Monday, June 27, 2005

Oh the joy you find in Winthrop.

Erin, myself, and Jenny settle in for a very intense ride around Pearrygin Lake in a 3-Man Inner Tube. Little did I know that I was taking my life in my hands. Posted by Hello

So this past weekend, I joined 120 members of Arlington Free Methodist Church for the annual church camping trip to Pearrygin Lake--A 3-hour trek over the North Cascades mountain trek near the restored Old West town of Winthrop. What kind of excitement awaited me there?

Well, besides getting to spend the weekend with all of my awesome AFMC friends, I got to experience a near-death on an inner tube, I got to hang out by the side of the highway next to a boat trailer with busted bearings, I got to travel over the mountain pass in a very heavily-burdened 1984 Subaru, and most importantly, I got to experience the Inagural Run in my brand new REI Half-Dome 2 Tent.

The most interesting/exciting thing of the entire weekend, though? (Besides hanging out on a beautiful campsite with my friends Erin and Cordell)...

On Saturday morning, we drove 20 miles to the Twisp Farmer's Market, located in the town of Twisp, WA (Pop. 1000). As I'm walking down the street, I think, "Hey, I know that girl!" My heart quickens, and I catch her eye and I wave. She sees me, and her jaw drops. I nearly run out in front of a car as I run her way, and give her a big hug. It was Becca, whom I met at Daystar University in Kenya four years ago. She just happened to be walking down the street with friends on her way to the Twisp Farmer's Market, too. Imagine! Turns out that she lives in Seattle (about 4 hours away from our current location) and was in town for the weekend.

So crazy.

It is now confirmed that I know everyone in the entire world. Okay, not really. But still. Geesh.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Baker's IGA takes on corporate America!

my parents: Gary and Terrie Baker--fighters for small town independent business.Posted by Hello

You don't have to be in my presence too long before I make some comment that is in retort to avoidance of all things chain-related.

That would be because I was raised by two people who believe in local business, and they happen to run one that currently is showing remarkable improvement and success, even in the midst of the all-reaching, all-powerful chains that try to knock it down.

Just this week, the Coshocton store received its 5-star rating from IGA! Woohoo! This award comes within two weeks of having a Super Wal-Mart open a mile away, and the Coshocton Baker's Foods is kicking chain store bootie!

You should post a comment to give a shout-out to Mom and Dad who read this blog at least once a week. They taught me everything I know about being a leader, and they are continuing to fight the battle for individuality in small towns, defending America from becoming a series of carbon-copied vats of homogenous gated communities.

Using a machete to cut through red tape.

Since Christmas, I've been listening to the song "Short Skirt, Long Jacket" by Cake. The singer says that he's looking for a certain kind of girl, and one of her characteristics is being a girl "Who uses a machete, to cut her red tape."

Leela of Futurama using her machete to cut through red tape.Posted by Hello

I sing that to myself a lot, and I love the imagery of being that girl, fighting for some cause, chaining myself to a bulldozer because I believe in it so much. Yesterday, I was lost in the symbolism of chaining myself to a bulldozer to protest the evil empire of the Car Insurance companies who have dictated that no one under the age of 25 can drive a corporate vehicle. My fellow staff members agreed that this is probably not as applicable of a tactic as it might be if they were trying to knock down a Native American totem pole or something.

Regardless--what I have learned about myself over the last few years, the last four years especially, is that I have really good ideas--but I'm terrified to communicate them. Basically--that there's not much in the world I would chain myself to a bulldozer over. I have lots of cool defense mechanisms to cover up for it--humor, especially. But when it comes down to being really vocal and really opinionated, I hate doing that. In my mind, I'm really vocal, but when I start communicating, I become very diplomatic (which makes me a good mediator), but it usually results in compromising the things that are important to me.

It's really only recently that I'm beginning to realize how destructive this self-protection is. Not only does it frustrate me because I don't get the things I want--it's not fair to the people with whom I am upset. I'm denying them the opportunity to make the situation better. I'm denying them my perspective. I'm denying them honest communication.

