Tuesday, June 29

School Hurdles

I never thought I'd say this but I'm considering getting a doctorate degree. Yikes! For years...heck, even one month ago...I've said I'm not smart enough for a doctorate degree but I'm feeling up to the challenge. I'm finding the idea of doctorate studies & teaching increasingly on my mind.

So I already know a few things that I'll do, if I go this route:
  • Go to school full time, thus leave my current job. Yay!
  • Get a Ph.D in Theology.
  • Get to live in a state that I haven't lived in before (most likely)!
But there is one hurdle to get me from here to there: Greek and Hebrew.

You see, my bachelor's was in Religious Education (no Greek/Hebrew required) and my master's is in Intercultural Leadership (no Greek/Hebrew required). However, to get into a Ph.D program, wherever I would choose to go, requires a proficiency in Greek and Hebrew. Some of the programs even required proficiency in a third (modern) language...good night Nellie!

I would love to take Greek and Hebrew for sheer amusement and for the benefit it would offer in my own understanding as well as in any non-professional teaching opportunities...so it's not that big of a hurdle in my opinion. My only qualm is that this would take a year or two before I could even start the Ph.D program.

So I've been scouring the internet trying to find Greek and Hebrew classes around where I live that I could jump into in January, once I'm done with my Master's. The problem is that at a few of the more local colleges/universities, Elementary Hebrew or Greek starts in the fall and then ideally the student takes the second level in January, which is when I'll need the first level. And then the places that offer intensive classes want their students there for a month's time...my boss won't let me go that long. So what's a girl to do? I'm not sure yet but I'm still looking.

Friday, June 25

A homework problem

I have a major project that is due in two weeks.

I am supposed to find a case study of a church plant in a third-world country. The case study has to be at least 5 years old. Then I need to contact the author or missionary and find out if the church still exists and what has transpired since the article. Sounds like a great project, right?

Only I haven't been able to track down a case study yet. The two publications that my professor recommended are not accessible online, either by the school's library or directly. And then to top it off, the archive section on the C&MA website, which is chalk-full of information, is down. EEK!

This project is 20% of my grade and I can't seem to find what I need to get going.
Prayers and recommendations are welcomed!

Thursday, June 24

The Day the Sun Came Out

If I were to ask "what is the something that Washington is known for," almost everyone (I think) would say rain. However, most of Washington doesn't even come close to having the highest annual rain levels, with the exception of one location within our state (think Twilight books).

So why do people naturally associate rain with our fair region? Well because it rains all the time. Most places are lucky enough to get rain in sporadic downpours and then be done with it. We get drizzles. And to then compound the agony, most places have clear skies after the rain moves through. We get grey skies.

Where I lived in Germany, I found it to be a lot like Western Washington...lush, green, trees, mountain/hills. I felt right at home. I remember loving the weather there but what was hilarious is that many of my co-workers complained that it was always raining and they were tired of it. Their comments surprised me a bit because I didn't notice the rain (thanks to my Washingtonian upbringing). What I did notice was the sunny days...when it didn't rain, it was sunny and beautiful! So while they were thinking "there's so much rain," I was thinking "there's so much sun!" That, my friend, is due to the constant greyness of Washington.

Today is June 24th.

The last time we reach 75 degree (23C) was back in mid-September. Seriously! We have broken a record out here...yay! Every time the sun is forecasted, we wait wondering, hoping and partially disbelieving that it will actually happen. This morning the sun burst forth is gloriousness only to hidden an hour later by grey clouds. The sun taunts us. We don't find it funny.

The Seasonal Affected Disorder is a real thing out here. Some of us are wondering if we'll even get spring/summer this year...will it come? I hope so. Without sun, we're all turning a pasty white. We're losing color and are short on Vitamin D. I even had the heater on in my apartment within the last couple weeks.

So what does all this mean? First, Western Washington is quite beautiful and worthy of a visit...promise!! However, I'd advise you all to avoid this fair region until we've had some sun. You'll find us more pleasant to be around then. Second, if you have any spare sun, please send it over...we're getting desperate. Third, if you hear of any excellent deals to fly some place warm and sunny, please advise!

Tuesday, June 22

Sunday at church my pastor's resignation was announced and I cried just about the entire service, not that I was surprised. My pastor's wife even hugged me before church started to which I told her that I fully expected to cry through August 29th...she offered one of her kleenex which I turned down. I have no shame in wiping tears with my hands or sleeves or just letting them fall. I got choked up before the announcement was even made, when we sang "Blessed be the name of the Lord...He gives and takes away...."

