Sunday, December 21, 2008

thought pattern

i hate when i'm absent from blogging, yet for some reason, i struggle to log in and put the ideas from head onto "paper." tonight, i created my own coffee shop in my kitchen in order to escape the frigid temperatures outside. with the oven on and open for extra warmth, my favorite candle lit (cranberry mandarin), a hot drink at my side, and loud christmas music in the background, one would think that i was prepared for an evening of writing; for the blog; for grad school. i've been sitting here for about an hour; thinking. about my day. about my year. about what next year is about to hold--endings in site; new beginnings, new challenges ahead. thinking about friends: one going through a rough time (Lord, please heal her heart), one stepping bravely into her past (Lord, please protect her from lies), one still mysterious in many ways (Lord, what the heck?). thinking about churches and foster children; lifetime movies and work to be done tomorrow. i should be thinking about what motivated me to be a teacher and why grad school would help me accomplish my personal and professional goals. but grandpa comes to mind, and then grandma which of course leads to thinking of the holiday this week. my grandma and i share a love for the same christmas carol. i love to worship from my inner most being. i love when i allow myself to write freely. i love to tell stories. to paint detailed pictures in the listener's mind. can i write freely in an essay for entrance to grad school? wish i could just sing for them. alas, singing has very little to do with teaching. motivation for teaching? i think i'll go play the guitar.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

i finally met the neighbors today. you know, the ones across the street that i see coming and going quite often. yhis was not a Bree Vandekamp welcome to the neighborhood. there were no muffins involved; not even one piece of fruit. even my smile was unreturned, but at least she sort of shook my hand. she told me her name and gestured at her husband who was loading something into their car. then she pointed out their house (as if I didn't know which house it was) and proceeded to explain that they were held-up, at gunpoint, in their garage on friday.

"we're just trying to let everyone know," she said in a somewhat shell-shocked tone.

the semi-mothering side of me kicked in with "are you okay" and "do you need anything", but she just continued to say, "we just want people to know."

i'm not oblivious to the kind of neighborhood that i've chosen to live in. Iive seen a drug deal go down on the corner. i wonder if this couple knew or if they were deceived by the beauty of it's tree-lined streets. i am both saddened and scared, mostly with them. but what has haunted me since the conversation this afternoon: it took a horrible situation for neighbors to finally meet. when neighbors can't be neighbors or choose not to be neighbors: that's when evil sneaks into the garage.

like a stab to the heart...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

when "pick" really means "choose"

I have never been pumpkin picking. My roommate, her sister, and I made the trek out to a semi-local farm that advertises "pick your own pumpkin" in order to partake in one of their family's traditions: pumpkin carving. As we drove down the field-lined highway, the excitement swelled in me; probably from the small town side of my soul. Thanks to the jedi-light-sabered-air traffic controlling-men, we found a parking spot with hitting any small children or oversized pumpkins that were being carted around the parking lot. We found our way to the giant stack of giant pumpkins...yes both the pumpkins and the stack were giant (sorry no photos)...and then to the pumpkins that were much easier to carry to the car. My companions immediately started walking up and down the aisles, looking for pumpkins with the perfect shape and the right stem. I tried to focus on the hints and tips they were giving me, but the country girl in me wanted to walk out into the field and pick a pumpkin, which the farm had advertised that you could do. It didn't take much convincing to get the ladies to saunter to the field with me; all the while envisioning myself pulling a pumpkin off the vine. Imagine my dismay when, at the field's edge, the pumpkins were already picked. More than at the field's edge, they were picked in the field's center and all the way to where the field faded into dirt. This farm did not mean that you pick, as in take directly from the vine. They meant that you could walk out into the field and pick, as in choose, your pumpkin. So I bought into the methods of my friends. I scrutinized the size and shape and stem. Instead of the from the field, my pumpkin came from the $9 row just beneath the giant tower of giant pumpkins

Sunday, November 09, 2008

girls on the run 5k

Molly and I nearing the end - 35.07 was our time!

Katy and Rebekah
After the race, freezing and hungry, but we made it!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008

top fifteen things i like to do with my super cute friends

15. Associating cuss words with squirrels
14. Your mom or Your mom's?
13. In my mind, I'm already there
12. Sleepovers
11. Playing Loaded Questions
10. Being super cute
9. Filling bedrooms with random, small, really hard to clean up items, like tinsel or oversized inflatable pumpkins.
8. Lighting, or rather, putting out, accidental fires
7. "Demons, come out!"
6. Ringing the butler
5. "We" ness
4. What Lawanda would engrave on her bowling ball
3. Hyperventilating while listening to stories of hyperventilation
2. Discussing taxation without representation
1. Eating pancakes with Aunt Jamima

*Note: This blog is based solely on the inside jokes relevant to 7 individuals. My apologies to those of you who are not those 7 individuals, but it was necessary.

**Double note: This is the 200th post on yeah, like the fish!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

and the award goes to...

The picture below entitled "lost" won second place in the photo show. Thanks to a stellar model, Mr. Jaron Rohde, for being himself (aka driving his mother crazy by being a dare devil marine that climbed in all kinds of really dangerous places on the cliff overlooking the ocean, but at one point taking a break to stare deeply at the ocean providing the perfect photo opportunity for the less couragous.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

glimpses of a month on hiatus

assigning rooming lists
updating registrations
late late nights
extra early mornings
a new roommate
getting settled
a sisterly visit
becoming a Charbroil "expert"
grilling pineapple, chicken, and bread
270 students gathering to meet God
the comfort of an old staff worker's voice
the wisdom in another's words
praying with students
counting money
stuffing nametags
58 new emails in one day
a photo show
Backyardigans Live

and somewhere in there, a personal life...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

If you will take a moment to remember: when I first blogged about california, I mentioned that it was to be a time of taking risks; doing things that I wouldn't normally do. Well, I did something that, according to me, was highly uncharacteristic. I had decided before leaving St. Louis that I was going to do it, but waited until my trip was about to end before following through with it. Throughout the days just prior, my stomach would turn with butterflies as I would think about what I was about to do. And just before, I thought I was going to pass out...thank goodness for Christin.

