Thursday, January 31, 2008
Let me elaborate. We were serving drinks before dinner, and in typical polite, orderly server fashion, Bekah murmured, "Will you get the guest a drink?" However, the murmur was so low that I heard, "Will you get the guest a milk?" I thought it was odd as this guest had enjoyed a glass of red wine every previous night, but I poured the milk and brought it to her. She was confused, as was I, but we soon came to the mutual conclusion that she didn't want to switch her drink of choice.
So much for happy half-hour. I was serving the appetizer to another lady who was sitting with her elbows leaning on the table. I said "Excuse me," so I could set her plate down, and she leaned back--way back--and smacked her head into the plate I had in my other hand.
Oh yeah, the smoke in the dining room incident. So, this morning Bekah taught me how to build a fire. I had no practice and burnt much newspaper and kindling, which resulted in the dining room filling with a dense cloud of smoke. Rob walked out from the kitchen, then immediately clutched his throat and fell to the floor, crying, "Stop, drop and roll!" He army crawled toward me, gasping, "I'll save you, Kelsey!" but he "died" before he made it.
Lee and Dace hosted a game night at their place tonight. I had just filled up my Pepsi cup and set it on their folding table, which was positioned right between me and Grahm while we were sitting on the floor. I said, "Now Grahm, I just put my drink here, so don't knock this table over"--and my gesture toward the table ended in me backhanding it and splashing my drink all over their chair, wall and carpet.
Strangely enough, tonight was a great night. The truly great thing about it was that I found all of this funny, whereas at the beginning of the season I would be writing this in tears. As Jonell reminded me to have a sense of humor and I have experienced forgiveness as well as a great sense of humor from the other ranch hands, I've learned to laugh at myself again. It's something I never want to forget again. Life pretty much stinks if you can't laugh at yourself. Besides, if you're actually funny, you're missing out on a lot if you don't enjoy it.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
The drive was beautiful. Forty-five minutes through the snow-covered Rockies on a sunny day with some good music and good conversation. Elisha and I are often amused by the same things--for example, we both got a lot of enjoyment out of the fact that her car was named Craig and we were going to Craig.
We got some yarn, stocked up at super Walmart, and then Elisha decided to get her hair cut while we were there because places in Steamboat tend to be a bit pricey. I was sitting in the front reading a magazine when suddenly all the sunlight disappeared from the windows. I looked up to see a white cloud of snow blowing fiercely in front of the window. That was basically all I could see. When Elisha's hair was finished, things still hadn't let up. We got back in Craig and crawled along the street. We figured we would just drive very slowly and get back to Steamboat really late.
Once we got a few miles outside of town, though, conditions were pretty much impossible. We had to keep rolling down the windows to knock the ice off the windshield wipers. The only way we could tell where the road was was to follow the tail lights of the car in front of us. The genius driving that car, however, apparently decided that it was too bad to drive and stopped right in the middle of the highway. Good idea, Einstein. Let's sit here and get drifted under. Brilliant.
Elisha called her mom to ask her to pray, which launched a verbal torrent of "Do you have flares? Do you have emergency blankets? What about candles? This is exactly why I always tell you to plan ahead!" Not the most helpful thing at the moment. However, her mom did call their church's prayer chain, so that was appreciated. After that we decided the best option would be to turn around and go back to Craig for the night. This was no easy task as the genius in front of us still wouldn't budge and the cars behind us had consequently had to stop too, but Elisha maneuvered Craig around bit by bit, and we waited for another car to come by and followed its tail lights back into town.
At this point we made a second stop at the super Walmart for overnight necessities like toothbrushes and contact solution. We were just two of many who were stuck there. We heard that the highway was closed both directions and the hotels were jacking up their prices, so we headed back out to find an affordable place to stay for the night.
Coming into town, we had passed a place called the Bear Valley Inn. Their sign was shy a few letters and read: "Spacious Rooms and Affordable Rat s." Once again our similar sense of humor was evidenced as we both burst out laughing and proclaimed we had to stay with the Affordable Rats. And actually, it did end up being very affordable compared to the other prices we had heard from people in Walmart. It was not luxury by any means, but it was clean and didn't break the bank. so that was good enough for us.
