Friday, August 24, 2007

To all the friends I've loved before...

Life throws a curve ball now and's true. We flow through life...sometimes going crazy fast pushing really hard, struggling to get upstream, then other times...we just float back down stream and are thankful for the easy path.

WEll, 13...YES 13 friends of mine hitched a ride down a completely different stream this summer.

At first, when they all moved, I was like "Eh...we'll be fine...we'll keep in touch." But then, last night at a girls night out, I realized that we are indeed at a loss here without them. It was pretty sad to sit at the table and not have Erin and Kristen there. True...I was a random friend that just popped into their circle last year really...but, still...I missed them last night.

Erin moved to Colorado to pursue her masters in architectural design (or something like that)at the University of Colorado, Denver. Well...not only is the city of Denver getting a talented artist...but they're getting an amazing woman of God. Gennie and Erin are two of the most "spriritually mature" women I know. Christ has set up permanent living quarters in their souls and he just beems through them. Erin is a ray of light to me...she encourages me...and I'm so glad to call her a dear friend. I better see you in January on the ski slopes girl.

Kristen and her husband Stephen moved to Colorado as well. He is studying Law at the University of Colorado in Boulder. SO JEALOUS BY THE WAY! I heart Boulder. Kristen and Stephen are a really cool couple. They're so laid back on life...until you start talking about the women trapped in the sex trade in India. Then, all of the sudden, you see Kristin take on the manifestation of a rabid beast ready to tackle anyone with the will to hurt those women. And, from what I've heard...I think Stephen did just that once. YIKES! two are SO stinkin' cool...and your heart to minister is very encouraging and a breath of fresh air. See you in January...I prefer Egyptian cotton, 400 thread count sheets. Thanks.

Well, Erin, Kristen and Stephen are only 3 of the 13.

The Harper family is gone too. They make up 6 of the 13. Mike, Stacy, their 3 amazing kids...and Indianna...the greatest dog in the world. (See previous post). Their family was really a pillar in our church. They had so many strong relationships...and I really looked up to Stacy. I still do, and probably always will. She's as crazy as me...and she, along with Mike, raise their kids EXACTLY how Justin and I want to. I MISS YOU STACY!!!!

That brings us to 9 (yes, one is a dog) so far...the other 4 are just as amazing.

Sweet sweet Whitney. Oh, I'll miss her sweet little hugs. And by little...I just mean that she is a small individual, and next to my voluptuousness...she kind of got swollowed up. This woman of God has taken a calling on her life to serve overseas. She is an inspiration! I love you Whit Whit!

Now that makes 10...3 more to cover.

Esther aka Stresther. That girl is one of the bravest souls I know. She just accepted a job and moved to New York City. ("NEW YORK CITY??? Get a rope!" Please tell me someone else remembers that Pace Picante Sauce commercial.) Anyway, unlike the pace picante sauce...Esther will TOTALLY fit NYC. She is the picture perfect city girl. She knows how to downsize and live in small spaces...she can do without a car...and she's cool as heck. Stay cool stir.

Ok, we're down to 2...

James and Adam. Those two rockin' boys, just HAD to move to Austin to pursue their music dreams. That is often does someone move to a city to pursue their dreams??? I mean really?

I MISS MY FRIENDS...BOO!!!!!!!!!!!

NOW LISTEN...This does not mean that my wonderful friends that remain here are "chopped liver" or, as Gennie put it Friday night, "What are WE? Balogna Sausage?"...ha ha ha...anyway, my friends that are still here are, of course, wonderful and very much a pillar part of my life. I'm just saying that I miss my other friends. So don't worry...I love all of you too.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Farewell Indi girl...

Today, we sent our sweet little girl off with our dear friends, the Harpers. They and their 3 kids moved to Kansas.

We've been contemplating this for awhile now, and this opportunity to give her to the Harpers came up. Our townhouse is just shy of 900 square feet, with a small fenced in back porch. During the day, that is where Indi would stay. We always felt sad that we didn't have a yard for her play around in during the day...well, now she does. And, she has 3 very happy children to play with her all the time. We're also very very busy people on the go. We're always going somewhere, doing something...and never had the time to really devote to her. She deserved a home with people that could spoil her rotten with love...and unfortunately that was not us...not now anyway.

Sometimes I wonder: "If I couldn't give time to a dog, how can I give the time and devotion needed to a child?"...but then, everyone always reminds me "a person is different than a dog Shelli...duh! You can't just leave them on the back porch...they become a part of your every thought and move." And then I feel better. Plus, I hope to be a stay at home that will help too.

So, our sweet Indianna Belles Jones is now a Kansas girl. Farewell Indi'll be missed.

And yes, there were lots of tears from me. Justin's been able to "hold it together"...but not me.

Monday, August 13, 2007

"Tag 2008"...

The Rules:

1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
2. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. (**if you’re a non-blogger, you can email them!)
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Random Fact #1: I know how to gut and clean most animals and have been through the Oklahoma Hunters Safety course.

Random Fact #2: I once sang back up for the 90’s pop boy band “Color Me Badd” for their Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame induction.

