“Un-Sandwich”

(Español abajo)

I don’t know if they still use this term, but for some time the proverbial “they” would talk about the “Sandwich Generation,” the generation that had to care for their parents and their children at the same time.

I never really fell into that category. When my kids were little, my mom actually helped care for them. By the time my mom needed the most help, my kids were grown and my sister was living with my mom and caring for her. I have wonderful moms in my life, including my step-mom who has supported and loved me over the years.

But now I feel like I’m an “Un-Sandwich.” 

On this Mother’s Day, I find myself grateful for my Austin, he’s doing well and mostly on his own, and for the time I had with my beloved Chris. I am thankful for the wonderful mom I had, and I know death has brought her to wholeness in Christ Jesus where she is not suffering anymore with Alzheimer’s. 

But I am a little out of sorts and the only term I can come up with today is, again, “Un-Sandwich.”

To those who celebrate this Mother’s Day, may your day be blessed and may you be grateful for every moment. To those for whom this day is a day of sorrow or mixed or “Un-Sandwich-ed,” may God bring you some tranquility and peace.  ~Melissa

——————-

No se si todavía usan este término, pero por algún tiempo, el “ellos” proverbial hablarían sobre la “Generación Sándwich,” la generación que tenía que cuidar a sus papás y también a sus hijos a la vez. 

De verdad yo realmente no forme parte de esa categoría. Mi mamá ayudaba a cuidar a mis hijos cuando eran pequeños. Y ya cuando mi mamá necesitaba ayuda, mis hijos ya eran grandes y mi hermana vivía con mi mamá y la cuidaba. Tengo mamás maravillosas en mi vida, incluyendo a mi madrastra quien me ha apoyado y querido durante muchos años.

Pero ahora siento que soy “Des-Sandwich.”

Este Día de la Madre, me encuentro agradecida por mi hijo Austin–él está bien y básicamente cuidándose solo–y por el tiempo que tuve con mi amado hijo Chris. Estoy agradecida por la mamá maravillosa que tuve, y ya sé que su muerte la ha llevado a la sanación en Cristo Jesus donde ya no sufre Alzheimer.

Pero, si, estoy soplando en el viento un poco, y el único término que se me viene a la mente hoy es, de nuevo, “Des-Sandwich.”

A los y las que celebran este Día de la Madre, que tengan un día bendecido y que sean agradecidos/as por cada momento. A los y las que están tristes o para quienes es un día difícil o “Des-Sandwich,” que Dios les traiga la tranquilidad y la paz. ~Melissa

If I Give Up…Si me dejo por vencido

(Espanol abajo)

I’m working on writing my book and looking through my old blogs and Facebook posts, but more importantly, through Chris’s poetry. It’s so poignant and prescient.

I have read this poem before. Not sure if I published it, but as I think of Chris’s tree and having just visited it, I wanted to share.

If I give up, well,
That must mean I died
Body left on the sidewalk

Soul looks back to see 
His old face growing pale
Still keeping its smile
That is just so pleasing.

I don't even want to be buried.
Set me on fire underneath a tree
so that it breathes me in
through its leaves and there I can 
live in the tree of life.

Chris is, indeed, in the roots and leaves of his tree, his ashes burned by water, giving life and living in eternal life.

However you are feeling today, don’t give up. There is life in you, and if it’s hard to find it within you, seek it out in nature. The Spirit breathes in you the tree of life.

Peace

———————————

Estoy trabajando en escribir mi libro y estoy mirando mis entradas del blog y de Facebook, pero más importante, estoy mirando la poesía de mi hijo. Es tan conmovedora y presciente.

Si me dejo por vencido, pues,
quiere decir que me morí
cuerpo dejado sobre la acera

El alma mira para atrás a ver
su cara palideciendo
manteniendo su sonrisa
que es tan agradable.

Que no me entierran.
Quemenme debajo de un árbol
para que me respire
por sus hojas y ahi puedo
vivir en el arbolito de la vida.

Chris, si, está en las raíces y hojas de su arbolito, sus cenizas quemadas por agua, dando vida y viviendo en la vida eterna.


