Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Paint Chips II

Okay. We've settled on colors. How do these sound:

~Spicy Curry
~Cafe Latte
~Dried Hydrangea

I suddenly feel like we're no longer in the Arlington YD office, but that I'm magically sipping on a latte after enjoying a curry dinner picnic on a riverbank next to a hydrangea bush.

I hope this doesn't mean I will be tempted to eat the walls. I hear that's bad for you.

And for anyone who was worried that Pam and I would make our kids wear 80's colors--the shirts we chose for Bob's Island Getaway are Asphalt Gray.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Paint Chips.

I am sitting at my desk staring at paint samples, and I'm more clueless than when I started....

Because how can you learn what color you want a room to be JUST by staring at a 1"x2" square of paper? seriously!

We're moving our office down the hall, and painting will be in effect very soon. I am looking forward to a new office and a new paint job. But. Choosing colors is very difficult.

Last week when Pam and I were looking at T-Shirt colors for Bob's Island Getaway, we fell in love with these flourescent thermal shirts. I have to say, that making everything all 80's Flourescent is very tempting...I'm envisioning Stuart's office in "Slap Bracelet Pink" and Bronco's office in "Hypercolor Orange." My office, will of course be beautiful earthy tones.

Friday, January 27, 2006

We are all gathered at the Stonewater Ranch.

(Photo on right is Pam and I anticipating intense Seahawks/Steelers matchup. Photo on left is me prophesying the beating that the Steelers will endure.)

So. I debuted three original songs to the staff this week. They got to enjoy Barrista Boy for the first time...and they got to hear "Training Days," which is a song I wrote about Whitewater Raft Guide Training and "Stonewater Ranch," which is the theme song for our new 130-Acre camp in the Cascade Mountains. The point is, that really, for the first time since arriving in Washington, my YD staff got to see a bit more of who I am.

I was set to be the worship leader for our 3-day Conference, where our staff of about 40 people from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho gathered together...the room is still about 50% married men over the age of 30, although I have to say the number of woman and younger, unmarried men was in a higher ratio form than I've ever seen it. (Yay for that!) And I totally enjoyed being able to take responsibility in the worship area...it's much harder for me to lead worship for adult co-workers than it ever was to lead worship at camp--maybe because I know their expectations are higher--or maybe because I'm truly trying to create a community and an atmosphere of worship...and I wonder if my acoustic guitar and voice can really do that.

But it seemed to go well...and they seemed appreciative...and I was just appreciative to interact throughout the Conference in a comfortable spot for me--in front and leading.

Without intending to do it--I led a devotional time on Wednesday morning that ended up directing the course of our 3 days together. I read from Kathleen Norris' The Cloister Walk (see Sidebar) and compared it to the Fellowship of the Believers in Acts 2. I challenged us as a group to consider ourselves NOT a corporation, but a community...and I defined the differences. My coworkers seemed wide-eyed and attentive, which was unusual for me, because what I was delivering was much more a sermon than it was a testimony. The Leadership Team ended up changing the schedule for the conference later in the day to allow more time for community-building, and they referred to it as the 'weekend theme.'

Yesterday, I was approached by at least five of my coworkers (all of these five coworkers being married men, over the age of 30, with significant amounts of ministry experience) and they thanked me for my leadership over the conference and thanked me for sharing different pieces of myself. They said they were glad to have gotten to know me better this week.

And I felt affirmed and encouraged. Also encouraged by the fact that my coworkers gifted me and my coworker Brian with the BARNABAS Award, of all things. This is the award that's given out every year by the staff to the person who's been a source of encouragement and service to the staff. As an angsty, sarcastic, often-sullen-type, I once told Bronco, "The day I win the Barnabas award is the day the earth stops spinning on its axis," because the award seems to typify a recognition of the consistently sweet, supportive, encouraging types, of which I'm much to angsty and witty to really ever be. But apparently, people still find me encouraging??? So...what do I know about anything, really.

