Wednesday, September 27, 2006

So I can look back at this post and remind myself later...

I recently filled out an application to join the Prayer Room Staff at IHOP (committing to 6 sets (12 hours)/week in the prayer room, and weekly attendance at FCF services). This is how I answered the first question: "Why are you interested in serving as Prayer Room Staff at IHOP-KC?"

I want to join the Prayer Room Staff as a formalization of my commitment to take my place on the wall of intercession here at IHOP-KC. One of the reasons I want to serve in this capacity is to make a public statement about the importance and relevance of non-full-time intercessors. Sometimes in our community where full-time intercessors are the “norm”, those of us who are primarily committed (in a practical/vocational sense) to the marketplace or raising our children can feel like second-class citizens when it comes to spiritual matters. Somehow, our presence in the prayer room tends to feel less necessary, because we are not able to give of ourselves in the same way as those who have been called to be full-time Anna’s in the House. Deep down, we know that our prayers still matter, they still stir the heart of God, they still fill up the bowls…but it’s too easy to feel that we are disqualified to truly carry the weight and burden of intercession. I know that raising my daughter absolutely does not disqualify me from having a vibrant life in God, or from having power upon my prayers to shift things in the heavens. But sometimes when I’ve spent all day changing diapers and scraping food off the floor, it’s hard not to feel like I am eons away from actually taking a vital role in walking out the promises God has laid before our community. Joining the Prayer Room Staff is a way for me to say to other moms or those in the marketplace: You are not disqualified! Pray where you are, give yourself wholly to God, and cultivate a spirit of prayer in the midst of your circumstances. And to myself: My prayers do matter, and my commitment to this House is not insignificant.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Cel-e-brate Good Times, C'mon!

Last night I got blisters on my feet from this:

IHOP just celebrated its 7-year anniversary yesterday, and three days of festivities culminated last night with a massive Hebrew circle dancing session. What an honor and a privilege to be here celebrating, reminiscing, and re-committing with some of the most inspiring people I have ever known.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


I finally did it - I changed the name of my blog. Somehow "Sarah's Other Blog" just didn't quite cut it for me anymore. I had never intended for that to be the permanent name for my blog, but just slapped it on there because I had to have some title. I have finally wearied of it enough to make a change. Henceforth, this little bloggy o' mine will be called:

Love Well
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind; Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commands. (Matthew 22:37-39)

The name is both a statment of who I am/want to be; and what I want to do. If someone were to ask me to explain the meaning of life in one sentence, I would answer this: To love well. The ultimate goal and purpose of my life is to grow in my capacity to give and receive love. I do not mean that as simply a trite statement. As I seek to live my life out of that reality, I am learning that loving well is hard. It does not happen on accident. It doesn't happen apart from the movement of God upon my heart. God IS love, so no amount of benevolent pleasantries on my part can actually manufacture love coming out of my heart. I cannot create God by the sheer force of my will. I can only love God because of the grace He has given me, enabling me to say "yes" to Him. I can only love my husband, my children, my neighbor, my enemies, if the love of God is filling me up and making me like Him.

I desire to be a person who is like a well of cool, refreshing water in the midst of a dry land. The only worthwhile water drawn out of the well of my life is the love of God. If I have not His love, I am empty, dry, and have nothing to give. When His love fills me until I overflow, only then do I have something to offer. I am a well of God's love, or I am nothing.

So whaddaya think of the new name?

On Alcohol and Money

Heard on NPR on Thursday: This commentary, about a new study that asks - Does social drinking make you richer? Full text of the study here

Near the end of the piece, the commentator says:

"...this new study...should make us rethink all sorts of policies that cast a gimlet eye on drinking...If we want to follow as straight a path as possible to prosperity, we should think about ways to increase moderate social drinking." [emphasis mine]
Lord have mercy on any whose desire is "to follow as straight a path as possible to prosperity."

