Monday, December 27, 2010

A Year in Reflection

Like almost everyone, as the year winds to a close, I seem to do a lot of reflecting on the previous year.  It is almost funny how circumstantially life is almost identical to the same time last year.

-still live in the same house with the same housemates.
-still long to be on the missions field.
-still work at the same job at the zoo.
-still have two health issues I have not been healed from.
-still long to be married and have kids.
-still watch every cent as it comes in and out of my account.
-still keenly feel the lack of fellowship in my life.
-still continue to lose friends over the course of this year.

However, this year has been surprising as well.

I started last year:
-desperately hoping to leave Tacoma.  Upon having an opportunity to do so, I turned it down.  Who would have guessed that?  I had an opportunity to move to Kansas City to be involved in a ministry there.  I have also had opportunities to join YWAM and have not done so.  Staying in Tacoma was the biggest act of faith I made this year.  Trusting Jesus to move me into missions on HIS timing and not my own has been one of the hugest leaps this year.  I did, however, get to go to Turkey this last year.

-pretty committed to a couple of ministries.  I am now no longer involved in those things.  This is likely just a pause and not permanent, who would have predicted that it would happen at all?  Especially considering how much of my significance I put in what I was doing. 

-searching for friendships with people who weren't reciprocating.  I am now focusing on those people already in my life and reconnecting with some old friends, spending time on people who actually want to be friends with me, and remembering what it means to BE a friend.

-longing to be married.  This year has brought some dating opportunities.  None of these have panned out for lots of different reasons, but the fact that I am "out there" at all feels strange at times, and at times disheartening and frustrating.

-financially sinking.  A great renegotiation with my mortgage company, two raises at work, and getting my budget under control while simultaneously becoming a couponing queen have helped get this area at least manageable. 

-physically hurting.  A little over a year ago, I tore my rotator cuff.  Last year at this time, I was in pretty severe pain with it, and could barely lift my arm over my head.  I also, due to another physical issue, had gained back about 25 of the 50 pounds I lost a few years ago.  Back in June, I started working out with a trainer.  I could barely afford this, but knew it was needed.  Six months later, my rotator cuff, while not healed, is significantly improved by strengthening the muscles around it and I have dropped between 15-20 of the pounds I regained.  My other physical issue has not been addressed, but I am feeling much better physically.

-broken in my relationship with the Lord.  This is an something I didn't even realize at the beginning of the year.  But, as the year draws to a close, this is one area I have to say has become a source of joy and peace I didn't know I was missing.  By doing the exact opposite of what I thought I should be doing and focusing on Him instead of activities about Him....this has made all the difference.  It seems so basic, so elementary, but when I have focused on keeping the first commandment first....the peace and joy flow from that.  When I am NOT at peace with my life or myself...that is a barometer of where I am focused and where I am finding my significance.  The last three to four months of this year have been some of the most peaceful and stable that I can remember in a long time.

Every year I pray about what I am hoping will happen for the upcoming year.  This year I am 6 for 10.  I was praying to get to travel abroad...I got to do this. I was praying about dropping the weight I'd gained back...I got to to do this.  I was praying about getting an opportunity to do some teaching...I got to do this.  There are a few others in the list that I got to check off and a few key ones that I didn't.  I think last year I was 3 or 4 out of 10.  So, I am improving!  Next year, let's hope I am 10 for 10!

Blessings to you and yours in this upcoming year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Strength and Security

It takes a strong, secure woman to be a single woman of a certain age and love Jesus.  And, I love Jesus.  I really, really do. 

It takes strength and security to watch all of your friends walk down the aisle on their wedding day and not be jealous and angry that it's not you.  It takes a lot of strength and security to realize that the only single people available to hang out with are at minimum five years younger than you and that means that the relationships you have with them will be on their terms, not yours.  It takes a lot of strength and security to recognize that your married friends with kids will also be friendships on their terms, not yours.  It takes strength and security to continue to put yourself out there, day after day and remain hopeful and joyful over your circumstances.

It takes strength and security because everything about singleness at later ages in life speaks to every single insecurity that a woman has: is there something wrong with me, am I beautiful, does anyone want to truly know me, will I be loved...etc, etc.  And, yes, Jesus fills these needs.  But, there is a real dimension of the heart that cries out for earthly relationships too.

And, the longer hope is deferred the easier it feels to look everywhere else for those answers.

This is why it takes strength.  It takes strength to stand firm in your convictions and your devotion to Jesus.  It takes strength to fight against the lies that plague you and continue to hold on desperately to the truth.  It takes strength to say that "It is worth it" and mean it.  It takes strength to stay joyful and peaceful and grateful in the face of circumstances.

So, if you know a woman who is single and older....pray for her.  Pray that she would be strengthened and not give up.  Pray that she would cling to Jesus. 

And, if you are so inclined, embrace her, invite her into your life, check in on her and make sure she's OK.  Make sure she knows she's wanted and needed and important.

Those little gestures go a long way.


Monday, December 06, 2010

Adventures in Dating

I have decided that the world of online dating needs its own vocabulary to describe some of the folks one runs across.  These are written as "guys" but probably apply to women too...I just don't have any experience in that arena!  With no futher ado, here's my proposed list of new vocab words:

1.  The creeper.  The guy who sends you an email when you clearly have nothing in common and all he says is "You are a goddess.  You are in my dreams from now on."  And this is supposed to attract me?  Ewwww...  There are lots of these online and wading through the creepers to get to the genuine ones is what makes online dating so tiring.

2.  The professor. The guy who sends you an email picking apart your profile and pointing out all of the grammar mistakes or "awkwardly worded" phrases.  And then he wants to get to know you better.

3.  The ghost.  The guy who has no profile picture and can't seem to a. understand why you'd like to see one and b. keeps writing you, even after you've told him you only respond to people with pictures.

4.  The spammer.  The guy who "winks" at you, but due to your account settings, you can tell he's not actually read your profile.  These guys, I have found out, send out winks to many many women at a time, hoping to get a response.

5.  The Houdini. The guy you have lots of stuff in common with and everything is progressing nicely, and yet when it comes time to actually meet....he disappears.

6.  The slowpoke.  This is the guy who takes for-e-ver to respond to emails or communication.  Just when you've given up, he appears again.

7.  The fudger.  This is the guy who's profile looks great...everything seems to line up, yet when you ask key questions (like "What are your feelings on pre-marital sex?"), or when you meet with him his true colors show ("I believe sex is a normal part of a dating relationship" and he swears like a sailor while talking about drinking and getting fired from all his jobs). 

There might be more.....these are just a few from my more recent dating experiences.


Monday, November 29, 2010

World Map of Your Matches


As most of you know, I have been venturing into the world of online dating.....I have actually gone out with some folks I have met online.  I might post more about that later. One of the sites I have been using sent me the following email.  I thought it was hilarious.  Especially since I happen to live in one of the states they mention as the worst for me based on my answers.  They also must think I am Muslim.  Enjoy!

