Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Of Dostoevsky and Lesser Things.

Last night, when I returned home from my 20/30-something Women's Bible Study, I sat down on the couch and wanted nothing more than to read The Brothers Karamazov. This is an odd feeling, because usually when I'm arriving home after an emotionally-draining day, I want some mind-numbing television and sleep. For whatever reason, last night was different.

I had woken up that morning frustrated and sad over a situation with a student, in which I felt partially to blame...and I mellowly filled in the rest of my day trying to figure out what to do. After a series of staff meetings, I picked up a few students for a meeting and was finally able to grin and laugh with them about french fries and tanning. We had a good talk, but as I dropped them off, I could feel exhaustion setting in...

I still had one more appointment and my evening Bible Study to get through...Heidi and I were talking about whether or not we should go to Bible Study when we're exhausted, and I recommended that we should not go if we're not going to be mentally present....

Later that evening, while physically present at Bible study, I was rather mentally disengaged (disengaged enough to have spilled an entire cup of hot chai down my denim skirt)...and yet, we began talking about this concept again, of whether or not we should stop going to things if we plan to be 'emotionally unavailable.' I was reminded of something in Lauren Winner's Mudhouse Sabbath, or maybe it's in Girl Meets God, where she talked about how in the Jewish culture, the practices of faith are important because they keep your body doing your faith, even when your soul and mind do not...that way, when you catch up, your body is already there to remember where you were.

It's a beautiful concept to know that your body can help you to remember things your mind and soul might forget...and for whatever reason, last night, my body remembered that it used to sit on couches late at night for hours at a time reading Russian literature. It directed my mind and soul that way. A few minutes later, I'm laughing outloud about a shaggy dog in The Brothers Karamazov, thankful that I have not entirely forgotten how to enjoy the process of reading, even though the book mark I was using had notes about Substitute Teaching on it, meaning it's been two years since I have been a faithful reader of Dostoevsky.

Somehow, over the last few months, the process of hoisting up bookshelves and laying out my Taylor guitar in my living room has reminded me of who I used to be--before Washington, before kayaking, and before Verizon...slowly, my evenings at home have become about reading, knitting, and songwriting. Suddenly, it feels like our homes always need to be places where we build around us the kind of person we want to be, so that when we forget, we can return home and our bodies remember.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Word Pictures.

I didn't have the digital camera this weekend, so you must rely entirely on the following word pictures to imagine the wonderful weekend I have had:

#1--Imagine four beautiful 20-something girls around a kitchen table in a little apartment in Arlington with a vast spread of roast turkey, sweet potato casserole, green beans, corn muffins, and pecan pie surrounding them as they laugh about life.

#2--Imagine Heather waking up on the day-after-Thanksgiving NOT to the dizzying crowd at a shopping mall, but to the ring of John Paasonen calling to say, "Would you like to have dinner?" Imagine Heather later that evening walking through Pioneer Square in Seattle, a Gryffindor-colored scarf wrapped around her neck, with a dear Taylor friend towards the most lovely sushi restaurant they had seen since Ra's in Phoenix.

#3--Imagine Heather and Heidi as Pocahontas-like adventure-women as they paddled down the mighty Stillaguamish River on a cold morning kayak trip with five intimidating kayaking men. (Particularly imagine Heather and Heidi taking all of the easiest channels in order to avoid the dreaded 'roll' which they have so recently achieved). Imagine Ryan, Bucky, Heidi, and Heather still in gear, freezing by the side of the road for 45 minutes, protecting the kayaks and waiting for the shuttle, which took forever!!

#4--Imagine Heather sitting down with Greg, Danica, and the extended Kazen family to a belated Thanksgiving dinner, with beautiful homemade-food and plenty of funny kids running around dressed as army men and ballerinas.

#5--Imagine Heather plopping in front of the TV on Sunday afternoon to watch her much-beloved Seahawks barely finish off the NY Giants in a 4 1/2 hour game, which resulted in the area favorite's advancement to 9-2!!!

#6--Imagine Heather's car, covered in frost, which she joyfully scrapes off with an Ohio-purchased mondo-sized snow scraper. Imagine many friendly Washington men offering to assist with their less-capable frost-removal-adapted credit cards.

#7--Imagine Heather in her newly converted 2nd bedroom "study/studio" wrapped in a blanket on the futon while reading Wendell Berry, Bob Dylan, and 1 Kings and journalling for the first time in a month. Imagine her taking time to reflect on life and discover that although it is full of many good things right now, more time for intentional reflection and solitude needs to take place.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

If God Can Love Turkeys.....

Happy Thanksgiving in advance! I hope you're celebrations are grand and exciting.

