Wednesday, March 29, 2006

In the next 48 hours...

I'm going to the airport twice. Once, tonight, to pick up Adria and Zach--two of the funniest people in the world and former members of Taylor University's Rice Pilaf Improv Comedy Team.

Tomorrow, we all three will go again to fetch Timmy--also one of the funniest people in the world and former member of Taylor University's Rice Pilaf Improv Comedy Team.

This is all because our big annual YD Retreat (Bob's Island Getaway) starts on Friday, and somehow, the four of us are going to MC and entertain the masses of students with our Improv?!

I think we're all nervous about our ability to be funny...and it's been three years since we've seen each other all together...and...and...and...and...

...There are still lots of other details to be pieced together for Bob's...overall, though, the staff and the Improv Team is excited. We will be taking at least 18 kids from Arlington to beautiful San Juan Island...and they will experience community with a family and hear about the truth of Jesus Christ...and they will laugh at Rice Pilaf making a spectacle....

...and this morning, I woke up in my new home...and I did not see a grocery store parking lot out my window...I saw fog-covered mountains.

C'est bien, oui?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

New House!

Over the weekend, I completed about 98% of my move from my 2-bedroom apartment of nearly two years. Here are some photos of my new mountain home, where I now live with the wonderful and gracious Jenny.

This is the tiger that hangs on the wall in the foyer. How thrilling that I get to go on a Safari every day of the week!

Here is my bedroom!!! complete with walk-in closet and cubby hole.

Here is the grand piano room. Laaaa! Chopin and Schubert will flow through my fingers once more!

Here is the downstairs sitting room and kitchen...complete with mountain view and KitchenAid mixer.

And here is the mountain view from the back deck. It was foggy this morning. Yesterday, when it was clear, I could see snow-capped peaks! Praise God for a new house that I love, a new housemate, and for understanding and answering my prayers for community!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

La Vie Boheme

I have been listening to the soundtrack from Rent for the past 8 days straight. Every morning when I wake up, I feel like I'm a part of an exciting starving artist lifestyle in some pocket of Seattle. Of course, I actually am in the process of moving into a 3-bedroom mountain cabin. Definitely more unabomber than bohemian...yet somehow Erin and I are standing in the YD parking lot at 9:30pm in little Arlington belting the lyrics to "La Vie Boheme." It must make sense somehow.

My past weekend was spent with students (imagine!) in Seattle. Stuart (also an Arlington YD Associate Director) and I took six students to the Dare 2 Share Conference. The point of the event was to inspire Christian students who are looked upon as leaders to be inspired and motivated to have a spirit of evangelism. YD kids tend to be slightly more rag-tag than your more typical youth group, we fittingly took kids who weren't even necessarily 'Christian' to a 'Christian leader' event.

This is obviously risky--because if the students are freaked out, they might never pursue the church again...but for no reason in particular, a few students joined us who have been connected to the church at different points but are definitely not typical 'church kids.' It's exciting--because we know in confidence that if these rag-tag energetic kids dedicated their lives and hearts to the Lord, they would do amazing things.

One student in particular, I have been friends with for the past 18 months...and for whatever reason, she came to the event, even though she's generally skeptical of Christians and Christian events. We had a great time together, and she warmed up to the idea of doing something 'Christiany' during some of the sessions and concerts. When we returned home on Saturday night and took a few minutes to debrief and pray, her response stunned me. She said, "I was really surprised this weekend to find out that people were struggling with the same things I struggle with. I didn't feel so alone." And I handed her a brand new New Testament, and she was genuinely excited.

Our speaker for the weekend, Greg Steir, said that most of us don't make 180 degree turns in our life...we make little 1 or 2 degree turns and wake up one day to discover we're going the complete opposite direction from where we were going before. As I look back on the 18 months I've been friends with this particular student, I can grin and see hundreds of little 1 degree turns in her life...and I know that she's on a cusp of a complete life transformation. It's exciting to watch.

Monday, March 20, 2006

It is Finished.

Janelle's scholarly paper is finished. I've been helping her work on it for the past six months. Six months of my life have been consumed in helping Janelle to research and edit her 4-page paper...and now she's just done? Every MWF from 9-10a, I'm in Mrs. Stone's 2nd Period English helping students with their mandatory Junior Scholarly Paper. What will I do now?

