Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye 2007

Have a Happy, Scrappy, Fabulous New Year...
Ready for a change....looking forward to the future!



(Thanks Rachael G. for the logo....I found it on your blog and love it!)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Something to warm your heart

Found this on-line...
An AP writer did this story, if you Google the soldier's name, you'll find others from Wisconsin papers...that tell the story as it goes along...

Merry Christmas - I think this will warm your heart.




By CARRIE ANTLFINGER, Associated Press Writer

MAUSTON, Wis. - Capt. Scott Southworth knew he'd face violence, political strife and blistering heat when he was deployed to one of Baghdad's most dangerous areas. But he didn't expect Ala'a Eddeen.

Ala'a was 9 years old, strong of will but weak of body — he suffered from cerebral palsy and weighed just 55 pounds. He lived among about 20 kids with physical or mental disabilities at the Mother Teresa orphanage, under the care of nuns who preserved this small oasis in a dangerous place.

On Sept. 6, 2003, halfway through his 13-month deployment, Southworth and his military police unit paid a visit to the orphanage. They played and chatted with the children; Southworth was talking with one little girl when Ala'a dragged his body to the soldier's side.

Black haired and brown eyed, Ala'a spoke to the 31-year-old American in the limited English he had learned from the sisters. He recalled the bombs that struck government buildings across the Tigris River.

"Bomb-Bing! Bomb-Bing!" Ala'a said, raising and lowering his fist.

"I'm here now. You're fine," the captain said.

Over the next 10 months, the unit returned to the orphanage again and again. The soldiers would race kids in their wheelchairs, sit them in Humvees and help the sisters feed them.

To Southworth, Ala'a was like a little brother. But Ala'a — who had longed for a soldier to rescue him — secretly began referring to Southworth as "Baba," Arabic for "Daddy."

Then, around Christmas, a sister told Southworth that Ala'a was getting too big. He would have to move to a government-run facility within a year.

"Best case scenario was that he would stare at a blank wall for the rest of his life," Southworth said.

To this day, he recalls the moment when he resolved that that would not happen.

"I'll adopt him," he said.

___

Before Southworth left for Iraq, he was chief of staff for a state representative. He was single, worked long days and squeezed in his service as a national guardsman — military service was a family tradition. His great-great-greatgrandfather served in the Civil War, his grandfather in World War II, his father in Vietnam.

The family had lived in the tiny central Wisconsin city of New Lisbon for 150 years. Scott was raised as an evangelical Christian; he attended law school with a goal of public service, running unsuccessfully for state Assembly at the age of 25.

There were so many reasons why he couldn't bring a handicapped Iraqi boy into his world.

He had no wife or home; he knew nothing of raising a disabled child; he had little money and planned to run for district attorney in his home county.

Just as important, Iraqi law prohibits foreigners from adopting Iraqi children.

Southworth prayed and talked with family and friends.

His mother, who had cared for many disabled children, explained the difficulty. She also told him to take one step at a time and let God work.

Southworth's decision was cemented in spring 2004, while he and his comrades watched Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion of the Christ." Jesus Christ's sacrifice moved him. He imagined meeting Christ and Ala'a in heaven, where Ala'a asked: "Baba, why didn't you ever come back to get me?"

"Everything that I came up with as a response I felt ashamed. I wouldn't want to stand in the presence of Jesus and Ala'a and say those things to him."

And so, in his last weeks in Iraq, Southworth got approval from Iraq's Minister of Labor to take Ala'a to the United States for medical care.

___

His parents had filed signatures so he wouldn't miss the cutoff to run for district attorney. He knocked on doors, telling people he wanted to be tough on criminals who committed injustices against children.

He never mentioned his intention to adopt Ala'a.

He won office — securing a job and an income.

Everything seemed to be in place. But when Southworth contacted an immigration attorney, he was told it would be nearly impossible to bring Ala'a to the United States.

Undaunted, Southworth and the attorney started the paperwork to bring Ala'a over on humanitarian parole, used for urgent reasons or significant public benefit.

A local doctor, a cerebral palsy expert, a Minneapolis hospital, all said they would provide Ala'a free care. Other letters of support came from a minister, the school district, the lieutenant governor, a congressman, chaplain, a sister at the orphanage and an Iraqi doctor.

"We crossed political boundaries. We crossed religious boundaries. There was just a massive effort — all on behalf of this little boy who desperately needed people to actually take some action and not just feel sorry for him," Southworth says.

He mailed the packet on Dec. 16, 2004, to the Department of Homeland Security.

On New Year's Eve, his cell phone rang. It was Ala'a.

"What are you doing?" Scott asked him.

"I was praying,'" Ala'a responded.

"Well, what were you praying for?"

"I prayed that you would come to take me to America," Ala'a said.

