Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Day After Christmas! It is also the start of Kwanza, Matt tells me. Anyhow, it is a return to sanity around here.

It was so weird that yesterday was Christmas. It didn't feel like Christmas at all. It was the busiest day we've had, and I barely had time to think about it. I opened my Christmas packages, and they had stockings for us in the staff room and everyone said Merry Christmas, but I couldn't wrap my mind around it. But it wasn't a bad day, just a normal one.

Ever since I came here people have been telling me that the busiest time is now until New Years, and later in January we'll be standing around twiddling our thumbs. Right now that sounds like heaven. I'm exhausted in every way. The last time my body felt this beat up, I had just backpacked for 13 miles in one day. For the past couple days, at least one of the servers has had at least one emotional breakdown and tears at least once a day. Between high-maintenance guests, the chef being sick and on edge, and Bekah being stretched too thin and stressed out with everything, and the personal struggles of learning a new job with tons of detail, being away from family during the holidays, and being so tired, we are all pretty on edge. I am pretty much living on Advil. My favorite place is the walk-in refrigerator--you can let a few tears out when you go in for something, wipe your eyes and go back out with your item after letting off a little steam.

I feel like I'm at such an odd place in my life. I've never been around this many people that I like and still felt lonely. I know I just need to give it time for deep relationships to form, and there are a lot of people I want to form deep relationships with, but we are just not there yet. I haven't really felt like myself since coming here, and that bothers me.

It is funny because I am 24 and my roommate Charissa is 25, and our other roommate Teresa is 22, and she is kind of like our mom. Charissa and I are pretty emotional and can be all over the charts, and Teresa is just laid-back and assuring and takes care of us, like doing jobs for us and remembering things we need when she goes into town.

So I realize my blog has been pretty whiny as of late. It is just a good place to vent, besides the walk-in fridge. I love reading all of your blogs and keeping up on your lives. I miss you guys!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Melodic Monday

This is one of my all-time favorite Christmas carols. It was also part of our yearly advent time. I think the lyrics are really meaningful. I've bolded the parts that really stand out to me.

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

For Christ is born of Mary,
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wond'ring loved
O morning stars together
proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And peace to men on earth

How silently, how silently
the wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven
No ear may hear His coming
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him
Still the dear Christ enters in

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born in us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
Oh, come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Quirks of the Rich and Famous

So there's not actually anyone famous staying here (unless you count Matt for his Slap-Your-Mama-in-the-Face-This-Dessert-Rocks Dessert), but I thought I would take a moment to share some of the quirks of our very rich guests--some of them wonderful people, some of them...not.

-Guest: "Are you going to build a fire?"
-Me: "We don't build a fire until dinner because the room gets really hot and smoky."
-Guest: "Really? We really like the fire."
-Me: "I'm sorry, we don't light it until dinner."
-Guest: "I like to dry my daughter's mittens by it. We really like it when there's a fire."
-Me: "We'll light it at dinner."
- Guest: "It's just that we really like it when there's a fire."
-Me: (walks away to prevent verbal torrent from pouring out)

Guest: (carries coffee cup up to the espresso station) "There's coffee grounds in my latte."
- Me: "I'm so sorry. Let me make you another one."
- Guest: "Do you have a tamper?" (butts behind espresso station and makes own latte)

-Guest: "Is there nuts in this chicken salad?"
-Me: "Yes."
-Guest: (icily condescending): "Maybe there doesn't need to be tree nuts in every single item."

-Me: "Can I take your order?"
-Guest: "Yes, I don't want anything on the menu. Can you get me a BLT?"
-Me: (after checking with chefs) "Sure, we can do that."
- Guest: (5 min later) "Can you make sure that's on wheat bread?" (5 min later) "Can I have Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise? (5 min later) "Can I get that toasted?"

-Guest: (arrives at 6 a.m. to work on Christmas cards in the dining room while we're setting up for breakfast) "Can I get some coffee? Can I go through the buffet line yet? Will you take my daughter's breakfast order? Can I change my daughter's breakfast order?"
-Servers: (repeatedly): "We'll start serving at 7:30."

My personal favorite is when we take a majorly specialized order and when we clear their plate, they've barely touched it. Some of these things make me want to tear my hair out when they happen, but we always laugh about them the next day. Plus, dessert tonight was pumpkin swirl cheesecake with rum chocolate sauce and cinnamon whipped cream. Kind of makes all such problems just melt away.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I got an e-mail from my mom today that my grandpa is back in the hospital. He dropped his razor, and when he bent over to pick it up, he tore his rotator cuff. While he was there he caught some kind of flu bug and they have him hooked up to an IV and oxygen. When my uncle asked him what the oxygen was for, he was surprised to find out that he was on oxygen. He has been confused and disoriented since checking in, which is not normal for him. He's been in and out of hospitals so much that it's almost like, "Oh, Grandpa's in the hospital again," but at the same time all his health problems seem to be compounding, and I know he won't live forever. His 90th birthday is on Christmas day, and there is a big party planned where all my dad's side is getting together. I knew I would miss that when I came out here, and I knew the last time I visited him would probably be the last time I saw him. But I just hate that I can't be with my family right now. I hate that I don't have any deep friendships here, and while everyone is really nice, there's no one I can spill my guts to and cry my eyes out with. People who know feel bad, but no one knows me well enough to really care. I just feel really alone and helpless. It's not like there's anything I could do if I were there, either. I just want to be there.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Not the Best Day

Today was my first full day of serving real guests. It was not terrible, there were just a lot of little things that built up. Rob and the kitchen guys kept picking on me for being quiet. Yeah, people, I don't talk unnecessarily and I have a soft voice. I get it. I've been this way for 24 years and I don't think there's anything wrong with it. Just because our culture says to be loud, self-sure and forward, and I'm not, doesn't mean I'm an abnormal human being. I'm quiet and I LIKE it.

Some of the guests are far more high-maintenance than others. We were talking about the subtle differences between the ones who are kind and grateful for your service, and the ones who are like, "I'm here to be served--serve me." We are here to serve them, and it's our job, but I do appreciate being treated like a human being rather than a food-fetching robot. It just comes with the territory. Plus, the people here are filthy rich and are used to having whatever they want without having to think about it.

I've had a sore throat and other cold symptoms starting today. During our afternoon break I went home and fell asleep on the couch. When I woke up I had just enough time to jump in the shower before heading down for dinner. Unfortunatley, Teresa came back from working out while I was in the shower and I didn't give her a chance to jump in. She was really nice about it, but I felt bad.

I am still far from having the details of this job down cold. There are so many things to remember, and I have yet to remember all of them. Tonight I mixed up order and seat numbers (funny story, though: I was trying to explain my jumbled tickets to Teresa, and I said, "The eggplant goes to the attractive man at table 5," and everyone in the back heard me), started taking dessert orders before we cleared the entree, and asked Bekah a million questions. Bekah is stretched way too thin right now, trying to start the season, train us and also decorate one of the cabins by herself. After dinner, I had accidentally put the white linen table cloths in with the other linens, and she said, "These go in the ORANGE bag" and started stuffing them in the orange bag very forcefully. We were both almost in tears from stress.

Tom just figured out that my name is Kelsey and not Chelsea. He said he's never known anyone named Kelsey before and asked, "Is that your real name? On your birth certificate? It's not a nickname or something?" For cryin' out loud, buddy, Kelsey is not THAT weird!

One of the younger kitchen guys was hanging out in our place today, and he started asking me what I do for fun, don't I party, why don't I like movies with lots of cursing and violence, and acting like I was the lamest person in the world. Forgive me for being more mature than you, 20-year-old male. Please at least respect my beliefs and don't make me out to be a holier-than-thou stick-in-the-mud.

I am trying to view this through the lens of my recent "breathing fresh air" experience. I've decided it's important not to deny my feelings about days like this, but it's also important to move on once I've acknowledged them and had a good cry, and not dwell on them and let them consume me. I have been thinking a lot about this prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

I want my life at the ranch to be that lived out. No matter how bad my days are or how much I get razzed for being a Christian (actually a pretty new experience for me, since I've kind of spent my life in a Christian bubble), I want to be focused more on giving to others than receiving anything from them.

