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.