Thursday, December 3, 2009


I have been living in Pittsburgh for 3 and a half years now, but I feel it's important to tell people as often as I can that my heart is still in Indiana. (Chances are, if you know me and you're reading this, then you already knew that.) My hometown is the most beautiful place I know, and I love being with my family. Trips home are not frequent, but I cherish them even more because of that. I am so excited for my trip home this Christmas that I have already bought and wrapped most of my gifts! When I'm at home, I really prefer to spend most of my time on the farm. I hate going out shopping, to the grocery stores, and I sometimes even feel weird about going to church. I'm always afraid I'm going to run into someone I know.

I don't like running into people from my "past life." Teachers I had in elementary school, or people I went to high school with -- meetings with them are always awkward, and if I have the opportunity I'll usually pretend that I didn't see them and walk the other way.

Tonight, I was looking through pictures of my brother's girlfriend, who I will meet for the first time at Christmas (alright, call it Facebook stalking if you must), and I realized that I'm both excited about and dreading meeting her.

In May, after four great years living in Pittsburgh, I'll be moving back to Indiana! This great news makes my heart sing! But, I know that once I'm living there, I won't be able to hide on the farm all the time. Eventually I will run into people from my "past life" -- and I am terrified.

My great joy at being back in a place I dearly love is being overshadowed by what I now recognize as embarrassment. I don't like the person I've become. I don't want to meet my brother's lovely girlfriend because I am sure that I won't measure up. I don't want to run into people who knew me in high school or college because I know how they will react: "Well, she's not doing very well..."

I'm afraid that the people I meet will judge me the same way that I judge myself. I'm nothing like the person that I hope to be:: I've gained a lot of weight. I'm introverted and don't like talking to people. I don't put people at ease. I'm not a good networker. I am not a spiritual person. I've not been successful with my career. I have no direction for my life. I earn a crappy wage for a part-time job. I'm awkward in conversation. I am not kind.

I could continue that list for pages. And I could set myself a regimen of healthy eating, exercise, prayer and scripture, soul-searching, generosity, and socializing for the next six months. But I know I wouldn't stick with it and it would be just another thing that I failed to finish.

The chasm between who I am and who I want to be is immense. In the face of such a huge discrepancy, I feel like it will be easier for me to dig myself a hole over here and keep hiding.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I am thankful:

--that my mom is healthy.

--for my dad's dedication.

--for furry friends to make me smile.

--for my brother's enthusiasm.

--that I found my soul-sister.

--for God's providence and faithfulness.

--that I have a job, a house, and a car.

--for this little yellow house.

What are you thankful for today?



pecan pie
apple pie
mashed potatoes
cranberry sauce

To-Do Today:

whiskey-glazed carrots
gluten free stuffing

Let the feasting begin!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Six Things on Sunday

It's been a while... Just a few things that have been bubbling around in my head recently!

1. I'm working part-time at Starbucks. And yes, I really do like it! I like knowing all about the coffees and teas we have, helping customers pick what they want, making people smile when I remember their drinks. But it takes a special kind of attitude for me to be polite when others aren't, to take direction, and juggle 27 different tasks at once!

2. One of the unfortunate parts of working at Starbucks is that I have to work on Sunday mornings, and can only get to church every other Sunday. My soul starves when I don't have the blessing of a community to lift me up and bring me back into intimacy with God.

3. My small group just started a four-week study called the Advent Conspiracy. My favorite bookseller blogged about it here, and you can check out the website here. The four themes are worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all.

4. I've been rereading a lot of old science fiction books that my uncle got me hooked on when I was in high school. Part of me feels like a dork for reading books about dragons and telekinetic powers (different series)... but I also just love the stories.

5. Switchfoot's new album, Hello Hurricane, is fabulous. My favorite lyrics of the moment are from "Mess of Me." I've made a mess of me / I wanna get back the rest of me / I wanna spend the rest of my life alive / I've made a mess of me / I wanna reverse this tragedy / I wanna spend the rest of my life alive

6. Rabbits make great pets!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Music makes me cry sometimes

On my way home from work a few days ago, I heard Phil Wickham's song "Divine Romance." It's on one of my current favorite mix cd's, and it is absolutely beautiful. Despite my familiarity with songs, I can be powerfully affected by a particular one multiple times, depending on my mood and the atmosphere. I'll be honest -- I've cried listening to "Divine Romance" before. Most often, when I am emotionally moved by music, I am worshipping. But the other day, I realized that I was crying because none of the words I was singing were true. I cried because my prayers were not full, rich, or bright, and neither was my life. I cried for everything lacking in my life, and everything I wished that I was.