But what I did not account for was that when tears fall, my nose runs. Suddenly I was a mess in the middle of church. Thankfully my mom had tissue in her purse and rescued me. Then after the news, my pastor went on to preach "rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances," wrapping up his I Thessalonians series...a timely message.

Even today, I've been mulling over future ministry ideas and it occurred to me that one person I should talk to about this would be my pastor. Immediately I was choked up thinking that my meetings with my pastor are numbered, unless he will counsel me on the side. My guess is that he'll encourage me to seek the counsel of the new pastor, once we have a new pastor...which I'm sure I'll do anyways in an attempt to establish that relationship.

You know, I'm beginning to think that change is overrated! I mean, sure, I want almost everything in my life to change but that's besides the point.

Saturday, June 19


I received a letter today. A letter that has brought grief and tears.
My senior pastor has submitted his resignation effective August 29th.

My pastor has been our church's pastor for about 30 years. 30 years!!! That longevity is not common but nor are we ready to see him go. My church has been so blessed to have him and his wife involved with our church. He has journeyed alongside all of us. He has taken our church through highs and lows, always pointing us to God.

Seeing as I've been a part of this church for about 21 years, my pastor has been present and involved in my life for all of my formative years. He has wholeheartedly supported me as I discerned God's call to ministry; he has mentored me practically in ministry and through his wise counsel. He's the one I've envisioned officiating at my wedding and dedicating any kids and sending me off into ministry. Sure all of that can more or less still happen but everything at my church will inevitably change under new leadership. Yes, change can be good and yes, I know that God is in all things and yes, my pastor deserves to retire but yes, this also kind of sucks.

I think it's safe to say that the grief and tears will continue all the way to August 29th.

Friday, June 18

The day I fought for 83 cents

As part of my job, I have to match the invoices to the orders and then make sure we receive brokerage for each order. It can be tedious at time but it's important.

Sometimes in my paper shuffling, spreadsheet entering, and whatnots, I'll find some old orders that we haven't been paid for. When this happens, I usually email the company with the list of customer names and purchase order numbers and ask them to dig back into their system and see if they paid us (because I could have missed something) or to pay us accordingly.

Well, this happened one time with the dairy company we work with, Challenge Dairy. I found 9 orders that we hadn't been paid for. So off went my email asking for our money. Back and forth our emails when as they did some research and I gave them more information where possible. We finally figured out that three of the orders had been paid but the remaining six had not been.

Now, each of these 9 orders were special orders, sold to Costco, for 1 bag (55 lbs) of milk powder, which I was aware of. Another thing I was aware of was that for milk powder, Challenge Dairy only paid us .25% per pound. That's right...not a whole lot. But I didn't do before starting this whole fiasco was to figure out exactly how much money was at stake here.

So imagine my surprise when I receive the following:
CD: I will add them to next month’s commission payment (payment for these 6 orders totals $.83).
Me: The total for all six is $0.83?? Woop-de-doo…had I known that I’d probably would have ignored them. Oh well…thanks for checking into it. We’ve already spent that amount just in me typing these emails.
CD: Yeah – I thought that whopping amount was pretty funny. I tried to keep the sarcasm out of my email when I gave you the total amount owed. Glad you saw the humor in it too.

I promptly informed my boss that he MUST spend that $0.83 very wisely...I had worked so hard for it. I can just imagine that my co-workers at Challenge Dairy must have had a good laugh over this. I know we did at this office!

Thursday, June 17

Potato & Ham Soup

I have been somewhat on a soup kick lately. Even if I'm not making soup, I'm looking at soup recipes. Soup, soup, soup, soup, soup...maybe it's because summer hasn't yet made it to Washington, but that's besides the point.

Last night was "sister dinner" day and I was in charge of planning and preparing the dinner. So I made Potato and Ham Soup with a side of cornbread...oh man, it still sounds so very good!

Let me briefly tell you about a little quirk of mine. Whenever I taste something that is super good (and typically its savory, not sweet, I find) I make these little involuntary sighs with each bite. It's pretty funny but I promise you that I do it without thinking. It's like I can't help myself.

Last night soup brought out the sighs again. It was that good!
If you like potato soup, try this one...it doesn't take long to throw together.

I should note that the only changes I made was to use bouillon cubes instead of granules....3 cubes for the recipe should do nicely. Plus I added dill and about a teaspoon of salt. Heavenly!

Wednesday, June 16

Cloudy with a chance of mood swings...

Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him...Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. I Samuel 16:14, 23

I remember reading this as a child and teen wondering how the Lord would/could send an evil spirit. I still don't have an answer but I do feel like I understand these verses a bit more.