We just finished programming this experimental toy. It generates heat maps of where your best male matches are, all around the world and the USA. Here are your results. All for you. Calculated from your match answers. In graphical form. Enjoy!
A Map of Love: your best male matches by state
target: USA | sampled: 23526
Your Worst States
Oregon — 47.0
California — 47.9
Massachusetts — 48.0
Washington — 49.0
Vermont — 49.0
Your Best States
North Dakota — 62.2
Arkansas — 58.7
Nebraska — 58.3
Mississippi — 57.7
Alabama — 56.6
A Map of Love: your best male matches by country
target: World | sampled: 18744
Your Worst Countries
Austria — 42.0
United Kingdom — 42.3
France — 43.6
Australia — 45.3
Switzerland — 45.9
Your Best Countries
Saudi Arabia — 72.3
Indonesia — 71.0
Egypt — 68.3
Singapore — 67.9
Pakistan — 66.8



Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Victim, Conqueror, or Overcomer

Last spring, on my trip to Turkey, I had an opportunity to watch "The Blind Side" both on my way to Turkey and on my way home.  I had never seen this movie before.  I bawled at the end of it both times I watched it.

It was a movie that stuck with me even when I returned.  I wondered about this boy, Michael Oher, and wondered what it was about him (besides an amazing family stepping in) that allowed him not to get sucked into the life as it had been dealt him (which would have been easy to do) or to become angry and resentful.  What was it about him that allowed him to rise above?

Each one of us has trials in life. There is  no way out of this fact.  Proponents of prosperity gospel or even the hedonistic philosophies of our modern world say we should try as hard as we can in life to avoid pain and pursue pleasure and happiness as our highest calling.  They say life should be about fun and getting as much out of it as possible.  You would not believe how many people, like Job's friends so full of themselves, have told me that I just need to take life less seriously and have more fun.

I find it interesting how people become so quick to tell you what you should be doing and draw from their own experiences as though the Lord has you on the same path as they are.  While I don't believe life is a somber, serious, negative thing....there are seasons of this.  I would wonder what people  who have this view of life do when they enter their own season like I have been in?  Go to more movies?  Drink with their friends some more?  Watch more reality television?  Sleep with more people?

I call these people the "conquerors" of their life....they are out to escape, prove themselves and be in control of their own life.  They are just as enslaved to their circumstances as those who remain "victims" to their life. 

Like a person who grows up in poverty and spends every waking moment of their life obsessed with getting rich, or the chubby kid who loses weight and becomes addicted to exercise, or the adult whose childhood is spent with lots of rules and regulations who spends the rest of their life in the pursuit of pleasure.....if we swing this direction we are still, ultimately, controlled by circumstances.

It is always tempting to fall into this mentality.  "God's not helping, so forget Him, I don't need Him.  I'm single, so I might as well just go out and date anyone.  I don't have any heart friends, so I am just going to go out with XYZ gals who don't really care for me at all..."  Well, you get the picture.

At the other end of the spectrum is a "victim" mentality.  This is the one that I have been living in.  Like Job's wife, I have wanted to "curse God and die" and been sitting on my ash heap scraping my wounds waiting, waiting, waiting..  Sometimes waiting is a good thing, but I have been waiting for God to rescue me OUT of my circumstances instead of seeing me THROUGH my circumstances.  The victim role is one that is easy to play.  Everywhere we look people are blaming everyone and everything else for life being the way it is.  We all tend to all look for the easy way out and the victim role is one that lends itself to this idea.  Victims are the self-pity experts.  They look to blame anyone and everyone for their lot in life and tend to stay "stuck" where they are. They too are controlled by their circumstances.

The thoughts of the victim are things like, "I was hurt, so I quit trusting people.  I have a health issue, I'll never get better...." Well, again, you get the picture.

Both of these reactions to our life circumstances leave us just as tied to, just as enslaved to, just as controlled by our trials and circumstances.  But, somewhere in between these two extremes is another kind of mentality.  This is the life of an overcomer.  This person lives free from circumstances, free from their trials, and free from this life.

This is the person I want to be.

I want to be like the Michael Ohers of the is world.....I'm not there yet, but I'm hopeful to rise above, to learn, to grow, to change....


Monday, November 08, 2010

Put Me in Coach?

I haven't written in a while, OK, a LONG while.  This isn't because I don't have thoughts going, on.  In fact, just the opposite.  I have so many thoughts swirling that I have been a bit "paralyzed" on what to write down.

I am still firmly on my journey of peace.  It has been tempting, as it always is, when a measure of peace comes to begin to fall back into things that used to "work" before.  My softball coach used to say that it took 60 days to start a new habit when he would try to teach us something new.  Sixty days for something to become a part of who you are and not to have to think about it any longer.

Sports analogies always seem to help explain what's going on with my life.  So, I would describe my season as having taken myself out of the game, so to speak. 

I liken my life prior to this as being in a softball game, but sitting on the bench.  I was like a little kid hopping up and down saying, "put me in coach!"  Whether it was in relationships or ministry or any aspect of life, really....I never really felt like I was actually in the game and "making plays."  I wrote about this same feeling a while ago regarding singleness (, but really the feeling had extended into almost every area of life.

The disappointment of constantly being overlooked had just become too much.  So, I have taken myself out of the game and put myself up in the spectator section for a while. 

In this season of sitting things out, I am finding out a lot about myself....what I am truly interested and passionate about, what I truly think of myself, what I truly think of the Lord, which friends are *truly* there for me, and a lot else. I am discovering I'm pretty opinionated, that it really feels a LOT better when you just don't give a flying flea what anyone else thinks of you, that it is OK if people misunderstand you...and a whole lot more.

It is strange to be re-discovering these things right now, but I am finding that there's no such thing as a life that doesn't constantly have you learning and growing...and taking 60 (or more) days to learn a new habit.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Peace Like a River

There's an old-school song that has a line, "I've got peace like a river, I've peace like a river, I've got peace like a river in my soul."  The tune carries on to "love like an ocean," and "joy like a fountain."  This tune, when it gets in your head is pretty hard to get out.  It has always seemed funny that peace is likened to a river in this song.  To me, peace is more like a placid lake than a swiftly moving river.  The metaphor is one that I have never quite understood. 

This is the tune that has been running through my head for several weeks now. 

I don't claim to be there quite yet, but I am certainly at a level of peace I have not been in quite some time.

It is amazing what cutting some things out, and focusing on one day at a time, one situation at a time, one person at a time, and really really really getting back to basics will do.

My schedule has never been so free of committments in months, maybe years.   I am OK with that, where in the past it wouldn't have been. I had spent so much time making those committments my identity and significance, to have nothing there would have meant a blow to me.  In fact, there are some invitations to things I have *turned down* because honestly, going to that event would have been for those same wrong reasons. In the past I would have shown up to any and all event I was invited out of fear. In the place of some of those committments I have been doing some things differently:

I have been re-connecting with friends I have not connected with in a looooong time.  And, I am doing it with no expectations and no agenda and with a joy at them being in my life like I have not had before. It feels great.  Some of these people are in very different situations in life than I am, and in the past I would have just thought that meant we couldn't spend time together.  Sure, it looks different, and in some cases it means we are skyping instead of meeting face-to-face, but I am re-discovering what it means to be a friend.  I have been so focused on my own pain these last few years, that I have put myself first and expected others to come to my rescue.  It feels good to get back to some sense of what it really means to be *me* in friendships.