Just after I did it, I was on a natural high..."oh my gosh, look what I just did!" About 6 hours later, I went through a guilty "oh crap what did I just do?" My friends in Denver assured me it was cute and shipped me home with thoughts of shocking people...ya know, showing my fiesty kind of rebellious side (if that side even exists within me).
The surprise never came. My closest friends didn't even notice. I had a conversation with my good friend Jen for almost 20 minutes and then had to say something to her before she did the "oh my gosh". Apparently it looks completely normal; as if I've always had it.
It's been a month now...I like it a lot...and a couple people have noticed and said so...props to Neil, Angela, Amy Schoepf and Steve...Look at the picture. Do you see it?
Turns out my perception of self doesn't really match others' perception of me. Hmmmm...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

it's not just a couch

it’s not just a couch
it’s a hug on a bad day
it’s safety during sleep
it’s a hot cup of tea

it’s not just a couch
it’s a place where friends meet
it’s where tears fall
it’s where laughter abides

it’s not just a couch
it’s change
it’s giving up and giving in
it’s a journey to a new self

it’s not just a couch
it’s a life
it’s letting go of pieces of the soul
it’s saying goodbye
in order to say hello

I think it has been established that I am a nostalgic person. My heart attaches quickly to memories and things that provoke emotion. I'm am driven by what moves me. I choose art based on what I can relate to; what means something to me. Scripture speaks to me when it posesses the same characteristics.

In the most recent case, the object was a couch. Ironically, I had only had this couch a year, but I had fallen in love with its long brown lines and the way it would embrace me at the end of the day. I bonded with it over Lifetime movies and ice cream and cuddled with my nephew on it.

I bought it at a rather large benefit yard sale shortly after my last roommate moved out. Maybe I was nesting, maybe I was growing up. Regardless, I was on a tirade to make my home feel like a home and that couch fit perfectly against my wall. The part of me that thrives on being independent, that doesn't think to ask for help, that takes on the world attached to that couch.

For various reasons, there isn't room in my house for that couch anymore. It would fit in one space, but would not fit in path to get it there. Unexpectedly, the couch went to the curb yesterday. I'm trying to shirk this independence thing. Trying to ask for help; to delve into community. It's much harder than I imagined. Slowly, it's being widdled away, and yesterday, a part of it left with the couch. Through the tears (and the pain), I can't help but see there's more room in my living room (and in my heart) for what is to come.

it's just a couch, but it's not just a couch....

Friday, September 05, 2008

betty crocker strikes again!

My grandma was once upon a time Miss Betty Crocker, meaning she won an award. I think it runs in the genes...look what I made last night for a bridal shower!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Research complete. The REAL reason for my writing tonight is somewhat of a rant. Let me preface this by saying that none of my statements are meant to hurt or offend anyone; they merely observations and questions made in my own little world.


While Elizabeth was slaving over dinner, Jake and I entered into the world of The New Facebook. The new wall, the new tabs, and dislocation of it all left us, or rather me, feeling like a new computer user. It will get better, I know, with time. What won't change though is the fact that I have 445 friends. Did you hear that? FOUR HUNDRED FOURTY-FIVE. Now, I realize that many many people have more friends that I do, but as I look through the list of "friends" I'm shocked by what I actually find:

Of my 445 friends:
25 of them are actually my current friends (meaning I have regular conversations with them)
80 of them are people I loved in college, but just don't have enough time to keep up with them regularly
90 of them are people I haven't talked to in 2 or more years
45 of them are people that I have spent 1 or less weeks with in my life
30 of them are people I went to high school with
7 of them are people I've never even held a conversation with!!!!
55 of them are from my church
41 of them are my coworkers
62 of them are random....meaning they didn't really fit into any of the other categories

I would be completely silent about the fact that all of these people have friended me (or visa versa) if avenues of communication were actually be opened in the process....but they're not. I talk to those 25 friends regularly. I e-mail with my coworkers. I see the church people at church. I rarely facebook with these people.

As for the people that I've spent very little time with, never held a conversation with, or not talked to in years...if facebook isn't helping us communicate, nothing will.

In reality, it's really only the 80 people in college that I loved, but don't have time to keep up with regularly that make facebook worth it...
I'm currently in Denver in the last 24 hours of my trip. Jake, Elizabeth, and I are watching Olympics, and I'm doing a bit of research for my next blog entry. Jake is being impatient and nagging about when I'm going to get it finished so that he can read it. I think he's nervous that I might say something that will make his mother think he is giving the family a name opposite that of which I normally give them.....

Be patient's coming...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

finding myself after years of wandering

author's note post-blog: I have never blogged in a way that reveals such detailed depth into my soul. this is a long, personal, reflective piece. something I would normally only write in a journal. as I have invited you into this post, I invite you to continue in prayer with me over the matters of which I have written....

I've spent months gearing up; weeks saying " at this time in three weeks, I'll be in...(the appropriate CA location)" This trip to California has been a long-awaited dream; even the work portion an escape from the reality of the busy-ness that left me in pieces this past year. The vacation clock is now winding down, and in between fun explorations, I find myself whispering, "Next week at this time, I will be pushing through financial reports, making conference plans, writing PE lessons, etc., etc., etc." It sounds sad, and while it may be a bit sad that I have to leave the vacation stage of life, I'm welcoming the return. But I return looking at my life from a different perspective.

