Friday, December 14, 2007

Angelika, Kim, & Inés-- cute elves!

Cuz we've "got've never seen". (julia roberts quote)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Salaam alaykum- peace unto you....

I think it's amazing that in the Sermon of the Mount (Matthew 5), "blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God...." is the only "blessing" where you are identified with the most High as His child. In every other one you get something in return (for yourself), e.g., "blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted". Being identified with God brings consequences. Peacemakers are right in the middle of the conflicts making peace, and sometimes, that comes with struggle. Peacemakers are not peacekeepers, you can't keep something that's not there! like the blue U.N. helmets during the Rwanda genocide who had guns, but couldn't shoot the enemy who was shooting women & children--these are called "peacekeepers" in that realm. Making peace is a whole other animal, and spiritually, how do you *make* peace where there is none? That only comes if you bring in the Prince.
I was bothered with the news this morning that a man boarded a subway in New York, exclaimed "happy hannukah everyone!", and another passenger yelled something along the lines of, "you killed Jesus you *bad word* Jew!", followed by about 10 other people who beat him up. Why do crazy people do stupid things like this?
A: the violent passenger is nowhere near being a follower of Christ with that kind of attitude.
B: IF he thinks he is, check the Matthew verse AGAIN.
C. Can some Christians from New York please call that Jewish family & show them some love, support, & respect?

No Christ, no peace.
Know Christ, know peace. (bumper sticker I saw a few years ago).

So I add:
Know Christ, make peace, child.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Kim's making me answer these introspective questions

1) What did you accomplish this past week?
I hung the Austrian & Swaziland flags in our missions corner, finally (oops, sorry, I meant to say Rob hung them becuz I don't climb scaffolding); I advanced planning on the missions conference, I babysat my five (5) siblings, I brought my lunch to work and lost 3 lbs doing so, I translated documents, I babysat the 5 again, I cleaned my inbox down to 3 emails from 50 something, I had meetings & survived them, I cleaned house, did laundry, cooked some, I made my bed almost every day (which I hate), I ran errands, we celebrated my dad's 59th b-day at Cracker Barrel...

2) Did anything not go as expected?
I missed my Arabic class because my day got busy, how in the world will I ever learn to read those squiggly lines if I don't make it to class?

3) What was the highlight of your week?
I made it to worship rehearsal & had a rehearsal full of worship, it was SO refreshing! I haven't had time to sing with the team in like a whole year. Some say it's because *i sound flat* (inside joke). :-)

4) Did anything exciting happen that you did not expect?
I had to drive to Conway to meet with Kristi, a woman I'm trying to get to know better. I didn't expect to make it from Alexander to Conway in 30 minutes in the rain. I didn't expect to have such a relaxing drive listening to Classical music. You must really love God to drive 30+ minutes to go to church every Sunday! (in my personal opinion, and that's not a judgement if you drive less than 30 min. to go to church).

It's Angelika's turn now ;-)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Life without sugar...Day 3

The negative:
My head hurts.
Coffee doesn't taste nearly as good.
No more Cookies 'n Cream milkshakes from Chik-fil-A. :(
No Shakeys. :(

The positive:
I've overcome the temptation of a couple different cake offers.
My hands aren't sticky.
My teeth are healthier.
Other than a slight headache (probably due to low calorie intake today), I feel significantly better physically and emotionally.

The deal is that I woke up Sunday morning (Dec. 2) with the strange feeling that God was telling me to put down sweets for the month of December. Great timing, God! :) I have an insatiable affinity for all things sweet especially ice cream (anytime of year), homemade cakes, pies and cookies...oh yeah...and anything with the combination of chocolate and peanut butter. Seeing as how there will be LOTS of said food available this holiday season, I must put the brakes on before I get rolling. And by rolling, I mean a huge (huger) spare tire around my waist as well as a diminished self-image. Yes, guys struggle with that, too!

My fast guidelines
Not allowed: adding sugar to anything
(I'm a couple-of-teaspoons-in-my-
cup-of-coffee kind of guy),
sweets such as cookies, candy, cake, pie, ice cream, etc.
What is allowed: adding honey to my cup of tea, cereal and instant oatmeal that already contains sugar (because this is a self-control issue, not an oatmeal or cereal issue) :)

So here I am 3 days into my sugar/sweets fast, and everything seems ok, especially emotionally. I haven't felt any guilt that I normally associate with my somewhat regular impulsive splurges, and my energy level is good.

