Friday, December 26, 2008

Family Christmas

Summary of my family Christmas in Grants Pass:












Christmas tree for backdrop: $25
Gifts from "Santa" (aka Chrislyn and I): $3 each

Wearing the gifts for our family photo: Priceless.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Doghouse

This video was forwarded on to me and I simply can't resist posting it: Beware of the the Doghouse

My dad has watched it at least 8 times and he still laughs. :)

Enjoy... and stay out of the doghouse!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Latte Boy

I discovered this gem of a video when I was in Louisiana with Nicole.
She emailed it to me the other day and it makes me smile each time.

Taylor the Latte Boy

Monday, December 8, 2008

In the Present

I remember feeling confident.
I was exactly where God wanted me to be.
I was sure of it.
I was sure because I was full.
I was broken.
I was aching.
I was filled with hope.
I was seeking.
I was growing.
I felt so in tune with God's heart for His children.
I was experiencing the Father-love of God, first-hand.

I wasn't sitting in church services wondering when the Word would speak to me again.
I wasn't playing the role of a messenger, turning messages from the pulpit into "things that are good for you to hear."
What I studied and learned and wrestled with wasn't for anyone else but for me.
It spoke to me.
Personally.
Intimately.

Everyday for 4 months.
No questions asked. In regards to "what's next?" that is.
It's not like I knew. Or had any inklings. And it was okay.
I remember lingering in those moments.
Drinking up the moments.
Satisfied with where I was.
Savoring life.
Caught off guard by how peaceful I was.
As painful and devastating as it was.

So why can't I be in that place again?
Resting.
Resting in absolute assurance.
Confident.
Confident of the present.
Okay.
Completely okay with the unknown future.

Could Bolivia spill over into a lifetime?
Or at least into now?
Right now.

I know.
God isn't a God of confusion.
God's will isn't mysterious.
Psalm 37:4
Trust.
Be.
Ask.
Seek.
He has my best interests in mind.
I know.
These are the Truths
I keep passing on.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

YES

It's finals week on campus and sleepless nights, movie-watching, and delirium is in full swing.

Yesterday, I watched part of "Grease" in the Rug Room, which was the 5th movie in a row that some students were watching while "studying."

I am tempted to question their study habits. But alas, I am not their mother.

The days have been very F-U-L-L.
  • I've made selections for the Chile and Nigeria May mission teams and have held our first meeting. (I'm leading the Chile trip!)
  • I'm trying to solve roommate conflicts and room change shuffles.
  • I've worked a few days until 11:30 pm.
  • I coordinated a Gingerbread House building competition between the halls and spent $100 on frosting and candy. Now I owe the winning hall some homemade goodies.
  • I attended the GFU vs NCU basketball game at Fox and the familiar ache returned to me as I drove away.
  • I had a very confusing meeting with my boss that has left me feeling emotional, conflicted, and confused. A giant "?" is all I see in my future.
  • I'm getting ready to go to Mexico for 10 days with 7 students. (Jan. 2-10)
  • I've cried... in a meeting, in chapel, on the bathroom floor. Mostly because I want to badly to say "YES" just like Mary did when the angel approached her about conceiving the Savior of the world. I just don't know exactly what that "yes" entails quite yet.
  • I waitressed at the Late Night Breakfast and got to wear reindeer antlers and a green striped apron with a cupcake on it.
  • I wore an ugly Christmas sweater and black stirrup leggings with red snowflakes on them.
  • I didn't get a Christmas tree this year and my apartment is devoid of any festive cheer. :(
  • I haven't done any Christmas shopping.
  • My best friend got married.
  • I'm wondering if it's really vacation if I still have to be on-call. *sigh*
I'm not burnt out, so why am I tired?

Will you meet me here and put your arm around me? I want to rest more than my head on your chest; I want to rest my mind.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Why are you still awake????

The time at the tone is: 4:12am.
Half an hour ago, I was awaken by spurts of laughter and pounding.
I thought it was tipsy people at the bar across the street, but the more I listened, I realized it was coming from down the hall. Worst case scenarios went through my mind - maybe some of our own students were returning to the dorm drunk...

Not the case, thankfully.

With itchy eyes, bed-hair, my glasses, and GFU sweats, I stumbled into the hallway.

Five students were watching some fancy skater tricks on tv at a loud level.
Five other students were seated on the floor in the hallway, rolling on the ground with laughter. ROFLOL literally.

They saw me and immediately pointed fingers.
"Wow, I'm impressed that you just walked out here with a smile on your face."
"It's not like she's angry with us, she'll just tell us to be quiet."

I didn't have to say much, except that it was 3:40AM and it was much too early/late for me to be awake. The apologized (not as profusely as I would have hoped, considering that I'm still awake).

On my way back to my apartment, I paused to turn the tv down.
"Oh, poor Elizabeth" I heard.

On the positive side, the students were not intoxicated and they were clearly enjoying each other.

But really. Why are you still awake???

*sigh.* Freshmen.

What is even more astounding? IIII am still awake!!! Good grief.

my music dream

Tonight, two college students shared their incredible talents at a coffee house concert.

I tapped my feet, mesmerized by their music abilities.

Even with only one person on vocals, I could hear the notes come together in my head. I find myself doing this a lot, looking around to see who else is singing, only to discover that no one else is - and yet I hear harmonies so clearly.

I imagined myself in their shoes someday, wearing a layered outfit with a woven Cambodian scarf and a hippy-Bolivian necklace, singing and playing with card-playing and coffee-drinking in the foreground.

Sharing songs from my heart with a confidence I didn't know I had.
Rocking out on the guitar that I don't know how to play.
Singing the stories I've felt compelled to share - the melodies filled with God's heart and my soul.

A varying form of advocacy.
This is my music dream.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Attracted to the ugly

I had one of those divine appointments this morning.
I hadn't even made set foot into my office when I was asked to talk.

I let out a sigh and said I could meet her right then and there. I felt somewhat annoyed, aggravated that my hands were still full and already skeptical of this Monday morning.

She took a seat on the blue sofa and I closed the door to the conference room. This woman is a non-traditional student in her late thirties, a mom and wife.

What could she possibly want to talk to me about? I mused.

She said "Elizabeth, people think I'm crazy when I tell them this, but I'm attracted to the ugly."
Pain beckons her in. Suffering reaches out to her. She wants to step in.

Ahhhh, my heart softened.

"Elizabeth," she said, "the puzzle pieces of my life fit together during chapel on Friday. When John Childers shared about the "Voice for the Voiceless" I was so moved. God is calling me to respond."

I leaned forward, recognizing the divinity of this conversation, and prompted her to continue.

"What do I do with this, now?" she asked.

A grin slowly spread across my face.

Imagine the excitement in my voice: "I have books! And magazines! And websites!"
I told her about my list of alternative gift ideas, authors like Henri Nouwen and Jean Vanier, publications like "The Cry" through Word Made Flesh.

I understand her antsy feeling.
I understand how to find beauty in suffering and brokenness.

I know what it means to find ugliness attractive.