Lately, I've been having days where I wake up and I am just as fine as can be. Then a couple hours later, I find that a sour mood has quickly settled on my mind and heart, tainting everything about me...my outlook, my thoughts, my relationships, etc. I become crabby Mindy or irritated Mindy or even angry Mindy. I hate it...I hate being like this!

When these moods strike, I often will stream music through my computer...either Delirious or the local Christian station. I figure that even if only one or two songs get to my heart and mind, then I will be that much better for it.

I could blame these moods on the long (very long) stretch of grey skies, cool temperature and constant rain or a dozen other things...but I know better. My heart and mind are not being daily anchored into the Spirit of God.

You see, I'm not that different than King Saul. I need the Spirit of God to be present in my life for there to be any good in me. If the Spirit of God isn't present then my selfish, prideful heart turns sour. I don't want my life to end up like Saul's, chasing one battle after the next out of self-preservation.  I'd rather be like Exodus 14:14; The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still! That kind of stillness comes from a place of contentment, trust and wisdom.

Monday, June 14

If old ladies can handle it...

A few weekends ago, my friends from Calgary, who were in Vancouver, BC, drove down to visit. They had the benefit of seeing Seattle at its finest.

After walking all around Seattle, my friends were super hungry. So we went to a restaurant, which I think was a bit more costly than we were expecting...but whatever...live and learn, I guess.

So I was perusing the menu, not being super hungry, and wondering what to get. Should I be good and order a salad or should I go for the Chicken Pot Pie that sounded oh-so-good? My fear though was that sometimes the Chicken-Pot-Pies at restaurants are enormous. So I decided to ask the waitress of her thoughts.

It's not too big. It looks bigger than it really is. But I've seen old ladies polish it off without any problems.

Sold! Bring me this Pot Pie! 15 minutes later...

Yes, that is a dinner plate underneath. Yes, the pot pie is the size of a dinner plate. Seriously I spotted the beast on the tray as the server was walking our way and I believe my exact words were "holy crap!"  After that, I was momentarily speechless. My two friends starting laughing and once the momentary shock wore off, I joined in.

The waitress was not totally incorrect. While the circumference is huge, the depth was quite shallow. It's all bark but no bite. However, she was incorrect about one thing; unlike those old ladies, I was not able to finish my pot pie. Oh well!

Wednesday, June 9

Once a youth worker, always a youth worker...

Okay, so maybe that's not the case for everyone but it's the case for me.

I remember the time that I first thought "I think God wants me to be involved with youth." Humorously, I had already been involved with youth for a few years by that point. Let me explain.

All throughout my years in youth group, I was one of those really good kids who volunteered to help with everything, lived as best as I could according to God's truth, and was a leader among the students, in many regards. So upon starting community college, it was a natural fit for me to transition into youth leadership, which I did for two years and loved! It was through this ministry that I felt God calling me into full-time ministry.

So then I went away to Bible College. Part of my degree required that I do an internship, which I felt God wanted me to complete at my home church. My only stipulation was no youth ministry, mainly because I already had experience there and wanted to grow in other ministries. However, God had other plans.  One month after my internship started, the youth pastor left and suddenly I was in charge of the middle school program. I love middle schoolers now but I did not love them then...plus my brother was in middle school that year...an added complication. I would to love tell you that I made the most of it and led them closer to God and started many great things with them but the truth is that I had a rotten attitude about the whole experience and could not have been more excited to walk away from my internship by the end. All I knew is that I was done and done with youth ministry. Hasta leugo...au revoir...auf wiedersehen!

However, God had other plans. I'm still not sure how this came to be, to be honest, but upon going back to Bible College to finish my degree, I found myself to be a co-leader of a youth ministry team. This is when I thought, "I think God wants me to be involved with youth." I felt a bit like Jonah, trying to get away from youth but finding myself continuing in position to minister to them. It was through this ministry that I came to "re-love" youth ministry.

Since then, I served in Germany for two years with primarily middle-school students (a group I now love) and have served as a youth leader this past year at my church.

Last night was my last night being a youth leader at my church (perhaps for the time being). I stepping away from this ministry to do something different: hoping to be involved with a shelter for homeless teens in my city. But I was struck last night that I am sad about not being a youth leader at my church. I've developed good relationship with some of the middle-schoolers and even though I'll still see them on Sundays, it will be different. There's something good, really good, about being involved with youth long-term...you get to see them grow and develop, not just as a teen but then into adults. Your relationships with them also grow and develop as you have increasingly more in common. I have yet to really experience it. Granted I still have good contact with my kiddos from Germany but because I'm not there investing in them personally, it's different. I seen snippets of their life not a progression!

