3.28.2011

Butt-rockets, BlogRocket, and no advice from the VWM.

Sometimes, in passing, my real life people ask me "how the blogging is going". I never really know what to say. I usually say something stupid like, "Um. It's going." or "It's alright."

But there's this episode of The Simpsons where Homer helps launch the musical career of country crooner Lurleen Lumpkin but Lurleen's Dad steals her song and sells it to the Dixie Chicks and then you hear a radio DJ intro the song by saying, "Here's a song that's rising faster than a rocket with a rocket up its butt." And that's what I really wanna say whenever anyone asks me how the blogging is going:

"Oh, the blog? It has really taken off.... faster than a rocket with a rocket up its butt." *snicker*

I know some people have been following along as the VWM has grown, scratching their heads in confusion, asking themselves, "Why her? Why Jamie?! With her crap drivel and bad grammar? Why not me?! Why not my blog?" I've even received PM's from friends who have written to me (in the Facebook version of a drunk dial) that they just didn't get it, that they were jealous in the "not at all happy for you" kind of way. What can I say?! Sorry?...Trust me, I can't explain it either.

I honestly don't know much about blogging. I don't have any idea what makes one blog take off while another (perhaps of better quality and content) languishes quietly in a cyber-corner. When people ask me for blogging advice I think, "Why are you asking ME?! There must be someone better qualified to answer your blogging questions!"

And, fortunately, now there is.

Bryan Allain has been blogging for ages. How many ages? I'm not sure because I'm too lazy to go figure it out... but ages. The guy knows blogging. And he's launching a whole new community just to teach and support bloggers that share one great aspiration: To have a blog that takes off like a rocket with a rocket up its butt.
BlogRocket promises to be a big help to bloggers looking to expand their platform. (<---- that's totally a blogging word, I looked it up.) So go check it out!
If you register, you'll get some stuff for free (eBook!) and a chance to win some stuff ($). So there's that. But most of all, you'll have access to the answers and advice you may be looking for for your own blog.

I truly believe that every one of us could, given the right set of circumstances, have a butt-rocket blog - So this is an awesome resource for bloggers... or wannabe bloggers... or lame missionaries who aren't bloggers but have blogs. May you find God's favor in your blogging efforts!

Do you have a blog that you'd love to see take off? Leave us a link! Then, leave your best piece of advice for bloggers, based on your experience.

3.21.2011

Fighting, but not.

El Chupacabra and I are in this place where we’re fighting but we’re not really fighting.

This usually happens when we’re tired. Or stressed out. Or sick. Or overwhelmed. Or culture shocked. Or bored. Or irritated. Or hungry. Or depressed… Oh. And sometimes it happens when I sneak up on him and poke him in his nipple while saying “Poke!” repeatedly over the course of a whole day… It always happens when things seem to be going well on the surface, but one of the aforementioned irritants (or any of the 30 I didn’t mention) is lingering just below - creating tension, inducing eye rolls, seeping all kinds of dissatisfaction into our marriage.

I know it’s happening when “Hey, you doing ok?” turns into “What’s your problem.", and when the goodnight kiss turns into back to back silence. And we're definitely in a non-fight-fight when things that I actually really like about my husband make me want to shoot him in the kneecaps. Like how he always knows how to fix junk – seriously, he can fix anything - which is something I generally appreciate about him. But when we’re in a fight that’s not really a fight, I just want to pop a cap in his know-it-all ass.

Crazy. I know.

But sometimes we just don’t like each other very much. And it sucks when it’s like that.

The thing is, it’s not really because we don’t like each other, cause we do. We like each other, like, a lot. We like the crap out of each other. We were made to like each other. But we don’t always treat each other as well as we could. And over time, multiplied by circumstance, we end up treating each other kinda badly… Actually? We end up not treating each other at all. By prioritizing our own needs and hopes and desires over those of the other, we end up basically cutting each other off. Trust me when I say that that’s no treat.

It would almost be better to have a nice big fight, get it all out, and move on. We’re good at that. And it would be better than lingering in this weird, tense non-fighting fight. Maybe. But then we’d miss out on this chance to do some long term readjusting of our priorities.

I know – 100% know - that the very first thing I need to change is the way I’ve been praying for El Chupacabra. See, I have this habit of praying that God would open his eyes to my plight. I pray that God would show him he’s wrong, or that he’s being stupid, or that he’s an arrogant know-it-all, or that I can hear his teeth making the worst noise when he eats cheese and I’m right to want to put a pillow over his face. But I rarely pray that God would open my eyes, show me my failures, point out my flaws. Ew. No thanks. I really don’t want God taking El Chupacabra’s side on the whole nipple poke thing. I think it’s funny. End of story, right?...

So anyway.

That’s where I’m gonna start. New prayers for my husband, new prayers for myself. And yeah, after that there are a few other areas I need to be working on, too. I can be selfish. And lazy. And a little inflexible. But mostly, I just want to be a really cool wife. I want my husband to be extremely happy to walk through the door after a long, busy day.

