Good Links (The Welcome Wagon Edition)

Amber hopped a jet to the Caribbean last Thursday, though it's not like it sounds. She and a few friends hitched their wagons to the star that is Help One Now and made their way to Haiti for the week. It should come as no surprise to you that the boys (including this boy) get restless when Mama's away. She's brings balance to this house full of testosterone, and when she's away, things sort of go the way of the man. What is the way of the man? Let's just say that my boys have eaten more meat, imbibed more root beer, watched more action movies (appropriately rated, of course), have caught numerous fish, destroyed numerous household furnishings, and have irreparably clogged one toilet.

Yes we are well aware of our frailty, so when mama returned to save the day, the welcome wagon was ready to meet her. It went down as follows:

We're glad Amber's back.

With all my free time this week, what with raising four boys, work obligations, and a community gathering or two, rounding up good links was difficult. But such as I have, I give to you. Enjoy.

BOOKS

Late last year, I had an inkling that I needed to dive into the words of St. Francis. I put off said inkling, and instead chose to rip through three novels that were not spiritual and were certainly anything other than saintly. I digress. At the prompting of a friend, I picked up a copy of Francis and Clare: The Complete Works. Grammar aside, it's busting my chops.

Know well that in the sight of God there are certain matters which are very lofty and sublime which are sometimes considered worthless and inferior by people; while there are other things cherished and esteemed by people, which are considered worthless and inferior by God.

Grab a copy.

LINKS

Tonia Peckover is one of my favorites. She's one of the rare pearls of the internet, and has been stretching her poetry across the screen these days. She posted this piece on the Rwandan genocide memorial. Warning: take a deep breath before reading.

It's Holy Week, the week Christianity commemorates the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Head on over to Deeper Story for John Blase's piece Happy Easter Chuck.

I've loved all the posts that have come from Haiti, but none more than those from Laura Tremaine. She's been honest with her misgivings and assumption. It been refreshing. She writes:

But how, then, were these children seeing us? As novelties? From the outside, did we look like poverty tourists? We had translators, but how can I know how we were actually presented? As the hours slipped by with children in my lap, it ceased to matter. The only person over-thinking this particular relationship between giver and receiver was me.

PHOTOS

Mike Rusch has been taking photos of the unsung heroes, those whose names you will never know.

Of this photo, he writes:

You'll never know his name but he works with Haitian government to accept children into Ferrier Village that were rescued from Human Trafficking. The world needs more heroes like this.

VIDEO:

Were you there?

MUSIC:

Did you dig into The Oh Hello's 2012 album, Through the Deep, Dark Valley? If you missed this one, here's your chance:

Thanks for stopping in this week. See you soon.

On Co-Laboring

"There is no American, African, or Asian way of breathing. There is no rich or poor way of breathing."~Richard Rohr, The Naked Now

I.

Amber woke me at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. "I can't find your keys," she said, which I reckoned less of the truth and more of an excuse to squeeze one last kiss out of me before leaving on a jet plane. "They're here, right by the door," I said, the a.m. annoyance in my voice unmasked. She grinned, shrugged, and hugged me long. "Pray for me," she said.

I watched her pull from the driveway and turn into the street. She is a wonder of a woman, my wife; she is mother, writer, sometimes preacher, road-tripping traveler. She has a grand capacity for loving people--all people.

The taillights of the car veered left at the end of the street. I wondered how this trip would change her. I wondered if I'd recognize her when she returns from Haiti. She's traveling to tell stories with Help One Now. They are good people who hope to stay small and serve big. It's their grand ideal, and Amber is going to write it.

II.

When mama's away, the boys will play, so we loaded up the mini-van and made our way to a ranch south of Fort Smith. The ranch sits in the heart of the Ouachitas, the pearl that fell from the mouth of the Ozarks. I've been coming to this ranch since I was a teenager, it being owned by a family from the church of my teenage years. The ranch is a broad swath of green pasture with a black pond in the middle. It boasts a million wildflowers, an awakening honeybee colony, and a mess of Longhorn cattle.

photo (2)

We spent the day there, fishing, shooting pellet guns, tromping through runoff creeks. Titus took off most of his clothes and ran circles around the pond in his crocks and saggy diaper. The boy was meant to run free.

My parents and I took turns with the children. My pop taught Ike how to cast beyond the reeds, how to zip the spinner through the thick mucky underbrush where the bass had bedded down. He practiced and practiced until he struck pay dirt and reeled in a two-pound smallmouth.

Jude and I worked the other side of the pond, talked about school, and girls, and mama's trip to Haiti. I told him about the earthquake in 2010, how the people were shaken up, some were killed. "This world is always shaking one way or another," I told him, "but God says that we are members of an unshakeable kingdom."

"Is that heaven?" he asked.

"Yes, but it's unshakeable here. The kingdom is here, even now. It's in this spring, in the beauty of the sun over the pond. It's in church, in sharing scripture with each other. It's in our conversation. The kingdom is in us."

photo (3)

I think about the unshakeable kingdom, how I am teaching it to my children while Amber is experiencing it in Haiti. There is a co-laboring here. Do you see it? I am with the boys so that Amber can be in Haiti, and Amber is in Haiti so I can be with the boys. My parents are with me so that my four hoodlums don't overrun me. They are co-laborers, too.

We are symbiotic.

III.

This morning, Amber woke to the Haitian rooster calling. She woke where the smells of spice and sorrow mingled with the incense of joy and the sound of laughter.

I wonder what the people of Haiti will give her, what kind of water she'll carry home. Amber is the most empathetic person I have ever met--hands down. If you came to our house bedraggled and thirsty, if you told her your gullet was parched to cracking, she'd make two glasses of water, one for you and one for her. She feels the pains of all others, takes them on as if they were her one. She has no doubt tapped into the joy, pain, and love of the Haitian people. This is her gift.

Last night, Amber wrote of the Haitian church:

Today we met Gaetan’s wife, and after nearly being blinded by the joy of her face after she had cooked a meal for 31 children, my eyes went straight to her feet. I have never so desired to kneel straight down and wash feet. They are not famous and don’t belong on pedestals. They are humble, desperate, persevering disciples of Jesus Christ. To know them is to respect them and to want to show them honor.

She's honoring the stories of our brothers and sisters, our co-laborers in the good and coming kingdom. She is learning from the unsung heroes of our sister church.

IV.

Richard Rohr says that we have all been given the same breath--the breath of the living God. There is no us and them, rich and poor, Haitian or American. Those with the Spirit of God are all lesser brothers together, the humble co-laborers and bearers of the unshakeable kingdom.

I co-labor with my wife as she co-labors with the beautiful church in Port-au-Prince. My parents co-labor with me as we teach my children the value of service, of running free, of reeling in smallmouth bass. You co-labor as you pray for your families, for the international church, for your friends.

We are all in this together.

*****

Follow Amber, and our friends Sarah Bessey, Erika Morrison, and Sarah Markley as they write about Haiti for Help One Now. You can also follow their live tweets by following the hashtag #HONbloggers.