I do know that I care an awful lot about the ministry work that YD does, I care an awful lot of what we're capable of doing in the future, and I care an awful lot about the community of the staff team. I know that I'm capable of doing a LOT more than what my current ministry role is, and as I'm trying to flush out where to go/what to do in the next stage of my life, I certainly want to discern how YD can continue to be a part of it. And this weekend showed me that my gifts DO have a place within this ministry, even if it's for something as basic and important as encouragement. So. God and I are going to be talking a lot this month. That's another entry for another day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Yesterday, I celebrated my 25th year on this earth with a few friends for a dinner in Bellingham.

It was a good way to end the day, considering that I had woken up at 3am feeling nauseas and spent most of the early morning hugging the toilet. Apparently there's a bit of stomach flu going around right now, and by the end of the day, I had discovered at least two of my other friends were sick, too.

But. I crawled back into bed, and my friend Erin showed up with 7-Up, Soda Crackers, Pepto-Bismol, and all sorts of other treats, and she graciously cleaned my kitchen for me while I slept.

So. That by 5pm, I was feeling well enough to join my friends for dinner, even though, my friend Sarah, who had graciously planned the whole things, was at home with the stomach flu. It was a good time. There was singing, there was lots of good story-telling and laughing. There was even a very fine banjo player.

Something I've wanted ever since moving to Washington was a bit of community, and while I was sitting at the table last night laughing with 7 friends, I had it. Happy Birthday to me!

This morning I walked into my office, and it was covered in balloons. And I was not here to enjoy it on my birthday! Alas, I am enjoying it this morning!! I'm headed to Stonewater Ranch (our new camp property in the mountains near Leavenworth, WA) where I will be for a 3-day staff conference. So I will be quiet this week.

And Go Seahawks! Wooooo! Super Bowl!!!

Friday, January 20, 2006

"For that is what I'd truly like to be."

You can guarantee that it's going to be a good day with the Oscar Mayer truck shows up at the local grocery store when you're on your way to meet with your Student Leaders.

And the whole idea of it just encourages you to burst out in song...which we did..."Oh I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner...
That is what I'd truly like to be...
For if I were an Oscar Mayer weiner...
Everyone would be in love with meeee!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bless My Socks Off!

So, after an email from Brock this morning, I have determined that the Lord has decided to bless my socks off this spring! Between the last weekend in February and the first weekend in April, all of the following Taylor friends are coming to Seattle-land for a visit: Renee A, Brock M, Zach M, Adria L, and Suzanne PT. What in the world? I have had my socks blessed off! So many of my dearest friends coming to the Northwest? Lalala!

(Not to mention the rad trip to Vegas with Mom, Dad, and Sean to celebrate Mom's Awesomeness in the Grocery World.)

And at the same time, all this new vision for things I want to do at work...so...hmm. Yay God!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Future H.R. Woman??

Yesterday, I was meeting with Bronco (Arl YD Director), Stuart (New Arl YD Associate Director), and Janet (New Arl YD Intern) as we were praying and fasting for the ministry for the day. We prayed for each other, we prayed for our ministry, and we prayed for lots of other stuff too.

At one point, we were praying through a list of staff who are currently support-raising, and Bronco asked me where these staff are moving to. I listed off where the staff are moving to, from where, and relatively where each one was at in the process. And I updated everyone on where each of our Adventure staff were in their process of moving up to our new Ranch in Leavenworth.

Bronco looked at me and grinned and said, "Future HR Woman!"

I grinned, because, well, it was natural for me to know and care about where each of our staff are, and how each of them are doing. I love working with and hanging out with students--yet, I also care a lot about staff, and I could spend hours talking to them about their spiritual health, struggles, etc, which is not necessarily something that is normal to have on the radar based on my current position.

So. Maybe God has designed me to do Human Resources for Youth Ministers. It doesn't seem unlikely...but there's not really a position available for that right now. We'll see. For now, I will stick to spending most of a 5-hour bus ride with students creating disco moves for happy meal toys.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Things Worth Celebrating:

1. The Seahawks are playing in the NFC Championship on Sunday...for a chance to face either the Steelers or the Broncos, both of whom, as arch-nemeses of the Cleveland Browns, I would love to see lose to this team I have come to love over the past two years. (To your right is League MVP Shaun Alexander, pointing to the heavens, because that's right, he loves Jesus.)