Tal como te sientas hoy, no te dejes por vencido. Hay vida en ti, y si es difícil encontrarla dentro de ti, buscala entre la naturaleza. El Espíritu sopla en ti el arbolito de la vida.


Paz

Four-year Sadiversary, Part 2: Colonoscopy

Four years. Four years since our beloved Chris was found. Austin and I agree it seems like yesterday and forever-ago. We both remember the day Chris was finally found, the grief and the…comfort?…probably not the word, but some kind of calm. I dread these days and then they sneak up on me, too.

I started the day with a colonoscopy. I was supposed to have it about five years ago, when I was 50. But then when I was 50 Chris died. And then the bike trip and then COVID, and, well, I’m 54 and I finally had the colonoscopy. The found a rather large polyp, as far as polyps go, I guess. They removed it and will biopsy it and then I have to go back for another colonoscopy in three years. I guess that pretty much makes up for me being four years late.

I fell asleep watching NCIS on Netflix. Josué heard the song “Hallelujah” start and he knew I’d wake up. I did, and then the tears came when I heard this song that Chris’s friends recorded him playing. I am blessed to have his voice still, though it mostly hurts too much to listen to it. Even when I hear him singing in my own brain, it makes me pause. At the end of this recording he says he wants to play one more song and his friends will know which one it is. I wish I knew what it was and that I had a recording of it.

Josué, Austin and I went to Chris’s tree. Austin’s been going there more often with me now and I’m glad. We talk and touch the tree and take a few pictures and remark on how the tree is growing and how spring is bringing buds. I always touch the tree. Chris’s ashes are in there.

My heart still weeps after these four years, even though my eyes weep less.

Four years without my baby here on this earth with me. So we go on, day by day, with love and grief all mixed up in our hearts and in our tears. Living life and remember our beloved Chris.

The Night is Winding Down
By Chris Stanley

Writing by a dim light,
in my room
the night is winding down.
Sleep’s call is heard
very clearly as I add
lines of words to my journal.

Summer is standing in line,
spring greets me with
melting water flowing on sidewalks,
these rivers are
beautifully destined for
my mighty Mississippi,
mighty mystery.

In two days I will have successfully completed
eighteen short years walking on this planet.
My footsteps have not been dull and padded
like a wolf stalking prey,
however my actions have influenced this world so far,
maybe I’ll never know.

Carrying on through the veil of tears,
wading, pushing, pushed,
I am soaking wet, that’s a life.

I, too, write this blog entry by a dim light as four-year Sadiversary, Part 2, is winding down. I know that Chris would have no idea how his actions have still had such a positive influence on this world while he was alive and even after his death.

And so I carry on through the veil of tears, missing my beloved Chris, and still trying to live life every single day.

Peace.

Four-year Sadiversary, Pt 1: (No) Next Time

I’m writing this blog post tonight, April 25th, the four-year Sadiversary of Chris’s death, at just about the time when he would have been lost in the Mississippi River, though I didn’t know quite yet that anything had happened. As I have on this date every year since he was lost, I visited St. Anthony Falls, the place where Chris lost his life, except for 2019, I think it was, when the gate wasn’t open yet.

I’ve tried to write this blog a few times now and I’ve never quite been able to write what I want. So today, whether I write what I want or not, I will post this in honor of my beloved Chris.

If you read my blog from time to time or follow the Fueled by Love Facebook page, you may be aware that I’m writing a book about my bike journey along the length of the Mississippi River. And since it’s been more than two years since that journey, I guess you can see it’s slow going. Sort of like this post.

Most of the book will be about my time on the bike and the lessons I learned and the fun I had and the contentment I felt when on that saddle in places I had never been, often alone with just me, my bike and Jesus. (Potential title of a chapter)

But in order to set the book into place, I needed to write about when Chris was found–that’s the prologue–and when he was lost. I’ve written these two chapters already because they are the hardest and I had to be able to do that, to write about my deepest sorrow and fear, in order to write the remainder of the book. 

One of the chapters is called “(No) Next Time,” just like this blog post, though the chapter will be quite different from this post. I couldn’t get it out and Josué told me just to write what I needed to write and then let others edit for me, so that’s what I did. I’m terrified of the editing, to be honest, because what I wrote is embedded into my being, but in order to tell the story, it will have to be. And it’s okay.