I suppose in some sense, my tears that day were worship. Only in our emptiness do we realize how much we need filled.

The fullness of your grace is here with me
The richness of your beauty's all I see
The brightness of your glory has arrived
In your presence God, I'm completely satisfied

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A prayer for a new semester

A month ago, I got a surprise package in the mail - a thoughtful gift from a good friend. It was a Celtic Daily Prayer book from a religious community in Scotland. They say it takes a month to form a habit, so I've been taking advantage of the extra time I have from only working part-time and trying to set a habit to use it every day. Yesterday morning I didn't know what day it was, and accidentally read too far. So this morning, instead of reading the same thing two days in a row, I skimmed through the book at some of the other sections not used in the daily prayer.

I stumbled on this one, and wanted to share. I thought it was appropriate since a new semester at the college started yesterday. (It's meant to be used in a group, with the sections in bold spoken in unison.)

Prayers for committing our work to God

This day is Your gift to me;
I take it, Lord, from Your hand
and thank You for the wonder of it.

God be with me
in this Your day,
every day
and every way,
with me and for me
in this Your day;
and the love
and affection
of heaven
be toward me.

All that I am, Lord,
I place into your hands.
All that I do, Lord,
I place into your hands.

Everything I work for
I place into your hands.
Everything I hope for
I place into your hands.

The troubles that weary me
I place into your hands.
The thoughts that disturb me
I place into your hands.

Each that I pray for
I place into your hands.
Each that I care for
I place into your hands.

I place into Your hands, Lord,
the choices that I face.
Guard me from choosing
the way perilous
of which the end is heart-pain
and the secret tear.

Rich in counsel,
show us the way
that is plain and safe.

May I feel Your presence
at the heart of my desire,
and so know it for Your desire for me.
Thus shall I prosper,
thus see that my purpose is from You,
thus have the power to do the good which endures.

Show me what blessing it is
that I have work to do.
And sometimes,
and most of all
when the day is overcast
and my courage faints,
let me hear Your voice, saying,
'You are my beloved one
in whom I am well pleased.'

Stand at the crossroads and look,
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is,
and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.

In the name of Christ we stand,
and in His name
move out across the land
in fearfulness and blessing.

To gather the Kingdom to the King
and claim this land for God:
a task indeed.

Give us to see Your will,
and power to walk in its path;
and lo! the night is routed and gone.

Lord, hasten the day
when those who fear You in every nation
will come from the east and west,
from north and south,
and sit at table in Your Kingdom.
And, Lord,
let Your glory be seen in our land.

He has shown you, O man, what is right;
and what does the Lord require of you,
but to do justly, and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God?

Keep me close to You, Lord.
Keep me close to You.
I lift my hands to You, Lord.
I lift them up to You.

Hands, Lord, Your gift to us,
we stretch them up to You.
Always You hold them.

Help me to find my happiness
in my acceptance
of what is Your purpose for me:
in friendly eyes, in work well done,
in quietness born of trust,
and, most of all,
in the awareness of Your presence
in my spirit.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Productive Saturday

Done today:

shredded 6 cups of zucchini

canned 4 quarts of dill pickles

canned 3 jars of dilled green beans

AND I cleaned up the giant mess that came with it!

It's my first try canning real pickles/vegetables. Last year I did refrigerator pickles and applesauce. I'm really hoping everything works! Everything is in really random amounts because I honestly had no idea how many cucumbers would fit in each jar. I had five jars, but one broke while it was in the waterbath. And the green beans were small because I wasn't sure I would like them.
I think canning and preserving your own food is really cool... I just know that there's a lot I don't know about it! I'm thinking that next year I will try to recruit my mom to help :) Gotta pass on the wisdom of the years!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What is your "Julie & Julia"?

Good movies, like good books, are the ones that inspire you.  When the movie is over and the lights come up, they leave you full of energy and hope and motivation -- whether you are inspired to go and do something new, or to go and be someone new.

