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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year End...

Ok, Ok you harrassers! Here's my update!

2008 was a quite excellent year for me (but also so very challenging), in a lot of different ways. Here's the rundown:

Personal:
Highs
1. Top Chef/Project Runway Nights
2. McNellie's and Cranium, New friends, acceptance into a social circle and other new friends.
3. New Year's 08 in Chicago and the 4th in Tulsa.
4. An excellent small group where I am challenged, enouraged and supported far more than I feel I deserve.
5. An Alaskan Wedding Adventure with my very favorite sewardians and meeting Moose-tipping.
6. Colorado and VBS with Sarah Wright (and elitch gardens with the Spanish Teacher)
7. Sara Bareilles, Joshua Radin and Ingrid in concert.
8. Moving back into a one bedroom.
9. Prom for the sister, VBS with mi madre, and labor day with the other fam.
10. Learning how to cook well and often.
11. Obama winning the election and learning how to voice my opinions when everyone else seemed to think they were wrong.
12. Realzing that you don't always know who is going to be important to you.

Work:
1. A thriving growing middle school group full of giggly, goofy girls (who also make excellent movie companions to things like twilight, HSM3 and Kit Kittredge).
2. Ok'd in Christ
3. Middle School Trips to Youth Quake and Houston
4. The high school trip to Ohio (and spending some time at the aunt's house).
5. An excellent evaluation in November
6. Article writing for thesource and more forum moderating.
7. Experiencing the death of a youth and of a youth leader and learning to grieve privately and corporately.
8. Falling in love with teaching 6th graders and with the middle school group.
9. Watching my youth use their talents and gifts at youth led worship.
10. Seeing our church grow and move into a new and exciting ways.

More about Illinois, New Years, Jess's Wedding and other exciting adventures soon.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Favorite Things.

I totally jacked this idea from Ashley. :)

Here are my favorite things about the month of December/Christmas Time:

*All the goodies. Seriously, at what other time of the year is it acceptable to gorge yourselves on brownies, candy canes, chocolate, and figgy pudding?
*Being with family.
*Christmas Music. (Sufjan, Barenaked Ladies, Andrew Peterson, Sarah MacLachlan... I also watched this "Celtic Women Christmas concert" on PBS that I really enjoyed. I realize this makes me nerdy, but it was REALLY good.)
*Children's Christmas Programs
*Teaching the school kiddos about the reason why we have the decorations we do on our Christmas Tree.
*High School Christmas Party and drive-by caroling
*Middle School students "singing" and "playing chimes" for the "blue hairs" at the nursing home.
*Christmas Parties
*Shopping for presents for those less fortunate
*Illinois. Please have snow and mistletoe and presents under the tree!
*Reading, "The Worst Christmas Pageant Ever." It's my holiday tradition!
*Christmas Eve Service. Singing Silent Night by candlelight.
*Lighting the advent candles one week at at time.

OH! I also forgot!
*Christmas Pajama Pants for Jules and Jamie!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tohu Wabohu and Why the Cookies Aren't the Point: AKA Being God's Kingdom Come in this time of Advent Waiting

Ok, the extremely long title is my effort at tying together some very abstract, though very related points.

Last Sunday, the church where I attend small group, in place of worship handed out cookies to neighbors in the Plaza District as a St. Nick's day gift to the community. I know what you're thinking is the same that I was thinking when I first heard. "No one's going to eat those cookies!"

It isn't easy to wait for something to understand motives of some actions. In fact, sometimes everything seems like chaos. I certainly don't understand why a high school student who was battling depression committed suicide. I don't understand why a father was taken from his family. I don't understand why. It seems like everything is chaos. Without reason, without any explanation.

In Genesis and in Jeremiah there is a phrase that is used that sums this up correctly: "Tohu Wabohu." It's used to describe how the earth was before creation and lives of the Israelites during their babylonian captivity (right, hebrew scholars?). Especially in Jeremiah, life must have seemed Tohu Wabohu. Chaos. Destruction. Hopelessness. Reason-less. Purposeless.

Much as life seems Tohu Wabohu for the widow who lost her husband and is raising her four children on her own. For the family who is still greiving over the death of their son. For someone who has lost their job in this economic downturn and fears losing their house. For the person who is struggling with cancer. Tohu Waboho. Chaos. Destruction. Hopelessness. Reason-less. Purposeless. Tohu Wabohu.

However, we are not living a life of Tohu Wabohu. We are not people without hope. We are not people whose lives are subject to chaos and destruction. We are much like the Israelites who were exiled who were waiting expectantly to return to their home.

We are waiting for the hope and promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ, Infant King. We are waiting for the hope and promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ, Returning King. And while we wait, we grieve, not as victims, but as broken survivors. We celebrate, not in the shallow trappings of this season, but as those who know the real reason for which we wait. We share the great news of Christ, not only with our words, but being God's kingdom come in our actions. We are waiting expectantly and proactively.

The cookies aren't the point. The point is that by the delivering of cookies we are God's Kingdom Come. His assurance of hope and life and light in this season where it might seem like chaos and void.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Peasant

Looking for Love like a Peasant.

The Spode found this article and it's convincing enough to almost make me want to email the church member who wants to set me up with her co-worker or to ask the weatherman to lunch after chuch on Sunday.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Grrr...

"Boy, I wish I had your job! You never have to be in the office! Let's trade!"
-said to me, on the phone.

Ummm, I'm sorry that I was gone on Thanksgiving vacation and I'm sorry that I wasn't in the office on Friday (my day off). I know you meant it as teasing, but you should know that I work. I work a lot. Sure, let's trade.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Social Currency

Alaina posted something a couple weeks ago that I agreed with, and was something I had been thinking about in a related manner for quite some time. I feel I should preface this post with an, "I'm just pondering these things," and that, I do love my family. A lot. Anyway, continue reading.

In Oklahoma City, the things that make up my identity, my reality are that: I'm a churchworker at a large church with a youth ministry that is exciting, challenging, and frustrating, all at once. I'm also a member of a small group with people that I love and care for like family. I am someone who likes to vist McNellie's on a Tuesday for talks about theology and politics. I am someone who has decent taste in music, someone who buys clothes that are occasionally trendy. I have good friends all over that I can call and can talk to without having to epxlain every context for every story. I am someone who keeps a blog that is read by friends (and some strangers) across the web. I get paid to write articles and blog for a youth ministry website. I drive a cool car (albiet one that needs new tires and tune-up pronto). I have identity, purpose, presence and a place here.

However, all those things seem to shift and change when I enter into my parents' house. My family takes up the whole of my life instead of just a piece of the puzzle. I am seen as less than those things, those realities that make up my life in Oklahoma City. I am a sister to a spoiled 17 year old who tends to mock my taste in music and tease me about my non-carhart brand jacket and my stovepipe jeans. I am a unmarried daughter who hasn't yet started bearing children. I am someone who lives in a far away location for "no good reason" because I'm not yet married, so therefore, whatever the job opportunity, I should take it if it brings me closer to home. The most asked question about me while I'm home is, "so, met anyone yet?"

I don't feel as if the things that make up my identity and my reality here in Oklahoma City really provide enough social currency to convince those who aren't involved in it on a day to day basis that it's worth it. I don't feel that my singleness is the issue, or that living 10 hours away from my immediate family is the issue. Would I like to be closer to home? Maybe, if the call was right. Would I like to be married? Maybe, if the guy was right. Would I want any of these things if it meant settling in some way for less than what I am? No.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

OK'd In Christ 2008 Video

Video from Ok'd. From SNehrenz

Carharts, Rural King and Squirrels-Thanksgiving 2008

Ok, really, I just picked out the three most ridiculously rednecked (that IS a word) things about my vacation to make the title.

Thanksgiving was good. Here's a bulleted list of what went down.

*Four Christmases with Lynn, Jan, Mom and Syd
*Role Models with Syd and Kati
*Lunch at the FREEZE with Jenny P. (yay for breadsticks)
*Mexican Train Dominoes
*Cross-county travels with Sydney (if only I'd been smart enough to take pictures while we were out)
*Thanksgiving lunch
*Grampy's birthday dinner at Cracker Barrel
*Sweet present from my Godson, Christian
*Hanging out at Uncle Jim's Bakery
*Cousin Matt's stories
*Sydney finding out that you cannot in fact, rig a muffler to blow out through the air vents (story there later)
*West Side Pub with the brother
*My Parents having Dish and about 25 more channels than they used to have (granted, they only got pbs... so it didn't take much to improve that situation)
*3 (or 4) trips to Rural King
*About the same amount of trips to Walmart
*$8.00 children's coats for Threads
*Wi-fi at the Dairy Queen
*Cold, Blustery Weather
*Coffee stop with Alycia May in Springfield (and the "HOLD ON, I THINK YOU'RE DRIVING INTO ARKANSAS!" phone call)
*Hanging out with my favorite So. Ill Teenager, Nick (and the game of "ouchie")
*New Card Games
*Driving to the boonies to see the busdriver for about 20 minutes.
*Having to pick up my brother and dad so they could get the tractor to unstick their truck.

