Friday, November 28, 2008

study in contrasts

i was driving up to virginia earlier this week (where i am now, visiting family) and i couldn't help but contemplate the differences in this thanksgiving and the last. for one, my whole family (including both divorced parents) came together for the first holiday in almost 3 years. that was definitely cool. and easy. and natural, even?

but really, what got me thinking, was listening to african music while driving a car (something i didn't have last year) by myself (versus a jam packed bush taxi) on very smooth paved roads (no pot holes) through the mountains (not the beach) on a cool fall day (no 60% humidity here)!!

the music took me back to a very different place and time. the always present feeling of sand between your toes. the never very cold beer. the lost sense of time. but what was it that made it feel so very different? not these details... something less tangible.

finally it occurred to me. i think it was this feeling of being in a forgotten land. kinda feeling like you don't matter. not in a bad way. just in a all-that-matters-is-this-moment-and-how-i-live-it kind of way. here, it's always what's leading to the next thing. there, the next thing won't come along till you're finished with what you're doing now. it's very very different. and so distant. like you're not just in a different geographic location, but a different time altogether.

sometimes i really miss it.

which isn't to say i don't appreciate the paved roads and time spent alone thinking in the car, fully equipped with a seatbelt.

just different.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


last night 23 high school kids made shelters from cardboard boxes on the front lawn of our church. our first official lock OUT. the idea was to sleep outside in boxes in an effort to bring attention to homelessness in our community the night before the annual homeless awareness walk. the idea came about last spring or summer, though, in much warmer weather.

i don't think anyone expected the 16 degree chill.

parents called the church saying their child couldn't come (that's fine). our numbers dropped a little.

but 23 brave souls still showed up.

and so did 4 news trucks.

awareness accomplished.

a few events in the evening that helped drive the point home:

1. mark, a homeless neighbor, came to the church to share his story and answer the kids questions. he gave us pointers on how to set up our boxes. he told us the key is to keep your hands, feet and head warm. he said he had no idea we were actually going to sleep outside ALL night, and he was so touched by what we were doing. gayle, a homeless lady i ran into at the coffee shop said the same thing, as did the mother of a homeless family sleeping IN our church last night. their appreciation made it a little easier to bare the cold with my kids.

2. one of our youth has been interviewing homeless people for two years, working on her gold award project for girl scouts. we watched a documentary she had put together. it was cool for the kids to hear from one of their peers how they can make a difference.

when all was said and done, 1 kid went home early, 13 kids went into the sanctuary (all curled up around the altar... pretty cute), and 9 kids braved the cold all night... along with 3 adults.

and then we walked 5k.

and then i went to class, fell asleep during the lecture, and got sent home :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

you are my sunshine

i'm at caribou right now... working on my LAST theology paper (for this term anyway) and procrastinating (obviously) as i wait for one of my 10th grade kids to meet me for coffee (to discuss a recent break-up). good times.

and i've been working on my paper the better part of today, as i will be doing tomorrow, because the material is so dense that i can hardly make hide nor hair of it, despite my love for karl barth.

anyway. whenever i'm feeling down... like i'm failing as a writer... i look at this:and all my sorrows and self-doubt melt away. keegan has that effect on me. the little boy i call my nephew, who (whom?) i love to no end.

thanks keegster.

Monday, November 17, 2008

who needs sleep?

well you're never gonna get it.
who needs sleep?
tell me, what's that for...
(lyrics from a bare naked ladies song... where in the world did that band get their name anyway?)

friday night was our middle school lock-in. we had 84 kids. sometimes i forget the magnitude of our youth program, but it's hard to ignore when you have to rent TWO charter buses just to get to the mini-theme-park at the mall (after it closes) so the kids have their run of the laser-tag, go carts, games and climbing wall. oh, sure, we did the more traditional lock-in stuff too... like playing sardines... nothing like hide-and-seek in a big dark church!

ah, memories.

what i had forgotten, though, is how COOL it is to stay up at that age! one kid came up to me toward the end of the movie we watched (cheaper by the dozen) to ask what time it was. i looked at my watch and said, "almost 3am..." her face lit up in wonderment, "wow... coooooool."

the following day i watched a kid tell his mom, "we had church at 1 in the morning!!!"


needless to say, none of us were very rested for the service projects we participated in the following morning. hundreds of church peeps did work all over the city. pretty cool.

and this weekend will be our lock-OUT, when the high schoolers sleep outside in boxes. me too. good times to come.

Friday, November 14, 2008

not the juan for me

deep down inside, i know i probably shouldn't write this post... that it will bite me in the butt someday. but i'm going to anyway because i think it's a good story. my fear is that it'll come across as if i'm making fun of someone... of juan... but this is really a story of how i am a complete idiot.

see, i have this kinda outgoing personality. and sometimes that can be misconstrued as being flirtatious when i meet men. i suppose that was the case with juan, because he started calling me last week (after getting my number from a friend), making good conversation, and eventually asking when we could hang out.

now he never actually asked me on a date.

so i wasn't sure about his intentions.

hence my entirely ridiculous response.

juan: you got plans thursday?
me: yep. going to a benefit.
juan: drinks afterward?
me: nope, may be out late.
juan: how about this weekend?
me: i've got a lock-in with my kids... really busy.
juan: sometime else?
me: i'm pretty much booked till mid-december.
juan: how about mornings?
me: mornings work. i can do that.

