Thursday, June 30

The weather satire

There's a saying I've been told this is something like: if you don't have anything to talk about, talk about the weather.

Have you all heard that one? It's pretty common.

But I immediately think that there's always gotta be SOMETHING I can talk about with someone else...any time to chat is a chance to get to know each invest.

So whenever people in a closer sphere of contact (but still acquaintances) bring up the weather, it always makes me cringe. Honestly, it makes me feel like they don't care about me so they are just trying to pass time by talking about the weather. So I cringe, inwardly, of course. Really??? Not how's your weekend? Do anything fun? How is your job? Anything new happening? You want to talk about the weather?? Go online and look it up!

Thankfully I don't blast the people with my mental tirade but I calmly answer their question by giving them a (stupid, pointless, no-one-cares) weather report. But I often refuse to reciprocate the question because as I just mentioned, NO ONE CARES!!!

Okay, okay, I will quickly admit that there are times when the weather is definitely worth mentioning. Like how we had over 40 days without sun...or the year we got snow in May!...or beautiful sunrises or rainbows...or whatever. That may definitely be worth mentioning...

Maybe I'm being too hard.
Maybe people really do care about weather.
Maybe I should be more gracious...because they at least care to ask about the weather rather than just sitting mute and not saying a word.

In that case, the sky is overcast and grey. It's not raining but might sprinkle a bit later. It's about 62 degrees F and apparently we are supposed to get up into the mid-70's, with sun, and occasional rain breaks, for the next 7 days!!! Isn't that exciting!?!

The moral of the story: Please oh please, don't ask me about the weather. If you don't know what to say to me, talk about coffee or some great dish you've eaten or made.

Tuesday, June 28

I have a feeling my own kids won't be so lucky...

Back in August, I wrote about Crocheting and Babies...about crocheting baby blankets for my friends and getting sick of doing them!

Well, it's been 10 months since I wrote that post and guess what? I've started a new baby blanket. I'm enjoying working on it thus far but am not forcing myself to finish quickly, even though the baby in mind has already been born. I'm also giving myself permission to quit the blanket if I get to the point where I hate it all again! :)

But I would love to give these friends a little blanket for their little boy. I've known the husband for-ev-er! Our parents became friends while both moms were pregnant with Josh and we've known each other our whole lives. Josh and his wife are great people who I love spending time with...sadly, I don't spend a lot of time with them.

So...if I finish this little blanket, then I'll have a chance to see them and meet their little guy.

Monday, June 27

Initial reaction

I told my parents on Saturday, I think, that I have officially decided to move to Pennsylvania to attend Philadelphia Biblical University.

My mom called me today at work, freaked out in a way that only parents can be freaked out.

She wanted to know what I'd do for a job? And what happens if I don't find one?? Because then my current job would be gone???

Then she wanted to know about traveling at the end of December!, across the country including two or three mountain ranges!!, and through states that are known to have real winter snows!!!!

All I could do was smile and listen and told her I'd call back later. I work in a small office where everyone can hear my phone calls and I really didn't want to get into this at work, as I've yet to tell my boss the good news that my days are numbered (good news to me, not him).

I'll admit the moving element does have me a little worried but it's still a half a year away...and I'm quick to think that it will all work out (a sentiment my parents do not confidently share).

Good times. :)

Friday, June 24

Just a few things.

I have worn a dress more times in the last month than I have in the last ten years, at least. Crazy. It feels odd but sweetly feminine. I like it!

I recently bought (and gave away) a book on gratitude:

One Thousand Gifts by Ann's a good book (at least the first half I read was good...then I gave it away). I intend to quickly buy it again so that I can finish it up. I have been writing down things to be grateful for over the last month and's a good exercise to reflect on the day and see the good in it.

When I was in Ohio, I got to see one of my kiddos from Germany. He brought me this:

A smores's a donut with marshmallow creme on top, crushed grahams, and a chocolate drizzle. I thanked him, did a happy dance, and told him he is my favorite kid ever! The donut was very VERY sweet and I ended up eatting only half with strong coffee.

I need a new coffee-date friend. The friend I could always depend on for coffee-dates moved to Mexico. Can you believe it? The nerve of her to go serve God in Mexico when I need her for coffee-dates! :) So now, I'm coffee-date-less and I would really like a coffee-date. I guess this a good opportunity for me to build a connection with someone new.

Over the fourth of July weekend (2nd-4th), I'm going to Portland, Oregon! Okay, Portland is only about 3.5 hours south of me but I never go there! I'm going to visit a friend and hopefully get to see one of my kiddos from Germany (now a 2nd year college student). My friend is putting a little list together of sites we can occurred to me that while I've been to Portland before, I'm not sure I've ever been a "tourist" in this could be pretty cool.

Wednesday, June 22

Just what I needed.

