Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Oh ... No ...

So Uganda is considering a bill that will allow the government to kill all their homosexuals. And potentially everyone who's HIV-positive.

I am floored. Take a look. Please take the time to read the whole thing and you'll realize that the world has a long way to go. Our struggle with human rights is long from over.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

PostSecret

I love the PostSecret blog.

PostSecret is a place you can send your secrets and remain anonymous. At first, I thought it was a lame excuse for people to keep things from their friends and family. If you tell PostSecret, your secret's out in the world and you're free from it. So why would anyone else have to know?

But not everyone has someone to tell, and even if they do, their secrets could be met with judgment, shock, rejection, excommunication, disgust ...

So their secrets remain secrets.

Whenever I read this blog, I usually laugh at least once, jaw drop at least once, cover my mouth in shock at least once, and sigh at least once. These secrets are really interesting, and some I can even relate to.

There are so many secrets unleashed in the world thanks to PostSecret, that they've made books to contain them all.

From reading these for a while, I'm convinced that this outlet has saved lives, or at least made people's lives more bearable.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Learning?

Yesterday, I spent my physics lecture doing a sudoku. I sat next to a friend who played solitaire on his iPod and who texted me in the middle of lecture, “If we’re not paying attention, what are we doing here?” I didn’t know. To not be rude? To fulfill obligation? In hopes that we’ll retain something? I know it’s me that’s responsible for my education. But what can I do if I’m simply not engaged? How much can I force? What if I don’t care what thermal convection means? I don’t care about thermal convection because I don’t understand how I’ll use it and how it will help me better the world. And I definitely don’t understand how it applies to Zoology or the things I’m passionate about.


Ironic. I went to my next lecture (The Information Society) and we talked about education and how it’s not all it’s cracked up to be anymore. We watched a video that shocked me but made sense at the same time.


I guess this blog in and of itself is a testament that I am learning. Half of what I write on here has to do with what I’m learning in class. This blog is a collection of my reflections and processing of the information I’m given in class. But still, why am I checked out half the time?


I guess we all need to learn how we learn and then get that for ourselves. But what if what we need is not available? I've been questioning my state university education, not because I don't think it's not good enough, but because much of the time I'm not getting what I need.


Attention. Dialogue. Human interaction. Some of that is missing here.


And I miss what this embodies:

(cheesy yes, but what they claim is true)


Kaplan University offers a solution: listen to America’s students and design education to fit their needs. But I think a question remains. HOW?

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Madison Community

I found a church!

It's so hard to "church shop." I even hate that term because it feels like I'm analyzing how well a church will be beneficial to me. This is important, but it feels selfish at the same time. You also have to look at the ways in which you can bless a community. It's a tough balance between getting what you know you need and being willing to give to a church that is imperfect (as they all are).

I've found a church that I feel home at. I'm so content here and it feels so right. I have no desire to look anywhere else. I leave every Sunday inspired and it's real church. It's Damascus Road Church. They embody what I feel church should be.

The preaching gets my heart every week. It's a bold kind of preaching that gets in trouble because it challenges the way church is. It's the kind of word from God that calls us out of our comfortable buildings.

"We are gonna be a people who remembers the poor."

"I think the church is a joke if we don't do something."

Damascus isn't pristine. In fact, there's a whole slew of different kinds of people. Of all ages. Of all backgrounds and lifestyles. And they come as they are ready to be different. We are all ready to be challenged out of the ways that we're living. Even if we feel we're in line with Christ, we want to be better because we know we still fall short.

What's becoming DR's mission statement is part of Isaiah 58:

6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD's holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I just love people

I had such a good afternoon yesterday. And it was all because of interactions and connections I had with friends and with strangers, too. I think we forget how much we can get out of just meeting with people - no matter who those people are or how well we know them.

I met with a friend for coffee on State Street. We talked about YWAM and family and our dreams and school and ... we talked for an hour but could've gone forever. From her, I learned that you can find familiarity and a home in someone even in a crowd of 40,000 students. You can find depth in someone you don't know very well.

I was on a high after that. And a 15-minute walk took over an hour.

I ran into some friends of mine who hang out on State Street. They're a homeless community of people persons. The funny thing is is that whenever I see them, they give me something. I wonder, shouldn't it be the other way around? One of the guys makes jewelry, mostly out of hemp, and freely gives it away. "I only accept donations." So far, I have a necklace and a ring that he just gave them to me. Another guy, who I met yesterday for the first time, had a bag of stuff and gave me a pink rock, a "love rock." I'm hoping it has no heavier meaning than I want. Haha. It's interesting that the people with the least are the most generous. From them I learned that nothing physical is worth keeping and generous giving can bring you more joy than what you're giving away.

