End of an Era

I got the following e-mail today from Lucy:
While it pains me even to write this, I can’t leave you all in the dark.

The Fat Mannequin is gone. The store is closed. Empty. The Fat Mannequin is no more.

I’m sorry to have dropped this bomb on you.

Let’s all just take a moment of silence, and hum a verse of kum ba yah

While Fat Mannequin won't be there to greet me when I return, I know he'll be there in spirit.


Hey, You

We're all friends here, right? I can be honest with you? I can share my fears and you won't judge? You won't give me trite advice and write me off, right?

Joan told me yesterday that she feels like Angie and I are about to have all the money we need and I really want to believe her. I mean, I already believe that God wants us to go to Iraq and I believe that now is the time. I believe it at about 80%. It fluctuates. Sometimes I believe it 100%, but then reality strikes.

I've been calling and e-mailing trying to drum up support and nobody's biting. It will take a miracle to make this happen.

But I have a secret. I don't believe in miracles. I mean I believe the ones in the Bible, and I believe the stories about what happened to other people, but, come on, they just don't happen to most of us.

I remember that I prayed for a miracle for Aunt Che and she just got worse to the point that I had to pray for her to die to end her suffering. That's just not fair.

I remember that I prayed for a miracle when Grandma Rosie was in the hospital. You know how that turned out?

So, here's how I think this will go based on past experience: We won't get the money. We won't go on March 9. I'll suck it up and plow ahead like I always do and a year from now I'll talk about how it was probably better that we didn't go and how I must have misheard God's voice. I'll advocate that everyone is cautious and prayerful and fasts before making decisions. I'll talk about how this "other thing" is so much better than the thing I want so desperately right now.

It won't be fair, but I guess that's how this game is played. I mean my dad died and I've convinced myself that my life turned out better because of it. This should be a piece of cake to sugar-coat.

Or maybe I'm wrong and everything will turn out fine. Maybe God will hear my cry of desperation.

And I know there are spiritual things that I don't understand, but there are earthly things that I do and all I know is that I am tired of sucking it up and moving on. I don't want to do that this time.

But I will. I'll come to my senses again maybe on March 10 and I'll put on my brave face and find another way forward.

But it'll break my heart.


Dessert is Fun

Arrrgh! Angie and I are in the process of support raising as many of you know.

And I HATE it. I have heard all the positive arguments (I even believe most of them): we're allowing others to partner in the work, we are offering others the opportunity to be givers, we are spreading knowledge about little-known people.

But the fact remains that everytime I pick up the phone to call someone I feel like I am soliciting them for cash. I feel like they'll all say no and be mean to me to boot. I feel as though I am putting them in a terrible position where they'll have to say no and feel guilty and then hate me because I put them in that postition.

Rational? No. Has anyone been mean to me, yet? No.

Convential wisdon suggests that the process should get easier with each phone call, but I think it's worse. Each good response statistically means that the odds of a terrible call increase. Probably exponentially even. Who knows since I've already ceded any basis in logic.

I like to think of myself as a rather capable and rational individual, but this pushes me right over the edge. My nerves have pushed me to make lists and plans and databases for information all in an attempt to put structure to my nightmare - and, yes, I know that's a little melodramatic.

The upside is that in this process of structuring/procrastinating I found a really fantastic tool which lets me track contacts, supporters, tasks and other things. Nerds should check out CivicSpace. I've put together a really awesome website for Angie and I, but it's invite only for security reasons, so I can't post it here publicly. I think everyone who reads this knows how to get ahold of me, and I'll be happy to send you the link if you ask. But only of you ask nicely.

All that to say that we are calling our contacts (efficiently listed on our CivicSpace site) to invite them to a series of dessert meetings over the next two weeks (and by "series" I mean everyday at 7pm for two weeks). At these meetings we'll talk about the work in Iraq, the great things that are happening and, of course, how one can partner with us in the work. Yes, we will pass the figurative hat at each meeting.

And I will try to do all of this with all the confidence and positivity that I can muster because even more than I want to save myself from embarrassment and discomfort, I want to go back to Iraq.

Pray for us!



I was going through a friends posts on his blog and I found the following. I am posting it here as text rather than giving the link because I haven't asked whether he'd mind if I did that. I also haven't asked him yet whether he minds if I copy and paste it here, so I'll leave it anonymous until I do so.

Honestly, I'm a little afraid he might say no and it's too good not to share it, so here it is (for now, at least):

One afternoon about a week and a half ago, I went for a walk. As I looked up at the sky, and at the mountains and trees around me, I thought about God's greatness.

