Iraqi Bundles of Love 2.0

A few weeks ago I mentioned that there is a project underway that is surging fabric and sewing materials into the area around where a running blog friend of mine (Art) is serving in Iraq.
If you missed my previous post, the project is intended to help people who are just trying to get on with their lives-clothe their children, make a living, create something beautiful. And best of all, it is in a language without boundaries-the language of fibers. Art La Flamme started Iraqi Bundles of Love because he saw that local families were desperate for sewing supplies. In addition, sewing co-ops were in need of fabric and yarn. Luckily, Art knows a few fiber addicts at home in the US. Art’s wife, Kristin La Flamme, is an artist, sewist and blogger and many of his other family members are quilters. He knows that many of us have more fabric, yarn and notions than we need, and he also knows that when asked, we are happy to share. So he asked, and Iraqi Bundles of Love was born.
The Iraqi Bundles of Love project has gathered steam and what started as a trickle has turned into a flood. My friend is in a position to make things happen, so the team handling things in Iraq has just been granted a van and warehouse to handle the logistical requirements that have resulted! Art has proudly labelled this new phase IBOL 2.0!
Friends of the project have also responded and made it even easier to contribute. A fabric store business has gone as far as setting up a website offering Bundles of Love at cost for the project. For $15, including shipping, Sew, Mama, Sew will send a bundle on your behalf (see details at http://sewmamasew.com/blog2/?p=927).
In an effort to tie this back into running, let me add that Art is also a marathon runner, currently training in the sands of Iraq for the Honolulu Marathon. His blog offers some insight on the challenges of training in a less than friendly environment. It’s a good read, I highly recommend it!

God was too busy…so he sent me!

A friend of mine, who’s son is serving in a dangerous part of the world, sent this to me. I imagine it is not true, but it appealed to me:
“If you don’t know GOD, don’t make stupid remarks!!!!!!
A United States Marine was attending some college courses between assignments. He had completed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan . One of the courses had a professor who was an avowed atheist, and a member of the ACLU.
One day the professor shocked the class when he came in. He looked to the ceiling and flatly stated, GOD if you are real then I want you to knock me off this platform. I’ll give you exactly 15 min.’ The lecture room fell silent. You could hear a pin drop. Ten minutes went by and the professor proclaimed, ‘Here I am GOD, I’m still waiting.’
It got down to the last couple of minutes when the Marine got out of his chair, went up to the professor, and cold-cocked him; knocking him off the platform. The professor was out cold.
The Marine went back to his seat and sat there, silently.
The other students were shocked and stunned, and sat there looking on in silence. The professor eventually came to, noticeably shaken, looked at the Marine and asked, ‘What in the world is the matter with you? ‘Why did you do that?’
The Marine calmly replied, ‘GOD was too busy today protecting America ‘s soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid stuff and act like an idiot.. So He sent me.’
The classroom erupted in cheers!”

Iraqi Bundles of Love

A long time reader of my blog, that is serving our country (USA) proudly in Iraq, is playing a key role in a new short-duration project called “Iraqi Bundles of Love”. Contributors can be anyone that has sewing / quilting supplies laying around and the desire to share some of their stash. Details can be viewed on the website created for informational purposes at:
http://ibol.wordpress.com/
Here is the introduction from the website:
“Iraqi Bundles of Love is a short-duration project, set to last about six weeks (around Sept. 7, 2009), to surge fabric and sewing materials into the area around which I live in Iraq. It is timed to coincide with both Ramadan, and the departure of my units from Iraq.
It is intended to be a simple project, requiring little effort and little expenditures from those wishing to participate. It is based upon my assessment that sewing fanatics and quilters tend to have stashes that far exceed their actual needs, and that sewing fanatics and quilters are passionate both about sewing / quilting, and about sharing with others.
The general premise is this. I am in Iraq, and I can get mail through the US Postal System. Willing contributors can send to me a flat-rate box of sewing / quilting supplies, all bundled up. I’d open the box, pull out the fully-contained bundle, and hand of off (with others) to our counterparts in the Iraqi Security Forces (Army and others) or the local police, for them to distribute. The stated intent of this operation is to put sewing and quilting supplies into the hands of two types of recipients: locals who desperately need such things, and local sewing co-ops who have received grants or loans (typically to puchase sewing machines, rent space, etc).
That is it, in a nutshell. I owe you more on how this came to be, on ideas, on things to do and things not to do. And some links. Drop me a comment. Let’s do this.”

p.s. Since the introduction was written the program has expanded to include non-US participants, details are on the website.