We had dinner at the Village Inn, where Elisha had wanted to stay until I told her it was a restaurant, and then went back to our room. This morning was bright and sunny again, and we enjoyed a safe drive back, did a little shopping in town (where I got an awesome Western belt!) and came back to the ranch to cries of "You're alive!"
Looking back, I'm really glad things turned out the way they did. Elisha and I had a lot of fun and bonded on the trip, and I think we both needed a night away from the ranch. We are both introverts, and living and sleeping with five girls can be a strain. We kept remarking on how quiet the motel was and how comfortable our queen-sized beds were. Today while we were driving back, Elisha expressed that she misses church and being in the Word regularly, and we agreed to read Hosea together and discuss it. I am really excited about doing this. I most definitley need this kind of accountability (I miss tiny group!) or I end up doing one quiet time a week, on my first day off.
In other news, I've been thinking a lot since my last post. I was praying the other day, and the analogy that God hit on for me was that of a butterfly coming out of its cocoon. If you've ever seen those nature films, it doesn't just come out, it struggles and struggles, pulling against the sticky fibers and trying to figure out how to use its new legs and awkward, large wings. I feel like I'm in the struggling part right now, fighting the friction and the sticky cocoon, but I can feel God's sun warming and hardening my wings, and I know the next step is soaring through the sunny blue sky and landing on beautiful flowers, sipping their nectar. Not the most original analogy, but it really met me where I was. I still don't like struggling, and I don't think I'm finished yet, but it was encouraging to think about what comes next.
I talked to Dace the other day about staying for the summer. He said he would love to have me. He is still working on seeing who is coming back from previous seasons, and returners have priority, but I have precedence over any brand-new applicants, but I am "penciled in" for the summer. I'll be visiting home at the very least--I really miss people--but back in the summer, I will be back here, God willing. Honestly, if all you Midwesterners came out here, you wouldn't ever want to leave, either. I am so excited to see this place in the summer--I keep imagining its beauty--being able to sit and stargaze without getting frostbite, take walks by the river without wading through waist-deep snow or worrying about falling in tree wells and air pockets, hang out with the horses for more than ten minutes before your fingers feel like they're going to fall off--it will be good. And all of you will have to come visit me and see for yourselves!
Thursday, January 24, 2008
The reason I haven't posted lately is because I have been doing a lot of soul-searching and deep thinking, and I haven't had a chance to process all of it yet. I feel like God has been challenging me a lot. Things that I have always been confident in--and not prideful, just secure that God has gifted me in--have been slightly attacked. To name some, compassion, creativity, hospitality, being good with kids, and also less deep things like fashion and appearance, like having to wear my glasses several days because my contacts dry out so quickly and I look hung over or high. But in the midst of all this, I don't sense the enemy's attack nearly so much as God's voice asking, "Are you going to choose to believe my truth? In spite of these circumstances, will you believe what I say about you?" It's so hard for me not to compare myself to one of the other girls in particular. I've always struggled with comparing myself. It doesn't help that this girl is also rather insecure and takes advantage of any opportunity to one-up someone else.
Which leads to the second thing I've been thinking about. It's so easy to think, "If people here were different, it would be so easy to believe God's truth/love them/not hold back with being myself." Well, people here aren't different, and they aren't going to change just because I want them to. What I need to figure out is how to work with them and adjust myself in healthy ways without becoming like them or losing myself in the process. I don't know how to do that. I find myself wanting to stoop to their level and tear them down. I was convicted today as I read 1 John 3:18 - "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with action and in truth," but I still don't feel that way. There are some people that you just can't win with: either they're moody and angry and blaming your for everything, or they're in a "good mood" and constantly ripping on you. I'm past the point of "Don't take it personally" and "have a thick skin." I feel like a tree that someone has constantly been taking little chips out of with an ax, and now the slightest breeze is going to blow me over. But also, I realize anew just how completely dependent I am on God. I most definitely do not have enough love to last through this. If I'm going to love these people, it will be purely God's love. Which is what I want to show them anyway.
That's all for now. More may follow later, but it's late and I have to work tomorrow. Thanks to our sponsor, Jonell Smith!
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Here are some really good thoughts from my friend Jessica's blog that exactly sum up the way I feel. I am reproducing this without permission, so Jess, please don't sue me, okay?