Mine will involve my apartment, a few friends, some smashingly good food and Christmas music.

And wait in anticipation for Monday, when I will surely cajole you with grand tales of kayaking on the mighty Stillaguamish River, which are to be had with Greg and Heidi and friends this weekend.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sit 'n' Knit...

For a few months now, a few girls and I have gathered together at the home of an Arlington YD volunteer for a lovely knitting group. The product thus far? Lots of lovely (and not so lovely) knitted goods made, lots of brownies consumed, and lots of conversation to be had.

I absolutely love showing up on Monday nights with my knitting bag in hand to teach a new teen girl how to knit and purl, how to cast-on, and how to yell and throw the knitting across the room when it gets frustrating. My favorite moments are certainly when a student shows up, brand new skein in hand, to tackle a bigger and better project...and yet I also love the moments of panic, when a scream will ring out across the living room followed by, "I DROPPED A STITCH!" and several experienced knitters will swoop in to gain control on a hectic and mind-draining situation.

It was in my original plan that this would only be a six-week-long endeavor, but it's going so well, that I think we'll keep moving forward. Last night, we confronted the difficult issue of, "Do we open this group up to our guy friends who want to knit?" We are all about affirmative action in the knitting world, but we also recognize how co-ed knitting will change the tone of the group (as girls suddenly self-consciously wonder, "does he like my new 50/50 wool/acrylic blend?" or "does he think I'm a nerd because I have yet to master a good cable stitch?") We will see.

For now, there are solid relationships and great group dynamics to be had at Monday Night Knitting Group...and if you're around, stop by and we'll make you a nice scarf!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Turkeys Galoooore.

It's Turkey Week!

In honor of turkey week, yesterday at church we had a big, festive Thanksgiving dinner. Jenny and Michelle (who are amazing, by the way) with the help of many others cooked a big dinner for the whooole church! Yay for them!

And Nathan asked a student and I to do this skit we'd written for the 'entertainment.' It did involve she and I assuming different character roles to portray "Worship Team Auditions." We did a death metal cover of "This is the air I breathe..." and this lovely operatic version of "I am a C!"

And just because it's Turkey Week, we led the entire congregation in the popular responsorial hymn, "If God can love turkeys....God can love you." Fortunately or unfortunately, my entire congregation here has now been exposed to a wee bit of hmb craziness, which they have been sheltered from for the first 16 months that I've lived here.

I am so excited for Turkey Day! My friend Sonja and her sister will be up from California, and my friend Sarah from Taylor will be here. We will be cooking turkeys, decorating Christmas trees and maybe dropping a New Year's ball all at once!

Friday, November 18, 2005

It's November

and for some reason, more than anything, I want to crawl into a bay window with my journal and a fleece blanket to watch the first snow...with Norah Jones singing in the background.

Having neither a bay window nor snow, this plan will have to be postponed.

Instead, I will go cheer for AHS students as they perform in the musical production of "The Wiz." It's almost the same thing. It will still be good.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Things that should be celebrated:

* One of my students did a great job in sharing her testimony at youth group last night!

* Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire opens on Friday, and Erin, Esther, and I already have tickets!

* AHS football is still going strong--in their third week of playoffs. Go Eagles!

* Mom and Dad are apparently safe and having fun in Greece and Italy. (They return on Monday.)

* Joel found this cool website where you can create your own funny church signs.

* Sonja, Sarah, and Stephanie will be at my house next Thursday eating turkey with me!

* Johnny P. will be in the Seattle area next week!!

* I have completed the knitting work on two whole Christmas presents.

* I have at least one whole day this weekend where I have to be absolutely nowhere.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Place Your Pin!

Hey...there's this cool world map on my sidebar over there on the right...

If you have yet to put yourself there....please do it! Super fun!


Sunday, November 13, 2005


Mentor Training Day went extremely well yesterday! We had seven people total, and the outline for the day flowed very well...and at the end, Elly said, "You should be a teacher, or a trainer!" and I said, "That's what I'm doing right now!" Yay!

After a quick nap at home, Heidi and I joined another pool session with the Corsens, where we successfully completed many kayak rolls--in preparation for our grand river adventure on the Skykomish River in 2 weeks. I was doing well and enjoying it, but about ten minutes into a very rowdy game of Kayak Polo, I looked at her and said, "I'm done."

We still managed to squeeze in several hours of enjoying good talks and good times with good friends last evening, and I woke up in her house very glad to not have to be anywhere today. We sat in PJ's drinking coffee and talking about everything that's both important and meaningless in this world...and suddenly I was transported back to Saturday mornings in my parents' home and sleepy mornings in Gerig Hall at TU.