Southworth almost dropped the phone. Ala'a knew nothing of his efforts, and he couldn't tell him yet for fear that the boy might inadvertently tell the wrong person, upending the delicate process.

By mid-January, Homeland Security called Southworth's attorney to say it had approved humanitarian parole. Within three hours, Southworth had plane tickets.

He hardly slept as he worked the phones to make arrangements, calling the American embassy, hotels and the orphanage. His Iraqi translator agreed to risk his life to get Ala'a to the embassy to obtain documentation. Like a dream, all the pieces fell into place.

Southworth returned to Iraq for the first time since a deployment that left him emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausted.

His unit had trained Iraqi police from sunup to sundown; he saw the devastation wrought by two car bombings, and counted dead bodies. Mortar and rocket attacks were routine. Some 20 in his unit were wounded, and one died. He knew that nothing could be taken for granted in Baghdad.

So when he saw Ala'a in the airport for the first time since leaving Iraq, he was relieved.

"He was in my custody then. I could hug him. I could hold him. I could protect him.

"And forever started."

They made it to Wisconsin late Jan. 20, 2005. The next morning, Ala'a awoke to his first sight of snow.

He closed his eyes and grimaced.

"Baba! Baba! The water is getting all over me!"

"It's not water, it's snooooow," Southworth told him.

___

Police found Ala'a abandoned on a Baghdad street at around 3 years old. No one knows where he came from.

In all his life in Iraq, Ala'a saw a doctor 10 times. He surpassed that in his first six months in the United States.

Ala'a's cerebral palsy causes low muscle tone, spastic muscles in the legs, arms and face. It hinders him when he tries to crawl, walk or grasping objects. He needs a wheelchair to get around, often rests his head on his shoulder and can't easily sit up.

Physical therapy has helped him control his head and other muscles. He can now maneuver his way out of his van seat and stabilize his legs on the ground.

"I'm not the same guy I used to be," he says.

He clearly has thrived. At 13, he's doubled his weight to 111 pounds.

Ala'a's condition doesn't affect his mind, although he's still childlike — he wants to be a Spiderman when he grows up.

Ala'a's English has improved and he loves music and school, math and reading especially. He gets mad when snow keeps him home, even though it's his second favorite thing, after his father.

At first, he didn't want to talk about Iraq; he would grow angry when someone tried to talk to him in Arabic. But in the fall of 2006, Scott showed Ala'a's classmates an Arabic version of "Sesame Street" and boasted how Ala'a knew two languages and could teach them.

Soon he was teaching his aide and his grandmother, LaVone.

LaVone is a fixture in Ala'a's life, supporting her son as he juggles his career and fatherhood. One day, she asked Ala'a if he missed his friends in Iraq.

Would he like to visit them?

Big tears filled his eyes.

"Well, honey, what's the matter?" asked LaVone.

"Oh, no, Grandma. No. Baba says that I can come to live with him forever," he pleaded.

"Oh, no, no," he grandmother said, crying as well. "We would never take you back and leave you there forever. We want you to be Baba's boy forever."

___

Southworth knew once he got Ala'a out of Iraq, the hardest part would be over. Iraq had bigger problems to deal with than the whereabouts of a single orphan.

On June 4, Ala'a officially became Southworth's son. Though he was born in the spring of 1994, they decided to celebrate his birthday as the day they met — Sept. 6.

Life has settled into a routine. Father and son have moved into a new house with an intercom system, a chair lift to the basement and toilet handles. Southworth showers him, brushes his teeth and washes his hands. He has traded in his Chrysler Concorde for a minivan — it was too hard to lift his son out of the car.

In October, the Wisconsin's deputy adjunct general gave Southworth, now a major, permission to change units because of Ala'a. His former unit was going to Guantanamo Bay for a one-year deployment, and he didn't want to leave his son behind, at least for now.

He hopes one day to marry to his longtime girlfriend and have more children. He may run for Congress or governor someday — he's already won re-election once, and plans to run again next fall.

Not everything is perfect. Ala'a never encountered thunderstorms in Baghdad, and the flash-boom reminds him of bombs. He is starting to get over it, although he still weeps during violent storms.

But Ala'a — who picked out his own name, which means to be near God — knows he's where he belongs. Southworth always says Ala'a picked him, not the other way around. They were brought together, Southworth believes, by a "web of miracles."

Ala'a likes to sing Sarah McLachlan's song, "Ordinary Miracle," from "Charlotte's Web," one of his favorite movies. His head and body lean to one side as he sings off-key.

"It's just another ordinary miracle today. Life is like a gift they say. Wrapped up for you everyday."

Friday, December 21, 2007

Deep thoughts

Found on Ali's blog....

Mary Lee Bonasera Matthews:
Worry is not necessary. Spend an equal amount of time counting blessings.

Start with your childhood. Take the time to remember to really appreciate each blessing, absorb it and think of all the good effects it has had on you and others.