"I’m the kind of person that hates learning experientially, that is, by falling on my face. But at the same time I know that God can teach me so much when I’m lying flat, with my face in the mud.
So many times when I ask God to teach me something, or to grow me in some way, I half expect him to pass along some good reading material on the subject, perhaps facilitate some good discussion with trusted friends, and maybe throw in a moment of spiritual enlightenment. God can work in these ways. However, he doesn’t always package things in an easy-to-digest parcel.
Many times when I expect to be taught the easy way, the hands-off way, the way that protects Jessica’s pride, God wallops me with a type of learning that I can only describe as being intensely humbling and incredibly painful. Its not painful because God is hurting me; its painful because of the harm I have already caused myself. The smack on the hand is never as painful as the realization that you’re wrong, that you’ve made a mistake. That’s how pride gets you."
Good stuff, Jess. Thanks for summarizing my thoughts for me.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
2. The chance to create a pleasurable experience for others by serving them
3. Constantly being challenged in my faith and in putting it to action
4. Getting to know my very fun and extremely diverse coworkers better
5. Hanging out with the horses, esp Zig and Zag
6. The heart-stopping beauty of the sunsets
7. Playing with the kid guests
8. The Martin family, esp Annie always giving me a hug
9. The breathtaking stars
10. Learning about who I am and being challenged to grow in it
Monday, January 14, 2008
It was dead grass, brown and suffocated from being buried under literally feet of snow. The blades were sopping wet and completely flat. But I felt like kneeling down and kissing it. Who knows how many months until I see it again?
I finally got to go to church last night. I went with Lee, who I have adopted as my big brother. We had some fun conversation going to and from the ranch. We actually missed the sermon because Lee was out on a ski with a guest who was "molasses slow," as he said, but we got to sing 4 worship songs, and worshipping with others really met my heart. Afterwards, Lee and some of his church friends went out to a Mexican restaurant, but I asked him if he would drop me off at a coffee shop. I hadn't been off the ranch by myself since coming here. It's been a really good experience stretching myself socially, but last night I just needed the solitude. Lee dropped me off at Starbucks, and I walked next door to Safeway and picked up a few things, including a new journal, and went back to enjoy some quality time with my chai latte. It was really great. I think I am learning a lot about keeping my people time/alone time in proportion. It's not good for me to use being alone as an escape or an excuse to keep from taking risks, but it is good for me to recharge and keep from getting burnt out. I also think it's good for me to have interactions with people who aren't ranch employees or guests. When my conversation isn't limited to "What else can I bring you for breakfast?" or "How is your latte?", I don't know what else to say any more. Next time I will take them up on the offer of free chips and salsa and "really big margaritas."
Friday, January 11, 2008
Snowmobiling was so much fun. I rode along with Elisha, our new room mate, and we got to see some beautiful terrain. Best of all, our ride was comped (sp?) because they want us to tell guests how much fun we had and send them on snowmobile tours. They took us to a meadow where we could ride around and tear it up as much as we wanted...within reason. While trying to climb a hill, Patrick got his snowmobile stuck, and while trying to get it out, he lurched forward, knocked his helmet against the windshield, and broke it. Thankfully he was okay--yay for helmets!--but the first thing the guide said was, "Patrick bought a windshield!" They were actually really nice about it, though, and only charged him $30 as opposed to the normal $70-$90. By the end of the trip, I was really freezing, but I was warmed up while we were waiting for them to dig out Pat by a spontaneous snowball fight that broke out in the meadow.
After dinner, we went out to The Glen. The Glen is a bar/restaurant in Clark that is actually called The White Bison Pub, but apparently it has recently undergone a change of name and everyone still calls it The Glen. I am not a big going-out type, but Rob set up a dance night with people from the Home Ranch, a neighboring guest ranch, and we are always ripping on him about not hanging out with us, so I couldn't afford not to go. Now, I am not a dancer. I'm one of those people who hangs back in the corner and watches everyone else. But of course, people do not allow that. They have a way of dragging you onto the dance floor and making you dance with them. And I actually had a lot of fun. I got to swing dance a little, and Teresa taught me how to salsa, and Isaiah taught me how to two-step, and then I taught Lee how to two-step, and Anita and I had fun copying the signature dance moves of the other staffers. I danced more last night than I did all last year, I think. My goal is to practice dancing in the bunkhouse so that next time I don't feel so self-conscious.