I feel this hollow emptiness, like, I'm excited that Janelle has passed, but somehow my life has less purpose or meaning or something.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Mystery of the Puzz 3D

Where are Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot when you need them?! Seriously! A Puzz 3D has magically appeared in my office today, and I have no idea where it came from...

...the magical part is not that the Puzz 3D appeared in my office, BUT, that the last time I saw this particular Puzz 3D (a beautiful tribute to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, flying buttresses and all), it was sitting on the desk of my coworker Jon, which is about 2 hours away from here at Stonewater Ranch.

This all started because I constructed the 3D Effigy of Notre Dame with the help of some students at our recent "Freeze Your Booty Off" Retreat at Stonewater Ranch. Sarah then helped me transport the sculptural masterpiece to Jon's desk with a note attached that said, "Model representation of new Owyhee River Port-a-Potties." A few days later, Sarah discovered the cathedral on HER desk, and after returning it to the box, had not seen it again.

This morning, I discovered that it was NOT at Stonewater Ranch anymore, but in fact, tucked neatly in a back corner of my desk. Stuart and Bronco (the only two men with keys to the office) claim that they had nothing to do with it.

It's possible that my friends Greg and Danica were involved too, because they were at Stonewater Ranch with me this past weekend and could certainly have transported it back to Arlington without my knowledge...but place it in my office without my knowledge when I expected that it was still sitting 2 hours away in Leavenworth is quite a feat!

So...the mystery of the Puzz 3D is very much an open case. If you have any leads...please let me know...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

New Home?!

So. I have a new home. Starting ASAP, I'll be moving in with my friend Jenny who has a rad 3-bedroom mountain cabin home that she lives in by herself. It's actually closer to my office than my current apartment, meaning that now, instead of driving 1.2 miles to work, I'll drive 0.9. I was getting sick and tired of staring at boring white walls in my apartment that I share with me, myself and I...and she said I can live with her for awhile!

I'll let you in on any other exciting details once I have any. Our conversation thus far has consisted of, "Can I live with you for awhile?" and her saying, "Sure." So. You officially now know as much as I know.

P.S. Do you want to help me move?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Happy Pi Day!

That's right--it's 3.14.06....meaning that we celebrate Pi, the world's loveliest irrational number today. If you have any special memories of Pi and the role it's played in your life, feel free to leave a comment and share it.

I don't remember the first time I met Pi and used him in Algebra...but I do remember the first time I read Life of Pi, which is a great novel about a shipwrecked boy and a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker (although not necessarily associated with Dr. Richard Parker, Taylor Professor.)

And...tomorrow is 3.15...Beware the Ides of March!!!

Monday, March 13, 2006

A Shindiggity Non-Sled Ride.

I have just logged weekend #3 for the year spent on the new YD Camp Property--Stonewater Ranch. I LOVE THIS PLACE! and I cannot wait to see hundreds and thousands of kids flowing through that piece of property, because it is a place that so easily invites you to love God better.

Yesterday was my first encounter with the official "Stonewater Ranch Sledding Hill," of which I have heard many stories but had never scoped out. The thing is ginormous...and apparantly extremely dangerous, especially if you start clear at the top, where it's steepest, and hit the jump that the kids build at the bottom.

I was hesitant to go, because I'm terribly afraid of sledding. I think this is based solely on my 14th birthday, when I went sledding at my cousins' farm and spent most of the afternoon waist-deep in snow drifts and entangled in barbed wire fences. The experience has somehow become legend in my memory as something that was supposed to be fun, but in which I instead became an immobile scraped-up human popsicle. I'm convinced that my body temperature was permanently lowered just as a result of that one day of sledding.

Anyways--I had to climb the sledding hill yesterday, because we were meeting for a worship service at the top of the ridge to close out our weekend retreat. The retreat, called "Big Shindig," is the official kickoff to the YD Adventures season. Since I was in the midst of outdoor professionals, I don't lightly say, "I'm terribly terrified of sledding, sledding, hills, plastic sleds. And in fact--sled itself is a 4-letter word in my vocabulary."

Instead...I just climb up the sledding hill to go worship God...

