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

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hippies and Rainbows

A loud knock on the window startled me from my blogging state at my second-favorite coffee shop.

I turned, meeting the gazes of 4 or 5 smiling hippies. Pink hair, piercings, tight pants, dreadlocks.

One of them made eye contact, pointed to a bumper sticker he was holding against the glass, and gave me a thumbs up. It read: "Now is all you have."

I smiled and resumed typing.

The sun quickly gave way to a down pour. I turned again, and watched as two of the hippies danced in the rain. They held to each other tightly, twirling under the raindrops. They both paused under a tree branch, tipped their heads back, letting the drops crash on their cheeks and chin.

I've sat at this window many times, marveling at the bright colors of Eugene. Raincoats, umbrellas, face paint, the purple overhang of the store across the street, hairstyles, flowing scarves, woven purses, even the elderly woman sitting at the opposite table with her box of sharpened colored pencils. She diligently sketches seed pods, carefully examining their intricate parts.

The sun made an appearance again, revealing one of the brightest rainbows I've ever seen. Conversations hushed as patrons peered out the window.

The colored pencil woman wondered out loud what the different colors meant and suggested they might mean something different for everyone.

As for me, they renew a promise that was made long, long ago.


"Are you sabbath-ing?"
In an effort to hold me accountable to my day off (every Thursday), a couple students have committed to checking up on me, which has also turned the word "Sabbath" into a verb. :)

I need the accountability - I snuck into the office today for an hour. Though I was extremely productive, I was advised to leave as quickly as possible and take care of myself.

So, I treated myself to a manicure and pedicure.
Most of the time, I neglect my hands and feet. Besides, the smattering sunny weather inspires me to wear sandals.

I'm reminded why I don't frequent nail salons:
  • It's expensive.
  • It reeks of polish and remover.
  • Hollywood's "Inside Scoop" blasted from the tiny television, spilling gossip about Angelina & Brad's 5th baby, the recent Spitzer scandal, and other useless 'public' knowledge about other people's private business
  • I actually don't like the way my fingernails look when they are painted. (But the massage-part is always worth it)
  • The owner's much-too-small dog (can I even call it a dog?) was wearing a red sweater and roamed freely.
  • I always get asked by the salon girls if there is "someone special" in my life. When I say "no," they usually say something like "Well, you're just so sweet. Don't worry about it, dear."
Regardless of the experience, my feet are ready, even if it's not quite sandal weather.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

To Walk Like Truth

" walk like truth through a world of fiction because you are a woman."

These lyrics by Brett Dennen gripped me this evening as I sit at my new favorite coffee shop. (The white mochas come in a mug, and they taste better than Starbucks.)

I feel compelled, convicted, and confused.


It was supposed to be a small birthday party.
It turned into a rager.
Several freshmen attended.
Several others attended.
Things quickly escalated.
Things got out of hand.
People drank.
A lot.
People threw up.
People passed out.
They were carried to their dorm rooms.
They kept it quiet for a while.
Students talked.
Students posted pictures.
I heard about it.
I did something about it.

With my recent, intense desire and conviction to speak Truth, I couldn't not do something. I've felt so compelled to live a life of Truth and Purity. I have a burning urge to speak with greater boldness and urgency.

In every discussion I had with these residents, I communicated my heart to them. I explained that I'm not concerned with broken rules, just that I care about them. I love them. I want to see them live their lives in a way that glorifies the King. It's easy for me to say and it's not easy for them to receive. If they don't care about God, why would they want to live their lives any differently? I think if they knew Jesus, they would.

There has been quite a buzz around campus; many people are upset that they got called into our office.
As part of a Residence Life awareness activity, a few controversial statements were posted in a hallway with lots of foot traffic. Each statement left room for people to agree or disagree.

One such statement was:
"Consuming alcohol is usually not a good idea"

Responses varied:
"It's usually not a good idea when you don't know who you slept with the night before."
"This is school, not church."
"Stop treating us like kids - why do you care what we do off campus? It's our business."