It is good to have is good to celebrate grand successes at work...and it is good to sleep in and drink coffee...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

T-Minus Three Days.

Every muscle in my body is tense, because three days from today, I'm leading a 5-hour Mentor Training Session, and it feels like 95% of it is unprepared.

Okay, that's not true--I have recruited at least six people to come and be trained as mentors, I have written a 40-page handbook, and I have been compiling multimedia-type things for the presentation, but I still feel like it's all in disarray!

Because--I'm not exactly sure what I will say and what will be said when, and if these six people will find the training session to be worth their time, or if they will be bored out of their minds!

So...please pray for me, and for the mentors...and for Saturday! I am excited, but I am also tres tense...

Monday, November 07, 2005

C'est Fini!

After 2 months of doing a series of church presentations and visiting churches all over Arlington, I have finished...hoorah! I did my final presentation yesterday at my home church (Arlington Free Methodist), and now I can just enjoy the last few weeks of church there before I head home to Ohio for Christmas.

It feels good to know that I don't have to 'work' on a Sunday morning for awhile...

The presentations were a great PR time for YD, to communicate to the community who YD is and what we are doing in Arlington...and a few people have even stepped forward with a willingness to get involved in the ministry, so that's certainly exciting.

And--on a completely unrelated note, on Friday night, I successfully rolled a kayak in a very fine swimming pool--and I have plans to tackle new rivers on Thanksgiving is very nice to be back in the water after being landlocked since August.

Mom and Dad are heading off today for Greece and Italy for 2 1/2 weeks, so pray that they will travel safely...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Any Given Wednesday.

Yesterday, I found myself in all of these various roles around Arlington High School, and they all had me thinking about life and Christ and students...

***I started out in Mrs. Stone's class, helping students through a very slow step-by-step process of writing a research paper. I had been trying to help two students at once, and finally, one kid called out to the teacher, "I need help!" I said, "I'm helping you!" He replied, "You're doing a good job, but you can't help two people at once..." I suddenly felt this extreme parallel to what it's like for me to disciple 40 kids at once, and wondered how helpful I really am to most of them....

***At lunch time, I sat down with a group of students I know moderately well...a few girls were playing with a deck of cards, and it turned out they were doing tarot readings for each other. One girl told me she could look into my eyes and read my future.

She stared intensely at me for a few moments and said profoundly, "You have a good life."
I grinned and smiled, "Yes..." thinking, "Ahhhh, my future has been revealed!" But I kept playing along...
Then she said, "Are you married?"
I coyly replied, "You're the future-teller. You tell me."
Bronco laughed.
"I can't see everything...only glimpses."
I responded: "mmm.."
"Well," she replied, "If you're not married, then there's a guy."
I grinned and said, "There's always a guy." I felt like she had just looked into my eyes and told me they were blue, as if it were earth-shattering news. Finally I just looked at her and waved my hand in front of my face, "This right here, if you can't read it, is called skep-ti-cism."
She didn't get it and continued on about how her gift had revealed much.

***During 6th period, I returned to walk with a few PE students around the track...Mr. Smoots has a few students who won't participate during games but are willing to once a week, I show up to walk with them. For whatever reason, one of the boys and I began talking about music (he was educating me on Rockabilly), and it turned to a conversation about his aggression and his feelings towards the church. He calls himself a Christian, yet hates church because of the strict way it says he's supposed to behave...he said he didn't need a preacher to interpret the Word of God for him, because he can do that on his own.

So there I am--walking around the track at public high school, engaging in a conversation about Christ and the church with a student who doesn't even know that I'm there as a missionary...he only knows that I'm listening.
* * * * *

It made me think a lot about packaged faith and packaged gospel presentations, which I am growing more and more disillusioned to...When I'm loving students or sharing about Christ with them, I don't want them to see it as a slick sales presentation--I want them to see faith for what it is in my life--this ever-transition, ever-dialoguing relationship with this being that I love and serve yet still know little about except that He is good. I also want them to hear it when they're ready to listen.

It feels like being there and listening and helping them for a long period of time, has, in the case of my 6th period student, given me the opportunity to say boldly, "I don't think that's what the church isn't about a wizened man up there telling you about God--it's about being surrounded by a group of people who can support you in the decision that you have made to serve's a family of people who can help you live well."

I can't just walk in the doors of a public school with a sandwich board and say, "Repent! The End is Nigh!" But I can help students with research papers and in PE class and suddenly have this amazing opportunity to challenge students on the things in which they place their faith and the way in which they perceive the church. Praise God for incarnational ministry...for which He already gave us the ultimate model.