On the way back down, after a wonderful time of prayer and reflection, I was gripping the sleeping pad on which I'd been sitting, ever so tempted to launch head-first down the hill and erase all bad connotations with the concept of sledding. This is ironic, because I had just shared with our group that I didn't want God to use my weaknesses--I wanted him to use my strengths. Suddenly--I'm pummeled with the irony of it all saying, " could use your weakness and sled down this hill and use it as a powerful spiritual metaphor."

I, however, as always, wussed out and walked down the hill like most everyone else...and on the ride home, as friends shared exciting stories of sledding gone awry, I just moped in my own wussiness.

I don't know that this story has a point, other than to say, sometimes I really wuss out and miss a grand adventure and write it off as "I'm an artist...I'm a singer...I'm a writer...I'm not an adventurer.." which is really to say, "I don't like to be wet and uncomfortable and in pain just for the sake of adventure..."

Which suddenly makes me so glad--that for some reason--I open myself to be challenged as a Whitewater Rafting Guide. Suddenly, something that seems so very much the opposite of what I am becomes a central piece of who I am...and I know that God is refining me.

2 Cor 12:9: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Youth Group.

Tonight is youth group. Every Wednesday night, I unlock the door to the Arlington Free Methodist Youth Center and try to maintain some level of control over the 70-80 kids who walk in the door. Many of the ones I interact with every week are Junior High Skateboarders--mostly because the entrance to the indoor Skate Park is right next to my seat at the check-in table.

This means, that while I'm calling out "Austin, Thanks! Brian, Thanks! Ryan, Thanks!" as students file through the door and check in (more like pile through the door), I'm also talking to new kids about paperwork and waivers while simultaneously eyeballing our current skateboarders to say, "Kevin! Buckle your helmet! Chelsea! You aren't allowed in the skate park without a skateboard!"

It's a rather demanding job, but I do enjoy that nearly 300 kids have walked through the door, and I've gotten to know most of their names.

A few weeks ago, one student was acting up during the sermon, and I turned and said, "Dylan! Wesley! Be quiet!" Dylan looked back at me wide-eyed: "How do you know my name?" Ummm...because I've been letting you in the door at 5:30pm every Wednesday for the last six months. Do you know my name?

We have 11 adults there every week to lead/chaperone/corral, which is great, compared to other youth ministries in our town who have twice as many kids and half as many adults. Mostly--though--I still get overwhelmed with how many kids we have in the building every week compared to how many adults we have in the building--because, on average, I have about 30 seconds for conversations every week. The crazy part is, our average Sunday attendance at church is around 300 people, meaning that based on trends, our youth group should have 30 kids in it. So. We're maxed out.

Because working with teens is what I do--it's obvious that I think it's important for adults to get involved. But--I specifically know that it's 100% true that every person in the body of Christ has the responsibility of mentoring and discipling kids, whether they're 2 or 22. And it's also 100% true that there will never be enough adult leaders for kids until the entire body of Christ is engaged with young people. And. To make it more complicated, most of the kids that are out there don't have any adults in their life who care at all.

The moral of the story is--if you are a Christian adult and you do not have a kid who's not yours in your life right now, go find one immediately! They need you! If you can't find one a kid, please come to AFMC at 5:30, and I'll introduce you to Dylan and Chelsea when they walk by my table.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Taylor in West Seattle.

Should I ever doubt that an education at a small Christian 4-year school in the cornfields of Indiana was sufficient, I need only drive down to Seattle for an evening to remember why I love Taylor! I spent last evening with five Taylorites whom I have not seen in three years and am blown away by how time and space does not make the Taylor community any less encouraging and wonderful!

Brock, who has been a good friend since we shared Music Theory classes together in Fall of 1999, was in town (thanks to a tremendous deal on JetBlue--$59 each way from Boston!), and we had dinner with Taylor friends Luke and Anna, who live and work in Seattle (Luke and Anna were renowned at Taylor for their mad skills as barristas at "The Jumping Bean.") I was also pleasantly surprised to meet up with Joel and Lauren, other Taylor friends whom I didn't even know lived here! So--there is a small Taylor community only an hour away from me, and I didn't even know it until yesterday. Blessing!!!

We laughed and called it a mini-reunion, like we'd really planned it that way...and we caught up on interesting tidbits of information that seems to cross the Taylor alumni communication wires.