All in all, good vacation. Pictures below are (but I don't know the order, Jenny and I, my godson, Christian and I, Syd and I in our "city v. country attire, lynn and I and all the grand and greatgrandkids present at grampy's party)









Monday, November 24, 2008

Advent Conspiracy Promo Video

Saw this on facebook, then Alaina posted it.

I'm not alright (updated) OK'd in christ

This is the video that Murphy and Co. made for the Friday night portion of Ok'd.

Side note: Jessie's (jessie is "girl") grandma (lil mama), watched the video and said, "I just want to hug her! I don't like unhappy endings!"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

One



Ok'd is over. I'm sad, but also relieved.

I have to say that this year's ok'd was pretty different and all of us on the theme team were nervous because the old tried and true method worked pretty well.

This year's theme was "ONE", based on the verse, "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world." Our planning team also read the book, "Hurt," by Chap Clark and were quite convicted by the information that we found there.

Those two things in mind shaped heavily what we wanted the focus to be.

Friday night, the mini-theme was "one versus the world: why me?" The first activity that we had the youth do were prayer stations. They made cards for needy families, but we also had 4 big murals that said, "In this world we'll have trouble" (with a globe that I painted). We asked them to write something that they were struggling with or to post a newspaper article of things that were going on in the world.

I was amazed at the things the kids wrote on the murals. Some were pretty obvious, (friends, parents, etc), but others were a little more eye-opening (a girl wrote, the secret pain of having two miscarriages," and many, many people wrote that they were fighting depression, and were failing at living up to their parents' expectations). We also had them fill out a survey so that we could get the "pulse" of the youth who attend ok'd. There were some interesting responses.

After the prayer stations, our speaker, Micah Parker opened up family time bible study and the youth walked through the story of Joseph. After family time, Micah talked about "adversity trust" and told us the story about the relationship with his first wife Corinne, who died in her late 20's. It was so, so very timely for the Messiah kids because what they have experienced in September with the death of Darren. Friday night closed with the reminder of Christ's love for the youth.

Saturday Morning's theme was "the ONE vs. the World: Why him?" focusing on how Christ has gone through what we have gone through and because of that, we have someone who understands us. And the fact that we have a God who was willing to become man for us, to struggle with our struggles is a strong reminder of his love for us. Micah talked again and we did a more in depth Bible study based on Joseph's life in Egypt.

Servant events that afternoon took place all over the city of Tulsa. Messiah Youth went to Lutheran Church of Our Savior and made Swahili Braille Bibles, which was really cool. Other groups made "panda packs" and the communion bread for that evening's worship service with communion.

After servant events groups had time for dinner before Worship. The theme for worship was, "One with Christ," and addressed the fact that even though there are struggles, we are united with One who has conquered those strugggles. After worship the youth came back and we had gone to the prayer station murals and painted crosses over their stresses, concerns and newspaper clippings and completed the verse, "take heart, I have overcome the world." Micah talked about "Why bad things happen" and how God can use those bad things and use them for good, but also how God can use you in the midst of your troubles. We had more family time, in which the kids completed the story of Joseph and talked about how God has used them for good in times of stress and trouble.

Sunday Morning the theme was, "One body," and we talked about how we are not alone as we thought, but that we are united together in Christ. Micah talked about Gideon and how God used his small army to defeat the midianites and how God can use us (the small) to defeat the things that are going on. He also showed a video clip of Veggie Tales, which was awesome.

It was a great weekend. The message, I think was timely for my youth, but also many, many other youth who have been feeling lost, alone, at sea in their overscheduled, stress filled lives. I was glad that the gospel message was preached again and again that Jesus, our great comforter, has conquered everything in their life.

Illinois Tuesday. Yay!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Oy

I feel like if I say too much, I will spew hot venomous word vomit on this blog. I could rant about several things, but instead, I will look to the positive and talk about good stuff that's coming up.

1. Ok'd is this weekend! I am really excited to see how all the hard work turns out. I can't wait! This year, the most excellent DCE Suzanne organized the servant events (with which I helped minimally), Heath and I wrote the drama (and one of my youth made the video), Nikki and I wrote the Bible studies, planned the prayer stations and had big components of the theme development for the theme of "one."
2. I'm driving to Illinois for Thanksgiving on Tuesday! Yippee! Home coooking, progressive rummy, family and rock band. I also hope to see "Twilight" with the sister, hang out with my recently (as in march) engaged cousin Lynn as well as spend time with the fantastic Jenny P. Also, guess who else is going to be around in So. Ill the same time I will? Go ahead, Guess?! Ok, I'm not going to tell you, but it's very, very interesting. I'll leave it at that.
3. I wrote my second full length article for Youthesource based on "Ministry Teams: The good, the bad, the ugly". I think it gets "published" in the beginning of December.
4. Youth Quake in February. I know not everyone enjoys a weekend spent in a hotel with 500 middle school youth, BUT, this year, we have the potential of taking a really big group, which I think will be a LOT a LOT of fun. Or, you know, end up being sent to a funny farm when it's all over.
5. Advent. It's soon. I can't wait. I've been enjoying my new Christmas-esque album from Andrew Peterson, "Behold the Lamb of God: The tall, true tale of the coming of Christ."
6. Last night's confirmation board game, "journey to the promised land" game went extremely well other than the kids who didn't listen to directions and I had to explain it SEVEN times--(directions: flip the coin, move two if heads, one if tails, do what the space says and read the bible verse).
7. Ok, work is calling me, but I figured that this would get Moose-tipping off my back.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Refrigerator Door 2



So, Bethany gave me this idea as a way to teach the Exodus in a week. I'm pretty proud of the end result. :) It's the "Journey to the Promised Land!" Game.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Abandonment

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/11/14/nebraska.safe.haven/index.html

I don't know if you've heard about what's going on in Nebraska these days, but here's a short intro:

Nebraska passed a safe haven law that didn't include any age restrictions. About a month ago, a widowed father dropped off 10 of his 11 children saying, "I just can't raise them anymore on my own." The children ranged in age from 1-17.

Since then, as Nebraska law makers have tried to re-write the law in a way that specifies that only INFANTS (up to 30 days) fall under safe haven laws, 34 children (all over the age of 10), have been dropped off at Nebrasak hospitals. Many of these teens are from single parent homes and many of them suffer from mental illness that their parents were unable to get treatment for. Some have been flown in from places such as Florida, and Georgia.On the news last night, one of the nurses at the hospital was quoted saying that the teens were often left crying out, "I promise I'll be better! I promise I'll try! Please love me! Please don't leave me!"

The situation, no matter how you look at it, is heartbreaking. It is heartbreaking for the children who have been abandoned, who have been essentially told, "I can't take care of you," or "I don't love you." It is heartbreaking that families can't get care for their children and feel like abandoning them is the only choice that they have.

As I have watched, I have observed several things, and have more questions that I want your opinion on.

Has the media helped the situation by alerting the nation to the failings of the mental health system or have they made it worse by making it national knowledge that you can "safe haven" your teenager enabling children from other states to be dropped off?

Where's the root of the failure? Is it the law that didn't specify age? Is it the family that abandons the child? Is it government who didn't provide appropriate care for these children in a timely manner? Is it the parent who didn't know how to properly parent the teen when it was younger? Is it society who abandoned the family so that it felt that it had no options?

Please, leave some comments.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Well...

That was unexpected.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thought to Ponder

"Or were the nails and the spear in my side
not quite enough to provide,
the victory you need in your life?"
Jill Paquette-"Come to Me" (good luck finding that song on itunes)

Monday, November 10, 2008

ahhhh.

So, back in Senior Year of college, SAC or SLO (pronounced-"SACK" and "SLOW" not the individual letters for you non-concordians) handed out these free music sampler CD's in our back to school packs. It was red and white striped and promised to have the "Best new christian artists!"

To be honest, I don't remember there being a lot of GOOD music on the CD. However, the one gem on the album was Jill Paquette's song, "Come to Me" which I discovered AFTER leaving Concordia. The CD got its' wear during internship.