Don't overlook the ordinary. There are a thousand blessings in every moment, if you look. Each breath and heartbeat, every color, texture, taste, smell. A lifetime of blessings, beauty, love.

Thankfulness is like water. Allow yourself the release, the cleansing, the quenching that gratefulness brings.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wisdom beyond his years....

You may want to grab some klenex before listening to this video.
I've pasted the back story here, so you can know the context....
Wow...

From YouTube....

(A Frank Lozano Production) We have had a lot of requests to replay the phone call that Pastor Mike shared during our church service on Sunday, Nov. 11th, 2007.

Here you'll find the video clip that was created just for you. We've placed the video on YouTube so that you can watch it and share with family and friends.

Logan is a 13 year-old boy who lives on a ranch in a very small town in Nebraska. Logan listens to Christian Radio station 89.3FM KSBJ which broadcasts from Houston, TX. Logan called the radio station distraught because he had to take down a calf . His words have wisdom beyond his years.

Since airing the audio of the phone call and now the making of the video clip, it has taken on a life of its own. People are forwarding it all over the world. We encourage you to share the love of Christ with anyone you can.

(**Sky Angel is a family safe broadcasting service that is offered on satellite. KSBJ is a local Houston Christian music radio station. Video clip produced with love by www.FrankLozano.com Hear the entire message at www.ValenciaHills.com)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Found on a friend's blog

A Franciscan Benediction


May God Bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.


-------------
Maybe that's my problem. I am foolish enough to think I can make a difference. That I can change the world....that what I do matters.

May I have this spirit...a "foolish" spirit, who never gives up, who never listens to the voices inside my head, which says "you are inadequate, useless...you can do nothing" and instead, be wise enough to know that through God, I can do all things.

May I never lose the drive to be radical, to be real, to do things that seem crazy to the world, but could change this war torn, broken, pain-filled world for the better.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Interesting view of God, Heaven

Warning...it's an American Dad episode
Interesting view of Christmas, heaven, God and Jesus....oh, and angels...
While I don't "approve" of everything...it's an interesting view of popular culture's view of Religion....

10 Revisions Later....

Here's what the church's Christmas Eve ad will look like....
So much to include, lots of opinions...hope it works (we want it to be warm and inviting...)

K.

It uses a word art from
True, Magic, Christmas - by Sue Cummings and TaylorMade Designs, Oscraps.com
and
The Nativity figures from the mega collab kit - One Night in Bethlehem (I forgot who this specific designer was)....

Christmas Eve Ad Proof

It's easier to post here, than e-mail everyone who has to see them...
Let me know which one you like.

K.



Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Give Aways....

Ok, this cool blog is giving away stuff for Christmas.....
Enjoy checking it out..
K



mod*mom

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Update - My story for the Herald Leader

The Siloam Springs Herald Leader publisher asked me, because of my connection to Bekah and her family, to pull together a local angle story for the YWAM shooting in Arvada.

I'm pasting in the link for their story (on line) here. It was on the front page of Wednesday's paper, bottom right corner, above the fold (third main story on the front...not bad for a stringer). I've officially moved up to "paid" stringer...

Anyway, I'll also paste it below, for you to read.



Siloam family has ties to Arvada shootings, mission organization

By Kaylea Hutson Special to the Herald-Leader

As authorities dissect the actions of Matthew Murray, a gunman who killed four and injured at least five others in two geographically separate, yet connected shootings on Sunday, the effects of his actions continue to ripple throughout the world and in Siloam Springs.

On Sunday morning, Dr. Randy H. and Laura Rowlan awoke to learn that Murray entered the Youth with a Mission training facility in Arvada, Colo., and in an act of violence left two young adult staff members dead, and two others wounded.

For the Rowlans, the incident involved more than names in a news report. The young adults involved were friends and ministry colleagues for their son and daughter — Nathan, 24, and Rebekah, 22.

Nathan is a member of the YWAM-Arvada staff. Following the incident, he, along with others at the facility, was taken to the YWAM mountain campus. Rebekah spent several months this year at the Arvada campus before returning to Siloam Springs in mid-November after completing the discipleship training program.

Rebekah said she found it hard to remain in Siloam Springs, knowing that many people she cares about are hurting in Colorado.

“This is my community. Part of my extended family got hurt, ” she said. “ Some moments are better than others. ”

Since learning of the incident, Rebekah has spent much of her free time talking with friends from college and YWAM. She has also spent many hours in prayer, trying to come to grips with her feelings.

“One thing I learned at DTS is that God isn’t just there during the easy times, ” Rebekah said. “ God wants to be my rock in the bad times, too.

“I am taking the Psalms, which say ‘ I will trust you ’ and really taking ownership of those verses. ”

Rebekah said she knows the YWAM community, throughout Colorado and the world, is coming together, gaining strength through prayer.