I just finished watching a movie called Julie & Julia.  It's based on a book of the same name that I haven't read, so I don't know if it is formatted the same way that the movie is.  I could write a bad synopsis for you, but it is late and I don't have the mind for it just now.  If you haven't heard of it, go Google it and I'm sure you will be enthralled.  I certainly was.

I left the movie theater with a huge smile on my face.  I wanted to go watch reruns of Julia Child's cooking show, buy her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, wear skirts and heels and pearls the next time I make dinner, buy Julie Powell's memoir Julie & Julia, make myself an apron, wear it to cook a fabulous 3-course meal, and blog about it.  Just because someone's done it already doesn't mean I shouldn't do it, too, for my own gratification!

Whether or not I will do all, or just a few of those things, I would really like to know what my "thing" is.  Maybe it's cooking, maybe it's not -- either way is fine with me, as long as I have something.  What is that "thing" that I love to do, that pulls me out of dark times, gives me passion and direction, that I am determined to master, no matter how many times I fail before I get it right?  For Julie Powell, it was cooking.  But what is it for me?  What is it for you?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Spiritual Lessons from Gardening

I've spent a lot of time in my garden the past few days.  I was gone last week, and while it was in okay shape when I left, when I returned, the weeds had begun a full-scale attack to take back the tiny square of land.  It was rewarding to discover some beautiful cucumbers hiding underneath all the weeds!

Usually when I'm out in the garden, or anytime I am left alone with my thoughts, I end up not really thinking anything at all, just repeating a bit of a song in my head over and over.  This weekend was the same, until I started noticing this one weed's growing patterns.  The little green leaves were very easy to pull up, but I hardly ever managed to get the root clusters up with them (which is what you want when you're pulling weeds in a garden).  Eventually I figured out that this particular weed was sending long root fingers out under the ground, popping up lots and lots of these little green leaves and taking over a massive amount of space in a short amount of time.  When I was able to get a hold of the roots, they were incredibly thin but incredibly long, and no matter how much I pulled up there were still more to find!  By this point I was pretty annoyed, and I had moved this particular weed to the top of my kill list -- until I realized that the majority of the weeds in my garden were propagating themselves this way!  They send out lots of little fingers in every direction to ensure that even if you think that you've gotten the main root cluster and the plant will die, the tiniest leaf shoots survive and the pest lives on.  

As I was crouching in my garden, getting really angry at these little plants, I realized that this is probably exactly how sin works for the devil.  When we're off our guard, not paying attention to our spiritual condition, he manages to sink some really big sins (weeds) in us that continually reproduce, sending out their little roots into every area of our lives.  When we recognize the sin and our need for forgiveness and restoration, we yank up loads of the tiny little sins and think that we've gotten a handle on the problem -- but we missed the big root of the problem.  Or, we attack the main sin, easiest to spot, without realizing how far into our lives the tentacles have spread.  

Why is it that it's so easy for the weeds to survive, but the good things that we want to grow in our lives (like basil and tomatoes... or patience and love) take so much more work?


I decided having 3 blogs to keep track of was silly, so I just deleted my crafty blog and imported the posts here.

The Poetry Index is still alive and kicking!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm Incapable

Last week's youth conference was a mixed bag of emotions for me.  The conference was amazing:  well planned timing, a wide variety of activities, the right amount of scheduled and unscheduled time, broad musical tastes, a very spiritual emphasis, etc.  For at least a couple months, I had been feeling very depressed and out of touch with God, and CHIC was a great catalyst to bringing me back into his presence.  But, as any youth leader will tell you, conferences are incredibly draining, physically and emotionally.

I was the only leader for 8 high school girls, six of whom were members of the church.  It's kind of an expensive conference, but it's also only every 3 years, so it gives churches a chance to do lots of fundraising.  The church paid for almost all of the girls (and my) fees.  Because of this, I felt a lot of pressure to make sure that the girls "got" something out of CHIC.  It's a really fun event, but it's also designed to be a deep event.  Naturally, a high school kid's first inclination is to just focus on the fun part and brush over the rest of it.