Unfortunately, that CD (and all my others) got stolen and as is the case with most of the bands on that CD, I couldn't find that song anywhere! That is, until the spode brought her laptop to Alaska and it was on her itunes playlist.

Well, the song is back in my music library as of Friday and has been on repeat ever since then...

Ahhhh...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Refrigerator Door...


Looky! Read the Article Here!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Pride.

History in the making last night.

Obama-Biden.

3 Cheers for America.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Youth Led and Other Various Updates

Soooo, I've got a post sitting on my dashboard (of blogger, not my car) that I've been working on but that will have to wait for a while before I post it.

Below is the video my youth made for their youth service. They did an awesome job. The camera-man didn't do so bad either (hint hint, that was me):).

The video is based on the "Ragman" parable. In our video, Jesus exchanges mourning for comfort, uncertainty for security and addiction for healing. The girl following Jesus then is able to comfort another friend.

Anyway, watch it. I hope you like it!

Youth Led Video-Give Me Your Eyes

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's The Great Pumpkin Weekend, Charlie Brown

This weekend will be filled with all sorts of fall goodness, from tonight's trip to Orr Family Farms with the GirgisMelsons and Jacquie (I have heard that there is the goodness of Kettle Korn at The Orr Family Farm... I'm excited) and then pumpkin-palooza with the middle schoolers Sunday night for our first middle school night. Pumpkin bowling, bocce, and mini golf are all in the works.

Yay for fall.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Moose-tipping, I mean you....

You know what Moose-Tipping? Thanks for the sympathy.

I'm much better, and much busier because of the time out of the office due to said illness.

Thanks for asking.

Updates later this week.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ugh

I guess that rest and pace are two very important concepts that I need to continue to work on.

Got home from Roman Nose State Park in Watonga Oklahoma on Wednesday and spent Thursday SICK. One trip to the doctor, a liter of IV fluids and some perscription meds later, I'm feeling a little better. (Though I'm still on a liquid diet and gatorade's electolites are my best friends).

Hopefully, by tomorrow I'll be able to wake up, get ready and go somewhere and not feel like I'm going to pass out. (Or need a liter of fluid).

Here's hopin' anyways.

More about the retreat later.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Quickly

... because I'm about 20 minutes away from heading up to Roman Nose to the churchworker conference. (woo)

Just got back from the District Youth Gathering at Camp.

It was fun. All girls which made for a fun road trip of sing-a-longs (La la you'll be popular).

Also, have some very, very bossy 6th grade girls with a major case of the exaggerations. (your dad is 6 foot 4? Well my dad is at least 8 feet tall!)

All in all, good time, good company, great weather, and NO injuries.

Peace Out

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Yearbook Committee Number Two...






I had too much fun with these. Jamie's are the most realistic because I figured out what I was doing finally. And in 1990, I actually DID have hair like that. Only I was in third grade :)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Yearbook Committee




Monday, October 06, 2008

Ponderings

Every once in a while, emotion catches me off guard.

Last night, at a going away party for a member, I was talking to middle school mom (and friend) about different things. Then we began talking about David and about Darren. I was suprised at how raw the wounds still were. I don't know if it was because Darren's wife was at service on Sunday and I almost asked her where he was before remembering, or seeing her sit in their normal pew without him that left me feeling particularly vulnerable. Emotion was so stark and so strong last night that I didn't recognize it at first until I heard the wobble in my voice and felt the tension in my posture.

At Jamie's wedding I was struck with the same surprising onslaught of emotion though in a completely different way. As I watched Jamie walk down the aisle to meet her now husband as he was fighting back tears, I began to think about how varied the circumstances were that brought them to this point. How the unthinkable brought amazing good. How good a man my friend Jamie was marrying and that it could have turned out so so differently. How God had lovingly cared for his children through the grief, the tears and the changes in their lives. How there was only one other time that in the many weddings I've attended and been in that I can say that love and joy and hope were palpable emotions expressed through tears.

It is because of that joy that I can look at this grief and see that God's hand is working.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Alaska 9

Post-Wedding Alaska Video. It was late and we had had a long day. No offense meant, Alaskans, about the not knowing the dances. We taught you well and feel you have the sufficient skill to carry on. (Hint, Mr. Moose Pants, you CAN do the Soulja Boy)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Alaska 8

Mrs. Moose Tipping makes her debut appearance!!

Alaska 7

These videos get a little more ridiculous with each new posting. We blame the lack of caffeiene, sleep and lack of a normal altitude

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Alaska 6

Check out Ketchup Two at DNG's site!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Alaska Video #5

I'm going to post two videos today. Because I can.

Alaska Video #4

So, Here we are on video 4. Real blog later this week maybe. Lots to talk about. Alaska pics on facebook.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Alaska Video #3

Also, check out Julianna's sweet video here. These are the "ketchup" Catchup videos from the Anchorage airport. We were exhausted (as noted by the long bouts of uncontrollable giggling and the sideways-ness that is video 1)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Alaska Video #2

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Alaska Video # 1

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Party in the Tundra Part 2

I know, I know, I know.

I promised real time updates from the great state of Alaska.

Obviously, I failed.

It has been busy and the places we've been aren't so condusive to blogging. (Read Tops of Mountains).

However, Alaska is BEAUTIFUL and I have had a fantastic time. Stories and pictures to come when I return to a time zone three hours ahead of the one I'm currently visiting.

Also, we made some pretty sweet videos. Be ready to watch and be amazed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Party in the Tundra Part 1

To the Tune of "tomorrow" from Annie:

Todaaaay Todaaay
Alaska Todaaay
I'll be in the tundra Yay!

Todaaaay Todaaay
I can't wait Todaaay
You're only a plane away!

(I am excited. Unlike the Spode, my office is still messy, my apartment is a little bit messy, I'm not sure if my bag weighs over 50 pounds, though surely not and will then start stuff clothes into my carry-on bag and hobo bag purse).

Pictures when I return and maybe some real time blogging!!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bundled Up

I feel like I have lost an entire week. Grief is an amazing time zapper. (I don't mean to sound blythe about the emotional stress that was last week, but man, you can miss a lot).

As we have been working through the corporate grief of losing a beloved congregation member, I have learned a few things. Yesterday, Kathy, a deaconess came and talked with our Sunday School class about grieving and how to reach out to a family that has lost a father and husband.

One of the things that struck me yesterday that Kathy talked about was about being "bundled." She said that each person, alone is like one stick, easily broken, but when we are bundled together, we are stronger, and less likely to break. She then asked the rhetorical question (or perhaps the silent, sleepy high schoolers were supposed to answer, but failed), "how strong is your bundle?"

At certain points in my history in Oklahoma, I would say that my bundle has been pretty weak. I was the single stick, easily broken. Now, I can say that my bundle is strong, thanks to the GirgisMelsons, Caplingers, Mary youth chair, Laudermilks, Kristy, Jamie, Spode, Sarah, Bethany, Crazy Tall Matt. All of them have allowed me to be me, to talk, cry, laugh, and celebrate as me. That makes for a pretty strong bundle, not easily broken.

As I am thankful for my bundle, it is my sincere hope and prayer that I am that for them as well.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Weekend Update

I heart Joshua Radin.

Just downloaded his new album. Love it.

I would marry him and have his babies.

Weekend has been fantastic so far.

Live at the Plaza, VZD's, IHOP (IHOP!).

Favorite quotes from last night?

"LOOK! FBI AGENTS!"
"Ummm, those are aprons, not guns"

Alaska Tuesday. As my friend Matt the Spanish Teacher would say, "SHEBOYGAN!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Seeing God's Hand

Today, for the first time, I am beginning to see God's work in these past few months. I am still sad, but I know that God has been working things according to his purpose, not mine. I am in wonder at this God who is and has been taking care of us before we knew why.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Down the Rabbit Hole

Since Friday Morning, since the phone call, I have been waiting for someone to call me and say that this is all a big joke; an episode of Punk'd.

As I have comforted people, cried with people, shared the news with people, I want to laugh at the absurdity of the whole thing. 38 year old men aren't supposed to die. Not ones that were healthy and took care of their families, cared for their children, volunteer at church and are so excited to simply hear what's going on in your life. As one of the high schoolers said today in Sunday school, "you always knew that he really cared about you." Absurd.

But I know the truth. I know that this is real, this grief is real. That there is a family hurting over the loss of a Dad, a wife mourning the loss of a husband, a small group missing their leader, all of us missing a friend.