I know God has plans...plans I probably cannot imagine at the time. But I hope that at some point, I can be involved long-term in some form of youth ministry.

Monday, June 7

Wait for it!

Last week, I wrote about the prayer retreat that I went on with some ladies from my church.

This past weekend, my mentor, who was also at the retreat, sent me the following verse that she found:

"For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay."
Habakkuk 2:3, NASB

What a great encouragement this verse is! Though it tarries, wait for it for it will certainly come! The Lord has given me a vision for ministry and He will bring that to fruition. His plan for me is not yet completed.

Friday, June 4

National Donut Day

Today is National Donut Day, all thanks to the Salvation Army, as the story goes.

Today at work, there are only three of us...the other lady is home sick. With a mind to celebrate this fair day, my boss decided to go buy some donuts. Well, him and I were the only ones interested as the other guy has lunch plans.

When Jim returns, he's carrying a small bag...no big deal.
Moments later, he places a plate on my desk with three maple-covered old-fashioned donuts, which makes me pause because I knew only two people would be doing the eating. But maybe he means for us to have 1.5 donuts each. ...Okay...

BUT THEN, Jim goes to the back and makes some comment about his donut be back there.

Me: What do you mean your donut is back there? There are three donuts sitting on my desk!!!
Jim: Well, in case Kirk wants one. We need to celebrate Donut Day.
Kirk: No way am I having one!
Me: I'm not eating three donuts!!!

Can you imagine? If I ate three donuts I would need to spent the whole weekend running just to burn those calories. Oh geez...I think my boss got a bit too excited, like a kid in a candy store. Only now I have two extra donuts sitting behind me that I am not going to think about or eat.

If anyone wants to join the celebration, you know where to come...I'll have coffee ready!

Thursday, June 3

Back in the day...

My brother, two sisters and myself were all bequeathed a 9-year-long Lutheran education by our parents. This education left me many useful tools.

I can say the Apostle's Creed in eight different languages.
I can recite the Lord's Prayer backwards and forwards.
And songs...many, many songs.

My siblings and I still talk about the songs that's we've learned, which then makes the four of us burst into laughter, bonding us for those few moments. We suffered together (although at different times) and survived.

Now, don't get me wrong. Going to the Lutheran school wasn't all that bad. It was just a unique experience. As someone with a bit more perspective, I sometimes wonder what my parent's thought process was in choosing a Christian education and then particularly that school. As for the choice of school, it was probably the only option that was close and available.

But back to the songs. I so wish there was a voice recording thing I could link on here so I could just sing you some of the songs...there probably is a way but no matter. You'll have to endure not getting the pleasure of my musical interpretations.

My song recollection starts back in 2nd grade. My teacher played the guitar and taught us bunches of fun songs aimed to teach us something about Jesus and to drain the energy from our 7 year old bodies.

There's the Bubble, Bubblin' song (which sadly I could not find on the internet); It Only Takes a SparkI am a C; If I Were a Butterfly, and last but not least my school's attempt to reach back to the Lutheran's German roots:

Mein hand on myself
Und vas ist das hier?
Das ist mein Tinkerboxer*
mein Mama dear!

Tinkerboxer, tinkerboxer
rinky dinky do
dat's vat I learned in der Schul!
Ja vohl!

*(pointing to various parts on your body) substitute Hornblower, Meatgrinder, Rubbernecker, Breadbasket, Hitchhiker, Sitter-downer, Seat-kicker!

Then at some point another teacher joined the school and lead the singing in our weekly chapel sessions. From him, we learned Pharaoh, Pharaoh (a song designed to teach us something I'm sure), Shut de' Door (an attempt to be Jamaican while promoting keeping the devil away), The Coloring Song (our tribute to Petra), and the ever somber benediction, Go Now in Peace, which must ALWAYS be sung in a round.

Ahh...good times. Good times.

(If you don't want to watch all the videos, at least watch Pharaoh, Pharoah...totally amusing!)

Wednesday, June 2

Our World

I'm taking a class on Mission Strategies. This week's lecture delved into thoughts on urban/rural and rich/poor ministries. I found the following statistics to be quite fascinating and thought I'd share them with you, in case you're into that type of thing.