Hearing this piece and reading the study has helped me to see how self-seeking men can take moral issues and completely reframe them according to economic principles, thereby making their case for "liberty" with complete disregard for the fear of God. Their data does not prove their hypothesis (correlation does not imply causation), but even if it did, does that mean we should change social/moral policies in pursuit of cold, hard cash?
9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Tim. 6:9-10)

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also...24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:19-21; 24)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Levi Matthew, and thoughts on babies and fertility

Our dear, dear friends Matt and Song had their first baby - a boy - on Sunday afternoon. Aaron and I met Matt when we were attending PLU. Since that time, we got married, moved to Kansas City, and had a baby. Then Matt and Song got married, moved to Kansas City, and now have a baby. It has been such a joy having dear friends from "home" here with us, walking a similar path and sharing in the journey. We are all far away from "home" and our families. We have shared history (oh, the history!) - with Matt in particular. Back in the day, Aaron and I led a young adults group that met in our home, and Matt was part of our "leadership team". (That sounds way too formal, but I don't know what else to call it.) His heart was so aligned with ours when it came to the passions of our lives - intimacy with God, prayer, and growing in the Word. He also had (and still has) a great sense of humor. When we announced that we were pregnant with Abigail, Matt sent us a prediction of what he thought our baby would look like. Recognize that face over there on the right? That would be Aaron, plastered onto a baby's body. The first time I saw that, I laughed so hard I cried

When we heard that Matt and Song were expecting a baby boy, I knew I needed to reciprocate the favor of Matt's photographic prediction. My creation is to the left.
I am happy to report that Levi Matthew was born Sept. 10, at 4:07pm, and my prediction did him no justice. He weighed in at 8lbs. 0oz., 21.5 inches (almost the exact same as Abigail). He is healthy (although he does have a little bit of jaundice. Pray that it is resolved quickly). Dark hair, dimples, long fingers, and absolutely A.DOR.A.BLE.

In fact, he sounds an awful lot like the description of Abigail at a few days old. We are sure they will be fast friends, as soon as he is old enough to defend himself when Abigail gets a little overzealous with her affection. We got to go visit him tonight, and Abigail was quite intrigued by this tiny, 2-day-old human. We didn't get a picture of it, but she kept trying to give him kisses. Abigail kisses involve a wide open mouth and lots of slobber, so needless to say, we did NOT let her kiss the newborn!

If you could read my thoughts in the picture above, I would be saying "Oh, I want another baby! Please, God, please, please, please. I'm ready. Let's go!" That's not quite a direct quote, but the yearning is definitely there. Do you know what happens when a woman who wants a baby holds a newborn? Oh, the longing!

(Warning: If you are male, or don't like reading about women discussing their fertility, stop reading here. You're likely to be uncomfortable, or just bored out of your mind.) I am one of those "lucky" women who doesn't seem to ovulate while nursing. At least, most of my friends say I'm "lucky" when I mention that I haven't had a period in over 2 years. I must admit, there is an element of convenience that I'm getting used to. But when you're ready for a baby, and your body shows NO SIGNS of being in baby-making mode, it can be a little disconcerting.

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed Abigail for at least a year, and I wanted to take my time weaning her. I guess I never thought about the fact that maybe I would want to get pregnant again before we finished that process, and that nursing could interfere with that. It seems even most women who exclusively breastfeed their babies still get on a regular cycle a few months after birth. Not so for me. I am operating on the assumption that it is the nursing that is preventing ovulation; primarily because I know it's possible, and because I don't really want to think about the other possibility - that my body just isn't operating the way it's supposed to.

Ultimately, we are fully trusting in God. We know He is the best leader over our lives, and we trust Him to guide us. He will release a child to us in His time. But I'd like that time to be sooner, rather than later, pretty please?

So for now our plan of action is to wean Abigail as soon as possible, while keeping with my "slow enough to not traumatize Mommy" pace. I'm such a softie. When she looks at me with that sad face and signs "Milk, milk, milk" I just melt. We're knocking out one feeding at a time because that's all I can handle! We only have the nighttime feeding left, and that's going to be a tough one to stop. We'll probably start working on it in the next few days/weeks. This was her second full week without her morning feeding, and she's still having a hard time with that.

So - my request: If any of you have any brilliant weaning tips to share with me, please do tell. What worked for you? What didn't?