It's ridiculously late and I've got to go to bed. Good night!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


The Israelites are stubborn, like a stubborn heifer. How then can the Lord pasture them like lambs in a meadow? - Hosea 4:16

Another day of serious soul-searching. This time it was triggered by Jonell's comment on my last post, when she said she was staying amused by my posts. That challenged my perspective. The last thing I was finding all of this was amusing, and it really made me think. I used to laugh at my mistakes all the time. The stories about barking "Dang it!" at Dace and serving Rusty first when I had just said "Ladies are always first" would have been material for a good laugh five minutes later, at the most. Instead, I lay awake and agonized over it when I went to bed.

Here are a few sentences from my journal. For reference, Steve was talking to us about Christmas day said it could be a lot of fun even though we're away from our families if we "just pull our heads out of our backsides." Steve is awesome.

"How did I get tot his perfectionist point? That's not really who I am. I used to be able to laugh at myself. I am taking myself way too seriously. All of Vista Verde's reputation is going to be in jeopardy because I popped the cork on a wine bottle? Who do I think I am? If I'm so focused on myself I won't be able to focus on giving the guests a good time. I need to pull my head out of my backside!"

So, I think it's out. It can seem awfully warm and safe and comfortable in there. But for God's sake, I need to breathe fresh air.

"Cursed is the one who trusts in man; who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord; whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has not worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." - Jeremiah 17:5-8

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Hard Day's Night

...I should be sleepin' like a log! So, today was our first day of mock meals, designed to help train us before we started serving guests. It was INSANE. At breakfast, Dace asked me to explain the menu to him. It was the first order I had tried to take, and I said right out loud, "Oh, DANG IT!" Not the most professional response. Then, at lunch, I couldn't seem to tell my right hand from my left--hence, me serving people from the wrong side. This was me during wine service at dinner: "Two wines tonight--chardonnay and pinot noir. Serve from the right side with the right hand. Why won't this stupid knife cut through the foil? Dang it, I made the cork pop! OH SHOOT I just spilled water all over the beautiful white linen cloth!"

While we were folding napkins for the dinner, Bekah made an interesting comment: "I like that all of you are perfectionists." That threw me for a loop. I have never considered myself to be a perfectionist by any stretch of the imagination. I've always been a big "good enough is good enough" person. But in the past few months, I have definitely been acting like a perfectionist. I stew over every tiny detail and beat myself up if I make a mistake. I can definitely trace the roots, but I didn't realize it had reached a point where I could be called a perfectionist.

I still don't think I am one. A perfectionist likes perfection for its own sake--order, symmetry, and meticulous attention to detail warm the cockles of their little anal hearts. That is definitely not me. I also don't think it's a pride issue--I know that I make mistakes and don't (usually) view myself through the grid of them. I'm perfectly aware that I'm fallible and don't expect myself to be otherwise. During some serious soul-searching while ladling out the lunch lemonade (I just have to be an English dork and point out all the alliteration in this sentence), I decided that what kills me is what other people will think of me, or more accurately, what I think other people will think of me. I'm afraid that they will view me through the grid of my mistakes. Also, I hate that my actions as a server are also a reflection on Bekah, the kitchen guys and Vista Verde as a whole. What if they view all those things throught the grid of my mistakes? I guess I assume that my mistakes make up a grid that someone will pick up and look through to see me. I find it hard to believe that someone would see the grid and leave it lying there and look at me through the grid of grace and love. Weird thoughts, but they help me process.

So, I would just like to make the disclaimer that this is in no way intended to be a sob story or "Woe is me." It just helps me process my thoughts to write them out, and y'all usually have some good feedback, so I do it on blogspot.

Moving on...dinner tonight was TREMENDOUS. Crab cakes, your choice of strawberry snapper served on a bed of risotto with sauce Provence or filet mignon served over bleu cheese whipped potatoes with blistered asparagus tips, and for dessert: Matt's Slap-Your-Mama-in-the-Face-This-Dessert-Rocks Fried Banana Bread with homemade vanilla bean ice cream and a rum-caramel sauce (Rob actually printed the menu that way). All I can say is that it deserves its whopper of a name, because I don't think there are enough words that mean "good" to describe it. It was seriously one of the best things I've ever tasted. Ever.

Ok. And now...for Melodic Monday, a song that my family used to sing every year as part of our advent wreath time. It's not one of the better-known Christmas carols, but it's one of my favorites.

Thous didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown
When Thou camest to earth for me
But in Bethlehem's home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity
Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for Thee!

Heaven's arches rang when the angels sang
Proclaiming Thy royal decree
But in lowly birth didst Thou come to earth
And in great humility
Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for Thee!

The foxes found rest and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God
In the deserts of Galilee
Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for Thee!

Thou camest, O Lord, as the Living Word
That would set Thy people free
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn
They bore thee to Calvary
Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for Thee!

When heaven's arches shall ring and the angels sing
At Thy coming to victory
Let Thy voice call me home, saying, "Yet there is room!
There is room at my side for thee!"
And my heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest for me!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Starry, Starry Night

Wed night, the ski guides took us on a staff snowshoe to Homestead Cabin across the pasture. I had never tried such a thing before and was a little apprehensive, but Rusty got me fixed up with boots and snowshoes and made me feel like a rockstar for going off the groomed trail into the powder (really not a big deal). Halfway there, Cullen had everyone with headlamps turn them off. I looked up at the sky, and my breath was literally taken away. The stars were so stunningly clear and bright, and I have never seen so many. The snow was so bright in the starlight that we didn't even need the headlamps. I even saw a shooting star. Dace had snowmobiled ahead of us and started a fire in the cabin and lit some candles. We chatted and sipped hot chocolate, then snowshoed back. Thankfully I managed to sidestep Matt, who has a bad habit of pushing people into snowbanks.

So, I realize that I will be referencing a lot of people in my blogs that most of you don't know. I'll give you a quick breakdown for future reference:

Kitchen guys: Rob, the chef; Matt, the sous chef; Tom, Patrick and Blake, the culinary school externs

Ski guides: Rusty, Dana, Cullen, and Mary. Steve and Kelly run the Nordic center and have a daughter named Maddie

Housekeeping: Johanna, Anita, Zach

Wranglers: Lee, Caleb

Ranch hands: Courtney, Graham, Jess

Servers: Bekah, Charissa, Teresa, and Kelsey

General Managers: Dace, Ben. Ben's wife Holly runs the gift shop in the lodge. They have four children, Chelsea, Jack, Annie...and another daughter whose name I can't remember for the life of me.

There are also Bill, who does wood-working, and Charlie, kind of a general handyman. I'm not sure what his job title is. I feel like I'm leaving someone out...perhaps I will update this later.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"The next time you hear from me, it will be from the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains!"

I laughed when I read that again. When I wrote it, I was sitting in Indiana with a nice 1-2 in film of snow on the ground. I had no idea that in a few days my concept of snowy would be totally redefined.

Yesterday they put the new staff on snow removal. People had been gone for a while between seasons, so meanwhile all the snow had piled up. I discovered for the first time what it's like to literally wade through knee-deep snow. I also discovered what a couple months of sitting in a desk chair all day had done to my body. Today I felt like someone beat me with a snow shovel instead of me shoveling with it.

We had kitchen orientation today-learning how to do dishes and clean up the staff dining room. A LONG process. Rob, the chef, was laying out his rules for us and telling us how he likes things, and all I could think the whole time was "I'm gonna screw it up." Dace, one of the general managers, came up to me later and asked me if I was feeling overwhelmed. I was a little, but not to the point where I should have welled up with tears. I hate that I cry about nothing all the time and I can't seem to stop myself. It's like my first emotional reaction to anything, even if it's not really tear-worthy. Dace was very sympathetic and understanding, but that just made me want to break down even more. I had a few minute's break in the afternoon, and I re-realized just how desperately I want to perform well, esp for my boss or people in leadership over me. I want them to say "Kelsey was the best at her job--we were so glad she worked here this winter, and we hope she comes back every season forever. She is so talented and gifted. She was not a burden at all--we barely had to train her she was so good!" Not realistic, I know. But this has been a big deal for me ever since I left the Navs. I want desperately to be affirmed of my strengths and forgiven of my weaknesses, and helped to grow in and overcome them. Dare I hope for this at the ranch? No, I don't dare. I hardly dare to believe that this is even possible. So I make one little mistake and am reduced to tears because I just proved that I'm not "good enough."

I *know* all the answers to this, like Jesus is the only one who can affirm me and I shouldn't rely on people's approval, etc. I know. I just need to learn.