I want to share this one piece of that chapter, though, today, on four year Sadiversary, Part 1. 

On Tuesday, April 25, 2017, my friend Doris was visiting from Barcelona and staying at my friends’ condo on the Mississippi River. We were going to lunch with my step-mom Faye, and at the last minute I texted Chris to see if he wanted to join us, because we were just minutes away from his place.

He told me he had just eaten and had to study so he wouldn’t be able to join us. He was just about two weeks away from graduating.

So I texted him back, “Next time.”

And of course there was no next time. No more texts. No more calls. No more visits or lunches or hugs.

So I never, ever say “Next time” anymore. 

It’s a little challenging to live like that, especially in this past year. I have lived since then believing that if something is important enough to me I will make time for it. If someone reaches out and invites me somewhere or calls me or asks to meet or whatever it is, I do my damnedest to do it. I don’t reach out as much now as I used to, but if I do, you can know that you are important to me, and if you reach out to me and I agree to meet you, it’s because you are important to me. 

So the converse of that is that I take pretty personally those who don’t take the time to meet with me or call me or reach out, even in a pandemic, because I feel like I’m not important enough. I know that a “next time” is expected. And I know that is not necessarily a “fair” way to look at it, but it is what it is. 

Josué and I will be attending our fifth and sixth funerals of people close to us in the last few months. None has died from anything related to COVID. So I continue to live my life in the best way I can because I don’t know that there will be a “next time.”

We like to think we control life and death, but we don’t. If there is any lesson I have learned with Chris’s death, it is that. The other thing I have learned is that it’s hard to lose that fantasy, but once you do, it frees you to live differently. 

I hope people will be a little more patient with each other and less judgmental about people who meet with their friends and loved ones, and those who don’t. There is some kind of a balance, and it’s not an easy one and it’s not the same one for everyone. There is nothing in this last year that has kept me from seeing those I love from my end, though it has kept others from seeing me. Intellectually I understand that, but my heart is having trouble with it. I know for others it is different. And that’s okay.

My beloved Chris, I miss you so very much. I know the calendar tells me it’s been four years, but my heart still tells me it was yesterday and forever-ago.

I pray that I may live every day the best way I know how and that I may value each moment, each relationship, each friend and each one that I love. And I pray that you may, too, if you are reading this. May we all hold the tension between believing there will be a next time and knowing there may not be.

From Ecclesiastes 3:

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Peace

Birthdays in heaven are complicated here on earth, aren’t they?

I suppose the title I have given this post is way too long and complicated. But today is Chris’s fourth birthday here and without him it is way too long and complicated, too.

Today Chris would have been 26 years old. It’s an odd thing. Austin and I both had to count to remember how old he turned on March 20th because we used to keep track of those things by knowing there were two years difference between the brothers. Now Austin’s 24. And Chris isn’t 26. And four years later that is still complicated. It still seems like yesterday and forever-ago.

It’s almost midnight on the day of Chris’s birthday and I’m finally writing. We went to the tree. Austin actually suggested it today. I think that’s the first time it’s been his suggestion. How do you celebrate with a tree? You touch it. Caress it, really. Comment on how much the tree has grown. Take some pictures and…leave. Go back home. Go back to trying to live without one who made life so worth living. 

From Chris’s Insta

Today is Maundy Thursday in the Western Christian calendar. It, too, is a complicated day for me. I am one who marks most dates by holidays, Christian or otherwise, much like some people give directions with landmarks. So Maundy Thursday marks important events for me, and today it happens to mark what would have been Chris’s 26th birthday, this day we are reminded to love one another, to humble ourselves in service as we love our neighbor, and of the enormous love of Jesus, who gave of himself even to the one who betrayed him for just a little bit of money. 

Maybe 10 years ago (I’ve lost track of time), I was with my dad one Maundy Thursday. My dad was undergoing chemo treatment for pancreas cancer. I was sitting there with him and we were talking and probably joking around. And all of a sudden he wasn’t talking or joking around. He had had an allergic reaction to his chemo. The nurses and some Benadryl saved his life that day and we were blessed to have him another year. I still remember that it was Maundy Thursday because I went to church that night to sing with the choir. I sang and cried. Sang and cried. 