The first night of mainstage worship, half of the girls remained seated the entire time, even though the 5,000 other people in the auditorium were on their feet with their hands raised in praise.  I was really offended by this, and afraid that it was a sign of what the rest of the week had in store.  Regardless of the pressure I felt from the church, as the girls' youth leader, I wanted to make sure that they "got" it, too!  I said something to them later, about engaging the real reason why CHIC existed -- to bring them closer to God.  The rest of the week, I kept emphasizing that they needed to engage in the seminars and speakers so that God could speak to them.  But the second night of worship, I had a realization.  Even if I forced them to their feet, made them raise their hands in praise and bend their knees in prayer, if I made them answer questions after every seminar and write down what they learned, they still might not learn anything from the experience.  Despite my best efforts, it was still possible that they would leave CHIC thinking about the fun they had and the cute boys they met.  The only person who had any influence over what they "got" out of the conference was God.  It was out of my hands.

After we got home, the Sunday morning church service was devoted to us sharing with the congregation about CHIC.  All the girls were to share at least a little bit about what they had experienced.  I was pretty apprehensive -- I had only spoken with one of the girls about what she had experienced with God during the week.  The rest of them were wildcards.  

Thankfully, naturally, God had been working while I was worrying.  All 8 girls shared some great things about what they had enjoyed and what they had experienced at CHIC -- everything from awareness about human trafficking to a new sense of identity and purpose in God.  Had I two months to prepare, I could not have given a better speech than they did.  Afterwards, one of the parents complimented me on how the service had gone.  I answered, "I had nothing to do with it.  It was all God."  

I heard these words from a Caedmon's Call song a few days after we got back:

I'm so thankful that I'm incapable
of doing any good on my own


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fully alive and she knows, how to believe in futures.

I'm at a conference with 8 high school girls from my church.   It's been an exhausting week, but more about that later. Right now I'm at our evening mainstage session where all 5,000 people have gathered to hear a band, a speaker, and worhip together.  Tonight's featured band is Flyleaf, a hardcore screamo band (they happen to be very strong Christians, which is why they're here).  I wanted to share with you a scene I just watched.

So like I said, Flyleaf is a pretty hardcore band, and people at their concerts get really serious (and dangerous) in the mosh pits.  A few minutes ago Lacy, the lead singer, took a minute to tell all the kids moshing in the front to make sure they take care of each other while they were down there.  She told the boys to be gentlemen and made sure no one needed to get out of the pits.  I'm glad she said that, because I've been down front at concerts much tamer than this one and they are crazy.  But, having been around these kids for three days now, I didn't think it would do much good.  A few minutes later, though, I saw a group of four boys making their way from the front back to their seats in the stadium.  Three of them were obviously escorting the fourth because he had been hurt in some way.  When they got back to their seats I saw him motion to their leaders that he had been hit in the head.

Watching that little scene really touched my heart.  This has been a long week for me, because I just can't comprehend how kids can be so cruel to each other, so hurtful and abusive and crazy.  But seeing those boys take care of each other made me realize that there is still good in the world, that love is still out there in the hearts of kids.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tension is a passing note...

I've been depressed lately.

There.  I said it.  Now it's out there for (theoretically) the whole world to see.  No longer is it just an excuse in my head or a word I fling at my roommate while I am in tears because of some miniscule thing she did wrong.

I'm not exactly sure how I got into this hole, and I am clueless about how to climb out.  I just keep looking up towards the sky.  Sometimes it's beautiful and blue, and I stare at it with longing.  Sometimes it's cloudy and gray, and I'm happy to wallow in my inexplicable sorrow.  I can never tell if the top of the hole is getting closer, or if I just keep sinking down farther.  When I try to grasp for the rope to pull myself out, I can never find it.  I am alone.

I heard this song by Sixpence None the Richer tonight while shuffling through my iPod.

Do I murder when I forget you from afar?
Too drunk on the poison of endless roads and the countless smoky bars.
But tension is to be loved when it is like a passing note
To a beautiful, beautiful chord.

Then, this song by Matt Wertz came on right after.

I will not take my love away
When praises cease and seasons change
And the whole world turns the other way
I will not take my love away

I will not leave you all alone
When striving leads you far from home
And there's no yield for what you've sown
I will not leave you all alone

I will give you what you need
In plenty or in poverty
Forever, always look to me
I will give you what you need

I'm trying to remember -- this will pass, and God will keep his promises.