The other general manager, Ben, and his wife Holly brought their two youngest kids down for dinner tonight. Their names are Jack and Annie, 6 and 8 yrs old. They are adorable. They are so polite and fun. I think this would be an awesome place to grow up. Annie told me she wants to work on the ranch when she gets old enough, because she could eat all the yummy food for free. The food here, by the way, is phenomenal. Tonight we had beef stroganoff. I don't usually care for it because it's bland and the beef is tough and chewy, but oh my freakin' goodness, I think I could have eaten the entire pot of it tonight. The sous chef, Matt, came up with some delectably delicious honey wheat bread. He said he was "just experimenting." He didn't use a recipe at all. I love to watch them work in the kitchen. They do amazing things with food. And all the guys defy a chef's reputation of being a jerk and are very nice and helpful and appreciative when you like their food, not acting like they're doing you a great favor by allowing you to sample their craft (which they actually are).

Ok, 10 pm. I have got to get used to this time change and physical labor. Good night!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Melodic Monday

Hark! The herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With angelic hosts proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem!"
Hark! The herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ, by highest heaven adored
Christ the everlasting Lord
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of the Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased, as man, with men to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace
Hail the Sun of Righteousness
Light and life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings
Mild, He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the Sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Colorado Rocky Mountain High!

I am sitting on my bed in my bunkhouse at the ranch. How ranch-handish does that sound--"I'm headin' up to the bunkhouse--gonna hit the hay." They don't really talk like that here. I have about a 4x6 ft space for my bed and my stuff, but I have plenty of shelf space and actually have an entire shelf completely empty. The upside of the extremely small space is that it is also extremely personal. The ceiling slants down over my bed--I've already smacked my head into it. Maybe I'll sleep at the other end of the bed.

I am feeling really tired, a little overwhelmed and a little altitude-offish. Not altitude sick, just a little dizzy and slight headache. Better drink lots of water. I don't think I'm getting enough oxygen to my brain or something, because my motor skills are sadly impaired. All my shampoo and lotion bottles puffed up with the pressure. Can't wait until I open them and the contents explode on me.

We have wireless internet connection, but no cell phone reception. We have to go into town for that. They do have a staff line that is free long-distance.

My flight into Denver was delayed because of weather. When I landed, I was booking it through the airport to catch my shuttle. I asked three people, none of whom were native English speakers, where to find it, and got three different answers. Finally one guy called someone and told me it picked up on the OTHER side of the airport. Picture me, with a huge backpack and two 50-lb bags, barreling through the Denver airport at top speed. Thankfully, since I had made a reservation, they waited the shuttle for me.

My friend Johanna picked me up at the shuttle drop-off, along with another new ranch hand, a guy named Jess from Georgia who talks with a shy twang and holds doors for ladies. He is one of the only people whose names I know. But it's ok, no one knows my name, either. Everyone I've met so far is really friendly and seems to have a good work hard, play hard mentality.

Some of the guys are hanging out downstairs in our lounge, or living room, or whatever you call it. I am too tired and overwhelmed to put up with it right now. I just finished packing and settling in, and I have never been a big hanger-outer. I feel like I'm wasting so much time by just...sitting there. Besides, I would be a total wet blanket right now. "WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE? I WANT TO SLEEP." Probably not a good opener.

If you have made it through this blog, congratulations.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The soundtrack to my life

I was talking to my brother today as I was packing. He said he caught the beginning of the Mary Tyler Moore show and he thought the theme song should be dedicated to me as I start this trip.

Love is All Around
Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Well it's you, girl, and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement you show it
Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have a town, why don't you take it?
You're gonna make it after all
You're gonna make it after all

How will you make it on your own?
This world is awfully big, girl, this time you're all alone
But it's time you started living
It's time you let someone else do some giving
Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have a town, why don't you take it?
You're gonna make it after all
You're gonna make it after all

That was so encouraging. I've been hit with the last-minute nervous-excited-stressed stage as I finish packing up. Last night I sat and stared at the Christmas tree, thinking about how I am MOVING to Colorado. Not visiting, not vacationing, but MOVING. My life has always been here, and suddenly it's going to be somewhere else very far away. Leaving around Christmas is especially hard for me--it's one of the few times I actually want to be at home with my family. Also, leaving RVC is hard just as I'm starting to make a niche for myself. I keep falling into old fears: "Will I be good enough at my job? Will I make friends? What if I'm too quiet and shy? What if I screw it up?"

However, God has been so incredibly faithful. As I've finally realized what it means to come to Him in childlikeness, He has responded instantly and fully. I confessed my lack of responsibility in handling my money and asked Him to take care of me as His daughter, and two checks have come from random people in the mail who just "thought it might come in handy." I bring these fears before Him, confident that He will work changes in me. In the past, I would secretly panic and push these fears down, hoping desperately to rise above them. How foolish of me to think that I could even begin to do that on my own. Only, only in taking my burden to the Father, letting it roll off of my shoulders at His feet, and inviting Him to work the change in me, will it ever be realized. He must become greater; I must become less.

Well, the next time you hear from me, it will be from the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains! Catch ya then! <3

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


That's right...there are so many Christmas carols I want to post, and not as many Mondays until Christmas, and I'm not even sure I'll have internet access every one of them. So, without further ado:
Joy to the World
Joy to the world! The Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing

Joy to the earth! The Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rock, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy

No more let sin and sorrow grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found

He rules the earth with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Top Ten Tuesday

The Top Ten Things I'll Miss About Life Group

1. Fun icebreaker questions that let you get to know people a little better
2. William's random comments and voices, and the face Emily makes when he does them
3. All the different perspectives we get when we discuss Scripture
4. All the laughter that happens every week
5. Jonell and Frank's weekly bantering
6. Watching married couples and parents interact and learning from their example
7. Taking a turn watching the little people
8. Learning more about listening for words and praying for people in the Spirit
9. Seeing God answer prayer and sharing God stories
10. Dave, Kim, Noah, Ryan, Becky, River, William, Emily, Frank, Sheena, Gabe, Leah, Zach, Melissa, Zach Jr, Jess, and Jonell.

Tonight was my last life group before I leave. I am really going to miss it. We talked about the second half of 2 Timothy 2, which is a really rich passage. Even though I got a little carried away on the subject of golden bowls, I really enjoyed our discussion of it. Afterwards Kim asked everyone to pray for me, which was really good. People prayed exactly what was on my heart, which I know was a leading from God and just more evidence to me of Him caring for me and meeting my needs. They surprised me with a journal that everyone had written a little something in, which is really awesome. I will definitely treasure it and use it. God keeps giving me journals as gifts--maybe I'll post that story later. :)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Melodic Monday

Years ago, I heard a talk at a women's Christmas brunch on Christmas Carols. The speaker picked a couple and asked us to examine the words, not just sing them as a yearly tradition. Some of them have verses I'd never even heard before. I was amazed at how much of the gospel is in these songs. This one is one that my church used to sing a verse of every week as we lit that week's advent candle.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

O come, O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, thou Wisdom from on high
That orders all things mightily
To us the path of knowledge show
And teach us in her ways to go
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them vicotry over the grave
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadow put to flight
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, Thou Root of Jesse's tree
An ensign of Thy people be
Before Thee rulers silent fall
All peoples on Thy mercy call
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease
And be Thyself our King of peace
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

Sunday, December 2, 2007


I'm feeling really sentimental tonight. Partly because it was my last service at RVC and my last life group and tiny group are coming up, partly because I've been preparing Christmas presents and cards before I leave and realizing I won't be here to give them to the people at Christmas time, partly because it's raining and partly because I've been watching You've Got Mail.

I am not one of those people who are against emotions. I do not think that they are totally subjective and should therefore be totally ignored in favor of logic and reason. Actually, I hate people like that. I feel like they're the living dead, killing off part of themselves because they feel like they can't control it. And if you read the Bible, you'll find every kind of emotion expressed by Godly people--even God Himself. Emotions are wonderful and should be experienced and enjoyed. Now there are some people who take this to the opposite extreme and become weepy basket cases. I'm not talking about that either. I'm talking about a healthy experience and understanding of God-given feelings, and inviting the heart and mind to be partners on the journey instead of standing in opposition to each other.