The disbelief makes it seem like this is just another thing on my "to do" list, but I know that there are harder things coming. There will be a small group that needs a leader, a youth led worship without a drummer, 4 children without a father, birthdays and christmases and celebrations.

We are only beginning our journey down the rabbit hole.

Friday, September 05, 2008

A New Way Forward

Today, Darren, husband and father of four (twin boys-17, and a boy and girl 5 and 3), passed away suddenly.

Darren was an amazing man. He was a small group leader, an NYG chaperone last year, and all around champion of adults who worked with youth. It is a shock to think that someone like Darren can simply be gone.

Today, there are lots of phone calls and tears, emotions and grief. Perhaps tomorrow there will be comfort in knowing that he is in heaven, but today, I'm sad. Today, all I can think about is how much he will be miss here. How much his family will miss him, how much this church will miss him.

We are all going to have to learn a new way forward without him.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pleased

How is God pleased with us? Can God be pleased with us?

That was the topic du jour last night at House Church.

I found this to be a surprisingly difficult subject, which brought up the question, do I think that God is pleased with me?

Given my Lutheran roots, I think that I have been taught and taught and taught that if God finds anything good in us, it is what the Holy Spirit is working in us. That the good we do is Jesus' good work in us.

That, because of sin, God cannot be pleased with us. That's why we need Jesus, so that He can wash away those things and God can take pleasure in us. Because of Jesus.

Maybe that is the Sunday School answer. I don't know. I'd welcome your thoughts and comments.

*For Clarification* I've ordered The Weight of Glory by CS Lewis and am eagerly awaiting its arrival. I think that I need to add some clarification. I know, that as God's creation, He is pleased with me, because he created me. I know that He loves me and that He finds value in me. I know that am His child. The bigger question with is God pleased about what I am doing? Isn't the good I do God working in me?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Congratulations

Congratulations to my cousin Lynn and her fiance Neil who just got engaged!

(I'd like to point out that Lynn will round out the wedding tour of 08-09 in Novebmer of 2009, hers being the 6th wedding in 15 months that I'll have the opportunity to attend)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What color is my hair?

A couple months ago, I changed wallets and threw out old business cards, cut up unused credit cards, etc. I also got rid of miscellaneous papers that have been tagging around for a long time.

Well, I had been keeping my savings account customer number stored in my wallet on a post-it note. Today, I needed my number to sign in and found that I had thrown it away.

However, on the same type of post-it note, I did have a recipe for thai chicken safely stored in my new wallet.

Way to go Hannah

Vulnerability (Part Three?)

The other night at House Church, we were talking about what it meant to be a part of true community, what it meant to truly be a part of each other's lives.

One of the things that I have been thinking about and that was brought up in conversation was the fact that true community (I'm thinking about the disciples community with Jesus, maybe), is a scary place to be. As Americans, we're taught that we're strongest on our own, to not rely on others. For me, I know that me by myself is an ok thing. I know my own gifts and abilities, I know the things that can be perceived as weaknesses and know when I hit that point of truly comfortable in my own self with those around me. I could go on forever just relying on being an "ok" me.

But, if we are in true community, we can't rely on just ourselves. We bring all our collective strengths and weaknesses to the table and say, "here, you'll see all of this in me. I don't necessarily like all of this, but treat it carefully." We take the risk of being "ok" mes and seeing what me "plus" looks like.

So, here's to becoming me plus.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Overload

Perhaps it's because I just looked at my calendar and realized that small groups start up in 2 weeks, or because I realized that in 4 weekends, we'll be going to camp, or that I have several big events in between then.

Maybe it's because I'm listening to Fall Out Boy Thnks Fr Th Mmrs that is setting me on edge.

Whatever it is, I'm feeling some stress. Ugh.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The second half of colorado...

Here's the remaining highlights from my trip to Colorado...

1)Sing Sing. How I love Sing Sing. Pianos, cute waiters and big buckets with straws for all. Also, I enjoyed the nineteen bajillion bachelorettes joining us that evening.
2)Not going to church. Is that bad for a churchworker to say? I enjoyed my day off. So, so much.
3)Denver Library and downtown
4)Mamma Mia and Pierce Brosnan's non singing voice (to which sarah and I would cringe). I also enjoyed the comments of the ladies sitting next to me ("If Colin Firth said hi to me, I'd do him right then and there!"... nice)
5)Hiking plans that changed due to lightning.
6)Lunch with the busdriver, the spanish teacher, Sarah and I at Qdoba (that sounds like the beginning of some sort of joke)
7)PF Changs for under $10.00.
8)Super straight hair from the kiosk at the mall.
9)One Tree Hill Marathon
10)Rockies Game
11)Panda Express
12)Good conversations with Sarah, hanging out in the neighbors hammock and avoiding the sprinklers
13)Elitch Gardens and "pick the person over 20"
14)The goodbye playlist.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Tour of Closure '08

I'm back from Colorado, which was momentous to me in ways that I'm still discovering.

I think that I have always had a long-distance love affair with Denver and the many things it has come to represent to me, being the place where I wanted to live, the place where my friends are, the place where love was waiting for me, the place that was home away from home in college. I felt like I was holding my breath, waiting for Denver to welcome me into its' arms into the place where I made sense.

Plus, it had mountains in its' backyard. Win-Win, right?

The last couple of times I've been to Denver to visit Sarah, there have been a lot of other forces in play and it's taken several visits for me to finally put those things to rest.

I don't know what this all means, and it may just sound like all rambling, but perhaps, in a few days, I'll have more to share about these discoveries.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Punk'd...

Seriously...

Where's Ashton and the camera crew?

I'm ready to confess that "I got punk'd"

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Colorado So Far...

How I love Colorful Colorado (even though it is bragging record high temperatures)...

Here's what I've been up to so far:

1)$23.00 pants and a $19.00 shirt from Banana. Thanks Bethany for the inside tip!
2)Tubing Boulder Creek with Crazy Tall Matt, Marcus, Sarah and all the Boulder hippies. I also received some AWESOME inner tube rashes and bruises from the rocks. The best part of the day were all the drunken hippies... (more stories later).
3)"Working" a wedding with Sarah and Colleen and receiving payment in the form of free fish tacos from racines. Oh yes.
4)Getting Punk'd.
5)Enjoying a bottle of wine with Sarah and playing catch phrase with Sarah and her roommates. Catch Phrase + Wine = best catch phrase game ever.
6)Using the Chi Hair Straightener.
7)Enjoying the view of the mountains.

More updates and pictures later!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dog Days

It's that time of year.

Summer, so far, has been one of the best in recent memories (summer and I have a very fickle relationship.) In these last couple of weeks, though, I am sensing that slow change into the long, long days of summer, where I begin to anticipate the beautiful routine that is Fall and the school year.

Work changes, subtly, so that I am no longer preparing for the quickly upcoming youth summer trips, but for the long term (which is harder to focus on for the long-term, in my office), the weekly routine shifts as more and more people start to take weekend trips that my job doesn't always allow (given that I work on Sundays) and I start to feel a little bit lonesome. It's nothing major other than a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach and in the back of my mind. It's easily remedied during the week and can be put on the back burner during the weekend when not left too long to my own devices.

I'm pretty good at constructing things for me to do, to keep myself busy, but the nagging is always there, always seeming to walk a step behind. It's the time of year I start to feel a little left behind (not the kirk cameron kind) and wonder why my need seems to be so great and others so small.

I'm hoping that all the upcoming good stuff next week and that the trip to Colorado and friend-a-palooza next weekend will put the nagging to rest.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ghosts

You

And Our

Arguments, worn out like sweaters,
with patches on the elbows, slowly unraveling,

You

And Your

Demands, always wanting, always pushing,
More than I wanted, could have had, could have given

You

And Your

Pyromania, determining to build and to burn
The things that were good, the things that worked.

You

And Your

Side of the story,
Constructed to make you look like the knight and
me the distressed, the lost, the confused

Me

And My

Fault, for believing you were more than a reptutation,
for seeing what I wanted you to be, not what you were

Me

And My

Ghosts, lurking behind good memories turning sour.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Burn

A long, long time ago, I was told that the song below reminded them of me. It was the beginning of the end of something long and drawn out and at the time I was flattered. Recently, I acquired the song, thanks to Sarah Wright, looked up the lyrics and found out that they're not really very flattering.

Hum. So much for that.

I felt for sure last night
That once we said goodbye
No one else will know these lonely dreams
No one else will know that part of me
I'm still driving away
And I'm sorry every day
I won't always love these selfish things
I won't always live...
Not stopping...