Simply consider the following:

1. The world’s population has exploded over the last two hundred years.
  • It is estimated that by the time farming techniques were introduced and the paradigm shift from nomads to settled people took place around 8,000 BC, the world’s population was approximately 100,000,000 and 99.9% rural.
  • By the time of Christ, it had grown to 169,000,000 (an addition of only 69,000,000 over the previous 8,000 years)!
  • By 1650 AD, there was an estimated 500,000,000 people on the planet.
  • That grew to the first BILLION by 1830 - 180 years to double!
  • Over the next 70 years, and with the advent of the Industrial Age, the population jumped to 1,620,000,000 by 1900.
  • The 100 years from 1900 to 2000 saw the population EXPLODE fivefold to 6,070,000,000.
  • By 2050 it will grow by another 50% to almost 9 BILLION.
  • Some project that the earth’s population will reach 14 BILLION before leveling off sometime in this century. (Frank Jansen, ed. Target Earth. Colorado Springs: Global Mapping International. 1989:12.)
  • Presently, there are 6,453,628,000 people inhabiting the earth of which 49% are classified as “urban dwellers”. In 1900 it was closer to 14% urban! (David Barret and Todd M. Johnson, “Documenting Global Statistics of World Mission” in The International Bulletin of Missionary Researc”, Vol 29, No 1. January 2005:28-29.)
2. The growth of the world’s cities, however, superseded the pace of population growth.
  • Enoch, the first city to be built (Gen 4.17), rose from the Middle Eastern plains soon after man was ousted from the Garden of Eden and in direct disobedience to God’s commands to Cain.
  • Babel, the first major center of urban power was built by Nimrod - who was some kind of city builder! Check out Genesis 10.9-12 and count the number of cities this man built. Nimrod was a compulsive city builder! I dare say his equal has not since been duplicated.
  • Jericho, the oldest existing city on earth, was probably first built around 8,900 BC. Its population at that time was estimated to be around 3,000.
  • 4400 BC - The Mesopotamia Valley sees the emergence of cities, city states and local powers vying for control.
  • 1360 BC - the world’s five largest cities were:
    • Thebes - 100,000
    • Memphis - 74,000
    • Babylon - 54,000
    • Chengchow - 40,000
    • Khattushas - 40,000 (capital city of the old Hittite Empire)
  • 650 BC - Nineveh is the world’s largest city at 120,000.
  • 100 AD - Rome is the world’s largest city at 1,100,000. Sixty percent of these were slaves.
  • 100 AD - Teotihuacán is the largest city in the Western Hemisphere at 160,000. This is present day Mexico City!
  • 1800 AD - Peking is the world’s largest city at 1,100,000.
  • 1850 AD - London is the world’s largest city at 2,320,000. New York has 682,000 (3rd place).
  • 1900 AD - London is the world’s largest city at 6,480,000. New York is in second place with 4,242,000.
  • 1925 AD - New York is the world’s largest city at 7,774,000. London is now in second place at 7,742,000.
  • 1990 AD - Tokyo is the world’s largest city at 23,000,000, and New York is 4th. London is no longer in the top ten.
  • In 1800 only 2% of our world population of 903 million was urban. By 1900, 9% of a world population of 1,620,000,000 people had come to the city, but by 2000 almost 50% of our world population of 6,070,000,000 was classified as urban. (David Barrett. World-Class Cities and World Evangelization. Birmingham: New Hope. 1986:39-46.)

Tuesday, June 1

Prayer Retreat

For 24 hours on Friday/Saturday, I was tucked away in this beautiful house seated next to the Pacific Ocean, with 16 other ladies. The program started at 5:30pm with dinner and then developed from there.

The highlight on Friday is that we walked down to this circular cement bunker and worshipped God through songs and prayers. The shape of the bunker amplified the sounds so even though there were only 17 of us, there was a full sound and you could hear all the harmonizing...truly beautiful! I would have loved to have stayed down there for another couple hours. Singing is one way I connect and feel closest to God.

On Saturday, we started off with 5 hours of quiet time. My sister and her team put together multiple stations to guide our thoughts and prayers, if need be. However, we were all encouraged to spend the time with God, in whatever way we wanted, as long as we were silent. It was good.

Going into this weekend, I wrote a note to God in my journal, telling Him that I really want to hear from Him in regards to two areas of my life: career/ministry and marriage. I would be happy with a word from Him in regards to either area or both. And here's what He gave me:

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. Jeremiah 29:7

My greatest frustration is that I feel clueless about the direction of my life. I anticipate being done with my Master's degree in December but am no closer to understanding what type of ministry He wants me in or where He wants me to serve. As for marriage, well...God is even quieter in regards to this. Looking forward, I feel blind and direction-less. Looking back, I see God's faithfulness and His hand throughout my entire life's history.

And while I'm not exactly in exile, the latter verse is a good reminder that God has put me where I am and I should thrive there. I should pray for my coworkers and for opportunities to serve the community. God wants to use me to bless others!

So, God didn't exactly speak to career/ministry or marriage but I did walk away from that time feeling encouraged to trust Him and to remain available to be used. All in all, a good reminder!