Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Make Something Day!

Check this out - and do something constructive rather that destructive on the day after Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Conspiracy Continued

I realized after my post yesterday that I didn't include any of my very practical ideas for how Tim and I are going to do a "Conspiracy Christmas" and change the world singlehandedly in one worshipful holiday season! Coincidentally (or not so coincidentally) my mom asked for our Christmas "wish lists" with items between $5 and $50 yesterday (Aren't my parents great - not spending too much and keeping a budget so as not to loose the meaning of Christmas!? Neil, they're right up your ally). What a perfect opportunity to make up a list of great world-conscious gifts that bring Christ back into Advent.

Here is the list I sent her:
A donation to the World Vision Child Soldiers Fund to help get children out of their forced soldiering and back to childhood.

A portion of a World Vision deep well to deliver clean water to people who do not have access to it and die from water-born illnesses in mass numbers daily.

Any of the Ten Thousand Villages nativities but especially the Nepal Knotcraft or Manos Amigas Peru ones. Any Ten Thousand Villages purchase is fair trade and helps the artisan who personally produces hand-made products for a living.

A Ten Thousand Villages piece of jewelry or accessories (for the home or person). I particularly like this purse.

The Mennonite Central Committee "Where needed most" fund to help the MCC make a difference in the most desperate situations this Christmas season.

Anything from Invisible Children which will not only help child soldiers get back to childhood, but will help spread the word with apparel and bracelets.

Anything from The ONE campaign to help make poverty history, and again, spread the word.

Amber also suggested which is another great option that fits right into the Conspiracy.

A few reasons why I like these options:
- Each one either produces a tangible, hand made and fair trade gift to give someone, a card that explains what you have given to someone else in need, or a useful tool to spread the word to others about world needs.

- They help us to think beyond ourselves to the very real needs of others.

- They are trustworthy organizations where donated money goes to great uses.

- They have websites that make it easy for anyone anywhere to take part - you don't have to live in a metropolitan area to become a part of this Conspiracy.

So, with these easy and tangible options and creative ones of your own, I encourage you to re-think Advent - the Coming of Christ - and really help Christ "arrive" for others in the form of much needed aid. We can also rethink the other gifts we give to each other - giving relationally, rather than giving "stuff". I promise it will help each of us feel like our Christmas is full of Christ this year.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Church Shopping and Advent Conspiracy

In the past few months Tim and I have been “church shopping” – my term for trying to find a church home. It has been quite a struggle, and one that has really frustrated us at different points in the process. Just when we think we like a church, something really big about their mission or methodology makes it difficult for us to continue attending. There have been several Sunday mornings we've been unable to muster the desire to try out a new church only to be disappointed, or the desire to attend a church with which we have already become disenchanted.
What we seek seems simple, really, but apparently our “demands” are not as simple and attainable as we had thought. We seek a church that desires to incarnate the mission of Christ – not just the spiritual mission of ‘saving souls’, but the very personal earthly mission of saving people from their earthly hell (of poverty, homelessness, alcoholism, broken heartedness, hunger etc.) as well. We seek a church that is not ingrown – not solely focused inwardly – but aims to enter the community and world helping people on every level. Our ideal church would accept people of all walks of life, would be a family for everyone who walks in the door, would not be judgmental but rather genuinely loving and caring. We seek a church similar to my home church back in Weston – a truly welcoming community full of people who don’t expect to only help people who come through the church doors, but actually go out to people where they are and walk alongside them as friends.

Until last week Tim and I were very discouraged about our church search. Last week we attended Norkenzie Christian Church where the pastor preached on Advent Conspiracy. The idea of changing how we celebrate Christmas, intentionally focusing on compassion rather than consumption, has been on my mind and nagging at my heart for a while now. My family has never been extravagant in their celebration of Advent, for which I am very thankful. This Christmas season Tim and I are hoping to make Christmas even more about the least of these for whom Christ entered the world and who still lack life essentials such as clean water, food, a roof over their heads, access to education, medical care, and the means to provide for themselves.