A few blocks past them, I ran into a Greenpeace representative. Again, looooong, joy-giving conversation. This guy was so interesting. He's a former Marine who spent over 6 years in the Middle East. He got shot twice - once ended up being 2 centimeters from his heart. He's moved all over the US and is so passionate about conservation. He has a warm heart and just wants to talk to people about what he's passionate about. From him I learned that everyone has a story worth hearing, including the people who try to pull you out of your routine to take a survey, hear some facts, or donate some money. Psst, you can always say no. But their stories are invaluable.

Here's my challenge: talk to someone you don't know today. Take interest in them. Hear their story. Learn something. Be inspired.

Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interest, but take an interest in others, too. (Philippians 2:3-4)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More!

I had a lot of response to my last post. Here are some things I was referred to that I want to share with you. It blows my mind how much of this we're still living.

An article about a Couples Retreat poster

Tim Wise, a secular speaker on white privilege. One speech in particular is exactly what I've been learning in class, exactly what I've been floored and silenced by. I encourage you to listen to the whole thing.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

We've made progress, but ...

I'm learning that you have to filter absolutely everything. Even the things that are labelled as good.

I had an ironic moment. I was in a review session for my Contemporary American Society class. Yes, you've heard about this class many a times, but for a moment we were talking about race. Racism. Genocide. Racial disparities in prison sentences. Racial perspectives during Hurricane Katrina. Basically, in smaller but still significant ways than before, we are people that still discriminate.

I think it's just become more subtle than it has been in the past.

So I got a little distracted during the race talk and checked a few blogs that I read regularly. (Shhh) I clicked a link to a non-profit organization fighting against human trafficking. On this website, I saw this picture:


Gasp.

In light of our discussion on race, I immediately noticed the subtleties of this picture. Why is the victim white and the oppressor a minority? Why is the good/innocence of this picture white and the bad/evil not?

These are questions I don't feel I can address. These questions silence me.

I've also come across a short video, A Girl Like Me, which addresses the way that black women view themselves and if they know their own beauty in light of society.

To me, the most devastating part of this was a doll study they did - check it out in the middle of the video (around 3:30).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Redefined

Last night, we were visited at PrimeTime (Campus Crusade for Christ) by an a cappella group on campus called Redefined.

They were so good!

It was so interesting to hear them recreate the instrumentation of a song with their voices and different noises (including a beat boxer). I thought it was so creative and beautiful. One of the songs they performed was "You Found Me" by The Fray. The song was there in its whole, meaning all the instrumentation you're used to hearing was present. But it was just their voices.

Plus, they got super into it and soon became a big clump of swaying and dancing people : ). They truly loved what they were doing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

1000 words

I love pictures. I think photography is so beautiful and to capture beauty like some photographers can is so amazing to me.

Words can't do justice so just check out my favorite photography blogs.





Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Halloween

So I know this is behind by a week and a half, but as you know, I wasn't on last week.


But I have to tell you about Halloween in Madison.


People kept warning me about how wild it gets. And I think it does, but Halloween comes aliveon State Street. People don't just put on costumes, they put on characters. And they're in character all night.


For the night I slapped on my good ol' full body tiger spandex.

Yup...


Chris and his friend, Ollie the Ostrich


Rosie the Riveter.

We can do it.


Tetris.


H1N1 flu virus. Uh oh...


Facebook.


Baha! David Bowie.


One of the McDonald's characters (clearly I don't know much about them).

This was one of my favorite parts of the night. He was trying to get a drink of water.

Quite the ordeal through a layer of felt.


Sonic the hedgehog!

Sega Genesis anyone?


Yup. Jesus and Roman soldiers.

Here, actually one Jesus introducing himself to the other.


Other highlights include meeting Wolverine, being surrounded by a Chinese dragon, experiencing grunting cave men, and being sardined in a group of people. Good times : )

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I am compelled.

One of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced is re-entry after going to Uganda. Culture shock. In your own culture. It sucks. But it’s something that you need to go through and the feelings of discontent you’re left with are good.


I have my Contemporary American Society discussion on Thursdays. I leave every week so discontent. It’s amazingly informative and I’m learning a lot - but the thing is, the information is so depressing.


I feel like I’ll always be in a state of culture shock as long as our country is the way it is. Sociology 125 is definitely keeping me from moving on. But I think at this point moving on would be tragic and would make my experiences worthless.


Oof.


