Monday, October 31, 2005

Warm (Not So Warm) Beach.
Rafting (Not So Rafting) Party.

My weekend was filled with Junior Highers, but not in a way that was draining. I was with five kids and two adults at Warm Beach Camp for a retreat....the three girls and I had a very cozy "Mt. Baker Cabin" (named after the mountain that my dad discovered in 1862), and I, for the first time in recorded youth ministry history, slept on my own full-sized bed. What is that all about?!

It was amazing--because I wasn't tired, and I wasn't frazzled, and I wasn't overwhelmed. I just enjoyed being with the girls. We played on the swings, we watched Robots, and we giggled about the apparently cute drummer. Two of the three girls have grown up in the church, so we talked a lot about what it means to be a leader...what it means to love people who are different than we should really be living as Christians at school...

I was frazzled for a bit, because the retreat overlapped with the End-of-the-Year Rafting party, and I desperately wanted to see my rafting friends and fellowship with them. So I ducked away from Warm (not so warm) Beach for a few hours and celebrated a glorious 2005 rafting season with them.

It was very good to be hear about what next season will look get excited about finishing off my certification on the Wenatchee get to tell the whole group how much Greg and Danica mean to me as we celebrated their twelve years of pray for Paul and Faye as they prepare to move to Idaho (to start YD Adventures in Idaho)...and to get re-excited about Adventure Ministry after having a few months to dry off...(photo on the left is Heidi, Greg, and Danica, my best-good rafting friends...well, three of my best-good Washington friends).

By the time I made it back to Warm Beach, my kids were antsy, but I was so glad to be back with them. We broke bread together, and two of my girls affirmed how much I mean to them. One of them cited that, "She called me to remind me what time we were leaving for the retreat," as an important thing I did to show I cared. I was humbled by how small the significant things can be.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Plan for the Weekend.

1. Take four Junior High girls to Warm Beach Camp for the weekend.

2. Snap out of Junior High mode for a few hours to join rafting friends at 'end of the year raft guide party.'

3. Recover from being surrounded by hundreds of Junior High students for an entire weekend and lead worship at The Upper Room.

4. Prepare for next Friday, when I will begin going to pool sessions with Greg, Heidi, and some kids to learn how to roll a kayak. (This morning, one of my girls sweetly said, "I already know how to roll a kayak," meaning, she knew how to roll up an inflatable kayak for storage. I said, "No, roooooll a kayak, like, roll a kayak." Her face lit up, "Oooohhhhhhh.")

5. Tell everyone in blog land to have a nice weekend.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Small Rejoicings.

For several weeks in September/October, I have donned snazzy Sunday morning duds, loaded up my Sunfire with marketing paraphernalia, and driven to various local churches around Arlington. I set up a big YD display board and stand beside it looking friendly and un-bored. I then spend hours talking to strangers about who we are and what we do. It makes me nostalgic for the days when I worked in Taylor's Admissions Office and would greet visiting families and talk to prospective students at college fairs. It's also scary, fun, and exhausting (having been to my home church about Sundays since June...part rafting, part YD trips, part church presentations).

The purpose in doing these presentations is two-fold: First (and primarily) to continue to communicate to the community who YD is and let them know how we are impacting the community....Second--to recruit mentors for our new mentoring program.

The mentoring program is a baby that I asked to have for my very own this summer, and besides reading books on mentoring, downloading resources on mentoring, and going to training seminars on mentoring, I am building and structuring an entire mentoring program from scratch! The intent is to pair up Christian adults with any of the 200+ kids that Arlington YD worked with last year...confident that one-on-one mentoring will make a bigger impact on kids than big, flashy programs.

So, I'm preparing for our first mentoring training day in November by following up with people who've expressed an interest in mentoring, planning the training day, writing the mentoring handbook, and planning out how we're going to pair up students and volunteers. It's big, and I'm excited about it...and it's so big, that it's hard to see how it's all going to come together.

This morning, I am rejoicing in a small way at my computer screen while I spent quality time with Microsoft Word, and I have just mastered the fine art of creating a Table of Contents (okay, not exactly a mastering...moreso a preliminary introduction).

Please be praying for this whole process of training/recruitment/pairing, expecially for wisdom for me as I put it all together...(I'm suddenly being reminded of this woman I know who creates programs from scratch, writes handbooks, leads training...who is that woman? Oh, right. My mother. I am becoming my mother.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A Haiku for Dad

UPS Man Comes
To My Door Bearing CD's
From A. Nony Moose

I am so confused
These were on my Christmas list
Perhaps it's missent

I pick up the phone
Dad just acts oblivious
What is going on?