I have been re-discovering things that bring me life.  I have been baking a lot, which I used to love to do but never had time.  I have been reading more.  I have time to exercise because fitting it in amongst my schedule isn't as hard.  I have started couponing (after taking a class) because it is such an easy way to save money.  I have contemplated taking a language class at TCC because I have always wanted to learn a foreign language.  I have contemplated taking an international trip JUST TO DO IT, because I love traveling. I went to Illinois to visit my brother and his family because I love them so much, and for no other reason than to just go. 

I have been getting back to basics on loving the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving my neighbor as myself.  I have started downloading podcasts onto my iPod and listening to sermons when I run.  I have fallen in love with this!  It is amazing to me how much easier my runs are when I am concentrating on something!  My favorite to listen to is Joyce Meyers right now.  She's full of depth and wisdom, but super funny too.  I even play podcasts on my way into work sometimes.  Granted this drive is only 15 minutes, but it has put me into a different frame of mind at work.  I have started taking notes during sermons at church again, something I used to do, but had gotten out of the habit with over the last few years.  There is more work in this area, but my Word intake is better than it's been in quite some time.

The "love your neighbor as yourself" part of that verse is a harder one for me right now.  Serving has always been wired in me.  However, I am pausing on serving in a formal ministry capacity right now.  So, I am re-digging into loving those around me and those right in front of me.  Again, this is pretty basic, but something I am re-discovering.  I suspect at some point I will be involved in a formal ministry again, but I am trusting the Lord to do it and to show me when and where to do this again. 

I read a blog from a friend who is going through a rough season as well and I am going to post an exerpt from her blog because I think it says a lot about where I have been over the last few years and the reasons I have been so honest in my posts.

"I know that the brutal honesty in my blogging opens the door for people to form opinions, be critical of where I am at, and share their "advice." But I HAVE to chronicle the reality of where I'm at now so that I can look back later and see the full picture. I KNOW that redemption will come. I KNOW that my heart will heal and I will be able to pour myself whole-heartedly into the next foster child that walks through our door. I want to be able to say "look what the Lord has done!" And in order for that to happen, it is only fair to chronicle what He is GOING to pull us out of! :) He will not leave this process unfinished. I know that He will not allow me to flop around like a fish outta' water for long. He WILL restore our hearts and I WILL boast of His grace to our family. Is He trying to bring me to an even greater place of desperation and dependence on Him? Yup. Do unfortunate things just happen sometimes because of the world we live in? Yes. Do we ever see the full picture in the midst of challenging circumstances? Unlikely. Do our hearts hurt sometimes? Um, yes."

I am so grateful for the rocky season I've been in because it has taught me so much that I know that I know that I know I would never have learned any other way.  The lesson isn't fully over yet, but I am more hopeful now than ever before.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Unoffendable: Easier Said Than Done

 A number of years ago I was having a conversation with a friend about my frustration with another friend and my inability to help her with a chronic area in need of breakthrough.  This friend said something to me that has stuck with me.  The essence of it was this: sometimes people, when they experience trauma or have major heartache at a certain age, stall out in their development at that age.  They learn coping skills and strategies that 'work' and tend to be unable to move beyond those into mature and "adult" methods of dealing with hurt and conflict.

I have been thinking a lot about this this week because I sometimes feel like I am stuck at a 13-year-old's emotional maturity.  This isn't always true, but when my feelings are hurt or I am offended or feel overlooked, some of the "immature" emotions come out.  It makes me wonder just how much damage rejection as a teenager really did to me based on how strong these emotions and reactions can be.  Just like my friend who was stuck in some areas...this is an area I frequently feel stuck in immature patterns too.

Case in point.  There is a wedding happening today.  In fact, as I am typing this, I am sure the reception is well under way.  To hear the skuttle about this wedding from just about everyone, this is set to be the "wedding of the year." 

Why am I not there?  I did not get invited.  Just about everyone else from the church I attend DID get invited, but I did not.

There was a day when people might have just told me to "just show up" at the wedding, but I happened to have emailed the bride to find out if there was a chance I could come even though I was not invited (was this rude of me?....I'm not sure...but I did not want to just show up, and I did not want to assume anything, so I emailed her to find out if there was a chance I could, rude of me, I don't know?  What do you think?) and was told that they were going to "stick with their original invite list." 

This is where the 13-year-old emotions start to come out....I am angry that I wasn't invited, I am disappointed, I am hurt......thoughts of "what have i done that they don't like me? what's wrong with me?  why don't I fit in? I'm just not going to ever talk to them again..."  Well, you get the picture.

A few weeks ago I had breakfast with a friend and she challenged me: do you want to *be* a friend or do you want the *appearance* of being friends?  This got me thinking.  Am I disappointed that I am missing out on this event because of what it means for ME or am I genuinely disappointed to miss out because I really want to see these two people get married ?  And, I have to be honest, there is a large part of me that wants to be at this wedding not because of the bride and groom, but because of myself and what *I* am missing.  Selfish, eh? 

I think some of my feelings are understandable.  A very large portion of my social circle is at this wedding and I am not.  Not only that, I have been left out very intentionally.  Some of my feelings could easily be justified.

But, I am trying my best to move on to adult ways of coping: forgiving, being unoffendable, giving the benefit of the doubt, praying for this couple, and spending the afternoon with another good friend who did not go.

Sometimes, being an adult is a lot easier said than done.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Revelation: My Need for Heart Surgery

In the last month or so a lot has happened.  You'd probably never notice this by looking at the circumstances of my life.  Life looks very similar today, if not identical, to how it looked a month ago. That is because most of the things that have happened are internal, not external. 

In the beginning of August I received a phone call from Call2All followed within a week by an email....would I please please please reconsider coming out to Kansas City to work for them?  Would I consider committing to 8 week for a training course and then see what happens after that?  Would I receive some help fund-raising and a slash in the cost of the course and come out for eight weeks?  Please please please?

Feeling oh-so-flattered....I worked my tail off on my end to try to make it work:  Would I be able to take a leave of absence from my job for 8 weeks (crossing the bridge of what to do after the 8 weeks if necessary)?  Could I get my house rental-worthy if my current housemates decided to move out once I was gone?  Could I financially live off of my meager savings for those 8 weeks?  What to do with my stuff if my housemates decided to move out?  What to do with  my cats while I would be gone?  Which rental agency to rent my house with if I should go.....on and on.  So, with all of the wheels in motion....I prepared to go.  I got everything in order and needed to make my decision by Sept. 1, so that I could give my housemates time to look for a new place if that's what they decided and time to train my fill-in at work.....