A few examples of times when it helps to be assertive:
  • A few months ago, my chiropractor scolded me for not being more eager to assert myself. I'd been patiently waiting in his office for 20 minutes, and he didn't even know I was there. I consider this a virtue--patience, not being pushy, waiting...He came in saying, "why didn't you get one of the girls to get me? Next time, tell me you're here. It's a waste of your time if you don't." I sighed and said, "Yeah, I tend to be conflict avoidant." And he said, "Don't be. You're not being fair to yourself by not asking." And he was right. So tomorrow, I'm going to call his office to speak with him and say, "I have been overcharged $180. I shouldn't have to pay it, and here's why. Thank you for teaching me to speak up for myself."
  • Today I asserted myself and approached my supervisor with what I thought would be 'conflict.' Turns out that what I call conflict is actually just 'honest communication.' We had the best conversation (about things that really matter) that we've had in months.
  • Last week I had my roommate (who is a very confrontational, assertive woman) call Verizon and pretend to be me. She ended up getting me a $25 credit to cover the 50 extra daytime minutes I used last month.
I am learning. I am learning that good things come from being assertive. And my goal for the summer is to intentionally pursue being "short-skirt, long-jacket machete wielder." I like that girl. In my mind--that Heather is really cool. I want to be her.

I want a girl who gets up early
I want a girl who stays up late
I want a girl with uninterrupted prosperity
Who uses a machete, to cut her red tape

With fingernails that shine like justice
And a voice that is dark like tainted glass
She is fast, thorough, and sharp as a tack
She’s touring the facilities and picking up the slack
I want a girl with a short skirt and a long, long jacket

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Teddy Ruxpin makes his return!

There are not words to express the joy that I feel that Teddy Ruxpin is making his return. You can read about it here.

I plan to buy one for every American teenager I know, because they all seem to believe that "back in the day" refers to Barney and Teletubbies.

Teddy Ruxpin and his friend Grubby. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

When the good things are good.

Last night was the culmination of all of my end-of-the-year strategizing, and regardless of whether or not it would be big, I wanted it to be good. So I pulled out all the stops--I made 60 handmade, hand-delivered invitations...I carried boxes of craft supplies up three flights of stairs...I recruited six adults to assist...I cleaned up The Mud Hut...I even bought Velveeta.

And I prayed. And I handed out the names of 60 Arlington girls so that others could pray. I prayed that girls who needed to feel connected and who needed to know that they are cared for would come.

An Arlington student finishes off her Scooby Doo coloring project. Posted by Hello

As the time drew near for girls to arrive, I was getting nervous. I always get nervous before events, because I never know who will show up, what the group dynamics will be, if everyone will enjoy themselves, and if all the effort will have been for good.

By 7:15pm, when seven students had showed up to greet the seven leaders, I said, "Okay God. To your glory and for your purpose. There are seven girls who are hear to color and make necklaces and hang out. There are seven girls here to hear Carrie's testimony, and may this exceed my expectations."

Seven girls. It was not the number I had picked out in my was small...and I had to fight all of my earthly urges which would tell me to be disappointed. I was rejoicing in one small victory--that Monica--whom I eat lunch with twice a week, and whom I only know in a school context, had shown up by herself with a smile on her face--I knew that this night would be for her.

After an hour of coloring pictures, making necklaces, drinking sodas, and eating nachos, I gathered together our intimate group of 14 to hear the story and testimony of Carrie, a 27-year-old married mom of two from my church. She shared with them her personal testimony of how bad decisions had led her to a pregnancy and miscarriage at age 15, and how she promised God to use this experience for good. The girls were quiet, and they listened intently, and we talked about God's redemptive power...and we prayed.

An Arlington student shows off her Italian soda, which before its consumption, matched her hair.Posted by Hello

By the time the girls left, I felt good about the evening--that they had left feeling valued, connected, and cared for--that I had an opportunity to connect with each of them throughout the evening--and that they had enjoyed fellowship, creativity, and substance--that they knew that God was the God of their lives, and that He had a plan for them.