She's not crazy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Gift Alternatives

I'm in the market to inspire people to think about gift-giving a little differently this season. I've already gotten a couple RAs on board. I simply love it when they say, "can you email me those ideas?" I got on my soapbox tonight and shared the following sites with them; I think the light bulb clicked on for them and I'm thrilled. ;)

  • Christmas Cards made by at-risk children in Romania at an art-therapy program at the Community Center. All proceeds benefit the children at the center. (courtesy of Word Made Flesh)
  • Gifts of Hope: Family Disaster Survival Kits, Emergency Medical Care, Child Survival Kits, Clinic Packs, Dental Visit, Mother & Child Survival, HIV & AIDS Relief, Gifts of Life, Emergency Care, Orphan Hope Gift (Courtesy of Medical Teams International)
  • PhotogenX Calendars & Postcards: Susi Childers compiled beautiful photographs from around the world. "The vision of photogenX is to use photography as a tool for cultrual transformation so that issues such as gender based injustice will be issues of history instead of the future. photogenX advocates for those who cannot speak for themselves and challenges the current global status quo. In addition, photogenX seeks to capture the people and places of every nation in the world showing off their beauty but not masking their pain." (Her father, John Childers, spoke in chapel at NCU. He gave me a copy of "A Voice for the Voiceless: 30 Days of Prayer for the Voiceless. Addressing global issues of gender-based injustice)
  • Heifer International: Ending hunger, Caring for the earth. Choose a meaningful gift to a loved one and help children and families around the world receive training and animal gifts that help them become self-reliant.
  • Cards from Africa: Handmade cards from Rwanda - improving the quality of life for orphaned kids. Calendars & bookmarks, too! (Thanks, Amy!)
  • Stuff a Stocking Project: An outreach of Soar International Ministries which provides Christmas stockings to needy children in Russia. (Thanks, Beth!)
Maybe something will click for you, too.


May you be blessed by giving.
Happy Shopping!

If you come across more alternative Christmas gifts, please comment on this page with the corresponding link.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Awe

I wept in chapel today.
Full on wept.

It's been a while since I've cried during worship. Sometimes I cry if I'm upset about something, but it's really been a while since I've wept simply because I'm moved to tears.

So in awe of God.

"Arms high and heart abandoned"
"We're singing for the glory of the risen King"

So mindful of the praise He deserves.
Overcome with emotion by the beautiful sound of student's voices.
I choked back tears and had to stop singing.
I listened.
Warm tears dripped down my cheeks and neck.
Rather than wipe them away, I let them fall.
There was something so freeing about feeling their wetness on my face.

One of my RAs stood next to me and she put her arm on my back. I hugged her close.
And just stood there.
Worshiping.

"My God is mighty to save. He is mighty to save."
"My Lord has conquered the grave."

Boo!

It's 10:19pm on Halloween night, and it's surprisingly quiet.

We hired an extra security guard to be on patrol tonight, and I'm the Administrator On-Call. At our last RA meeting, I used a few minutes to give some refreshers on how to care for people who are intoxicated... just in case.

"If someone tells you about some loud commotion in the Rug Room, how will you respond? What are the visible signs of intoxication? What if someone stumbles past you upstairs, and you're pretty sure they're drunk? How do you care for someone who is throwing up or passed out?"

Regardless of being prepared, I hope it's a quiet night.

We're preparing for the worst and expecting the best. Oh, Lord, please protect my students tonight. Help them to make good decisions.

I spent an hour at the on-campus Halloween Dance Party and was impressed by the costumes.
  • 4 guys dressed like old ladies. I took a picture with one of them and he pinched my cheek.
  • Alvin and the chipmunks
  • Whoopee Cushions (yes, that's plural - there were 2 of them!)
  • Poisen Ivy and Batman
  • Peter Pan and Tinkerbell
  • Pippy Longstocking
  • Killer Panda
I, not expecting to be around tonight, didn't prepare much for an outfit, so I dressed up like a hick and took the easy way out.

Oh, Halloween. It's really just another day...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pastor's Heart

I've been so moved by some recent conversations.
The way I've been sought out by students.
The things they share with me...
Things that break my heart and the heart of my Father.

I said a quiet "hello" to a girl at the computer as I walked into the cafeteria. Not seeing her in the Rug Room after I finished eating, I headed back to my apartment. She called my name and came over to me, shyly stating her need to talk.

She walked in and I made some small talk, trying to put her at ease. It worked, because the next thing I knew, tears were streaming down her face as she began to share. It's as if she was holding gauze tightly around some deep wounds, and picking up the corner just enough to let things ooze out. She's hurting and wants to be healed. A lot just happened.

She compromised her standards with a guy she thought she knew. Come to find out, he's not a Christian. She's confused.
She overdrew her bank account and has racked up $1000 worth of charges.
Her parents have been through multiple divorces and recently relocated.
Their job is unstable and they are struggling financially.
Roommate issues.

Someone else sought me out after an Intramural Volleyball game. We stood in the foyer for a long period of time. I listened, validated his concerns and frustrations, did my best to offer some advice and tips and told him I'd be praying.

I really connected with both of these people. We had a heart-to-heart. Our conversations broke through the surface and went deep.
I know I spoke Truth to them.
I got to love them by listening.

Pastor Steve commented on my "pastor's heart" today... for the umpteenth time. He's been calling me a minister ever since my interview a year ago.

I am more sure than ever that I want to pursue Seminary.
I don't know how, I don't know when, but it's in the works.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nine Minutes

I got ready in 9 minutes this morning.

In the process of hitting snooze on my cell phone, I set my phone under my pillow which muffled all subsequent alarms.

So, at 8:51 am, I bolted upright and made it to the office just in time for my 9am meeting. I even got a comment how cute I look today. (I think it's completely unwarranted, but I'll take it!)

It's amazing what a skirt and headband can do in a jiffy!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Awards

I received two awards last week - both unexpected and within days of each other.
  • a guitar pick with the inscription "President's Pick" from the NCU President, with a hand-written note of encouragement. Thanks, President Wilson!
  • a "Beacon High 5" - a poster with notes of appreciation from each member of the NCU Admissions/Enrollment team
Recognition feels good, doesn't it?
These awards challenge me to do a better job of acknowledging the people I get to work with.

I remember being a senior at Fox and feeling so compelled to say "thank you" before I left. I thumbed through the Bruin and wrote down names of those who had either impacted me personally or in anyway I'd observed them express kindness to someone else. I never made it through my list (I came up with 50+ people!), but the the philosophy remains.

Most people really don't know they're doing a good job unless someone tells them they are.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

happy one year to me!

October 15th marks my ONE YEAR anniversary of being the ARC at NCU.

Nothing could have prepared me for the emotions I've experienced over the last 12 months.
I've felt many things - some of them brand new and foreign while others are more familiar.

broken (at my wits end, crying out for help)
confident (being with words)
quiet (being without words)
bold (speaking Truth)
angry (being wronged, seeing others be wronged, etc)
disrespected (I'd rather not talk about it)
peaceful (surrendering control to God)
weary (it's been so... hard.)
satisfied (sometimes, things feel like they are in place)
repentant (I've messed up a lot)
shaker (shaking things up in the Res Life realm)
seeking (more of the Holy Spirit)
downtrodden (wrapped up in all the 'downs' of the year)
desirable (sounds weird, but it's true... someone wants to be with me, and it feels SO good!)

God,
This year is already different than last.
You know what I can give and you know what I need.
I'm glad you understand each of my feelings.

(More to come, soon.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Room for Dessert

I'm craving dessert

A fresh-baked
hand-picked
fruit pie
a la mode
preferably.

Pie
would top off this week
would top off the last year

I am tired
But even more than tired
I am weary

Isn't the fruit harvest ready
to be picked
after all the harvesting
after all the

blood

sweat

tears

prayers

celebrations

defeats?

Pie would bring

rest

comfort

JOY


peace.


Where is the fruit
When will it produce
Enough to be plucked
And turned into pie

I'm full of the appetizers
the breadsticks,
soup and salad
And ready for dessert

Where there is always room

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

83 Ice Cream Cones


Today is National Ice Cream Cone Day.
We (the RA staff) served up 83 ice cream cones in the Rug Room to celebrate with our residents.

Delicious!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Violence in Bolivia

A good friend commented today on how good it was to be asked about Africa, the continent she visited a year and a half ago that changed her life. She said how refreshing it was to be asked about Africa - something that is so near and dear to her heart that she doesn't get to talk about very much for the simple reason that no one asks.

Well, friend, I know what you mean.

Bolivia. I was there 15 months & 1 day ago.
4 months that rocked my world.