Up until a few years ago, I had always had this plan...I had a passion...I had a goal...and I was going to make a difference, dang it! God had other plans and in the midst of those, I found myself feeling like one of those stereotypical twenty-somethings with no direction and no spoken purpose. Ashamed to speak to people about my so called job...or myriad of jobs, I pulled back from places where I would have to explain myself. Much like Habbakuk reflecting on God carrying Israel, I find God all over those few years of my life, and I can see how I've grown in tremendous ways. One thing that continues to nag at me is where my passion really lies. In the process of losing and refinding myself, I somehow started to believe that my passions had to be found completely in my giftings; and that if I wasn't doing something I was passionate about, then I must not actually really have that at-the-core-have-to-do-something-to-fix-the-ache-passion. Without passion, I feel, not useless, but purposeless...and without purpose life becomes this mundane, although very hectic, thing that I do. Like I'm existing, not living.

I DON'T WANT TO JUST EXIST! As I boarded that plane two weeks ago, I asked God to show me specifically where that desire is within guide me toward what tugs at my heart. Not what I'm good at....not what I CAN be good at, but what Papa has placed within me.

Instead of soul-searching; instead of turning to myself in desperation for the answers, I found my answers in the streets of Oakland where God reminded me of the injustice that once broke my heart and spurred me to think beyond my own bubble. I found more answers sitting in the White House in Fresno as Randy described moving into a life away from his degree and praying that the Lord would use it someday. Many years later, God not only used it, but aligned it perfectly with the path Randy was on. God knew...God knows...I just need to keeping asking and waiting patiently. (Side Note: Although Randy and I have really only known each other about a year, this is not the first time God has spoken to me through's fun to see these things play out.)

Justice. Prayer. Patience. "Less general, more specific, Lord?" God responded by showing me this couple, who with open hands, left everything behind, and moved to California to care for the "orphan" only to have their reality stripped and rebuilt by God in a matter of days. I've been around people who foster and adopt and "adopt" neighborhood kids as their own for several years. It's not new to me, and it certainly is something I've been interested in for many years now. Somehow while playing Sorry with a six year old boy caught in the midst of the foster care system, I realized what really breaks the chords of my heart. Maybe it was the way he referred to his foster mom as "mom" and talked about her favorite color. Maybe it was the poem, framed and hanging in plan sight, that his 11 year old brother had written her for mother's day. Maybe it was his super cute little brother who would stumble backwards and fall to the ground in an attempt to play dead. These boys and the stories of my little friends back home break my heart and bring me great joy all in one.

"God, what will you do with this?"

Couple these things with a conversation and a new friendship that has been forcing me to think out of my normal thought pattern. Unexpected questions that have made me question myself in areas I was already questioning myself, but looking at them through the lenses of an outsider. "Why do I love the city?" Diversity? Amenities? Seeing God at work in something so broken? Witnessing visible justice? Yet, I find my greatest connection to God in nature. Why wouldn't I want to put myself in the place where I am most consistently and obviously in His presence? Because I love the city....I can do what God has called me to here...this is what He called me to...this IS what he called me to...this is what He called me to? What DID He call me to? And what did I call MYSELF to? (ouch)

The answer: He did call me to St. Louis, but I buried God's agenda underneath of my own. I came to heal when in reality, I needed healing. God knew.

The quest for passion: my heart breaks for the child that comes from extreme brokenness; from extreme poverty; from families that either don't care or don't have the means to take care of them. I burned out very quickly when I first moved to St. Louis because A) I was trying to do it all of my own accord and B) it wasn't taking the form that God wants it to take. The burnout disguised itself as lack of passion.

The reality: These children are everywhere...I can go anywhere..I can be rural...I can be urban...I can even be (wince ever so slightly) suburban?

God is giving me pictures...a passion reignited?

The quest for purpose: I'm not in a place at this moment where I can see God directly using this passion, but I hear Him reminding me that I am where He wants me to be for now. And in this place, I have purpose. In Him, I have purpose. It is not driven by passion, but by love and trust.

As if all of this wasn't enough, God met me one more time. Two days ago, my good friend and her husband left me alone in their condo while they visited a close relative recovering from surgery. After they left, I rummaged through my backpack, emerged with a stack of receipts, and set out to finish a major portion of a financial report for work. As I sorted the receipts into shorter stacks, my eye caught the guitar in the corner of the room. The thick dust it's voice just begging to be touched. I approached it as a child sneaking to the cookie jar. Within minutes, it was sitting with it in my lap, the computer blaring guitar for beginners next to us, and my fingers fumbling for Am7, Em7, and Bm7.

Yet another passion reignited? There is music within me that more than longs to come out.

I still have four days and one more stop on this westward journey. These reflections have come early, but really they feel four years in the making. Now, I pray and wait. Pray and wait.

Lord, what will you have with what you have shown?

Monday, August 04, 2008

can you guess what I did for 15 hours today?

This is Mickey's phone found on Mickey's desk in Mickey's house in Toontown. Incidentally, 5677 is also the last four digits of my parent's phone number, the number I grew up with....

Saturday, August 02, 2008

yes...i'm STILL in california...

The posts have been few since the boogie boarding as I've mostly just continued to boogie board and love the beach. Ma and Pa Rohde got a baby-sitter one evening and I "took" them to one of the most beautiful places I have ever been (it was my only request for my stop on the Central Coast), Montana de Oro.

The last time I was there, a friend and I sat with our feet dangling over the cliff and arms resting on the fence who has the precarious job of keeping the curious from falling into the ocean. The sun, low on the horizon, swirled its pinks and purples around the sky and danced them on the ocean like a thousand little fairies. The incoming tide sent waves crashing high against the rocky shoreline at the foot of the cliff. Beautiful and menacing all at once. The whales in the distance perfected the picture as we sat in awe of the creation before us.