My new shoes arrived yesterday! They are so comfy. A little low-cut for the snow, though--I definitely need to wear my boots outside.
Wed night we had a prayer time with some girls at Johanna and Bekah's. It was great to finally get that fellowship and share with others. Speaking of prayer requests, I talked to my parents the other day, and they gave me the update on my grandparents. My mom's mom is on the mend and doing better every day. My dad's mom, the one who has Alzheimer's, stopped eating at the beginning of the week. They are not going to feed her intravenously because, in effect, she been gone for a long time, mentally and emotionally, anyway. They figure this is just her body's way of recognizing that it's time to shut down. My grandpa is back in assisted living, but I really think the reason he's held on for so long is for my grandma, and when my dad talked to him, he said he wanted my dad to have his desk and my mom some of my grandma's dishes. I feel like I've been preparing myself for them to go for years now, but what is hard for me is that they're not believers. I can't even think about them being eternally separated from God. I've never had anything that has thrown it into such reality for me. All of a sudden hell isn't just a theory or something for "other people" that I don't need to worry about. I've prayed through the passage about the laborers who came at the eleventh hour, and I know God can do anything, but honestly, I just try not to think about it too much. I don't know how to cope with this or process it.
Strangely, I've been feeling more subdued since the prayer group. I don't know if I'm reverting to the old ways since I used to always hang out around Christians and it reminds me of that, or if it's spiritual attack, or if I'm just tired. I just feel more hesitant to talk to people and share myself with them. I think I feel a separateness now. We bared our hearts in prayer group, and the others haven't been a part of that. I really don't want that. Being "in and not of" is key here.
On the other side, God has continued to open up doors for conversation with people here, and given opportunities to encourage and challenge. He is definitely faithful and wonderful.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Ben came up to me in the dining room and gave me a hug. He told me I was doing a great job and reminded me that I was living out of a transformed heart, and said that any time it was getting to be too much to just come to his office and he would be my "dad." That was hugely encouraging to me. Most bosses I've had would have prayed not to have to get involved and hoped for it to blow over.
So, after that, I went back into the kitchen. I told Rob I was sorry for reacting so strongly, and in the future, if he wanted us to do something a certain way, maybe he could tell us before we started, because we're not trained in kitchen procedures. Rob totally surprised me. He apologized too and said he thought we'd been trained in the procedure, and he would love to give us a demo sometime. He said that he didn't want to make us cry and that it made him feel worse than we did. We decided that in the future, instead of getting angry and crying, we're going to give hugs.
So, I feel like I learned a lot from that. I'm nonconfrontational by nature, and it would have been easier to try to act like nothing happened. But now I feel like we understand each other a lot better and can deal with future conflicts better. I'm sure things will come up again, but now we can handle it a lot better.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Things have been fairly quiet lately. The INSANITY of the holiday rush is over. Teresa did the math and figured out that we averaged 78 hrs. a week. So, we are all feeling pretty tired right about now. Thankfully, though, next week we only have two guests. A honeymoon couple, actually. We get three days off plus some meals. I am SO looking forward to it! I need to go into town, get a haircut, and get some winter-appropriate clothing. I also really want to get a pedicure. I feel like an old lady with how often I say "My feet are killing me!" Actually, I almost sold Tom and Patrick on getting pedicures, too, which would be hilarious. I told them how you sit in a big cushy massage chair, stick your feet in a hot, bubbly mineral bath, and get the calluses scraped off plus a foot massage with cooling peppermint oil. Patrick was trying to convince Tom that they should go. He didn't want to go alone. Tom was not completely sold, however. I would definitely take pictures if they came.
I just bought a pair of orthopedic shoes. Once again, an old lady. But these are actually really cute, and I am excited about them. Here is the link: http://www.merrell.com/Product/NZSZZZ/Womens-Casual-Footwear/Slip-Ons/Womens/Black/J73078/Zodiac.aspx
I am really glad they make shoes that look good and feel good! Because the "cute" ones I have now are not making the cut.
It's snowing here again. This time it's a really icy snow, almost sleet. The temperature is right around 32. We were supposed to go horseback riding, but the weather is not conducive. We would be miserable and so would the horses. I really want to learn how to ride, though. Last time I got the impression that the horse was smarter than me, and he knew it. That annoyed me. I should be smarter than a horse, and the horse should be aware and respect me. I am the one with powers of speech and opposable thumbs!