On August 30 I was 90% sure I was going, but by August 31, I had decided to stay in Tacoma.  Why, you might ask?  Here's an excerpt from an email sent to a good friend:

....I got your vm and as it turns out, I am not going to KC.  I have just had a lot of revelation on the difference between running away from something versus running towards something.....I was not that excited about KC....should have been a clue that I was running away rather than feeling called to something.  

What have I been running away from?  Well, life circumstances aren't great, but probably more significant is that I was running away from how incredibly insignificant I feel right now.  So, in the midst of a raging battle with insignificance, I basically get "courted" by just really fed the gaping hole in my heart that was struggling, even though it was not something I felt particularly called to nor that excited about.  Just the fact that they wanted me felt flattering and fun.  

I decided not to go.  My heart feels sliced open and I am pretty miserable.  Especially since my circumstances have not changed, and now I am left reeling from this revelation of just how deep and all-encompassing my insignificance is and how I do just about everything not to feel it. 

I have told so many people in prayer times that if they were "paralyzed on a bed" they would be just as significant as if they were up and able to "do" things (ministry etc.) and now I feel like I am learning myself a greater depth of what that means.  I literally have nothing left to feel significant about: no ministry, not in my job, no friends, not in how I look, not in finances, not in anything.  And, the comfort I've taken in filling that significance void with things or activities or people is gone, and it hurts.  I literally don't think I know how to survive without the false comfort.  I realize some of that stuff is important (like friendships etc.),  but I really feel like the Lord has stripped it all away. 

That email was sent two weeks ago now and the work in my heart continues to be very deep.  I am realizing just how much of my worth is put in the activities I do, the people I call friends and the titles I have.  God, in His mercy, has taken a lot of that away and I am left with just me and Him.

The thing is, I have gotten really good at filling the void over the years.  A lot pain of the last two+ years has been the gracious hand of God first revealing and then stripping away the things I have held dear so that all I am left with is just He and I.  I am stunned at the depth and breadth of my insignificance.  I literally look to anything and everything but the One who can truly fill me to feed my soul.  As I have realized...all of that is temporary.  Take things, activities and people away and I have found myself like a scared little kid grasping on to every little thing I can to feel better.  How deceived I have been.

I am getting back to basics.  I am cutting out every activity I have on my agenda just for the sake of having an activity.  I am seeking the Lord on who He wants me to be friends with and focusing on just being "me" within that friendship and with others around me.  I am spending as much time as possible focusing on my relationship with the Lord, which is really what has been broken in the first place.  I am focusing on the things that bring me LIFE rather than those things I think people want or expect me to do. I am re-learning to trust the Lord and His goodness and faithfulness in my life, regardless of how it looks on the outside.  I am focusing on reading my Bible, and worshiping, and re-learning the basics of just WHO He is and just who He says I am. 

I am throwing out false labels, I am throwing out other's opinions of me (including, and probably more importantly my own opinions of me), I am throwing out expectations and preconceived ideas, I am throwing out the past, I am throwing out future worries.

I am working on today.  Just today.  It seems to simple, yet the work being done within my heart feels deep and intimate.  The heart surgery is not done yet.  Please be praying that it would be a complete and lasting work.


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Prayer Request

I don't want to write too much...if you know me you can email me and I can fill you in....but, please pray for me.  I am spiraling to about as low of a point as I have been in the last few years, and I am desperate to stop before I get to that place again.  I would covet any prayers you might send my way.

Thanks, friends.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

To Blog Or Not to Blog, That is the Question

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows from people you don't want reading your blog....

Ok, I took a little liberty with that quote but you get the point.

You are not anonymous on the internet.  In fact, you are not anonymous on my blog.  If you have ever scrolled down to the bottom of my page, you'll notice a "stat counter."  This is a very handy little gaget and you can find out a LOT about the people who are reading your blog....where they logged in from (city and state and country), how long they stayed on, if they clicked on any of your links or read any of your comments among other really is handy.  I can't find out your home address nor who you are for sure, but it doesn't take a lot of deductive skills to figure out some things.

For example, my "troll" I call her, who has posted some, ummm, argumentative comments on my blog before.  Yep, 99.9% sure I know who she is based on where she's logging in from and how she "found" my blog in the first place.  Or, the co-worker who checked my blog while she was on vacation.  Pretty sure sure she was the only one in Mexico checking my blog that week.  Yes, co worker, I know you're reading my blog too. 

So, these things have made me stop and ponder....what I write down and publish here is really out there for the world to find, if they want to.  I mean, I even have a link on my facebook page should anyone do any investigating there.  The question I am asking is: what am I really willing to have available for anyone to read? And, do I care if people I might not want reading my personal stuff read my personal stuff.  I mean, my blogs are pretty darn personal.  Do I really want people who are only casually in my life getting insite into the private inner workings of my heart?  I am just not sure.

Most people who blog have some sort of "theme" they go with: they blog about politics or scrap-booking or movies or...well, you get the picture.  Thus far the "theme" of my blog is, obviously, me.

So, readers....would love your thoughts on this subject and what you think about blogging even though people to whom you might not want to reveal the inner workings of your heart are reading....


Sunday, August 08, 2010

Every Once in a While Things Go Your Way

As every homeowner knows, a house is a never-ending project list.  Sometimes those projects are as simple as a twice-yearly cleaning of the gutters or replacing the furnace filters.  Other times the projects are more complicated.

Recently, in anticipation of renting my house (which may or may not be happening depending on what I decide to do), I undertook a few medium-sized projects such as replacing a few light fixtures, regrouting some tile and replacing a faucet that whose handle had broken.  In the replacement of the faucet, the handyman who was helping me out ran across a reconnecting the sink, a leak formed between the plumbing and the wall.  This, in true older home form, led to a larger problem.  It seems that the connection between the plastic of the p-trap and the metal drain pipe had corroded and could not be reconnected.  This was beyond the scope of what my handyman could fix and he suggested calling a plumber.  He gave me the name of a man he had used before and told me to call him.

Facing life without a bathroom sink in a one-bathroom house, I gulped (thinking of the cost for plumbers), did a quick mental calculation in my head (which involved the use of some negative balances) and called the number he'd given me.  The next day, Ron the plumber came out to take a look and quoted me a price of $250.  After picking myself up off the floor I smiled politely and asked how to contact him if I decided to go with him, thinking I'd get a few more quotes.

Ron smiled back and basically said, "Tell you what, since Bryan has sent so much business my way, I can give you a discount and go with $200."  Still knowing this was a lot of money, but knowing how much plumbers charge an hour I decided to just go for it.  I asked how it worked to book him....did I schedule now for a later date?  I also explained that I didn't have the money right now and wouldn't for a few more weeks until payday (and even then it would mean eating top ramen and instant oatmeal for a month)....he said he could come out on Sunday and just send me a bill later.

So, today Ron and his co-worker James came out.  They were in and out very quickly and the job was done thoroughly and cleanly.  As they were leaving I asked Ron if he had my address so that he could send me an invoice.

He then said, "I do, and I think just with the cost of the part and gas to come out here it will come to about $20."  I about fell over again!  Making sure I'd heard him correctly I asked, "You aren't going to charge me for labor?"  He repeated the line about Bryan sending him a lot of work and he said..."and clearly you needed help."

