lat­er proved to be parts of this hymn, “Won­der­ful Peace.” Sink­ing again into in­tro­spect­ive rum­in­a­tion, he arose, un­wit­ting­ly dropped the writ­ten vers­es on the tent floor and went out. When Mr. Coop­er en­tered the tent an hour or two later he dis­cov­ered the pa­per. He was fas­cin­at­ed by the theme and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing vers­es. It so fit­ted his own think­ing that he filled in and com­plet­ed the po­em. Then sit­ting down at the or­gan he com­posed the mel­o­dy as it has since been sung.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Do Not Fear. God is With You.

Here are two of my favorite Bible passages, truths that I have clung to for many years. In these verses, I learn who God is -- my creator, the one who formed me, my redeemer, my God, the Holy One of Israel, my Savior. And I learn what he has done and will do -- he has called me by name (God knows my name; isn't that amazing!). He will lead me and guide me, he will make the darkness light and the rough places smooth.  He will keep me safe through floods and fire. 

God the Creator knows me and has promised to be with me. So when he says "Fear not," I know I can trust him.

Whatever your life holds today, do not fear. God is with you.

I will lead the blind
By ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths
I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness
into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them.
Isaiah 42:16

But now,
this is what the Lord says –
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not,
for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name;
you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord,
your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
your Savior.
Isaiah 43:1-3a

Friday, May 4, 2012

God's Rich Treasures

My friend Dixie shared a dream she had and gave me permission to use it here.

I had a dream. It seemed very significant and touched my soul deeply. God was showing me his storehouses of riches in heaven. I got the clear impression that none of the treasures of God were material. It was just like a fact that was settled -- no doubt. But the treasures of God were rich. Some of them were as follows:

1. I experienced a deep faith with peace when things are going wrong; I had no anxiety over the problem.
2. God took me to places in my past and showed me where I had pride in my heart and attitude, but there was no sense of guilt, just a matter-of-fact showing. Grace.
3. He showed me that in the storehouse were riches of being able to speak words in such a descriptive way that it would delight people and they could see better what was being explained, which caused a ripple effect to others.
4. Riches of wisdom -- knowing exactly what to do and what to say in a seemingly difficult situation.
5. Having a strong confidence that you are doing what needs to be done, but a powerful gentleness in doing it so that no one is hurt but everyone feels blessed around you.
6. No fear to face a difficult situation or conversation to resolve a misunderstanding.
7. A peace and confidence to know that what you say will be healing and appropriate.
8. Grace, understanding, forgiveness and love given when our words or actions are not perfect.
9. Being at the right place at the right time.
10. Knowing someone loves us and delights in us.
11. No sense of guilt or shame -- no accusation of failure in our hearts, but just a deep sense of security, knowing we are loved, accepted and encouraged to become whole and pure.
12. Confidence to know we can do what needs to be done and do it without any stress.

The storehouses seemed to be deep, impactfully deep, going deep into my soul, deep until there was a completed soul satisfaction -- the constant, completely rich satisfaction of having an endless filling up of goodness in every nook and corner of my soul. No want was found anywhere in my soul.  It was a constant supply.

And my God shall meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ode to Beethoven

The camera focuses on a large room, filled with light, the hardwood floors gleaming and the sheers on the open oversized windows blowing in the breeze. It is the great room in the home of Prince Lobkowitz, patron of Ludwig Von Beethoven. A lone violinist steps into the room and plays a few measures, and soon the room begins to fill with musicians carrying in their instruments and servants carrying music stands. They are setting up for the first performance (first practice session, actually) of Beethoven's new symphony, Bounaparte. A handful of guests join the prince as the orchestra members receive their copies of the symphony for the first time. The concertmaster raises his violin to his chin, nods his head, and the music begins.

Title page to Beethoven's Third Symphony,
with dedication to Napoleon crossed out
Music like they have never heard pours from the orchestra, music full of deep emotion, from irrepressible joy and lightness to grief and melancholy. Written to honor Napoleon, its dissonance and misplaced accents confuse some of the guests and delights others. Even the musicians are startled by the notes they are called upon to play.

It is the 2003 PBS production of Eroica, The Day That Changed Music Forever. The movie consists in part of the playing of the symphony, which is just under 50 minutes in length. Believing Napoleon to be a liberator, Beethoven has written the symphony in his honor. Now, as it is heard for the first time, it provokes political arguments among the players and guests. Indeed, when Beethoven learns that Napoleon has declared himself emperor, he is distraught and changes the name to Eroica (which means heroic.) We also know it as Beethoven's Third Symphony.

The movie is not just about the music. It is about politics and history and relationships. It is about Beethoven. He was 33 when he finished this symphony, and already he was going deaf. He was in love with a woman of higher status than he; to marry him she would lose her inheritance and the custody of her four children. We see the effect of the music upon staff of the manor, we feel the tension between the guests, we meet Beethoven's pupil Ries who will go on to write about Beethoven.

This is a wonderful movie. When it was over I thought I would like to see it again, to more fully experience the emotion of the music for myself and to try to identify with the emotions of those playing and hearing it for the first time. And I wish I had a better sense for how this symphony so profoundly differed from the Classical music of the times. The orchestra played a piece in warming up that was a contrast to the music to come, but there was a lot of activity in the room -- Beethoven fretting, looking for his beloved to arrive, the princess was greeting their guests, the servants were in and out. I didn't pay enough attention. Though I enjoy Classical music, my ear is not very trained or disciplined. (I should have paid more attention in Music Appreciation in college!) I wish I'd been better prepared for it.

You can watch the movie in nine segments on YouTube or listen to the symphony online or on CD. But you just might enjoy it best if you watch the film Eroica instead. You may even need to watch it twice. That's what I plan to do.