Monday, November 26, 2007

My Mad Basketball Skillz

I have none. And it showed. I got schooled by an Italian banker last night at the birthday party for one of Jacob's classmates. I have never been very talented at it, but I thought surely I could beat an Italian - nope. Granted, it was with a child-size ball and there was no backboard, but no. I just ended getting really sweaty and red-faced. I normally can not stand these parties - because of the chaos and whatnot, but I had some great conversations and we all really enjoyed it. Heather talked to Anna about being her language helper and her husband told me about his involvement in his environmental crime investigations as a police officer. He shared with me about his passion for those who do not have rights and how it is important that we remember "the last ones."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Day in the Life of a Thanksgiving in Italy

Step 1: Make all the delicious family Thanksgiving recipes including: the main course - turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, gravy, cranberry sauce (imported), rolls, green bean casserole, etc.










Step 2: Make the precious, famous Casey
stuffing.













Step 3: Realize that you are out of sage and forgot that they sell sweet potatoes in a couple of stores so send your husband out in the freezing fog on his scooter to find them.











Step 4: Wash, peel and cook fresh, white sweet potatoes.













Step 5: Enlist the help of your youngest son and frantically mop the living room and clean at least one bathroom while stuffing anything loose into the bedroom.











Step 6: Take freshly butchered turkey out of plastic bag and prep it for the oven.













Step 7: Pumpkin pie time!














Step 8: Set the table.



















Step 9: Remove deliciousness from the oven.














Step 10: Walk down to the school to get Jacob and Haven and have them put their coats and scarves and backpacks away and wash their hands.
















Step 11: Carve turkey. I'm horrible at this. But it is DELICIOUS.


















Step 12: Go around and share what you're grateful for. Eat and laugh and take a group picture.













Step 13: After pie and coffee, play PIT!














video

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tucker Davian has arrived!

I set the phone by our nightstand last night, knowing that the call would come and it did! Though groggy, we received the news of the birth of my brother Tim's first son with great joy. Here's what the proud parents have to say:

"We had Tucker Davian Casey On Monday Nov 19 at 6:32 pm. He was 6 pounds 15 ounces and 20 inches long. We are all doing great and loving every minute of parenthood. He is so sweet and so cute and cuddly! I also updated our website with pictures of his arrival and my last pregnancy belly pics. Our website address is www.tscasey.phanfare.com

Love,
Tim, Shauna and Tucker Casey"

Congrats guys and welcome to the amazing world of parenting!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Kelly of Boystown

One of the most powerful testimonies we heard at 'The Feast' in Seville was from a young woman named Kelly Greene. I may get some of the details mixed up - but I'll retell it as best I can.

After visiting a place called Boystown, just south of the Mexican border, Kelly began praying that God would send someone to go and reach out to the people there. Boystown is a government-sanctioned, walled-in area dedicated to prostitution and crack bars. God called her.

With no plan and no way of getting into Boystown, Kelly moved down from Tulsa, OK, and began prayer-walking around the walls of this red-light district. She did this for 15 months. She was finally able to meet someone who made it possible for her to get in and begin meeting some of the 200+ prostitutes, pimps, drug-dealers and bar owners that live there.

She does things like host women's spa days in the crack bars, showing the women inside the love of Jesus. She plays with the kids. She gives away flowers. She shares Christ with these hurting people. She's willing to go in where no one else is.

She has recently been given permission to build a center just outside the walls which will house a prayer room, a clinic and a nighttime daycare for the children of Boystown. It was so neat to hear her sharing her story and challenging us to consider where God is sending us. On Saturday night we got to talk with her and ask her more questions about her ministry there - we were really blessed to see and hear the faith and strength that God has given her to continue working there. For more info on Kelly, check out her blog at: http://boystownreynosa.blogspot.com/.

And be careful what you pray for...

Friday, November 9, 2007

Messing with my theology

This morning Brian and I met with Marco, the pastor of the Apostolic church here in Ancona. We had met a few times but this was the first time that we had just been able to talk and get to know each other. We met to plan the joint prayer room that we're hosting at the end of November. Their church will be covering a 12-hour period on Saturday. The Thursday before, we will be having a joint worship service to kick it off.

I had heard from a mutual friend that Marco's testimony was a powerful one and I asked him to share it with me. He transported us back to his teen years in Sicily where he was introduced to the spiritual world through family members who practiced various kinds of magic and fortune-telling practices. He told us about his lifestyle and how he grew in his ability in various spiritual activities. Just before he was to participate in a rite which would have introduced him to the blacker side of magic, he stepped into an Evangelical service to greet an aunt. What happened during that service that evening set about a course of actions which brought him to his knees before Christ and his life was forever changed. He went from being a violent, frightening fortune-telling handball star to a gentle, kind Christ follower.