A student explained to me that not everyone cares that I care. I was feeling discouraged; I was acting out of pure love for my residents and not only did they NOT get it, they didn't even want to get it.

It's so hard to be a "pioneer" to stand up for what I know is right, especially since it's never been addressed in the past. People are mad because they were caught and they used to get away with it. I feel like I'm trailblazing. Making a new path. It's a lot of work and often it's barely noticeable. A few are trampling down the grass behind me. Most are passing me up on the other path - it's easier to follow and much more popular.

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. - John 3:20-21

You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. - Psalm 90:8

He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. - 1 Corinthians 3:10

I remember my parent's advice when I pleaded "injustice" when I got scolded: "Life isn't fair"
And as they warned me about peer pressure, "What is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right."

Thanks, mom and dad.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Moment of Truth
"The game itself is very straightforward. The contestant will be hooked up to a lie detector and asked 21 questions, each one becoming more personal than the next. If the contestant answers honestly and the lie detector confirms this, then he or she moves on to the next question. If all 21 answers pass the test, the contestant will then walk away with $500,000.
FOX leaves little doubt as to the nature of the show. The appeal of The Moment of Truth lies in watching people face uncomfortable questions about their personal lives-- questions they might lie about in other circumstances. Contestants must juggle the value of personal secrets against the desire for a quick cash payout. Adding to the stakes will be the presence of spouses, co-workers, family, and friends that will be sitting in the audience.
A new game show from Fox will pit contestants against a lie detector. All you have to do is truthfully answer questions like "Have you ever cheated on your wife?" in front of a studio audience, and you, too, could win up to $500,000!

Do your friends and loved ones tell you the truth? What deep, dark secrets are they hiding from you?"

I was hanging out with a few friends and they were talking about their new addiction to this particular TV show. I hadn't ever seen it before, so I sat quietly and listened. Hearing them talk about this show left me feeling disgusted and sad.

And then I "happened" upon this verse: Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. -2 Timothy 2:16

Why can't it be Friday?

Is today only Tuesday? You'd think I was a college student anxious for Spring Break...

Today, even more-so than other days, I was anxious to kick off my heels and pull on my sweats. Days like today, I'm also reminded of how thankful I am for the school cafeteria - just steps down the hall from my apartment. Though not always pleased with the quality of the food, I am completely delighted with its accessibility. I really am spoiled by no grocery shopping, no prepping, and no cleanup-ing.

Isn't it strange how sitting for so long actually makes you tired and just makes you want to sit even more? I've sat through 14 hours of interviews in the past 2 days. I was tired of sitting at 5:45pm and now all I want to do is sit some more.

We're deep into the Student Leader selection process for next year and it's very different to be on this side of the decision-making. I'm thrilled that there are 15 students applying to be RAs, as opposed to only 5 last year - it does, however, make for some difficult decisions.

I could use prayer for wisdom and discernment. Final selections will be made Friday!

In other news...I'm sad to report that only Poppet has survived. The other 2 chickies died a mysterious death and are buried in a small box outside my back door. I even topped the dirt mound with three pink flowers (I plucked them from a nearby bush).

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Tale of 3 Chicks

Imagine my surprise when I was blindfolded, put in the backseat, and then presented with a small cardboard box that chirped. I shrieked, took off my blindfold, and then melted as I unfolded the cardboard flaps. Three tiny chicks stared up at me. I cuddled all three of them as we drove back to campus.

It started as an inside joke - I told her she might get to see some wild turkeys when she came to my parent's house with me for Christmas. She kept getting them confused with chickens... and then bought me four, small, plastic chickens which I promptly displayed on top of my refrigerator. I borrowed one chicken for a game (much to her dismay), and it accidentally got thrown in the garbage (I should have listened to her).

She kept saying she was going to replace that chicken. Well, she replaced them x 3: PJ, Poppet (think "Pirates of the Carribean:" 'ello, Poppet), and Peetie.

The babies stayed under a heat lamp in my office all day, and their obnoxious (not in a bad way) chirping piqued the curiosity of many passerbys.

Aren't they soooooo adorable?!

(Click here to read the full story)