After they left and I shut the door I about broke down. 

Sometimes, just sometimes in life, things go your way, praise the Lord.

Now, onto the rest of my honey-do list.


Saturday, August 07, 2010


It is the cowardly road to take potshots at an organization or group of people...anyone can lob "bombs" from a distance, and everyone's a critic.  It takes real courage and sacrifice to change an organization from the inside out.  It's the men and women who do the back-breaking and sometimes heartbreaking labor of seeing an something change who should be applauded, not those who sit from their couches and nit pick everything apart.

Monday, August 02, 2010

No More Facebook

I have decided to delete my facebook page.  I am not sure yet whether this will be a temporary thing, or permanent.  I will have to see how it goes.

Facebook has increasingly become an area of pain for me.  It has become another forum for rejection for me.  In the last week, two people I used to be close with have unfriended me.  I don't bat an eye any  more when someone I wasn't that close to unfriends me, but when it starts to become people I have hung out with, spent time with and generally had a good time with I just don't understand.  Additionally, seeing pictures of things I have not been invited to, or hearing about all the great times everyone is having with everyone else is starting to take its toll.

Granted, I have not spent a lot of time with either of the people that unfriended me recently, but then I look at their current friend list and I could say the same thing about most of the people on there that we have in common.  So, I just am going to chose not to be a part of it for a while and see if that helps.

Additionally, there is a lot of "noise" and "clutter" in my life and hearing the voice of the Lord in the midst of all of this for what He wants for my life has become almost impossible.  Think about having a meal with a friend at the noisiest bar you can think of, or trying to hear a friend talk to you while the crowd is cheering its loudest at a Mariners or Seahawks is almost impossible.  So, I just need to de-clutter and shut off some of the noise in my life right now. Facebook has to go.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The World is *Not* Coming to an End...Even if it Feels Like It Is

Head's up Chicken Little: the sky is not falling.

Rather, it is falling in certain areas and not in others.

My life is not falling apart, though I may have given that impression by my last post.  Though it is going horribly in the area of relationships, there are other areas that are going quite well.

With my job, though paying very little, I got a raise recently.  I did also make it to an interview for a position I applied for there (even though I didn't get the job, and even though I am not sure if I'll even be there that much longer).  I am also still having a very good time working there, and really enjoying what I do.  There are very few days I get up and don't want to go to work.  Money is still a very difficult area for me, but liking what you do is so important.

While I still have a torn rotator cuff, and my other health issue is still very much present, I have been working out with a trainer for a while now and have lost about six to eight pounds.  Since I lost 50 lbs a few years ago, 6-8 lbs is not a lot, but what I have gained is a very real workout habit, a ton of physical strength, and my cardiovascular shape is some of the best it's been in the last few years.  I really enjoy working out with the trainer....I think all my years of being coached just makes this click with me.  There's something motivating for me about having someone stand there not only showing me what to do but pressing me into doing something better/faster/further/more than I thought I could do.

In areas of ministry, there are some bright spots.  I have been spending a lot of time with some college students in town for the summer and I am realizing just how energizing this age group is for me and just how alive I feel when I am around them and pouring into them.  Last night for example, I drove a group home from an event out on the Key Peninsula and got to talking about some discipleship issues.  The drive went so fast.  As one of the girls exited my car she said "you are a wise woman."  I realized how much I love teaching and discipleship and love getting to talk about things I've learned with this age group.  I wish I could work with this age all the time.

Additionally, Call2All has not given up on my working for them full time.  They called me a week or so ago and want me to seriously consider moving to Kansas City (instead of Kona) for a year to work in their office.  I was even offered help fund raising to do this.  They also want me to help with events this upcoming year in: Malta, India, Switzerland and Indonesia.  This has certainly given me pause to think and pray.  Though I am still reluctant to do administration, I am not sure whether this is an open door to walk through or not.  I am not psyched about KC (but being close to my brother and his family is exciting), I am not psyched about administration, but I am psyched about travel and some other things.  Fund-raising scares the living daylights out of me (like I *need* more opportunities for rejection, right?), and honestly I am not in a financial spot to leave quite yet.  I have had some unexpected expenses that have put a slow-down on my ability to pay off my credit card AND I have some car and house repairs that would have to happen for me to rent my house and drive my car halfway across the country.  Sigh.  I wish I knew what the plan for me in this area was.

It's good for me to write about a few of the things that are going well in my life right now.  It's helpful for me not to focus so much on the things that are going wrong....because that of course is not the full picture, though it certainly feels pretty overwhelming at times.

Praying your life is full,

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Something's Gotta Give

I read about a study in one of my college psychology classes that was done on babies before there were regulations of the psychology profession.  In this study they deprived the babies of human touch for a number of very formative months and then followed these babies to see how they developed devoid of touch.  Each and every baby died.  (You can see why they implemented regulations!)

Lately, I have started to feel like one of these babies.....and the outcome of this scenario is killing me.

We humans are designed to be in relationship with each other.  We need other people or we become some strange, even disturbed, version of what a real human being should be (think about what happens to people who never leave their house, or are stuck at home working on their computers and don't interact with others, or live only to play video games...). There is even a whole sub-culture of this in Japan. There are men who have "shamed" their families and cannot be seen in public any they live alone in an apartment, never coming out and being cared for by their families who bring them food etc.  The suicide rate for these men is astronomical.

I just am so lonely that I almost don't know what to do any more.  Even when I initiate it feels like it's all on my end and is rarely reciprocated.  I can't tell you the number of things that happen during the course of a month that I don't get invited to.  Most people would tell you that they probably aren't forgetting me on purpose, but the fact is that I am not *remembered* either.

All growing up all I wanted was a heart friend.  "Anne of Green Gables" would call it a kindred spirit.  I have just wanted to be known, and important to someone; I just wanted to belong.

I know this all sounds like a big pity party.  I recognize that this is the *same exact* struggle I've been going through for years now....but I am just at my wit's end....I just don't know what to do any more.

The roots I have here in Tacoma go deep....there are reasons I have not moved yet....but there are days like today when far away wouldn't be far enough.  And, I'll be honest, there still feels like there must be something wrong with ME.  This seems to be a mindset that is epoxied into my brain with super glue so strong nothing can shake it.

I just don't know how much more of this I can take.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

If I Only Did What I Was Good At....

I applied for a permanent position at the zoo.

This really isn't an earth shatteing announcement except for the fact that I am pretty sure if I got the job, I would not be able to simultaineously go to Law School.

However, I am heading into this process with eyes wide-open....if I got the job, it would mean a promotion *over* someone already in a permanent position at the zoo and someone who actually used to be my boss.  Realistically I am probably candidate 3 out of 3.  My chances are slim to none that I'll actually get this job.

It seems strange to have even applied for it for a couple of reasons, the Law School conflict being one and the fact that others who "make more sense" were applying too.  In fact, many in my department who were gung-ho to apply early on did not apply.  Perhaps because of who the competition is, or perhaps for other reasons.