God is not in a hurry. He has the world completely under control, and as his creation shows, he is amazingly wise, incredibly powerful, supremely creative, and deeply benevolent. He has his own plans, which move along at exactly the right pace. Certainly, he is more than capable of handling me and my problems, so small next to the vastness of the universe, and of handling the rest of his children as well. Slowly but surely, he continues to bring me closer to Christ-likeness. He punishes me, speaks to me, teaches me, reminds me, and gives me strength at just the points I need it. Yet still, I have a choice in the matter, and he doesn't force me. I can, it seems, delay the process and mess things up by my own folly and failures. Yet still he is patient with me. He does not treat me like a dog, but as his child.

Why does he lavish so much attention and care on us humans? You'd think that, with a whole universe to take care of, he'd turn to something or someone bigger, smarter, or more powerful. And he does care for these. Yet we seem to be the center of his attention.

I'd like to meet this God. Even though I'm sure I wouldn't be able to handle it at this point, I want to see him someday. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8

Furthermore, I want to be able to offer him something -- to say, "Look. I did something useful with my life, with what you gave me." And I want to be able to share the joy of life with God with at least a few other people, and see them in the throne room when I get there.

No hurry, but don't waste any time, either!

Though God is in control, and apparently nothing surprises him, he can still become sad or angry. He is saddened by the things humans do to each other, by the foolish choices we make, and by the blessings we miss as a result. When an individual or group persists in disobedience, he can become angry. Still, he is in no hurry, but brings judgment at the proper time.

Such patience is almost incomprehensible to us human beings, with our short lifespans and shorter tempers. Yet as his children, he calls us to be like him, and to see things from the eternal perspective.

Thinking about all this helped me calm my thoughts, which were in a bit of a turmoil earlier that day.

I guess this is where patience comes from -- the knowledge that God is in control, and that he is working out his plans for our good at his pace.

The Other Iraq

60 Minutes did a story tonight about Kurdistan. Check it out here.


Just $15 a Month

Today, Angie and I compiled all of our contacts onto a single spreadsheet to streamline the fundraising process. Everyday we get closer to March 9, so we have to get even more serious about getting our funds together.

The important thing here is that if everyone we know could commit to just $15/month, we'd hit 100% for the first year! And then (for various reasons) our costs go down for any subsequent time there. So maybe $10 or less for the rest of our time there.

I know it's unlikely that everyone can give, but it certainly makes the task of fundraising seem easier! It's a huge sigh of relief.

Except that now we have to start making phone calls...


An Explanation....

What I meant by my last brief post is that the next scheduled training session for a team headed to Iraq with The Organization is scheduled for March 9, and I am slated to lead that team (which will be a continuation of the team I was on last year).

Are you with my so far?

That means that Angie and I are now trying to raise financial support so that we can head out as planned.

We started raising support in December for this trip, but, earlier this month, things seemed to be on hold. In fact, we had the impression that the team would be postponed. We were wrong! The team came together and now there are enough of us willing to go to Iraq.

God willing, we'll be headed to California in March and be in Iraq by the end of April. We'll be living in the same city in Iraq in which I lived last year, but in a different house. Unlike last time, we don't have to move anything from one city to another; we can just show up and settle in.

In addition to me and Angie, there are three guys coming to training in March. I'll call them Donnie, Gary and Carl. Keep them in your prayers, too. I know they've got to be a little apprehensive to move to Iraq for 6 months.

If you're interested in supporting us financially, let me know...




March 9th is on...



Good News: I got a job today!

Bad News:
It's temporary and doesn't start until late March.

Good News: The pay is good and the dress is casual.

Bad News: It's project-based and, therefore, intermittent.

Good News: There are offices across the country, so I can work anywhere there's a project.

Bad News: In Columbus, it's on Morse Rd.

Good News: Now that I'm hired, I can do projects whenever I want. Meaning, I can go to Iraq, come back and call 'em up to work the next project.

I'm really excited to be employed again.


All Moved In

Most of you know that Angie and I moved back to my old apartment. Most of you also know that Sis still lives there!

We're very happy that she let us move in (me - back in, of course). We decided that, if we plan to go to Iraq soon, we should move in that direction. So we sold alot of our stuff; the couches, the washer and dryer, the extra bed, etc. We brought all the stuff that we need and stored the things we wanted to keep, but don't use every day.

As much as I hate to move, it's nice to have fewer "things."

Yesterday, we had a lot of stuff left that we planned to take to the Salvation Army, but it was so cold that we didn't want to move any of it. So, Angie posted on Craigslist that we had free stuff. Within an hour, someone had come and taken it all away. It was awesome; no muss no fuss.

Oh, and we need at least two more people for our team to Iraq, so, if you know anyone, point them my way!