Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 272 - Pete Russo

Did you know Pete Russo?

He was a simple man. That term in today's society sounds so negative. But it's not and we should all strive to be simple like the Russo's. Pete and his wife Linda were Martin's youth leaders. The two of them spent countless hours devoting their lives to people - and teenagers at that. A self-proclaiming hater of teenagers this man prayed, counseled, taught, fought and goofed off with them for years. Then they didn't just let the teenagers move on - they stayed a part of their young adults lives and was able to see many of them grow to have their own children.

Pete died today after a long battle with cancer. He was young by the world's standards, 64. It's very comforting to know God had his days on this earth numbered before he took a breath on that April day in 1946. He had them numbered before the foundation of this world.

I was introduced to the Russo's when I was friends with Martin at Word of Life Bible Institute. It was during Snow Camp and Martin asked me meet some people from his church. I think the conversation began with Pete saying, "So why in the world would you want to hang out with this guy?" And, I was hooked.

When Martin's grandparents weren't able to make it down to Tennessee for our wedding, Martin asked the Russo's to stand in as his grandparents (although they were way too young for it). We were honored to have them there. And my family, especially my mother fell in love with them.

After Martin and I were married, we moved to Vineland, NJ and started working with the youth at Faith Bible. Pete and Linda, head youth leaders at the time, took us out to eat (Chinese buffet - they knew the love of my heart, they actually shared it). They asked us questions and listened to the two newlyweds talking about how they were going to change the world (we were fresh out of Bible college, cut us some slack). Pete simply said, "We need to de-Word of Life you guys." Pete loved Word of Life so we were very confused and offended by this statement. We argued with him until it was time to go up for more food.

Years later I finally understood what he meant by that statement. We didn't need to change the world, that was God's job, we just needed to live for Him. See what I mean about being simple? Because of their simple lives, God has done radical things through this couple. These are a few things I have learned from them:

1. Invest. The Russo's never had a huge house. They lived in the country of South Jersey. Instead of working too much, they invested in people's lives. They spent the majority of the week with other believers in Christ.

2. Love on your family. Do you know the Russo family? They all live around Pete and Linda's house. I like to call it the Russo Holler. There is never a day when you can't see a granddaughter running through the woods to visit their house. Pete and Linda have two sons who are following in their dad's footsteps. They love God, love others, and are living simply. God made two totally different boys who He's brought to his Son Jesus in two totally different ways. They have two wives that are equally different and amazing and both have special places in my heart. These families are investing in others.

3. Don't complicate life. Pete lived out loud. You always knew where he stood. He could be completely politically incorrect but you never wondered what was going on his heart. Some didn't like that. I think it's because his honesty made you look at yourself and examine why you were keeping things hid away in your heart.

I hope I haven't portrayed Pete Russo as a Super-Saint. He would yell at me for that. I hope I haven't portrayed a man who loved others more than God, because he didn't. I hope you have learned from him too. From missions trips, to hunting trips with his sons and granddaughters; from completely terrible jokes to crying when he would find out that one of his youth kids walked away from the teaching of Christ, Pete Russo was a disciple of the Most High God. And he got to meet his Savior today. Lucky duck.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 269 - Let's Be Honest

Let's be honest, shall we? Some days I miss not being able to be pregnant. Some days I wonder what it would be like to have a baby from the moment God makes him in my belly all the way to the end. But those are just some days. I think God has been very merciful in taking away the strong desire to birth a baby. I've been able to mourn that hope but at the same time (and I don't expect many to get this) keep that hope alive because God can do what He wants and if that's putting a baby in my belly then so be it. I won't stop praying for that but my biggest desire is that He will give me the desire and strength to purposefully give Him glory in all things.

I read a blog the other day (surprise, surprise) that talked about how many people give and willingly accept the "savior complex" when it comes to adoption. I hope that I never portray that to others and it can only happen if I don't let that seed of pride take root in my heart. I am not doing something better than those who have babies through the belly. I am just doing what I think God called Martin and I too. So it's hard to explain because it's deeper than us wanting children and doing anything to get them but at the same time we aren't the saviors of the children that we will (Lord willing) one day adopt. I don't want others to think we are doing something bigger than they are. The comparison game is an evil one to play. I play it on so many levels then slug my sorry self back to the cross, remembering that we all deserve hell and that's it, outside the work Jesus did on the cross.

So if I may be honest and frank (why does frank get to be a proper noun and an adjective?), I think we all desire for something more. Something different. Something radical. We all want to make a difference in this world whether we know Christ or not. It's what we do with that desire that is the biggie. Outside of Christ, our works are like the grossest of garbage. But inside of Christ when we do something, we purposefully glorify Him. He'll be glorified no matter what, but when we are purposeful we get to join in that. That's good stuff. Good, good stuff.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 263 - Trying to Trim Down

Wow, time flies. This will be a longer post (mainly because there are pictures - that always makes it look longer - just keep telling yourself that).

First, I wanted to put pictures on for my mother. I was a matron-of-honor at a dear friend's wedding this past weekend. Christine was a beautiful bride! The whole weekend (starting Thursday night) was a whirlwind but it was so much fun. Martin was away and although we were sad he had to miss the wedding, I was able to focus on my duties and hopefully met Christine's expectations. Here are a few:

Above is her sister-in-law Pamela (brother Bryan's wife) and I with Christine.