I'll be honest, I almost did not apply.  The qualifications and responsibilities for this job are pretty steep.  I'd have a lot on my plate.  When I looked at the job application, I almost balked.  Then I did an honest assessment....I qualified for the position.  I met all the criteria.  The only reason *not* to apply would be because of who else was applying.  Poppycock.

I have literally nothing to lose by applying and going through this process (with the exception of possibly going to Law School).  I have everything to gain. I have already gained application and resume writing experience, on Tuesday I'll have gained interview experience, and you just never know...I might gain a job out of this too. 

Yes, if I got the job I'd have to pray about my future plans....but this just felt like an open door I was supposed to walk through.  There's a funny saying about God not being able to steer a parked car, or something like that and I really feel like this applies in this situation.  I'll cross the bridge of what to do about Law School IF I even cross the bridge of that being an option.

Meanwhile, I really feel that if I only attempted things I was guaranteed success at, I'd really never do much of anything.  There are so many lessons in this truth, and it even applies to my future with Law School too....

If I only do that which I am good at, already excel at, am guaranteed a good return on etc....I am stuck doing what I've always done.  Things that are a great reward always require great risk. The greater the reward the greater the risk.

Do I look like a fool for applying for a job that others more qualified than I have applied for?  Maybe.  But, then again, maybe not.  Bravery is not the absence of fear, it's being afraid and doing something in spite of the fear.  My prayer is that I would be brave enough to look like a fool, stuble and fall, but be willing to walk through an open door when it's right in front of me, even if it doesn't make sense.


Sunday, July 04, 2010


I sit at home alone on this holiday.  Don't get me wrong, I *could* be at a party right now, but the last few weeks I have been suffering through a bout of insomnia.  I get these stretches every once in a while and I am in the middle (or maybe end) of another one.  As hard as these bouts are, they could be worse....I used to go months and months (and one time even two years) without being able to sleep without some sort of medicinal help.  However, when I do have these stretches, I am a walking zombie....which I have been the last few weeks.

For this reason, I am at home tonight...too exhausted to go anywhere, not enough energy to even really talk to anyone on the phone, no amount of coffee would be enough to wake me up.

I also haven't written much these last few weeks.  There's no direct correlation that I can tell of my insomnia and my lack of inspiration, but I think I just mostly don't have anything new to write about.  Re-hashing and re-writing the same angst seems, well, redundant.

So, here are a few new updates:
1.  I have a gal living with me for the summer.  She's a college student and I am *loving* having someone young, full of energy and someone to connect with on a mentor/mentee level living here.  Should I stay in Tacoma, I'd love to have more college students here.  It would mean a shift in the house, as up until now I've pretty much only had peers live here. 

2.  I have met with a few folks I know who have gone to law school and as of right now, this is still the plan.  I'll take a prep course in the fall, the LSAT in December and submit applications due in January.  Right now I'd like to apply to Seattle U, University of Washington, Arizona State, University of Chicago, Liberty, Regent and Stanford.

3.  Having a third housemate has helped with finances a little, and as a result I have hired a personal trainer and have met with him for a couple of months now.  I am really enjoying working out with him and getting into shape.  I have never enjoyed exercise a ton, so I am really trying to get to the point where this is a habit and looking at it as a lifestyle change.

4.  I am seriously considering trying online dating again.  As much as I *hate* (if there was a stronger word for it, I'd probably use it) online dating, it seems that my options for dating the "traditional" way aren't happening.

5.  I have heard from Call2All again, and it looks like they'd like my help again this coming April for a conference in India.  So, we'll see if this happens, but at any rate, I'll be working on the conference like the one I did for Turkey.  While I know I am not called right now to do admin for this organization, I still will continue to do event planning while I can.

I think that's all for now.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Humility is....

...when the person you are interested in getting to know better doesn't seem to even want to talk to you, much less want to get to know YOU better too.

...when you react badly to a situation, handle it with not a lot of grace and the person you've wounded won't speak with you, have anything to do with you, blocks all contact with you and generally  hates your guts, though you've attempted to apologize.

...when the job you are qualified for doesn't even net you an interview, much less an offer of employment.

...when you stand up and give your testimony of your journey into better health in front of 200plus people, and then three years later weigh 20 pounds more than you did back then.

...when  you realize that you aren't in contact with almost everyone whose wedding you've ever been a bridesmaid in.

...when you find your first gray hair, even if it's in your eyebrow.

...when you used to be an all-star softball player and due to a torn rotator cuff, now can't do more than underhand the ball to someone.

...when your brother asks if you want to be a "nun or something" and all you can do is smile.

...when you walk around the grocery store with a calculator so you don't go even a cent over your food budget for the week.

...when you get a letter from the city saying you'll be fined if you don't weed wack the weeds in the alley behind your house.

...when you've been in a position of leadership, and now you're not even in the game, much less leading anything.

Oh, blessed life, how you always serve to keep us humble.


Monday, June 21, 2010

That's What I Like About You (or in this case, me)

About a year or so ago there was a phenomenon on facebook where you were supposed to list 25 things about yourself that no one but you might know.  I thought this was a fun list to make and I did one. 

Last night, I went to bed and I was tossing and turning and could not fall asleep.  I am determined to kick this "thing" in the teeth.  One of the things that the Lord said to me as I was tossing and turning was to make a list.  This list is not like the 25 things no one knows about me...this list is all of the things that are great about me, that I like (or should like) about myself....all of the things that make me, me.

So, at the risk of coming across as bragging or full of myself, I am going to list things I like about myself, or that I think and I am going to *try* not to put any kind of caveat or any negative thing on here.

1.  I have a quick and infectious smile.
2.  My laugh is unique and it comes easily.
3.  I care VERY deeply about things and people, even people who are not in my life any longer or people who are not in my close circle of friends.   
4.  Once I have given my heart to something or someone, it is almost impossible for me to take it back.
5.  I am one of the most loyal people I know.
6.  I *hate* injustice with a passion.  I really, really, really hate injustice.
7.  I believe doing the right thing is more important than doing the easiest thing, at the risk of self-expense.
8.  I am one of the most responsible people I know...and I will not break my word if there is any way I can help it.
9.  I am gifted with wisdom and knowing right from wrong.
10.  I am gifted in teaching, and not just kids.
11.  I am analytical and love fully understanding things.
12.  If I believe in something, it's because I have taken the time to really understand...I don't just blindly follow.
13.  I *hate* when people do not get along...I am a peacemaker.
14.  I *hate* false-ness.....I try to be the kind of person that is exactly what you see, I am sincere and heartfelt.
15.  I love listening to people and really *hearing* them. 
16.  I try as hard as possible to take people individually and love them where they are.
17. I love being able to explain things to people and watch them "get it."
18.  I am passionate about the things I love and I am committed to them and do not like quitting or giving up on them.
19.  I love animals.
20.  I love sports....I love figuring out rules and strategy.
21.  I am uber responsible, but I have a huge wild streak too which leads me to do crazy things like quit great jobs to nanny in England, or travel to Europe for 3 months.....or other things.
22.  I love the nations.  I love people in the nations.  I have fallen in love with every people group in every nation I have ever been to. 
23.  I'm like a mother hen...I take people under my wing.
24.  I love seeing people's hearts and not just looking with my physical eyes, but really getting to know people.
25.  I love trying food from different places, it's maybe my favorite thing about travel.
26.  I love reading.
27.  I rescue things....even spiders from my house are not immune....I tend to root for the underdog.
28.  I believe communication can solve a lot of problems. If we'd just talk instead of assuming, a lot could be fixed.
29.  I love kids and I am not afraid to just get on the floor and play with them.
30.  I *love* my nephews.  Passionately.
31. I am good at figuring things out....movies that surprise me at the end are my favorites because I can usually see the plot to most movies a mile if they can surprise me, I'm hooked (think "sixth sense").
32.  My all time favorite movies, though, are those based on true historical events or based off of literature....Amazing Grace, Young Victoria, Miracle, Blind Side...all faves.
33.  I love exploring a place and learning all I can about it.  I never met a museum I didn't want to explore...learning new things constantly is stimulating to me.
34.  I love nature....bird-watching, gardening, camping, hiking....all faves.
35.  I love coffee. 
36.  I love spending quality time with's my love language.