The day had been long. And draining.
All I had been listening to, it seemed, was negativity and frustration. I spent most of the day looking at the clock, willing it to go just a bit faster, until the time that coworkers would leave, so that there could be peace and quiet.

All I wanted to do was to go home, alone, and veg a movie, read a book...relax and unwind.
But I had already committed myself for the evening.
I had agreed to go to a concert with my sister and I no longer wanted to go.
But the concert ended up being just what I needed!

The group we saw was Gungor.
Their songs and lyrics took me on a journey from focusing on self to God.
Below are some of the lyrics that spoke to me (from a variety of songs):

Jesus, You’re the one who saves us
Constantly creates us into something new
Jesus You’re the one who finds us
Surely our Messiah will make all things new

I'm looking for a place
that I can plant my faith
one thing I know for sure
please be my strength
please be my strength
I don't have anymore
I don't have anymore
My faith was torn to shreds
heart in the balance
but you were there

always faithful
always good
you still have me
you still have my heart

who is like the lord
the maker of the heavens
lover of my soul
who takes me from the ashes
who heals me of my blindness
who is like the Lord

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

Holy, Holy
Holy, Holy Lord the earth is Yours and singing
Holy, Holy
Holy, Holy Lord
The earth is Yours
The earth is Yours

All the above songs are from their new CD: Beautiful Things.

A little folkish, a little rockish, a whole lot good!

Anyhow, I have one extra copy, if anyone would like to have it.
Just leave me a note...and I'll connect with you about shipment.

You won't be disappointed if you get this CD (through my little give-away or otherwise)...but I suppose if you don't like it, you could probably find someone else who would be blessed by it.

Leave a note if you're interested in the CD.
Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, June 21

dazed and confused

I've been on vacation this past week, roaming around the southwestern part of Ontario, Canada and even into Northern Ohio. A college friend of mine got married and I wanted to witness his joy (and meet his bride, who is delightful). So....since I very rarely go over to that region, I took advantage of the opportunity to see 4 sets of friends: 2 college friends and 2 couples that I worked with in Germany. A very nice and very fast week!

But now I'm back at work and have a heap of things to sort figure out what I've missed and what still needs to be taken care of. Coming back is always a bit stunning. I just need to push through this so that I can feel tidy and organized.

Speaking of tidy and bedroom is a mess. I share an apartment with my sister, which has been and is good, but one thing that irks me...a pet peeve, if you that whenever she "cleans" the main living area, she just throws all my stuff in my bedroom. Yes, I know this sounds logical but it makes my room a mess as I then have to sort and figure out what is there. I guess the thing that really gets to me is that clearly books go on the bookshelf, movies go in the movie case, junk mail is clearly junk mail, and bills go in one neat stack on the bookshelf...but they all get thrown in my bedroom. I'm itching to get my room all clean again as the current state leaves me frustrated and tired...but am not sure if the cleaning will happen today.


The greatest area of being dazed and confused is not at work or my apartment but over my future and what God desires for me. I am 90% certain that I'm forgetting about the Master's of Science in Education degree, even though I was just accepted into the program. And am now cautiously/hesitantly pursuing a Master's of Science in Bible degree...but to what avail? Yes, this degree interests me greatly but do I really want to be a Bible teacher?  Round and round and round the thoughts go in my head. One friend in Canada thinks I should ditch school (as I already have a Bachelors and Masters), and should jump into ministry. While I appreciate his advise, it has only helped in leaving me conflicted and confused. So my prayer has become James 1:5: "if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men, generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." Yep...that's what I need.

So yeah...that's where things stand.
If God tells you what I should do, please let me know! :)

Friday, June 10

Family and friends

--My parents are leaving today (to move to Arizona). I had to say goodbye to my old house, my old bedrooms, and to my parents. It wasn't awful. The only time I got choked up was when an elder from our church, who also happened to be my parent's realtor, stopped by to say goodbye, "as a friend, not a realtor." For some reason that touched me....then, not wanting to cry, I took a big swallow, looked away briefly, and was back to "normal" in seconds.

--I leave tomorrow...which I'm so excited for except for the fact that I am so tired! I have had late nights this week and haven't had a chance to catch up on sleep. Tomorrow (Saturday), I have to be at the airport at no sleeping in then. Where am I going? To visit a number of friends and to attend a friend's Toronto, Ontario! It has been 7 years since I last made it to that neck of the woods and seen those college friends.

--Last night, my family went out to dinner. When we were done, we needed to get going to head back to my parent's house for more packing and cleaning.
So my mom (who tends to talk a bit loudly) said, "Well, let's all head home."
My sister, embarrassed that others around might hear and think all of us adult kids live at home, said: "Shhhh!"
Then my brother piped up saying, in a louder volume: "Us kids need to get home for bedtime!"
At this point, my mom and I started laughing and laughing...and my sister walked off.
I think my brother is hilarious! He comes up with little lines which he says so seriously, that reduces me to laughter.