The sunset wasn't quite the same. The whales were replaced by otters and lizards, but Montana de Oro once again shown in the beauty of the sunset. It held it's place in my heart as one of the most awe-some places I have ever been.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

look what I did today!!

I'm the top one with the boogie board.

Above: That's me! Ridin' a wave!!

Below: Instructor Jaron and me after an afternoon of waves.

Chillin' with the Rohdes

Back in the college days, I had this friend named Joel. One weekend, Joel took me to his family's home in the metropolis of Wilton, IA. I had heard stories of this lively family, but even those couldn't have prepared me for what I was to enter into. Mark and Lisa, whom I occasionally affectionately refer to as Ma and Pa Rohde, greeted me with open arms, offered to do my laundry, and fed me extravagantly all weekend. In addition to Ma and Pa and Joel, there was Jake (a humorous, baseball-loving, high school senior), Jaron (a pig-collecting freshman), and Jase (honestly, your typical 8th grade boy that sat in the back of a van and poked me incessently). All of the boys were active in many sports which warranted the "Don't mind the nut cups, we use them as candy dishes around here" comment Lisa made within the first five minutes I was in her house. Within days I discovered this quirky family loves Jeopardy, Mario Kart, baseball, and trampolines. That weekend was only a small taste of their hospitality. Two years later, they converted their backyard into a campsite for about 20 college students!

That weekend forged a realtionship much unexpected. I've gotten to hang out around through weddings and babies and transitions. Seven years later, Mark and Lisa live in California where God has called them as advocates and caregivers for foster children. Joel married his college sweetheart, incidently so did Jake. Jaron is a committed marine, and Jase is still a somewhat annoying, but highly loveable college coed.

I can't imagine a trip to California that didn't include a trip to their house, and just as I thought, Ma Rohde has fed me extravagently, offered to do my laundry, and ordered me to relax. It's always great to spend time with family on the other side of the "world."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

the fresno leg of the journey

Both yesterday and today have been spent with the folk of Frenso Institute for Urban Leadership ( Fiful is the parent "organization" for all of IV's urban stuff going on in Fresno...the summer internship, the week long plunges, the weekend dips, and the 10 month Pink House (as well as a few other things). Fresno has the highest number of concentrated poverty in the nation, and ya know what? God is at work here! There is no way of denying it. I've not yet seen an inner city so full of non-profits, churches, and relocators that are committed to their neighbors. Committed to revitalization. Committed to the shalom of the city.

My stop here in Fresno has mostly been about listening and learning. I have a lot more processing to do which means I'm not really in a great state to write.

I will say, however, that I can't believe how much humidity really effects the way weather feels. It's been in the mid to upper 90s here (same as St. Louis). We've done a fair amount of walking, and I've yet to actually sweat. In St. Louis, I would be drenched! And they have these really cool things called "swamp coolers." Apparently they put humidity into the air and help cool down the house/building. They don't work in humid environment hence the reason I had never heard of them.

That's the short update for tonight. More to come as I process and travel on...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

from 77 to 100 degrees in 3 hours

Today was mostly uneventful. I went to church with Josh and Margie. They go to a small church located in their community in Oakland. I wouldn't say that their actual church service spoke to me, but their sense of community and they way they live it out is very attractive. Throughout my stay in Oakland, Josh and Margie would refer to community meals, invite people from the community to do various things, and even had housemates. There is just a genuine sense in the air that they need each other, and is evident in their actions.

After church, I said goodbye to the Harpers and to Oakland and headed out toward the mountains in my little rental. As I drove through them and on to the other side, I watched the thermometer in the car climb from 77 to 100 degrees, all the while wishing it were just a dream.

The dry grass transformed the mountains into sand dunes to these midwestern eyes. And I marveled at the long roads lined by tall palm trees.

I arrived at the White house in Fresno, a house and people that I had read about in books. To walk in the front door, to sit at the dinner table, to simply be felt as though I had stepped into the book; as if I were a character on the fringes.

I'm excited to see what I will learn here, to get a brief glimpse at the amazing way the Lord is working in Fresno, and to sit at the feet of a very wise couple for a short time.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

if you're going to san francisco...

I awoke to the sun in my eyes this morning, like a small child standing at your bedside begging for attention. It took me a moment to remember where I was…oh yeah, in West Oakland in a house owned by World Impact with another of the IV teams. I had arrived the night before and spent some time learning about what their project site is all about before delving into a riveting game of Outburst Junior. Although this team was not as eager to share or ask questions, I did learn that they spend their days with kids and participate in many of the community events and happenings that World Impact sponsors; one of those being a community breakfast which I attended this morning.

When we arrived at the World Impact building, we were greeted enthusiastically by Hendrick. The stories of this man, shared the night before, had left me thinking of him as a bit insane, in a non-threatening way of course. Meeting him in person did nothing to dispel those thoughts. When he spotted the IV team coming up the sidewalk, Hendrick threw open the door and then his arms, spouting off rapid little hellos as each intern passed through. Without saying anything, he grabbed my hand and did a version of a secret handshake as if I were to know it. It wasn’t until another moment in the morning that we actually exchanged words, the gist of them being “Oakland needs me.”

We worked our way out back to the patio/playground where about 20 people, many homeless, were waiting to be let in the gate. Hendrick unlocked it, greeted everyone, said a prayer, and stepped back as they did a half run half walk to get to the line. Hendrick remained at the gate, attempting to greet them as they flew by in eagerness for the meal. I was not able to stay long, but just long enough to find out that Hendrick had started cooking the breakfast at midnight, and that one of the volunteers had come to Berkley for graduate school from West Frankfort, Illinois, a small town outside of St. Louis.