Ask me how I feel on Sunday. :)

In His grip,

Rob <><

Friday, November 30, 2007

Cotton, a YouTube celeb?

LOL! My dad's video Hang, Your Head Down Dooley has been viewed on YouTube 3,202 times!

If you haven't seen it, click here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Friday, November 09, 2007

~be moved by the MISERY~

Not a hand out, but a hand up. I heart sustainable-development worldwide! You give a family a goat, they raise it, milk it, sell the milk for income to get food and possibly an education for their kids, with the commitment that when that goat produces a baby goat, they will have to give it away to another family as a gift...and the circle of life continues!

I don't want anything for Christmas (if you were thinking of getting me something, maybe you weren't, but now you are....jaja!), but if you'd like to be moved by the misery and not just wish for "world peace", take action and buy a chicken, or goat, or bees, and give a family a gift for a lifetime! Just get me that sweater next year....

Visit my Heifer Project Holiday Gift Registry

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My 3rd grade teacher with the red hair...

If only I had followed my instinct when it told me to look her up in the yellow pages! I could've seen her one last time, hugged her and shown her pictures of us with 80's clothes at my piñata party. After 20 years of separation, 4 countries away, I came close to living only 35 minutes away from Mrs.Chesley, my most beloved American teacher from the 3rd grade... After hours of googling her name and calling her home in Hot Springs, my heart was giddy thinking of what I would say or how I would introduce myself! Would she remember me? The lady who lives in her house now, kindly returned my call and left a sad message, "I'm sorry but your 3rd grade teacher doesn't live here anymore." My heart sighed in disappointment. So I searched some more until I bumpbed into this article on page number 20-something for "joan chesley's". Tears welled up in my eyes at the finality of my efforts. I am so mad at myself for not doing this sooner.

Intered- The Journal of the Association for the Advancement of International Education-
Fall 2006, Vol 33, No.103

We Remember…

Mrs. Joan Chesley
Joan Chesley, 76, of Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, died May 23, 2006. Joan and her husband Dick spent many years as international educators and were active in AAIE as well as the regional associations. Their first posting out of the US was in Northern Nigeria, where
Dick served as visiting faculty from the University of Wisconsin. They then worked as educators in American international schools in Beijing, Addis Ababa, Monrovia, and Managua. They retired to Arkansas fifteen years ago and for a number of years continued to attend the AAIE conferences. She will be particularly remembered by the Africa bunch, as she and Dick were regulars at the AISA luncheon. Joan was born in Milwaukee, and she is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin. She is survived by husband Dick and children Emebet Chesley
of Redwood City, California and one son Christopher Chesley of MacFarland, Wisconsin, as well as four grandchildren and one great-grandson.

I adored Mrs. Chesley. I had never seen someone with bright red, short hair before. She was in her 50's, but walked quicker than any of us down the hall. Our 3rd grade classroom was bright, fun, creative, soothing, and inviting. She cared so much about each of us, her colorful bunch of students. She was the one that caught my mistake of the English words, "he" and "she"- I had the definitions backwards and was totally calling everyone the wrong gender! To this day sometimes I still make those mistakes when I'm tired and not paying attention to my ESL- haha.

Mrs. Chesley believed every one of her students would become leaders one day in one area or another. When I failed a simple math test and I was scared to death to tell my mom, she called my mom and had a meeting with her with an interpreter to assist her. She basically told her I was intelligent, but I daydreamed a lot and forgot to write down my homework. Embarrassing, again. Yeah- that night Inés was memorizing those multiplication tables like nobody's business, in Spanish, English, and any other language my mom decided to throw at me. ;-)

When I got a "C" in my Science test, Mrs. Chesley figured out that I was a visual learner and just didn't know how to study correctly so that things would stick. Again, she called my mom and told the interpreter, "tell her to make Inés memorize ALL the bold key words in the chapter, THAT'S what I'll be asking on the test." I still remember the picture and page setup for "fossil fuels" in my small science book.