Well, I think that's all for now.  That's my off-the-top-of-my-head list.  I'm sure there's more, but it's a start. I am GOING to have victory over this area of insignificance....I may be fighting it on my deathbed, but if I go down, I'm going to go down fighting.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Blessed Be....

There is no other worship that is more pleasing to the Lord than that which comes in spite of difficult circumstances.  To say in the midst of the storm that "God is good, blessed be the name of the Lord" is sweetness to His ears.

Is it the Weather or Just Me?

Sometimes I feel like I have bi-polar disorder.  I'll be humming along just fine and then...crash....I'm in a season where I am brought low again.  We've been having horrible weather here this spring, so I am not sure if that's just put me in a mood, or if it's something deeper within....

I haven't written anything in two weeks because, well, there's not much to write that isn't all melancholy, whiney, or I haven't already written about a thousand times.

I'm *still* in this seemingly endless period of transition.  Just when I think I'm done....I'm not.  And, I'll be honest, I'm ready to be done already.  Three years is starting to feel like an eternity, though I know rationally it's not.  The problem is, I just don't know what I am transitioning *into* and so it feels like I've been doing nothing but waiting, waiting, waiting.....

I know what I'd like to be transitioning into.  I'd like to be transitioning into marriage.  Scratch that.  I think a this point I'd just like to have someone find me attractive enough to *date,* I'd settle for that right now.  I'd like to be transitioning ino financial stability.  I'd like to be transitioning into some friendships.  I'd like to be transitioning into having a purpose beyond administration, or whatever other small box label the world currently has on me. 

Sigh.  I mean transition can't last forever, can it? Waiting can't last forever, can it?  I certainly don't know how men like David waited so long for his transition moment to actually become king, or Joseph to become second in charge, or Job to get his new life, or Abraham to get his Isaac, or Hannah to get her Samuel.....It is a courage and strength I fear daily might be running out, like the oil in the lamps of  some of the virgins waiting for their bridegroom. That scares me most of all.


Monday, June 07, 2010

Everything and Yet Nothing

Do you ever have one of the stretches where you have everything on your mind and yet nothing worth articulating a whole post about.

I am in one of those stretches right now.  I have so much going on in my mind, yet at the same time I feel little need to write.  I am just in a bit of a writer's block.....

So, in no particular order, here's what I have been thinking about the last few weeks:

1.  The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  I am sickened and disgusted and annoyed and angered by this whole fiasco.  I find myself crying and weeping over the images coming from this area and I just want to DO something.  Yet, I get in my car every day and drive it somewhere.  I am just as much a part of the problem as BP.  They only exist because we need what they have.  I seriously am just burdened by what we are doing to our planet.  Sometimes I feel like a freak because no one I know seems to feel the same way, execept the folks I work with.  We are killing our planet and the mother's heart in me just weeps when I see what we are doing. I am not one to post a whole lot of political things on this blog, but this situation for me just has me fuming and I am fuming at just how "head in the sand" so many people in this country are about this issue.

2.  Law School is still a huge burden too.  I have decided I am going to apply, however I can apply and take the LSAT in December (not Oct) and be OK....this gives me the summer to save up some money for a Kaplan course and focus this fall on my application the LSAT at a time that is less busy.

3.  I am still in my season of intense loneliness. I am realizing that my busy-ness over the last few months has been my bandaid to not deal with how alone I feel 99% of the time.  You know, for me, when I cannot find significance in simply in who I am and the One who made me, I tend to turn to activities to find my significance.  Now that many of the things on my list from a few posts ago are being checked off, I am faced yet again with just how much I long for a family, and just how few friends I have in my life right now.

4.  Our lives are a Divine-Human cooperative.  The percent of direction that is the hand of God, and the percent that is us, I believe, changes from situation to situation.  I think that sometimes you have a situation that is 100% God intervening and directing...His determined will for something to happen.  At other times I believe He takes His hand almost completely off of the situation and it is our own free will that determines the direction of our lives and His involvement is perhaps as little as 1%.  Those two ends of the spectrum allow for lots of percentages in between 100% and 1%. 

I've been thinking then....if my life is not going the way I had hoped and dreamed, that leaves two options: a. either it's been God who's been preventing things from going "my" way or b. it's my own bumbling and fumbling that's been preventing it.

This has left me in a little of a bind.  I either blame God, or I turn inward and blame myself.  Neither option is really great, but I think it helps me to understand the "up and down" nature of my faith. 

Perhaps I'll write more on one of these topics at some point.  Or, not.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Becky, Brady and Kason

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Kason and Brady

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My knight on a white horse

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He Even Does Dishes

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Monday, May 31, 2010

I Just Might Be Crazy

This was not the blog post I intended to write.  I have had all sorts of wonderful thoughts and ideas and lessons brewing in my head over the last few know me, I can't stop analyzing and processing everything.  I had a wonderful blog post about how sad I was to leave my family in Chicago and revelation about why that's so hard.  I had another wonderful post about a book I am reading called "Perpetua" and all of the cool revelations about that.  I had several others ruminating on the back-burner of my mind about life in general.

Yet, I am not posting about any of those.

Instead, I am posting to say: I think I am going to try to get into law school.

This idea has been hovering in the back of my mind for over a year.  Well, truthfully, I have had people off and on my whole life tell me they thought I should be a lawyer.  Even my own parents have said this to me.  I think most of the time this is because I argue so well (grin), have to understand the ins-and-outs and whys of everything, and always have to have an answer for something.  A lot of why I like science correlates directly with law: science has laws too!  I like that a+b=c, and all of that other stuff.  It just kind of makes sense that if I like the order and analysis of the laws of science, I'd probably like the order and analysis of the legal system.

Last year I had a housemate who really stoked this fire under me.  Probably because I stood there for over an hour discussing a point with her until she laughed at me and said I needed to go to law school.  She then couldn't seem to let this idea go.  Then, my other roommate piped in and agreed.  Both of these women periodically ask me about it, and have even gotten other people who happen to be in the vacinity into the game. 