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Tribute: Jeff Mladenik

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001 Jeff Mladenik, along with co-worker Andrew Curry Green, boarded American Airlines Flight 11 and took his seat in Business Class row 11. The night before, as he spoke with his wife Suzanne by phone from a hotel in Boston, he said he was exhausted, had a headache, and was not looking forward to the cross-country flight.

Jeff had departed from his home in Hinsdale, Illinois (near Chicago) on Monday to attend a business meeting in Boston before flying to Los Angeles on Tuesday to fulfill his duties as interim CEO of eLogic, an internet publishing company. When he was selected for the executive position a few months before, he and Sue were not interested in relocating their children to California. At that time they had two daughters, Kelly, 21, and Grace, 4, two sons, Joshua, 18, and Daniel, 17, and a baby in China named Hannah, whose exact age is unknown. (Her adoption was under way when Mr. Mladenik boarded the plane on Sept. 11.) Instead of moving the whole family because of his promotion, Jeff regularly commuted to Los Angeles on Monday mornings, and returned home on Friday evening. Sue said he loved his family, did not like traveling, and was anxious for the weekly traveling to LA to end.

Jeff is described by friends and family as a man of strong Christian faith, godly character and strong integrity, who used the time on his frequent, lengthy air commutes to read his Bible. Beyond his roles as a husband, father, and businessman, Sue says "he would like to be remembered as a Christian who walked his faith every day and in every way". It was this Christian faith that prompted him to pursue his Masters degree in Theology, which he earned from Wheaton College in 1996. He joined the staff at Christ Church of Oak Brook on a part-time basis, where he taught a weekly young couples bible study class, and started the "Faith at Work" group. He was ordained in 1999 by the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, and served as the Pastor of Workplace Ministries at Christ Church, leading discussions about faith in the workplace.

Sadly, the flight Jeff boarded on September 11 would not return him home safely to his family. When terrorists forcibly took control of the plane, Jeff was seated one row behind the last terrorist. A passenger two rows ahead of him was killed in flight - some speculate that he tried to stop the hijackers. At 8:46am, just over 30 minutes after the hijacking began, American Airlines flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. All on board, including Jeff Mladenik, were killed instantly.

In the midst of the chaos and turmoil, and even in the face of death, Sue is confident that Jeff's Christian faith sustained him. "I am absolutely certain that Jeff was calming the other passengers. He is the hero. He traveled with a bible and would have been praying with and for everyone."

Jeff's friend's echo her sentiments.

"You couldn't be around him without being affected by his enthusiasm for God," said Bill Cirignani, a friend from church. "I had been a Christian for six years, and had gotten stale, a little bit awry," but Mr. Mladenik, an ordained minister, reignited him, he said.
"He used his airplane time as his Bible time," said Cirignani, "And I'm sure Jeff would have had that Bible open when the plane was being hijacked and he would have been talking to those other passengers and praying with them."

Sue quoted another of Jeff's friends, who said "There is no doubt in my mind that right then, right there, Jeff had the presence of mind and took a plane load of people to Christ"

Writing a tribute to a man I have never met was an intimidating prospect when I first signed up for the 2,996 project. But if Jeff lived his life the way his friends described, it would have been an honor to know him. It has been an honor to learn about him and remember him today, on the 5th anniversary of this national tragedy. As you remember those who lost loved ones on September 11, please keep the Mladenik family in your prayers. I rejoice that as Christians, the Mladeniks have the ultimate consolation, Jesus Christ, as their source of peace and comfort. May they know His nearness to them today, and always.

