Thursday, December 15, 2011


It is here again, the season where we welcome Immanuel, God with us. It has come too quickly, which seems to be the sentiment of growing-older folks worldwide. In preparing Christmas gift lists, I have been motivated to make as many of the gifts as I can. In years past, handmade gifts have always been a part, but I feel it this year differently. Instead of just, "Oh, yes, that craft I make would be perfect for her" it has been a moving, breathing thing of its own. It is wheels under the train, propelling.

This year, for the first time instead of just asking "What are we going to get for so and so?" I find myself asking, "What can I make for Sam? What can I make for Emmett?" desiring that the gift I give be a part of me, require something of me, have memories intertwined in the giving, not just a click of the mouse from Amazon (though that definitely is part of my gift-giving as well). In adding new family members into the giving circle, I'm dying to make something for my future mother-in-law, searching for something I can make that my future sister-in-law would like. 

The tradition stems back to when I was a kid, tracing a red heart on a pillow with "Dad" printed inside in fabric marker. Dipping wicks back and forth between big pans of paraffin and crayon wax on the stove to make layered tapered candles. In fact, it goes further back than that. My parents married young and poor, and decided that since there was no extra money, even at Christmastime, that they would exchange gifts that they had made for one another. And so, every Christmas I remember, we made a gift for each family member along with a purchased gift. I have not always loved this tradition. In fact, there were fits of frustration trying to come up with ideas and implementing them. There were overly gracious "Thank you!"s as mom opened up a few hideous handmade gifts. This was the way it was every year until not so long ago, my brother and I begged that the requirement be lifted, and it was. 

Handmade Christmas is no longer required in my family, but still shows up often in our exchanges. This is the first year that I recognize our tradition's imprint on my life so deeply, and I am thankful for it. It may be because I'm confronted with how another family "does" Christmas that helps me recognize my strong convictions about meaningful gifts. Or perhaps growing older and wiser in financial management as well as world impacting issues (like water, for example), I am disgusted by our scrambled shopping and exchange of mere stuff. As I reflect on why I feel such strong impulse for the handmade, I recognize that deepening relationships require something of us, part of ourselves sewn into the fabric of what the very relationship is. So the investment of myself into the gift mirrors the investment and pouring of myself into the relationship. After all, God gave his very self to us at Christmas.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fall Meanderings

It is a typical fall day. I walked from home to coffee shop office this morning and the brisk nip was in the air. Crunchy leaves dotted the path and I zig zagged to crunch them underfoot. (My friend Jenn and I go out of our way to step on particularly crunchy leaves, you see. It is our understood pact.)

I prepared for a "pizza theology" teaching most of the morning as I sipped my latte and enjoyed the small town buzz of people coming and going. A lot was on my mind in the midst of the task at hand. Creativity and finding the time to dream, community: getting real and plunging deep, challenge and the desire in me to grow beyond and learn more, to think intellectually and the difficulty I am finding in fulfilling those desires.

I am surrounded by books and feel like I'm centimetering my way through them (much slower than "inching"). But I feel like the books might just be the first bite of starting to eat this elephant. I'm sure these longings will ebb and flow but not really go away through the course of my lifetime. And though I want to live a very "present" life, enjoying the simplest moments of the day-to-day, the lingering desire for just a little bit more challenge, a little broader knowledge, and a bigger dream is something I am thankful for.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Colored Pants Fall

I realize that I am a huge nerd. Seriously, I have come to terms with the fact. About 3 years ago, in doing some fall cleaning, de-cluttering, and sinking into the cooler autumn days, I found many "old" pairs of pants. Some I had bought for student teaching (patterned and khaki), one pair was a wild hair I got during an Old Navy sale (the pink ones), another was just a good thrift store find (blue cords). As I was cleaning and trying on the plethora of pants I was finding, not jeans, but colored or patterned slacks, I was inspired to be thankful for the clothes I had and use them. Often, as I've heard quoted of most people, I wear 20% of my clothes 80% of the time (and rarely wear the other 80%). I was inspired to wear them or simplify...really, to do both. Thus was born "colored pants fall." So I started to rotate the pants I kept through my weekly wardrobe cycle...warm brown slacks one day, hot pink the next. Each time I would find myself in colored pants, I would announce to my friends, "It's colored pants fall!" (If Johanna is reading this, she's either rolling her eyes or laughing.)