This idea always seemed like a pipe dream.  But, the last few weeks I have not been able to shake the idea. 

I started looking into this and I am actually kind of excited at the thought.  Especially because quite a few law schools, including Seattle University, have specializations in International Law.  This intrigues me a lot.....there are a lot of ways to go with this specialization, and the more I think about it...the more I wonder if this isn't the route I am being led internationally.  Specifically in human rights/trafficing/social justice arenas....this piques my interest greatly.'s the point of my post.  If I am going to start applying...applications are due starting in October.  The LSAT, which is required, is also in October (or December).  If I am going to take the LSAT in October, I need to take an LSAT prep course which starts in JULY!  That's right folks a little over a month.  This course is $1200.  So, this is a decision I really probably need to make within the next month.

I could really really really use some advice, wisdom, thoughts, etc. on this.....anything, really, will help.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Chicago In Pictures

My sweet sister-in-law Becky and Brady's 2nd birthday cake.

Brady got his own kid-sized wheelbarrow for his birthday.

Brady is VERY orgainzed.  Here's some of his handywork.

Brady and my mother sitting in the wheelbarrow that was getting assembled.

Brady wearing my brother's gloves and "working" in their backyard.

Me and Brady before taking him to the zoo for his birthday.

Me holding the newest nephew, Kason

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Post Before the REAL Post

Hi all (sheepishly ducks head)...I promise I am alive.  I just got back on Monday late at night from a week-long visit to my family in Chicago.  I have been out of the loop and promise for an update and some pictures ASAP. 

I have returned, however, to most of the previous blog's list of "to-dos" and have hit the ground running back here at home.

Update or post coming soon...promise!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Busy, busy, busy!

I have been too busy for  my own good.  I apologize for the lack of posts since leaving for Turkey.  Upon my return I have been going non-stop:

1.  Final tallying of the commitment forms from the Turkey event.
2.  Helping a friend edit and write a book.
3.  Writing curriculum on the side for a zoo down in California.
4.  Developing a lesson plan for Friday's Sozo Kids (which I am teaching this week).
5.  Getting my yard under submission! (read: weeding the whole thing, mowing and weed wacking)
6.   Unpacking from Turkey and re-packing for my trip to Chicago next Monday.
7.  Starting a new workout routine with a personal trainer.
8.  Oh yeah, just normal working hours, church, and friends too.

Phew, that's a long list.  I have meant to update on the rest of the Turkey trip, and, as you can see, just have not had time until now:

After the conference got started, I did not see much of it!  I spent a LOT of time for the conference in our "bunker room" where all of the photocopying, printing, powerpoint-making, and detail finalizing occurred.  My time was spent, finalizing the workshop times and rooms, making sure the rooms were stocked with what they needed, getting sign-up sheets in the rooms for the workshops, photocopying workshop and plenary session materials, helping check in participants, arranging speaker transportation back to the airport, tracking payments and budget for the event with the tourism agent/travel agent we worked with to plan the event, helping pass out materials, developing a powerpoint for the final day, and just general troubleshooting for the event. 

The final day of the event was my birthday.  Praise the Lord, the event was over by 1pm, and we were cleared out of the hotel and on our way to downtown Istanbul by 4 pm.  As a "thank you" for helping, Martin, the lead coordinator paid for my taxi into Istanbul, one of my nights at a hotel in Istanbul, and bought me dinner that night.  He, a friend of his named Roedolf, and I shared the taxi into downtown Istanbul and had dinner in town that night.  We walked around downtown Istanbul a bit after dinner (which was AMAZING...really the food as a whole in Turkey was absolutely delicious) and had coffee and apple tea (basically apple cider) and some Turkish Delights.

The next day I woke up and took a tour bus for the morning to see some sites around old town Istanbul.  We stopped by the Haghia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Obelisk (where four-horse chariot races used to be run), a rug-making factory, and spent an hour and a half in the Grand Bazaar (basically a big giant outdoor covered mall).  I met a gal on the tour named Toby, who turned out to be in town for just a day on her way to Israel. She was an Orthodox Jew from London and we made a plan to meet back up later that afternoon at the Grand Bazaar to do some more shopping.

I went and grabbed some lunch: grilled chicken kebabs, and then headed over to the Archaeological Museum for two hours, which was just heaven for a history buff like me.  I then met back up with Toby at the Grand Bazaar for some more shopping.

The Grand Bazaar probably deserves a whole post on its own, but I will say this, Turkish vendors are NOT shy about luring you into their shop!  As a whole, I felt Turkish culture slightly more aggressive and "in your face" than America.  Yet, there was not any outward anger and at no time did I ever feel like my safety was in jeopardy.  Turkish culture is also a bartering culture.  Once you step up to a booth (or even just glance that way) it's kind of like the shopping process has begun.  For sure once you ask a price, you are expected to buy, unless you really can't come to an agreement about a price.  For example I saw a vase I just adored, and the price (while jacked up to accommodate the bargaining process) was WAY too steep for me. It was pretty clear by the look on my face that there was no way I was going to be able to afford this vase, so the bargaining process ended pretty peacefully.  However, my friend Toby could not seem to figure this whole thing out and was pretty stuck on the western way of shopping....ask the price, browse the merchandise, no negotiation, etc. 

At one point she stepped into a vendor's jewelry booth and proceeded to look at probably 6-7 pieces of jewelry, asking the price on each piece, not bargaining, and then putting it down.  I think the vendor finally figured out that she wasn't probably going to buy and basically shoved us out the door.  He began yelling at us in Turkish and then in English "if it's free you like it!  If it costs money, you don't!"  We hustled out of there. 

Some of the lines we heard to try to lure us over to their booth were pretty comical: "Ladies, I can help you spend your money here!" "Leather, you want leather?  I have NEED some leather!"  All in all, it was pretty fun.  I managed to bargain my way into four cashmere and silk pashminas, a box of Turkish Delights, a "Turkiye" sweatshirt, and a Turikish tile for my kitchen.

After shopping, Toby and I headed to a Starbucks and chatted for probably an hour.  I asked her lots of questions about being an Orthodox Jew and in turn shared the gospel with her.  I'm not sure if anything will come from this, but we are now "friends" on facebook and I continue to pray for her.

I went out to dinner by myself that night, wandered around old town Istanbul a bit, then went back to my hotel to pack as I was leaving at noon the next afternoon.

The hotel, which had an amazing view of the Bosphorus and lots of other cool sites, had a free breakfast, which I ate the next morning. It was an amazing breakfast and puts our hotel's continental breakfasts to shame.

I negotiated a ride to the airport with a taxi driver (I told you it was a bargaining society...even taxi rides are up for negotiation) and headed home...purchasing some Turkish coffee at the airport.

I arrived home at about midnight on Friday night, May 1 after being gone 10 days....and woke up at 6 the next morning for work.  It was a trip that was a lot of hard work, but so worth it.

I'll post pictures later!