On Thursday, we talked about poverty. Beside the fact that it’s out of control, we don’t even know how to measure poverty anymore. In the 1960’s, the poverty line was determined by the amount of money a typical family spends on food times 3. It was assumed that a third of a sustainable income went to food. It worked back then, but now we have more to take care of. Now a days, transportation takes the majority of a family income and food has become a smaller sliver in the pie graph. Even the creator of the poverty line herself thinks that now it’s way too low and should be 170% of what it actually is.


Our poverty line is $22,050 USD for a family of four. Unbelievable.


And who has the power? Those who have capital. Basically, as productivity in the US increases (and my goodness, it has), the rich get richer.


If minimum wage had increased like it should (to keep up with inflation and increased productivity), it would be around $18.00 today. We’re sitting at a federal minimum wage of $7.25.


It makes me so depressed. But as I go through this class (and hopefully as I stay informed beyond it) there are a few things I have to remember.


I can’t forget about Jesus. Even the thought of him brings me comfort in this. There’s a plan and I’m not the only part of it. It’s true that God has made me significant, but I’m not the savior of the world. Be sure to thank God for that because I would definitely fall short.


I also have to remember to not waste my time hating the United States and those in it who exploit people. That, in and of itself, won’t change anything. I remember what one of our speakers on DTS, Chris, said. He gave us advice on re-entry - that we should be ready to relearn how to love rich people. So true. I’m convinced that change comes through love. I have to love them. Every single one.


Obama, if you read this, know that I have no idea what to do. Can you improve our country? Can we have universal health care and a better social wage? Can you start a movement for better public transportation and housing? Go team - next we’ll tackle the War in Uganda.

Monday, November 2, 2009

G'bye for now.

I was just issued a challenge.

I'm taking Library and Information Sciences 201: The Information Society. We're talking about the advancement of technology in social networking, information organizing, etc... We watched a movie in class today about 3 college students who gave up their computers for 5 weeks. By give up I mean everything. One girl even boxed up her computer with duct tape and put it in her closet. Any assignments for class that were online they found ways around. They learned how to use typewriters and to make more phone calls and office visits.

Wow.

So our professor challenged us to do a bit of this for a week. I think it would be too time consuming to figure out other options for things in class, but I will be giving up blogger, facebook, hotmail, youtube - basically anything outside the necessary.

For one week. I'm excited.

I think I've actually been looking for an excuse to log off. To be free. To have more time. To pretend I'm not an addict.

Ok bye.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Looks like I'll have to be more intentional



I've started to feel the lack of me time. Finding myself. Continuing to get to know who I am. Being alone with intentions to be poured into. This is was DTS and the time between then and now was all about.

And then I got to school.

Physics. Lit. Sociology. Homework. Papers. Exams. Studying. Task after task after task.

And me being the task master I am, I plow through them as best I can. Since me time isn't a task, per say, it gets back burnered.

Until I start to feel it. It's like a slump. A depression. An emptiness. A void. It feels gross and suffocating at the same time. It's no fun.

I was intentional this summer at camp about getting my quiet times in. Because our QT's rocked and finally I was learning that I need them. Apparently part of me is unlearning that. Blah.

So Friday, I was feeling that depression, that void. So I did something along the lines of one of our quiet times at camp. I encourage you to try it sometime, because it's unlike anything else I've ever done with Jesus.

I've talked about it in an older post, but I'll explain it again. It's called Java with Jesus. Baha. The idea is that you have a coffee date with Jesus. You can do soda or a walk in the park or whatever you would do on a day with a friend. Just something to get yourself to imagine a physical Jesus walking, sitting, sipping with you. You have to make a physical space for Jesus to be. It's something to get you to look into his eyes and hear his voice; and even though those physical things aren't there, you somehow still experience them. You might be surprised by how real He can become.

I went to the Union on campus, got a coffee, and sat in the Paul Bunyon room. I was sitting in a booth, so I was pretty enclosed, and had Jesus sit across the table from me.

He was so real. So present.

I'm not sure how, and I feel weird saying this, but I could hear Him to the point that He was making me laugh. I didn't literally LoL or anything because there were other people around me, but Jesus surely was pouring into me with humor, and with encouragement and affirmation.

Example of His humor. Before I started my Java with Jesus, I was working on Physics (which I'm not crazy about in any sense). So as we "sat" down, I moved my Physics stuff from right where Jesus was sitting and in my head apologized to Him like I would anyone else. Oh, sorry about my Physics stuff in your way. And He said, Nah it's ok. I created it. Baha! Oh yeah!