It was my turn to decide
I knew this was our time
No one else will have me like you do
No one else will have me, only you

You'll sit alone forever
If you wait for the right time
What are you hoping for?
I'm here I'm now I'm ready
Holding on tight
Don't give away the end
The one thing that stays mine

Amazing still it seems
I'll be 23
I won't always love what I'll never have
I won't always live in my regrets

You'll sit alone forever
If you wait for the right time
What are you hoping for?
I'm here I'm now I'm ready
Holding on tight
Don't give away the end
The one thing that stays mine

You'll sit alone forever
If you wait for the right time
What are you hoping for?
I'm here I'm now I'm ready
Holding on tight
Don't give away the end
The one thing that stays mine...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Jamie!


Come join us on the older half of the 20's!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Favorite Pictures


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tony, the cleaning guy...

Tony: Miss Hannah, you in town for a while?
Me: Until I go to Colorado at the end of the month.
Tony: Is that for the weddin'?
Me: That's not until September
Tony: (pause) How many weddin's you been in lately?
Me: Three total
Tony: You seen that movie, 27 Dresses? (I nod) You don't be like that. You gotta get married this year, so focus on finding a steady boyfriend, ok?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Math for the Fourth

College Roommate with great relatives that live nearby

+

Her Funny Husband

+

Swimming Pool and a great Lab (Puppy) with whom to play fetch

+

Fireworks

+

Sushi and other delicious food

+

Wii

=

a great fourth of July weekend.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Happy Belated Birthday!

Happy Birthday Spode!

Houston, Ohio, VBS: In Review

Back to the bullet points.

1. VBS went really, really well this year. We had 5 year record high attendance and our after VBS day camp was full everyday. This year, I felt like things during VBS week went fairly smoothly and while it was stressful, it wasn't the crazy, "is it noon yet?" kind of stres like it has been in the past. I think a lot of that contributed to my mom being here and my friend Sarah being here with her two youth. Give me another week or two and I'll be ready for next year!

2. Ohio: Is it bad to say that I prefer trips with 5 people as opposed to groups with 25? I really, really enjoyed spending time with the 5 girls that went on the trip and am happy to report very little catty-ness and girl-ness while in Lancaster (lane-kissed-er). We also had a great time with the give-away day (I found a shirt that said, "i've got tought nuts: rust-proof lug nut specialist. The shirt gave me the title of Rev. T. Nuts.) We also had a great time at a couple of cookouts from members of the congregation and a good time exploring Lancaster and Columbus. Favorite memories? Exploring Lancaster, cleaning gutters-yes really, sardines, rising park and cards with the Raddatz boys.

3. Houston: I have to say that before leaving for Houston, there were a lot more loose ends than I would have liked to have left with (namely, what we were doing for our day long service project and whether or not we had enough adults for the trip.)

I was also a little worried about this group dynamic of 17 (the breakdown: 4 incoming 6th grade church girls, 4 7th grade messiah school girls, 2 non-church/non school 8th grade girls, 1 7th grade messiah school boy, 4 seventh and 8th church boys plus a friend, 1 incoming 6th grade church boy). The group didn't really know each other outside of their circles. However, our service project of helping out at a hispanic community center and their day camp, went swimmingly and the groups got along really, really well. The day at Galveston was wonderful-minus some pretty terrible sunburns (even after repeat applications of sunscreen), and the time we spent together as a group went really, really well.

4. Side note to Houston: I've blogged about one of my youth, Tyler before, who thinks it is his personal mission to remind me that he doesn't come on trips by his own free will and to remind me that he is bound and determined to have a miserable time. Thursday, at the beach, Tyler walked up to me and said, "THIS IS AN AWESOME TRIP!!!" Everyone applauded. When talking with his mom this last week, she said that Tyler had a similar report for her as well. Yay.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lone Star State

I'm back from deep in the heart of Texas.

I'm terribly, terribly sunburned on strange parts of my body--like my thighs. Who knew? Apparently the spray sunscreen only works on the part which you directly spray (I have a non-sunburned circle on my right arm as proof of that).

The trip was good. More later this weekend perhaps.

Promise to post about the topics in the previous post.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The last month (or so) in pictures...

I apologize for my posting absence. It's been a while because it has been busy, busy, busy and I am off again on Monday with my Middle Schoolers as we travel to Houston for a service project trip. When I return, I promise to talk about 1)McNellies, 2) VBS, 3)Lancaster, 4)My mom's visit and Sarah's Visit, 5)the surreality of having youth visit my parents' house, and 6)my accidental date to Alaska. Until then, for your viewing pleasure:















Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lamentations

Thursday, April 12 one of my high school students (a graduated senior) took his own life.

I heard the news while with our youth on our service project trip in Ohio early on Friday morning. Plans were made and we cut our trip early by a day to be here for the funeral.

I am rewinding and winding my memories of David in my head, wondering if there was more that I could do, or say or reach out to him that would have changed the outcome. I mourn, deeply, for the waste of the gifts of leadership, writing and music that he had to offer that are now gone. I struggle with why such an amazing, gifted student felt that there was no other option than ending his life.

David suffered from depression. As Pastor said in his sermon today, "David succumbed to the illness of depression. Depression took David's life." I was and am thankful for those words of comfort in this time of deep grief and questioning. I am thankful for the assurance of David's faith and am comforted by the knowledge that we will one day rejoice together in heaven.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Vulnerability-Part Two

My friend Bethany has been doing a blog series about naming and it's importance these last few months. Inspired by her insights that she's discovering about herself, I wanted to write a little more on the subject vulnerability, because it's something that is my "achilles heel."

I've been pondering it tonight after House Church, that I feel in myself a drawing inward instead of a drawing out. I don't know if it is because work is so crazy, or because my finances are so crazy, that I feel this drawing in of myself. That my relational resources are spent and must be conserved to a very specific time frame of 6-8 on Tuesdays. That I want to ask questions about you, but only have time to care about me right now. If you come back and talk to me in several weeks, I might be a little less self-centered. That because my bank balance is small, my relational interactions are small and contained.

One of the things that we read tonight at House Church was the scripture from Matthew 6:1, the Message Version (say what you will about Eugene, it is interesting to read), "Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding." Something about it struck me. I've been pondering it since then H.C. tonight(and went to church and got my laptop to post at my apartment-hooray wireless).

I think that I am vulnerability challenged. I want to be the kind of person with whom people bring their cares and concerns, but I am not a person who brings their cares and concerns to others easily either. Does that make vulnerability a two-way street? When people ask me questions, I don't often reciprocate the questions, but I realize it until after conversations. I don't mean it to be this way, but I don't know how to right it. I feel relationally hungry and full all at the same time. I think that I play-act at things being good so that I don't know how to share the bad without it being ALL bad.

When I think back on times when I feel that I have been most "vulnerable," perhaps I have confused that with depression and moodiness and it was received poorly. I think that I have been told that sharing the bad was undesirable, that I have to construct a good front over crappy situations because that is who I am supposed to be.

So where does this leave me in my ponderance? I think, as I see myself wanting to draw into closer relationships with people, I am unsure of what it means now to fully embrace someone at the same time allowing them to fully embrace me. To truly be willing to lay all the "cards on the table," letting them peruse through them and waiting for the reaction and doing the same thing in return.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

News bulletin (a non weather report)

For those of you who've been anxiously awaiting another post about the weather man....

I don't have any new updates, but I wanted to blog a little more about what's been going on in my life these past few crazy busy weeks:

1) My good friends, Jess and Heath, got engaged and I could not be more excited for them (I also feel like I had a hand in them getting together back when Heath was an intern).

2) Graduation looms and this year, along with every year, is bittersweet. The seniors are graduating and I'm very sad to see them go but excited for them and the new things that they will soon be facing. They've been a great class of strong, gifted leaders.

3) I've started looking to the future leaders in the youth ministry and am so excited about seeing the two girls who are my "student leaders" for the Ohio trip take ownership and get excited. I look forward to seeing them grow and change as leaders.

4) I've been ridiculously blessed by the new friends in my life.

5) I've moved into a new apartment, one very close to work (nice for the extremely high gas prices that we're experiencing-It was almost a month since my last fill-up!)I've been pleasantly suprised at how I've been mostly enjoying living on my own and am looking forward to making it a little more homey in the upcoming months.

6) Vacation Bible School is rapidly, rapidly approaching (I am resisting the urge to pull a Jamie-meeting-Philip hyperventillation scene), plus our trial run of our almost free after VBS day care for school aged kids. We're hoping to really reach out to families in the community around us.