I saw San Francisco today. Josh and I started at Twin Peaks, the highest point in the city. The view from the top was an essential introduction to the city as you could see from ocean to bay. After driving the streets, we stopped at The Painted Lady houses, a television icon for my generation. Golden Gate park shined as the home of the botanical gardens, two art museums, a Chihuly exhibit, and a plethora of tall palm trees. The path through the park led us to the ocean—one of only a handful of times I’ve seen the clear water. We fought the hordes of tourists, cyclists, and joggers at the Golden Gate Bridge to find ourselves at the center of the rusty red structure discussing people who commit suicide in its arms. God redeemed that conversation by showing us a dolphin, a rare sighting in the area. The last leg of our journey was through the Haight-Ashbury District and down Lombard: the Crookedest Street in the World.

Josh left me at Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 where I discovered WWII vessels including a submarine and a ship built by women, clam chowder, sea lions, and the bushman. I hopped over to Ghiradelli Square, and then walked to Chinatown and Union Square. After exploring the 4-story Old Navy, I rode the bart (UNDER THE BAY!!!) back to my 24 hour home in West Oakland.

The team I am bunking with had gathered around the table for dinner. Though I wasn’t hungry, the opportunity to sit and for fresh water was most welcome. We discussed our days and chocolate before the team members scattered. I was not a quick to move and soon found myself at the table with the two team leaders processing some of the heavier team dynamic issues that are often brought up during the last weeks of an urban project.

I am ending the day completely exhausted, yet satisfied on a mattress at Josh and Margie’s house in the heart of Oakland.

Tomorrow it’s on to Fresno.

Friday, July 25, 2008

day two and risk one

Day Two in Oakland. I awoke to the most gorgeous weather in the world (I think??). Who knew that the Bay Area was actually 60s-70s most of the time in the summer? I sure didn’t, and have been delightfully surprised. Josh gave me the tour of Oakland today. We drove up what I think was part of a mountain…or maybe a really large hill…to an incredible view of the city, from West Oakland, downtown, and East Oakland out to the bay and the islands beyond.

We had lunch with one of the IV teams at a homeless shelter/residential rehab program. The interns actually live in the building with the residents. They help with the shelter for the homeless in the evenings, work in the learning center during the day, attend AA meetings, and all sorts of other pretty amazing things. I love the unique way these students become meshed with the ministry they are working with. They don’t go home when their day is over. They minister IN their home. I imagine it can be challenging and overwhelming at times, but what a way to form trust and community. To say, yes, I’m going to live right here with you. I’m going to attend AA meetings with you, even though I have no idea what it is like to have an addiction. What an amazing testimony to God’s sovereignty when a black man off the street confides in a white college teenager, and the white college teenager can put his around the black man from the streets as a sign of commitment to relationship.

What a great picture of the gospel at work.

Josh has been trying to get his neighbor kids (who absolutely ADORE him) connected with the summer day camp that one of the UP sites is doing. Today, the camp took the kids to the beach, so Josh and I took his neighbor kids to the beach with them. It was fun to watch the faces of Diana, Lupita, Christopher, and Noe as they raced to the water’s edge and allowed the waves to lick at them! The beach was a fun experience for me as well as I have only been to one swimming in the ocean beach in my life. It was too cold to get in, but just dipping my toes was enough to satisfy my heart for this round of the trip.

I took my first out-of-the-ordinary risk tonight. Josh thought it would be fun to take a sunset bike ride. Josh happens to be a maniac cyclist…ya know, rides up mountains and such. After informing him of my fear of being hit by a car in the city streets and the fact I haven’t ridden my bike in over 3 years (not surprisingly due to the fact that I have a fear of city drivers), I made him promise to go slow and agreed to go. Josh rounded up some folk from him church and off we went. The first part of the trip was great. Side streets. Flat land. A beautiful lake in the city’s center. However, about halfway around the lake, I got stuck behind another bicyclist and eventually lost Josh and his companions. I happen to be good with directions so I wasn’t worried about being lost, but I was kind of surprised that they hadn’t looked out for me since I was the non-local. Just about the time that I was questioning what direction to go, Josh appeared and brought me back on board. Now I’d like to say that the rest of the ride was smooth sailing, but I can’t. While Oakland is not a hill-infested as San Francisco, it still has its share of hills, and I think Josh found a way to hit as many of those as he could. I really thought I was going to die.

It was all worth it though. I got to see a very beautiful sunset, take a peek at different parts of the city, and step towards conquering the fear of cars.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

landing elsewhere and taking risks

Today was the day. Six months of anticipation. Six weeks of gearing up, thinking ahead, moving, unpacking, packing, training new staff to fill in. Six hours of sleep last night. Six hours on a plane today.

I boarded bound for Oakland, and surprisingly landed in Los Angeles. There was nothing mentioned on my itinerary about LA, and I only had one boarding pass which I gave up when I walked the plank to the plane. Luckily, they do this really cool thing where they land in a city that you had no idea you were landing in and if you were actually going somewhere else on the same plane, you don’t have to get off. You get to experience the cleaning of the plane (which is actually kind of neat), walk around the plane, and pick a different seat!! (only on those airlines where you pick your seat to start out with). Before I knew it I was landing on what looked like the ocean, but quickly became land as the wheels hit the surface (yes, the run-way butts right up to the ocean…maybe a little scary?)