I just spent the last half hour reading some blog entries of my friends who are still missionaries in El Alto. Cara (my Servant Team coordinator) just emailed me about current unrest in Bolivia.

My heart continues to ache for the people of B-Land.
They are land-locked and poverty stricken. And now this:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Feet

It was neatly written in pink chalk on the concrete slab under the bridge. The message could easily be read by the hundreds of people who sat on the grass because of the enormity of the letters. Though the letters were huge, the message was even bigger: "You are not forgotten. Jesus loves you."

My flat feet are not conducive to spending long hours standing or running around, so the gift certificate for a spa pedicure was an enjoyable gift from my supervisors. My toenail polish looks pretty, but it's the foot massage that I really cared about.

I slept in, sat in a massage chair, soaked my feet, ate a delicious lunch with a good friend, and then headed to the park under the Washington/Jefferson St. bridge to meet up with my church.

I came prepared with my hair-cutting scissors and a comb.

And then a woman approached me and asked about the empty basins and towels that were set up. I looked around, expecting someone to be present at the station - no one was. It's because I was the foot washer.

My heart softened immediately as I realized how perfect this opportunity was. So, without skipping a beat, I set down my scissors (aka my agenda) and beckoned her to follow me. I filled up a basin and waited for her to roll up her jeans. I lifted her stiff legs and began to rub water on her shins as her feet soaked. Her skin was spotted and her scabs and scars told stories of things she might not ever say out loud, at least not to a stranger like me.

I did my best with my hands, but I needed a scrub brush to remove all the caked on dirt that embedded itself in her dry, cracked callouses. I worked on her heels for a long time, stopping a few times to add a few more pumps of soap to loosen the grime.

"This feel so good." she noted over and over again. I silently agreed, glancing at my own freshly-massaged feet.

A man lingered nearby, commenting on how "biblical" this all was, and how he'd never seen a church do something like this. I smiled and invited him to be next. He politely declined but walked by several times saying "oh no, that's not for me. You don't need to touch my feet." I told him that foot massages feel so good and that he was missing out. He nervously chuckled and left... only to return 3 more times before finally consenting.

As I dried Denise's feet with a fluffly, white towel, she remarked at the difference a little foot bath had made for her feet. I couldn't scrub all the dirt off, but they did look much better. I massaged lotion into her feet while I told her the story of how Jesus washed his disciples feet, and quoted the familiar scripture "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news." I asked her how I could pray for her, and she mentioned her emotional well-being as well as her alcohol addiction.

I put my arm around her and prayed for Denise. I claimed that God hadn't forgotten her and would take care of her every need. I prayed that she'd feel loved and hopeful. I gave her a hug and noticed tears in her eyes. She thanked me and then disappeared.

Dave was next. He had just gotten his hair cut at a different station, saying he was going for the "I'm going to get a job" kind of look. After I washed his feet and prayed with him, I shook his hand. He said it was symbolic of a hug.

Then Eldy, a man who had been walking the coast out in Florence for quite some time. He was new to the Eugene area and he inquired all about Northwest Christian University when I told him what I did. He complimented my brownish-greenish eyes and called me beautiful.

Then another Denise, who tells people on the street that her name is Angela. Angela was a nickname given to her by her grandfather when she was a baby, because he told her she looked angelic in her crib with a lightbeam encircling her small head. She's been living in her truck for 4 years with her husband and requested prayer for a job and place to live.

These people touched my heart on Saturday and I've been thinking about them ever since.

I found a place of honor at their feet as I sat on a metal crate with my hands in the dirty water.

A freshman in my First Year Seminar class shared a lectio divina this afternoon with some song lyrics by Brandon Heath:
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the brokenhearted
Wasn't it far beyond my reach?
Give me your heart for the once forgotten,
Give me your eyes so I can see

These people may have felt forgotten in the past, but they were remembered on Saturday.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Uninhibited Worship

I prayed this morning, thanking You for such a free place to worship.

Where we can unload our baggage at the door.

I pictured a person standing just outside the main doors, peeling off layers, lifting off heavy shoulder bags, piling them up on the sidewalk outside. Cautiously walking inside, feeling a bit naked and self conscious without all their stuff.

And then realizing how FREE (a-ha!) it is to enter uninhibited.

To worship.

Sunday evening thoughts

I'm tired.
...of feeling misunderstood
...of making mistakes
...of falling flat on my face
...of not having a private life (it's rather impossible because of where I live)

I ache.
...for things said and unsaid.
...for how things were, for how things are, for how things will be
...for the thousands of miles that separate me from St. Louis
...to learn something new for ME instead of how it might benefit someone else
...for peace.

3 weeks in, and the honeymoon is over.
Gossip runs rampant.
First year students spent 3 weeks discovering what they had in common with each other, and now they are discovering how different they are and what they don't like about each other.

It's all very messy.

I walked up to the 2nd floor and someone posted James 3:3-6 on the entrance. Words have power. The tongue is the most powerful thing in the world; why do we use it so carelessly?

Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.

"But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It's from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, lies, thefts, and cussing. That's what pollutes." (Matthew 15:17-20)

It's the state of the heart.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Charge to the RAs

The evening before all the new students arrived on campus, Kirsten and I organized a commissioning service in the chapel for our student leaders. We worshiped and prayed together and I got to give them the following charge. This compilation of verses accurately depicts my vision for the RAs and it was wonderfully appropriate to share with them.

Charge to the Northwest Christian University "Dream Team" RA Staff
Chad, Jed, Brandon, Alana, Justine, Alana, Jessica
August 22, 2008

Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times, pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive with hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they are happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.

Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God, "I'll take care of it."

Our scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

Romans 12:9-21 (The Message)

(A Litany of Humility)
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me!
From the desire of being esteemed,From the desire of being loved,From the desire of being extolled,From the desire of being honored,From the desire of being praised,From the desire of being preferred to others,From the desire of being consulted,From the desire of being approved,
From the fear of being humiliated,From the fear of being despised,From the fear of suffering rebukes,From the fear of being falsely accused,From the fear of being forgotten,From the fear of being ridiculed,From the fear of being wronged,From the fear of being suspected,
Deliver me Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I,That others may be esteemed more than I,
That, in the opinion of the world,Others may increase that I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred before me in everything,That others become holier than I,Provided that I become as holy as I should,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Conversations lately

A taste of my conversations lately:
Some of which have been follow-up from last year... leaps forward, a few steps back.
Some of which give me so much purpose for why I'm here.
Some affirming.
Some challenging.
Some humbling, honoring, encouraging, and uplifting.
Some hurtful, heard-to-hear, confusing, and agonizing.
Some heart-hurting, some heartwarming.

Lord, may my ears hear these children like you do. May my words resound with grace and my actions with love.

Tired already

I've been tired all week.

I seem to have forgotten how exhausting it is to be "ON" so much. My summer schedule was so different and I was confined to my office cubicle for most of the day. Now, however, I am running from one thing to the next and wondering how I'll ever regain the stamina needed to make it through the next 9 months.

Monday was Labor Day and Residence Life sponsored a BBQ in the quad.

Tuesday night was a mandatory hall meeting for all the residents so Jocelyn (my new boss) and I visited each hall with a bag of candy & dry erase markers for their whiteboards. We both answered some questions such as "are nerf gun wars allowed in the hall?" I invited them all to my apartment next Tuesday evening for some homemade cookies. Each hall's dynamics are so different. Hendricks Hall greeted me with squeals and applause. The men's hall was indifferent to my presence except that I brought candy. I felt intimidated by those that are clearly "too cool for school."

My day yesterday started off with 3 one-on-ones and then I held my first staff meeting last night from 7-9pm. I worked until 6 and then laid down on my bed, dreading the upcoming meeting because I didn't feel like being 'peppy' for 2 more hours. I opened my door, though, and energy poured in. I really do appreciate this year's RAs; they really care for each other. We began by playing a hand-slapping game while laying on the carpet. Then we shared some encouraging words about encounters or conversations or quiet time over the course of the past few days.

