Monday, October 29, 2007

Liberal

I find that the longer I live in Italy, the more I slide toward the center when it comes to politics. I still maintain a strong conservative stripe, but I think my eyes have been opened a bit to seeing things from the other side.


video

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jacob, the Saber-Toothed Wonder Child

**Warning, the following photographs may cause
nausea and light-headedness**

A couple of months ago we took Jacob to the Dutch-run 'Dental House' and the orthodontist suggested that we pull four of his permanent teeth and allow his mouth to grow before adding on years' worth of braces and retainers. Well, today was the day when the first two extractions were made.

Jacob was nervous and Brian and Lance volunteered to accompany us. We drove out to the office and made it right on time for his 15:30 appointment. A few minutes later they called us back and the little operating room was quickly filled with two Americans, three Dutch and two Italians. Poor Jacob did well considering the circumstances. He was very scared and began crying and asking questions. They gave him a couple of shots of anesthesia and wrapped his face in a towel so nothing was showing but his mouth. The doctor pulled a baby tooth before working on the two permanent ones. Whew - Jacob may have been in pain, but I was in agony watching. Orders were being barked out in Dutch and English and Italian and Jacob didn't know who was talking to who. A couple of times he reached for the instrument or the suction tube, thinking the doctor was talking to him and everyone would jump up and yell at him not to touch anything because his hands weren't sterile.

The baby tooth was normal-sized. The first permanent tooth was large. When the third tooth came out, the doctor turned to me and raised it, pinched in some metal instrument, and made a face at me like, 'Can you believe the size of this thing?' Makes sense, Heather has big babies, Jacob has big teeth.

Whew. Well, 90 minutes later, we checked out and made an appointment for next week to have his stitches taken out. When Brian and Lance came out of the waiting room and Jacob, ice-pack shoved against his face, showed him his teeth (placed in a little, blue, plastic treasure chest), Lance's face went pale. A minute later he stumbled and hit his head on the wall and then walking out to the car, he fainted and fell to the ground! He recovered quickly and is OK now.

Jacob is OK too. He's taking it easy, enjoying Nurse Heather's top-notch care. Never a dull moment around here!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Moving Day

Yesterday, we helped Matt & Angie move out of their apartment at Piazza Malatesta, #25 and into a storage garage until their return next year. Up until yesterday, there had been fleeting moments of emotion or nostalgia at the thought of their leaving. After all, we've had going on a year to get used to the idea. Yesterday though, there was a defining moment for me. Not defining in the life-changing sense, but defining as in definite; the specific moment in which the reality hit me.

I spent most of my time working in the kitchen, dismantling cabinets and appliances and this moment happened early on. You see, the Crosser's kitchen, like the large majority of Italian kitchens is small, and theirs is packed full of memories. Who knows how many times we've been over for meals or snacks or coffee or just come into the kitchen for a drink or a bit of conversation? I surely couldn't count them. But nearly every time I would come in, I would inevitably reach for a cup which meant I would open one of the cupboard doors and every time, I would forget that the light hanging from the middle of the kitchen ceiling hung just a centimeter too low and that the door would just ding it, sending it swinging. This action was almost immediatley followed by a grimace and then a quick glance up to make sure the lamp was OK.

Well, yesterday, as I opened THE cupboard door to remove some screws and take it down, it happened. I 'dinged' the glass lamp, but instead of wincing, I just closed my eyes and a melancholy smile crossed my face as I realized this was the last time it would ever happen.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Feast - Initial Summary

We got back from the 24-Prayer 'Feast' last night at 21:00, tired but filled, blessed, challenged and encouraged. I've been thinking about the best way to share about our experience there and I believe the best way will be to share a series of stories as I have time to process them. For now, a summary will suffice.

Here's the program:

Friday 19th
19:00 – 21:00 Main Session 1 - John 15 – We Are A People Of Destiny

Saturday 20th
10:00 – 11:00 Small Group Session - Meet people from different nations
11:00 – 12:30 Main Session 2 - John 15 – We are a people of Mobility
13:00 – 14:00 Seminars
Leaders stream – What kind of leader are you?
Prayer Stream – Maintaining your spiritual life
Communities Stream – Boiler Room Basics
14:00 – 17:00 Siesta
17:00 – 18:00 Case Studies
- Hear what people doing round the world
18:00 – 19:00 Open Forums
19:00 – 23:00 The Feast! - Tapas, Flamenco guitarists, communion and commissioning

Sunday 21st
10:00 – 11:00 Small Group Session
- Meet people from different nations
11:00 – 12:30 Main Session 3
- John 15 – We are a people of Eternity
13:00 – 14:00 Seminars
14:00 – 17:00 Siesta
17:00 – 18:00 Case Studies
18:00 – 19:00 Open Forums
19:00 – 21:00 Main Session 4 - John 15 – We are a people of Community
21:00 – 22:00 24-7 Auction

OK. Here were my top 4 favorite things:

1. Emphasis on intimacy with Jesus

This was the main theme throughout the weekend - but it was not just spoken about, it was encouraged, modeled and applied.

2. Unity

It was stated at the outset that people of many different backgrounds were present (200+) who may disagree on doctrines concerning prayer, worship, alcohol-consumption, etc., but that we were coming together to worship and it truly was beautiful. All kinds of expressions of worship and community and no judgment.

3. The new 24/7 Prayer video series coming out

A guy by the name of Rob Job (sp?) has developed a series of short videos of EXTEMELY high quality that will begin to be available soon - they were a highlight of our times together and I look forward to sharing them with you.