7) Our high schoolers are going to Ohio the week after VBS (I think that I took crazy pills when I made that decision). This is the first time since I've been here that we've done something servant event oriented and I'm trying to have no expectations regarding the number of youth that attend. In the last week of June, our middle schoolers are going to Houston and I am excited to see them stretch and grow in new ways. Plus, we have a lot of incoming 6th graders going, so I am looking forward to building those relationships and spending time with them.

8) The mom visiting: My mom is coming to visit at the end of May and the first week of June to help with VBS. Also, the Sarah is bringing a couple of students out to our church as their summer mission trip. yay!

Friday, May 09, 2008

From All Angles... (A weather report... kind of)

So, some of you have been following with rapt attention the doings of my high school youth and their determination that I date the young, single weatherman that has been attending our church. Apparently, he has gained the stamp of approval of a few of the other youth the past few sundays at church and still seems oblivious to the whisperings and the sometimes not so quiet gossiping of the youth in the row behind him at church. This past Sunday, the following conversation took place:

Youth: (whispering) Brother, that's the weatherman we want our DCE to date (pointing to weatherman who is sitting right in front of her).
Brother: the WEATHERMAN (not whispering and in a very theatrical voice) THE WEATHERMAN.. WHAT CHANNEL IS THE WEATHER MAN ON... I WANT TO MEET THIS WEATHERMAN!!!

As luck or whatever would have it, it turns out that my youth are not the only ones who are interested in finding boys for me. My grandpa (who also told me to run over my cousin when I was home a couple of weeks ago), shook his finger at me rather severly and said, "you don't come back until you have a husband..." A few other friends have been putting the presure on about me finding someone to date and today, I received an email from a member that I only know vaguely.

The email's subject line was "question from the website," so I assumed it had to do something with VBS that is a few weeks away and with which she has helped in the past. No... her email starts, "I know this is kind of weird, but I have a nice christian single co-worker that I thought you might be interested in dating... he's lutheran too! what do you think?"

Maybe it's the spring weather that has cause all this extra attention to "sprout" about my dating life.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Promenade...

allright, so, as requested... here are some pictures from this past weekend in So.Ill.








Sunday, April 20, 2008

Youth Led Video 2

Today was youth led worship. My youth did this video. I'm so proud.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Weather Report #2

This morning, I had received a myspace message from one of my youth. It said, "Hannah, I'm starting a '[weatherman's name] fan club' group on myspace! You should join! I'll let you be the number one member!"

I feel a little bad for this guy. He has no idea that he has youth so invested and so interested.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Weather Report

In the past few months, my youth have taken a very active (sometimes I think unhealthy) interest in my dating life. It seems to them no coincidence that there has been a new single male attending church these last few months. As the man works for a local television station he's been dubbed, "the weatherman."

Every Sunday for the last few months, I've been getting weather reports from some of the youth about his worship behaviors, who he talks to, and general panic if he talks to the young, single kindergarten teacher (quote from my youth: "Hannah you have to fight to the death for this one!"). I've also gotten a lot of advice on how to go about wooing the weatherman.

Yesterday, an opportunity presented itself where I was able to introduce myself to him. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a couple of my youth watching this interchange with big, goofy grins on their faces.

Thus is life in the fishbowl I guess

Pendulum

So, I'm breaking rule #1. It's late at night, but I'm not feeling particularly stressed, so this shouldn't be an overly dramatic post. Of course, the "e" in my myers-briggs has been fairly satisfied all weekend with an abundance of friends and people around.

Earlier this week, I got a phone call from an old friend and some things were revealed to me that I wish had remained unsaid. I've been overanalyzing (as I am wont to do) for a couple days now and feel it's best to "out it" by putting pen to paper, or finger to keys.

I've known this person for a long time now. Our friendship has been a pendulum swinging from friendship to more than friends back to friendship for the past few years. In this last conversation, the conversation that will go down in history as the "conversation when things should have been left unsaid," I realized how different I am from my first introduction to this friend.

Maybe it's not so much that I am different, but that I am the same as I was and he is the same person he was. Maybe it's like the quote in my headline, "We grow neither better nor worse as we get old, but more like ourselves." So, as I grow more like myself and he grows more like himself our lives become more and more divergent as we continue to act true to our nature.

I'm not sure if any of this makes sense, but it's been swimming around in my head the last couple of days.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Lessons Learned

In light of my last few dramatic posts, I've made up some guidelines so as one should not think I am going off the deep end.

1) Hannah should not post late at night. This usually leads to dramatic postings.

2) Hannah should avoid posting when stressed. This always leads to dramatic postings.

Having broken both of those rules in my last couple of posts of length, I've decided to follow both of them today. I'm neither stressed, nor is it late at night. It also helps that there have been a couple of things to dramatically reduce personal stress.

1)finding and being approved for an apartment that will be move-in ready so I am not homeless for any length of time (Yes, I'm moving. Again. It's apparently "what I do").
2)turning my taxes into my tax guy so they can be done on time. Here's to hopefully not owing anything to the IRS this year!

I've found that having those two things figured out have made me feel almost back to my pre-march attitude.

There has been a lot going on work-wise these past few weeks, what with the early arrival of Easter and the subsequent busy season of VBS, summer trips, events and traveling. So, while things are still busy (as is the life of a youth worker), they don't quite have the frenzied "too much to do in one day" quality like all the pre-Easter happenings did. I'm sure that as VBS and the summer trips all happen in June, that frenzied, "too much to do in one day" quality will return about May 1. Be prepared from some more dramatic, "what the H was I thinking" kind of posts around then.

Until then, I'll try to keep the drama to a minimum.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

As Seen on TV

One of my favorite Friends episodes is the "one with the proposal" at the end of season 6. My favorite, favorite scene is the one with Phoebe and Rachel are sitting in Central Perk, talking about how happy they are for Monica and Chandler. They're 90% happy and only 10% jealous, then 80% happy and 20% jealous and so on and so on.

That's a little of how I've been feeling these past couple of days. I am so wondefully and mysteriously happy for my two friends, Jenny and Jamie (maybe it's a j-name thing), who are now engaged and beginning to plan their lives with their significant others. I'm so excited to celebrate with them their end of the separate and the beginning of life together. I am so thankful that God has placed in their lives such wonderful men who copmliment and strenghthen them in ways that show me that God is truly in their relationships.

I'm also a little sad (that 10% jealousy) that this isn't something that I'm experiencing right now, yet, or maybe ever and it leads me to wonder what exactly God has in store for me, and for my life as His child. I know the things I desire and I pray that they are Godly desires and that they one day will be fulfilled. I know that I have prayed and continue to pray for God to make his path very, very clear to me. I pray for the someday that my friends are currently experiencing.

Still, I am little impatient for these somedays to happen.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Finally!

I can finally type it! Congrats to Jamie and Philip on their engagement!

The best part of one of my best friends getting married is that I was a implicit accomplice in the whole scheme. Jamie's boy, who we refer to as "the manly" contacted me a few months ago via facebook asking if I was a secret keeper of all secret keepers. After sending in my secret keeper resume and finding out my "mission," I've been secretly scoping out engagement information from Jamie so that she was sufficiently shocked when he asked. Hehehe.

I am so, so happy for my good friend Jamie and her new fiancee, Philip. Congrats again!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Grief

It's taken me some time to realize that I am a crier. It's obnoxious that my first go-to response is tears: for frustration, for anger, for helplessness, for stress. Sometimes I'm able to marshall that a little bit, but most of the time the tears are as suprising to me as to the emotion that accompanies them.

This March has been, like the previous three,a piling upon of bad news on bad news. Last week, the mother of my little sister's best friend has been diagnosed with cancer. This week, a much loved member of the congregation dies, leaving his family (several of his children and grandchildren who I am close to) and friends grieving.

And so I've cried. I've cried because people that I care for are hurting. I cry because I know that there are harder times coming for the my little sister's best friend and her family. I've cried because I know that there is a lot of grief and a family that is hurting.

In all this though, I know that there is the comfort that Christ gives, and that on Easter Sunday, he welcomed home his own beloved child. I know there is comfort found in the strength of my sister and her friendship. I remember the promises found in 2 Corinthians...

"All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too."

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good.

"But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last. At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. What's more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. (After Jesus' resurrection, they left the tombs, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.)The captain of the guard and those with him, when they saw the earthquake and everything else that was happening, were scared to death. They said, "This has to be the Son of God!"
Matthew 26:50-54

Today is Good Friday. The day that we remember Jesus' Death. Jesus finishing what was started in the garden.