We busted through some nit-picky paperwork-y things and spent some time brainstorming about events and programs that would reach our student body. I really pushed them on some "green" ideas and poverty awareness/global issues/spiritual truths. I dangled the bait for some really cool program ideas and I'm hoping a few of them will bite it and run with it. Sometimes it's hard not to take over and do programs myself, but I know it's not my job nor do I have the energy.

I'm enjoying this quiet morning to myself. I ate some instant oatmeal in the Caf by myself, checked to make sure the washer and dryer were functioning properly on the women's hall, and now I'm lounging in my Mary Chair, enjoying the chance to sit and be still.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pictures to describe the last few weeks

A brief rundown of the last few weeks...


Camping trip on the McKenzie River. Me + 7 RAs! Paradise Campground - solo time, campfire, s'mores, scenic drive, group meal prep, initiatives, sleeping in tents, hike, life stories.



Hike around Sahalie Falls


Drive on Hwy 242 - it just opened to traffic that morning!
Sisters Coffee Co. in Sisters, OR. We enjoyed the AC and played Apples to Apples.

A "servant lunch" where we made each other's meals and then ate our lunch all tied together.

Our first hall competitions - 3 competitions that didn't quite make it into the 2008 Olympics.
The "Ice T-Shirt" competition - one person from the hall had to put on a tshirt that had been frozen. (Hilarious)
"Layer Palooza" - one designee had to put on as many layers of clothing as possible in 7 minutes. The winner had 78 layers on! She was also a skinny-mini. (Also hilarious)
"DecoRAte" - using the given supplies (rubber gloves, trash bag, newspaper, tape, post-its, paper, etc.), decorate your RA according to your hall theme. (Again, hilarious - and incredibly creative!)



And... some fun times with Paul in-between.


The freshmen arrived Saturday, school starts Wednesday. I am exhausted!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

lay aside the worries

My desk accurately reflects my work life at the moment. Papers are strewn everywhere, my recycling bin is full, the earrings I wore today are sandwiched between my cell phone and an important document. These things litter my work station:
  • Four binders - all of which I am currently referring to
  • Sticky notes
  • Multiple versions of the RA training schedule
  • Keys
  • "From Brokenness to Community" by Jean Vanier
  • "Compassion" by Henri Nouwen
  • My purse
  • Fish food (to remember to feed my office mate's fish)
  • Kleenex box (I've needed it this week)
  • A business card for an optometrist (I desperately need an updated prescription)
  • Picture dvds
  • A framed article that says "Speak up against injustice, oppression, hopelessness"
  • A pile of supplies for the RAs
It's amusing how ME it all is at the moment.

Usually my apartment reflects my work life, too. Well, thanks to the Grounds Crew that spread a dust-like layer of manure-fertilizer on the plants outside of my apartment, I had to rid my apartment of the nasty smell and vacuum up the black stuff that found its way inside my open windows... and now my apartment is clean and smells nice.

Oh, there is so much to do. I don't mind working late since the office is quiet and since I'm not 'on the clock' I can take breaks when I need them, blast music and answer my cell phone. I'm feeling rather ambitious and motivated. Much of which, I think, is backed by feelings of inadequacies, doubts, fears, and what-ifs.


All throughout the day, I've heard a still, small voice beckoning me to slow down, quiet myself, and rest in the Peace of Christ. I'm embarrassed to admit that I dismissed the invitation. I, for whatever reason, chose to dwell in my stress.

Now, as it's after-hours and my Pandora Radio station is playing worship music, I am once again moved by lyrics and melodies. This song promptly came on and it's bringing me back...

You're calling me to lay aside the worries of my day
To quiet down my busy mind and find a hiding place
Worthy, Worthy

I open up my heart and let my spirit worship Yours
I open up my mouth and let a song of praise come forth
Worthy, You are worthy

Of a child-like faith
And of my honest praise
And of my unashamed love
Of a holy life
And of my sacrifice
And of my unashamed love

"Unashamed Love" by Ten Shekel Shirt

Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness even when I am unfaithful. In humility, surrender, and reverence, I come.

Funny story... as I'm ending this blog, the song is being replayed by a different artist. And I'm certainly not sick of it. :)


Sunday, August 3, 2008

the preparations continue

It's evident the school year is quickly approaching.
I had a dinner date in Salem Monday night, drove 4 hours (round trip) to roast marshmallows Friday night, and then drove almost another 4 hours to go to the beach yesterday.

We made s'mores with a variety of fillings. My favorite is a Reeses s'more. Also good is a York Patty s'more. We made s'moreos. (marshmallow inside an oreo). One oreo fell on the ground which I called a "floor-eo." It is good to laugh. It is good to escape.

I worked Saturday morning and spent a couple hours in the office Sunday evening and I anticipate working late every day this week. Just trying to get ahead.

I have spent months preparing for the RAs to arrive and now, I'm not even sure I want them to come!

I'm feeling a bit unprepared...
I could definitely do without the paperworky part of this job.
I feel a little hung up since I don't have a supervisor to share the load.

I am prepping for all the Fall athletes who need temporary housing. I am matching roommates based on New Student Profiles, which is a hilarious challenge.
  • I describe myself as emotional... I'd like to live with some who is emotionally stable.
  • I like to make friendship bracelets.
  • I listen to scream-o music
  • I'm 17 and engaged.
I am revamping the 150 pg. RA Manual. I am creating training sessions. I am getting ready to take the RAs on a camping trip to a campground I have never seen. I am crazy.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

You're blessed when...

I accidentally left my Bible in Grants Pass so I've been reading The Message during my quiet times. It's refreshing to read the gospels in such modern language. It is easier for me to read several chapters at a time and pick up where I left off. I appreciate the storytelling gift of Eugene Peterson.
Matthew 5 --
3"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
When I can't do anything more, God can.
4"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
I imagine snuggling up for a giant hug.
5"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.
I'm okay being Elizabeth. Nothing more.
6"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.
A sincere longing for the fulfillment of Jesus Christ.
7"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.
8"You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
It can be very hard to see God in the world, outside of the work God is doing within me.
9"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.
Speaking Truth speaks volumes.
10"You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.
Kingdom-work is not in vain.
11-12"Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pretty Women

These pictures make me smile. :)

I love being daughter and sister to these two.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hospital

It was one of those messages that you hope you'll never receive.
The kind that immediately accelerate your heart rate and cause you to sweat.
The kind where you go numb, process the information on the other end of the line, and try to "be strong."

I read the text messages then saw I had missed 5 calls from my brother.
"Call me asap."
"Pray for dad."

I was at the Eugene Emerald's baseball game and didn't hear my phone ring. I climbed up to the top of the stands where it was a bit quieter and called my brother.

I was anxious and fearful as he calmly, collectedly, and maturely relayed the information that my dad was feeling ill, showed signs of a heart attack, and was probably going to the hospital... in St. Louis, Missouri.

Seated behind home plate at the Em's stadium, my friends and I immediately bowed our heads to pray.

I returned home, plugged in my Christmas lights, set my iTunes to Jill Phillips, and curled up in my Mary Chair. It was like clockwork, as though I knew exactly what I needed at that exact moment. That is when the tears started to flow.

I imagined my dad on a hospital gurney, connected to oxygen. I imagined my mom sitting beside him, holding his hand. I imagined my brother sitting by the phone in New York. I imagined my sister trying to figure out how to navigate unfamiliar territory to get to the hospital at 11:30pm. I imagined the conversation I had with my dad just 5 hours prior, as he was helping Chrislyn pick out bedsheets in Target. I imagined a lot of terrible things.

An hour and a half later, I got a relieved phone call that the EKG came back normal and my dad was feeling better. We still don't know what happened. From New York to Oregon, people were praying. I believe God heals.