“I’ve asked God why this happened, ” Rebekah said. “ But God doesn’t have control over us. We have free will and we can do what we want.

“Someone once said when you accept Christ and you believe in God, your life will be all rosy. But we don’t get out of troubles because we follow Christ. We just have to rely on him more because of those troubles.”

Rebekah said even though the shooting took place in Colorado, the effects will be felt throughout the world.

“At least 300 students go through there [the Arvada campus ] each year, ” Rebekah said. “ The ripples will be felt all over the place, because YWAM [casts ] a wide circle. ”

Remembering those killed


Both Nathan and Rebekah Rowlan took time this week to remember their friends involved in the shooting.

“Tiffany was bright, bubbly and kept making her blond hair blonder, ” Rebekah recalled of Tiffany Johnson, 26, one of the victims. “ She always had a smile on her face. ”

Rebekah said Johnson always seemed happy and joyful as she went about her work as head of the YWAM hospitality.

Her brother, contacted by email, agreed.

“ She was the kind of person that lit up a room anytime she entered it, ” Nathan wrote. “[She was ] incredibly mothering and kind, friends with everyone. She knew how to lead people and had a desire to be loved and learn how to love others. ”

During her time at the school, Rebekah accompanied Johnson in an outreach project to area skater kids.

Rebekah said Philip Crouse, the other shooting victim, was always friendly to those attending the training courses.

“ The last time I talked to him, it was when we were up in Eagle Rock, ” Rebekah recalled. “ He said he was the only staff member who didn’t have any stamps in his passport — it makes me really sad. ”

For Nathan, Crouse was not only a colleague at YWAM, but also a member of the same worship team at an area church.

“Philip was a one-of-a-kind guy, ” Nathan noted. “ He had a desire to learn and serve. He was a bit awkward at times, but a heart of gold that he had a desire to share with others. ”

Praying for the wounded


The two men wounded in the shooting remain hospitalized. Dan Griebenow, 24, has a bullet in his neck and is listed in critical, but stable condition. Charlie Blanch, 22, suffered gunshot wounds to his legs.

“Dan is one of my closest friends, ” Nathan said. “ He loves life and is a fighter. Almost every weekend this summer, he and I went camping or fishing together. If we weren’t doing that, he was probably at a music show downtown.

“He loves music and has a huge heart for kids on the punk and hardcore scene to understand the father heart of God. ”

Rebekah said Dan is not afraid to be himself.

“When we were at the coffeehouse (for homeless people ), Dan told us to go down and talk with people, ” Rebekah said, recalling how Dan would sit and talk with people, listening to their stories. ”

Nathan said Charlie is always interested in what is going on in other people’s lives.

“He makes people laugh and loves doing so, ” Nathan said. “ He is incredibly brilliant, who wants to use his gifts in the area of technology to bring others that love computers to love God also. ”

About YWAM


Rebekah chose to attend the discipleship training school to learn more about who God is and his plans for her life.

“I wanted a depth in my relationship with God, ” she said. “ I wanted a deeper, heavier foundation. ”

She said the 19-week program — which included nine weeks of class work and a 10-week trip to India and Nepal taught her many things, including a way to take classroom knowledge and put it into practice.

Nathan became involved with YWAM in 2004, when he attended a discipleship training school and a school of worship.

Following those courses, he traveled to South Africa, England and Holland as part of a band that played concerts, led worship and worked with AIDS orphans, street kids and local churches.

After a brief period away from the organization, Nathan returned in 2006 to attend the three-month leadership training program.

In June 2006 he joined the full-time staff, helping with music schools and discipleship schools, and using his carpentry skills to help maintain the campus.

Both Rowlans spent nine weeks this fall working in widows’ homes, villages and orphanages, and helping with a medical camp in India and Nepal.

In early 2008, Nathan will join a YWAM team working in Central Asia.

YWAM is an international, interdenominational Christian organization, which operates in 171 nations. Launched in 1960, it was developed as a way to provide short-term missionary service training for young people.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Shooting in Denver/Arvada YWAM base

The shooting in Denver hit close to home today.
If you haven't kept up, a guy went to the YWAM (Youth with a Mission) base outside of Denver, in Arvada, and wanted to spend the night.

When he was told it wasn't possible (they were full of students etc.), he opened fire.

Two are dead, two are critically wounded.
My friend B - who just got back from that base, is walking around church looking stunned. Her brother is still at the base, he was asleep in the dorm, so he's one of the "walking wounded" there.

B said she knows all four of the students, one girl, three boys involved.

Who'd a thunk this would happen outside of Denver. N (B's brother) is preparing to go to Afghanistan in January. There, we expect something might happen, not in Colorado.

Anyway, think of the students involved, the family members and the students at the base and throughout the country...lots of students, including B, just finished their training time there and are spread throughout the states....

K.
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