I am excited because I feel like God is starting to show me some answers to prayer. I've been able to talk deeply and pray with one of the other Christian girls here, and have a few good conversations with one who isn't a Christian. Please pray that God would continue to open doors and give me words that are true but not judgmental, and loving but not compromising to the gospel. I keep thinking of Romans 2, where it talks about not judging, and says that judging is showing contempt for the riches of God's kindness, mercy and tolerance. I am praying that the riches of His kindness, mercy and tolerance would be abounding in my speech and actions.
Personally, I am doing better. It is still tough to adjust at times, but I think it will help a lot now that the pace has slowed down. I am starting to try to figure out how to address these issues rather than sink down under exhaustion and despair. I still have my moments--the other night I cried when I said goodbye to a guest because she called me "dear, sweet girl" and said "you were wonderful." I have realized since coming here what an affirming family and friend environment I come from. I have always taken it for granted, and I have never been in a place like this where I'm not in close contact with my family and close friends. It's been very hard not having that here. But I'm starting to realize the importance of keeping up on my time with God. I only stole a couple minutes so far today, but even that lifted my heart and encouraged my spirit. I realized how much I'd been affected by not making that a regular priority.
That's my update! See ya on the flip side!
Friday, January 4, 2008
1. Are you ready for 100 questions?
2. Do you watch college football?
No. I do not like watching people knock each other over for a stuffed piece of leather
3. Who will fill this survey out after you?
I kind of doubt anyone will.
4. Who was the last person to send you a text message?
My phone doesn't receive texts
5. Do you love anyone? If so then Who?
Jesus! (thanks, Jonell!) and Jude Law. Someday he'll realized he loves me too
6. What is your current general emotion?
Tired but satisfied
7. Where was the last place you went shopping? And for what?
Safeway. Cards and a peppermint mocha at the Starbucks kiosk
8. How do you feel about your hair?
I seriously need a haircut. I want a classy bob with side-sweep bangs
10. Last thing you ate/drank?
Dinner was venison and blue cheese mashed potatoes with chocolate mousse with mixed berries for dessert
11. Do you wish you were someplace else right now?
Right now? I am pretty happy right now, sitting on the couch and watching The Office with a bunch of people. When I get up for breakfast tomorrow I probably will
12. Do you have any pet peeves?
Oh, yes. Grammar is definitely the worst--lately, people putting silverware in the wrong compartments.
13. Do you have any expensive jewelry?
14. AIM or Yahoo?
16. How many hours on average do you work a week:
Teresa did the math--we are averaging 78 hrs a week
18. Favorite baseball team?
Chicago Cubs, but only because of their colors
19. Favorite NBA team?
20. Do you watch the Olympics?
Sometimes... I like the figure skating and gymnastics (I couldn't have said it better, Jonell)
21. Last restaurant you went to?
Um...I think it was McDonald's
22. Who was the last person to call you?
I don't know...I think my brother
23. What’s your sign?
24. Do you have a favorite number? If so, what is it?
I've always liked 7
25. Last time you did volunteer work or made any donations?
About a month ago
26. What do you spend the majority of your money on?
Maybe shoes. Silly, I know
Where does your family live?
Good ol' Indiana!
28. Are you an only child or do you have siblings? How many and of what gender?
One older sister and one younger brother
29. Ever been called a bitch?
Yeah, my friends and I had real potty mouths in middle school
30. Got any guilty pleasures?
31. Do you drink beer?
32. Whats your favorite colors?
Blue, red, green and purple
33. Did you ever collect Beanie Babies?
No, my mom said they were a fad and I shouldn't waste my money
34. Ever bought anything online?
I just bought some Merrell Mary Jane's!
35. Myspace or Facebook?
36. Do you have T-Mobile?
38. Do you sometimes wish you were someone else?
Nah, I think God knew what He was doing when He thought of me
41. Last time you saw your parents face to face?
Dec 9 when they dropped me off at the airport. Wow, sad.
42. Do you have any talents?
43. Ever been in a wedding?
I was in Hope's wedding about a year ago!
44. Do you have any children?
No, but I can't wait!