Each fall since then, in transitioning from summer to autumn, I pull out the old trusty colored pants and find a reason to be silly and celebrate this made up holiday of sorts. This year it became official with a facebook event to mark its arrival. Won't you join me and the many other colored pantsers? ;)

Do you have any seasonal rituals, real or made up?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sweet Summer

I realize that most everyone who intentionally visits here or happens to bump into this teeny blog probably already knows me, and knows at least in part, what's been going on in my life, but it has felt overwhelming with everything I could mention since the last time I posted, which incidentally was June 15th (also known as the day before I got ENGAGED!), that it's been a really long time since I've posted. Phew--long sentence!

I've had some amazing adventures and an incredible summer. First (not chronologically but in order of awesomeness), as I said, I got engaged!!!

Such excitement after the "shock and awe" wore off, as the Mister would say...
What a crazy moment that i hadn't expected at all. What an awesome man I hooked! And to top that all off, I was the biggest dork in the history of dorks that day. We love reliving's how he knew that I was unsuspecting--HA! Second, my love and I took a trip to Portland to visit some dear friends and my late Grandma. I wanted to show off my man to both and am so glad we took the trip when we did, as my Grandma is no longer with us. We had a family reunion so my man could meet more new people, my brother and his wife included in the new, got to celebrate my birthday together. Seemingly less important for blog world, but memorable and valuable in our history were dinners cooked together, shorter road trips, river floats, sunshine and laughs...sweet, sweet summer.

It is so fun to share a summer, memories, the journey with someone else. I have shared so many life-shaping memories with friends and family, in different seasons in life, but to have met the one that I have the most fun with, who I share myself most fully with, and who I look forward to shaping a future with, now that's a summer to celebrate!

So now I mourn summer's passing and dive into this season...wanting to breathe it all in, grow down deep roots as the cold weather begins to sweep over, and thank God for this precious life.

Phew! Feels good to be "caught up".

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Plowing through!

It's loooooong overdue, so here are the rest of my 31 picture challenge days in one shot! Phew!!

Day 21 – A picture of something you wish you could forget.
It's not THAAAAAT bad, but all I could think of: fireworks.

Day 22 – A picture of something you wish you were better at.

Day 23 – A picture of your favorite book

Day 24 – A picture of something you wish you could change.

Day 25 – A picture of your day.
stack of mail, tackled

Day 26 – A picture of something that means a lot to you.
New friends, new experiences, culture, adventure

Day 27 – A picture of yourself and a family member.

Day 28 – A picture of something you’re afraid of.
Alone. Big city. Night.

Day 29 – A picture that can always make you smile.
My brother's a dork.

Day 30 – A picture of someone you miss.
Yep, little twinge in my heart just looking at that face!

Day 31 – A picture of yourself.
We made it!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

let's go!

Day 20 – A picture of somewhere you’d love to travel.

Costa Rica, anyone? Tropical, close(ish) and oh-so-exotic... Yes, please! (Googling it now.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 19 – A picture and a letter.

Dear Graduate,

You made it! Community life, all-nighters, priority adjustment, challenge, belly laughs, hope for what is to come. And in the blink of an eye, it's over. In a breath, you're heading off to wild adventure, tackling the world, passions piled in a suitcase clutched in your hand. Do it: Add to the beauty, give, serve, live passionately and step out to take the risk. You will change the world.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Too Much

Day 18 – A picture of your biggest insecurity.

Why is this so difficult? I definitely have insecurities, though I'm not sure there's a specific picture of them, let alone my biggest.

I think though, that if I had to pinpoint just one, and a big one, it would have to be the insecurity of being "too much." I think of the book Captivating:

"I know I am not alone in this nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough as a woman. Every woman I’ve ever met feels it—something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough, and I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeding on our deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone." (pp 6-7)

I know who I am and like who I am, but at times, there is a haunting echo in my head of being too much. Too overwhelming. Too aggressive. Too indecisive.

Thank you, Jesus, for knowing me fully and loving me. Thank you, amazing family and friends who reassure and encourage me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New Adventures

Day 17 – A picture of something that has made a huge impact on your life recently.

My job is wonderful and there are ups and downs and excitements...feast or famine in the work load. Definitely things there that have impacted life recently as I ride the wave of ministry and people.

But the biggest thing by far that has changed the flow of normalcy recently is this new and budding relationship with my man. It has altered my weekends, it has me considering someone else as I plan, it has impacted the way I think.

 It has been exciting, it has been deep, challenging, so fun. Yes, it...or should I say, HE, has made a huge impact on my life recently. So here's a toast to what could be!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Through The Fire

I'm really bad at this every day blog thing. It has evened out to about once a week, but I am really going to try to plow through the rest of this picture challenge! Woo!

Day 16 – A picture of someone who inspires you.