Wow, this is a rambly blog. What I intended to say when I started that paragraph was that, even though I enjoy experiencing my emotions, I'm so glad that God is a solid Rock who doesn't ebb and flow, bend and sway like my emotions do. No matter how I'm feeling, God is there, and God is faithful, and God is unchanging. I mentioned a verse in my last blog that has been speaking to me a lot lately: "Cast your burdens on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall" (Ps 55:22). I started thinking about what a big promise that is. What if everyone took that verse to heart and cast all their burdens on Jesus? You think He would reach a point where His back would break. I think of social workers and counselors who get burnt out and weary with carrying other people's burdens. But Jesus' shoulders are broad enough, and His back is strong enough, for all the burdens of all the people. ALL the people. EVER. What do we think He was doing when He died on the cross? Bearing the sins of all people. Not just my sins, as if that weren't enough, but ALL the sins of EVERYONE. And I'm afraid to bring my burdens to Him--I afraid He can't carry it well, or He already has too many. Baloney. If my Jesus can't carry my burdens, then He's not a competent Savior. But actually, His back is so big that when I finally give Him my burden to carry, He shoulders it, and the thing that was so big and heavy on my back becomes a tiny, insignificant thing the size of a Lego block next to Him. And He says He will NEVER let the righteous fall. We are the righteous, thanks to Jesus (2 Cor 5:21). And He will NEVER let us fall. Why do I think the word "never" means "sometimes" or "only to teach you a lesson" or "look for footnote with explanatory clause"? Never means never. It is an absolute.

Well, this started with me watching You've Got Mail. This is what happens when you give sentimentality and emotions the reins and let 'em run.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Shuttle Anxiety

Last night I went online to book my shuttle service from the Denver Airport to Steamboat Springs. Everything was going "swimmingly" (I've been reading British novels) until I clicked "confirm" and the screen popped up: "There is a taxi available from DIA at 11 am." The problem--my flight doesn't get in until 11:35. I'd already bought my non-refundable ticket and I didn't know what to do. The schedule on the website said that the service ran all day, but here it was giving me one single time. I started freaking out, mostly because my mom had just said, "Make sure the taxi can take you before you book your ticket" and I rolled my eyes and said "Yeah, Mom," checked the schedule hurriedly to appease her then went on my merry way to book my ticket. I knew I would never hear the end of it, and worse, I knew I couldn't afford another ticket and would have to borrow the money from my parents.

My heart was sinking as I started up to my room. Halfway up the stairs, though, it came to me that this was an opportunity to practice childlikeness. Trust fully in the guiding authority and rely on Dad to take care of it. I stopped and prayed and asked God to take care of me as His daughter and provide for me as a Father. I was immediately met with the verse "Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall" (Ps 55:22).

I thought about the verse all through today and had to consciously make the decision to trust again. Trust, like sooo much else in life, isn't a feeling, it's a choice. It didn't make sense to me to choose to say "I trust You" when I didn't *feel* that way, but I knew I couldn't sit around and wait for my feelings to catch up with me. So, tonight I logged back on to the taxi website and went through it all again. It turns out that I forgot to include an important detail--the arrival time of my flight. Once I entered that in, the screen popped up with a later taxi time. It turns out that the schedule is right and the screen that pops up is supposed to be helpful--their "suggested time" for you to book your trip. Thanks a lot, Alpine Taxi.

So, I don't have to buy another ticket, I don't have to borrow money from my parents and eat the humble pie, and I don't have to inform the ranch people that I'm an idiot who can't read a shuttle schedule correctly and got myself stranded at the airport. Is this Father God providing for me? I do believe it is, but really, I just feel stupid. It wasn't even worth all this drama--I just couldn't read. But still, I have the lesson--and God didn't let me fall.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


So, we bought this old-fashioned Coke in holiday-themed glass bottles, the kind you have to use a bottle opener on. I usually open mine over the sink because of my tendency to make the bottle caps fly off and Coke splash out. So, this morning I opened one over the sink, as usual. And as expected, the cap flew off and the Coke splashed out--all over the clean dishes in the drying rack. Oh snap.

But anyway, something I've been thinking about a lot since I worked at the school is Jesus' commendation of children. Not just that He loves them or has a heart and compassion for them, but that He speaks highly of them. He says the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these little children (Matt 19:14, Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16), and unless we humble ourselves and become like a little child, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 18:3). Those are pretty powerful words. I've always had an image of Jesus lovingly welcoming the children into his arms, smiling at them and blessing them. I think this is true. But there's more to it. He was displeased with his disciples for holding them back and spoke strongly to them about it. He employed a child as an object lesson in humility for them. There's more than just Jesus' love for children here--there is real respect and esteem shown for them by their Savior and Creator.

I thought about this a lot in my moments of frustration with the kids at school. Why would Jesus want us to become tattling, back-talking, unruly scraps of humanity? Why would the kingdom of heaven belong to disrespectful, selfish imps who test patience to the limits? But the more I thought about it and called on these verses for patience, the more Jesus showed me in them.

A phrase that's often used is "childlike faith." It gets tossed around a lot, but I really understood it for the first time when the kids did a unit on Australia. To them, Australia is a far-off, almost mystical land full of strange animals and accents. But whatever they read about Australia, or whatever the teacher told them, was reality to them. They read with great excitement that a kangaroo can jump over a school bus and didn't even think to question it. Where adults might say, "That seems awfully high," or "I'll believe it when I see it," they said, "Awesome! Kangaroos are sweet! I'm a kangaroo! I'm going to jump over my bus tonight!" Nothing was outside the realm of possibility for them.

The children--most of them--are still purely honest. They haven't learned the subtleties of what's "ok" to say and what's not. Like Alex with the pencils in my earlier post. They have no qualms in saying to the teacher, "This is hard! I wish I didn't have to do this," or "I loved reading the book about Koala Lou." Even "This makes me really angry" is something they're not afraid to say. They have yet to learn the art of masking their emotions. Delight, anger, and sadness are all freely expressed by them.

They delight in things so easily. A trip to the grandparents', the class's pet hermit crab starting to come out of its shell, a classmate bringing in their dog for show and tell--these are all major deals to them. They're not yet jaded by the everyday and don't fail to delight in things that seem commonplace or mundane to us. Grasshoppers living out by the fence, the first red leaves in the fall, and the cold weather that means snow and Christmas are coming are just a few more things that the children shared their delight in with me.

Kids are not afraid to say "I don't know," or "Can you help me?" or "I need help tying my shoes" or "I don't understand this math problem" or "I can't get these fruit snacks open." Something many adults would die before saying is "I need help" or "I can't figure this out on my own." Children can't imagine any other reality. They know that they need the help of someone bigger, stronger and wiser, and it never occurs to them for a moment that they won't get that help. Teachers always know all the answers; the principals have ultimate power. And they never doubt that all of it goes toward their benefit.

The thing that touched me the most is that the children aren't afraid to express their love. They run up and throw their arms around you, turn around and smile at you, grab your hand while you're walking down the hallway, say blatantly, "I like you!" or "You're my best friend!" When does this become so hard for adults? When do the words "I love you" get pushed back? I am often so fearful of rejection that I hesitate to even offer my friendship, let alone my love. That is something that you must prove you are worthy of before I'll give it to you.

The kids are open, honest, trusting, humble and loving, while so often I am guarded, double-worded, skeptical, prideful and overly jealous of my love--and not just in my behavior toward others, but towards God. We learn such fine arts of guile and second-guessing as we grow up, and everything loses its straight-forwardness and simplicity. I can easily imagine why God would want to see people coming to Him with hearts like a little child--open, honest, fully dependent on Him and fully confident that He will meet every need.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving weekend

What a weekend! It was busy, busy, busy!

The fun started on Wednesday, my last day of work! I gave Alex some Spiderman pencils as a going away present. He said, "There are four--I could give one to everyone at my table. But I really love Spiderman, so I think I'll keep them all." So cute! I'm going to miss that kid.

Wednesday evening, we tood my parents to Bella Vita Ristorante in Indianapolis to celebrate their 30th anniversary. It is a really cool restaurant on the Geist reservoir. The food was great, and they had a wine cooler that was temperature-regulated by a waterfall over a glass panel. We gave my parents a picture frame and told them that we were getting family photos taken for their anniversary present.

Thanksgiving was a relaxing day of eating, playing games and reading in front of the fireplace. Good thing, too, because the next day we got up to hit the sales at the mall. I now have a new definition for insanity. We were able to get some awesome deals, though--the best being a down ski jacket to take to Colorado, marked down from $145 to $40! Worth enduring that out-of-control Kohl's line for. I got some "Western-style" clothes to wear at the ranch, too.

Friday afternoon we cut our tree and decorated it. We have a party every year with party food, Christmas music and watching "A Muppet Family Christmas" after we decorate the tree. I will really miss it when we all go our separate ways. Hopefully I'll do it with my own family some day.