My favorite part of the day was the Pillow Corner. Totally dude. If you finished your assignments for the day, you could go to this carpeted corner (no one had carpet in hot Nicaragua!). It was a rectangle carpet overflowing with our customized pillows and surrounded by small bookshelves. You couldn't talk to anyone, make noise, you just had to be still & quiet & rest. You could even sleep! Naps in school should be a rule. And books!!!! My favorite. I remember friends whispering & giggling when Mrs. Chesley wasn't looking- but if she looked, oh, she just had to look at you once, and you'd pretend to be asleep pretty quick.

When my mom died 3 years later- I remember her slender body walking up the hall from her 3rd grade classroom. She had seen my dad and I walk in front of her classroom on his way to drop me off to my 6th grade class. My life had been torn to pieces in the blink of an eye. I had lived the last 2 weeks medicated with sleeping pills and what other junk they gave me to calm me down. My dad walked hunched over, and the walk up to my 6th grade felt the longest of my life. I didn't want to face anyone- I just wanted to die. I missed my mom. I was jetlagged from the funeral in Spain. My dad never talked to me. And here came Mrs. Chesley, who hurried up the hall to give me a hug and to respectfully tell my father, "Mr. Velásquez, I'm sorry for your loss." I had never heard those words before- new vocabulary- that's what you say when someone dies I guess. For a fleeting second I wished I could turn back time, go to the Pillow Corner and just close my eyes, rest, and my only worry be to wait for the bell to ring so I could go home.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Our Rabbi has taught us to tell stories

I found this delicious & nutritious book titled, "Praying the Names of Jesus" by Ann Spangler (doesn't her last name remind you of the star-spangled banner?) Anyways. For a whole week she defines one of the names of Jesus, she tells stories, guides you thru Scripture, and teaches you to believe and pray in His name accordingly. This week has been the name: Rhabbi, Rabbouni, Teacher. I was thrilled to read the first sentence for today, especially after being catapulted into the boldness of the written word at the Fusion conference.

Ann writes, "Throughout my professional life, I have found myself coaching authors on the importance of storytelling, trying to convince them that showing is often more powerful than telling. Occasionally an author objects, fearing that telling stories will somehow "dumb down" his or her writing. But human beings crave stories, just as we crave art and music. Good stories compel us in ways that simple statements of fact or truth often do not. They connect to us at every level- emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Jesus was the last person to overlook the power of a story well told..." (page 142-143).

As a Nicaraguan, my ancestors told stories every day. Before there was any form of written storytelling, life was told from a grandma to a child, big sister to little sister, dad to son, and so forth. Sometimes it was thru song, thru chanting, thru the passing down of a family relic, thru the timing of when you plant your crops according to the moon cycles, thru a recipe on how to cook rice (I rinse my rice three times before I drop it in the hot oil, and my dad still argues with me that you're not supposed to rinse it at all (gross)- but, who spent time with grandma in the kitchen? 'nuff said). Stories are our life. Life is full of stories. Stories influence your life. Life influences your story.

So I'm going to tell you a story of faith via rice. :-) (Kim knows my story). My Tia Zela (aunt) was around 16 years old and was *asked* (dragged) by my abuela Sara (grandma) to come help cook for a pastor's conference at our church. The cultural context is this: our church ladies are very proud of racking up a good meal for the guys and serving the pastors and leaders was their gifting. Like every good Nicaraguan meal, it *has* to involve rice. So the big pot of white rice probably holding some 20 cups is ready. Someone lifts the top and a thick, round grandma with her white apron, stirs it with a long wooden spoon. She leans over the pot and digs the long spoon deep down to be sure the rice didn't stick to the bottom of the pot. As she lifts a spoonful out, rather than the rice falling down grain by grain, she gets clumps of white rice. The women know what that means. Too much water! the long white grains are hugging each other, like a team hug! This is embarrassing for them, they can't serve this rice to the pastors. So my abuela says, "sisters, let's pray". (don't laugh, she ain't joking). My aunt laughs though, and thinks quietly, "these women are crazy, we're going to pray for RICE?" So whoever stirred the pot and found the dreaded sticky rice that is unacceptable for the table, puts the top back on, as the others huddle and hold hands to pray. So they pray. Imagine some 10 brown, Nica ladies, sweating from being in the kitchen all morning, with the cutting boards and the knives resting & witnessing this prayer circle...The Amén is said. The top of the pot is lifted again. The spoon is dug in there. The rice is lifted and the grains of rice just fall down! no lumps, no stickiness. They praise & give thanks to the Lord! They hurry about, laugh at that real close call of embarrassment, and begin serving the beautiful white rice adorned with parsley and red/green bell peppers, along with some other form of meat, big hot corn tortillas, half of a yellow plantain.

