Sunday, February 26, 2012

from ryan: one sunday morning

in keeping with the theme that my wife has so delightfully initiated, i will respectfully include the name of the song i am currently listening to (and, no. it is simply coincidence that it is actually sunday and wilco's, "one sunday morning" is playing in my headphones).  

often, the readers of our blog are blessed and encouraged by the writings and thoughts of my lovely wife, laura.  She does an incredible job of expressing herself and of maintaining steady communication of the happenings in our lives here in italy.  She is quite frequently making movies, posting pictures, writing encouraging summaries of what we or i do, but no one really knows what laura is doing. So, today we are going to remedy this situation and i am going to spend a little time telling you about laura. what does laura do here? it is impossible to explain to you and i can not even begin to try. but, i can honestly say that i would be nothing here without her.  

laura does not know that i am posting this and she will despise it, but i do not care.  she is one of the hardest workers that i know.  she never misses an appointment.  she is organized.  she is diligent.  she is tireless in her work for others.  she is always the first to volunteer when something needs to be done.  she is selfless.  she is honest.  she is loving.  she is ocd.  she is creative.  she is well spoken.  she is a servant.  she is a student and a teacher.  she is a friend and wife.  she is an encouragement.  she is an example.  laura works so hard that sometimes I feel like this...

handmade cards, videos, pictures, detailed lessons (remember 12 a week), meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner), laundry, cleaning etc. would not be done without laura.  she never wants the spotlight, but today i wanted to 'brag' on her.  i am proud of her and the things that she is accomplishing, has accomplished, and will accomplish in the future.  her work is vital to the success of our group.  god is using her in ways that i think she never thought he would and it has been incredible to see her grow into the woman that she has become.  so, today is one day to pull the videographer out from behind the video camera, to pull the cook out of the kitchen, to yank the teacher out of her lessons, to tug the weaver from her loom, and to encourage and acknowledge her wonderful work.  laura, thank you for loving god first, others second, and yourself last.

love, hubs.

Friday, February 24, 2012

sweet jazz music

last fall we started going to this beautiful nursing home for a couple of hours every monday afternoon. we help with their arts and crafts time and it is always a highlight of my week.

for the whole month of february during this time we have been decorating the nursing home for carnevale because it's a big deal to italians. we've hung streamers, blown up 100's of balloons, made dozens of hats and piƱatas. it's been an absolute blast.

then tuesday we went there (in costume) for the party. i can't even tell you how much fun it was but i did make a video because that's the best way for me to tell you. it was so wonderful to see the people having so much fun dancing, singing, throwing confetti. we have absolutely fallen in love with these people. you will too when you see this video. hope you like it as much as i do.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


here's a new video of something new we have started. it may be the most important thing we do here. 

this is all there is to it...
"When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left."Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:
   I was hungry and you fed me,
   I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
   I was homeless and you gave me a room,
   I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
   I was sick and you stopped to visit,
   I was in prison and you came to me.'
"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'
"Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—
   I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
   I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
   I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
   I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
   Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'
"Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'
"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'                 -matthew 25:31-45
this is why i had to change something huge in my life. 

i hope you know i didn't make this video to show off. i really made it (like my others) to show our family and friends what we are doing here, (because it's impossible to tell about it all) but it's so much more important than that. 

i made it to keep myself accountable in the future. 

i made it to be a keepsake of something that has become really really important to ryan and i. 

i made it to remind people how simple it is to do these things that Jesus expects of us and how rewarding it is when you do them.

like the end of the video says: pray for us and the people we serve here. i'm praying for you and the people you're serving in your cities. there is so much work to still be done. i don't like leaving them every time, making their beds on a piece of cardboard, knowing all i'm doing is helping with one meal one night a week. there is so much work to still be done...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

some kind of wonderful

every sunday this month the hubs is speaking in church.

he has said many a prayer, done the lord's supper, and even lead singing, but this is his first real experience leading our church family by teaching. 

he is using a video series of francis chan about the fundamentals of who god is. he worked with our friends jonathan shackelford and samuele cangi dubbing these videos into italian and they are incredible. they are professional quality, really. i'm so proud of all of them. 

he has been working so hard preparing and translating his lessons and practicing. he has been very prayerful and humble through this whole experience and i know the spirit is speaking through him. 

so, i just wanted to shout out to the hubs and say...way to go! i know you're encouraging me. you encourage me every day to be a better person.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

i saw her standing there.

thought for life...the only way you will find the meaning of life is to give away your life to others in jesus' name. period.(imagine me standing in front of a mirror saying all this to myself because that's who i'm talking to.) 
"but it's trouble ahead if you think you have it made. 
What you have is all you'll ever get.
and it's trouble ahead if you're satisfied with yourself.
your self will not satisfy you for long.

and it's trouble ahead if you think life's all fun and games.
there's suffering to be met, and you're going to meet it.
there's trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! your task is to be true, not popular.
to you who are ready for the truth, i say this: love your enemies. let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. when someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. if someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. if someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. no more tit-for-tat stuff. live generously.
here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! if you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? run-of-the-mill sinners do that. if you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? garden-variety sinners do that. if you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that's charity? the stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.
i tell you, love your enemies. help and give without expecting a return. you'll never —i promise— regret it. live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we're at our worst. our Father is kind; you be kind.
don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults — unless, of course, you want the same treatment. don't condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. be easy on people; you'll find life a lot easier. give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. giving, not getting, is the way. generosity begets generosity."
he quoted a proverb: "'can a blind man guide a blind man?' wouldn't they both end up in the ditch? an apprentice doesn't lecture the master. 
the point is to be careful who you follow as your teacher. 
it's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. do you have the nerve to say, 'let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? it's this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor."
this is from the luke 6 section of the message. i know the message is not holy scripture because it is a human man's interpretation of it but i know that if you live like above towards other humans, you will be living like jesus asked. 

ok, whoa. that touches some nerves. that's one of the hardest sections of scripture i read and i read it weekly to remind myself of these things. 

that doesn't make it easier to do. 

it's so against the ways of this world, against human nature but so necessary to be living a jesus-like life. it's not a choice if we should live this way or not but rather when to start. obviously the answer is: asap. 

i get so many chances to employ this type of jesus love and fail miserably on a daily basis. i'm praying for strength and sharing the struggles of my heart with you, not telling you what to do. 

however, i do know that if you're searching for the meaning of life, try these practices on for size and see if you don't get some clarification real fast. 

i am rich and well fed and warm and clothed and educated and ... only to have the opportunity to give it away. why would anyone care about the message of christ that i "preach" if i wasn't living a life like his and through living like him they were benefitting in some way. it's common sense.

some people have this so figured out and have completely given up their lives. unfortunately, i'm still stuck on this step and praying for the strength to get over it. the faster i give up my life the better. pray for me to have the strength to get over it because i feel that i might be hindering the gospel until i do. 

thank you for listening or not listening to my hopefully well-intentioned repetitive rant because in some weird way posting these things makes me feel more accountable to them. 

in love, lulu