He says, "I love you."
"Enjoy these CD's just because."
Early Christmas gift!

Monday, October 24, 2005

"And the sound of my brother's laugh."

Last night, I'm on the phone with Sean, and it's about 2:30 in the a.m. for him, so I think he's getting a bit loopy.

At one point he actually uttered these words: "about 90% of the time, I have recurring dreams in which William Shatner and I fight crime together." He insists this is not a joke. I laughed very hard and then warned him that I would post it here for the whole world to read.

I did not make it to the Oak Harbor game this weekend, which is sad, because Arlington lost a very not-so-good game and thus lost the Division.

But the Seahawks eeked out a last-second victory against the Cowboys, and I was on the phone with Havaleh while the game was finishing up...all she could say is, "I can't believe you're this excited about football."

Last night, in my glee, I wore my Shawn Alexander jersey (thanks, dad!) to The Upper Room, and apparently, among 18-30-something's at my church, I am alone in my love for the Seahawks. This is very weird to me. Do they not know that I am from the land of the Big 10? Hello!

It is fall. I am missing OSU football terribly, and mostly I'm missing driving through Coshocton/Tuscarawas/Harrison county and oogling the beautiful fall colors. I am Ohio-bound in 59 days.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Arlington Football...

I am dying to go to the Arlington High School Football game tonight. It's an away game in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, home to Oak Harbor YD. Thus--I could get all school-spirited with my YD counterparts and stage a fiercely competitive duel. But...thus far, none of my students want to go to the game with me. What is their problem?! High school football--the division title--guts, glory, etc.

Then I'm faintly thinking back to my own high school days and remembering that the only time in my entire life that I have not loved high school football was when I was in high school. What is that all about?

Last week, when I showed up at a home game by myself and sat by some kids I knew in the band, a few boys felt really sorry for me--apparently--and called me a "loner" and sang me a chorus of You Are My Sunshine.

What they don't know is that I'm just assuaging the pain of being so far from my Buckeyes and Browns and Redskins by living vicariously through them.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Love and Risk.

It is harder to risk yourself on the things you love, yes?

Like, emailing an article into a magazine and saying, "I love this. You should read it. I wrote it."

I'm not feeling the pressure to 'be published' at all...moreso, I felt like it was high-time that I put myself onto a level of sharing my writing with the masses in order to challenge myself to be better.

So I have left the land of comfort, confidently and nervously, and put myself out there with my writing.

And the whole process of it was very eye-opening--like, I learned that when I write for the audience and not for myself, I lose my voice. Interessant. Fortunately Suz and Renee know my voice well enough to point me back to the drawing board.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Walking the Commons.

This morning, Mrs. Stone was absent, so I oversaw the kids in 2nd period, helping out a very dissheveled looking sub. I was amazed that these kids (who are usually bouncing off the floors and ceiling) actually listened to me and actually did their work!

This afternoon, I ran into most of them again when I went up to the high school for 6th period. One of the gym teachers asked me if I would walk with some of his girls while everyone else plays group sports.

I laughed hard when, as we were walking up, down, and around the commons, several kids were wheezing after five minutes saying, "We need a remedial walk for the smokers."

It was a very humorous way to connect with students--chaperoning their laps of the cafeteria, but at the same time, they opened up for some great conversations...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Things I did this weekend:

1. Watched the AHS football team squeeze out a Homecoming victory over Marysville-Pilchuck HS, bringing them to 7-0 and #1 in the Division! Enjoyed time spent with lots of students in the band and cheering with them in the final moments, when Arlington eeked out a victory in the last 26 seconds, thanks to a Marysville penalty.

2. Talked with a student about the difference between death metal and black metal, specifically discussing how death metal is okay and black metal is bad. Student informed me about the difference in these musical styles while wearing a shirt with a photo of an exploding human corpse from the band "Cannibal Corpse."

3. Spent two hours with my favorite songwriter of all time--Derek Webb, and his wife--songwriter Sandra McCracken, before their concert in Marysville, WA on Saturday night. Went out to dinner with Derek, Sandra, their road manager David, and three staff from the church that was hosting the concert. Talked with Derek about politics, the Beatles, sarcasm, Viggo Mortensen, and MySpace. Pinched self repeatedly, and then enjoyed a very fine concert. (I will write more about this later. Not today.)

4. Attended three Sunday morning services at Smokey Point Community Church with my boss, Bronco, to talk to the congregation about Community Outreach opportunities at YD in Arlington...(they are currently doing Rick Warren's '40 Days of Community'). Recruited 10 potential mentors for students this fall, which is just amazing, and shared about the ministry of YD with over a thousand people.