It's so affirming to me to know that the body of Christ--and the church--is something that lives entirely separate from shared time and the words of the song--"The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a resting place, the church is the people." I'm so thankful that I had four years as a part of a community of believers that are now working in parts of God's kingdom on earth all over the place...and I was certainly blessed to be in community with a few of them last night!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Raising Teenagers is Hard

For the past week, and for most of this week--I've become a mother of a very fine 15-year-old. Okay, not a mother, not even a babysitter really...

But, I am housesitting for friends of mine, and they do have a 15-year-old daughter...but I'm not allowed to say I'm "babysitting" because she kicks me and gets defensive.

So. I'm caretaking everything that's important to my friends, which includes a house, a daughter, two dogs, two vehicles, a boat, and a mailbox.

All of this to say--it's really difficult to raise teenagers. I mean, they're never home, or I'm never home, or when we are home, she's on the phone or I'm on the phone. Meaning, there's about five minutes for conversation every day, and it's usually in the car as I'm taking her to one place or another. So. In six months when she gets her license, we won't even have that five minutes.

Obviously, this is not news to 90% of the population, but it is news to me...and it illustrates well that taking a student out for coffee for an hour's worth of solid conversation is not time wasted--because--well--maybe it's the only solid conversation the student has had all week.

If I learn anything else insightful about the life of a teenager during my week as a mom, I'll let you know.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Two Weeks Back!

My friend Scott (former Director of Camp Adventure--now Director of Student Ministries at Warsaw Community Church in Warsaw, IN) is doing something very daring--he has actually enrolled to be a high school student for two weeks!

I'm pretty impressed with Scott's heart for students and his dedication and desire to doing ministry well. You can read about his 2-week adventure as a student here!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Winning Design

And the Winner Is: Shirt D!
Thanks to all who voted!


I have been intending on posting this blog all week, so, finally, here it is:

The Seat-Gripping Story of Renee's Visit to Washington. by. hmb.

Last week, Renee came out to visit. She and I have been friends since August 1999, and we were very excited--to not only have four whole days together--but to also adventure around in my Blue Pontiac Sunfire together (something we have very fond memories of dating back to March 2002, when we spent 45 hours with Suz PT in the blessed Blue Car...)

The main purpose of her visit was to check out Graduate Programs in the area. Renee wanted to look into the Master of Christian Studies at Regent College (Vancouver, BC), and I wanted to check out the MA in Creative Writing at Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA) and University of Washington (Seattle, WA). We hit two of three in her brief 4-day visit, and also managed to squeeze in visits to Lynden, Darrington, and at least 14 independent book stores (slight exaggeration.)

Here's my top 5 list of things I learned during her visit:

1. Truth #1: 8AM classes are still too early. Even though we were prospective Graduate Students, just by the nature of an 8AM class, I felt like a first-semester freshman. But--during our 8AM "Seminar in Non-Fiction" class at WWU, we discovered that we would be confident and comfortable in that learning environment. I am interested in the program, but I have no specific plans right now.

2. Truth #2: Engineering labs are intimidating places full of very complex and expensive machinery. During our visit to WWU Renee and I got a personal tour of the Engineering Labs, thanks to friend Kurtis, who is a student in the department. We got to see all sorts of interesting projects that the students work on, and I got to feel guilty that I never finished High School Chemistry and took a fake lab science during Undergrad. Overall, though, I enjoyed learning that when you're an engineer, you get to spend half your time breaking stuff you make.

3. Truth #3: Vancouver is beautiful, but not as pretty of a city as Seattle. The buildings looked like Europe, circa 1962. But--they are investing over $4 Billion into the city, because the Winter Olympics will be held there in 2010. People in Vancouver appear (based on our 90 minutes of observation at a park and 90 minutes at a restaurant) to be cultured and outdoorsy.

4. Truth #4: If you're spending many hours in a car with a friend and she says, "I need coffee," please do not deny her. Even though you think you're "helping her overcome an unnecessary addiction," you will live to regret it.

5. Truth #5: If you want to play "Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture Edition 2," make sure you only invite OTHER people who want to play "Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture Edition 2." Otherwise, you will live to rue the day that you didn't suggest Taboo or Cranium. Although, when someone sets up a Cranium board in the middle of your Trivial Pursuit game, I suggest you take the hint and switch games. It will be fun. Yay for Heidi, Mark, Renee, Zach, Pam, and Sarah, and a fun night of food and games!