But I’m probably not gonna stop poking his nips any time soon…

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I'm so excited about today's sponsor: 3rd Street Promenade in Cullman, Alabama! Go check out their site, and if you're lucky enough to live close, promise me you'll make a day trip to explore this exquisite, charming artisan gallery! (And then send me pics so I can live vicariously through you.)

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Have you experienced the non-fighting fight, where someone close to you just bugs the hell out of you? What do you do to lift the black cloud off the relationship? Oh, P.S.- You know I was totally kidding about shooting my husband, right? I would never do that. Guns scare me.

3.16.2011

Air Freshener Jesus.

The other day, I was washing dishes and this toothless guy came to the window and asked me if I’d like to look at the product he was selling door to door. This is a normal thing around here. Guys come through my little neighborhood selling all kinds of things; live plants, eggs off the bed of a truck, sandwich bags filled with laundry soap, lottery tickets. Oh, and there’s a guy that comes by every Saturday selling brooms. He carries a tangle of about 20 brooms on his back and walks down the street, shouting in monotone, “BROOOMS… BROOOOOOMS….BROOMS TO SWEEP THE FLOOR….BROOMS TO CLEAN THE YARD….. BROOOOOMS….. BROOMS IN MANY COLORS.”

I’m totally used to it, so I had already launched into my robotic “NothankyouI’mnotinterested.Idont’needabroom/bananatree/
lottoticket/highchair/
backscratcher” in Spanish. But he persisted in telling me how much I needed what he was selling and then he pulled out Jesus. …er, Hay-Seuss… In the form of an air freshener. Yes! And when he saw that he had piqued my interest, he made his pitch. “This will protect your home, “ he said, with a sweeping arm to encompass the house from top to bottom, “from bad odors and disasters. “

Bad odors. … AND? Disasters.

So I bought it.

For the price of 500 colones (about a dollar) I bought a fresh scented, disaster preventing Jesus. I wanted to nudge the guy with my elbow and quip, “Boy, Japan sure coulda used these babies.” but my Spanish doesn’t work as fast as my brain - which can be a really good thing because sometimes my that’s-in-poor-taste-filter doesn’t work as fast as my mouth. So, basically, it worked out for the best.

A flowery image of Jesus to protect me. It’s a nice thought. But I don’t buy it.

The truth is that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. Earthquakes happen. Tsunamis happen. Cancer happens. Terrible accidents happen. Volcanoes and Floods and Hurricanes and Bears and Fires and Mudslides and Sharks and That One Critter That Swims Up Your Wiener Hole And Eats Your Guts Out ALL happen. Ok. That last one only happens to guys. But still. Disasters happen to all kinds of people every single day and, as far as I know, a Jesus air freshener has never exempted one single person from the fate afforded them by disaster. Not once. Ever.

Which is exactly why I want to be more careful that I’m not selling a flowery image of Christ, like my door-to-door salesmen.

If I’m telling people to cling to Jesus like their life depends on it, then I’d better be doing a damn good job of directing them toward the real person of Jesus, and not just pitching my own light-weight, douche scented image of Him. Especially when only the real Him will do.

It would be foolish to cling to Air Freshener Jesus, or Bumper Sticker Jesus, or Blog Jesus, when Bible Jesus is where it’s at. This is where we find the Jesus that makes no promise of wealth or success or even safety (she says, with a sweeping arm to encompass the whole house), but instead, offers things like Grace and Mercy, Peace and Comfort, and the very presence of God, with us.


Real Jesus requires no sales pitch, a simple introduction will do.

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This post was sponsored by Joe Sewell, a regular encourager of the VWM. He's a good guy! Please check out Joe's blog, Consider ✝his, and leave him a kind word while you're there. Thanks, Joe!

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Anyone ever try to "sell" you on Jesus?...Did it creep you out?

3.10.2011

Scabs.

El Chupacabra is sore... and scabby.

He has scabs on his knees, scabs on his elbows, scabs on both hands and one shoulder. I don't know if you've ever slept with someone who is covered in scabs, buuuuut, it's pretty gross. Scabs are oozy. They leave marks on the sheets.

It's been awhile since I've mentioned it, but El Chupacabra is coaching football for the North American football league that has been developing in Costa Rica for just the past couple of years. And well, as it turns out, now he's a player, too. Yes. He's 37 years old and he hasn't played since college, but he's strapping on the pads to stomp on guys 1o years his junior. So that's where the scrapes that made the scabs came from - they're football scabs.

His team took the field for the first time 2 weeks ago.
I was proud to see my husband filling the roles of both coach and player, simultaneously. It was exhausting just to watch him but, as I sat in the stands, I found myself kind of inspired, not as much by his aptitude to do both as by his willingness.

Here he is, playing, in the very middle of the fray:
And here he is again, (the bad-ass facing the camera) coaching, rallying his troops:

In the past week, as I've responded to email inquiries about our work here, I've probably used the word "discipleship" about 600 times. It's one of those funny words that really loses all meaning outside of Christian circles. I hate words like that. I hate it when we "fellowship" instead of hang out and I hate it when we "break bread" together instead of just, ya know, eating. I hate it when we try to distinguish the lines between what is spiritual and what is not. As if it's even possible to separate the parts of our day into moments which include God and moments which don't. I mean, that's just silly. Nevertheless, I believe in "discipleship"...Ok, I usually just call it "friendship", but whatever.