2. Our rickety school bus full of students made it over and back to Wenatchee this weekend for 2 days of skiing/snowboarding at Mission Ridge. I was convinced I would spend at least 2 1/2 hours distributing hand warmers while our kids waiting impatiently for the bus to be repaired at the top of Steven's pass, but it was an unnessary worry. We were fine.

3. After helping deliver a tag-team service with Pastor Nathan and Pastor Harv at Ski Retreat on the book of Hosea, I have decided to commence a career as a motivational speaker (not really...) But, I had an amazingly good time in both the research and the execution of the sermonette. My subtopics: modenizing Gomer's shady lifestyle and teaching the kids about "sacred raisin cakes" (Hosea 3:1)...

4. Arlington YD hired a female intern, whom I get to supervise this spring!

5. Every day that goes by is a day closer to the beginning of, what will appear to be, a very lovely season on the Wenatchee River (based on the amount of snow the mountains are getting this year, thanks to our non-stop precipitation lately). As I cried out and pointed to the Wenatchee River on the drive home yesterday, the kids scoffed at me, like, I couldn't have just pointed out something less interesting. I reminded them that I had just listened to their exclamations of glee about Mt. Baker having a record 112" of snowfall this weekend. They were still not impressed. I guess it was dark, and they were enduring sore muscles and tired bodies...but still...

6. Today, I booked a 96-mile rafting trip on the Deschutes River for myself, Greg, and ten students in June! BLAH! I can't wait!

7. Although I am extremely depressed to be turning 25 next Monday, Sarah is organizing a birthday party at a restaurant I've wanted to go to for months...so...birthdays are better when there are good friends with which to share them.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Danielle Peck!

Guess what? I heard a girl from Coshocton, Ohio on the radio the other day! Her name is Danielle Peck, and she's been living/working in Nashville for a couple of years, and now she's on tour with Toby Keith in Tacoma next week. You can see her video here. I remember hearing about her shows while I was growing up because she used to sing all the time with people from our church in "The Neon Moon Band!"

Maybe I will sell her Barrista Boy, and then we can start the "Coshocton Singing Troupe," and reach audiences across the world with the sounds of Ohio.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Invisible Children.

Last night, we kicked off the 30-hour famine at Youth Group, and we watched the film Invisible Children. It's a student documentary, done by a few college kids about child soldiers in the LRA in Uganda...focusing on the hundreds of kids that live on the street as refugees from their imprisonment as child soldiers. It was definitely a film that connected well with high-school age...and it was a great start to our kids being motivated to do something about it.

They're starting a bracelet campaign this month that I'm pretty excited about. Check out their website for more info!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My Mom is One Rad Woman.

I would like to proudly announce that my mother, Terrie Baker, has been chosen as the National Grocer's Association's "Woman of the Year." The award is given to one woman in the U.S. each year, based on contribution to the grocery industry and service to humanity.

If you want to get her a shout-out of congratulations, you can post a comment here.

Mom, Dad, Sean, and I are going to go to Vegas next month to celebrate with her and see her receive her award! So. Youth Minister goes to Vegas. Interressant.


The frustration I have been feeling for the past ten days has finally faded, (Praise the Lord!) and I'm feeling much more like myself. Thank you for your prayers, because I know they are a huge part of my upswing.

C.S. Lewis wrote in A Grief Observed, "No one ever told me grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid." His idea has brought insight into the complexity of my own emotional responses, and I can trace back the last several weeks into the following flow: 1. "2 1/2 weeks of intense interaction with family and friends." 2. "returning home to an apartment away from these people to live alone." 3. "grief." 4. "incorrectly identifying my own grief as fear." 5. "yearning for a life in which I perceive I would be safer and less afraid. (i.e. married/family/stability.)" 6. "realizing my feelings were grief (not fear) and accepting the grief for what it is." 7. "waking up feeling normal again."

So. There you go.