45. Last movie you watched?
46. Are you missing anyone at the moment?
Yeah, a lot of people
47. Did you take a nap today?
No...I wanted to, but people kept coming in
49. Ever been on a cruise..?
50. What song are you listening to?
None right now
52. Do you have any wealthy friends?
Yes, and I am making more at the ranch! :)
53. Ever met anyone famous before?
54. Favorite actor?
Maybe Harrison Ford
55. Favorite actress?
56. Are you multi-tasking right now?
57. Could you handle being in the military?
58. Are you hungry or thirsty?
always thirsty here
59. Favorite fast food restaurant?
I don't think Panera is fast food, Jonelly! I'm going with McDonald's, but only for breakfast
61. What is your average cell phone bill?
62. Do you own a camera phone?
63. Ever had to take a sobriety test?
64. Do you believe in Karma?
65. Can you speak any other languages?
66. Last time you went to the gym or worked out?
I went for a very extended walk on Wed
67. How many pairs of shoes do you own?
A lot...maybe 35?
68. Do you have a photo hosting site that you use?
Not unless you count Facebook
69. Last place you were?
The dining room
70. What is/was your high school mascot?
71. Ever been to Las Vegas?
I have not
76. Have you ever been gambling?
77. How old are your parents?
78. When is the last time you updated your blog?
79. Do you have your wisdom teeth?
No, I only have one that formed and it didn't come in all the way
80. Favorite place to be?
In the mountains
81. Have you been to New York City?
Yeah. It was okay
82 Favorite sit down restaurant?
La Scala on the square. If you haven't been, go.
83. Ever been to Disney Land?
No, but I really want to go to Cinderella's castle
84. Do you have a favorite cartoon character?
Does Cinderella count?
85. Last thing you cooked?
I haven't cooked for so long...
86. How is the weather today?
Cold and snowy...just like every day
87. Do you email?
88. Last letter/piece of mail you received besides junk or a bill?
89. Last missed call?
my little bro
91. Last voicemail you received?
92. Do you drunk dial/text?
Nope, don't do that.
93. Stupidest thing you ever did with your cell phone?
Last week I dropped it in a snow bank
94. What is the best city in the state that you live in?
I'll go with Steamboat Springs, though many Coloradians I've met say Denver
96. 1 to 10 where is your attention span sitting at, one being La La land and 10 being on point?
2 or 3
97. Are you bored right now?
98. Last concert you went to?
99. What do you think about before you go to bed?
usually my anxieties...Jonell's answer is better
100. What are your plans for tomorrow?
Work...but during our break Caleb is going to take us riding!
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
First of all: grandparents. Last Wed, I got an e-mail from my dad telling me that my grandma on the other side, my mom's mom, was flown into the hospital in Indy because she had a ruptured aorta. After running tests, they decided not to do surgery but to adjust her meds and let her body try to heal itself. The risk is that they had to take her off the blood thinners so to slow her bleeding, but she was on them to prevent clots in her heart and the like. Last I heard she was doing well and in good spirits. Meanwhile, my grandpa is still in the hospital in Chicago. It turns out his "flu" was a twisted colon. Thankfully they were able to treat that, but now he has pneumonia. He is just old and everything is compounding. I was able to call during his 90th birthday party and talk to him. He was a little overwhelmed because there were 25 people trying to squeeze into his hospital room and it was super loud, but he was excited to get to see everyone, including my cousin Katie's new baby, Henri.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (I love saying things like that--"home on the range," etc--cowboy expressions are now a part of real life), the New Year's week has been crazy-busy. We got a new round of guests, all of whom were really enjoyable this time. None of the crazy high-maintenance stories like last time. Sunday the 30th--a freezing, windy, snowy day. We were serving lunch when suddenly all the lights blinked off. Power lines were down. We finished lunch as best as we could, but of course none of the kitchen equipment was working, and the kitchen guys were freaking out. The guests were rockstars, though--they said they were perfectly happy to eat whatever was available, and some even ordered peanut butter and jelly to make it easier on us. Thankfully, all the cabins have a wood burning stove, so no one froze to death. Dinner was actually super fun that night. The guys worked their tails off in the kitchen and cooked on propane burners and Dutch ovens, and pulled off pan-seared chicken, Dutch oven biscuits, salad and dessert. They got a standing ovation from the guests, and well-deserved. We served dinner by candlelight and propane lanterns. Charissa stood and held a flashlight over the buffet line. That night was the indoor campfire, which is always fun. People sing and recite poetry, and it was just enhanced by the camp feel of the fire and lanterns. Afterwards