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Thursday, March 29, 2007

NRM: Solution for the Worst Case Scenario

I got fed today on my lunchbreak, and while it involved some fried chicken and salad, I'm talking about a different kind of food. The Nashville Rescue Mission hosted a "Lunch to Learn" today, and not only was I fed lunch, but I got a tour of the facility and participated in a chapel service. I'm full on Christ's love right now, and it ignites a passion within me to eradicate poverty.

For as long as I can remember, I've felt an eagerness to tackle the world's problem with poverty. As a child, my participation in organizations like the Girl Scouts, and especially church activities like GA's, Acteens, and Youth Group, fostered opportunities for service in my community. But it was always the homeless and low-income adults that captured my attention the most. I found great fulfillment in serving food at a soup kitchen, or walking door-to-door in housing projects and delivering care packages. Although I went on many mission trips in high school, where I helped conduct Bible camps for children, I never found great fulfillment in that kind of service.

The tour portion of the "Lunch to Learn" was the most informative and eye-opening. The first hallway of the huge facility was covered with headshots of every man who has successfully graduated from the Nashville Rescue Mission's program. It was so encouraging to see how many lives this organization has affected in a positive way. The NRM is a homeless shelter, addiction recovery center and halfway-home. It also offers educational services, career training, and spiritual counseling.

One of the first comments that were made about the NRM from "Bud," our tour guide, was that the stereotypical perspective of a homeless bum was a lazy black man boozing it up. He said that while this is often true, that poverty doesn't discriminate, and the men and women served by the NRM and its programs are of all races, and come from all different walks of life. Bud said we would be surprised to know how many men came from very wealthy families and good jobs, but got ensnared by the world of addiction.

Walking past through the dorm hallways, Bud told us about how some shelters in the United States seperate their occupants based on race. The NRM doesn't believe in segregating the men because they believe strongly that we are all God's children, regardless of skin color.

We were guided through the recreation room, and I see a game shelf leaning against one wall. Among the chess boards and Balderdash, I see a bright yellow-orange box. It's the "Worst Case Scenario Survival Game" and as I elbow Emily, I see the hilarious irony of this sort of game sitting in a homeless shelter.

Bud led us into another massive, slightly darkened room, where we found a sea of bunk beds. Hundreds of beds. The room was immaculately clean. He mentioned that the residents in the halfway-home program scrub the bunk room each morning, after the overnight occupants leave. Emily made a keen observation that the residents (who were once homeless) are serving the current homeless. It's a very humbling thing to realize, but it goes back to the NRM's mission to show Christ's servant love.

Our tour ended with a chapel service. About 20 men in the program sang "I'll Fly Away" for us, and I couldn't help but sing along. We listened to a man and a woman give their testimony and talk about their struggle with past addictions. Something the woman said struck me deeply. While she was deep into her addiction, she said she felt as if she wasn't good enough for God to do anything with her. It breaks my heart to hear people say things like this, when I know how much Christ gave up, willingly, so that we could have an abundant life in Him. Praise the Lord for organizations like the NRM and the CWJC that boldly proclaim our worth in Christ!

Earlier in the tour, Bud said that the NRM does random drug testing for all of its residents. He said that the last two times they had a mass testing, not a single one of their residents tested positive for drug use. And the next sentence out of his mouth giving glory to God the Father. God is working at the NRM and I was so honored to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse today of this Christ-centric ministry.

Monday, March 26, 2007

D-Day Looms

I'm a nervous wreck right now. I should hear news at some point this week about something I've been waiting on for two months--correction--two years. I'll be honest and say that I'm having a hard time keeping up the faith right now. Please pray for me; specifically for patience, rational thought, and trust, that whatever the verdict, it's going to be okay.

In the meantime, I'm keeping myself busy with menial tasks. I marked a good bit of stuff off my To Do list this morning, and it felt really satisfying. And I have a little jaunt to Tampa with some of the Menagerie coming up this weekend. A little beach every now and then is good for the soul.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lawrd, who shall uh-bide in thy taburnacul?

My quiet introspection has kept me from blogging consistently the past couple of weeks. I've been deep in thought about a number of different subjects, including changes occurring in my own life. To be honest, I don't have much to say right now, but I do feel strongly drawn to listen.

On my lunchbreak today, I was flipping through Psalms and I came across a chapter that struck me as familiar.

Psalm 15

A psalm of David.

1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?

2 He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart

3 and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,

4 who despises a vile man
but honors those who fear the LORD,
who keeps his oath
even when it hurts,

5 who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
will never be shaken.

Why does this Psalm sound so familiar??? I sat there for a moment and wracked my brain, and then it hit me. Only a handful of people who read this blog should understand what I'm talking about. And even then, they may have a hard time recognizing it, because the above translation is NIV, not KJV.

When I finally figured it out, I started laughing. One friend in particular used to recite this Psalm, mimicking a chorus of southern accents. She knows who she is. That's a happy memory.

Monday, March 12, 2007

On my mind right now...

My broken cell phone

Yesterday, it was a hairline crack on the hinge. Today it might as well be the Grand Canyon. My contract is up in April, so hopefully it will survive about three more weeks until my free phone upgrade. We shall see...

Cystic acne

Why is my skin so angry at me??? It's oily. No, it's dry. How frustrating. I've tried virtually everything in the drugstore, in the department store, and in Sephora, and still no luck. I'm told it's hormonal, and if that's the case, then I might as well be a 15-year-old boy---My horomones are out of control and there's not a darn thing I can do about it.