Saturday was a spectacular day. We went up to Chicago and spent some time down town--looking at the Marshall Fields window display (The Nutcracker this year), browsing through German Fest, and checking out the American Girl Doll store at my special request. I have Samantha. Those dolls will always hold a special place in my heart. I love Chicago at Christmas. Everything is decorated so beautifully, and they have the horses and carriages trotting down town, and random people playing Christmas music on the corners--saxes and Salvation Army brass quartets and stomp-type drummers playing on buckets. We had Giordano's pizza for dinner--yummy!--and then we went to see Phantom of the Opera at the Cadillac Palace Theatre.

One of the things on my list of Top 5 Things to Do Before I Die is see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. This wasn't Broadway, but I am satisfied. The performers did an outstanding job, and it was so wonderful and amazing to see the music come to life and be acted out. I got chills the first time the Phantom showed up and swirled his cape. Oh my gosh, it was so so so TREMENDOUS. TREMENDOUS is mine and my sister's new favorite word from this weekend. We decided it should always be spelled with all caps and only used for the truly great things of life. But then we ended up using it all the time. But the original usage definitely applies for Phantom.

I hit the mall again today to look for a few more things to take to CO. I stocked up on warm socks and black shirts--part of my work dress code. I ran into Kim, Dave and Noah while I was there, which was fun.

So, that was my TREMENDOUS holiday weekend. Here is a link to pictures:

Melodic Monday

Rocky Mountain High - John Denver

He was born in the summer of his 27th year,
coming home to a place he'd never been before.
He left yesterday behind him
you might say he was born again,
might say he found a key for every door.
When he first came to the mountains
His life was far away
on the road and hanging by a song.
But the string's already broken
and he doesn't really care,
it keeps changin' fast, and it don't last for long.
It's a Colorado Rocky Mountain High,
I've seen it raining fire in the sky
The shadows from the starlight are softer than a lullabye.
Rocky Mountain High, Colorado....
Rocky Mountain High.

He climbed cathedral mountains, he saw silver clouds below,
saw everything as far as you can see.
And they say that he got crazy once and that he
tried to touch the sun,
and he lost a friend, but kept the memory.
Now he walks in quiet solitude, the forest and the stream,
seeking grace in every step he takes,
his sight is turned inside himself, to try and
understand, the serenity of a clear blue mountain lake.
And the Colorado Rocky Mountain High,
I've seen it raining fire in the sky
You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply.
Rocky Mountain High, Colorado....
Rocky Mountain High.

Now his life is full of wonder,
but his heart still knows some fear,
of the simple things he can not comprehend.
Why they try to tear the mountains down
to bring in a couple more.
More people, more scars upon the land.
It's the Colorado Rocky Mountain High,
I've seen it raining fire in the sky
I know he'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly
Rocky mountain high
It's the Colorado Rocky Mountain High,
I've seen it raining fire in the sky.
Friends around the camp fire and everybody's high....
Rocky Mountain High, Rocky Mountain High,
Rocky Mountain High,
Rocky Mountain High.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Out-of-Control Freak

Well, a decision has been reached about the car. I'm not going to take it. I was kind of upset at first when my dad told me, because they made the decision instead of me, but my dad explained it really well. He said it's not that they don't trust me to make a decision, but since they own the car, they need to decide how to best use their resources to support me. That made a lot of sense to me--at first I felt like they were using the fact that they owned the car as leverage against me, but I can understand that they want to be good stewards of their resources. My dad said one thing that helped him make the decision was a picture he had of me, which is somewhat unusual for my dad. It fit in with thoughts I've been having lately of things God is bringing up in my heart. Basically this:

All my life I've prided myself on not being a control freak. I was proud in my ability to be flexible, roll with the punches, and toss the schedule out the window. It never occured to me that their was another extreme--being an "out-of-control freak." I've always hated to feel tied down or like my options are closed in any way. I always do things last-minute, and one reason is that I hate to be committed to any one way until I absolutely have to. As I said, I was proud of this and saw anything else as rigidity and inflexibility. I've been convicted of this a little bit before, but every time I tell people I'm working on being more disciplined, they say, "Fantastic! Let me see your hour-by-hour schedule!" or "I noticed you read your book for ten minutes when you got home instead of starting right on that assignment. I thought you were going to be more disciplined?" THAT kind of life I could never live. It seems silly, but only recently has it occurred to me that there might be some middle ground. I can still be spontaneous and flexible (keep the "P" part of my personality, for you fellow Meyers-Brigg lovers), but also work on instilling some discipline and boundaries in my life.

Another point of pride for me has always been, "I'm not like those control freaks who hold onto every detail and don't trust God to run things." But as thoughts of not having a car have entered my mind, I've started to realize my own lack of trust. "Not be able to leave whenever I want? Not be able to take solitary trips into town or drive away from the ranch?" In summary, "Not be able to drive away from my problems? Not have an escape route open?" That idea freaks me out. I feel my options closing and my freedom slipping away, and panic starts to ensue. But the Bible says that we are slaves to righteousness; I am a bondservant of the Lord. Scary words, words that I don't like, but words that are true. That's why I think it will be good for me to have to rely entirely on God while I'm at the ranch, and trust that if I need an escape route, He'll open it for me. And if He doesn't open one, maybe I need to reexamine why or what I want to escape, and see if it isn't something I should be facing head-on instead.

Remember that post awhile back when I said I didn't like to blog about deep things? Hahaha.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Kim's blog got me thinking about my favorite Christmas traditions. I am a big lover of Christmas traditions. Cutting down a tree, decorating it, advent wreaths, advent calendars, watching "Muppet Family Christmas" after decorating the tree and "Muppet Christmas Carol" on Christmas Eve, the endless food traditions, having a birthday cake and singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus--it's all very near and dear to my heart.

I think my favorite Christmas tradition is the one my parents have of giving all three of us an ornament each year. They're always part of a set, but they don't usually match exactly. My favorite set is one of teddy bears playing different instruments: Shannon's plays the guitar, mine plays the fiddle, and Ryan's plays the cymbals. They're dressed like they're part of a Kentucky bluegrass band. So cute. The idea is that when we all leave and get our own trees, we'll have a good start on ornaments. So far, though, all of us come back for Christmas and we haven't split up the sets. I have an idea that even when we do, we'll e-mail each other pictures and relive the memories.

I think my favorite tradition isn't a family one, it's a church one. At the end of the Christmas Eve service, we light little white candles, turn down all other lights, and sing "Silent Night." It's my favorite Christmas carol, and singing it in a reverent, holy hush of light after just hearing the Christmas story and feeling full of the awe and excitement that Jesus became part of mankind as the first step to redeeming mankind, is a feeling like no other. Wow, add that to the list of things I'm going to miss this year!

So, what are your favorites? Christmas traditions, Christmas carols, Christmas foods, Christmas movies? Two of mine are listed above; my favorite Christmas movie is "White Christmas." My favorite food are these things my mom makes that are like a Reese's cup wrapped in a chocolate chip cookie. Yummy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Funny kid story of today: the kids were given a word scramble. One of the kids said, "I can make the 's' word!" I told him he better restrict himself to school words. A few minutes later, Alex told me, "I think I know what word he was going to make." He leaned in and whispered, " 'Stupid'."

I've been trying to think of things that I'll miss about Indiana. I'm sure there are some things I take for granted that I'll miss once I'm gone. Some of them:

Sunsets. In a valley, the sun just disappears behind the mountains, and suddenly it's dark. Of course, the fact that there's mountains make up for a lot of it, but I'll miss the colors and glow. Winter sunsets are the best. My bedroom has a west window, and the leaves are gone so I can see the sky. I think that God tries to make up for the dead brown-gray of everything else by making the sunsets especially vibrant.

The 9th street historic district decorated for Christmas. Every year, they line the sidewalks with votives, and ever since I was little, I've loved to drive down 9th street hill and soak in the Christmasy glow.

Fall color. Absolutely beautiful this year. I drive to school every morning by South River Road, and as I'm thinking about how I don't want to go, the amazing leaves make the morning seem worthwhile.

There's probably more that I'll think of when I'm actually gone. I find my Indiana pride tends to increase with distance.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Funny kid story of the day: A girl came up to me on the playground and said, "My grandma has those shoes." On further perusal, she added, "She has a jacket like that, too!" I dress like grandma. Outstanding.