And this Maundy Thursday falls on Chris’s birthday. I haven’t cried today. I kept busy and cleaned and went to Chris’s tree with Josué and Austin and then went to church where moms and sons, husbands and wives, leaders and church family washed each others’ feet, heard the promises of Jesus in the giving of himself for us, and prayed and cried together. Still I have not cried.

I have been praying all day today, too, for a beloved friend of mine who has walked with cancer for some time, but who now, I am told, is surrounded by family and has been removed from life support. This friend has blessed me for many years with encouragement and support, enthusiasm and understanding. I pray for God’s Spirit to surround my friend and the family.

———

As I finish writing this post, I begin to cry. I have held it all day because if I start, I never know if I will stop.

But these are the promises we share. Christ gave of himself for us. Christ died and conquered death. I don’t want to get too far ahead, because it’s important to spend some time in the complications and the sorrow. It’s important to walk in the grief sometimes, feel the things we need to feel.

If you need to cry tonight, please do. We won’t cry forever because this is the promise:

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.

There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain,

for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Today I sit in these days of Jesus’ betrayal and death and I wait. I wait for the promises of new life, of my tears being wiped away, and of the love that is in Christ Jesus. 

Chris, my love, you are forever in my heart. Your baby brother is doing pretty well. You would be proud of him. He would probably still confuse you somewhat, but I know you would have been the best of friends. You are missed because we loved you so, so very much. May God console the brokenhearted. 

Science and Soul

By Deacon Josué Gonzalez

What is Science?  

The definition in Britannica online is the following: 

Science, any system of knowledge that is concerned with the physical world and its phenomena and that entails unbiased observations and systematic experimentation. In general, a science involves a pursuit of knowledge covering general truths or the operations of fundamental laws. 

Science can only explain the natural world or anything that exists in it. Science can explain some diseases. Science can explain the galaxy and the rotation of the planets. Science can gather information of the past and the present, and some evidence of the future. Science has been a practice since the world was created and inhabited. A few examples of benefits are: medicine, carbon dating, astrology, nuclear physics, electronics, and so forth. Science has covered a wide range of human understanding and intuition.  

Since the beginning of time humans have always been curious about what has been created. In the Bible, it is written that God created all things out of nothing, so we that believe the Bible believe this. You can find science in the Bible, but it is not a science book. For example, the creation story account has carbon dating, medicine that comes from plants, blood that accounts for biology, stars and moon that account for astrology, our psychological make up and so on. The Bible is full of evidence of scientific proof. Yet with all this evidence science cannot improve on your soul or satisfy it.  

Throughout the ages, humans have always sought to improve their wellbeing and existence. We use products and gadgets to make our lives better or easier. We create norms for us to live by. Yet our soul is not science. Our soul is a living part of our DNA which cannot be explained or satisfied by human reasoning or understanding. In another word science cannot do anything for your soul.  

Dictionary.com describes it like this:  

–the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part. 

–the spiritual part of humans regarded in its moral aspect, or as believed to survive death and be subject to happiness or misery in a life to come: arguing the immortality of the soul. 

Where is the exact location of the soul? How can you separate the soul from the spirit of existence? 

There it is in a nutshell! We have many people today living in fear and unrest all over the world wondering what is going to happen to them and their families. What does the future hold? People are up to their wits end. With all of the technology and knowledge at our disposal, we cannot cradle the soul, no matter how much medicine we take or don’t take, no matter how much money we have or don’t have, no matter how much wiser we are or are not. We have a human condition that only can be satisfied by God. 

Just look at history and technologyHas anything changed as far as your soul? Can you determine how to regulate and live forever? Can you take your soul with you and know that this is you in whatever your belief is or not? Does science console the longing of being with your loved ones? Does it quench the desire and compassion that long deep within?  Can you change your soul for another?    

These are questions that cannot be answered from a human standpoint, not unless you have died and come back to life. My brothers and sisters, I want you to be aware that science can explain some things in life, but not all things of life. We need to come to the Creator of life. In Him we have the answer to life and our souls. Just look at the works of His hands. Look intently to your sons and daughters. No medicine or humanly created thing can cure a broken soul. Our God has given us Himself to have the answers we desperately seek in the form of Jesus Christ. Know Him, worship Him, thank Him from the heart for all He has given us.  