A Short Story: Breakfast at McDonald’s

I was reading this supposedly true story this morning…in any case it is something to think about:
I am a mother of three (ages 14, 12, 3) and have recently completed my college degree. The last class I had to take was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely inspiring with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with. Her last project of the term was called, ‘Smile.’
The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions.
I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say hello anyway. So, I thought this would be a piece of cake, literally.
Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonald’s one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special playtime with our son.
We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did. I did not move an inch…. an overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved. As I turned around I smelled a horrible ‘dirty body’ smell, and there standing behind me were two poor homeless men.
As I looked down at the short gentleman, close to me, he was ‘smiling’. His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of God’s Light as he searched for acceptance.
He said, ‘Good day’ as he counted the few coins he had been clutching.
The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally challenged and the blue-eyed gentleman was his salvation.
I held my tears as I stood there with them. The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted.
He said, ‘Coffee is all Miss’ because that was all they could afford. (If they wanted to sit in the restaurant and warm up, they had to buy something. He just wanted to be warm).
Then I really felt it – the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes. That is when I noticed all eyes in the restaurant were set on me, judging my every action.
I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray. I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue-eyed gentleman’s cold hand.
He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, ‘Thank you.’
I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, ‘I did not do this for you.. God is here working through me to give you hope.’ I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son.
When I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, ‘That is why God gave you to me, Honey, to give me hope.’ We held hands for a moment and at that time, we knew that only because of the Grace that we had been given were we able to give. We are not church goers, but we are believers.
That day showed me the pure Light of God’s sweet love.
I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with this story in hand. I turned in ‘my project’ and the instructor read it. Then she looked up at me and said, ‘Can I share this?’
I slowly nodded as she got the attention of the class.
She began to read and that is when I knew that we as human beings and being part of God share this need to heal people and to be healed.
In my own way I had touched the people at McDonald’s, my son, the instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a college student. I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn:
UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE.
Next time you are around people and see a need I hope you will remember to:
LOVE PEOPLE AND USE THINGS – NOT LOVE THINGS AND USE PEOPLE.

Smile

This short film on youtube called “Validation” mesmerized me. If we applied these “validation” techniques to our interactions with others, our world would certainly be different. The lead actor in the short film is TJ Thyne, the chemist on Bones.
SMILE

I am in the InSane AsyLum…

I called my wife yesterday and told her I was in the Insane Asylum…and feel so at home, or as one of the main dudes there put it:
“Jack, at last you have found refuge, a place you can call home, where the Insane can feel Sane again, and once again be treated like a normal human being.”
My wife didn’t understand…do you?
Maniac #1334 (Silver)
Ich habe gestern meine Frau angerufen und gesagt das ich war in der Nervenheilanstalt…und habe mich so zuhause gefühlt, oder als eins von der Häuptling hat gesagt:
„Jack, du hast endlich ein Schutzgebiet gefunden, ein Platz, den Sie nach Hause benennen können, wo die verrückt, vernünftig fühlen kann und wird wie eine Normal Mensch behandelt werden.”
Meine Frau hat das nicht verstanden…und du?
Maniac #1334 (Silber)

Tears

I’m kind of down today…I’ve been a bit of a pain in the neck to a couple people close to me and I worry about the outcome. I was thumbing through some poems that my mom wrote, this seemed to stand out:
Tears
by Rosemary Niles
We wish for happiness and joy all along the way.
But, there has to be tears, tears of sorrow and of grief.
Missing friends and loved ones, longing for relief.
Tears of frustration, not knowing what to do.
Tears of sadness when someone turns away from you.
Tears and fear knowing these are the last days.
There are so many who need to come to you.
Tears soften our hearts and prepare us to hear from you.
The Bible says God shall wipe away their tears.
Then and only then our hearts will be filled with joy to stay.
What a wonderful, glorious day!

A Christmas Greeting

I was thinking about a Christmas greeting last night to lead into the Christmas celebration and came across this in a blog that I read from Ron & Jane Ann Richmond- Ron and Jane Ann are currenlty serving as missionaries in Tanzania. Somehow this touched my heart in a special way and I would like to share it with you:
What if the spirit of Christmas could live within our hearts every day of the year?
If, as Herod, we fill our lives with things, and again with things; if we consider ourselves so unimportant that we must fill every moment of our lives with action, when will we have the time to make the long, slow journey across the desert as did the Magi? Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds? Or brood over the coming of the child as did Mary? For each one of us, there is a desert to travel. A star to discover. And a being within ourselves to bring to life. unknown author
Perhaps the Christmas spirit, like the nature of the Beloved, is meant to be a Holy Mystery. Perhaps the Christmas spirit is our souls’ knowledge that things, no matter how beautiful, are only things; that we were created, not always to do, but sometimes simply to be. Perhaps the Christmas spirit is a loving reminder that we must make time for the long, slow journey across the desert; we must take time to discover our star; we must honor the time necessary to brood over the coming of the person we were created by Love to become. It has been said many times that our lives are gifts from God-that what we do with them is our gift in return.
Christmas is the perfect day to remember this.
God’s blessing!

Goodbye Mom, we will miss you dearly!

As a long distance runner I know how quickly our conditions change during a race, we can go from feeling good to barely walking in minutes. Sometime life has similar surprises, as was the case with my mother today. Yesterday she was talking and smiling, this morning she was still talking, smiling and dozing off every few minutes. This afternoon at 3:47 she closed her eyes for the last time and drifted off quietly for her final rest in Jesus’ arms. We will miss you dearly mom!