Jayme took a picture for Martin after the ceremony.

I LOVED my hair! This is at the end of the night. I loved the "messy" look.

Not the best picture in the world but this is me singing "Oh the Deep Deep Love" while the rest of the wedding party and family prayed over Christine and David.

Moving on:::

Last time I wrote I talked about what a funk I had been in. I really do allow my joy to be based on my circumstances. And I am trying to work on that. I see how amazing God comes through when I am in need of everything from Him. And I miss it (although He continues to provide) when I'm busy or not "needing" Him. I read in someones blog this week about when they were in Sudan earlier this month she needed to rely on God for every breath. Every step. Every word. But here in the states, she can easily sit at her dining room table and read her Bible then get up and go throughout the whole day without giving what she read another thought. It makes it so evident that we don't live radically. We live very safe. Blah. I hate that but yet I love it because I do it more than not.

So, I am trying to trim down on our finances. BIG bills are going to be due soon with our adoption and I want to stay home, at least part time, in a few years when (if) God allows me to become a mom so I need to start living like that now. But I must admit, it's very hard and it's quite time consuming. And I've only been doing it for two days.

Don't judge me for my last sentence. I know I sound like a baby. It's only because I am. Yesterday I went to our local wholesale club, BJ's. It was after work and I was quite excited to have my dinner by walking by all the sample booths. To my utter distress, there was only one sample booth set up and I walked by about ten times and the sample was still in the microwave. I instantly decided I would not be buying that demo item (I never do but please don't tell them that). Anything that has to be in the microwave that long other than hot water to loosen the splattered food (and even that) is not worth eating. I don't feel like I bought a lot of things. I got deli meat for next week, chicken breast, steak, breadcrumbs, raspberries, Greek yogurt, string cheese, shredded cheese, a french baguette, and a pair of Calvin Klein slacks for Martin ($16.99 - what a steal!). It was over $125. I guess I need to reevaluate my priorities. Like boneless chicken breast. I pay a lot not deal with the bones. And steak. Maybe frozen Bubba burgers are the only "steak" I should buy. And french bread. Probably should stick to American. And shredded cheese. I can simply shred my own cheese and it will help tone my arms too. Bonus!

Anyway, I debated whether or not to go to Wal-Mart. I didn't need a lot of things. I could have simply stopped at Target. It was in the same complex as BJ's. But, I recently read a great article in Fortune magazine about the Wal-Mart CEO and all the things he's doing with the company. It warmed my heart, mainly because I am a firm believer in capitalism and Wal-Mart is the true example of capitalism, so even though I have a love/hate relationship with it - they get their items for cheap so I can get my items for cheap (love) yet they pay their employees very little (hate), I still go because it's really all about me. So I went about 10 minutes away to Wal-Mart. I have found a quiet Wal-Mart. It is built about five miles from a loud Wal-Mart and I just enjoy it so much better.

Like I said earlier, I didn't need a lot of things. I walked down each isle. (Side note: not sure why they put the frozen foods up front. Are we supposed to start shopping from the back? Is that the plan? They need arrows like Ikea has if so.) I needed breadcrumbs (yes, I know I just bought some - I needed real breadcrumbs - I bought Panko breadcrumbs at BJ's), alfredo packets (thank you Jayme), Pepperidge Farm wheat crackers, and a dessert mix for Martin's "Welcome Home - I missed you more than a kid at fat camp misses cake" dinner. I got to the packets first. I looked for several minutes (fine, it seemed like minutes - it was seconds) for alfredo packets. Then I saw on the top shelf, an empty spot. I looked at the label below and it said "McCormick's Alfredo Packet." I guess the word got out it was better than fresh Alfredo sauce because they were plum out. Next, I went down the dessert isle. Martin loves peanut butter and I love chocolate so I got Reese's no bake dessert. It has the calorie content of three days in a small square but worth it. Then, breadcrumbs. Never found them. And here's my thinking around that - Wal-Mart is a southern store. Most southern people don't bake breaded chicken. They fry it so the idea of buying breadcrumbs and not flour is foreign to them. That's something Wal-Mart needs to work on - knowing what Yankee's like too. Because we southerners are much better at adapting to them than they are to us - trust me. The last thing on my list were the crackers. By this time I'm a little upset. I have been up and down almost every isle in the food section avoiding the customers that put their frozen foods in their carts first and are rushing around trying to finish shopping before their ice cream becomes simply cream. I get to the cracker isle and after looking behind almost every Pepperidge Farm box, I concluded that southerns must not eat wheat crackers either.

I thought about complaining but remember my statement earlier about the employees not getting paid a lot - that kinda backfires on you when you want to complain. They simply do not care. So I put my dessert away and left. Went to Target, and laughed when they too didn't have the crackers and the alfredo sauce mix.

So, see? It is hard! If I wasn't concerned about trimming down, I would have gone to Shop-Rite and gotten everything there. I know they have it all (except skim milk that doesn't expire before the weekend - but that's another story).

But I will not give up. I will continue on this journey of trimming down. I will succeed. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day.