He was sarcastic. He was romantic. He was, and is always, everything I need. Phew, I feel so much better and am left wondering why I don't let Him take care of me more often.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Onion strikes again!

My recent favorite from the Onion. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

sacrifice

I was inspired a couple weeks ago by a post one of the speakers on my DTS, Phil, put up. The jist of his post is that sacrifice is hard, but we should try it.

I'm so driven by things in this world. Dorm food can be SO good (I know - weird that I think that) and my flesh can't resist it. I realized this about myself and decided to take Phil up on his challenge to sacrifice one thing every Thursday and see how that changes (or doesn't change, heaven forbid) my mindset.

I wrote material about fasting during my first year on summer camp staff with Redeemer Lutheran Church. When sifting through what people had to say about fasting, I learned so much. Fasting helps us see the raw version of ourselves. Who are we when we don't have food, money, status, the novelties in life to cover us up? What is the rawness of myself, just me? It kind of blows me away.

I think it also helps you realize what you actually need. When we live privileged lives, our gauge on what is necessary and what isn't becomes skewed. I volunteered at Kid's Night Out on Friday. I experienced a BIG temper tantrum by any and every kid who didn't get, or had to share, a balloon. Oh. My. Goodness. It was a hard thing to stomach in light of seeing disciplined, easy-to-please kids in Uganda. But the Friday tantrums made me realize that we do the same thing everyday. Maybe I don't wail on the floor, kicking and screaming, when I don't get something I want. But I do get grumpy when I don't get something I feel I'm entitled to, something I think I need when I actually don't. Poor American ...

I want to learn the nature of sacrifice, to be refined by it. I want realness and authenticity in relationships unhindered by novel and material things. I want sacrifice to become a daily thing that helps me go back to the heart of what kind of person I am. I think here is where God will refine my character the most.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Perspective

Well, the holidays are approaching and I saw a video at church on Sunday that puts them into perspective. This video brought me so much joy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Home?



My best friend, Sarah, came to visit me this weekend. It was wonderful.

It was also weird. She's part of my home. But I've also made a sort of home here in Madison. The home that Sarah is is different from the Madison home. So it was almost a strange clashing of worlds in my head.

And then there was DTS. Furby Street became my home. I missed it more than home home when I was on outreach in Uganda. And each person that was on DTS with me embodies Winnipeg home.

I feel I have all these places and people that make me feel home. And they're scattered. I have one in Brisbane, Australia. They're all over Canada. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio.

And it's so surreal and unnatural when two of your separate homes are together. Like Sarah in Madison. It's fun to have a friend from home in your home away from home, but it makes you miss the home they came from all the more. And you feel out of place - which I am NOT blaming Sarah for, nor am I saying it's a bad thing. I guess what I'm trying to say is simply that the different contexts of my life are separated in my head. When they come together, it's strange.

Yes, I'm confused too. : )

Thanks for letting me process.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Man, I have not posted in a while. It has been crazy!!

And it's funny because this post is taking me two seconds, to share this hilarious tattoo...


Can't wait to actually hear Jesus laugh at one of my jokes. Bahaha.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Contemporary American Society

I'm taking a class right now called Contemporary American Society. Yes, ok, what does that mean? The way I like to sum it up is a discussion about the ideals and dreams that American was built on and how we're doing so far.

What I'm learning is that we are straying, and that our country doesn't seem that great to me anymore. Harsh, I know. But after hearing about consumerism, health care, weak unions, exploitation of other countries, homelessness, and our selfishness as a nation? It's hard to think any other way.

As part of this class, we're required to memorize Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. I haven't memorized yet, but I'm excited to. To me, he brings up the idea that we are nation whose ideals are worth fighting for - and I think fighting for them is required, because they're not easy. Lincoln still believed in the States and I'm wanting to, also. It's good to be reminded of what he said:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

I wonder what good ol' Abe would do if he saw us now...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I love sarcasm.

I don't know if you've ever heard of the Onion, but they write hilarious articles. I was at a bus stop a few days ago. I had just picked up my copy of this fantastic newspaper, and could hard contain myself after reading this article.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kenya.

I'm going to study abroad. In Kenya. Field Study. Next fall. And I'm beyond stoked.

This is perfect.

“The things I miss the most are not the people I’ve met, places I’ve been, or things I’ve done, but rather the memories of specific moments that I was able to step back and appreciate what was around me. In the Maasai Mara it was seeing a leopard at sunset as we headed back to camp. In Nakuru it was when I dished out beans and corn to poor children at a school in the slums or played Frisbee with school children in Kimana. At KBC it was seeing Kilimanjaro everyday, covered in snow or clouds. All of these memories and more have made my experience in Kenya unforgettable and opened my eyes to a whole new way of life.”

