Birthday Week

Last Wednesday was my birthday. I have been celebrating it since the weekend before, when we visited my in-laws. It has been an odd birthday this year, a time of disquiet, or maybe just troubled, spirit. It's not because I'm getting older. That doesn't bother so much. It is weird to be 39, and probably even weirder for my parents, but not troubling. It started out fairly normal. I got this pretty cake.

 I went with my mother-in-law to several antique/junk shops in their town and found these mountain pictures and a colorful doily. Haven't figured out what I'm going to do with the doily, but it was only a dollar.

On my actual birthday, well, my daughter fixed my hair. She worked really hard to make it beautiful.

And so I left it in. I went to work. I made some journeys around town and caught lots of people looking at my head. I cut short some visits I had planned to make for To Norman with Love, because I was concerned that I might scare people away. And really now that I look at it again, it just looks like a flowery headband.

That evening I made special pizza for me (the kids got plain cheese on their half). Shannon had to work at the church dinner. Then we went to work at the church. It was a rough night, and just not really an evening that I would've planned for myself. I considered it more justification to celebrate the whole week!

The next day I received my replacement ipod. I had a first generation one that was recalled. I think it was a battery problem. They sent me a new one in return, one with way more memory than the old one. But, stamped all across the box was "made in china." In the past week or so, Shannon had been telling me about the Foxconn factory that makes most of Apple's products. While I loved getting this new ipod, it was troubling to think of the working conditions of the people behind the scenes.

Saturday was a beautiful spring-like day. We were outside most of the morning.

This is a tool Shannon made to sift out a lot of the rocks in our garden. 

After lunch I headed to the church to watch the women's ministry matinee, The Help. I had read the book. The movie was just really painful to watch. The pain the people have caused (and continue to cause) for others. I wanted to leave, a lot, but I stayed til the end. Then I quickly gathered my stuff and headed home in time to go to my birthday dinner with my parents, sister and brother-in-law.
The food was great. I got to wear this hat! But--I didn't get to keep it (and shared it with at least four other people while we were there). And it was just so loud and too crowded, not good for conversation and celebrating with the family.

One of the books I received from my parents was Not in my Town which discussed the modern problems of human trafficking and slavery. I started reading it Saturday night. Although this is a multi-dimensional problem, affecting people in agriculture, construction, factories, as well as the sex trade, most of the book focuses on prostitution. It discusses Asian massage parlors and spas quite a bit. So it was a bit troubling on Sunday as we drove to lunch after church to see the massage parlor next to one of my favorite donut shops. And the nail salon/spa in the strip mall next to the pizza place. And to read about the struggles in Nepal, the Nepal that the little girl I mentor will likely be returning to at the end of the school year.

Today was better. I am still troubled and praying for my friends Joey, Ashley, and baby Finn. Two new mentors started yesterday, and I saw the beaming face of a little boy meeting his mentor for the first time. I'm still pondering my future with a possible part-time job, but that seems to be in the works now. I had felt out of sync with the Bible study I'm attending but it shifted back for me in the past few days. And interestingly, the focus today was on waiting for the rains to begin again. As the rain fell outside. Maybe I'm just troubled as I see so much brokenness in the world around me, and I'm ready to see some rain.

     And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went
     off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his
     face between his knees. “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
     “There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.” The seventh time the servant    
     reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”   So Elijah said, “Go and tell
     Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’” Meanwhile, the sky grew
     black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. The
     power of the LORD came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab
    all the way to Jezreel.                                                               1 Kings 18:41-46


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