I had a conversation with my parents tonight about how I was going to get to Colorado. Apparently, even if I found someone else to drive out with, that doesn't mean they'll let me take the car. It still makes my mom nervous to think of two girls driving out there, apparently. I'm not surprised--she didn't want me to drive to Ohio. I pointed out to them that, if they didn't own the car, I would still ask for and respect their advice and opinion, but I wouldn't be waiting on their decision, I would be informing them of mine. I said that if the car was what they were concerned about, I could understand, but since the concern was my safety, that's really something that I make my own decisions about at this point. I told them that most people my age don't ask their parents for permission about anything at all, they say, "Hi Mom, I'm moving to Colorado. I'll send a postcard." My dad acknowledged that I should be making my own decisions at this point and even said that it was important that I should. My mom said no such thing, but I don't know what she was thinking. But they didn't say I could take the car. My dad then switched to logic and did a lot of math to show me that it's actually cheaper to fly. But that limits the amount of stuff I can take and leaves me stuck on the ranch, bumming rides off the other ranch hands. I really have no idea how much stuff I'll need or how often people go into town. I don't know, I just want to decide for myself and be a freaking adult.

Right before he went up to bed, my dad asked when I would be home tomorrow and said he wants to talk to me some more. I don't like this for two reasons: 1) I'm being asked when I'll come home (again, not something 24-yr-olds tell their parents), and 2) I don't know what he wants to talk to me about, but whatever it is, I bet I don't want to talk about it. It's probably either the car again, money, or something. I shouldn't be dreading a talk with my dad, but I am. It's not really my dad, it just that, once again, I'M 24, and these things are my concerns, not my parents' anymore.

This is one reason I'm so excited about going. I should not be living with my parents anymore. You know what this is? It is the enemy trying to steal my joy. I will not let him. They joy is mine.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Waxin' Lyrical"

I gave notice at school today. I felt a moment of guilt at the look on my boss's face, but really, I had to restrain myself from leaping around her desk and singing at the top of my lungs, "I'm not coming ba-ack!"

I am so excited about working on the ranch. Honestly, I don't remember the last time I felt this happy. It's a deep, inner, settled, peaceful happiness. I feel like people should be able to see my heart glowing through my chest. When I got off the phone with my new employer, I ran laps around our dining room and then jumped up and down until I hurt my ankle and had to stop.

I enjoyed the rain today. Several rainy days in a row can be depressing, but we've had such a sunny streak that I enjoyed the soft gray of today. There's something comforting to me in shutting the door against the rain and coming into a dry, warm haven. I made soup and warm bread for dinner, and later I plan on curling up with a blanket and a glass of wine, secure against the rain streaming off the window panes.

I seem to be "waxin' lyrical" (should be read with a Scottish accent) tonight. I'll probably read this tomorrow and laugh at it.

The washing machine is making weird gurgling noises. I hope I don't have my own private rainstorm inside.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Retrospective musings

So, one of Jonell's posts got me thinking. Last year in Bloomington, my pastor preached a sermon on 2 Kings 4:12-17. Summarily, a woman convinces her husband to give Elisha lodging, and to thank her, he asks her to name anything he can do for her. She says, "Nothing." So Elisha asks his servant what she needs, and the servant says, "Well, she has no children and really no hope of having any." So Elisha calls her back and tells her that this time next year, she will have a son. She basically says, "No, don't even say that--don't toy with me." But God's promise is true, and she does have a son at the appointed time.

Pastor Matt asked us to consider what it was that we wanted from God but were afraid to ask for, and would say to God, "Don't toy with me," if He offered it us. The answer that came to me was "emotional healing." I was going through a really hard time of challenging God and feeling like He had made me promises that hadn't been fulfilled. One of those promises was of being restored and made whole in spirit. The year at IU was hard in a lot of ways, and I often felt drained and discouraged, and never restored. Verses like Isaiah 61:3 seemed to taunt me. I had thoughts that I wouldn't allow to take form, like "Maybe this is as good as it gets." When I finally faced God on the issue, it was with angry hurt and defiance.

I talked about it with my campus leader, Ken, he suggested that I read the book of Job. This took care of my anger and defiance pretty quickly. Job is a great book, if you haven't read it. Verses like, "It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice. Who appointed Him in charge of the whole world? If it were His intention and He withdrew His breath, all mankind would perish together and man would return to the dust," and when God Himself says, "Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?" make it pretty hard to be anything but humble before our Maker.

My attitude was adjusted, but my heart still ached. The end of the year and decisions about whether or not to stay with Navs brought additional hurt and burdens. I talked with a counselor friend at my last Nav conference, and we were able to pray together and pinpoint more of this desire for emotional healing. I made some breakthroughs and sought some forgiveness with some people, all of which was good and healing. But my spirit still wasn't whole.

The summer was extremely disheartening. Two job possibilities, one in Colorado Springs and one in Florida, didn't pan out. I was looking for a job and living with my parents. My Bible reading turned into mindless formality. I came closer to depression than I've ever come. Once again, God's promises seemed empty and unfulfilled.

I didn't even know how far I'd fallen until God started lifting me back up. I knew it was time for me to move on from my parent's church, and my brother had mentioned a new church on the west side that one of his friends attended. I thought, "Why not?" So I went to RVC.

My first Sunday there, God grabbed my heart. The worship moved me to tears, and Tony's message was Biblically solid and really spoke to me. It was like a puzzle piece that I'd been trying to force in the wrong place had finally found its fit. And there was this lady I sat next to, Kim, who helped me fill out my welcome card and shared her NLT Bible with me. All through the next couple weeks, when I felt shy and socially awkward and tried to slip out the back door, Kim would pursue me. She invited me to her life group that was just starting up. I still felt shy and socially awkward, but I felt an even deeper desire for friendship and the vital, Spirit-filled life I saw in the people at RVC. And there was still an ache and desire for healing, even though I had managed to push it down and ignore it until I had forgotten it. I thought that what I had received that summer was as good as it was going to get.

It wasn't long until God started pursuing me again. He used several pictures dealing with water to speak to me. I was totally unused to this and had no idea what to do with it. Also, I was afraid. I was just like the wife saying, "No, my lord, do not mislead your servant." Don't make any promises You're not going to keep. Finally, I talked with Kim, who had been so kind and faithful to pursue me. She prayed with me, and right there, in Noah's bedroom, sitting on his new "big boy" bed, God met me. He touched my heart deeply in places I thought I had forgotten and flooded in His life and His power. Since then, I have been prayed for at RVC on more than one occasion, and God has brought out issues that I wasn't even aware of, or that I thought I had already dealt with and were as healed as they were going to be. God has even given me pictures and words for other people, something which never happened to me before. He's not just restoring me, He's using me.

I had forgotten about this sermon preached last March until I read Jonell's post about RVC becoming her home. Then I remembered the long-ago promise and my reaction to it. Can I even call it long-ago? Six months ago. But I, in my human, American mindset, didn't see immediate results and assumed that I was forgotten. But now I see that brought me to the right place, with the right people, at just the right time. His promises are true. His ways are higher than our ways. I used to think of that as a sort of excuse--God does something that seems mean, or seems like a broken promise, and we say, "Well, His ways are higher than our ways." But now, I've seen that lived out. I've seen Him, in His supernatural timing and wisdom, give me just what I needed just when I needed it. And I've seen how short my patience is. I want the quick fix--instant alleviation of the pain. But I wasn't willing to trust God in the hard times, or to believe that they were the gateway to good things and answered promises, and rely on His Spirit and His Word. But God has reminded me what a good God He is, and how His timing is ultimate and better and above mine. And His promises are always true. If He offers me something, I don't need to shrink back and say, "Don't mislead me, my Lord." It is not His character to tantalize me with false promises, or to dangle a carrot in front of me and pull it back. He desires wholeness and restoration for His people. And He has promised it.

...He [Jesus] found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because He has annointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." - Luke 4:17-19

That's His promise.

Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. - Hebrews 6:16-19

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Emotional exhaustion

If anyone who reads this doesn't know, I e-mailed Johanna yesterday and told her that I want to come work at her ranch. Her boss called me today and set up a phone interview for Thurs at 3 pm. I am really excited about the whole deal. I got prayed for again at life group and again felt confirmed in it, mostly with the word "freedom" and a picture of myself running, headlong and determined, into the rain and towards some mountains. That's the short version, but God has been using pictures of rain and water to speak to me a lot lately. I'll give anyone the long version if they want it.