5. Spent the afternoon with friend and mentor Dawn, who bought me a very fine Jamba Juice and assured me that next time I have a nervous breakdown, I should call her.

6. Led worship and prayed with fellow 18-30 year-olds at "The Upper Room," the young adults' service at my church. Was very excited to be strumming on my own beautiful Taylor guitar within 24 hours of watching Derek Webb strum on his.

7. Returned home to spend an hour on my own watching new Derek Webb DVD and reading Bob Dylan's autobiography.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Saturday is the day.

Tomorrow is the day that I get to sit down and have dinner with and talk with Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken.

I am feeling all of the following, and it's still 28 1/2 hours away:
1. Anxious
2. Nervous
3. Excited
4. Ready to vomit
5. Overwhelmed
6. Insecure
7. Annoyed that tonight is the AHS Homecoming Game and I can't go see them play in Seattle tonight to take away all of this anxiety.
8. Worried about what I'm going to wear and if I should have got a haircut this week.
9. Thrilled

This is an accurate summary of how I do feel, not how I know I should feel...because, well, it's very overwhelming to think that you can meet this aloof, far-away personality, who has intimately shared in some of the deepest, darkest parts of your life but doesn't even know that you are alive. What do you say, "Hello Derek, my name is Heather. It's nice to meet you. Did you know that on several occasions over the last six years, you have challenged, encouraged, and supported me through very dark and hard times, and I don't know where I would be without you."

That sounds like creepy stalker talk. Instead I'll just be like, "Um, so, who's your favorite Beatle?"

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


On Monday afternoon, October 10th, at 2:30pm PST, Heather Michelle Baker commenced a full-out meltdown. This meltdown lasted for approximately 9 1/2 hours, stopping only to spend time with a few teenage girls at "Monday night knitting/crafty-type things" Group.

What happened? I'm not exactly sure. Suzanne speculated it was hormones. Lizzy called it a "Mental Health Day." All I know is that I was balled up on the couch crying for nothing and everything simultaneously.

I have felt on the verge of tears for months, since a few significant relationships ended, since finances got tighter, since I began returning home to an empty apartment every night, since I left the company of at least 30 people I love and cherish who live on the other side of the country, since Grandma and Grandpa came to visit and left.

So apparently, on Monday, my body submitted and said, "You will cry. It will be a long and exhausting time, and at the end of it, you still won't understand why it happened."

In the last six weeks, I've definitely been feeling like the novelty of being on a grand adventure has worn off, and I'm sitting here asking God why I am 2500 miles away from things familiar and centering. I've also realized that I've been away from Southeast Ohio longer than I have in my entire life, and I always miss it most in the fall, when I should be able to look outside and see rolling hills in bright red and gold.

I think that doing ministry away from a home base is difficult and risky, because although there are people who are here who care about me and who would do anything for me, when it's Monday night at 9pm, and you want to cry for no reason, it suddenly feels like home is very far away.

No worries, though...the telephone is a partially adequate substitute, and with a bit of long-distance late-night counseling, and a good night's sleep, morning brings a lot of clarity. Heidi even offered last night to sit on the phone with me while I'm watching TV, if I'm feeling horribly lonely.

It is in times like these that I cling to the Word--and this week it is Philippians 1:9-11, "And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God."

I want that--to be filled and overflowing with love that would bring knowledge and insight to help determine what is best.

There is no easy solution to the internal turmoil I am facing, other than, to rest in the knowledge that God does know, and He does care, however quiet He seems to be.

Monday, October 10, 2005

If I were to write a coherent blog...

My brain is too full, and I am too distracted. So...if I were going to write a coherent blog today, I would write it about one of the following five topics:

1. How great it was to spend the evening with one of my girls in Seattle on Friday. We checked out some thrift stores, dined at a Mongolian BBQ, and I was introduced to the "musical" stylings of Arch Enemy, a female-led death metal band (eugh..). I felt like I had finally settled in for the year to do my job and that I would no longer be expected to travel across the country away from my kids.

2. How great it was to have Sarah Helderman over for dinner last night. That's right--Sarah Helderman, formerly of 3G--Taylor University, circa 2000, was in my apartment. She is at SPU in an MA program, and I am thrilled to have a TU friend within 45 minutes of me.

3. How great it was to lead worship at The Upper Room last night...The Upper Room being the Young Adults' Service at my church I wrote about a few weeks back. It's been two years since I played guitar publicly...and I really just love worship-leading...