Now, this isn't because she's one of the few people who I know will read this, but she's the person who over and over again comes to mind with this prompt. There are people who inspire me with their drive and talent, with things they accomplish, but I think it's safe to say that when someone has those things and has walked through the valley of the shadow of death, there is depth and wisdom and insight beyond an ordinary life.

Jessi, you inspire me! (Read about her family's story and of their little superman, Jack, who was born between 23 and 24 weeks.)

I dug back into my photos and found these photos. One of our freshman year of college and one from when Jessi was about to get married and I had the great privilege of being "most holy" maid of honor. ;) 

Jessi, you are a treasured friend and an amazing woman. Truly, an inspiration. Love you!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Being a Forever Family

Day 15 – A picture of something you want to do before you die.

Few things I watch on TV make me tear up. In fact, I don't usually cry unless I'm crying selfishly when I'm upset or exhausted. But whenever I see a waiting kid on the Wendy's Wonderful Kids segment of the news, I get goosebumps and teary-eyed.

One thing that fascinates me most about God is how he designed the things we experience in "normal life" to reflect him, something he's done for us, how he sees us, how he desires that we journey here on earth. Adoption is a picture of his great love for us. We were strangers and he brought us into his home, we were helpless babies and he said he'd take care of us. He didn't invite us in to be slaves or work horses, but to be princes and princesses, receiving the full inheritance as adopted kids.

 Throughout the last decade of my life, this dream has grown in my heart. From seeing families I'm close with welcoming in kids, in searching Orphan Sunday resources, in recognizing the need for healthy foster and adoptive families, I know that I could be a part and make a difference. And this is something I want to do before I die.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Me Without You

Day 14 – A picture of someone you could never imagine your life without.

Ugh...I've been putting off this post since, well, the last time I posted. How do I choose one between all my family and friends? And if I really couldn't imagine my life without Jesus, how do I share that passionately and truthfully in words and a picture without it sounding completely trite?

What I do know is that without Jesus, I would be a hard, bitter cynic. I would be a hot mess, a quitter, and lost in life. Closed and insecure, judgmental. I'm so glad he is part of my life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wide Open Like A Lake

Day 13 – A picture of your favorite band or artist.

Bring the wind and bring the thunder. Bring the rain till I am tried. When it's over bring me stillness. Let my face reflect the sky. And all the grace and all the wonder of a peace that I can't fake wide open like a lake. 

My mom first brought me her CD some 9 years ago and we popped it in on a roadtrip. The tunes were all so new that it started to grate on me as we tried to visit. Mom was like, "Okay, okay, we don't have to listen to it." Such an interesting start for Sara and I because since then I have bought every album, listened to every interview, read each article, and can often be found shushing my friends or family when a favorite line comes on the tune box, adding "you have to listen to this...she's a genuis!" and offering all the inside, background scoop on the story behind the song. She has a telepathic way of reading the stirrings and longings of my heart and translating them into eloquent and intriguing story-song. She is amazing! I could rave about her and share my borderline obsession for hours. Have I convinced you to give her a listen yet?

For starters, go for these titles (some of my very favorites):
When It Was Over
You Are The Sun
Kingdom Comes
From This One Place
Different Kinds of Happy
Like A Lake
What I Thought I Wanted
I Saw What I Saw

Yes, listen. Please listen. She will change your life. ;)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Coming through the clouds

After bronchitis and spring break trip hiatus, I am back to the picture challenge!! (Blogging every day is much harder than one would think...I'm super impressed with people like the Pioneer Woman who often post several times a day.)

Day 12 – A picture of something you love

Today is a grey day. My roommate just informed me that rain is on the way. We spent the last week in Oak Harbor, WA where there were daily "sun breaks," meaning the sun would poke it's head out as a tease, then go right back to cloudy. I love sunshine.

I am thankful to live in Montana where the sun shines even through winter (allllll 9 months of it), and am even more thankful that winter is coming to an end, and warmer weather is on it's way, with spring, the promise of new life. To steal a line from the Beatles, "here comes the sun, do do do do!" I am a happy girl!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What's your deal?

Day 11 – A picture of something you hate

It started out as one of those days. I have been sick for a week with flu and bronchitis, so I've been trying to keep my chin up this week. But after waking up coughing, not being able to smell or taste anything, being irritated with the people around me for no reason and just feeling agitated in my own skin, I knew that I was CRABBY. 

I hate being crabby, I hate feeling "off," I hate feeling like I'm absolutely no fun. I know I could have gone into all the big things in the world I hate: poverty, injustice, exploitation of the weak, but since I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today, I thought this was fitting.