Whenever I talk to a study abroad representative or am in an information session, I have to stop myself from screaming. And it takes everything.

KAJDSFLHAWFAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Crazy antics of 2nd floor Gregory Tripp

I am blessed to have the liveliest floor in all of Lakeshore residence at UW-Madison : ) About a week ago, I met a bunch of sophomore guys studying different kinds of engineering or genetics. Mitch, Justin, Nate, and Billy are their names. At first, I thought that they were so obnoxious, but looking deeper, they are amazing guys that really know how to bring people together. Let me give you a few examples.

We were at a Primetime (campus crusade) party on Friday and they decided to make up a new game, "Have you met Billy?" If you've seen How I Met Your Mother, you'd recognize it. Of all these guys, Billy is probably the quietest, most reserved, and calmest. I wouldn't call him shy, just calm compared to the rest of them. How the game is played is that these guys will approach someone they don't know and ask, "Hey! Have you met Billy?" and then leave. Leave to let Billy deal with the awkwardness of how out of the ordinary that moment just was.

But you know what? Despite this game being ridiculous, it brings people together. Connections are made. People are excited to meet Billy once they get approached. Eventually, all the rest of them come back to meet the people they left Billy with.

They are also fans of swimming in the lake at least once a day. They're very persistent in getting anyone and everyone to go with them. It's crazy, especially when you're trying to get some homework done. But again, it brings people together. These guys will literally run the halls of Tripp and Adams halls in pursuit of open doors so that they can meet more people and get them to swim. They live right down the hall from me, so naturally, I've gone three times already. One time led to an ultimatum: me drawing mustaches on them in exchange for a swim.


I have been blown away by how these guys go nuts for meeting new people and making connections. Rock stars.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Phew...

I was on the other side of campus yesterday (which at this point seems across the world!) running some errands before a transfer student retreat. I had some time to kill before it started, so I sat down on the steps of the Pyle Center, which is in a busy area, and journaled a bit. I want to share with you what I wrote because I feel like it's a good depiction of how content and good I feel about being here.

"I think I'm really gonna like it here. The different kinds of people are endless. I've seen people who talk to themselves in public. People who think they're too cool. Homeless people. I've seen weed [no worries, ma! Not offered to me.]. I just want to be engulfed and I feel like I am. The world's issues and its hurting people need servitude. Servitude requires exposure. Real exposure. Not the fake crap the suburbs claim. Oh thank God I'm not in the 'burbs!

"I've only been here two days. Not to say I'm fully adjusted or feeling at home yet, but I already feel a sense of purpose. There's a reason I'm here. Heck, there are probably a few. This is what's good and right and despite feeling a bit intimidated still, I feel like I'm supposed to be here. Or at least it's really good that I am.

"Haha. Just now, two guys on crotch rockets were in traffic in front of where I'm sitting. They had full helmets on and [despite being unable to speak] one [guy] waved to me. I waved back so he pointed to the seat behind him [as to invite me for a ride]. It made me laugh, but I declined : ). I love cute and funny moments like that.

"Hmmm. I need depth. I'm so irritated already with people who are obnoxious so they'll get attention. Trying to impress people. Gosh be real! I need something real.

"[On the other hand], I like that most people here just do their own thing. In general, people seem to be committed to who they really are, who that may be..."

... aaaand then I ran out of paper. : )

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Just a small update.

I'm here!! In Madison!! It's been a crazy week of registering, moving in, and going back and forth between here and home for a wake and a funeral. No worries - it was the best that day could be. Lots of stories and laughter and saying good-bye.

I'm at a point of just withstanding the transition. I'm trying not to freak myself out with how overwhelming all of this is. I have books to buy, a bus pass to get, orgs to check out, YWAM to find (this one I'm STOKED about), friends to meet, welcome week events to attend, and a self to take care of. Maybe I shouldn't have rattled all of that off...

I just need time : ) I just need time.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Even the best fall down sometimes...

I think I'm just gonna go ahead and tell the story.

I had a retreat a week and a half ago - a young adult retreat up at the camp I worked at all summer. Upon coming home, I found out that my grandma (dad's mom) was in the hospital after a bad tumble down the stairs. Cue a five hour visitation and a devastated Carrie after seeing her gram screaming in pain.

I was NOT ready for that.

We got home around 11 pm and the next thing on the agenda was a 8:30 am flight to Colorado to visit some close friends. It was an intense struggle that night - my grandmother is dying and I'm leaving. How could I do that? But my mom assured me that since my gram was so sedated and drugged up, any goodbye I could give her (besides the I love yous I'd already given) would be for me more than her.