Random Fact #3: I’m the youngest of 5. (biologically, only 2…but I have 3 step siblings.)

Random Fact #4: We once had a large rat living in our laundry room that stole some of our Christmas decorations and decorated his little home in the wall. And, the day after Christmas…he pushed them back out. THIS IS NOT A LIE!!!!!!! You can call my mother at work to verify.

Random Fact #5: I’ve always wanted to go skydiving.

Random Fact #6: I have a degree in vocal music performance, yet I’m a banker.

Random Fact #7: One of my favorite snacks in the world is red seedless grapes with a small piece of Colby / Jack cheese. YUM!

Random Fact #8: I’ve known my husband for 16 years, we went to prom together, yet did not actually “date” until I graduated from college.

Since Jaime tagged Karen and Sarah…I wont choose them…I choose: Meredith, Erin, Gennie, Kristen C., Lafe (just because I know that if he DOES do this, he’ll make fun of it and furthermore, make his answers highly unbelievable), Stu, Hubby, and Virginia.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

"Third Owners's the charm"???

Well, Justin and I are now the 3rd (and very greatful and proud) owners of an apple laptop. Its pretty and silver and the keys light up and its a mac and we now have the internet and too bad I don't know squat about macs or it would be even cooler to me. Never the less...its ours...we have a new (to us) computer.

So...Thanks Dave who bought it from Jason who bought it from apple. With that said...i guess we're technically the 4th owner. But...whatever.

I've named it Zeke the Sleek laptop. Don't know if it will stick yet...but, I'm going to try.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

"You've got a friend...doo doo do doot DO..."

I have been blessed with some great friends. From college pups to mature adults willing to be a mentor of sorts. All of my friends are great…

However, Justin and I are particularly blessed by two specific couples that we often get together with for a fun night of laughter and games. It used to be just two couples, then it was bumped up to two couples and Sarah…but, now its been bumped up to three couples since Dave and Sarah starting dated and now engaged. One time, we three couples of orient are…erg…I mean North West AR even bumped it up another notch by adding in the Millers for a fun night of Wii and DDR. But, usually its just us three couples. Three couples without children and in a major time of change in our lives. (By the way…I think we ALL agree that we would like to “Red rover Red rover, send the Millers back over” more often)

Anyway…we’re all at a major crossroad in life…and it’s been great, so far, to go through it with such great people.

Jones: Trying to graduate and figure out where we are going to go full time on the mission field.

Akins: New home, life changes in the works, loss of dear friends.

Hamrick / Hodges…soon to be Hamrick’s: Engaged and ready to begin their life together.

Here’s to you, Bill and Karen Akins, for providing pizza, a fun house, a fun dog and fun times on your Wii last night. (And, who knew that the Wii would even work as a slide show for your digital camera memory card? We HAVE to get one of those things.)

Here’s to you, Dave and Sarah (Hodges) Hamrick, for being such awesome people who like to share your stories of engagement and muddy shoes turned romantic story escapades.

Here’s to you Akins and Hamrick/Hodges…you are some of my favorite people in the world and I’m blessed to call you my friends! Here’s to two of my most favorite couples for being so fun and always up for a good night of crazy talk, games and occasional whimsy of girls chattering about girly stuff. If I had a glass I’d raise it to you right now at work…but, alas, you’ll have to settle for a stirofoam cup of really bad coffee.

…and I’ve supposedly spelled stirofoam incorrectly, but I’m not getting any suggestions on the correct spelling. So, you’ll have to settle for that too.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Out trip in a (rather big) Nutshell...

Hello Friends and Family!
Many people have asked to hear all about our mission trip to Tibet…so, to kill many birds with one stone…here it is in blog form. Pictures to come later! (And, I plagiarized some of this from one of my team mates email she sent out…hope that’s ok Whit!) And remembere...this is the World Wide, I'm using a lot of "safe" spellings. Here you go:

Arrived in "Bayshing" and was immediately whisked away to the “Bao Ding” hotel. A “4 star” Ch*neez hotel…which is about a “2 star” in America. But, it was a nice place to call home for about 48 hours. During those 48 hours we ran, walked, hustled and bustled through the “touristy” things in Be*jing. Gr8_t Wall, Tien_anmen Square, The F0rbidden C*ty, and the Summ*r Pal*ce. It was all really amazing, but tuff to do in the little amount of time we had.

We then caught a flight to X_ning. After some altitude acclimation in (around 8,000 feet or so), we visited the rug factory and English school. It is really an amazing system they have set up over there. The workers of the factory get a pay check, a place to live, medical help and a school to learn English. It is REALLY a great benefit…even in the states. The "C" government knows who we are, knows we are believers and knows every detail of the work we are doing…and welcome us. But, unfortunately, we can not just go out and “witness” or “preach”. We have lead by example and pray that the people start asking questions…THEN, we have the freedom to talk to them. And, it IS happening. The workers are becoming loving friends to us and they are always asking questions.