As I woke up from my nap, I had this thought: "naps prove that Jesus loves me." But then I realized it was a bit off and really, naps prove that Jesus loves my roommates. I was much happier waking up the second time today.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jay Never

Day 10 – A picture of the person you do the craziest things with.

I've never been a crazy partier, or rule-breaking rebel, so this day doesn't apply in the full sense of what it is asking for. But I do have a friend I can completely let loose with...we are huge nerds.

There will always be photographs--sometimes fancy photo shoots, many times unflattering photos (perhaps 5am shots) which we wince at later wondering what we were thinking:

There will be parties, for any occasion. This one was a harvest party, mostly just so we could sing "Shine On, Harvest Moon!"

There will be acting: sometimes legitimate, sometimes the movie game, sometimes ridiculous voices or characters...lots of laughing.

There will be singing. Much singing, always singing, too much singing, sing, sing, song. It's what we do.

There will most likely be some sort of freakish gesture: a freak toe or expression, for Jenn, often a freak hand.

Jenn, you are TOO much fun! I love you!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Life's worth hand in hand

Day 09 – A picture of the person who has gotten you through the most

She's the one I call when I'm making a decision, who I cry to when I'm sick (and not just because she can give me medical advice), she's the one I'm most cranky and unfiltered with, she's the one I sing my most goofy songs with... I don't know what I'd do without you, Mom!

I love this photo because mom and I aren't the focus, but we're holdin' hands so tenderly. :)

These photos are from her surprise birthday party--such a fun time to celebrate her!

I love you, Mom! Thank you for getting me through so much!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

you're a crack-up

Day 08 – A picture that makes you laugh.

This picture is from our recent Valentine's Fundraising Dinner. There's never a dull moment when living with 6 other girls (note that it is "relatively" drama-free... ;) ) This photo totally makes me laugh because no one else is amused except roommate in the middle back who is ridiculously amused at something...but none of the rest of us know what that something is. Yes, we have a good time together.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's you, Sugar

Day 07 – A picture of your most treasured item

This one's difficult. My french press? My ukulele? I have some cool things that I very much like. But to take the cake, it would have to be Sugar.

Other than an automobile, it's what I have spent the most money on, it stores my most important documents, my most treasured pictures, it becomes a connecting point with people and a vehicle to the creative. I love the ease of working on a mac, especially with the multi-dimensional work with students (sometimes I have to be a graphic designer, a movie producer, etc etc), the size and weight, the shiny silver coat. Yes, I love my Sugar. ;)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Come on! You know the words!

Day 06 – A picture of a person you’d love to trade places with for a day

 I would love to be a rock star...or a lounge singer...or an amazing singer/song writer. The glamorous life, pretty dresses and nice haircuts...not to mention getting to sing every single night for people who love to hear you sing! That would be the life...sigh.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Smell of Adventure

Day 05 – A picture of your favorite memory

Hot, dry summer, strange foods sizzling on street market barbecues, independence. Trepidation mixed with moments of immortality, taking on and changing the world. This picture symbolizes youth and adventure, a little girl's smile that grabs at your heart in a way that it changes you permanently. This summer overseas in 2004 changed me. Grew me up. Awakened dreams. Enlarged my vision. Forever.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Livin' the Dream

Day 04 – A picture of your night

Tonight is filled with bustle and activity. Students and I are prepping for our big Valentine's Fundraising Dinner, AND we hosted an activity on campus...

Here's our prep table for decorations, lots of hands making it happen:

Here's our cutting hearts table while most of the students played the "bigger or better" swap game on campus:

Man down! ...but he kept on cutting:

Concentrating hard on our "four on a couch" game:

And finally, some of our props for the photo booth tomorrow night. (Yes, I'm still stuck on mustaches.):

Now I gotta get back to work!

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam."

Hands down, my favorite TV show. It's the only one I track and watch faithfully, the one I'm bummed when they skip a week or take extra long to come back from Christmas. Even when it's not LOL funny, I get excited to hear Kevin talk about "doing da numbers" or see Jim make that sideways smirk at the camera, or hear what ridiculous thing Michael Scott will come up with next. What will we do next season without Steve Carell as part of this crew?!

Many, many thanks to those who helped get me hooked!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ode to Big Brothers

 Day 02 – A picture of you and the person you have been closest with the longest.

 My brother is like none other. Such a character, so "tell it like it is" to his sister, but so tender-hearted and genuinely kind. I have been tormented and doted on in the same afternoon. I have laughed till I thought my guts would fall out (in childhood and adulthood), fought the hardest (in childhood and adulthood, I hate to admit), with Sam. I look up to him with so much admiration and respect.