(I have a video I took of Matt singing this song at a concert in February but YouTube is down for maintenance right now -- I'll try to upload it tomorrow.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Slowly Growing...

A long-overdue update of my neglected blog, about... my neglected garden.
After being inspired by my friend's pictures of her baby plants, I decided to go record the growth of my little plot.

It's had a bit of a rough start...  I started a kazillion seeds indoors in early May, but unfortunately didn't read my seed books close enough.  That part about hardening off seeds by setting them outside in the sun a few hours at a time until they can stand to be planted in full sun?  That's important.
Most of what I planted from seed has kicked the bucket, but a few things are hanging on.  You can see evidence of sun scorching on my tomato and pepper seedlings.

The spinach and lettuce I planted from seed straight into the ground, and it's doing quite well.

All the herbs were completely fried, though, so I went to the nursery and picked up some plants - basil, dill, parsley, and cilantro.  When I went to plant the cilantro, though, look what I found still hanging on strong:  if these little guys hang on through the summer, I will consider my garden a success!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Summer Reading List

The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen
How Starbucks Saved My Life, Michael Gates Gill
Treasuring God in our Traditions, Noel Piper
Organizing Your Day, Sandra Felton & Marsha Sims
Flirting With Monasticism, Karen E. Sloan
Catching Life By The Throat, Josephine Hart
Reordered Lives, Reordered Loves, David K. Naugle

Thursday, April 30, 2009

New Books!

I just got the May/June issue of Relevant Magazine in the mail, and the first thing I flipped to was their 2009 Summer Reading Guide.  As always, they offered some great new books!  Here are the ones I'll be adding to my ever-growing reading list:

Angry Conversations with God:  A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir by Susan E. Isaacs     I've heard about this book before, and I'm drawn to the idea of someone who writes about God with something other than the happy-go-lucky, Jesus-changed-my-life attitude.  Here's a quote from her in the blurb from the magazine:  "I often felt a huge burden of regret over the mistakes I made, the time I wasted in my life; but it also gave me fresh gratitude for God that He got me through all of that.  Writing was like a sacrament.  I was honoring God by telling the truth about my life.  I was honoring Him."

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larson     This novel about a 12-year old genius cartographer who wins a prestigious Smithsonian scholarship (they don't know he's in middle school) and train-hops across the country sounds delightful and endearing.  It includes the boy's diagrams and illustrations of things like "Maps of People Doing Things" and "Freight Train as a Sound Sandwich."  (That's not a very good review.  Check out the one in Relevant or go read the book yourself.)

Made From Scratch:  Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life by Jenna Wogenrich     My propensity for anything handmade and/or eco-friendly immediately drew me to this book.  It's part narrative, part handbook on the hows and whys of independent, sustainable living.

Endpoint by John Updike     The only impression I have of John Updike is from reading one of his short stories in a high school english class -- I didn't like it at all.  But Relevant's review of his new, posthumously published collection of poems and the excerpt they included may convince me to rethink my opinion.  Plus I've been on a poetry kick lately...  

by John Updike

It came to me the other day:
Were I to die, no one would say,
"Oh, what a shame! So young, so full
Of promise--depths unplumbable!"

Instead, a shrug and tearless eyes
Will greet my overdue demise;
The wide response will be, I know,
"I thought he died a while ago.:

For life's a shabby subterfuge,
And death is real, and dark, and huge.
The shock of it will register
Nowhere but where it will occur.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Other Things

Sorry about the long delay between postings!  Recently, my attention has been elsewhere in the blog world - I've got two new things for you to look at! 

The first is my crafty/homemaker blog.  It has existed for six months or so, but I am unfortunately very slow at posting things there.  But spring has brought new activities, including a garden!  Check out the first phases of the garden project 2009 here:

The next is a new blog that I started at the beginning of this month.  April is National Poetry Month, as I've told you before, and that has gotten me back on my poetry kick.  I like being able to use poetry in my writing and teaching, but I usually can't find the right poem that I need when I need it!  The new blog is called Poems I Love: The Poetry Index, and it's half to share great poems with other people, and half for me to be able to find the poems I want when I need them!  You can check out the first month's postings here:

Go visit, leave comments, add them to your Google Reader or RSS feeds.  And have a happy day!