As we have all noticed, Christmas seems to come earlier every year. Of course, it doesn’t actually come any earlier than the year before; we always celebrate Christmas on December 25th and the year hasn’t lost any days recently. But two weeks ago the stores in our area were already completely decked out for the Christmas season - three weeks before Thanksgiving! Is our economy so desperate for holiday extravagance that we have to encourage people to spend crazy amounts of money for two months rather than the customary one? What would happen if instead of spending our usual amounts of holiday cash in stores on gifts that will not last much beyond the holidays, we spent our Christmas cash on those who are in need of life essentials? Giving that bit of help to people who are in need can change their lives. And choosing to give relational gifts to our family and friends rather than the typical items off the sale rack will mean more to everyone involved - and may just bring the Christ back into Christmas.

As we approach Thanksgiving, and the “black Friday” following it, now is the perfect time to reconsider the ways we celebrate the coming of Christ. There is still hope for the least of these if we choose to incarnate Christ’s mission today – by not giving in to the consumerism that our culture has adopted and will be pushing down our throats in all sorts of ways this season - but rather choosing to give to others in the Spirit of Christ’s mission. And there is still hope for Tim and I to find a church home here in Eugene – if Norkenzie Christian Church is truly the community of Christ seekers it seems to be!

Monday, 12 November 2007

What's New??

It's been a while since I've posted, eh? Ok, then. I suppose it's time for an update on life in Eugene.
Recently Tim asked me if I would like to help coach a youth volleyball team. It seems that a woman in his Anatomy and Physiology class is coaching her daughter's volleyball team and she needs an assistant. As I have been trying to find volunteer activities to fill my time, and have been missing volleyball quite a bit as of late, I jumped at the opportunity! So, tomorrow evening I will embark on my first coaching experience. I'll let you know how that goes...

Craigslist has come through for me, yet again! I have not been terribly happy at my job so I've been seeking a new one. Two of them jumped out at me when I searched one day. One is an investigator for the Public Defender Services of Lane County, Inc. This job would entail contacting witnesses and victims of crimes, taking statements, collecting some types of evidence, photographing crime scenes etc. I'm definitely applying for that one - though I have no idea whether I will even be seriously considered. At least in that job I would feel like I was making a difference in people's lives.

The second job I found on craigslist was high school Basketball Officiating! Referees get paid up to $50 or $60 per game plus $1 per mile they drive to and from games! And if you think about it, games are only an hour or two - so that's somewhere between $25 and $60 per hour! I went to the first meeting last night and began training. There is certainly a lot to learn! There are only two rookie females so I am very much in the minority, but I don't mind. I'll just have to prove myself. With my current job, I get off work early enough that I could ref games almost every night of the week if I wanted to. The extra income should help a lot, I'll get good exercise, and I will stay connected to a sport I love. Plus the group of veteran and rookie refs seems to be pretty enjoyable overall. This could be the beginning of a great lifelong activity.

Craigslist also came through for me with selling my computer last week. Tim and I recently bought a MacBook (still can't believe that my Mac-hater husband converted), and we are selling our laptops. I successfully sold mine and am working on selling his. If all goes well, we will recoup almost the full price of the MacBook by reselling our old laptops - thus ridding our apartment of the two unnecessary laptops, simplifying life and chipping into our pocket books. Oh, and I'm also trying to sell my brother's 1959 Chevy restored pickup on craigslist. We'll see how that goes. Anyone wanna buy it for $10,000??? :)

Aside from these new involvements and happenings, I had a fantastic weekend. I got to visit Caris and Maile in Portland Friday night and most of Saturday, during which time we went to see Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, had two GREAT meals, strolled around the Saturday Market in the sun, rode the Max, drank Starbucks hot cocoa, and watched "A Mighty Heart". Then Tim and I watched Kim in the Three Penny Opera Saturday night and spent most of yesterday at home cleaning, making cinnamon rolls, napping, reading "The Story We Find Ourselves In" and watching "Children of Men". Overall, quite a good weekend!