It's just never been so close to home.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Letter to Myself

Have you ever written a letter to yourself, tucked it away, and then read it later? It is a humbling, challenging exercise.

As I prepare for RA Training, I am delving deep into the abyss of RA notes, training schedules, and manuals from when I was a student. Today, I came across my Walkabout Journal and a letter I wrote to myself 3 years ago. I am moved by the words I wrote to myself in August 2005. Even though it was written for my upcoming adventure as the AAC my senior year, it is still applicable today:

Oh Elizabeth. :)
You have come a long way since you came to GFU as a freshman. You've experienced doubts, tragedy, hardship, heartache... and also joy, laughter, fellowship, community and love. Don't lose sight of the things God has done in your life. Each experience has shaped you into who you are today. Recall the ways God has shown His faithfulness to you and smile as you think of how perfect His timing is.

This year is different than last. Your staff, AACs, and residents have all come together for completely different reasons. Try not to compare this year with last, but be intentional about connecting with those who made last year so special for you.

You are approaching graduation which means some big decisions need to be made. Spend time praying for direction and peace.

If you are in a relationship (and even if you are not), continue to make God your first priority and trust He has incredible plans for your future.
The RAs come back to campus in 3 weeks! I am finalizing speakers for each session and trying to make sense of a system that I've never been through as "the boss" without having a boss to guide me through it. Yikes.

I'm excited, though!

Instead of a 24 hour solo, we'll spend an afternoon in silence.
Instead of backpacking 6 days, we're camping for 4.
Instead of summiting a mountain, we'll go for a day hike.

Maybe someday I'll implement the full-blown Walkabout experience. For now, though, it's just me and 7 RAs and it's all I can do!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Weekend in GP

My parents and sister are well on their way to St. Louis, Missouri. They are spending 32+ hours together in a very full car. Chrislyn is venturing off to spend 2 years teaching 6th grade Science at an inner-city school with Teach for America. I am so proud of her - her adventurous spirit, heart to see students succeed, and desire to follow God's promptings even when she is stretched to the max. (She's blogging about her adventures: http://www.chrislyngail.blogspot.com )

I drove down to Grants Pass last weekend to bid her farewell. The 4 of us (wish you could've joined us, Parker) enjoyed a glass of white wine with dinner on the back deck. It was a peaceful weekend, despite everyone's attempts to squeeze all their necessities into the car. (Grandma cars do come in handy when moving large amounts of things; spacious trunks are imperative!) I sat around daydreaming and petting the dog.

There are definitely parts about Grants Pass that I miss very much. Going to my parents' house (no longer "home") feels like a retreat. Their 3 acres in the country has never felt so peaceful or comfortable. The Rogue River was cold, yet inviting as Chrislyn and I spent a couple hours floating down with tahitis. We decided not to get out (100% intentional) where we left the car in order to enjoy the water a while longer. A nice man and his young son agreed to take her to the previous stop to retrieve our car while I stayed with the boats.

I had hoped for some deep, thought-provoking sister-conversations. Instead, we simply enjoyed the sun and each other's company, merrily, merrily, merrily merrily floating downriver. It was exactly what I needed.

At a wedding reception later that day, I saw several of my parent's friends whom I have not seen in years. It was so fun to catch up as adults. Each series of comments/questions was exactly the same: "You're all grown up! What are you doing in Eugene? How was Cambodia?" This repetetive set was always followed with "Sooooo... anybody special in your life?" It's as if they had somehow known about my new, exciting news, and for the first time since leaving home 6 years ago, I got to answer "Yes!"

My drive back up to Eugene was quiet and uneventful, except for my routine stop for ice cream in Rice Hill. I climbed back into the car, cone in hand, and continued on my journey. With 50 miles to go, ice cream dripped all over my lap, hands, seat belt, and steering wheel. I felt like a 2 year old and when I met up with a friend for dinner that evening, she kindly advised me to wipe ice cream remnants off the corner of my mouth.

Needless to say, it was a beautiful couple of days.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I want to be warm

It's one thing to be cold outside. It's another to be cold INside - especially when it's mid-July.

My nose is dripping, and it's not because I'm sick or allergic. Rather, the AC is much too effective and it is c-c-cold in my office. My fingers are freezing and my handwriting is illegible since I can barely grasp a pen. My fingers have shrunk and my ring rattles around as I type.

It's so sunny outside and I want to be warm. It's summer, after all! Ugh.

I think I should start keeping a parka on the coat rack.

Or maybe treat myself to some hot coffee. :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

the fortune cookie

You meet some important, key people whose opinion really matters.
You are invited to join these people for lunch, 10 of whom you just met.
The meal of Chinese food is about over, and you are asked to select a fortune cookie from the tray in front of you. Everyone watches as you select one and then, even before you crack it open, they insist you read it aloud to the group.

You open it.
You read it.
The person sitting beside you is the reason you're at lunch with all these people; he knows them all and wanted you to join him.
Your eyes get big.
You show him the fortune.
He chuckles nervously and gives you a look.

The fortune must be read aloud; your table companions are curiously awaiting.

In a very matter-of-fact voice, you read the following:


The table oohs and ahhs while you giggle nervously and shyly glance at your friend, who is turning a little bit red.

As everyone was leaving, you slipped the fortune in your pocket.

You know, just in case.

Monday, June 30, 2008

California meets Oregon

It was obvious they were Southern California girls.

The clippity-clop announced the arrival of 7 fancy ladies. They delicately cascaded down steep stairs to the wedding rehearsal, overlooking the lake and resort village.

4-inch high heels
Tan-ish (a little orange, even)
Heavy makeup
Long, black, fake eyelashes
Perfectly highlighted, big hair
Flawlessly manicured fingers and toes.
Dresses that showed all their curves in all the right places.

My childhood best friend, the only Oregon girl, was also a bridesmaid. She lined up at the end and it was obvious she was not a Cali girl.
Flip flops covered in Mexico dust (she came straight from 5 months of volunteer service at a health clinic and orphanage).
A simple, cute shirt and skirt combo.
Choco tan lines on her feet
Her unpierced ears couldn't wear the 'bling-bling' the bride provided. The mother of the bride panicked at the absurdity of the non-earrings.
A very natural tanned complexion, and she's a natural blonde.

I do not mean to stereotype. It's just that the California culture was much different than what I'm used to. The wealth, money, and material emphases made me feel so out of place. I did not expect to encounter culture-shock from my own country, let alone a neighboring state.

The Father of the Bride titled the weekend's events as "California meets Oregon" and it couldn't have been more appropriate.

Catching Up

Oh my. It has been a long time! Must catch up!

I am back in the USA...again.
I took a week off and spent a week in Mexico/So Cal with Hallie, my best friend since 3rd grade. We gave piggy back rides to her favorite little girls at the orphanage. took walks around the macadamia nut orchard, ate lots of tortillas and beans, and shared about our happenings (aka boy stories) since we'd last seen each other 6 months ago.

Then, we hitched a ride via car and 2 trains to a fancy shmancy resort in the mountains outside of San Berandino, CA for her brother's wedding. (More on this later)

I feel refreshed, which is a good thing, considering I am back at work and some things are requiring my immediate attention:
  • Tomorrow (July 1st) NCC become Northest Christian UNIVERSITY! New signage is in place and we've all been advised to change our voicemail greetings and email signatures to reflect our new name.
  • So many females are enrolling for on-campus housing that we are filling up... a very good and complicated problem to have. Which guys can we coax back into the dorm to open up apartment space for some gals? Hmmm. That is going to take a LOT of coaxing.
  • The Track and Field Olympic Trials are being held at the U of O and we are hosting some competitors/visitors on campus. There are lots of unfamiliar faces in the dorm and now I have to share the big screen tv in the lobby, which I've adopted as my extended living room.
As Hallie said her goodbyes to her friends in Mexico as she packed up to return to Oregon, I was remembering my departure from Bolivia. Someone asked me if I was ready to go back yet and I replied "no - I'm ready to be in the country for a while."