4. How horrible it is to be exposed to IKEA on a Saturday afternoon. My friend Sarah (Ristow. Not Helderman. Must find friends with names besides Erin, Sarah,'s too confusing.) and I braved this amazingly overwhelming too-horrible-to-be-called-a-store while searching for a loft for her new bed for her new apartment. I maxed out about 45 minutes in, and Sarah found me sprawled out on a twin-sized bed, my nervous feet pushing and pulling a shopping cart laden with inexpensive housewares while I called Janelle to say, "HELP! I'm in IKEA, and I can't find my way OUT!"

5. How it took me an hour last night to dig my mailbox key out of a couch crevice. The mailbox key slipped in last week, and I've been unable to check my mail, because my couch was apparently designed by Nazi Engineers or Chinese Finger Trap Designers. After trying an array of options like coat hangers, vacuum extenders, and bruised forearms, I had to do the old, "Put the couch up on one end so it's eight feet high, shake it a lot, make slashes with a knife in the bottom, and pull at a lot of stuffing" routine.

6. (Okay. I apparently have more than five thoughts). How overwhelming it is to know how I, as a little one-income missionary living in Washington, can begin to make an impact on the devastation in the rest of the world. I think that I've been trying not to think about the people in the Gulf or in Kashmir too much, because I ache for them so much, and I want to help, and I want to do more than pray, and I don't know what else to do.

7. How last night, after six of my friends left (having come over for dinner and church and dessert), I lit a bunch of tea lights and read Galatians only to discover that my dear brother Paul was plagued with a sin struggle with sarcasm, as I myself am. In Galatians 5:12, he's talking about circumcision, and if I'm reading it correctly, it sounds like he's suggesting that those who are fixated on upholding the law should get a little less careful with their knife and do a bit more damage. My eyes about bugged out of my head, and I said, "Paul! I can't believe you just said that! Dat be funnee."

If I were going to write to you today, maybe this is what I would write about.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Caramel Apple Cider.

It's dreary and dark lately, meaning that for the next 2 1/2 months, it will only get drearier and darker.

Since I was feeling dreary and dark enough to match the day, I combated it with a Caramel Apple Cider from Starbuck's. For whatever reason, today, I was a bit repulsed by the Caramel Apple Cider. They are soooo sweet! It's very sad when a dependable autumn upper does not taste good.

Tonight, I am taking two students down to Seattle for a bit of shopping in the University District and maybe a late-night Pink Floyd or Beatles laser Light Show. Pray for us...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

National Youth Workers' Convention 2005.

Picture the scene: An auditorium packed out with 3,500 youth workers from around the country, huge speakers blasting praise music from Chris Tomlin's and David Crowder's worship bands, watching skits so hilarious that we nearly pee ourselves, all for the sake of gathering together as people committed to Jesus Christ and sharing His story with teenagers.

This is what I have been up to the last six days. The 30-hour round-trip van ride would have been enough to make me crazy, had it not been for the wonderful company of the eight ministry folk who shared the van ride with me. Pastor Nathan and I zealously fought our way through Super Mario Brothers, Teresa and I took turns beeping in during Joel's time on his cell phone, and we all enjoyed sharing ministry stories of both hilarious and sad natures. It was like, a youth group road trip minus Corn Nuts and caffeine highs.

During my time in Sacramento, I experienced amazing worship music from several top-notch worship bands, jammed with my favorite 'christian-type' band--Kutless, and heard some amazingly challenging sermons and seminars from guys like Louie Giglio, Tony Campolo, Chap Clark and Mike King on topics such as "Worship," "Christians in Politics," "How to Last past Year Two" and "Presence-Centered Ministry."

My favorite evening, though, was probably spent in the company of no one in the Prayer Chapel, in which we were literally able to talk with God and listen to Him while sitting at the foot of the cross. The speakers and the entire tone of the weekend gave me so much to think about, that by the end of night four, I was skipping concerts and seminars just to give my brain time to rest.

The two biggest themes that stood out? The whole notion of calling...
who and what we're called to in ministry, and how that affects longevity.... and also the whole notion of being authentic and genuine in my interaction with kids. (photo on right is me, Joel, and Teresa pictured with Joel's affirmation he left on the wall for us. It read "Heather and Teresa are the coolest chicks I know (Besides my wife).")

I have no formed ideas to share really, other than it was a lot of food for thought and provoked a lot of good discussions with my eight PNW ministry friends on the way home.

And so, do I recommend Youth Specialties' National Youth Workers' Convention?! Um, if you've spent, like, five minutes with a teenager ever, then the Convention will be insightful. It's geared mostly for those working with teenagers in the context of a church, but it's not specifically designed for full-timers. In fact--it seemed like the majority of the seminars were geared towards volunteers in ministry.

And...with all the fun stuff and the free stuff, it's hard to think of it as a convention. It was like, camp for youth leaders. Nice.