This Book is Fueled by Love

As some of you know, I am writing a book about my journey in grief after the death of my beloved son Chris, both my personal and spiritual journey, and my physical journey down the Mississippi River. I’ve actually now biked the entire length of the river, about 2000 miles on my route. As I look back, it seems almost impossible that I did that. 

Medallion at Chris’s tree

What is seeming a little more daunting now is writing a book about this journey. Once again, I have to delve into the depths of my grief, which brings to the surface so much of the sorrow I have sort of tucked away in order to live day by day. And I have to delve into the strength of the love that is the root of that grief. 

My friend Lisa Bolt-Simons agreed to collaborate on the writing of this book with me (check out her books here). We have been friends since grad school, though we had lost touch during part of the last 25 years. We met last summer and came up with a game plan. I need to have at least two chapters complete so she and some beta readers can help me edit and then so we can submit them to some publishers. 

I have to admit. I was stuck. It’s not that I don’t know what to write. It’s that I have put up some protective barriers within me. I may seem “okay,” but just beneath the surface lives a fragility that I’m afraid if touched will cause me to crumble to pieces again. 

But then this occurred to me:

It is a rather amazing human trait that profound grief can intermingle with hope, even if it’s just a sliver, and despair can co-exist with glimpses of light. During the days of waiting for Chris to be found, he was still alive to me. I would allow no one to speak of him in the past tense. He was still present until we were absolutely sure he wasn’t. 

In those ten days, with this in mind, I declared to myself and to the entire world, that I would complete the bike journey that Chris had planned. I would do this in celebration with, or in memory of, him. That is how my bike, that I didn’t even have yet, began to be fueled by love. Remember that old adage, “With love, nothing is impossible”? If you turn it around, it would be, “With love, anything is possible.” Maybe not anything, but a lot more is possible in love than we would ever imagine, especially when that love is bound with grief. 


Thus began this journey. And this is how the journey continues.

This Book (Bike/Bus) Is Fueled By Love
 
This book is fueled by love
shared by all the people
of the world colored green,
wide like the sky.
 
This book is fueled by love
raining from the clouds
they try to put above us
but the clouds always pass.
 
This book is fueled by love,
these people live on kindness
they always share a smile
they always shine so bright.
 
This book is fueled by love,
by love we can prevail,
this is how to start a movement,
by love we cannot fail. 

Chris Stanley
From his second collection of poetry: 
Let Your Heart Choose Where to Start
Written Fall 2016 on the bus his way to the Climate March in NYC
Used by Melissa for her bike journey
Now as motivation for writing this book
Peace, Melissa

Venture of Faith, the Life of Faith, and the Reward of Faith

Now Moses said to Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place about which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us and we will treat you well, for the Lord has promised good things to Israel.”

He answered, “No, I will not go; I am going back to my own land and my own people.”

But Moses said, “Please do not leave us. You know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you can be our eyes. If you come with us, we will share with you whatever good things the Lord gives us.”

So they set out from the mountain of the Lord and traveled for three days. The ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them during those three days to find them a place to rest. Number 10:29-33

By Deacon Josue Gonzalez

As I read numbers 10:29-33, I was inspired to write about this passage. You need to have your Bible with you. 

Jethro lived among the Israelites in the desert, all the while experiencing how Moses and God dealt with God’s people when they left Egypt. Time and time again the Israelites continue with disbelief of God’s provision for them. At every turn, God showed His promise and His power. Jethro, not being an Israelite, was probably scratching his head. 

How can these people not know this God is trustworthy? 

Jethro was a Midianite priest in the land of Midian. He knew what false gods were and the worship of false gods. He had his family, culture, livestock and his own property. Why in the world would he leave all this and still go with a people that had nothing and were still wandering in the desert fighting God? I believe that through experiencing the Word of God and the power of what God was doing, true faith was created within Jethro’s heart. God made things happen. There was no explanation through human power or wisdom or by any other gods. Jethro saw pagan gods being destroyed and subdued by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He witnessed for himself the truth about this God. 