Good things are happening right now in ministry. I am spending M,W,F mornings helping students write English papers, which I love. I am spending weekend evenings hosting movie nights at my home, which I also love. And tomorrow, I am beginning an accountability/prayer group with three of my student leaders.

Good things are happening in my personal life, too. One of my friends and I are going to begin meeting together to talk/pray and read Captivating by Stasi and John Eldredge. And my car insurance rates are going to drop this year, because, in eleven days, I turn 25.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Life's Like an Hourglass Glued to the Table:
Part 2.

This blog is dedicated to Renee, RedSuz, Lynn-rd, Ruthie, PamS, PamC, E-Hark, Adria, Danara, Sonja, Sarah, Heidi...Please join me for a movie night in my living room soon, and bring your own arsenal of throw pillows.

In case it hasn't been obvious, I have spent months trying to develop a vision and a passion for a direction in my life, and I'm not finding it. Last night, I had a mini-awakening while I was sprawled across the couch talking with Suzanne. Expressing myself in melodramatic honesty, (as I often do when interrupted from sullen, self-pitying solitude by a phone call from Suzanne) I cried out, "I DO have a life vision! It is to marry an attractive, intelligent man and decorate our house and make babies!!! [Long pause.] And I can't make that happen on my own! EUGHGHHH! [Long pause.] So...I keep trying to create a different life vision that I can do something about...and it's like saying, 'Hello heart's desire. Nice to see you. Can you please sit in the waiting room for an indefinite period of time while I ignore you and fill up my schedule with busywork.'"

Suzanne laughed and said, "Oh Heather. It's so true. You should write a book about it. And people would read it and love it, and it would give you purpose." Yay Suzanne.

So. I brooded on this thought all evening and ended up back on my couch fueling up with Jane Austen's Emma and Anna Nalick's Breathe, not feeling much better than I had before having my mini-awakening...because regardless...I was still home alone watching Jane Austen movies...and when this is now coupled with understanding that your heart's desires can only be assuaged on a Sunday evening in Arlington by watching some perfect-looking Hollywood couple hook-up, you scrunch up your face knowing that if you had the energy, you would throw pillows at the screen. (n.b. Is that why they're called 'throw pillows'?) Eugh.

THEN, this morning, I wake up feeling focused on my job, ready to greet the tasks in my week, and in general, more chipper than I've been in at least nine days! What in the WORLD?! I ask myself. I feel fine?! What is this about? I'm supposed to be sullen right now! I write better when I'm sullen! I don't want to be fine!!! I couldn't believe that all the feelings of frustration and emptiness had dissipated and I was ready to just go back to life. I found this to be extremely annoying.

I ask myself how it can possibly be that I can wake up and move on with life when I'll I've done is recognize what I find to be unsettling. How is that supposed to be inspiring or focusing in any way...

...unless...it's just that I can recognize that I have been dishonest in saying I have no life vision, because I do have one. It's just not one I can control...thus, I now hand it over to God and move on with the rest of my life. I realize that I have been unfulfilled not because of an undiscovered life vision, but because I haven't been embracing and accepting the one I do have...I have been suppressing it and ignoring it, trying to strive after some 'life vision' that's more palatable to the masses...or that's more palatable to me.

It doesn't make sense to me really. I have felt like a space cadet all week...and based on a few instances of incoherent sentences and random aloofness today, I am still a space cadet.

But. At least I know what I want for my life, as hard as it is for me to accept as an intelligent, independent 24-year-old living an adventurous life in an exotic locale. Lord, have mercy on me.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Life's Like an Hourglass Glued to the Table.

For the past 12 hours, I have been playing Anna Nalick's Breathe over and over and over.

I suppose I connect with these words a bit too much today:

"2 AM and I'm still awake writing this song.
If I get it all down on paper it's no longer inside of me
Threatening the life it belongs to.
And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them however you want to.

But you can't jump the track. We're like cars on a cable
And life's like an hourglass glued to the table.
No one can find the rewind button now.
Sing it if you understand
And breathe. Just breathe."