So I went. Our family is based on tough love but I would frequently tell my gram that I loved her anyway. I was at peace knowing that I've been saying that to her all along.

The decision to go was made more for the sake of just making a decision more than thinking about what would be best. I made up my mind that if things got worse, I would come home. Whenever I go to Colorado, it's to breathe, to R & R, to be cared for and to connect with close friends that are far away.

I checked in every day with my parents. Things were steady and it just seemed to be a matter of time.

Thursday, I called the hospital room to talk to gram. She was out of it and had a breathing mask, so it was more like talking "at" her. It was the hardest phone call of my life, but I'm now so blessed by it. When my dad's one of fifteen, there's not much privacy. A phone call is probably the most private words I could give her at that point. I had to brace myself beforehand ("Dad, I'm not ready yet."). But I got to tell her that I loved her - I said it at least three times - that I admire her, that's she's a great woman. All the things I believed about her.

On Friday, the Schultz family (our CO friends) took us to Rocky Mountain National Park. I can't even put words to how amazing and beautiful it was. A perfect day. We took a wrong turn up a one way when going up the Rockies. But it turned out to be good because we found the perfect picnic spot. A clearing by an ice cold creek in the mountains. Gasp.

This is what I thought of it - WOW!

Coldcoldcold!!

If you looked at the right angle, you could see through the trees to another mountain. The pines trees just go up and up and up...

Yup... cloud shadows. Where the trees end is the tundra line - above it the altitude is too high up for most vegetation. Here we're standing at about 11,000 feet.

So we went up and up and up and it was gorgeous and I was feeling the glory of God.

Upon coming down the mountains, we went to a glass blowing shop in the cute little town of Estes. I got a call from my dad and stepped outside. As soon as I heard his voice, I knew. She had passed about 40 minutes prior. She was on DNR, so slipped quietly away. She stopped breathing, but her heart kept stopping and starting for 20 minutes after that. Crazy. That shone true to her character - strong, stubborn, and a fighter.

I was surrounded with love. The people I was with definitely took care of me. It was as perfect an afternoon can be after hearing news like that. We walked down the strip, little 9-year-old Jillian holding my hand. We first went to a jewelry store and I found a necklace that made me think of my gram. Whenever I wear it, I will definitely be reminded of her.

I think my favorite memories of my gram would be when I would bring my hermit crabs over to her house when I visited her. I had only a few one-on-one times with her - the house is usually full of people - so those moments were precious. My gram LOVED my hermit crabs and she was so cute with them. We would chat about everything, mostly her. Her love for animals (that sound familiar?). Her childhood. She was such a rascal - she would find snakes and insects and everything the typical woman hates; and would then put it in her mother's or sister's face. Haha - crazy lady!!

How CUTE is she?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Geeze it's been ages!! It's been a busy month or so.

Last week, I had the joy of heading through the Ozark mountains of Arkansas to Booneville, a small town where YouthWorks is present. They are a mission organization that hosts and facilitates high school mission trips. They have 69 locations all over the country, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. We happened to choose Booneville, AR and I'm glad we did : )

All the churches that came to work were mixed up and made into different crews. Then half the crews did work projects while the other half planned and did kids club. Halfway through the week, we switched. I was on crew 5 with kids from Fridley and from Richfield, Minnesota.

We started at Marjorie's house, scraping and repainting her carport. Marjorie is a severely arthritic old lady - I've actually never seen it so bad. Her hands were so shriveled, but she was still so capable. She was one of those people who are in pain, but you'd never know it because they refuse to complain. It was pretty clear that she decided to not let her pain dictate her life. She was joyful and so happy about life. Gosh, I was so inspired by her. Usually, I offer my help to someone in pain, but Marjorie was so capable of anything that I felt it would insult her abilities. Plus, she asked when she needed help.

The week was full of great things like that and people who inspired us to be better people.

I think I'm coming out with the realization that justice isn't all there is. Life lived for Christ has to be a balance between mercy, justice, and compassion. I think it would've been inappropriate to go to the source of why Marjorie can't paint her own carport, why arthritis exists, and what we can do about it. What she needed at that moment was not questions or inquiries, but people who cared enough to come make her house look better in ways she couldn't. I know arthritis should be studied and stopped from ever plaguing someone else, but not at the expense of some good, quality mercy.

The lovely Marjorie

Sunday, June 28, 2009

On That Day...