This morning at school, I greeted Monica with a big hello, and she grinned and said, "Heather! I forgot the forms for the kayaking trip last night! Can you bring me some more?" I smiled--Monica, who had attended her first YD event was already ready to sign up for an 8-day kayaking trip...

and then she said, "That speaker last night...she was great. It was the first time I'd ever heard someone who was a good person tell a story about getting pregnant. They're always bad girls...and she wasn't bad...and it was really cool what she said."

Last night was not a night for 60 girls to show up and have The Mud Hut bursting at the seams and pulsating with loud music. Last night was not a night for a big event to slickly polish off my first year. It was a night of intimate conversations, depth, and even new relationships. I praise God that our expectations are not always His plan. His plan is good.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Haven't we all felt like this.

I feel a bit like this lately:

Siddhartha--as he thinks about his current place in this world--and as he seeks out spiritual wholeness--

"At times he heard, deep in his breast, a soft and dying voice that admonished softly, lamented softly, barely audible. Then for an hour he was aware that he was leading a strange life, that he was doing all sorts of things that were merely a game, that he was cheerful, granted, and sometimes felt joy, but that real life was flowing past him and not touching him. Like a juggler juggling his balls, he played with his business, with the people around him, watched them, enjoyed them; but he never participated with his heart, with the wellspring of his being. The wellspring ran somewhere, as if far from him, ran and ran, invisible, having nothing to do with his life. And sometimes he was startled by such thougths and wished that it could be granted him to participate with passion and with all his heart in the childlike doings of the day, to live really--to act really, to enjoy really, and to live really instead of merely standing on the side as a spectator."

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Thursday, June 09, 2005

8 days. Boredom looming.

For three nights in a row, I've returned home to my apartment in the evening without having anything scheduled. It feels weird. I don't know quite what to do with it, actually. I've watched a few movies....I've talked with my roommate, and I've thought really hard about cleaning, doing laundry, paying bills, etc...

There are 8 days left of school at AHS, and then life will seem very different. No more daily visits to school. No more random conversations with kids in the hallway. No more volunteering with the awesome 11/12th graders in Mrs. Stone's class. Just me and summer and evaluation and reflection and envisioning next year.

Monday is the day of my end of the year Girl's Outreach event...I've handed out nearly 60 invitations, and I'm excited for a final big thing before the year is over, and I know lots of girls are excited about coming. Pray that girls will feel encouraged and welcomed during their time on Monday.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Arlington Students Take On Mighty Wenatchee...

Today I walked into school--my first day back since taking 16 Arlington students rafting this weekend. A kid ran up to me and said, "When's the next trip? Kevin said it was awesome, and I wish I would have gone." Well.

Five minutes later another kid ran up to me shouting, "Mandy said you almost killed her in your raft! She said she almost drowned! WHAT? Are you crazy?" Um, no. She just fell out. That happens sometimes.

The kids on my boat smile...this was before they saw the rapids. Posted by Hello

The weekend highlight for me was definitely seeing the kids have so much fun. Two of the kids I invited were recent school acquaintances, and both of them had a blast. It's sooo enjoyable to see these kids that I only know in a school context open up and have fun and build relationships with other students.

Probably the most vivid experience on our boat all day was right before a rapid called "Snowblind." Before we hit the rapid, I asked the kids to think about their life--and to think about what they put their hope and their faith in--and to ask themselves the question, "What if this was it? What if this was the end? Do you know where you're going?"

At the bottom of Snowblind, we hit a pretty big hole that twisted our boat around, sucking out one of the girls. She tumbled out backwards, her head below the surface, and she floated downstream ahead of our boat. It took quite a few minutes to catch up with her, and by the time she climbed back in, she looked dazed and shivery. Once we were assured she was fine, I said, "So...Mandy, I just wanted you to think about the question--I didn't want you to actually take the opportunity to go today." The whole boat laughed...and we were so glad she was back on board safely.