**awkward pause while i'm figuring out how to dodge a bullet i'm not sure exists**

me: um, juan, i gotta tell you... i don't want to sound presumptuous, but i just have to let you know i'm not interested in dating you right now.

**shoot!! right now?? that doesn't sound right?!?!**

me: errrr... or... ever.

**ahhh! what am i doing?!? or ever?!? how mean is that?!?!**

me: i mean, i know i sometimes send mixed messages unintentionally, so if that's the message i've been sending, i just want to correct it.
juan: ok. are you seeing someone?
me: no.

**i'm the worst person ever!**

juan: ok. so you want to grab coffee friday?
me: sure!

**how can he be nice when i'm so mean?!?! why wasn't i born knowing how to do this??**

and then we had a lovely coffee this morning. no real surprise there. he's a great guy. smart, funny, conversational, nice, handsome. i'd set him up with one of my friends in a heartbeat. hey, there's an idea...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


i went to see religulous last night with a group of friends from various faith backgrounds. it was about what i expected from bill maher. some parts were hilarious (everyone had to put up with my snorting), some parts were offensive, and some (especially the ending) were extremely depressing. i definitely wouldn't tout it as a documentary. the cuts and editing were way too much in favor of bill and his agenda.

and what is bill's agenda? to put an end to religion before it puts an end to the world. to take up the banner of doubt. this assumes two things: 1) faith and doubt don't mix, and 2) doubt would end all conflict.

i think it's sad that bill is under the impression that faith leaves no room for doubt. that faith and certainty are synonymous. isn't it the opposite? is it not certainty that leaves no room for faith? yes, hebrews 11 says, "faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see," but this is HOPE we're certain of. faith is the beginning of knowledge, not the the end of it. st. augustine says "i believe that i might understand." the theologian paul tillich says, "doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith." the scientist dr. francis collins says, "doubt is an unavoidable part of belief." speaking from personal experience, the two go hand in hand... creating this back and forth conversation with God that grows me as a person every day.

and how would pure doubt end all conflict? is it not doubt that sends our economy spiraling downward? doubt that causes paranoia? faith in nothing? hope in nothing?

overall, i wouldn't suggest watching religulous to learn anything. but it does spark some great conversation. so if you do go, make sure you follow up with beer and pizza.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

my butt hurts

i went to my first spin class today.

i may have mentioned that i've fallen into a very athletic group of friends... mostly triathletes... lots of them "ironmen." it's just the thing to do here. and after months of saying i wouldn't get sucked in, i'm now saying i'll start training, and maybe one day do a little baby triathlon. i bought a new pair of running shoes that i actually do enjoy running in (amazing the difference a good set of shoes will make!) i have plans to buy a roadbike later this winter... maybe february? but in the mean time, it's spin class for me. so i went with my girlfriend julie this morning, and it was... boring. other than the fact that i got to talk to julie here and there. that IS why i'm falling for all this nonsense--the social aspect of it. i think i'll maybe warm up to spin class eventually. in the mean time, i can at least enjoy the fact that i think it's building up the muscles around my knee, which will really help me run.

now i just have to buy a swim suit.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

useless blither

stealing that one from furst.

i feel like i should post something today since it is election day and voting is important (get out the vote!)

i did vote, and my ballot would confuse just about anyone.

so rather than confuse you all as well, i'll tell you about how much i like to go to the park.

i was dogsitting this past weekend. ollie is the best dog. i should take a picture next time i stay with him. for one, ollie is a great cuddler. he keeps my feet warm, but doesn't get in my way... perfect. secondly, ollie sits and contemplates important things while i'm reading. he can be so stoic. he's also my muse. he sat on my feet while i typed a paper sunday, and i'm convinced that's why i finished the whole thing in one sitting.

ollie is also a smart ass. at one point, as i stretched out on the couch reading homework on a friday night, loving my class and the reading, but lamenting how it encroaches on my social life... i turned to ollie and said, "you know, even if i were to really like a guy... i don't have time for a boyfriend." ollie, in his infinite wisdom, rolled his eyes at me.

but this is supposed to be about parks, not dogs. ollie lives 2 doors down from one of the entrances to a great park. it is so much fun to walk there, and ollie is the perfect excuse. the breadth and depth of humanity you encounter at the park is amazing! all different people, all different shapes and sizes and colors. and dogs. everyone is so different, and yet they all come to the same spot. a spark of commonality between us all. and this weekend, with the especially lovely fall weather, i couldn't help but be awed by the beauty of all God's creation... the people, colors, smells, animals, sounds, feels... like it was one great big church.

and now i've said something about parks.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

oh, snap!

just checked to see how many matches were omitted by my friend the other night, at which point i discovered he dumped the ONLY guy i was in communication with! and the reason he gave?

"i think the difference in our values is too great"

thanks, man. a whole month and a half of investment down the drain. hilarious.