As he shared his perspective and experience I found, once again, my theology being shaken, not stirred. I began thinking of the people we've met in the last year or two who have had various spiritual experiences outside of the church, having been left hungry and thirsty for more than they find in their local Mass: exorcisms, visions, fortunes told, angelic appearances, New Age communities, horoscopes, astrological soul charting, rune reading among them. Just the other day, one young lady from our community asked me how to share the Gospel with her friend who tells people's fortunes and can talk to spirits. I'm convinced that another of our friends remains somehow still bound spiritually to spiritual experiences in his past. How do I account for all of this? How do we handle it? What do I believe about it when the teaching I've received up until now doesn't seem to fit or to be enough?

I have to depend on what I know about God, about who Jesus is and what he's done. I have to remember what is TRUE. I have to study the Scriptures and from there, delve cautiously out into the murky waters of the unknown and ask God to guide me. Am I bold enough to believe that others are experiencing God in a way I'm not? Am I courageous enough to admit that I don't have all the answers and that there is more going on behind the scenes than I'm aware of?

God is good, He is love. Christ paid the price, which means not only forgiveness and salvation, but freedom. If this is true then I have to believe that helping people see it and believe it means I'm going to get dirty, and that maybe my theology will, in the process, be refined. I have to believe that God can overcome any obstacle, that his love can reach ANYONE, no matter the challenges. I guess faith involves trusting, even when we don't have all the answers; maybe especially when we realize there's just a whole lot we don't know. It doesn't change what is true. Trying to cling to a theology in the midst of this setting is like trusting in a wet, slippery tree branch while being swept down a flooded river. It leads me to cling to the God behind the theology; in WHO he is and WHO I am because of Him.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

La paura e'...

Today at school, Jacob's class had to practice dictation. The teacher read a poem about fear and they had to write it down. Jacob did pretty well! As a follow-up assignment, there was the following written on the paper.

La paura e' _________.

Translated:

Fear is __________.

How would you answer?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Proseuche

This morning, while studying for Sunday's teaching on "Intimacy as Prayer", I was looking at the words used in the New Testament translated as 'prayer'. One of these is proseuche, which is what Paul was looking for in Acts 16 when he went outside the walls of Philippi, a place of prayer. I came across the definition that reads like this: a place set apart or suited for the offering of prayer.

Where do you pray?

As we continue delving into the world of 24/7 prayer and consider the idea of working a dedicated space and time for prayer into the spiritual and liturgical rhythms of our community here, I see the concept as being a very Biblical one. One of the thoughts that challenged me at the Seville gathering was the idea that life is birthed out of intimacy. OK, said like that, you may be questioning my intelligence. Yes, I know how babies are made. I have three, thank you very much. Life is created and formed out of intimacy. How many revivals and causes and churches were birthed because of someone who walked closely with the Father? How many were born when a group of people committed to exceptional prayer?

The reminder given at the conference, more phrased as a warning, was that if we're not careful, we can get too excited and concerned for what is born out of intimacy with the Father and begin to lose sight of what caused it in the first place. Communities across Europe are seeing incredible ministries, dynamic mission teams and heroic acts of social justice come out of these prayer rooms. Pete was wise in admonishing the leaders of this movement to continually go back to what caused the creation in the first place.

How many couples experience this? A child is born, a beautiful, incredible, terrifying experience. Suddenly the new life consumes the parents' every waking moment. They find they don't spend time with each other anymore. There may be hints of intimacy, fleeting moments, snapshots of what was before, but it takes hard work to keep the balance right.

Proseuche. A place set apart for prayer. Could this help keep the balance right?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Guy Named Urs

He was the first one we talked to upon arriving in Seville for the 24/7 Prayer 'Feast'. He boarded the plane in front of us in Milan and we didn't know we were heading to the same destination. Older guy, longer, thinning hair, glasses, he carried a small suitcase with some sort of sheepskin rug draped over the top. He stood waiting with a British guy named Jim with a sign displaying our name, ready to ride into downtown Seville. As we walked to the car, he introduced himself as Urs, currently living in southern, Italian-speaking Switzerland after having grown up in the northern part of the country and living and ministering in Spain for a few years. He had started a 24/7 prayer movement years before upon his own response to the Lord's leading and had just recently picked up a copy of 'Red Moon Rising' and found out about the folks at 24/7. Quirky sense of humor, a quick mind and a passion for prayer, this was our introduction to the people involved in this movement.

Monday, November 5, 2007

"I hate it when they do that!"

The other day I took Jacob back to the dentist to have his stitches removed. While the Dutch doctor hovered over Jacob's wide-open mouth, the head dentist, also Dutch, walked by in the hallway outside. The first hollered at the second to come in and he did. They proceeded to talk to each other in Dutch at a very animated and rapid pace. They seemed to be concerned about something in Jacob's mouth and then they both started laughing until the head dentist walked out. The dentist resumed her work on Jacob's teeth and didn't bother to explain or translate. The Italian nurse looked at me and whispered, "I hate it when they do that!". I smiled. I know the feeling.