Heard a really good sermon at my little white steeple church today.  Reverend Jim addressed the recent famous deaths we've had this week and what heaven may or may not be like.  We might see our family.  We might follow Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Mother Teresa around.  And then I thought - why would I do that?  LoL.  I think our reasoning for reading up on these people is because they've found what it means to live like Christ and to make Him everything they are.  We read up on them to learn more about Jesus.  To interpret together what we think He meant when He said this or that.  But why would we do that if we have Christ himself to give us complete understanding?  It reminded me to, yes, go to other believers for their views and beliefs on Jesus in order to refine my own, but to essentially go to the Maker Himself for all I need.  For all my wisdom.

This sermon also helped me bask in what heaven will be.  I think some people get scared when they think they may not see their loved ones in heaven.  But Reverend Jim said something along the lines of the idea that our satisfaction, our dependency, our need is Christ, and Christ alone.  He got some "amens" for that, and I understand why.  I'm so excited to just be with God.  To just be with God.

I typically disagree with something or another in any given sermon.  I find within myself a critical spirit and I haven't figured it good or bad yet.  But what I do know is that it's makes me discontent.  It makes feel alone in some of the things that I believe.  And feeling alone in that makes me feel wrong.  

But it was so refreshing to just be filled up by a sermon.  To love it.  And get excited by it.  And to not have my heart say, "Wait a minute..." once.  

Saturday, June 13, 2009

LIONS and TIGERS and BEARS...

A few weekends ago, I visited the Great Cats of Indiana, a large cat sanctuary for neglected, abandoned, and unwanted felines of the, uhm, larger scale.  They have lions, tigers, cougars, pumas, a blank panther, bears, wolves... 

Uhm, where do I sign up?  

The sanctuary is a small piece of land out the back end of Indiana - Idaville.  Yeah, I had never heard of it before either.  They're always in need of donations and more food, and from the sound of it, sometimes have a hard time even feeding their cats.  

Yup.  Had to resist the urge to cuddle with this one : )

This is why he's the king of the jungle.  Oof.

Yup.  A pissed off lion running at me.  TG4 that fence!!

This cougar was declawed by its owner, making it impossible to groom.  See those dreds around its neck? Yeah, painful.


This is LSU's Tiger Mascot Mike's Mom.  Woah.

The playful one.  Playing games with the staff through the fence : )


Chucky.  HUGE lion.  Seriously - huge.


Friday, June 12, 2009

I wanna be a people person


Camp is officially planned!!  We as a staff have spent the last two weeks brainstorming, building, and organizing.  And let me tell ya - camp is going to ROCK and lives are going to be changed.  : )  I'm stoked.  We leave Sunday for our high school camp.

We have a devotion every day to start out right and on Thursday, we decided to try one of the quiet times that we had planned - "Java with Jesus."  Ha.  We went out to Caribou coffee (yum) and each split off to have some time just listening to the Lord.  The idea of this is to have a physical space where Jesus is sitting.  To make Him more real in your mind and to really focus on what He wants to say to you.  The handout includes different questions you can ask Jesus, my favorite being, "What do you think of me?"

So refreshing.  

At first, God just poured into me.  He's given me phrases in the past when I've needed encouragement.  Phrases that make me stop striving to be something when all I can be is myself.  

"Keep being you, for I made with hands of joy."

"Only the best deserves you."

Those things were just reiterated.  

I also felt how Christ was so utterly present with me.  If He had eyes (wait, does he?), they were on me the entire time.  But I could also feel myself getting distracted.  It happens easily and people intrigue me - I'm definitely a people watcher.  So I wasn't so present with Jesus.  It made me realize that I'm not as fully present with people as I'd like to be.  There are times I have a hard story just listening to people because I'm distracted by what's going on around us or by wondering who else is around.  Kinda sick, I know.  But if I'm passionate about something or someone, I have no problem just doing that thing or being with them.  Because I'm captivated.  

Basically - I want to change my own heart to be more passionate about people.  Even if I don't start a conversation or a chat very interested in someone, I believe that I can change my heart by really hearing what they're saying and taking an interest in that.  Ask questions.  Inquire.  Get excited.  Push myself to feel what they are feeling.  

After all, it's people that matter, right?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

My big sigh of relief

So I've made a decision.  This fall I'll be going to University of Wisconsin Madison to study Zoology.  

Stoked.  

And it feels so good to have to definition!!  Things have been so up in the air these last few months.  My final three came down to UW-Madison, Ball State, and Colorado State.  It escalated until I had a stressful day in which I visited Ball State and my housing contract to Madison was to be postmarked.  Quick decision.  Let me tell you, it feels good to be on the other end.  