It's true. It's good to be home.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sad Day(s)

Admittedly, I haven't been my chipper, upbeat self. Well, no guarantees for tomorrow, either.
I am bummed because it's my boss's last day of work.

My supervisor/mentor/friend is leaving NCC and moving to Michigan. I haven't even completed a year in my current position, so it's daunting to think about facing this job alone, without my immediate support system to guide, correct, teach, and encourage me. I know I can do this. I am sad not to be doing this with her.

I am grieving for my loss and hate that I have to say goodbye.
Things were starting to look up. We hired a new team of RAs... together. We planned RA Training... together. We talked extensively about our hopes and dreams for our future residents... together.

Our one-on-ones always lasted 2 hours instead of 1. Sometimes, our conversations would begin fairly shallow - both of us feeling pretty drained from the week's events and hard conversations. Without fail, though, I would walk out of her office feeling more confident, capable, and competent. She left me notes thanking me for our weekly meetings, saying how encouraged she was by our conversations.

We went deep and talked about REAL stuff.
When I was frustrated about the way my Student Development staff was handling things, she is the one I would vent to. She was my collaborator in the office and I really clicked with her supervisory style.

This year at NCC has been much more tumultuous than I ever thought it would be. Jolyn was a huge reason why I accepted this job in the first place, and a huge reason why I've stayed. (take that, Retention Committee!)

It was her idea to bring a birthday cake to work today to belatedly celebrate my birthday since I was in Cambodia on the 25th. Her thoughtfulness, wisdom, honesty, and depth will certainly be missed.

Calvin College is so blessed to be receiving Jolyn. As she puts it, she gets to work with 7 "Elizabeths" and collaborate, which is what she loves. Me, too.

Jolyn and I

Also - my 1 year Bolivia anniversary is on Sunday, and I've been asked to share about Bolivia Sunday night. I wonder what this will be like...?

And - my brave sister is going through Teach for America training in Texas and we've been playing phone tag because our schedules just don't align. She's battling late-night irrational thoughts and I can't call her since she's 2 hours ahead.

One more thing - some of my colleagues were talking about ocean waves today, and someone made a quick remark about "how a girl from GFU drowned a couple years ago, didn't she?" Ummm... yes, she did. And she happened to be a friend of mine, and I happened to be at the beach when she died, watching the search crews scan the ocean for her, with her family when the Coast Guard told them they found her body, etc.

Oh, sad day(s).

Monday, June 9, 2008

Cambodia Journal

I'm finally sleeping at night and properly digesting yummy food. Hooray!

What an interesting, tough trip.

I'm processing my time in Cambodia through conversations, pictures, and my journal.
I'm adding my handwritten Cambodia entries to my blog.

May 13th begins it all... (they are backdated, so you may have to scroll down quite a bit)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Jet Lag

I am suffering from the worst case of jet lag in my travel history.
It is 4:38am and I am still awake, for the 2nd night in a row, not to mention the 4 sleepless nights preceding my return to the USA (thanks to barking dogs, biting bugs, work-related anxiety, and daydreams of several foreign amenities).

Also, I have indulged myself with ice cream, a white mocha, and Olive Garden.
My stomach is confused why it hasn't been consuming rice 3x a day is therefore struggling to accept the phenomena of "preservatives," "dairy products," and "processed foods."

I am an insomniac with stomach pain and so happy to be home!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Number 12: Cambodia

I've officially visited a dozen countries...
I'm in Cambodia!
I am thankful for your prayers and am thankful to be part of such a neat team of students from Northwest Christian.

I'll blog some of my journal entries upon my return.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

May 17th

I am so appreciative of the affirmation I've been receiving. Thank you, Lord, for knowing exactly what I need when I need it! A comment about another day well-led, and a comment about what a great day someone had.

There are so many details to organize and such a need for excellent communication. It's a scary task and I have a greater appreciation for those who have led my overseas experiences.

In all the traveling I've done, some things are universal: horrendous traffic, poverty, oppression, darkness, etc.. When visiting the Genocide Museum (located at a former S-21 Torture Prison), I kept asking "why, God?" and pleading for justice for those who were murdered, in addition to forgiveness for the murderers.


Side note: Must some wretched things happen SO THAT other good things result? I do not know. Romans 3 refers to people who participate in unrighteous acts because it makes God's righteousness shine that much brighter. What a sick, twisted standard to live by. "Do evil SO THAT God's goodness appears better." - recent thoughts from June 10th.

We browsed through the Russian Market and made mental notes about souvenirs we'll buy before we leave, took pictures of monkeys freely roaming near a temple, and took a tour of the famous "Killing Fields" where hundreds of thousands of people were killed and thrown into mass graves. A memorial building stands tall, holding 17 stories of bones and skulls that were collected from the killing site. Our tour guide kept referring to "that crazy Pol Pot" who destroyed Cambodia and murdered her people. He spoke with such passion and pain as he recounted his near-death experience and relived its nightmares.


It reminded me of my visit to Rwanda; a severe genocide that wiped out an entire people group under one man's control. It happened to the Jews, the Rwandans. It's happening in Darfur, etc..

(Movies like "The Killing Fields" and "Hotel Rwanda" are worth watching.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Genocide and God's Goodness

It's day 2. I slept from 8pm - 5:30am and am enjoying the quiet while the rest of my team is waking up.

We had a country-orientation yesterday upon our arrival and enjoyed a delicious meal of authentic Thai food and green tea. We learned about Cambodia's culture, history, and religion. Our team became overcome with jet lag as heads bobbed and eyes fluttered shut.

I am really enjoying the group so far and am quickly learning how each one will offer something different to the team.

As I anticipate the City Tour later today, I'm wondering what kind of a devotion to share before we hit the road. We'll visit the Genocide Museum and Killing Fields where hundreds of thousands of bodies were dumped after extreme starvation and torture.

(I had each person make a list of adjectives to describe who God is to each of them. I thought it was important to "call out" what we know to be true about God's nature, as to reconcile the dissonance of an all-powerful God in a broken, evil world. We spent powerful time in prayer, naming God, claiming His sovereignty in the midst of a recovering country.)

Before we left, we explored various theodicies...
and so I ask: What is your personal theodicy?

a.k.a.: How do you integrate a good, gracious, loving God with terrible genocides, natural disasters, etc.?

My prayer for the day:
Heavenly Father - I ask for confidence and boldness. For creativity and sensitivity during our team times. For a divine sense of where each person is at. For compassion, patience, and joy. For quality time with each person here. For the ability to ask good questions and listen well. For safety and health for my friend at home. For focus, as I think of people who aren't with me and comforts I do not have. For vulnerability during our team times. For encouraging team dynamics. Flexibility. Safe travels. For eye-opening experiences and conversations. For the desire to be changed.

Amen.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Leaving, on a jet plane

I just remembered I forgot to bring everyone's medical forms. You know, the ones listing blood types, immunizations, surgical history, current medications, contact information, etc.. Yikes!

I'm on the first leg of the trip, heading to San Francisco, then Hong Kong, then finally Cambodia. Portland has already disappeared into the clouds.

It's a smooth flight; the sun is streaming in through the windows. Sheer exhaustion (after months of preparation and a few restless nights) had set in I was about to doze off when I came to the important (and embarrassing) realization that I forgot the forms. And my flashlight.

Insecurities are running rampant as I process the preceding 11 hours. A decision to remove a student from the Israel team due to behavioral issues that finally came to light during finals week. I was the one that brought it forward, and now she's been 'kicked off' the team. Also, news of my boss's job prospect in Michigan really threw me for a loop. I congratulated her on being in the final round and tried not to think about all the changes that could ensue in my 3 week absence from the office.