In some common ways with Jethro, I too believe about this God. I have lived a life as a nomadic person in the desert, wandering from state to state, not knowing where I would sleep or what food I would be able to eat each day. I was not able to find rest for my soul. 

I have identified with a lot of pagan gods in my life and experienced false hope repeatedly. Faith develops by the Word of God and His power. Since starting this journey, just like Jethro, I came to have hope in my life and I fully understood there is one true God of all gods. Being around people of different cultures and languages, walking with them and seeing their struggles and my own, praying, listening and helping in any way I can…day or night, snow or rain, with plenty or in scarcity, feeling well or sick, I try to be a present with others and a witness to God’s power in this life. I am convinced because of the struggles and testimony of my life, that change can happen to anyone who allows themselves to experience God’s power through His Son Jesus who is the savior of this world. 

The Bible is not a story of fairy tales and mystical events. (God is being revealed) It is the true Word of God in this earth with all creation. God’s nature is visible and tangible. Through faith, Jesus Christ is and will be the only visible and tangible substance in this life and beyond. Let us come together in faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit to reveal to the world the unity that is in Christ Jesus. Amen

The Way the Water Flows

We have made a tradition of placing bird seed ornaments on our beloved Chris’s tree and visiting this tree that stands so solitary and so surrounded by activity at the same time. This is our fourth Christmas without Chris here with us and we miss him terribly. 

I asked Austin recently if he missed his memories of Chris, and Austin and his way with words summed up beautifully what it so true but what I couldn’t express: he doesn’t mis his memories. He’ll always have them. He misses the future he, and we, were to have had with Chris. 

When our kids are alive, we think about them often, but you don’t realize just how often until every time you think of them you realize that you have lost not only your future with them, but also your present. Your thoughts want to be with them, but they are not here for that to happen, so your thoughts lie in between you and only your memories of them, and that is a vast space. 

So we visit Chris’s tree, a beautiful gift from Luis and Brian, with Chris’s ashes si appropriately mixed with the roots, this tree that has grown taller and stronger. 

Josué decided to create a path but Austin and I did as we always do and just trudged through the snow. And as Josué cleared around the bar of the tree, we were greeted with the reminder that our friends still remember him and this brings real pleasure. 

I haven’t been able to read Chris’s poems for at least a year. I don’t know why, and it may be more than a year. I lose track of time. Christmas Day marked 3 years and 8 months Sadiversary, and I can’t believe it’s been that long because it still feels like yesterday and forever-ago. But when I was at the tree, a poem from his collection “Old Growth Forest” came to mind and I finally dug my carefully stored box of his writing and drawing and started reading. Chris’s poetry is even more poignant than I remember, and so much points to him becoming one with the river, and this brings contentment and deep sorrow at the same time.

I will share the poem I was thinking about later, but for today, I want to share this one from December 7, 2013, instead. Chris was 18 when he wrote this poem, about six months after his dad’s stroke:

Something that I can’t do is
Stop thinking about the way the water flows.
Streams of solid fluid rush past me
The rapids tumbling over my ear drums.
What a rush! A crack is all I hear
From a splitting, spring biting, it snapped
And the river’s color danced out of my visual range.

I saw an x-ray of the fish swimming
Over a sandy shore and their fins shimmer
Lakes reflecting an exact image of
The faces you keep deep inside memories.

If you were to somehow make a boat,
And it would need to be sturdy,
Take it down the river and go faster
Than a pulling current. If you can find
Water that passed before, would you
Drink and bathe in it? Take it up
Against the strong motion, fight against
Oppressing pressures pressing you back.

Be careful not to contaminate.
Be careful even with parting the stream.
The bow pointing towards the answers to
Questions, towards a forbidden knowledge.
Something that was never deciphered.

You may not want to read this next part…

I think of the river flowing around Chris, his body made limp as his back was broken at the base of the Falls. I wonder about the rapids flowing past his ears and the river outside of his vision. I wonder about his initial fear and his struggle for life, who he thought of, and if his life flashed before his eyes as they often talk about when someone is near death. I weep. And as the same time, Austin and I both have this sense that Chris succumbed to the river, that he let go and let God take him on that journey down the river to the place where everything was deciphered for him.