The reading above is one of the most dear to me on Good Friday. The Jewish temple was divided into three parts, the most sacred being the Holy of Holies, which was divided from the rest of the temple by a curtain. Only one high priest once a year was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies because it was seen as the place in which God lived.

When Jesus dies, the curtain blocking off the Holy of Holies is ripped.

I think that is beautiful. Through the tearing of Jesus' flesh, God is accessible to everyone. Through Jesus' death, we are given that most precious gift.

And it is good.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ugh

Ok, ok Jamie... I'll blog.

These next few weeks are going to be completely manic. I'm looking to them slowing down at the end of June. If one thing is happening, a million things are happening and I'm starting to get very, very, very stressed.

Buckle up folks, it's going to be a crazy, crazy ride.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

'Tis the Season

For Engagements! Congrats to Kira and Eric!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The more things change...

The more they stay the same, I guess.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Good News

Here's to this week starting out MUCH better than last. Congratulations to Jenny and Michael on their engagement and to August 2009!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Peace

My mom is a bad "bad news breaker." After 26 years, I've figured out that when she says, "I've got some sad news," it means that someone has passed away. Today, I got a text from my mother via my sister, saying that she had some sad news.

The husband of a family that I was close to at home, passed away this morning after a long battle with cancer. He leaves behind his wife and 2 sons, both in High School. Paul's wife, Karen, taught me piano lessons for years, he taught me organ for 2 and I babysat their sons many times during High School.

When I go back to Illinois, I always end up running into their oldest son, Greg, when I go up to see my sister at school. The last time I saw Paul, I was home for the musical and he assured me that God was keeping him firmly in his care and grace. A few weeks later, I heard that his very rare form of cancer had returned and the prognosis was bleak.

So, this sad news is more sad news in a week of sad news, but I am certain that Paul is in heaven and that is exactly where he wants to be.

Eulogy

Yesterday morning, I received an email from a friend alerting me to the death of a college classmate. This was a boy that while I was never close to him, was significant for his always being on the fringe of my college existence, particularly freshman year.

I've been thinking about this boy these last 24 hours and trying to pinpoint the kind of loss I feel. In my memory of him, I remember him as friendly, but quiet and a little awkward. Because he was on our "brother floor" freshman year, he spent a lot of time wandering our floor hanging out in whomever's room was open. In my freshman mind I remember always feeling more than a little uncomfortable and more than a little judgemental of him.

Perhaps the loss is my realizing that I never truly took the time to see him for what he was, to see him as Christ saw him, and it isn't now, until his absence that I realize how wrong that was.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Partnership

Sunday night, on my way home after a rather intense meeting with a youth and the Morgans (who lead Wednesday Night Bible Study), I found myself wishing, quite surprisingly, that I was driving home to someone who I could share this burden with, or that I had my own someone to share who had been there with me, for me. I say this as no knock to my roommate, because she has been very considerate and understanding so far and has offered some very good practical advice on some things in the past.

Sunday night was a different kind of night. It was a night that I felt I would have been stronger had I been part of a pair. It was a kind of aloneness that took the wind out of me with the intensity of the wanting.

There is something that distinguishes couples in ministry, doing ministry together from other couples, I think. I see it in the Morgans and in the Caplingers, the couple who help Pastor the church that I attend for Bible Study. There is something about that united purpose, the purpose of working together for the good of other people that seems to strenghthen them. It's more than just loving Christ together. Perhaps it is that they are sharing together the love of Christ with others.

I'm not sure what it is, but I found myself wanting that on Sunday night. That partnership.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Weight

Today.
Today I feel burdened.

Today.
Today there isn't any pleasure in this.

Today.
Today there is only the weight.

Today.
Today there is only mourning.

Today.
Today there is only grief.

Today.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Buckets

Last night, I went to see The Bucket List with a friend from House Church (after some excellent Panera and conversation). After the movie, I, like my good friend Matt over at Daedal Jocosity, thought for a while about what I might put on my very own Bucket List. So, here's my list of things I'd like to do in the next 50 or so years (maybe even sooner than that).

1. Learn to play guitar well.
2. Write and be published by a non-cph publisher.
3. Live in New York City for at least a year.
4. Travel to India to do mission work for at least a month.
5. Backpack Europe.
6. Fall in love, get married, have babies.
7. Meet my compassion "babies," Sergio Samuel and Jennifer Tatianna.
8. Adopt a child or become a foster parent.
9. Learn how to love without condition or expectation.
10. Travel the route of my favorite children's book, Homecoming.
11. Run a marathon.
12. Learn how to ski well enough to do a double diamond course.
13. Show someone Jesus who didn't know him before.
14. Sing in public.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Vulnerability

I'm not someone who "does" vulnerability well, but I admire those who seem to live in a state of open vulnerability. (You know who you are.) I don't know if it is the fact that at different times in my life that I have been told that it is not ok to be vulnerable or if it is me that is cautious to place my vulnerability in someone elses's hands.

I think it is some of both.

Last night, at house church, we were talking about the season of Lent and what we felt God was calling us to "give up" or to "take on." One of the questions we were called to ask ourselves in our private times of devotion was the following, "How can I use this season of lent to become more vulnerable? How can I help others become more vulnerable? How can I help create a safe place for that to happen?"

It was as if that question triggered in the minds and hearts of those in house church the ability to be open. One confession, then another, and another.

As we laid hands on each other to pray, I realized it is in that place that the healing truly begins, that in the vulnerability is strength and a binding together of the people of God.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Timing

Now that the tv's off, I find that I have been anticipating having a "tv crash," so I have taken my free time and filled it with things, so as not to be distracted by the fact that I have a tv I'm not watching (or perhaps a Bible I wanted to be reading during that time). This could be a more challenging lent than I thought.

Still, these past few weeks have been busy (though I have to stop acting suprised that I am busy. So goes the life of a youthworker) and continue to be busy (tv or no tv). It has been three, nearyly four years of busy.

Yesterday, after I'd slept in, had coffee and lunch with Suz and gone shopping with another friend, I realized that God, in His timing, had answered my prayers from a year ago. He has provided for me a place that feels like home, with people that feel like family. Not one thing that I brought before the Lord (in a bit of a petulant state, I might add), did he neglect to answer. Silly, particular things and in more than one way. He answered more fully and richly than I could have imagined.

I guess, though, that it has always been about God's timing and working in my life. Had I not had last year would I have come to the place where I am now?

I see that God is good and active in my life. I see through others that He is faithful to me, that He loves me, that He has answered the groanings in my heart and soul.

So, I continue to trust God, in His perfect timing, for other things as well.

The Big 26

26 sounds old. At 26, no one can really say, "oh so you're a college student?" anymore. 26 denotes some form of adulthood.

My 26th birthday was one of the best in recent memories. From all the facebook greetings and the spontaneous singing from the third and fourth graders and the homemade cards on Tuesday to Friday night's dinner, I have felt truly blessed. I hope this good beginning is a sign of a very good year.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Ripped

Sometimes I wish that I was a Jewish person living in ancient times. Grief was very visible. You ripped your garments, covered your face with ashes and were allowed to wail at the top of your lungs. Grief was very apparent.

How comfortable would it be to have that visible grief. Everyone would know that there was something you were grieving. When Jesus was taken before Caiaphas to be tried, Caiaphas ripped his robes in grief and rage; Job, in mourning, ripped his robes and sat down in a pile of dirt. Grief seems so easy. That outward demonstration of grief clearly showed your inward condition.

However, in last night's reading from Joel, God calls us to "rend our hearts and not our garments." God calls us to tear our hearts in mourning, to tear our hearts in sorrow, in repentance.

Of course, God has always been more concerned with our inward condition than our outward demonstrations. In Hosea he tells us that he desires, "mercy, not sacrifice," and in last night's Gospel reading we heard that we are not to pray outloud on the streets, but quietly, in our rooms.

How fitting for the beginning of lent, the season of reflection and repentance, of mourning, that we are called to tear our hearts in preparation for the tearing of our Savior's.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ash Wednesday

First, an introduction:
At Youth Quake with my Middle Schoolers this past weekend, I got a little emotional (I'm learning that's a combination of lack of sleep and stress). During family time, I cried as I told my kids just how much I want them to know Jesus and His love for them, how I prayed that weekend was the beginning of them experiencing Jesus in a very real way.

The more I pondered this on the drive home the more I realized that I don't feel like I know Jesus the way I pray that my kids will come to do. I've been so distracted by other things I feel like I've lost a very good friend in the process.

Last year, my friend, Spode, gave up television for her lenten fast. While I thought she was maybe a little crazy (or a lot crazy), I admired her for that and saw God really working through that time of television silence.