After a few days, we left on the sleeper bus for Y.shu prefecture (13,000ft). A group of 13 of us hitched a ride on the infamous sleeper bus. It didn’t take too long to get used to the smells of yak butter, feet, and cigarettes as we rode 19 hours on mostly unpaved mountain roads. We had to stop once because of a landslide and another time because our bus broke down, (and of course…Justin and I barfing out the window) but altogether we were only delayed a few hours and we arrived in Yushu around 9:30 in the morning.

Despite our tiredness and lack of oxygen, we were immediately awestruck by the beauty of the place we were in. The town is flanked by rolling hills and mountains with a river running through the outskirts. The sky is the clearest blue I’ve ever seen, and with summer months, come all colors of wildflowers. But I think what struck us most were the people there. As we walked down the streets, nearly every person we saw flashed us a genuine smile and called out “tashi dele!” which is a greeting Tibetans give to foreigners. Other common greetings included very broken English: “hello!”, “okay!”, “I love you!”, “goodbye!” and “demo!? (hello in Tibetan).

We were very thankful when we arrived at the youth hostel and the rooms we had reserved were still available. The beds were clean, the squatty potties flushed (which immediately made me question why they didn’t just go ahead and put a seat on it), and there was usually electricity. We ate three good meals a day consisting of either yak yogurt & fruit, yak meat baozi (dumplings) & fried bread, sweet & sour chicken with rice, or yak mian pian (noodle soup) and cucumbers. (Side note: yak tastes a lot like deer, so I’m really thankful my parent raised me on deer meat.)

While in Y.shu we visited the three spiritual strongholds / temples of the town. When Chen Temple, Mani Stone (prayer stone) Temple, and the Big gigantic temple up on the mountain overlooking the town. That is the monastery home to all the monks…the monks that drive land rovers, bmw’s, and Lexus’s. The monks that take money from the crippled and old people of the town who are trying to earn merit / good kharma. I’m a little saddened / ticked off at that aspect, can you tell???

The influence of those places on the entire area, and on the people in X.ning that are from there, is unmistakably obvious. We ran across hundreds of men and women spinning prayer wheels, walking around the sites clockwise, tossing carved prayer stones onto the numerous piles, and mumbling mantras to gain merit. I was hit each time with many thoughts and emotions that I still haven’t been able to process through, and I don’t expect understanding to come any time soon, if ever. I was deeply saddened as I watched old men and women who could barely walk climbing mountains to walk around the idol shrines, and realized that their pain in walking came from thousands upon thousands of walks around them to gain merit that doesn’t exist. (There are many dark and sadistic things I learned while I was there, that I don’t feel I should share on this email. If you want to know…I’ll tell you one on one.) Intense fear of idols, human effort to appease them and gain a better life after this one, was never more blatantly obvious to me than the time I spent in Yushu. But the hope I felt when I looked at the children there, knowing that a light is beginning to shine and they can get the opportunity to embrace the perfect life, sacrificial love, and hope in Christ, seemed more of a reality than the darkness that presently binds and oppresses them. At all the sites we visited, we took time and hiked to an area overlooking each and sang praise / worship songs, remembering Christ’s sacrifice and His glory in places where it seems forgotten…because after all, He has not forgotten the Kham people.

We were bombarded with the realization of homeless, starving and deformed people in the streets of Ch*na. Something I’ve never seen in the states and that is: A deformed child being put out in the streets on display so that he can raise money and food to support his family. And also, many homeless adults that were deformed or stricken with Leprosy needing food.

A portion of the money we raised for this trip was used to buy food at the market and go out in the mornings and give it to these people. Also, at night, we would take our left-overs from dinner out to them. Unfortunately, a lot of times, when they receive money, they will turn around and give it to a T.betan BVddhist monk in order to gain merit or good karma. We didn’t want to see our dollars go to that, so we ministered through food.

The Shackelford family we stayed with have 3 wonderful children. Two girls and one little boy. Every time we would go out on the streets, people would swarm us to look and touch the kids faces. Those three kids are amazing! They would use the opportunities to make friendship bracelets and hand them out to the children. I helped the girls out one night when they were making a bunch of them…and we handed them out the next day to all the little children at the Mani Stone temple.

The project we were with has one medical person on staff; Bonnie. She told us stories of a leprosy colony that she works with. Leprosy is still very active and shunned in Ch*na. She talked of an older woman that lived in a cave all by her self who didn’t have the use of her legs. Bonnie was able to minister to her through the medical help, and built her a cart on wheels in order for her to get up off the ground so that her wounds would heal. Bonnie is a one person team out there…meeting her was a delight and I would love it if in the future, our church could send a short term medical mission team out to help her. In the mean time…please pray for Bonnie. She was recently attacked by a T.betan Mastiff (or maybe it was just a mean wild dog…I’m not sure.) which fractured her back and broke her arm in numerous places. She is having to fly back to the states to have surgery. We’re praying for a safe journey, surgery and a quick return for her.

We returned to X.ning after 5 days in Y*shu on a pretty uneventful sleeper bus ride. YEAH! We were able to get some good R&R before heading back to "Bayshing" and then on home. We arrived in Fayetteville around 9pm Saturday night exhausted, overwhelmed, and ready to rest.

Love you,Shelli and Justin