So I was watching El Chupacabra kill it on the football field until a ref kicked him out of the game for bleeding.... Did you read that? I said bleeding. His elbow was a bloody mess so they gave him the boot. He coached from the sideline while a trainer wrapped his arm, and he was back in before the end of the game. And, like I said, I was inspired. There he was, all sweaty and bloody, driven by loyalty and love for his players - teaching, desiring that they learn and grow as athletes, but also lining up with them against the enemy. And I thought, 'This is like the physical embodiment of discipleship." This is what discipleship looks like. It's not enough to scream from the sidelines. It won't do. Sometimes you have to be willing to bleed for your friends. To get dirty with them. To fight side by side with them. To wear scabs for them.

Jesus didn't stand on the shore and shout instructions to the guys on the boat as they weathered the storm. Maybe we shouldn't either.

In case you haven't noticed, I'm incredibly impressed by my scabby husband. Now, I'm gonna go change my scabby sheets.
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**This post was sponsored by Jason on behalf of the Team Sanfilippo Foundation. Please go read this blog from a family whose son has been diagnosed with a rare and devastating nuerodegenerative disease. Learn about the Zeighami family, Sanfilippo syndrome, and how you might help find a cure.**



3.07.2011

Tidbits and junk.

Things have been kinda whacky around here. Here are some tidbits and junk:

This morning I went to run the vacuum cleaner and the most putrid smell filled our bedroom. I looked at my husband in terror and said, "That smells like something dead." And he said, "Yes. Yes it does..." Then I spent the next hour and a half cleaning the horrible, rotten, death-juices of what used to be a gecko out of my vacuum filter with a series of toothpicks and an unflinching certainty that nothing will ever taste the same again because the smell was so bad it ruined the insides of my face - sinuses, olfactory, taste buds - everything, it's all ruined. I'm sure of it.

Also?

Our stupid, lame, crappy car, the one that we are so incredibly grateful to call our own, has been in the shop for 3 weeks. I guess it's something about a fuel injector that was stuck open, dumping diesel directly into the oil which is, apparently, not cool. We're still waiting for them to tell us if it's fixable and how much. So that kinda sucks, but what are you gonna do?!

And?

We've been fortunate enough to borrow our friends extra car for the last couple weeks. Isn't that awesome?! We don't even care that it costs more than twice as much to drive this gas guzzler. We're so grateful to have a car in our possession that we'll skip eating meat and we will dry ourselves off with crusty towels from the clothesline for a month in order to fill the tank. But you know how when you're driving someone else's car you feel like you have to be extra careful because you would feel SO bad if anything ever happened to it?... Well.... We feel SO bad! We've been rear ended TWICE in the last 2 weeks. Twice. In a borrowed car. El Chupacabra was hit by some lady last week, and then, this weekend, I was clobbered by a taxi while I waited behind a bus. The taxi was so badly damaged it was undrivable. Look:

But the car I was in hardly had a scratch on it. I barley even felt the impact. I am telling you, this is the kind of car you want to borrow and then be rear ended in twice!

Oh. And here's the deal with the last post:

YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING!!!!

I spent the better part of 2 days weeping as my inbox filled with PayPal notifications, many of which were accompanied by some of the kindest, most encouraging notes you can imagine - And they're still coming in! I've been so touched and maybe even a little shocked by the response, vacillating between feelings of deep, deep gratitude and extreme unworthiness all week long. Grateful doesn't even begin to cover it -Thank you, thank you, thank you!

THANK YOU!!!

Speaking of "thank yous", I'm sloooooowly making my way through my inbox, first with thank you replies, and then with replies to the many, many inquiries regarding our work here (which I'm truly excited to share). So, hang tight if you're waiting to hear from me. It will be soon! And regarding the "Sponsor" thingy - I am super excited to have a long list of very cool links to share with everyone. I'll be highlighting sponsors in the order that requests were received, starting with my next post, later this week (one per post). So, so happy about this! YAY!!

In other news. I've been doing some serious PMS eating. It's downright frightening.

Ok. Last thing. I promise. Have you ever read this? It's from the Bible:
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up” (
Proverbs 12:25, NIV).

I just wanted to tell you that these last few weeks have been full of anxiety for me. I was thinking about it this morning as I was powering down an omelette AND a bowl of Cheerios AND a banana....(that was before the smell of death ruined my taste buds..) But anyway. Our financial situation, and the broken down car, and the accidents, and my husbands insane workload, and just all kinds of other things - it was all beginning to weigh pretty heavily on me, it was bringing me down. And then I was reading through my email and I was so encouraged, not because you guys were generous with your cash (you were), but because you were generous with your words, your kindness. It cheered me up. Just like it says...right there...in the Bible. For realz... yo?

So thanks, again. You guys are cool. And you're teaching me so much about who I want to be.
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This post is so random, you should leave a comment that starts, "That totally reminds me of the time..." and then say whatever you want. Trust me, it will fit right in.

....Strangely... this is not the worst post I've ever written...