Friday, September 16, 2011

American Airlines is allergic to humanitarians

My brother is leaving on a humanitarian trip to Haiti today.  His group consists of 2 skilled construction men and 4 female nurses.  They will be adding on to an orphanage and conducting medical clinics, possibly in the center of a tent city there.  They are each allowed two bags, with a third bag costing $150. My brother called American Airlines, the airline they are traveling with, to see if they might be able to get a discount on the fee for that third bag because they are a humanitarian group.  Several times, he was told he was being transferred to someone else, and then heard the dial tone.  Another time, he called, explaining his situation, and as soon as he uttered the word "humanitarian" they hung up.  Not one to give up, he called the American Airlines national headquarters, and after wading through many automated menus, came up with one that led him to a website to apply for charitable donations.  Once he got to that site, he found that he would have had to apply 8 weeks before his trip.  The thing that frustrated him most was that none of the American Airlines employees he spoke with even mentioned the possibility of this application process.  In the end, the 6 people heading out on the trip agreed to split the cost of the extra bag.  Way to go, American Airlines.   Do you remember when we bailed you out?   The people of Haiti are a lot worse off than you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The sun also rises

Sunrise on our first day of co-op classes

Going into this school year, I've had my standard misgivings about homeschooling.  I wonder if it's still right for each child, and painstakingly think through each of their current struggles and successes, weighing them against each type of school to find the perfect balance.  It's the time of year when I check myself to make sure I'm not continuing to educate the kids at home out of pure stubbornness or social rebellion, but that it is purely for the benefit of everyone involved, and our family unit as a whole.

I wonder if the forest fires in Eastern Washington caused this haze.  

It's hard to bare my feelings this way, and truthfully, I know I'm still biased in my judgement.  I carefully reveal my insecurities to other parents I respect, and to my husband.  Next, I make a list in my head reminding me of why we started in the first place.  I talk to the kids.  This was the first year that I could really describe our reasons for homeschooling to them, and then see a respect and thankfulness glimmer in their eyes.  Normally, it's a little bit of confusion mixed with indifference.  Explaining it to them, then witnessing their response was enough for the heaviness to be removed from my mind.  The sun had risen.  We were going to enter into this year of learning from a place of understanding and respect.  Even when the hard stuff comes, I'll remember that moment.

And the sky begins to open up

Dew on one of my new plants
                   color altering.  These are the reddest I've ever had on the vine.

Good morning!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Beauty for Ashes

the elegant design of a bean blossom

 To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3

I share this verse, because I think it is what we need at the end of today, and also I share these images of beauty, hope, evidence of the elegant designs of our Creator, and just plain goofiness.  There is always a new day.  There is always hope.  There is always redemption.

These pumpkins don't care that fall is coming, they keep pushing out new blooms.

The spider continues the work she was created to do

look at the beautiful design of that web...

This is for free.  It has nothing to do with renewal, but I think it has something to do with joy.  Levi, completely comfortable with me, is able to act like the incredible hulk!

When you grow up

A corn tassel has matured, sending its pollen to the wind, creating good fruit on the stalks that surround it.

When you are ten, you begin realize that you can start to converse with adults as a peer.  I distinctly remember being around that age and realizing that I could make an adult laugh.  You are growing taller, not quite little enough for the playground, but not ready to sit on the side with the adults.  A ten year old has experienced enough of life to begin to glimpse what it might be like to be grown up.

I have a son who is ten.  Ten years ago, on the eleventh of September, Isaac was not yet one year old.  He does not remember being awakened by the radio announcing the attacks, or watching the news anchor in complete shock relay the news as it unfolded.  He will not remember it the way that I, or any other adult at that time will.  To him, it is a historical event.  It is a terrible thing that he asks about with questioning, trying to understand how it could happen.  But he does not have the memory of the fear that froze our country that day.  Instead, he reads a book about it, just as we might look at a book telling of the Holocaust and World War II.  It is with wide eyed shock that he takes in the devastation.  It is easier to think of it as a story.  He knows that his uncles were soldiers, and that they came home safely, but he knows that across the world, it is still not safe.  His life is peaceful, but he knows there is not peace.

Somewhere in Afghanistan, somewhere in Iraq, there is a boy who is ten.  He has lost an uncle, a brother in this war, or the one before it.  He has been raised in a battlefield.  He sees sadness in the eyes of his grandmother and his mother. He has never known a country that is free, where it is always safe to go out in public.  He sees foreign military and local soldiers everywhere he goes.  He hears people speak of America, some good things, some bad.  He likes the American soldiers.  They are funny.  He does not understand fully what brought them to his country.   He knows it is the war, but he just wants to go outside, to kick his ball, to play with his friends.  He does not know when the uncertainty will end, when his country will stand on its own.  He lives the life he has always known.

These boys will all grow up to know of 9/11 as my generation understands Vietnam, as my parents' generation understands World War II, as their parents understood World War I and as their parents understood the Civil War.  They see the recent and real wounds caused, but they cannot change them, nor can they fully feel their pain.  They know that they do not want this hurt to remain, or to repeat itself.

  The boys will begin to understand the anguish that day wrought, and still continues to bring.  They will start to realize that there is a world outside of what they know,  and maybe they will begin to understand the pain that throbs still beneath the scars on both sides of the globe.  Maybe they will be the ones to bring the peace.  Will it take that long?  How do you stop a war, when you don't quite know who the enemy might be?

Our country is just the same. We are maturing and understanding that we are not alone in the world, and that our actions are not self contained.  We have experienced the growing pains of many wars.  We have felt the shock of foreign attack on our soil from Pearl Harbor to New York.   We have been rescuer and protector, even when we felt we weren't prepared.  We have known the consequences of poor choices, from the dustbowl to the current financial crisis.

We are growing up.  We are learning from trials we've endured, and those we've watched others walk through, and we want change.  It is important that we hold on to this.  This will never be a perfect world, because we are a fallen, broken people, but we can strive for the ideals set forth in the founding of this nation.  We can do our best to serve God the best way we can, in showing the kind of compassionate love that Jesus was all about.

We should not forget that there are children in our battlefields, and for their sake, we have to work with others in compassion, forgiveness, and sometimes even compromise.  It will be a wonderful day when there is a generation of children who do not know the confusion and sadness of war in the eyes of their elders.  In this way, senseless acts of war and terrorism can begin to be redeemed, through our commitment to live our lives in such a way as to point with hope to the ultimate Peacemaker.  He can bring rest in our restless world.