- Our chef was from '37 at Harrahs in Tunica and prepared a menu that was just unreal. Here's the rundown: Duck confit risotto with smoked duck breast and black port cherry sauce, Tomato tartar with greens and lemon vinaigrette, Cauliflower Bisque with lobster tail, Thyme crusted lamb with sauteed arugula and bordelaise, and Orange and lemon zest cookie with vanilla bean ice cream and candied macadamia nuts. Heaven.
- The LIVEr Champion this year was a woman named Amy Pollan whose husband, Benji, required a liver transplant due to Hepatitis C that he had contracted at two years old when he received a blood transfusion after a car accident. It wasn't diagnosed until he was 34. He got a transplant, the virus came BACK, he had more treatment, and they're still waiting to see if it will return again. They have two young children like Jay and I do, and it was great not only to hear their story, but to be able to thank them both personally for telling it.
- One of the major sponsors of the event was a 70-year-old retired bigwig from FedEx who received a liver last December. He was an inspiration to see. He had no problem cheering himself on and basking in the recognition he received for pouring a pile of his own money into the event. It looked like his whole transplant team was there, too. He hopped from doctor to doctor talking about how well he was feeling. It was great.
- Jay totally got pimped by the doctor who did Steve Jobs' liver transplant. It was a little annoying that he singled out Jay, who would like for people not to notice that he's a different color than everyone else, but it was still slightly cool to shake hands with the guy who replaced Steve Jobs' liver.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
While it is true that systems that oppress the poor must be challenged to achieve any lasting escape from poverty, even righting all of the systemic wrongs in a community does not automatically liberate the poor from their shackles. There are other, more subtle factors at play. After decades of entrenched material poverty, many communities suffer from poverty of spirit as well. They have lost faith in themselves and given up after too many heartbreaks and disappointments. My World Vision colleague Jayakumar Christian calls this the 'marred identity' of the poor. After a lifetime of exclusion, exploitation, suffering, and want, they no longer see themselves as people created in God's image with creativity, potential, and worth. They have lost the last thing that can be taken from them--hope.He also says this:
There is no space here to do justice to all of the various theories on why people are poor and how they can move toward wholeness, but it is important for you to understand that poverty is highly complex and that there are no simple and quick fixes. And when we prescribe one particular 'pill' because we see just one particular symptom, the poor never seem to get well. In fact, they find themselves gulping down handfuls of pills prescribed by too many would-be doctors with too little real understanding of their lives. The poor are not lab rats on whom we can experiment with our pet theories; they are human beings with rich cultural and personal stories of their own. They have hopes and dreams, tragedies and triumphs in their lives. They need us to love them first and then listen to them. They need us to see their assets and their God-given abilities. Mother Teresa once said, 'When we see [those in poverty] as God sees them, we will glimpse His image in their faces--Christ in His most distressing disguise.'
Friday, March 18, 2011
- The total income of American churchgoers is $5.2 trillion dollars.
- It would take just a little over 1 percent of the income of American Christians to lift the poorest one billion people in the world out of extreme poverty.
- American Christians, who make up about 5 percent of the Church worldwide, control about half of global Christian wealth.
- If every American Christian paid his or her tithe, we would have an extra $168 billion to spend in funding the work of the Church worldwide.
- Less than 40 percent of the $168 billion (only $65 billion) could eliminate the most extreme poverty on the planet for more than a billion people.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
- The new running shoes that I was going to buy as I train for my first 5K. The race is the Saturday after Easter, so I will probably forgo them altogether since it's probably not a good idea to run 3 miles in shoes that aren't broken in.
- Haircut, eyebrow wax, and pedicure I was going to get in anticipation for the Flavors of Memphis event on March 27. Good thing I haven't given Molly her dress back from the last Flavors event. ;) Maybe I should do that. I don't like this much. My hair is dry and split and desperately needs a trim. My eyebrows are neanderthal, and my feet are not pretty. The dinner was going to be my excuse to do all of that. Not anymore! In fact, the only reason I'm allowing myself that one luxury meal is because we already paid for it.
- Books, books, and books. I would love to have these books that I found on Simple Mom's recommended reading list, and my friend Sarah also recommended a great-sounding book called Chasing Francis. But those will have to wait. Jay asked last night if I could accept gifts, but I think that goes against the spirit of what I'm trying to do.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
On Christ the King Sunday last year, my pastor took a quick detour to the Parable of the Talents, where he asked us to consider that maybe the servant who buried the talent was the most faithful of the three. When the youth group was discussing it that evening, they characterized it as “Sticking it to The Man,” which I thought was pretty accurate. Ever since then I have had an ache in my heart, wondering how—and if—I ever Stick it to The Man. Or if I just ignore the parts of the Bible where Jesus calls us to be completely countercultural. Where he calls us to sacrifice everything (no, really, everything) to follow him. Where he calls us to abandon anything (Right. Anything) that keeps us from giving our hearts fully to him. Or if I am just like everyone else, Christian or non-Christian, who lives in relative comfort, not really rocking the boat, not really doing anything that screams, “Jesus is my Lord! I trust Jesus ALONE! Not money! Not stuff! Not anything else! Just Jesus!”
And I have to conclude that, really, there’s nothing about my life that says, “Look, I’m following a radical teacher who tells me that I have to be willing to give up everything to follow him.” Nope. There’s really nothing that much different about me, except that I go to church several times a week and really think there’s no better way to talk theology than over a beer (because really, there isn’t). I’m good at talking theology. But my life is not radical.
I started thinking more about this radical obedience to Jesus when my youth did the 30-Hour Famine for World Vision. Then I started reading Richard Stearn’s book The Hole in Our Gospel. He’s the president of World Vision and has an incredible story to tell. He says that the hole in our gospel is that we skip over the part where Jesus tells us that whatever we’ve done to the least of these, we’ve done to him. And when we’ve turned our backs on the least of these, we’ve turned our backs on him too. And then my friend Jason posted this, which just made me sick to my stomach.
For these last months I have felt this ache in my heart, this unsettled feeling that there is something more to my life, to my family’s life, than this complicit participation in a world where 10 million children die in Africa each year because of preventable diseases. Where children in our own country look forward to getting their school breakfast on Monday morning because they’ve had nothing to eat since lunch on Friday. How dare I call myself a follower of Jesus in the midst of my own comfort and complacency.
During the next 40 days of Lent I will be doing what I’ve dubbed, “First World Subsistence Living.” During Lent I will only be consuming what I need. I will not buy clothing, home improvement “stuff,” cosmetics, Living Social/Groupon/SnagMob deals, or anything else that isn’t essential. I will not radically change the kinds of foods I consume, but I will be eating only what I need to eat. No desserts, no lattes, no snacks, nothing rich/decadent. If I go to restaurants I will eat simply: salads, small portions, etc. On Saturdays, when I usually allow myself to eat whatever I want without worrying about calories…I will fast from sunup to sundown. Someone asked me tonight how I will know what’s “nonessential” and my answer is that I will be accountable to myself. I will approach each situation with intentionality, keeping in mind the spirit of what I’m doing and why.
I trust that during this journey, which will also include lots and lots of prayer and scripture reading, I will have a clearer picture of how I (and my family) am to respond to the upside-down-world call of Jesus.
I’ll let you know how that works out.