Memorials for Jeff Mladenik can be made to:
Altrusa Foundation
attn: Peggy Gurrad
P.O. Box 1354
Longview, WA 98632

Altrusa, a not-for-profit agency, promotes orphanage assistance programs in China. One of their projects helps to sponsor children in Chinese orphanages, allowing them to study, gain access to medical care, and live with foster families. Over the years, Altrusa has helped thousands of children in China. Three of the Mladenik’s daughters, Grace, Hannah (whose adoption was in-process at the time of Jeff's death), and Bethany (adopted in 2004) were adopted from an orphanage in China. For more information about Altrusa, see their website at:

Resources used and quoted in this tribute, and links to other tributes to Jeff Mladenik:

The Mladenik family web site

Dateline newscast: Interview with members of Jeff's class at church

Tribute from June2001 DTC (Dossier to China) group

New York Times Legacy Page

Another 2,996 blogger tribute to Mr. Mladenik

9/11 Commission Official Report

click here to read more tributes to the victims of the terror attacks of Sept 11

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Man

While driving on Saturday afternoon, I noticed a van parked in a driveway on the right side of the road. The van's rear driver's side door was ajar, and next to the van was a person lying on the ground. It looked like a man, and he was not moving. I slowed down and tried to assess his condition with a quick glance. I wasn't exactly able to do an extensive visual triage while zooming past at 40-some MPH, so I basically had no more information than I did upon my first glimpse. He was making no signal of distress, but I couldn't imagine why he would be there by choice.

Questions started pouring into my mind - Is he hurt? Is he conscious? Is he alive? How long has he been there? Hasn't anyone else noticed him? Why hasn't anyone stopped to help him?

I looked for a place to turn around, and decided that if he was still on the ground when I got back to him, I was going to stop and help.

The questions kept coming - Maybe someone did stop, and he told them to leave because...I don't know...because he likes lying on the ground on rough asphalt? It sure didn't look like he was working on his car. He must be hurt. Why else would he be there? Could he be some psycho trying to trap someone by looking injured? I don't think so - Why would he do that on such a busy street? I can't just leave him there.

I turned the car around, and saw that the man had not moved. I pulled onto a side-street walked over to the man. As I approached, I could see that he was, indeed, hurt. His head was bleeding. He was frail, and the appearance of his face and body indicated that he had some sort of physical disability. As I came to his side I asked if he was alright, and what I could do to help him. My heart broke for him - lying alone on the ground, unable to get up, bleeding.

I touched his shoulder gently and said "I'm so sorry. You look hurt. How can I help you? What do you need? Do you need me to call an ambulance?" I could not tell how badly he was injured, but he was responsive.

He spoke softly, so I had to ask him to repeat himself. He said "The house. Please get someone from the house."

I asked him if he would be all right if I left him there while I ran to the door. He responded with a weak "Yes."

As I ran to the door, I prayed silent, urgent prayers. I was obviously concerned for this man's physical well-being; but even more than the physical injuries he sustained, I was wounded by the pain and loneliness that I saw as I looked deep into his eyes. I longed to just pray with him and tell him of the hope of the Cross. But in the moment, I knew he was probably more immediately concerned with getting up off the pavement and into the arms of people he knew and loved.

I knocked and called "Hello?"

I heard rustling inside. "Who is it?" (Were they were asking me, or talking to each other while looking out the open window?)

I spoke through the door - "There's a man in your driveway..."

I heard a female voice respond, "Oh, yes, I know," as the door opened to reveal a young woman, maybe in her late teens or early twenties. Her attire was... Middle Eastern? Indian? She appeared to be either Muslim or Hindu, based on her flowing garments and modest headscarf. My ignorance prevented me from a more accurate assessment, and the tension of the situation precluded any extraneous conversation.

They knew he was there in the driveway, but surely they didn't know...

"...he's hurt," I continued. "He fell and hit his head..."

A look of concern clouded her countenance as she began to make her exit through the doorway. "What? Are you kidding me?"

"No, he's bleeding. He needs help. He asked me to come get someone..."

She gasped a little as she bounded out the door and passed me in her haste.

Two young boys followed behind me as quickly we made our way down the path, toward the driveway.

The young woman reached the man's side just before me, and called to the boys, as she knelt beside him. "Get the wheelchair from inside!"

The man raised up a little and began to weep softly as she drew close. They spoke to each other rapidly, in a language I did not understand. As he leaned his torso against her, I could see blood on the ground from his side, as well as his head.

I was searching for words. "I'm so sorry. What can I do? I wish I could do more to help. I'm so sorry."

The young woman said apologetically "No, it's fine. Thank you so much. We'll get my mother. It'll be fine. Thank you."