When the pastors stand in line with their stomachs grumbling, they have no idea the real leadership conference happened in the kitchen! My aunt's mind, as she's helping serve the meal, is still wondering if she really saw what she saw- did that rice change after the prayer? Could it be God cares about....rice? He cares about everything! God cares about women. He cares about everything that women care about. He says if you have the faith of a mustard seed, you will tell the mountain of thick rice to move, and it shall move!


Friday, September 14, 2007

Would you sue the police department?

So, I'm cleaning house in preparation for family arriving tomorrow, when I hear two loud, "BAM! BAM!" outside in the neighborhood. I slowly walk to the window to look out but smart enough to not stick my head out. Could that be a really loud nail gun being used by the construction workers down the road? Then I hear it again, "BAM!" about 20 seconds after the first two. That doesn't sound like fireworks either- should I hit the floor? Now I'm worried, Rob has been out walking with his headphones on and it's been awhile. So I go out to see if anyone else is coming out of their house. Nothing moves, just a bird flies above me. So I go back in the house.

A few minutes later Rob comes in, sweating & agitated, "the police just shot a German Shepherd down the road! He had been menacing some construction workers and the police shot the dog with a huge shotgun!" My first instinct was, "was anyone hurt? [forget the dog!]" See, I was attacked and bit by a Doberman the size of a small cow when I was young, so I lean towards defending the humans. I couldn't believe it though! That's probably the most exciting thing that's happened in our neighborhood in the last 3yrs that involved the police- probably the most exciting thing in our small hole-in-the-state city this whole year! When Rob walked by, the construction workers were clapping and cheering that the dog was down. By the way, Rob never heard the shots (darn those ipods)- but he saw the men clapping and thought, "now why would they be doing that?" They stopped him and told him the scoop, and how one of them had to hit the dog with a bucket to defend himself.

I feel sorry for the dog, don't get me wrong, and sorry for the family when they get home and see their dog is gone (ouch). But as soon as Rob said what happened, I knew exactly what dog he was talking about. That dog is the reason I no longer go out walking/jogging in my neighborhood. He's mean, ugly, menacing, lived on the backyard without a fence, didn't like you walking by, and the chain that held him to his doghouse didn't make me feel safe (did I tell you the Doberman that bit me ALSO had a chain leash and he broke it and charged at me?). My legs would start shaking when I walked by and Rob would just laugh at me- if you've never been bit by a dog, you don't understand people! :-)

So I'm wondering now, do you think the family will sue our small town police department?

I might just take a walk this afternoon *sigh*.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ninja Roach Diaries...

The roaches (they are NOT water bugs you people!) have come out, once again, from below the building, out of their cozy sewage drains, to catch some fresh air and fan themselves from the heat. Last week- they had a pleasant encounter with Nancy, who amused one by spraying roach spray down the drain- not a good idea since there are no vents down below. They came out by the dozens (dads, moms, granma's on their wheelchair) and found comfort and refuge by flying onto someone's pant leg as he walked thru the office door-- a member of the board of directors for the Immigration Services guy who came for a meeting. Treopia, very diplomatically and hastily came over with a broom and said, "let me help you with that" and wacked it as the roach crawled up his very nice suit & tie attire. (Send more money to Steve, he can't even afford an exterminator! is what I wanted to say). We didn't stage this, by the way- it was all natural.

Today- another ninja roach was checking out Rob's hot legs from the wall. Rob tried to send it flying to the other side of the cubicle wall when it did a somersault and landed on his desk, in turn Rob did a somersault out of his cubicle and screamed (or squealed?). The roach ended that mission on the other side of the cubicle wall- just as the Channel 7 anchorwoman, Christina Munoz was taking a shot of....the Ninja Roach AND Cesar Ortega talking about the food pantry (hmmm- hygienic). Check out Channel 7 News at 5:00pm for a close up on....Cesar (this is for reals).