4. How non-U.S. it was

It was weird going to a conference where we knew absolutely NO ONE but it was so cool to see people represented from Australia, New Zealand, China, Tanzania, South Africa, UK, Ireland, Finland, Lithuania, Macedonia, Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, the U.S., Canada and Mexico. We're so used to being involved with U.S.-led missions and ministries that it was surprising and very refreshing to be led by Europeans who are passionate at seeing ALL people, including their own, come to Christ.

Look for more stories to come - and please be in prayer for our very first Prayer Room the last weekend of November!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Safely in Seville

We landed 15 minutes ahead of schedule in Seville´s little airport at 8:35 this morning. After getting our bags we walked out into the airport lobby and saw a young guy, Jim, holding a 24/7 sign. Next to him was an older gentleman whom we later found out is from Switzerland. His name is Urs and he started a 24/7 prayer movement in his home country 30 years ago and just recently found out about this movement and the Lord led him to The Feast here in Seville. Jim didn´t know where our hostel was so he dropped us off at Plaza de Armas and we found it without too much trouble, Heather and I pretending that we were in the Amazing Race. ("Hurry up, Victoria!") We tried our hand at a Spanish breakfast and ended up with two different-sized caffe con leches along with an order of mini-churros with sugar sprinkled on top. It is weird and crazy and fun being in a country where I understand what I see and hear but can´t form phrases very well anymore. It is coming back already though. OK, now we´re heading back to check-in (the hostel room wasn´t ready) and then we have the afternoon to go see the world´s 3rd largest Cathedral and some other sites here in Seville. The first session starts tonight at 19:00. Hasta luego!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Heading to Seville

Thanks to some great friends through whom the Lord provided, Heather and I are heading out in an hour to catch the train, then train, then bus, then plane to Seville, Spain for the 24/7 Prayer 'The Feast'. We'll tell you all about it when we get back.

Friday, October 12, 2007

New Glasses

My birthday is next week (the big 33) and I'm getting new glasses. It has been 7 years! Makes me think about this bit by Brian Regan.

"I always get nervous with that one test. "Tell me the exact moment point A is directly over point B." I'm like, "Ahhhhh! Now! No, now! Now! Then! I don't know, I don't know." I'm afraid if I get it off by an eighth of a second I'll get these big, Hubble coming attraction glasses. "You must have messed up that A B test!" "Did I ever. Hence the corrective spectacles!"

Favoritism

How do we miss it? Are we really that deceived? That prideful?

We have been shown mercy. God has not judged us at 'face value', by what we we've done or what we look like. We have been loved.

The result should read something like this:

We show mercy. We do not judge people at 'face value', by what they've done or what they look like. We love.

If the above statement isn't true about you or me, if it isn't true about the church, then my hypothesis is this: we have taken mercy for granted. We don't believe that God really does look past our deeds and our 'face'. We don't really believe in or understand what His love is or its implications in our life. Either that or we're just plain hypocrites and Pharisees.

James' admonition, secondo me, to not show favoritism isn't about tacking on one more thing not to do, one more chain or shackle. It is ALL about understanding, believing and living the truth that we have been shown mercy, that we are accepted for who we are and that we have been loved. If that penetrates, permeates, germinates, then and only then will we live and love as we should, looking past the external and seeing the intrinsic value of each and every person around us.

What kind of world would that be?

WHERE Is Your Mother?

Remember those commercials? Whew, it has been a long week without Heather here, but the kids and I have done well and I've enjoyed the extra time with them. We miss her though and are ready for her to be home.

Right before Heather left last week, we switched some furniture around in our living room. The armoire where we keep the TV is now on the south wall. This is an external wall with the only neighbors being downstairs - which allows me to relax more about the volume level.

Earlier this week, Telecom Italia sent out a technician to install 'Alice TV' which is an internet-based TV service they are offering for free. One of the cool things they offer is concerts. So tonight, while I put the final touches on this Sunday's sermon on James 2 (favoritism), I'm listening/watching the Rai National Symphonic Orchestra perform one of my favorite classical pieces - Ravel's Bolero.

Heather's doing well - haven't heard much from her because she is in rural Romania and has been having email problems. She and Heidi have been able to see where Heather Wimsett lives and works, meet the people that she knows, experience Romanian culture and even visit Dracula's castle. I'll try to get her to post a summary on here.

34 more hours, but who's counting? Heather is truly amazing - loving mother, affectionate wife, Godly woman, great cook, creative decorator, among other traits. This week has reminded me how much I often take her for granted.

Tonight, Maurizio came over for dinner and after the craziness of fixing dinner, setting the table, eating, getting two kids in the bath, the other in the shower, laying out pajamas, setting backpacks by the door with snacks in them, all while entertaining Maurizio and trying to get coffee going, Harrison went to the bathroom in the bathtub, the kind that requires some level of attention. As I hollered for Maurizio to stay away and to Jacob to get out of the shower so I could have enough water pressure to clean up the mess I took a deep breath and thought to myself, 'WHERE is your mother?'.



And I won't go.
I won't sleep.
And I can't breathe,
Until you're resting here with me.
-Dido

Saturday, October 6, 2007

And She's Off!

Well, Heather kissed me goodbye this morning before I woke up. She and Heidi are on their way to visit two fellow missionaries in Romania. They will be gone a week which means I'll be balancing my roles and hers for a few days. I already dusted, washed the dishes, picked up the living room and prepped laundry this morning! Please pray for her while she's away - I'm praying for safety, refreshment and that God would show Himself to her in a new way. Us? We'll be OK. Just please don't tell Heather I let Haven wear those socks to school today...

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Best Thirst Quencher

Dante, a very friendly, retired God-fearer and one of our newest English 'students' shared with me that the best thing to do when you're really thirsty is to put just a dash of mint syrup in an ice-cold beer. My grandma used to say, 'Water is the best thirst-quencher.' I think I'll stick with my grandma's advice. :)