Sam was always the ringleader, whether directing the "lion tamer" game, "spaceships", playing pranks like putting a snake into my kiddie pool, or telling the funniest jokes. (Dare I talk about "The Burgler?"...ask him about it. ;) )

Already showing love, already making me laugh
Last summer, not much has changed :)

I am grateful to have Sam as the one who knows it all, sees it from the same perspective, and who I can call an amazing friend still. What a good man.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Picture Challenge

I've been wanting to blog more. To take a breather and get my current stirrings out on, screen. So when I saw that my friend Jessi had started a 31-day picture challenge, I wanted in. What a good way to get into the rhythm of blogging more often. So here goes: Day 1!

Day 01 – A picture of yourself with ten facts.

1. I LOVE sunshine! (And was made for sunny days!)
2. I love to sing!
3. I love trying new new things, trying new foods, seeing new places.
4. I am motivated at the beginning of a project and struggle to finish things well.
5. I love sleeping! (I have to literally drag myself out of bed in the morning, grr.)
6. Folksy acoustic is my favorite kind of music; deep lyrics wrapped around sleepy melodies...yes, please!
7. Grey is my (new-ish) favorite color. I have to intentionally choose to wear different colors at least one day a week or I would dress myself entirely in grey.
8. I am optimistic and hopeful most of the time and feel completely off if I'm having a down day.
9. I value authenticity and openness.
10. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a "Candy Store Maker" when I grew up.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Art of Having Difficult Conversations

Two weeks ago was the week of difficult conversations. Ugh. It was exhausting, frankly. And awkward. And  pain-inflicting. Then the difficult conversations didn't stop, but seeped right on into the next week. I don't expect they'll stop any time soon. Leadership is demanding, requiring steel guts and thick skin with tenderness and humility; also, the skill of being direct, even when it's so difficult to plow into the hard conversation.

I hate hurting people yet I am reminded of the Proverb that says, "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." It's an issue of love and depth of relationship, saying the hard thing. I'm not even talking about "tough love" here, but true love. Loving well.

I do not enjoy difficult conversations. But I have learned along the way that steering away from them often leads to an uglier mess than leaning in, so I am trying to handle it with as much grace as I can gather up. Communicating well is an art; one that I humbly submit myself to. Here's to mastering the art of difficult conversations...even when it sucks.

Friday, January 14, 2011

...truly Life

I already know this about myself, but I get inspired easily and excited on the front end of something new and that lasts about, oh, ten minutes... Twelve if it's a really good idea (like a mustache party). Today I had the unique and rich opportunity to spend the whole day retreating with seven other pastors in various denominations and roles serving right here in this community. Besides the witty theological banter and sweet fellowship in a cozy, fire-warmed home, my favorite part was reflecting and writing a prayer for my own soul followed by reflecting and writing a prayer for my "flock". As I confessed my desire for fresh water to be washed through me, and as we shared our prayers with one another, inspiring each other to greater depths, rest was restored and God's presence felt. Then the beauty of praying my big dreams for students woke up in me again and I was completely stirred without even having enough words to put on what I desire for them. As Paul prayed, that his flock would know how high and wide and long and deep is the love of Christ, I felt that desire and prayed that it would go into students' core, this knowledge of God's love. Oh, what a swell of excitement! So be it, Lord, and Amen!

Reflecting on this beautiful day shared, I am re-inspired to stay inspired. I am always charged up after meeting together with other campus groups, peers in ministry, receiving training--heck, even having a deep conversation on a regular day--and this brings my vision into sharp focus again. I can see life being breathed back into who I am and what I do. I want to challenge myself to get inspired, to hold these life-breathing things right in front of me. To write prayers of vision, to ask for more dreams. Beyond keeping a machine running or just adding more to the calendar, I want to grab hold of what is truly Life and dream that for those around me.

Here are a few excerpts from today's prayers...

Prayer for my soul:
"Refresh by your Spirit, make me not weary in well doing, but rested and filled to overflowing, like rivers that teem with life. Spark imagination, creativity, vitality as I walk in your excellent Way. I hide my very self in you. Good Father, take the burden of task, of responsibility, and carry that. I understand the weight and significance of my life and role, but your name, God, is weightier. Take the burden and the glory."

Prayer for my sheep:
"I want them to know you, to know your love way down into the marrow of their bones, under their skin, rooted like an oak in their gut. I want your light to dance in their eyes, to glow out of their unveiled faces. Oh, that they would chase you and you would show up right in our midst. That your rule and reign would be established right here, your kingdom touching us and changing the very color of life around us. May they grab hold of what is truly Life and change the world."