Dace passed out sleeping bags and blankets, and Ben made sure there was a good fire in all the cabins. The plan was for girl staff to sleep in Hinman, the hang-out center, since none of the girls have fireplaces, and the guys to sleep in Hole In the Wall, the only guys' housing that does have a stove. The servers finished really late, though, so Charissa and I headed over to Ben and Holly's house to save some room in Hinman. We actually did not end up sleeping there, though. We ended up talking to Holly until 12:40 am. Holly is my favorite person here. She is one of the sweetest, funnest, most loving and caring women I've ever met. She asked me how I'd been doing since coming to the ranch, and I found myself spilling my guts to her. Usually it takes me a while to open up to people, but I never doubted that I was perfectly safe with Holly. By the end of the evening I was crying and pouring out my heart. I told her that the hardest thing about being here is that I have no spiritual support, and leaving a great church and life group and coming to a place where I'm totally dependent on myself for my personal walk and have no fellowship has been beyond hard. She said that she and Ben are planning on starting a Bible study once the craziness of the holiday season dies down, and offered to let us talk with her and pray with her any time we need it. This was exactly what I've been needing. It was so relieving to talk to someone who truly cared and genuinely listened. I feel like a weight has been lifted.
While we were having this great conversation with Holly, the lights came back on! We were excited to have the power restored. Then Charissa and I realized that with the dishwasher out of commission all day, we had nothing to set the tables with the next day, and even worse, the guys had no pots or dishes to cook with. So, clad in our pajamas, we went back to the lodge to knock out the mountain of cookery and utensils. We ended up being there from 1-5 am, but we actually had a lot of fun. The next morning Rob was so thrilled and everyone thanked us and gave us hugs. The way we looked at it was that this our home right now, and if the dishwasher went out at home, we wouldn't say "That's not my job" or "I didn't make this mess," we would just wash the dishes. Let no one say that servers never wash dishes and don't understand!
New Year's eve was a little crazy. We served a six-course wine paired meal, with wine and champagne with dessert, too. By the time of the countdown, the guests were feeling pretty good. Some of the servers got big wet kisses from really "happy" guests (thankfully not me). Afterwards Matt had a party at his place, but I didn't stay very long. I just wanted to go to sleep.
Today is my day off, so I got to sleep in until 10:30 (amazing!), and afterwards I went horseback riding with Hallie, one of the new housekeepers and our new bunkhouse roommate. It was really fun. It was such a beautiful sunny day, and it was wonderful to get outside for a while. I rode a pretty white horse named Sparky. I kind of felt like it was a joke, though--we tagged along with a guest ride, and the horses knew exactly where to go without me directing them. They say it's important to let a horse know who's dominant and be in control, but I'm pretty sure that horse was smarter than me, and if it decided to run away, there's not much I could do about it. Saturday, Caleb is going to take Charissa and I out riding, and that will be good because he can tell us what to do instead of just bouncing around like a sack of potatoes.
The other day, when Charissa was complaining about Rob being moody, Ben quoted a verse that really stuck with me: "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Cor 4:17-18). I've been reading 2 Corinthians 4, and the whole chapter has been extremely encouraging and thought-provoking. It begins and ends with "Therefore we do not lose heart." I've definitely wondered why I came out here just before my grandparents got sick and when I was involved in such a great church. This chapter says, "We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you." It's strangely comforting to know that. It's easy when things go wrong to wonder "What is going on? Did I just screw up somehow?" No, this is part of life. Death is also at work in me. But the best part is why this is happening: "...so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." I've prayed to be a witness to people here, but I never thought that feeling like this could be a part of it. But it is. I've also been thinking about what it means to fix my eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. I used to think about solely in the context of heaven. But I've started to think about it in the context of people. What is seen is immaturity, moodiness, a complaining spirit, self-centeredness and uncaring. But what is unseen is their soul, their precious hearts that need healing and restoration and that Jesus thought were worth laying down His life for.
"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed...therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day."