Peace.

Palabra del 2020: la Generosidad/Word for 2020: Generosity

(English below)

Bueno. A ver si puedo escribir una entrada corta sobre el agradecimiento. Si Tapestry tuviera una palabra para 2020, tendría que ser >>la generosidad.<<

Este año hemos compartido probablemente 2000 cajas con comida con alrededor de 30 familias. Kris de Tapestry ha estado manejando (juego de palabras intencional) este esfuerzo. Ella empezó a entregar comida en mayo. Martha la acompañaba en la entregas y yo también a veces las acompañaba. Después Tapestry pudo apoyar a Kris con dinero para la gasolina porque otros/as fueron generosos/as con nosotros. 

Luego Julie M. de la Iglesia St. Stephen organizó más donaciones de comida y dólares y hemos seguido entregando cajas con comida. Pero más importante aún, Julie T de Oak Grove y Julie M dieron donaciones de Biblias bilingües juveniles que todos/as los/las niños/as y jóvenes de Tapestry ya tienen. !Tammy W hizo un Calendario del Adviento bilingüe que pudimos compartir y también incluimos actividades para los/las niños/as! Yo lei parte hoy y lo puedes ver aquí. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSfETgZt5-Y&t=642s

Los nietos de Martha, Maddox y Leah, también han ayudado con las entregas. Gente de St. Stephen recibe donaciones y las empacan. Amigos y amigas de Tapestry y otros nos han apoyado con donaciones financieras y otra gente de Transfiguration y Oak Grove “adoptaron” a familia para Navidad. También hemos podido ayudar con la renta unas veces por la generosidad de tantos/as de ustedes. Y especial para Navidad, Janet y Mark S. de St. Stephen regalaron edredones hechos a mano a nuestras familias y la mamá de Stephanie B regalo gorros que ella tejió. Y claro, nuestro agente fiscal. Shepherd of the Hills que por 4 años han asegurado que podemos hacer nuestro ministerio.

Cuando digo 30 familias, quiere decir más de 50 adultos, 10 adolescentes y 45 niños/as! 

Los/las niños/as realmente están leyendo las Biblias! Josué y yo visitamos recién a una niña y su familia y me estaba preguntando sobre la historia de la Creación. Hubiera grabado la conversación. Estaba preguntando y Adan y Eva se metieron en líos con Dios porque hicieron la manzana color anaranjado! Pero esta conversación fue importante porque esta niña preguntó si Dios amaria a Adan y Eva si hicieron cosas que no hubieran. (Nuestra amiguita amada es un poco traviesita). Tanto su mamá como yo le aseguramos que Dios amaba a Adan y Eva aun cuando desobedecieron a Dios, y aún más importante, le aseguramos que Dios la ama a ella cuando obedece y aun cuando desobedece. Dios siempre la ama. Pero, le dijo su mamá, Dios se pone triste cuando desobedecemos porque Dios quiere lo mejor para todos/as nosotros/as. Le dijimos que nosotras también estamos tristes cuando ella no obedece, porque queremos lo mejor para ella, y le aseguramos que las dos la queremos siempre, tal como Dios. Después busco un video que grabamos en Tapestry de >>Esta lucecita<< en marzo que se acordaba y lo tocamos y cantamos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7H0g8rALI4E

Y otra:

Ricky from
Tollefson Farms

Por medio de una conversación con algunos/as amigos/as sobre granjeros y lo difícil que es para ellos en estos momentos, Emilie, mi amiga vegetariana, donó fondos a Tapestry para comprar un chincho directamente de un granjero. Me tomó tiempo, pero por fin encontré a un granjero de quien comprar. Compre la carne de Tollefson Family Farms y fui con Kris a recoger la carne en el Mercado de Minneapolis y cuando supieron que íbamos a entregar la carne a familias, nos dieron un buen descuento y algunos pedazos extras de carne Pueden ver mas sobre su granja aquí:https://www.tollefsonfamilypork.com/. Mostraron tanto orgullo en su granja y el trabajo que hacen. Luego escuchó el señor que vende los quesos de Wisconsin que entregabamos a familias y también nos dieron un buen descuento, y con fondos donados por otras personas pudimos comprar ese día queso, huevos frescos y tortillas. Los dos granjeros nos dijeron con orgullo que sus papás habían sido granjero y participando en el mercado por más de 40 años! 