A few weeks ago, after watching the same episode of Scrubs for the bajillionth time before falling asleep to the noise of the television, I realized that TV has become a distraction for my spiritual life. The noise of the tv has drowned out the quiet movement of the Holy Spirit and I need a break.

I need to re-focus.

So, this Lenten season, I am turning off the TV and re-reading the Gospels during those times of quiet and hoping to reacquaint myself with this Jesus that I follow.

Yes We Can

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Birthday

Today, while teaching religion class, one of the girls asked what exactly I do (I'm pretty used to it by now). After telling them that I work with the High Schoolers and Middle Schoolers that go to Messiah one of them asked how old I was.

I said that I turned 26 today, which turned into a spontaneous singing of Happy Birthday by the 3rd and 4th grade class and a handful of homemade cards.

It was the best kind of "Happy Birthday song" I've ever heard.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Whoops

So, today was an insanely busy Sunday. I had children's message, sunday school, an adult leader meeting with those going to youth quake, children's message, voters meeting and in a few minutes, small group. The day started out great, I got to church early, gave my children's message round one at early service and was helping the acolytes fill their tapers (or as they call them "fire sticks"), and spilled oil all down my pants. Not only did I look like I could not control my bladder, I had to run home in between early service and sunday school to change. Awesome.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pursued...

A few weeks ago I got a call from my Aunt asking if she could pass my number on to a boy that she met at a party, I said that she could pass on my email address and we could go from there.

Apparently, it's going. Contact from said boy has been made via email and while I have responded, I remain a little weary about this whole, "let's set Hannah up with whoever is available" fever that seems to be gripping, well, everyone I know in these past few weeks.

It occurred to me earlier today that as my Aunt has now taken up for me the position of matchmaker that I am now either going to have to a) marry the boy that she wants me to or b) find a spectacular match on my own.

Neither of these choices seem like they are going to be particularly fruitful.

Crap.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Semi-Adventure in Oklahoma City

Earlier this week, I finally got up the nerve to ask one of the girls from small group if she wanted to grab some lunch with me. This whole grownup version of making friends seems to me to be much much harder than elementary school when all you needed was a cool Barbie (and trust me, my Barbies rocked).

Even though I've been going to this particular small group for nearly 4 months, my social contact remained largely in the small group setting. Call it fear, call laziness, or blame it on busyness, I hadn't really reached out in that way.

So, before lunch on Monday, I thought about all the possible topics of conversation that I could bring up in case of a dreaded lull, but found out that within about two seconds that I didn't really need to be worried. I think I have found a soul sister, a kindred spirit, a good friend. Yay!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Journey

"She took a midnight train going anywhere..."

Ok, so it's not that kind of Journey. This weekend, the high schoolers are going to Journey in January at Camp Lutherhoma in Tahlequah, OK.

Journey is by far one of my favorite retreat weekends, albiet the campy-ness and coldness that accompany it. Journey is a retreat that is planned and led by high school students from all over the state of Oklahoma. These youth plan for this for months and willingly give up a lot of their time and energy to make this weekend work.

This year's theme is "Good Morning Journey" and is supposed to address the urgency of our faith. I'm excited and interested to see how it's addressed.

Mostly, I'm excited about Journey for three reasons 1) It is a GREAT opportunity to spend some QT with the kids at much church without having to really be in charge of anything other than the youths themselves. 2)the youth are really pushed to think a lot harder about who they are as Christ-followers and how that relates to their every day lives and 3)there are a lot of kids going this year... more than have ever gone before, which is exciting. I know, I know, it's not about the numbers, it's about the relationships, but it is nice when a lot of kids want to come to something that was once only a few (like 2) youth attended.

So, yes, I'm braving the cold and braving the "wilderness" and I am excited. I am excited for the youth going, for the other adult chaperone going, and for myself. Is it time to go yet?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fears and Fifth Grade Religion Class

"What do you think demophobia is?"

"FEAR OF DEMOCRATS!!"

You gotta love 5th graders.

Quotable

"Oh HELL no, I am WAY more of a prude than that!"

My hairdresser Anna, as we were talking about boys who try to hit on us.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Thankful

Many thanks to the spode. Without her I would descend into a swirling vortex of crazy.

Also, one would think that as a "Youth worker," (I'm not sure why the quotes), that I would look past outward appearances and see the "goodness within."

I'm afraid I am just too shallow. Attractiveness is a must.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Swimming

In the summer, I'm not the kind of girl who does a cannonball straight into the pool. I like to dip my feet in, comment on how cold it is, let my toes get used to the water, get in a little bit farther, and repeat until I'm completely submerged.

Getting back into the work schedule has been something of a cannon ball this week (or more likely, a belly flop). It has been and continues to be insane. I am ready for this week to be over.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Christmas Vacation

Highlights from Illinois:

*My grandpa's appreciation over all his new pajamas (that's all he asked for.) He promptly told us, "Now I won't have to sleep naked anymore" (Thanks Grampy for THAT.)
*My Aunt's suggestion to go out and then another Aunt's comment,"that new place in town just put in a pole!" (ummm, what kind of dancing do you think that we're going to do?)
*Lunch at the Freeze with Jenny P. Just like old times (only we weren't the ones doing the cooking.)
*Prom dress shopping with the little sister.
*Hanging out with the brother.
*Apples to Apples with my Dad's side of the family.
*Baking cookies with my mom
*Realizing that even near 26 year-olds enjoy owning American Girl Dolls.
*Wicked. Amazing.

*Mahesh, the shopping cart and the lawnmower.
*Good sushi and the inquisitive girl.




And now, some pictures....





















1. Sydney with her amstel light beer bottle. Before you think we're serving minors, it's filled with $80.00 worth of pennies.
2. Kristy and I before WICKED!
3. Miller's Pub: Chicago... no relation
4. At American Girl Place. :)

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Simple Life

One of the things about growing up in a small town is that you know EVERYONE. When you leave that small town and then come back for an extended stay, you're almost certain to run into someone that you know and haven't seen in forever, at the grocery store, getting gas, whatever. I'm usually pleasantly surprised by these run-ins and enjoy the chance of catching up with people.

One day during vacation, I met my friend Jenny and we had lunch at the freeze (where we worked in high school--formally a "tastee freeze" of "a little ditty 'bout Jack and Diane" fame). I ran into the equivalent of my high school sweetheart. It had been about 18 months since I had last seen him, about 3 years since the drama of the high school reunion.

The times that I've run into this boy I am always reminded of the life that I could have possibly had, bittersweet in its' simplicity. We would have hung out the summer before our freshmen years of college. We would have dated throughout our college carreers (his a two, mine four). And like every country song ever written, we would have gotten married, bought some land and settled down.

Obviously, my life hasn't turned out to be quite that simple. However, the beauty of the complications makes my life more full than I could have imagined at 18. Had I followed that path, I never would have met my college friends, or the high schoolers and middle schoolers that I work with, or my friends here. I never would have learned what it meant to live on my own, to have a chance to get to know myself.

This life is infinitely more complicated and infinitely more beautiful and I am thankful for that.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Year-End

Ah, 2007. I'm happy to see you gone.
I was very, very ready to begin the final countdown into 2008. Good Riddance 2007.

And just so you don't think that I am completely cynical, here's my list of things that affected my year. In 2007 I:

1) Fought for my job.
2) Survived and enjoyed an 8 day trip to Florida with the high school students and got to see my middle schoolers--the "David and Goliath" group, shine at a service project in New Mexico.
3) Took vacation for me that wasn't attached to any family time (Hello, Colorado!)
4) Learned to ski (though not very well) and hiked in some mountains.
5) Said goodbye to an uncle who will be very much missed.
6) Joined a small group Bible study, made some new friends here and found (quite surprisingly) family.
7) Reconnected with old friends (Girls' Night!)
8) Started getting paid to write and to speak.
9) Learned the effects and consequences of vacation, altitude and alcohol.
10) Got a roommate and a step-dog.
11) Learned why I kept expectations low.
12) Celebrated with Bethany and Mike at their wedding (and tried roasting marshmallows over a candle).
13) Fell in love with my middle school confirmation class (also was hit on by a sixth grader).
14) Paid off bills and took some responsibility.
15) Had an interview with a church close to the parents and realized that I wanted to be here.
16) Spent lots of time with college friends in non-work type settings.
17) Got closer to my brother and watched my sister become a full-fledged teenager.
18) Felt like I am seeing fruits in the ministry here.

Bring on 2008!