Garden, Phase 2

Phase 2 of the garden called for busting out the hoes and rakes!  Once the grass had been turned under and left to decompose for a week, it was time to work the dirt into some kind of manageably fine, plantable substance.  
Here's E and J working the dirt:

Up in the woods on my friend's property, there is an old cement pool that was used about 100 years ago.  Today, it is just collecting leaves and trash from over the years, but as we discovered, years and years of rotting leaves = the richest black dirt I have ever seen!  While the girls were hoeing and raking, I shoveled up buckets of dirt from the pool and carried them back to the garden to mix in with the dirt.

You can see the difference in the soil here - the outsides have been raked and had the dirt/compost added, while the middle is still dry and pale-looking.

We also planted the first of the cold-loving plants!  Onions and cabbage have taken up residence in our little garden, and I am so proud!  I know deer don't eat onions, but as long as they don't trample them I will be happy!  (Also, onions and cabbage weren't originally planned... my list keeps growing!)  Happy gardening!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter magic

by Leslie Leyland Fields

Had we crucified the rabbit--

yanked him from his fields of grass
and staked him out by paws and tender feet
to quiver, twitch and die in agony
of innocence,
and then, in three days' time,
had seen him hop up from the tomb
but for the wounded paws and feet we felt--

then maybe now we'd talk of Christ,
pass his story down from child to child
and only faintly hint at silly myths of
wicker baskets,
chocolate eggs,
treasures hidden in the field
and some trick hare who died

then somehow disappeared.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Garden, Phase 1

Well, today the girls and I got out and started digging!  Starting a garden plot from scratch is going to be more work than I originally thought, since we don't have the benefit of a roto-tiller.  But we are buff, tough girls, and we will kick this gardening thing in the pants!  We picked a 13x13 plot in the middle of a field in order to get as much sun as possible.  According to my dad, the first step is to turn over the grass with shovels...  Here are some pics of us working hard and getting dirty!

plot marked, time to start digging!

down to the last few shovelfuls!

it is finished!

(believe it or not, I actually DID do my share of the digging, I was just the one taking the pictures! :)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

National Poetry Month

I just read (via Twitter) that April is National Poetry month!  I love poetry but don't read it as much as I wished...  The same could be said of my reading, music, sports, etc...  

Anyway, since I now know that there is a whole month devoted to poetry lovers, I'm planning to make an effort to read more poems, at least for this month, and share them with you occasionally.  To start, here's one of my all-time favorites by Irish author Seamus Heaney.


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging.  I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper.  He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf.  Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Garden, pre-planning

My childhood home was located in the country, and we lived next door to my grandparents.  Every summer, in between our two houses, they and my parents planted a huge garden to share between the six of us, and other aunts and uncles when we had a bumper crop.  My summer chores most often included weeding and picking veggies from the garden (strawberries were the worst!).  
The place I'm living now doesn't have any room for a real garden, and last summer I planted lots of things in pots.  But this summer, a friend of mine who has some extra space around his house, has offered to let me plant a REAL garden!  I don't really know what I'm doing, and the process will probably include a lot of calling home to my parents to find out how to do certain things.  But as long as I can keep the deer from eating everything I plant, I think I'll be in good shape!
I started by going to the garden shop and buying WAY too many seeds, stuff to start the plants indoors, and making charts and lists.  I keep telling myself not to go too big, and not to go overboard and grow so many things that I can't eat them!  But I don't really think I succeeded...  Regardless this will be a fun experiment!  

2009 Garden Plants


beefsteak tomatoes
cherry tomatoes
pickling cucumbers
sweet corn
zucchini squash
yellow squash
red/green peppers
purple/red peppers
jalapeno peppers
hot peppers mix