So, that is great. I shared that with my parents, and it encouraged them too, which is also great. What is not great is that I feel completely drained. I've spent so much mental, emotional (and even some spiritual ;) ) energy on this decision that now that it's made, I feel wiped out. The kids have also been little hellions this week. Alex's mom told me he's not sleeping very well, which means for him that he's wound up like a top. He cannot sit down or stop talking to save his life. He acts as goofy as heck. Today all the kids acted like they downed a quart of pure sugar for breakfast. One little girl I spend a lot of time with said her mom forgot to give her her medicine. She was bouncing off the walls like a wally-ball. Another kid who sits at the same table as Alex, and who always asks me for help with his work, got mad because I wouldn't do the same things for him that I do for Alex. I found out from the teacher later that she's going to move him because she doesn't want him to come to depend on my help. Really, I think this is probably for the best, because he's convincing himself that he can't do things on his own that he really can, but I think what he really wants is attention more than help with his schoolwork, and I hate to see these attention-starved kids and be denied the chance to show them that they are loved and worth paying attention to. The little girl I mentioned before always wants hugs, and when we're standing in line or waiting in the hall, she takes my hands and wraps my arms around her, or puts my hands on her face. During reading time she'll sit next to me and gradually creep closer until our shoulders are pressed together and her head is leaning against me. I hate telling her that she can only have one hug a day, or that I can only hold her hand in the hall, not hold her all the time. She needs love. She needs someone to hold her. But like most kids from a background like hers, she is darn good at manipulating and trying to get what she wants. Trying to love her and yet show her that I won't let her control me is a daily battle, as is convincing this little boy that he can do his own work and I don't like him any less than Alex, as is being patient with Alex's tendencies that can seem just like unruliness or disrespect. My patience is wearing holes in it, as is my judgement. Today I kept repeating Matt 19:14 - "Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'" These same little buggers who wear holes in my patience when my emotions are at a ragged end are the ones that Jesus says we have to become like to enter the kingdom of heaven.

So, if you think about it, please pray for renewing of strength and refreshing of spirit, for my sake and the kids'!

Monday, November 5, 2007

1. My kind of relative right now
2. I am listening dad mow the lawn
3. Maybe I about new contacts--my old ones have run their course
4. I love it when...I laugh until I can't breathe
5. My best too far away (Korea)!
6. I don't understand...Portuguese
7. I marbles? This blog really isn't big enough for the things I lose; I'm quite an expert at it.
8. People say...I look exactly like my sister
9. The meaning of my blog name is...that I wanted something that started with the same letter
10. Love is... letting someone else have the last bite of cheesecake
11. Right now, somewhere, someone is...thinking of me, and loving me tonight...somewhere out there, out where dreams come true
12. I will always...hate math
13. Once upon a time, I...wanted to be a doctor
14. Now, I...have no idea what I want to be
15. I never want to...skydive
16. My personal motto is...Never skydive
17. When I wake up in the morning...I curse my alarm clock
18. I get annoyed when...people use the wrong form of there, their, and they're, it's and its, your and you're, or say "Where's it at?"
19. People always...use prepositions at the end of their sentences
20. I the car
21. Hugs are the best when...they come spontaneously from children (thanks, Ann!)
22. Today I...worked a half day! Whoohoo!
23. Tomorrow I a full day :(
24. I really want...a date where I can wear an evening gown and get flowers

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sweet, sweet Jesus

He is sweet, He is sweet
What you're looking for
Is my sweet, sweet Jesus
What you're looking for
Is my sweet Lord

I was driving home tonight and listening to this song by Shawn McDonald. I love the simplicity of it, and it perfectly captured the state of my heart. But let me begin at the beginning.

Yesterday my mom, my sister and I went to Chicago. Our original plan was to go shopping at Ikea and visit my baby cousin, who Shannon and I hadn't met yet. Friday night, though, we got a phone call from my uncle telling us that my grandpa was in the hospital. He had fallen down twice in the past week, but both times he refused to call for help because he was afraid the assisted living people would put him in the health care facility. He always says, with no intention of exaggerating for effect, "I'd rather die than go there." So, I guess the second time he fell, he finally called someone, and when they were checking him to make sure he was okay, they discovered he has pneumonia. So they moved him to the hospital. While he was there and they were performing routine tests, they found a spot on his bladder and did a biopsy. It turns out he has cancer in his bladder and it's spread to his kidney some, too. The doctors say there's no way of knowing how long he has, but they guess anywhere from 2-18 months.

I don't think anyone in the family was terribly surprised by this news. He's been in poor health for almost as long as I can remember, and when I was in high school, he battled prostate cancer. He's been failing even faster since my grandma, who has Alzheimer's, was taken to the Alzheimer's ward. He will be 90 years old this Christmas.

So we altered our plans to include a stop by the hospital to see him, and also a visit to my grandma at the assisted living home. I hadn't seen either of them for a long time--probably close to two years. My grandpa was so glad to see us and seemed in good spirits. He hadn't been told about the cancer because they wanted him to concentrate on recovering from the pneumonia, but he told us about the biopsy and said he thinks it's "the big C." So, he pretty much knows.

After that, we saw my grandma. I haven't seen her since the Alzheimer's started taking a severe hold, and my mom tried to prepare us for the big change in her, but the time we had with her was really a gift from God. She knew who each one of us was, and she managed complete sentences and said, "I love you." My mom said it was the best she's seen her since she started going downhill.

I've known for a while that each time I see my grandparents might be the last time, so I'm really glad to have had this. Neither one of them are believers--they are nominal Catholics. But my grandpa let us pray with him and seemed really receptive to it. We're all praying for Jesus to break his pride and work in his heart.

After that, we had lunch at a place called Juicy-O's Pancake House. Shannon ordered caramel pecan cinnamon swirl French toast, which was pretty much the best French toast ever. Then we went to see my Uncle Mark and my cousin, Evan. Evan is 7 months old and couldn't possibly be any cuter. He let us hold him and play with him. He is the strongest 7-month-old I've ever encountered. He would grab something (hair, necklace, earrings) and hang on for dear life. Aunt Megan was out of town, but we really only came to see the baby anyway. ;)

After that, we finally made it IKEA. I was overwhelmed at the vast amounts of Swedish furnishings that filled that enormous warehouse. I didn't get anything, but I picked out a few things to keep in mind for someday down the road. My mom and my sister made a few purchases.

All of that made for a super long day. We didn't make it home until about 1 am, and we were totally exhausted. I came home after church and took a four-hour nap. Then I got up and went to prayer meeting at the church office.

Prayer meeting was wonderful. Julie and Mindy prayed for my Colorado decision (which I still haven't made), but I feel so at peace right now. For so long, before I came to RVC, I had forgotten how real and active and present Jesus still is today. I believed the fact that He still heals and restores and answers prayers today, but I had a somewhat fatalistic approach: "Sure, I'll pray about this, but really, God's going to do whatever He's going to do, so it's almost kind of a formality" (I could never bring myself to actually say that, even though it was my heart attitude). But the Bible tells us that prayer is powerful, and that God answers it. It has been sweet beyond belief to experience this first-hand and participate in it.

Thanks for reading the longest post ever--have a great start to your week with my sweet, sweet Jesus.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


We had a minor crisis in the lunch room today when they ran out of ketchup. They served chicken nuggets, but no ketchup. Little hands kept shooting up, asking for ketchup packets, but all we had to offer them was honey packets. The kids were like, "Honey? On chicken?" I love this combo, but I guess it's not popular with the younger generation. They also ran out of milk, which seems absurd. What elementary school doesn't have milk? Actually, the last few kids in line were pretty happy because they got juice boxes instead.

I spent some good time hanging out with Kim today. We had a good talk about how God is working in our lives, and how encouraging we find Peter. He is so refreshingly realistic and human. Noah was pretty hilarious. He climbed up on the chair next to me while we were eating lunch and kept handing me and his mom the utensils we weren't using, as well as the salt-and-pepper packets and wet naps that came in the take-out bag. He has a little servant's heart. :)

I got an e-mail from Johanna last week end. She works at Vista Verde, a resort/ranch in Steamboat Springs, CO, and she asked if I would pray about coming out there to work for the winter season. Believe me, I've been praying about it. I keep tossing the pros and cons back and forth. The main points I keep coming back to: When else in my life can I just say, "I feel like moving to Colorado for a few months," and then pack up and do it? Probably not ever again. But then, I am only just starting to establish new relationships here and make a post-college niche. I'm not at a point where I have nothing to leave, but I'm also not at a point where things are so established and deep that I could slip right back into the groove upon return. Also, I would really miss life group and tiny group and Tony talking about Panama and co-landers on Sunday mornings. I would hate to leave the kids at work, but I would love to leave the politics and tension and people-pleasing of work.