As I said my goodbyes in the office -- to my boss/mentor and to my dear friend who should have been on the trip with me, a zillion "what ifs?" and fears became the framework for a fountain of tears. I cried so hard. The rest of my team was already piling into the van and everything was loaded up. I hated that I had to face my team as their "fearless leader" with red eyes and tear-stained cheeks. I felt so incompetent, facing parents who were entrusting me with the safety of their children. And I'm crying, having a hard time saying goodbye...

I am exhausted and the trip is just beginning. I'm in need of refreshment. My heart breaks for my friend who must stay at home. I need to process and rest. If only my mind would slow down... I am trying so hard not to fret about the medical forms.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

the Backseat

Is this how it's going to be?
Sleepless nights, tossing and turning
I hardly slept last night
And now tonight
Wondering about your safety
Startled awake by my phone
Drifting asleep
Awakened by "what ifs"
And "to do" lists
And the pool ball that keeps hitting the floor in the hall
Celebratory shouts of students in the quad
Classes are over
Their last weekend together
And then there is the drunken stupor of those outside
Stumbling from the bar across the street
Slamming car doors shut
Leaving Miller High Life cans on my back doorstep
For maintenance to clean up in the morning

Awake,
My covers kicked off
My Mary Chair beckoned to me
With a blanket and two pillows
I prayed
I cried out for trust
And surrendered
And apologized for sitting in the driver's seat
Now I sit
Try to sit
Do my best to sit
In the backseat
Without a steering wheel
Seatbelt fastened
Asking if we're there yet.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The DMV & The Dentist

As I drove away from the DMV yesterday, I couldn't help but think about how blog-worthy my afternoon was.

I am quite thankful that I do not have to frequent the DMV. However, it would have been nice to have updated my driver's license photo within minutes of receiving it in the mail. I was wearing a dark green work polo from my waitressing days at the River Rock Cafe, my hair was pulled back, and I was definitely showing the Freshman Twenty.

Even acquiring the necessary materials for a license renewal proved to be challenging. The forms needed for a proof of residence were particularly difficult to obtain considering I live and work at the same place and have zero housing bills to pay. (Bills are one of the few accepted proofs of residency.)

The man at the help desk was less than helpful and much too quick to usher me on my way, even though there was no waiting in line behind me. I took a number, sat down, and observed.

One of the women behind the counter wore thick, plastic, bright red reading glasses. Her poofed-out permed hair passed her shoulders and she smacked on chewing gum as she typed loudly. A young girl with long, blonde hair broke the news to her friends that she failed her driver's test. Her red, puffy eyes told me she'd been crying.

My number was approaching so I made one last review of the necessary documents and realized I did not have my checkbook or cash on me.; of course they do not accept credit cards. So, I threw my number away, drove to the closest ATM, and then promptly returned to the DMV. I pulled another number, waited another 10 minutes, convinced the woman behind the counter of my current residency, agreed to being an organ donor, paid my cash fee, registered to vote, signed an electronic screen, took an updated picture, and walked away with my interim driver's license. Phew!

*****
I much prefer visiting the dentist, especially when they rave about my clean, straight teeth. My hygienist was thrilled to take a break to inspect my mouth because the elderly gentlemen in the chair next door did not have a clean bill of health like me. Poor hygienist and poor old man.

As a high school senior, I was named "Student of the Month" through a community organization. On the award application, I had to write down my accomplishments and honors. As a joke, I included my membership in the "No Cavity Club" through my dental office, which recognized patients with clean teeth. When I stood up to receive my award, the announcer read off some of my accomplishments and proceeded to tell everyone about what I had written, saying "I bet you didn't think we'd read everything!" It was quite comical. :)

It still feels good to be part of the Club today.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bandaids, gauze, splints, & stitches

"Are you okay? Are you okay? My name is Elizabeth and I'm CPR/First Aid certified! May I help you?"

I just spent 4 invigorating hours getting First Aid and CPR training. My class was from 6pm-10pm, so the nap I managed to squeeze in this afternoon was essential for my participation in this evening's training.

I learned all about how to treat hypothermia, snake bites, poison ingestion (I memorized the Poison Control Center phone number: 800-222-1222), chemical burns, bloody noses, and other stomach-churching injuries. I'm convinced that the pictures used to aid in the training process might actually induce a serious condition such as vomiting or fainting. Is it absolutely necessary to use such graphic images? I did not particularly want to see an object embedded in a man's eyeball or a severed body part wrapped in bloody gauze. Blech!

I found this line particularly interesting in my training handbook: Do NOT put nail polish on an attached tick. Hmm.

While I hope I never have to perform CPR, Rescue Breathing, or Abdominal Thrusts, I am thankful for the training and fully support its merit.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spring Formal


Me, Sarah, Kirsten
(Student Development Employees)


I re-lived my college days at NCC's Spring Formal Saturday evening, but this time as a "chaperone." The best part was sneaking around to all the tables with unattended cameras and taking pictures of ourselves. One of them has already made its way to Myspace with this caption: "When you take my camera and use it, I will post it!"



Unfortunately, it's not so flattering. But, I suppose we deserved it! :)

Wacky Weather Words

It's almost May, and it's been raining, snowing, and hailing, often all at once.
So, what does one call the weather when these elements coexist?

Snail (n.): hail mixed with snow.
"Gee whiz, Jen, It's snailing outside!"

Railow (n.): hail mixed with rain and snow.
"By golly, Fran, this railow is cold, painful, and miserable!"

Friday, April 18, 2008

Only

If this were only a job, last night wouldn't have been so hard.
If you were only an employee, you would have treated me differently.
If I was only your boss, I wouldn't care this much.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Processing

Let it be known that I have been in a funk.
At least that's what I've been calling it, anyway.

Or maybe this is really me...trying to figure things out. Trying to get a handle on things. Trying to be ok.

My supervisor recently asked me how I process - if I am able to compartmentalize thoughts to process later, as though they are filed neatly into an organized card catalog system,
-or-
if I process things as they occur, one by one, day by day.

I think that up to this point, to a certain extent, I've compartmentalized. But now I have 6+months of stuff to deal with. Much of this 'stuff' has been piling up since I first began working at NCC.

And of course, all the life-changing happenings of Bolivia and everything in between: weddings, culture shock, unemployment, moving.

The compartments are full and I can't put it off any longer.
So now I'm processing.
The alphabetized card catalogs are bursting with what has yet to be visited. Some of it was briefly glossed over for the time being to address what I could in the present, and only now am I acknowledging their severity.

This is what I'm sorting out (in non-alphabetical order):

First real job. Planning for Cambodia. Leading Cambodia-prep meetings. No friends. New friends. Old friends. Boundaries. Personal life. Professional life. RAs who resigned. RAs who've let me down. Suicide attempts. Late nights. Underage drinking. Life outside of NCC. Burnt out. Mentoring. Doing my best. Eugene. Starting over. Being known. Feeling alone. Health issues. Being the boss. Speaking Truth. Speaking in chapel. Leading worship. Leading staff meetings. Teaching. Misunderstandings. Miscommunications. Christmas guests. Grace. Not enough grace. Love. Confrontation. Hard conversations. Feeling walked on. Confidence. My first gray hair. :) Boldness. Sex-trafficking. Mistakes. Living at work. Drama. Abuse. High expectations. Unrealistic expectations. Lowered expectations. The Holy Spirit. Gifts. Being called out. Patience. Authority. Different philosophies. Feeling like I should be older. Inadequacies. Counseling. Seminary.

These are my thoughts. I know I'm forgetting some. Some of them still linger from months ago. It does not mean I've forgotten or moved on. I've simply had to push them aside to make room for more.

I'm trying to process.
Please be patient with me.
Please don't confuse my funk with aloofness.
I am just trying to process.
I'm doing the best I can.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pink Tulips

I bought 10 cheery, pink tulips the other day.
For me.