Friday, March 20, 2009

Start Small

I've been feeling in a "funk" lately.  I realize that "funk" is a very ambiguous word, but for lack of a better one I'm sticking with it.  I've been unmotivated and lazy, and depressed about how unmotivated and lazy I am.  Even on my days off, when I'm allowed to relax and be unproductive, I end the day thinking about what a waste it was.  
Spring break was last week, and I went on a mission trip with La Roche College students to do reconstruction work in New Orleans, LA.  I'm sure I was in my funk for at least a month before the trip, but last week was fantastic!  I love going on trips and spending extended time with people, getting to know about their lives, investing and serving and living.  I like using power tools and learning new skills, and helping other people do the same.  Even though the bathroom situation was inconvenient (there was only one, and we had to switch between males and females every half hour!), I like brushing my teeth and blowdrying my hair next to someone else.  I like mission trips simply for the fun of it.  
But this trip helped me to rediscover something that I've been missing for a while.  One of the results, or perhaps one of the causes of my funk was that I was feeling very down about my ministries, both with the youth group and at La Roche.  I haven't felt good at my job; I've felt unsuccessful and burned out.  Last week I felt good again -- I was engaging students, helping them make connections, asking good questions, challenging people and not letting them settle for easy answers...  I rediscovered my passion for college students last week.  I got some wonderful encouragement from some of the other adults on the trip, too, which was like icing on the cake.
We've been home for almost a week now, though, and today I could start to feel the funk creeping back in.  How do I keep it at bay?

We had some students over for dinner tonight, and after dinner we dyed Easter eggs.  After they left, the kitchen was covered with dirty dishes, newspaper, and traces of egg dye.  I am not a terribly neat person -- my usual reaction would be to leave the mess for the morning, when it would get left until later, which would get left until the next day, until the next day becomes an impossible mess.  But for some reason tonight, instead of leaving it all for "later," I just started cleaning.  I loaded the dishwasher, threw away the trash, put the leftovers in the refrigerator, washed the dishes, folded up the newspaper, took the extra leaf out of the table, wiped off the counters...  And I feel good!  
I'm starting to realize how much the different areas of my life affect each other.  I've been talking about this for years -- the CCO idea of zero dualisms, that our faith impacts all areas of our lives.  But it goes both ways.  God speaks into the ways I drive and eat, and how messy my room is affects my spiritual wellbeing (albeit indirectly).  For now, I'm pledging to do the small things - cleaning my dishes instead of piling them next to the sink, putting dirty clothes in the hamper instead of leaving them where I dropped them, leaving five minutes early for a meeting so that I'm not stressed by heavy traffic, wearing sunglasses, and having fresh flowers in the house.  And little by little I think I'll rediscover the things I've been missing for so long.

Monday, February 9, 2009


I found these great picture frames on clearance at Bed, Bath and Beyond a couple months ago.  They're practically deep enough for shadow boxes!  Definitely good for some 3-d art.  I saw the idea for these pictures on someone else's blog, but unfortunately I've lost the link.  If you happen to have seen it out there in the blogosphere, let me know!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Am I in Tune?

Tonight, our girls Bible study met and shared a wonderful meal and an even better discussion!  (Sidenote:  I love having international friends.  The food is so good!!)  As a discussion starter, we watched one of Rob Bell's Nooma dvds*.  The one we chose was called Rhythm, and in it Bell uses music as a metaphor for God:  He is the melody, and the question we ask ourselves is "Am I in tune?"  

For a while now, I've been feeling like my life isn't in tune with God, though before tonight I wouldn't have phrased it quite like that.  I wouldn't say that I am playing a dissonant chord, or that I'm just slightly out of tune.  I think the problem is that I've stopped hearing God's melody, and have fallen silent.  And my half-hearted attempts to find the melody again aren't working.

Here's a quote from the film:

For many people, their concept of God is built around a God who is outside of everything, a God who essentially is somewhere else, a God who made the world but then stands back and watches it form this other vantage point, a God who's there, and then from time to time comes here.

When I heard those words, I realized that lately I have been operating under the assumption that God is outside of this world and occasionally pops his head in to give some direction or judgement or mercy.  What's strange, though, is that I don't actually believe that.  I believe that God is present and active in this world, not just in flashy periodic displays of his greatness, but also in small details of our lives.  God is everywhere, but for some reason I've been ignoring him.  I see God every day, but I haven't been seeing him.

I asked the girls what kinds of things they do to help remind themselves of God's presence and his love for us during those times when we feel distant and unattached, when we can't hear the melody.  What I realized helps me in my darker times is seeing people who are passionately in love with God, whether it be through watching a Nooma film, reading a book, or talking with a dear friend.  When I see other people who are in tune with God's great melody, it reminds me of the song I want to be playing.  It refreshes my mind and heart, and I remember the things that I strive for in my relationship with God.  It's like the muscle memory we have for riding a bicycle.  No matter how long it's been, we can always hop on and start pedaling again.