So, that's that. If the Spirit moves you to pray for my decision, that would be awesome!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Today is also my sister's birthday. She is twenty-six today. It seems really strange that she is closer to thirty than twenty. But she is closer to twenty-five than thirty, and twenty-five isn't that old. Neither is thirty, honestly. It just seems old for my sister.

The kids were really excited about Halloween today. At the end of the day the teacher asked them what they were going to be. Some of the more original answers included a banana, a pirate karate maid, and a deadbeat cowboy. No trick-or-treaters come to our house. It is sad. I miss them every year since we moved here.

I have to start keeping a journal for Alex at school. It's going to go something like this: "This morning Alex did not ask for any help. This afternoon Alex did not ask for any help. I helped him write some because I have to." So, not exactly like that, but there really is not much to write. It's sad because there are other kids who could really benefit from a para, and Alex is learning dependence when he could be independent.

My parents have been gone during the evenings this week for a conference at their church called Rekindle the Flame. I've really been enjoying the solitude. I cook for myself, use the kitchen/bathroom/TV whenever I want, and imagine that I have my own house. Kind of pathetic, I know.

I just had a conversation with my parents about being closer to thirty than twenty. Please note that I am not. I am twenty-four. I said that by the time I'm closer to thirty, I want to have my own place. My mom said, "Well, you better start praying." I protested, "I've got some time," and she said, "Well, these things take time." I pointed out that I said I wanted to have my own place, not my own child. Actually, I want my own place far before then, but that is just the time I definitely, absolutely do not want to be living at home. Remember those plans for your life they used to make you write in high school? I always said I wanted to be married out of college and be done having kids by thirty. Clearly, this is not my life. Why do they make you make those stupid plans anyway? So you can look back and see how far your expectations have fallen since high school? No one really has realistic expectations in high school. I think one reason it's been hard for me to find a "career job" is that all I've ever really wanted to do is be a wife and mother full-time. That was always my high school plan. That doesn't seem very *ambitious* to some people, but that's really all I want. I love it when I get to spend time with babies and little people, but part of me aches because they're not mine. I know there are other single women out there who are my age, but all my friends left Lafayette when they graduated, and all the people I meet now are moms. They talk about their kids, babysit each other's kids, share baby clothes and baby stories, etc. It's challenging to relate to sometimes, and other times it's hard not be jealous of where they are in life. I do believe that my desires to be a wife and mother are God-given and don't dishonor Him, but it can be hard waiting around.

So, this post was...different. I'm not one who usually likes to post about deep stuff, if you call that deep. That just shows you what a conversation with my mom can do. I suppose that's one benefit of not being a one is exasperated by me the way that I am sometimes exasperated by my mom.

Psalm 84:11 - "For the Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withold from those whose walk is blameless."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Full Day

Today was the day before fall break--yay! It was also the day of fall parties at Klondike. The kids got their faces painted, made bats out of black socks with paper wings, and ate A TON of sugar. It is really smart of teachers to have these parties the last hour of the day before break, because achieving calmness afterwards is impossible. I think they will be buzzing for days to come.

Jesse, one of the little boys in Alex's class (and a real character), turned me into a vampire. He approached me with his sock bat, Brutus, and said, "Want to be vampire? It doesn't hurt and it doesn't even cost anything!" And then he made Brutus bite me. So if you see me after dark, look out.

Today was also the day of Alex's mom's parent-teacher conference. Apparently, his parents are concerned because all of his schoolwork is done in his own handwriting. Why is this concerning, you ask? Shouldn't it be good news that their child is able to do his own work? According to his mom, "Writing is hard for him and he shouldn't do so much of it." I tried to tell her that he never asks me for help, and that I watch him and he doesn't seem to be struggling, and if either of those happened, I would help him. Her answer: "Yes, well, he needs to learn he can't do as much as he thinks he can. He tries to do too much and wears himself out." Then she smiled really sweetly and said she would "let" me use my "best discretion" on how often to help him. I was told by the teacher that I need to start writing for him more because they're "doing a lot to please Mom right now" and I just need to go with it.

I feel like this is utterly beyond ridiculous. It's counter-educational. I work with Alex on a daily basis, and he is fully capable of writing his own work. Entirely and completely. Motor skills are harder for him, and he does write slower than average for his age, but not to a point where he's not completing tests on time or lagging really far in his daily work. Not even lagging at all. He's almost never the first one done, but he's not the last one, either. I know this is something he's had to work up to, also. To take that away from him, to discourage him in his acheivement and tell him he's slower and dumber than he truly is, is the opposite of teaching. It's degrading and demeaning and just plain stupid. What does she expect him to be as a man if he grows up thinking that everything is going to be handed to him because he's "special" and "some things are hard" and he's going to "wear himself out" if he tries? Paras are the lowest rung on the ladder, so there is not really much I can do about it, but it rankles.

Last night we had our first tiny group. It was good. I think it will be even better when we have smaller sections to cover and we can go more in depth. It was strange, though, because I felt like I talked too much, which happens to me....never.

Tomorrow I'm headed to Ohio to visit Abby! I am excited to see her and hear how her ministry is going. My mom is worried because I'm driving through the country by myself. You know, that dangerous, desolate Indiana-Ohio countryside, full of bandits and miscreants and ne'er-do-wells. My mom is extremely safety-conscious for her children. I really want to be a laid-back mom.

Well...that's all, folks!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'm going to echo Kim in the blogging arena tonight and say that I love our life group. I love the dynamics, I love how the different personalities balance each other, and I love the support and love that people have for each other when we pray over each other. I never understood prayer like that until I came into this group. And it's pretty cool. :) We don't just send some requests up to God and say, "Maybe You'll answer this, maybe You won't; we'll leave it up to You and wait and see." People in lifegroup pray actively, and interactively, and expect God to show up and work NOW. And actually believe that He will. And He actually does! Strange that it should seem so strange, since God promises this about Himself in His Word. But it's been more wonderful than I can say, and I am so glad to be part of a group that actively lives this out.

I am pumped for what my mom and I affectionately call "tiny group" tomorrow night!

Monday, October 22, 2007

A child's words

Sometimes my job is so frustrating. Not the kids--I expect kids to be frustrating at times, and those moments are just part of the package. It's the adults that really get me. No one communicates with each other, and the administration is less than administratively gifted. Everyone assumes that I know the ropes, I understand everything about the way the school runs, and I'm just a small cog that will slip quietly into their well-oiled machine. Not so. I'm more like the monkey wrench that got thrown in the works. I've been learning things by trial and error, mostly error, so often, the machine comes to a grinding halt until I can figure out which wheels to grease to get it running again (this has turned into quite the extended metaphor, huh?). Just little things, like where they keep the time cards, what to do if your student is absent, how much different teachers want you to participate with or hang back from the students. Today was especially frustrating because Alex, my kid, was absent, so I subbed for one of the other paras. She has a crazy schedule where she's not with just one student but runs all over the school, doing different things at different places at different times. And she has two lunch duties, which is insane. One of the secretaries told me this lady is kind of crazy, but if she has two lunch duties every day, I don't wonder.

So my morning entailed running around like a chicken with its head cut off--a confused, clueless chicken who kept doing things wrong. It brought up all the issues I've been struggling with lately of feeling "not good enough" and useless and worthless. I went into one of the afternoon classes wanting to cry. But there was no time to cry--the teacher gave me a stack of mini blackboards, a bucket of chalk, and four students ("They're kind of crazy," she warned me) and told me to take them into the hall and practice rounding. So I would write a number on my chalkboard and tell them which place value to round it to. And for some reason, the kids loved it. They threw themselves into it and did a great job. One of the girls, Deanna, had a lot of fun making artistic numbers with swirls and shading with her chalk. Then she said to her friend, "This is fun! She's fun!" Then to me, "Can we do this instead of recess?"

Right there my day turned around. I don't know why a compliment from a child means so much; maybe because they're so completely honest and unjaded. But the fact that I had succeeded in making learning fun for these four struggling kids was a sweet assurance. I still hate feeling like the monkey wrench, but it was a good feeling to know that I could pull the monkey wrench out of the kids' system and get that working smoothly, at least this time.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

My first blog

Hey, so I have decided to start a blog! Mostly so I can comment on other people's, but last time I did this it turned into an obsession, so we'll see where it goes. I figure I can always post funny stories about the kids at school.