All in all--the experience of taking kids on rafts and through big rapids is so enjoyable and meaningful in and of itself. I love outdoor ministry. I love that even though I'm not in full-time outdoor ministry, I have the opportunity to work with kids in this context. But seriously--what I love even more, is talking to them today at the lunch table and having taken those few steps forward in building relationships. To see the three kids who rode to and from Leavenworth with me in my car and have their faces light up when I walked up to their table, and to know that this weekend, I told them directly about the life and love that Jesus has for makes me love this job.

Clockwise from top-left: My guiding friend Heidi and in my official gear...and an Arlington group shot.Posted by Hello

Friday, June 03, 2005

An actual phone conversation. Today.

This is the transcript from an actual phone conversation that took place between myself and a parent just a few minutes ago:

*Ring Ring. Ring Ring.*
Heather: "Hello. Arlington YD. How may I help you?"
Man: "Hello. Is Bronco available?"
Heather: "No. I'm sorry, he's not in the office. Can I take a message?"
Man: "Is this Heather?"
Heather: "Yes it is. How can I help you?"
Man: "Well. My name is Steve. I'm John and Chris's dad, and they're going to be coming on the rafting trip tomorrow. I was looking on this sheet that you gave us and it says that the boys are not supposed to bring any 'Weapons of Mass Destruction?'"
Heather: "Yes it does. I wrote that myself."
Man: "Well. My wife and I are concerned, because we just bought some for the boys last week, and they were really hoping to bring them. Is there any way around this?"
Heather: "No. I'm sorry there's not. They can bring regular weapons, though."
Man: "We're not into those."
Heather: "I'm sorry. They really need to leave the warheads at home."
Man: "Okay. Thanks. Well, I was just calling to check. Have a great trip tomorrow."
Heather: "We will, thanks. We'll look forward to seeing the boys!"

Wenatchee River. AGAIN!

Tomorrow. I drive 2 1/2 hours east to Leavenworth to spend the weekend on the Wenatchee River. Again. In the past 2 1/2 months, I have logged 126 River Miles. Geesh. No wonder I'm feeling naked when I'm not wearing a Wetsuit and a PFD (Personal Floatation Device).

And it will be my 6th run down the Wenatchee. Is certification on the horizon? We will see.

Regardless--there will be 16 kids from Arlington on the river with me, and I am very excited about them! This weekend is the main reason I wanted to train as a raft guide in the first place! To be able to do outdoor ministry with the same kids I'm's like, something I always wanted while I was working at camp that could never really happen. And tomorrow. It is!

Pray for us! We will be heading out at 2pm tomorrow PST and returning late on Sunday. Most of the 16 kids have no relationship with Jesus, and we are very excited to meet with and talk with them!

Progress towards the goal.

I wanted to let you know that on Wednesday I took two 7th grade girls out to Baskin-Robbins and talked to them a bit about my story and about what Jesus has done for them. It appeared that they were not ready to make a step or commitment, but I wanted to let you know that I continue to be diligent in the asking.

The conversation in itself was rather humbling. I have known these two girls since the fall, when they began attending the youth group at my church. As we were sitting at Baskin Robbins, I asked them why it is that they have continued to come this entire year...I said, "What brings you to youth group," and they replied, "We come to see you!" I was stunned...but it opened the door right up for me to say, "Do you know why I come to youth group?" and lead right into talking about Christ.

I have now asked three girls in the last two weeks...but...I continue to seek God's voice and be discerning in listening to His leading. The goal is still to talk to 20 in the next three weeks.

It's amazing how these first few times it seemed scary, but now that I'm seeking God on my own everyday, there's an urgency attached to it. How can I not tell them about Him?

And having tried many, many different methods....I will say that without a doubt, there is nothing like talking to a student face-to-face, one-on-one. It's honest. It's real. It communicates love. Why would we ever want to do it any other way?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Scratch Track

One of my best friends (Danara) is spending the summer on tour with Scratch Track, this amazing trio of guys that she happens to be friends with and happens to be managing this summer. Their sound is like acoustic/hip-hop/gospel/soul/et al.

I read Relevant Magazine everyday, and I was so excited to find an article about Scratch Track on there this morning. So. You should go read about them here and then buy their record here...because my name is Heather, and I am famous by association.