*Nooma dvds are short (10 minute) films about a variety of Christian themes. 

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wipe Away Tears

At my CCO Staff Seminar this week, our speaker referenced a passage from Revelation that really stuck out to me.  He was talking about multiculturalism, and actually used a much longer portion of Revelation 7 to talk about why we should be engaging in multi-ethnic relationships and ministries now (the reason:  because Heaven will be one big multi-ethnic party!).  

But this is what John learns about what happens to those who come out of the great tribulation:  
They are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; 
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
(Revelation 7:15-17)

There are lots of different ways to describe the work of a campus minister, or to describe people in ministry in general.  These are some that we use at the CCO:  transforming college students to transform the world.  the CCO partners with churches, colleges, and other organizations to develop men and women who live out their Christian faith in every area of life.  our core values:  all things belong to God; Jesus changes people's lives; we love college students; faithfulness is pursued together; we celebrate life.  

As our speaker was reading through the Revelation passage, he paused when he got to the last line.  "You know," he said, "that would be a pretty good job description for a campus minister.  'What do you do?'  I wipe away tears."  

As I have reflected on his words the past few days, I've decided that I wholeheartedly agree with that statement.  We see so many broken, hurting people in the world every day.  We could choose to become depressed about it, or become cynical about our fellow mankind.  We could embrace the darkness.  We could wear ourselves ragged trying to heal all the broken people.  Or, as John learns in Revelation, we could partner with God and begin wiping away people's tears.  We do not have all the answers, and we cannot fix all the problems.  The world will remain a broken place until Jesus Christ returns to earth.  But little by little, one cheek at a time, we can begin to offer God's peace to the broken hearts all around us, and wipe the tears from their eyes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Word of Advice for Youth Leaders:

Do not leave your cell phones laying around for kids to pick up.

Instead of spending time telling them about Jesus, let them play with your new laptop:

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

My roommate and I happen to celebrate our birthdays just two weeks apart.  Being born in May, we were both always the youngest in our classes at school, and so she takes great pleasure in the fact that she is older than me.  It is apparently a good month for having babies, as we've discovered that many of our friends also share May birthdays.  (In November we all celebrated our half-birthdays together with ... a half birthday cake!)
2009 also happens to be a "milestone" year for many in my life.  E and I are turning 25, and other friends are turning 21, 30, and 35.  Perhaps because people of like minds gravitate towards each other, or perhaps just because of a beautiful coincidence, a lot of these friends (myself included) are expressing a kind of dissatisfaction with life at this point.  E.g., "I never imagined that at 25, or at 30, or 35, that I still wouldn't have done this with my life."  
All the discussions with different friends eventually led to the creation of my "25 for 25" list:  25 goals I hope to accomplish for my 25th birthday.  Credit for the list idea goes to E's coworker who is turning 35 this year and created such a list for herself.  My list isn't actually complete, and will probably be a work in progress until my birthday in May.  E, however, has already finished hers and is planning to implement it as her New Year's Resolutions.  I'll probably start working towards my goals as I come up with them.  
I'm still processing the purpose of having such a list, though.  (Trying to figure out the goal for my goals, if you will. :)  Some goals concern character traits I'm trying to improve.  Some are an attempt to move my life and career.  And some are just because I want to be able to say that I've done them.  
Yesterday I watched a movie called Serenity.  Towards the end of the movie, the characters discover the results of a government experiment to try and create a perfect, peaceful society.  They put a chemical into the air that reduced anger and aggression.  The chemical worked, but eventually the people became so calm and relaxed that they stopped doing anything.  They stopped working, eating, moving...  and eventually they just stopped living.  
Somewhere, someone will always believe that you can make people better.  But as the crew of Serenity found out, it doesn't work.  You cannot make better people in one broad sweep.  But when people decide to make themselves better, when people decide for themselves to change, then the world becomes a little bit brighter.  Light comes to the world one candle at a time, one person at a time, one goal at a time.  

(Or 25 at a time.)