I stood awkwardly for a moment as the boys rushed back with the wheelchair. The woman said again "It's ok. Thank you." In a tone that felt like she was asking me to leave. Not out of ungratefulness or anger, but...something else. A sense of responsibility for the accident, perhaps? Embarrassment that they didn't know he was lying there injured? In any case, I could feel that they no longer considered my presence helpful. I reluctantly made my way toward my car as they gingerly began to help the man get up.

That is the moment when my heart was torn in two. OH, how I wanted to stay. When I stopped, what I wanted to do the most was to pray for the man. Not just to pray a private prayer between myself and God, but to communicate something of God's love to him in a clear, tangible way. I wanted him to know that God loved him. That is why I turned around my car and came back. Yes, I wanted him up off the ground. But the deepest ache in my heart was that he would feel a touch from the Savior. I wanted to speak the words of Jesus over him. But in that moment, with their hurried voices in the background, I felt like an intrusion into a private moment of family crisis.

Should I have stayed? Should I have asked to pray silently beside them until the man was in the house? Should I have spoken and prayed boldly about the healing power of Jesus, even if such words would have been offensive and jarring in the midst of their pain? These are the questions that I carried as I began to drive away, and that linger still.

Look At Me! I'm a Human Pincushion!

Abigail had a well-baby checkup and immunizations today. It was a little rough. She missed her 12 month immunizations (thanks to Yours Truly) - so today we had to do some catch-up. She had 6 (yes, six!) shots AND she had blood drawn for testing. The poor girl really was getting poked like a pincushion.

The sucker that she got in the lab helped her to forget about the pain. She really hasn't had much candy yet, and never a sucker, so this was quite the treat. As we walked to the car, I realized that I didn't want her alone in the back seat with the sucker. (Can you say choking hazard?) I pondered how to take the sucker away with as little trauma as possible, but I had no ideas.

Fortunately, when I put her in the carseat she became quite enamored by her band-aids, which were now in plain view and easily accessible. She actually dropped the sucker to investigate.

I snatched up the sucker and attempted to play it cool, but Abigail was on to my sly moves. She cried for a bit, but didn't get the sucker back until later in the day. She calmed down after not too long, and was soon zonked out in the back seat. She napped for a couple hours after we got home. A day like that is enough to tire a girl out!

Oh, for those who like details: Abigail is now 33 inches tall (98th %ile), and weighs 26lbs (84th %ile). Everything else checked out well.

The doctor made no mention of the heart murmur she heard at our last visit, nor did she say/ask anything about the testing she sent us to subsequently. She's not a bad doctor, but she hasn't exactly earned any brownie points with me, either. I can only remember one appointment when she actually asked "Do you have any questions?" Anyone in the KC Metro area know of a good pediatrician?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

We're Back!

We've actually been back home for almost a week, but I still feel like I'm recovering from all the travels. The inside of our car has yet to recover. I don't know if it ever will.

2 Parents + 1 Toddler + nearly 50 hours in the car in 10 days = dirty, dirty upholstery

For a photographic synopsis of the trip, with occasional commentary, see my posts over at Abigail's blog:
The Trip: Me Gusta Familia
The Trip: The Journey
The Trip: Starring...Abigail
The Trip: Love Me Some Cousins
The Trip: Who Needs Old Faithful When You've Got Cute Kids?

While we were enjoying the splendors of nature, I did take a short break to check email when we found a free wi-fi spot. I started to write a blog post, but was cut short before I had time to complete it. I started with this:

I’m sitting in the Jackson Lake Lodge, looking out the window at this:

(No, I did not take the photo. Click photo for source.)

Yes, it really is that beautiful. I LOVE MOUNTAINS! Did I mention that yet?

Many wondrous things have been created by the hands of men, but none of them compare to the masterpieces of The Creator Himself! It is wonderful to be back in the midst of such incredible natural beauty. Not that I'm knockin' on my hometown, KC. But it's not exactly the Miss America of states when it comes to the natural beauty realm. I mean, there's a reason why there are no National Parks in the state. I'm just sayin'...