It feels like life is coming together.  Moving forward.  

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tennis

I have a good story.

There are a few of us in the Redeemer group who love tennis. We try to play whenever we can and now that Minnesota is finally getting warmer, we can actually make that happen. We played yesterday afternoon at a local park ... ahhh it was glorious. After a while, we noticed that we had an observer - six-year-old Jasmin. There were three of us with one extra racquet. Perfect? I think so. We invited her to play and she agreed right away.

Man, was she good! It was Jasmin's first time playing tennis and she was doing great! Without being told, she already has the cross court concept down. I was very impressed by her.

It seemed like the beginning of something great. This may be my own imagination and my tendency to dream big, but what if she makes it to Wimbledon? Seriously! The look on Jasmin's face as she hit the ball and the speed at which she was getting it? Maybe yesterday was a more momumental day than any of us thought. Even if she doesn't go pro, she already has the love of the game. So, maybe we'll just shoot for all-conference in high school :)

As we winded down, we decided to give her the extra racquet and a few balls so she could practice without us. I bent down to tell her that she could pick out 3 or 4 balls. "I can have four?" Her excitement was beyond words!

We hope to go to that park as many Sunday afternoons as we can in hopes of getting to play with Jasmin again.

Now moments like that are worth making.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The stuff my heart beats for

I love Wildlife. I LOVE exotic wildlife. I always have, but just recently started to believe that I can actually pursue work with wildlife. I'm realizing God's potential, and therefore my own. Who am I to think that I actually have to go at this alone? And who am I to not be great?

Needless to say, I'm excited for life. Scared. But excited.

Jas sent me a photo gallery of wildlife photos. Amazing. Check it out.

Nick Brandt Gallery

Monday, April 27, 2009

The RESCUE

This weekend, a few of us headed to downtown St. Paul to take a walk to the capitol. This was for Invisible Children's RESCUE event. The point was to be advocates to people of influence (senators, governors, celebrities, etc.) about Uganda's 23-year war. There's so much to say about it but simply put, Joseph Kony (leader of the rebel army in Uganda and now in the Congo) abducts children to turn them to violent soldiers. The goal for him is to have killing machines. There are currently around 3,000 abducted children. We want it to stop. And we want people who have voices of impact to want it to stop.

Here's how it went down.

We abducted ourselves for the night to simulate what happens to the child soldiers. People did this all over the world. In St. Paul, we started in Rice Park and took a walk (aka - the abduction walk) to the capitol to spend the night. There we had to stay until we were "rescued," meaning media coverage and a "mogul," a cultural or political leader to come speak. We obtained Channel 5 News and a representative to speak on Senator Amy Klobuchar's behalf. Amazing.

That night I saw people really get together in common cause. It wasn't easy to sleep in the rain (and to see other cities go unrescued - Chicago, San Francisco, etc!), but we did it anyway. That night we wrote letters to Amy Klobuchar and President Obama himself. These will be hand delivered to whoever goes to IC's How It Ends, a lobbying event in Washington DC. I can see how much people want this to stop and what lengths we're going to see that end.

Our home for the night - only a few of the many people there.

Sarah writing her letters!!

Visit Invisible Children's website to get more info and for updates.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


School searching is difficult. Really difficult. I'm starting to see the sacrifices and I feel like a fool for not seeing them coming. Who thought this would be easy? I thought I would maybe go to a less expensive school and it would be a relief. But what I'm finding is that Hamline isn't so expensive after all - especially with the financial aid I was getting. After aid I don't have to pay back (scholarships + grants), I ended up with about $7,000 to pay not living on campus. Welp, that's pretty darn good for a private school where you get loads of one-on-one attention. Good deal - but is God calling me to give that up for something better?

I know nothing comes before my God. But does He always ask me to give up good deals? I don't think so... but sometimes He says, Ok you can go for this good deal, or you can give that up for My best. What'll it be?

Eek!

This is the part where I discern what is better. Where I am to go. Do I really have to transfer schools? I feel like I want to, but staying at Hamline may suffice (no idea) and would be more comfortable.

See, that sentence right there makes me cringe. OoooOOOooooh comfort!!

But is all this education worth spending more money on? On DTS, my eyes were opened to how DANG expensive school in the States is. And more expensive than HU. I almost passed out when I saw UC-Santa Barbara. You ready?

$48,000

GUH!!!

I won't find a better deal out there - but is that the sacrifice that God's best requires?

I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own.
We are not able to plan our own course.
(Jeremiah 10:23)

[lots going on in my head right now. give me a shoutout in your prayers. :P]