My goal for the next few days is to spend some time with Cap’n Josh and the folk of the Bay Area Urban Project. To learn. To experience. Experience, I will. I just spent some time (and will spend the night) with one of the BayUP teams in the heart of East Oakland where the neighborhood is a good blend of Latino and Cambodian. The team is living 8 in a two bedroom apartment. Two women (and myself tonight) sleep in the living room. Most of them work with kids programs during the day. They take turns cooking, spending time in community, and are hopefully getting a new picture of God’s heart for what the world deems as “the least of these.”

Good stuff.

I recently had my year end review for InterVarsity which included processing some of my personal life. I think the past 5 months or so have been about discipline and pursuing things that I wouldn’t normally do…taking some risks. I’m not a natural risk-taker. I stray from danger and pain, and cling to the straight road, sometimes sacrificing thrill, new experiences, and fun. I sense this changing in some respects. I did run a 5K (and there was plenty of pain to go along with it). I’ve lost 27 up some things I used to depend on. I’m leaving the life of independent living, and moving into a house with a friend.

In light of all of this processing, I’ve decided to make these three weeks in California risk taking weeks. To not think through things so deeply. To relax and enjoy. To experience that which I wouldn’t normally choose to engage in.

I can hear some of you cheering for me already! :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

smells, boxes, and strange animal sitings

This may seem a little gross to some, but it was a memory trigger for me so I'm going to share it with the world...or at least all 5 of you that read this blog.

I went for a run this afternoon during which I sweat through the back of my shirt. It's funny, the more times I run, the more I seem to sweat. I definately did not sweat as much when I ran the 5K (granted it WAS only 36 degrees that morning). Anyway, as the sun was setting (several hours after my run) I found myself adjusting the dirt around the base of the trees at my new house. As I was perfecting the mound, I caught a whiff of dry sweat caught in the fabrics of my clothes and before I could stop, my mind had me back on the sidelines of a Friday night high school football game. Mr. Defenbaugh at my side, yelling out numbers. Nate wheeling the ball down the field with perfect form thanks to the block Paul set. High fives, cheers, the smell of popcorn and sweat in the air. There's nothing like a small town Friday night football game...nothing.

Only two days until my move. I think everything but my toothbrush and computer are in a box. I worked really hard this weekend to finish packing all of the random things that are just laying around. This I did accomplish, but as I laid down for sleep, I felt surprisingly sad.

On a little more of a random note....they found a black bear up by my parents' house. It's a big deal as those kind of bears don't appear in that area. AND they caught a 6 foot long alligator in Lake of the Ozarks! Makes me rethink the swimming I do there!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

july prayer requests

Okay so I'm a bit behind as the first week of July has come and gone.

The interns are in their final two weeks at their sites. Pray that they will continue to engage with those around them and with each other despite the looming end. Pray that the Lord will use these last two weeks to make grace, mercy, and His heart for justice known in a very real way. Pray that as they go home, there will be at least one person who will want to know and understand their experience this summer. It can be a very lonely place to return to families and a campus that brush off what is most likely a life-changing experience.

InterVarsity Central Region
Our new to Kansas City team has just moved. Pray that they are able to make connections and establish homes.

I'm in the midst of big transition...moving to my new house...and then 9 days later leaving for CA for 19 days. While change doesn't bother me, having everything I own packed up in boxes that are just stacked around my house does. Pray that I can find rest among the chaos of my apartment and that the moving goes smoothly.

Also, I am about to relinquish my reign as the Queen of Part Time Jobs! September 1st is the official date that I will go full time with IV, however once I leave for vacation, my job that is busiest in the summer will be basically over. I'm getting antsy with anticipation of being able to focus on one area! Moreso, I'm looking forward to slowing down some. Please pray that in my desire to look ahead, I will see what is "now" and continue to do my current job well through the end.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I've been thinking a lot lately about the goodness of God. I gave a talk a couple of weeks ago about where God is in suffering and what our response to suffering should be. Suffering is something that my family knows well as it seems we have had more than our fair share of it. In writing that talk, I had a chance to look again at how good God has been to us.

I'm learning that He doesn't cause suffering, and He sure doesn't need suffering to make his purposes known, but that He uses these instances to push us. To give us a chance to experience the pain of growing to be more like Him. And in that process to come to know the freedom of His grace.

I think the most amazing thing about all of the suffering we've endured as a family: we still exist. It hasn't killed us. Sure, we each have our issues as the messiness effects each of us in a different way, but we are all still here...working through the crap...and mostly clinging to Jesus.

Psalms 119:50 says "My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise perserves my life."

In the midst of the brokenness, the crap, I often feel like I'm not going to make it. I wonder where God is and why he is once again allowing this type of experience into our lives. The cool thing? I can look back on past situations and see that God HAS perserved me. HAS protected my family. And in cool, often small, ways has redeemed us, healed us, showed us some of his grace.

I have this awesome, little nephew --okay he's not so little--that I believe to be one of those little gifts that has brought healing to our family. He entered this world in a fashion that resembled suffering, but as his story goes, God protected him so that he could bring reconciliation, a true understanding of love, healing to certain areas of our family. He's only three, and he's already changing the world. The goodness of God? I think so!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

thoughts for today

in my last entry, i mentioned trips down memory lane. i'm currently packing my life into boxes only to be stowed in the spare room until they can be whisked off to the land of my new residence. as i've dug to the back of my closet shelves and into boxes that have been sealed for years, the darn memories have impeded my progress. pictures of high school friends, letters from students, old year books and scrapbooks my mother spent hours making....

i stop every few minutes to read what falls into my lap--letters from those boys at camp, the articles I used to write for the college's never ending and very little is making it into the boxes.

however, we did paint my new bedroom today. calabash is the color. i like the cheerfullness it adds to the room.