The Cactus League

Zambrano bites the dust, and Bonds is blinded by the light. Cubs win! Cubs win! Cubs win!

Low-carb Pecan Sandies

They're a bit dry, but not bad for flourless cookies. And I'm pleased with the vanilla flavor of the whey protein. Maybe next time I'll add another egg...

Overpriced Greeting Cards

You set a budget for a gift. You buy the gift. Then, you buy an overpriced greeting card to introduce and package the gift, spending more than you budget. Your options are: a) subtract the cost of the overpriced greeting card from the gift budget, and spend the remaining amount on the gift; b) purchase the gift with the entire budget and buy a 99 cent greeting card, which is not appropriate and probably has an oil painting of flowers and cheesy butterflies on the front; or c) give the gift with no card (which in my case, is not an option because I'm sending the gift via mail).

Dr. McEyeCandy

Thanks to the WWW, I will finally rectify my vision through my contact lenses. According to MySpace, my eye doctor's intern has returned to Memphis to finish grad school. I've been putting off making an appointment because I'm that girl that hit on her eye doctor's intern. Lucky for me, he's now five hours away. Hopefully there aren't any permanent notations in my personal file (a la Elaine Benes)...

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Saturday Night at the Wal-Mart

Last night, I met Amanda, Emily, Angela, Lana, Sarah, Rhonda at Cozy Mel's for dinner. Post-dinner plans included a movie, but since I'm so low on fundage right now, I parted ways with the gals. I headed home to pick up The Kite Runner, the book we're reading in Book & Co right now, and got back in the car to spend some quiet time at It's a Grind.

I walk into the coffee shop, order my Numi Dry Desert Lime Teasan, and find a comfy armchair near the back corner. I pull out my book, and a few minutes later, the barista brings me my tea. I get up to add some Splenda, and I notice that two older gentlemen are at the front of the store, setting up an amp and some microphones. I'm slightly peeved that my quiet night is going to be interrupted, but I settle in with my book and start reading. About two minutes later, I hear this booming, gravely voice introduce the duo, and before I know it, an electric (yes--electric) version of "Rocky Top" is blaring throughout the small coffee shop.

For a moment, I sat there a bit dumfounded. I looked up and the other patrons had looks on their faces similar to mine---disbelief, resentment, and even amusement. The high-school aged baristas are stifling laughter from behind the counter. I bury my head in my book, and try my best to focus on the words on the page. After ten minutes of staring at the first page of chapter one, I begin to become a bit agitated. The barista walks by my chair, and I ask him how long this open mic night is going to last. As I'm informed, with apologies to boot, that the gentlemen are scheduled for the remainder of the evening, I start to begrudgingly pack up my belongings. What now???

As I pick up my purse, my phone rings. It's Emily. I tell her that I'll call her back when I hit the car, primarily because I can't hear her on the other end. Within a couple of minutes, I'm back on the phone with Em, and she tells me that the gals missed the movie, and they have something else in mind. They're headed back to Lana's to create a Wal-Mart scavenger hunt, and she asks if I'd like to join. I'm SO in.

I'm at Lana's within minutes, and the group has already divided down the middle. I head back to the bedroom, to meet my teammates, Emily, Amanda and Lana. Our goal is to come up with 15 items that can be feasibly found in any Wal-Mart, yet delightfully obscure and time intensive.

Our completed list for the other team is as follows:

1) 1 lb. of self-ground regular coffee
2) duck call
3) XL lace thong in purple
4) wheel barrow
5) Mexican white queso
6) birthday card with flowers and a Bible verse
7) do-it-yourself stained glass kit w/bird
8) 1/2 lb roasted deli turkey, thinly sliced
9) 13" Sony TV with VHS deck
10) Spongebob Squarepants PJ's
11) 1 gallon of chalkboard paint
12) twin-sized, zippered, vinyl mattress cover
13) cake decorating tips
14) pink bike with a basket
15) Jesus fish w/ Greek letters (for the car)

The other team (Angela, Rhonda, Sarah) are ready, and we pile in the cars for Wal-Mart. It's 8:50 p.m. at this point, and after a meticulous cart selection, we agree to meet back up front with our booty at 9:20 p.m. The lists are exchanged in dramatic fashion, and our groups race off.

Our list of items to find is as follows:

1) Goya Juice
2) wafflemaker
3) pureed carrots (baby food)
4) Mary Kate & Ashley Olson hair scrunchies
5) mailbox
6) Springmaid blue full sheet set
7) men's size 11 dress shoes
8) ground cumin
9) A-line dress pattern
10) pink gerber daisy
11) HUGEST yellow round bouncy ball
12) lime green nail polish
13) nude DD bra
14) Zelda game for PlayStation
15) interchangeable screwdriver

We race off, and once we score the wafflemaker, we hit our stride. Along the way, we watch as Lana attempts to shimmy up a 12-foot-pvc-pipe-structured bouncy ball cage, in search of the yellow ball, but we talk her down when she decids to climb inside the cart for stability. We witness Lana acquire the Zelda game, after much debate and bargaining with the employee that held the key to the glass case. Surprisingly, we find ourselves with several different shades of lime green nail polish from which to choose. With almost 15 minutes to spare, we proudly make our way back up front, and do a little spying on the other team along the way. The extra time afforded us a pit stop, complete with beverages and some light reading, like the National Enquirer.

A few minutes later, we met the other team on an abandoned aisle in kitchenwares, and showcase our bounty. After some debate about whether or not the sheets are blue enough, and remarks about the absence of lace on the purple thong, we tally up the scores, with my team bringing home the bragging rights. It doesn't take much for us, eh?

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