This morning I sat in church, feeling numb and feeling bound to a life that I don't really understand. I'm going to spend the afternoon in contemplative reflection, and this feels necessary. I don't really have a vision for where life is taking me next...

Friday, January 06, 2006

Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Last night I was on the phone with a few friends, and it seemed like sighs were all I could muster up.

Maybe it's part post-partum holiday depression. Maybe it's returning back home each night to an empty apartment. Or maybe, it's Seasonal Affective Disorder. I have not seen the sun since I was in Colorado, and maybe it's affecting my neuro-transmitters.

There has been a lot of oppressive stuff happening this week. A 40-something teacher at the high school died of natural causes. A student that we know was hospitalized for cutting. And there has been no sun for at least five days.

But I do have a 40th Anniversary Edition of The Sound of Music, and Captain vonTrapp has me convinced that if I will only dance The Ländler with him on an Austrian terrace that life will be good again.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Come to Colorado.

Happy 2006 from the Taylor Crew!
Clockwise from Top: RedSuz, Jake, Mike and Becca, Nate and Jessica, Me, Janelle and Chris, BlondeSuz and Barrett, Drew and Lisa, Lynn-rd.

I have officially returned to Washington, via Ohio, Indiana, and Colorado...and 2 1/2 weeks after leaving the Northwest, I am trying to re-orient myself to my home! It is good to be back...

Most recently...I enjoyed a few well-spent days with my best Taylor friends in Colorado. We laughed together, ate together, worshipped together, and cried together. These 13 people have taught me about community, about loving the Lord fully, and about vulnerability and accountability. They make my life so much richer for knowing them!

For the past seven years, no matter where we are living, we have gathered for a "New Year's Extravaganza." This year marked perhaps the most elaborate of our occasions. There were beautiful snow-covered Rocky Mountains, and there was lots of fun cooking together in the kitchen and singing Karaoke in the living room.

The highlight for me for Christmas break was definitely the hundreds of good conversations I was able to have with people all over the place, both at home in Ohio, in Indiana visiting friends, and finally, in Colorado...all of these times were too rich to summarize...

So. Here are a few photographic highlights of New Year's 06. May everyone be so blessed to have as good and as dear as friends as these:

Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Before the big party started, six of us traveled in a 5-seater Nissan to hike through the snow in Rocky Mountain National Park! Beautiful! We discovered that lakes in Colorado freeze over and that snowshoes are probably a good investment if you plan to hike in the snow a lot.

Left: RedSuz and Me smiling for the camera at Nymph Lake in RMNP.

Right: Shane, RedSuz, Jake, Janelle, and Chris grin because we have discovered that snowballs in the Rockies are very fun weapons!

An Afternoon at Copper Mountain Resort
On New Year's Eve Day, four of us who were not brave enough to tackle the big slopes (smartly!) traveled up to the mountains to bum around Copper Mountain. It was a beautiful afternoon of watching the graceful skiers, and it provided the opportunity for my worlds to collide (as they have many times) by introducing my Taylor friend to a few of my Washington friends (Zach and Bucky) who happened to be at Copper Mountain on the same day! Yay for knowing everyone in the whole world! (Not quite.)

Left: RedSuz, Janelle, BlondeSuz moments before we began our "Olympic Ski Commentary" of the people on the slopes.

Right: Zach, Bucky, and I laugh about how odd it is that we should run into each other in a state none of us live in!

The Gala Event: New Year's Eve
This year's New Year's Extravaganza was the largest to date, with over thirty people in attendance at Chris and Janelle's home in Evans, Colorado. There was great food, great karaoke, and some very intense bouts with Electronic 20 Questions. I also debuted my original songs "Barrista Boy" and "Potential" for the excited crowd, which they appeared to enjoy. Hooray for spending the holiday with my best friends!

Left: The party commences! L-R: Shane, Janelle, Jake, Barrett, BlondeSuz, Me, Becca, Mike.

Right: BlondeSuz and I battle our wits against Electronic 20 Questions. When asked to guess "Candle," it first guessed "Fetish." We were victorious! HaHA!