Wednesday, June 8

A heart that allows interruptions

Yesterday afternoon, I received a call asking me to substitute lead a small group at my church's youth group. I would have the high school girls. I said I would and am glad I did!

The youth group is going through Francis Chan's book Crazy Love, which I've only read a portion of myself. Chan has created small video clips to accompany his book and facilitate small group discussion.

Last night's topics were on letting people "bother" us, obsession for Christ, and living like the early church.

One thing I have had to learn (and need to continually put into practice) is letting people interrupt my time and space. It can be easy to have an be so focused on a list of things, which may all be perfectly valid things...that I fail to allow myself to minister to others. Or there are other times when I may not be loaded down with an agenda but am simply tired and worn down. All I want to do is to be quiet or alone and someone wants to talk.

Jesus was so good at this element. How many times did he seek to get away and people would find them? In those times, he willingly ministered to others even when he was tired and wanted space. And how many times was he in route to some place, only to be interrupted by another person?

One story I mentioned to the girls last night is the story of Jesus healing Jarius' daughter and the hemorrhaging woman. Jesus is on his was to see Jarius' daughter and to heal her of her sickness. The urgency was there...she wasn't doing well and Jarius', full of love, had desperately sought out Jesus. Gotta hurry, gotta get there... Then suddenly, in route, Jesus stops. His journey is interrupted by a woman, who also desired healing from her 12 year history of bleeding. Even though she quietly reached out to Jesus when his robes brushed by her and had received immediate healing, Jesus stopped to minister to her heart. Her body was whole again but he stopped to breathe encouragement and affirmation over her, knowing that for the last 12 years, she has been cast-out of society due to her uncleanliness. Jesus gave her complete redemption. That blessing would have been missed, if Jesus hadn't allowed this interruption!

But the story doesn't end. While this happens, Jarius' daughter dies! Jarius' heart must have stopped as grief flooded in. I sure that grief must have quickly turned to frustration and anger, towards Jesus and this woman...if only he hadn't stopped for her, if only that wretched woman would have left Jesus alone... But if Jesus hadn't allowed this interruption, then Jarius and his family would have missed out on what happens next. Jesus requests to still see Jarius' daughter and moments later brings her back to life! In that moment, Jarius and his family got to testify that Jesus is the author and sustainer of life. Think how differently they lived and viewed Jesus because Jesus restored life to the dead versus just removing a fever! I would be very surprised to learn if this did not impact the rest of their lives.

All this happened because Jesus allowed an interruption. He allowed a man to change his course and then he allowed a woman to pause his plans. And yet, a woman was given healing and restoration, the daughter was given life (and healing), and the family got to witness the power of God. And this doesn't even include the multitude of witnesses that were around...the bystanders looking in who also got to see God in action!

How many interruptions does God give us, to interact and engage with others in a way that could be life-changing and bring healing? How many times do I allow those interruptions to pass me by because I'm too tired or too busy? Oh that I may have the eyes to see God in others and the willing heart to minister to them in those moments!

Tuesday, June 7

Business in the front & party in the back

The promised photo. The third grade mullet.

Great sweater for a great haircut!
Good times, those late 80s!

Monday, June 6

A blast of the past

As my parents are moving at the end of this week, the last week was filled with the passing of mementos. Things that had been sitting at my parents house, got divvied up.

Among the things I collected over the past week were my yearbooks from elementary through high school, other such school-related keepsakes, and (horrible) photos albums I had assembled of two mission trips to Ukraine I had taken when I was 14 and 15 years old.

While I'm bound to toss the (horribly untalented) Ukraine photo albums one day, the school things are being tucked away for further enjoyment. I relish the idea of pulling them out one day and sharing them with my show them what I was like and looked like when I was their ages, to compare grades and handwriting, to laugh and reflect over the changes and memories.

One memory that came to mind, which I thought I'd share, pertains to the Christian school I attended from Kindergarten (age 5) to 8th grade (age 14). During my time, there was only one class for each we would be with the same 12-25 students each year (assuming they continued going to the school). As it turned out, only four of us stuck around from the entire kindergarten to 8th grade journey, with many other students coming and going throughout that time.

For some reason, my class gained the reputation of "driving" teachers away. I don't think we were an especially difficult, needy, or energetic class...I would say we were fairly normal. But of the 9 teachers that my class had, 5 of them left the school after having us. Some of them were veterans and showed no signs of thinking of leaving...they were old faithfuls, so to speak...but after at the end of our school year, we'd find out that they too were leaving. It got to be a bit comical!

Oh, and it was most definitely confirmed that in 3rd grade, I indeed had a mullet (thanks to my mom). When I showed her the incriminating photo, she laughed and pleaded that she had thought it looked "so cute" back then. Gems like that picture should be shared...I'll do my best to share it tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 2

Psalm 143

About two years ago, I memorized Psalm 143. I had read it and thought the Psalm to be words I needed to really I worked on memorizing it.