and i'm in love with the new Jason Mraz album...i could listen to it for hours...oh wait, i already do!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

computers are dangerous. they promote procrastination in the most crucial of times. old journals can also be dangerous. refreshing in that they give you a glimpse at how you've grown; what you've made it through to get where you are now. but dangerous in procrastination and saunters down memory lane which we all know i'm getting quite good at. the good use of my time is fairly imperative at this moment, yet here i sit with a computer and several old journals. my attempts to build something worth sharing out of them --something that might be relevant to a bunch of college kids about to embark on 7 life changing weeks. i long for more than relevance. i want connection; understanding; challenge; encouragement. it's this longing that keeps me from putting words to paper; keeps me searching and connecting the pages of my journals. and every few minutes turning to my computer for a small distraction. procrastinate no more.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

requests for june

For those of you on my IV mailing list, the following is the prayer update I promised. For those of you not on my mailing list, let me know if you would like to be:

Pray for:
--CityLights..our 21 summer interns have now been on campus for a week. pray for them to bond as a team, and to have their eyes opened to God's heart for justice and mercy in the heart of the city.
--I have already been having some significant conversations with students. I do not want to break confidentiality, but I do want to share that during one conversation, I almost ran up the steps to find my supervisor who happened to be visiting because I was so scared. I kept thinking "I'm not campus staff. I don't know how to to have these hard, deep, thoughtfilled conversations." Instead I grabbed a Bible and engaged in the conversation. The Lord totally used me (somehow) and actually in those few moments rocked part of the picture that student had of Him!
--Continued conversations!
--I'm giving my first ever IV talk next Thursday evening. It's exciting, but a bit nerve-wracking too! Pray that I will communicate clearly what God has for this talk, and that I will not be nervous.
--On a personal note: my three year old nephew is coming to spend a week with me. I'm very excited, but this will be the longest he's been away from mom and dad. Please pray that he will be comfortable, maintain a routine of some sort, and have a great time!
--juggling work, upcoming CA trip, and house/apt move.

Friday, May 30, 2008

shooting the moon...

The score was 19-41. My inability to take risks had set us at the very beginning of the game, and now, we were one point, one hand, away from losing. The opening bids made their way around the table, coming to a halt when my father (who also happened to be my partner) said, “We’re going to shoot the moon in hearts.” I took a deep breath and exchanged my unsuitable cards for new ones as Norah Jones crooned “shoot the moon and missed completely” in my head. The tricks began. We took the first, and the second, and the third. With no more hearts to play, Raina went out. We took yet another trick, this time with the triple-pointing “3”. One more trick; Grandpa out. Dad held one more card. The jack, and the last of the points we needed! We shot the moon and landed! Coming from a 22 point deficit to win the game!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

totally fashionable

Being the anti-morning person I am, I often catch myself dressing last minute in the dark. I thought I looked especially cute today (at least I was feeling cute) so imagine my surprise when 6 hours after I had left my house, I looked down at a student that was near my feet and saw this:

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

so begin the mowing wars

I live in an L-shaped building (on the left in the picture) that faces another L-shape to make a U-shape with a big yard in the middle. When the spring rains come, the grass skyrockets. The two buildings are owned by different people which means that ownership of the lawn is also divided. Of course they have to use different lawn care services, and of course, those services don't mow on the same day. If you notice in the picture, the right side is freshly mowed while the left stands a good 2 inches high and is over run with dandelions.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Shack

Upon recommendation from a close friend, I picked up The Shack by William P. Young unsuspectingly excited about delving into a new read. With only four chapters left, I'm walking away astounded at the way Mack (the main character) met God and how Willie (the author) was so eloquently able to recapture the story. The question "Where is God on a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" permeates at the heart of Mack and God's interactions, continues right off of the pages, and penetrates the depths of my soul. The following are some snippets, but I highly recommend them in the full context of the book.

A bird's not defined by being grounded but by his ability to fly. Remember this, humans are not defined by their limitations, but by the intentions that I have for them; not by what they seem to be, but by everything it means to be created in my image. -Papa (God) to Mack

It's the one reason why experiencing true relationship is so difficult for you. Once you have a hierarchy you need rules to protect and administer it, and then you need law and enforcement of the rules, and you end up with some kind of chain of command or system of order that destroys relationship rather than promotes it. You rarely see or experience relationship apart from power. Hierarchy imposes laws and rules and you end up missing the wonder of relationship that we intended for you. -Jesus to Mack

Mack, just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn't mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don't ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about me. Grace doesn't depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

To lay in a white, wooden bunk bed next to an open window secretly listening in on the conversations of the birds. To perch on the bench on the hill overlooking the lake and sneak smiles at the turtles poking their heads above water. To hike the trail, in the rain. To find delightful little surprises like new ferns, ant hills the color of fire, the grandfather tree, the swamp. To wander in the forest and wonder at the creativity that came from our Creator. To experience some peace. To lavish rest. To find contentment for the soul.

Monday, April 07, 2008

memories from the womb

At one of the schools where I teach, I have a class of 4 and 5 year olds. In that class, I have a set of twin girls who are absolutely hilarious. The following is a a quote from a story that one of the girls was telling me this morning:

When we were in Mommy's tummy, Mommy would eat broccli and we would play catch with it. Then one day we decided we wanted to come out of Mommy's tummy. I said "I want to go down the big slide first." Sissy said, "No, I want to go first." Then I said, "No, I want to go first." Then Sissy said, "No, I do." So I said, "Okay, you can first." Then Sissy went "Weeeeeeeeeee," all the way down the slide. I went down the slide after her. I remember.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

mind. body. soul. it takes them all to run the race

It was a frosty morning. A large growl escaped me when my computer flashed the current 37 degrees outside. I wanted with all of my being to throw the covers over my head and escape back into my overactive dreams. But it was 6:15, my mind was awake, and the gun for the 5K would sound at 7:30. My alert mind jerked my body into action, and soon I was scraping the thin frostiness off my car and driving into the sunrise.