I needed a boost and boost me they did. :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cupcakes at Midnight

I bought special birthday cupcake liners and failed to remember that I don't own a cupcake tin, except for a teeny tiny muffin tin that is much too small for the said cupcake liners... and so I made teeny tiny cupcakes without cupcake liners.

I, determined to use the fun cupcake liners in some fashion or another, naively filled a square baking dish with the liners and poured in the batter.

Not a good idea!

I opened the oven to find that the wannabe cupcake batter had oozed together, creating one giant cupcake top with 12 cupcake bottoms. I had to peel them apart which resulted in cupcake puzzle pieces, cupcake triangles, and cupcake pentagons.

The last batch just came out of the oven and I'm a little bit embarrassed to share them at our small group tomorrow night.

The moral of tonight's story: don't bake at midnight.

Cupcakes with Character

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

No Joke

Although I wish this news was a joke, I must face the facts.

A freakish car accident Sunday evening killed a recent GFU alum in Newberg. Though I didn't know him very well, I went to the Philippines with the driver of the other car. I can't imagine the horrors they are facing right now and am hopeful this devastation will someday end...for eternity.

Heartache, accidents, tears, pain, loss, grief.... It will all be over.

Read the details here: The Newberg Graphic & GFU

More stuff keeping me awake at night

I found these videos a couple weeks ago as I researched life in Cambodia

I'm not shocked by these stories anymore
the lies are the same
and the darkness remains

Satan loves this oppression and injustice

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2kj1NC0RXU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7MJVQJnHcM&feature=related

Monday, March 31, 2008

Sleepless in Eugene

My unsuccessful attempts at willing myself to sleep for the past hour have resulted in this late night blogging session. I'm huddled under my covers, propped up by pillows, squinting at the computer screen. I'd crank up the heat, except that a strange odor and an obnoxious "clunking" results.

I am still awake for several reasons tonight:
  1. High-pitched eruptions of laughter coming from the hallway, seeping through walls which have never seemed so thin before.
  2. The pool ball bouncing off the table, and rolling on the tile floor.
  3. A massive "to do" list running through my head for Cambodia (T minus 43 days), the passports I have yet to collect, the malaria and typhoid shots I have yet to endure, and even how much anti-diarrheal medication I should put in the first aid kit.
  4. My lungs are still on fire from the intramural basketball game this evening - I'm on a team with the Student Development staff. We are affectionately named: "Staff Infection." (I even scored A basket tonight!)
  5. A crowd of husky-voiced guys, presumably frat boys, walking down the sidewalk. I could probably see them if I peeked out my blinds (but I'd have to put my glasses on, first).
  6. My bedtime reading - "Not For Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade -- and How We Can Fight It" doesn't exactly inspire sweet dreams. I am well into the section that explores sex trafficking in Cambodia, and I'm reminded of the images I saw during my visit to the redlight district in El Alto, Bolivia.
  7. A zillion prayers...
    • for those women and children being sold like cattle, inspected like factory products, and used like rags.
    • for miraculous donations to the Cambodia and Israel Teams for students who have not met their fundraising goal
    • ways to get my RAs and residents involved in global and community affairs, to break out of the bubble
    • my friend who has a potentially serious doctor's appointment
    • my desire to spend more time in prayer for all of these things
... to name a few. :)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring, but not enough Break

Students are unloading their cars packed full of clean laundry and Spring Break stories. I'm hiding at a coffee shop with a book, white mocha, and my laptop. I know they're back and I'm not ready to see anyone yet. Even though NCC does not celebrate President's day with a vacation day, I am thankful we observe Good Friday, and boy, was it good!

I keep hearing stories of friends who've observed Easter in a new light this year. I'm sad to admit the opposite. I think I neglected the reason for the season...until now. As I reflect on the days leading up to Jesus' crucifixion, I can't help but wallow in my own despair from those days. (It sounds pitiful, I realize, and Jesus' beating cannot be trivialized to my own rotten week.)

The week prior to Spring Break was one of the hardest I've experienced in a while. I made to hired a new RA staff and chose not to rehire any of my current staff, even though 4 out of 6 reapplied. (The other 2 are seniors.) Looking back, I think some of them expected to be hired again; some even reapplied at my encouragement! What I didn't know at the time, was that 15 people would apply, (3x as many as last year), which meant making tough decisions for that many more qualified, capable people for only 6 positions. This speaks volumes for the Admissions staff and the amazing recruitment they've been doing. I also like to think it reflects the current staff who have each raised the bar of Residence Life, creating an environment for residents to flourish.

I agonized over making the tough phone calls, and then proceeded to host a staff meeting later that evening with my current staff. Yikes. I knew they'd be upset, and I felt like a jerk. They congregated in the hallway, hesitant to come inside. I tried to make eye contact with each one as they sat down, and failed miserably. The carpet held their gaze - understandably so! I read Psalm 23, hoping it would offer some comfort and honest dialogue. Unfortunately, only awkward silence was produced. I called out the awkwardness, told them how sorry I was, and tried to affirm their disappointment. More silence. (I was shocked to find out later they took a "vow of silence," agreeing not to say a word to me during our 2 hours together. ouch.)

I left campus the next day for 2 days of staff development with my colleagues, only to return to campus with a note on my door from an unhappy resident who felt "offended" by a Residence Life sponsored program that was meant to encourage her to listen to God in the silence, and a rather angry email from an unhappy RA.

Instead of processing either event, I avoided dealing with them by cutting a student's hair - he raised close to $100 dollars before finally agreeing to chop it. It was longer than mine was, and the money went to his Cambodia fund - awesome! The slogan was "more $$ raised = less luscious locks."

I escaped to Grants Pass last Thursday evening as close to 5pm as possible. I didn't return until Monday night. I stretched my off-campus adventure as long as I could to soak up every last minute of sitting on the couch in my sweats with my book, a sleeping bag, TLC on tv, and our family dog at my feet. I enjoyed mom's cooking (as always), a free washer and dryer (as always) and a dishwasher (as always)!

I felt sufficiently rested, that is, until I pulled onto campus, and the pit in my stomach came back. All my responsibilities immediately returned and I quickly admitted I wasn't ready for any of them. I walked past some students in the lounge and couldn't figure out why they didn't leave for the break. (Call me selfish, but I was looking forward to a quiet dorm where I could spread out in the Rug Room, which I call my living room, and veg in front of the huge flat screen tv.)

I worked all week in the office and also spent a significant amount of time reading various work-related articles at Starbucks to appease my cabin fever. Even though the dorm was fairly quiet, I took every opportunity to leave campus. I watched several movies, went out to dinner, and even drove to Newberg for the day.

I'm glad I'm not "on-call" this weekend, because I don't feel pressured to open my door for visitors.

For the first time, I've come to grips with the fact that I cannot do this job forever. I simply do not have the 'right' responses for tough conversations. There are times when silence is all I know and it's still not enough. I say the wrong things or not enough of the right things. I hold awkward staff meetings when maybe I should just cancel them. I'm living and learning and making mistakes.

It's times like these that I daydream about living off campus someday, and having a job with some sort of normalcy... and yet I still feel called here. I'm unconvinced that my life will ever be "normal." The funny thing is I wouldn't have it any other way. :)

Church today was all about vision. We explored 1 Kings and studied the way Elijah prayed with such expectancy and anticipation. He knew God would set his water-drenched altar on fire when he called on Jesus' name. Elijah's vision accompanied his relationship with the Maker. I'm encouraged to hold fast to the vision God has given me for NCC, even when I'm burnt out. Emotionally drained. Exhausted. Needing a longer Spring Break and an actual break.

Out of death comes life. Oh, Lord, I pray for new life, energy, and enthusiasm for the last 6 weeks of school. I am so grateful that You did not stay dead. You rose out of the grave so I might have "real and eternal life, more and better life than [I've] ever dreamed of." -John 10:10, The Message