Last night, the Bible reading plan that I am following had me back in this Psalm. Only this time, I read it from my New Living Translation, instead of my usual New American Standard Bible.
1 Hear my prayer, O Lord;
listen to my plea!
Answer me because you are faithful and righteous.

2 Don’t put your servant on trial,
for no one is innocent before you.

3 My enemy has chased me.
He has knocked me to the ground
and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave.

4 I am losing all hope;
I am paralyzed with fear.

5 I remember the days of old.
I ponder all your great works
and think about what you have done.

6 I lift my hands to you in prayer.
I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.

7 Come quickly, Lord, and answer me,
for my depression deepens.
Don’t turn away from me, or I will die.

8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
for I give myself to you.

9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord;
I run to you to hide me.

10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
on a firm footing.

11 For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life.
Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.

12 In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies
and destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.
While things have changed or developed in my life since I first memorized this, my heart still aches to see the will of God unfolded in my life. I want to be His faithful servant despite what may knock me about.

Wednesday, June 1

Prayer retreat: communion and foot-washing

This past Friday to Saturday I participated in a prayer retreat.
It ended up being a time for me to worship God and to pray on behalf of others.

The highlight of the time there was the communion and foot-washing that we all participated in, near the end. These are in remembrance of what Jesus, as seen in Luke 22 and John 13.

My sister dislikes footwashing. She's the type of person who will shave her legs and paint her toenails if she knows that a footwashing will be happening. And if she has no forewarning, then in the past, she would sit there fretting over her unshaved legs and what the other person is thinking. Foot-washing isn't a normal experience for any of us. I mean, it's one thing to have a stranger give you a's another thing to have a church brother or sister washing your feet. It's uncomfortable. So I appreciated when my sister affirmed the ladies by telling us, "it's okay if this is uncomfortable. Obviously Peter was uncomfortable with Christ washing his dusty feet." But like baptism, foot-washing is a symbol of being washed clean and of identifying with also mirrors Christ's command to serve one another. Serving God isn't always easy or comfortable. Plus, my sister encouraged us to pray over the feet that we washed. I had the privilege of being paired up with my praying over her and serving her was truly a privilege. It was a great unintentional symbolic way to end our mentoring journey, over the last two years.

As for communion, if you attend church regularly, most likely, you practice communion regularly...whether every week, once a month, or once a quarter. But what I appreciated most about this particular communion was a text that my sister read to us. Often, when reflecting on communion, I think about Jesus' physical pain...the pain He willingly endured for me. I also think about my own depravity and how it was my sin that led Him to the cross. But the text that my sister read presented a different perspective. I found the text online and have pasted it below for's a bit long but good! It's from Joshua Harris' Boy Meets Girl:

Why the Cross?

Because it is the unassailable proof that we can be forgiven...

...‘The face that Moses had begged to see-was forbidden to see-was slapped bloody (Exodus 33: 19-20). The thorns that God had sent to curse the earth’s rebellion now twisted around his own brow…

“On your back with you!” One raises a mallet to sink in the spike. But the soldier’s heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner’s writs. Someone must sustain the soldier’s life minute by minute, for no man has this power on his own. Who supplies breath to his lungs? Who gives energy to his cells? Who holds his molecules together? Only by the Son do “all things hold together” (Colossians 1: 17). The victim wills that the soldier live on-he grants the warriors continued existence. The man swings.

As the man swings, the Son recalls how he and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm-the sensations it would be capable of. The design proves flawless-the nerves perform exquisitely. “Up you go!” They lift the cross. God is on display in his underwear and can scarcely breathe.

But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread. He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl upon his spotless being-the living excrement from our souls. The apple of his Father’s eye turns brown with rot.

His father! He must face his Father like this!

From heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes his mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross. Never has the Son seen the Father look at him so, never felt even the least of his hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The Son does not recognize these eyes.

“Son of Man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped-murdered, envied, hated, lied. You have cursed, robbed, overspent, overeaten-fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled, and blasphemed. Oh, the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you ever held your razor tongue? What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk-you, who molest young boys, peddle killer drugs, travel in cliques, and mock your parents. Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolutions, torture animals, and worship demons? Does the list never end! Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp-buying politicians, practicing exhortation, filming pornography, accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, traded in slaves-relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, loathe these things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me! Can you not feel my wrath?”

Of course the Son is innocent. He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must now take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed.

The Father watches as his heart’s treasure, the mirror-image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. Jehovah’s stored rage against humankind from every century explodes in a single direction.

“Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?!”

But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down or reply.

The Trinity had planned it. The Son endured it. The Spirit enabled him. The Father rejected the Son whom he loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted his sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished.’