Since registering for the 5K, I had dreamed of what the race would be like; somehow I had thought that running with hundreds of other people would motivate me. That I would have some sort of supernatural energy spurring me around those runners in front of me. I failed to dream about the start and finish lines which became very quickly the most exciting points of the race for me. After using a quiet, warm corner of a close building to stretch and pray for protection from death (okay, I'm being a little melodramatic), I found my way to the starting line where I waited in anticipation with about 800 people.

Before I knew it, I was being squished by a whole lot of people I didn't know as we tried to herd ourselves through the relatively small entrance to the know, the one that triggers your chip to start recording time. The next moments are blurs of crowds, yellow-shirted volunteers, and really old worship songs that kept creeping into my head. It wasn't until the middle of Mile 2 that I really felt like I wasn't going to make it. It took everything I had to avoid plopping down onto the grass! Just as I was thinking that I was running too slow to make my 40 minute goal, a man passed very close to me and whispered, "You're doing a great job. Keep going." He didn't look at me. Didn't stop beside me. Just a simple word in passing followed by a thumbs up a few steps later. I caught my body picking up my pace, and my mind giving thanks to God for the middle of the race encouragement from a stranger.

As I finished Mile 3 and neared the finish line, I decided I didn't have it in me to pick up pace and finish any stronger than I was already running. However, I rounded the corner to the finish line and immediately heard my name "Go, Miss SALMOND!" It was Andrew and Katy and the kids. Just after spotting them, I noticed the finish clock said 34 minutes! My body must have extracted energy from the cheering and the clock as it picked up pace again without my even thinking about it.

My official chip time was 33:58, and I finished 192/567 women which is in the top third. My dreams of the race were nothing like what actually took place. It was much harder mentally than I thought it would be...much colder...and there was a greater feeling of accomplishment than I imagined! Would I do another? Ask me when my body has recovered. When my mind is fully prepared. When my soul needs that kind of nourishment.

Monday, March 31, 2008

when souls share secrets

It's beautifully dreary out today. The clouds have been hanging around all day; first with the sweet scent of rain and then with wet kisses turned into showers. I've only been gone for a few days, yet the city is showing it's yellows and whites; it's pinks and reds. The wet releasing the brillance of the colors. There isn't anything I don't love about spring. Crisp mornings, warm afternoons. Budding trees, blooming flowers. An ever-lurking smell of rain. Newness.

I chose to sit by the big picture window facing the street in an establishment on a local strip in attempt to unbury myself from work. The more the rain pounded down, the harder it was to focus. People scurried down the street; some caught by surprise in the rain; others prepared with their umbrellas. No matter whether they had checked the forecast this morning, everyone was hastily making their way to the safety of their cars or shops.

Everyone, except for one man.

I watched as he exited the establishment in which I was sitting. He turned and came out from under the awning. It was as if, in that moment, he just realized that it was raining. As if it had been sunny and clear all day. He started to smile in secret. The kind that escapes when something touches your soul and nothing can keep your joy from surfacing. In the same moment, he caught me watching him from the window. I fought off the instinct to look away and flashed him a smile...the kind that said, "I know your secret." His smile grew as he lifted his arms to side and mouthed the words, "it's raining" in my direction.

As he sauntered away, he removed the striped cap that had been keeping his shaved head dry. I was left with a smile and the knowledge that somewhere in this city, there is a soul that relishes the days like these just as much as mine. And for one moment, our souls got to share the secret.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


You should probably sit down (unless you already are). This is unexpectedly big like the Royals winning the World Series (or even having two winning seasons in a row); like having a black man and a woman vying against each other for election nomination; like Basil getting married...

At 5:34 pm today (Sunday, February 24th), I registered to run a 5K. A real one.

Just in case you forgot or are new to my blog - I HATE running, and I NEVER run outside. I also hate mornings and the run is at 7:30 IN THE MORNING!

So, on April 5th, I expect to see all kinds of shining faces along the course, cheering me on!
Today someone said this of me:

"You scurried around like a woodland creature in autumn, smiling all the while..."

Somehow I can't shake the picture of me with a rather squirrel-like tail from my head :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

the story revealed.

Due to the uprising of some of my readers(ehem, chris), I have (finally) woven the story that is found in the pictures below.

It was comical, in a not so funny way. Tammy and I were headed to Kansas City for a conference planning team meeting. Of course, like most good IV staff, we were running a bit late. Just as we put the vehicle into drive, it started sleeting. Yes, sleeting. Now, I was not worried about our driving because we were driving a flipping HUGE Ford F-150 that I affectionately dubbed "big red". That's right. Extended cab. 4-wheel drive. Deep red. AH-MAZING! The small town girl in me grabbed my cowboy hat from my car, through the truck into 4-W, and cruised (at a careful pace) to the interstate. (really, Tammy was driving at this point, but that last sentence sounds better if I reference myself as the driver because Tammy's not really a small town girl).

Within almost a mile of being on I-70, we found ourselves stuck in traffic. There we remained behind the greenish truck for almost 3 hours. We moved occasionally, but never enough to actually consider it progress. When our meeting in KC started, Tammy and I were still only about 2 miles from my apartment.

As you can probably tell we used my new digital camera (thanks mom, dad, gb, and gr) as entertainment, a taste of which is in the "photojournal".

We did finally reach our destination, 6 hours after we left and 3 hours late for the meeting. But our Iowa coworkers (who ironically didn't hit any weather issues) welcomed us, fed us, and made us stay up late making decisions :)

The drive home the next day was uneventful, except for trying to scrap the ice of my car and kissing "Big Red" good-bye.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

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