When you go to the restrooms, watch your step and where you place your.....nalgas. You never know when another Ninja Roach might be taking a leak or taking a swim to cool off the summer heat or teaching its babies swim lessons. I won't even tell you about another one who crawled up Alan's leg a few months ago and made him run into his office and take his pants off (I didn't see ANY of that at all). Next subject.....

The cheap way to deal with this? Ines had a bright idea and taped all 7 drains with transparent duck tape- it works, except when curious little kids decide to take the tape off.
more on the Ninja Roaches to come...


Friday, April 27, 2007

Don Carlos Fuentes me dijo...

I was the first one in line to have this elegant, diplomatic gentleman with a raspy voice like a grandfather, sign one of his books for me, The Crystal Frontier. He grabbed my new, crisp just-bought-it-at-the-bookstore book, opened it to the first page, and asked my name (in Spanish of course). "Inés" I barely replied, trying to say something intelligent but instead letting him lead with questions. Where are you from? he asked, never looking up from his quick writing. I managed, "I was born in Spain, but I grew up in Nicaragua." More quick writing and I can't read upside down. His black ink pen scratching the page. He finally looks up, smiles, closes and returns my book, shakes my hand, and I am still starstruck, his smiling mustache saying, "next in line". He's probably shaken thousands of hands- including the King and Queen of Spain when they gave him that literary award in the 70's.

I walk away. I wonder what he wrote? Our encounter didn't take more than 15 seconds. I could've said something! "I am a fan of your literary work. You inspire me. Can I hug you? [someone call security]" Anything would've been better than nothing. I flip to the first page. Curious. I am dumbfounded. In one word- he described the depths of me that I don't even know about myself. WOW! I stop walking and find instant "inspiration" to be disciplined in my writing (he had said in his lecture that he doesn't believe in inspiration for writing, but rather, discipline; he never makes excuses not to write. Ouch.) He landed me the title of my next (and first) book with a marvelous adjective next to my name: Transatlantic (one). I will have to dedicate it to him. I'll send him a signed copy one day, too. :-)

To Inés, the Transatlantic-one, Carlos Fuentes (signed in Little Rock, 2006)

A Inés, transatlántica, Carlos Fuentes...

(this post is dedicated to my friend, Kimberly Roth, for catapulting me into writing, again, after having a delicious Dulce de Leche latte at Starbucks accompanied by authentic conversation on a chilly evening in AR) I LOVE run on sentences.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Hey! Look! A new post! :)

I can't imagine anyone even stops by ye old anymore due to my lack of posting. But if you accidentally landed here, hello.

My,'s the middle of January in the year 2007! Very cool. I love the New Year as it brings a refreshed sense of vision, dedication to things lacking, and a clean slate do-over mentality all bringing more peace and anticipation as we move forward into the unknown future.

In the New Year, I have already developed a new obsession. It's called Financial Peace University.
What is FPU?
FPU is the most important step to changing your financial future. It is your Total Money Makeover Program. It takes the head knowledge from the books and the radio show and turns it into real action.

FPU is a 13-week, life-changing program that empowers and teaches you how to make the right money decisions to achieve your financial goals and experience a total money makeover.

Who is FPU for?

It's for EVERYONE from the financially secure to the financially distressed. Over 180,000 families and individuals have attended FPU at their workplace, church, military base, local nonprofit organization or community group.

On average these families have paid off over $5,300 in debt and saved $2,700 during this 91-day program!

This study has already re-written the McBryde Family future! One of my favorite new Bible verses is Proverbs 22:7.

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.So what does this mean? It means that I am slave to Sallie Mae Services until I get those stinkin' student loans paid off! Time to get busy killing some debt! :)

Anyone reading this post who has debt on a car, student loan, credit card, mortgage, or anything else should take a look at FPU. It has some really no nonsense strategies from getting rid of debt and building wealth.

You can ask my wife, I've become an FPU/Dave Ramsey fanatic. :) At least I'm using my OCD tendencies for good instead of evil. Ha ha ha

In other news, our new business website is up and running. Check out

Rob <><