Pues, mi entrada no es tan corta, pero agradecida con la gente de Tapestry y nuestros amigos/as, por congregaciones hermanas, y nuestro agradecimiento a Dios por el cuidado y la provisión que es para cada uno/a de nosotros/as. Que Dios les bendiga hoy y todos los días.

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Okay. Let’s see if I can write a short post of thanksgiving. If Tapestry had a word for 2020 it would have to be “generosity.”

This year we have shared probably 2000 boxes of food with around 30 families. Kris from Tapestry has been the driving (pun intended) force behind this. She began delivering food in May. Martha joined her making deliveries and I joined them sometimes, too. Tapestry then started supporting Kris with some gas money because others were generous with us.

Then Julie M. at St. Stephen organized for donations of food and dollars and we have continued delivering boxes of food. But even more importantly, Julie T from Oak Grove and Julie M. both arranged for donations of bilingual children’s Bibles that every child and youth from Tapestry now have! Tammy W. made a bilingual Advent Calendar for us to share and we include Bible activities for the kids, too! I read some of it today and you can find that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSfETgZt5-Y. And of course, our fiscal agent Shepherd of the Hills , who has made ensured we can do ministry for four years now.

Martha’s grandchildren Maddox and Leah have also been helping with the deliveries. People from St. Stephen have been receiving donations and packing everything up for us. Friends of Tapestry and others have been supporting us with financial donations through GiveMN and Daily Bread, and others from Transfiguration and Oak Grove are “adopting” a few families. We have been able to help with rent a few times, too, because of the generosity of so many of you. And especially for Christmas, Janet and Mark S. from St. Stephen gave hand-made quilts to our families and Stephanie B’s mom gave hand-knitted hats and headbands. We are thankful for support from the ELCA, the Minneapolis Area Synod and partner congregations. We have been able to help with food and housing, yes, and we have been able to share hope in Christ with so many people.

When I say 30 families, this means more than 50 adults, 10 teens and 45 younger kids! What a blessing.

Two short stories:

Kids are actually reading the Bibles! Josue and I visited a young girl and her family last week and she was talking to me about the Creation story. It should have been videotaped. She was asking if Adam and Eve got in trouble with God because they turned the apple orange! But the conversation was important because this young one questioned whether God would love Adam and Eve even when they did things they weren’t supposed to do. (Our beloved sister is a little mischievous). Both her mom and I assured her that God loved Adam and Eve even when they disobeyed God, and even more importantly, we assured her that God loves her when she obeys and even when she disobeys. God always loves her. But, her mom told her, God is sad when we disobey because God wants the best for us. We told her we are sad when she disobeys, too, because we also want the best for her, and we assured her that her mom and I both love her always, just like God. Then she found a video Tapestry recorded of “This Little Light of Mine” in March and that she remembered and we played it and sang with it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7H0g8rALI4E

And another:

Through a conversation with some friends about farmers and how challenging these times have been for them, my vegetarian friend Emilie donated funds to purchase a pig directly from a farmer. It took me a little time, but I finally found a farmer from whom to buy direct. I went through Tollefson Family Farms. Kris and I went to pick up the meat at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market, and when they heard we were delivering to families they gave us a nice discount and a few extras. Check them out here https://www.tollefsonfamilypork.com/about. They showed so much pride in their farm and the work they do! Then the Wisconsin Cheese guy heard we were delivering to families, they gave us a great discount, too, and with funds donated from others we purchased cheese and fresh eggs and tortillas. Both farmers told us with pride that their parents had been farming and at the marker for more than 40 years! 

Well, my not so short blog post, but thankful for the people of Tapestry and our friends, for partner congregations and farmers, and our thanks to God for the care and provision that is for each and every one of us. May God bless you today and every day.

(Please forgive me for not mentioning every name of everyone who has been so generous with Tapestry and with people through the ministry. I thank each and every one of you de todo corazon (with all of my heart).