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spring break is over!

Thursday, March 30, 2006
I survived the week. I love playing with kids and stuff, but today was like woah I can't do this every day. I admire those who can work with young people day in and day out, but I don't think that's my calling in life. Today I found the need to entertain myself in various forms. Here are some pictures to prove it.

Trogdor the Burninator! Ok so not exactly but it was funny. Don't know what I'm referencing? Try homestarrunner.com and look for the sb emails. If you scroll through them and find "dragon" this picture will make more sense.

This is my robot. He got some additions from the first drawing, the flaming feet plus the chicken pox. And yes, that definitely is the chicken pox.

Next up on the agenda? The star wars overnighter. About 50 people are going to gather at the church to watch 4 star wars movies tomorrow night. This includes 2 of our families. Here's hoping that's gonna be fun. Hopefully I'll make it through. :-)

spring break

Monday, March 27, 2006
Today began spring break for our kiddos which means parenting classes for our adults and fun for the kids. Today I got to play some serious kickball and therefore hurt lots. It brought back some spectacular memories though playing ridiculous amounts of kickball at youth group on the courthouse yard. I got to do a little bit of the pigpen thing, running around in the dirt in my bare feet which was nothing short of spectacular. It was one of those days where I just delighted in being outdoors and certainly got a kick out of hula hoops, kids playing in the dirt, bumpy slides and a whole lot of laughter. By Thursday I might drop from the fun we're gonna have, but it will so totally be worth it.

i hate being lonely.

Sunday, March 26, 2006
It is true, I really hate being lonely. As introverted as I am, sometimes I don't take solace in the silence of my apartment. Sometimes I just want people to understand me even though I feel like no one ever can. That's when I look for things that remind me of the beauty of loneliness. That's when I try to learn from where I am and see that for growth, one must go through some winters. My director at Mountain TOP, Natalie, knew I needed this perspective. I can't seem to find it now but the book that she introduced me to that changed some of my perspective on things is called "The Tree that Survived the Winter." I'm assuming I either loaned it out or left it in Bourbonnais since it isn't in my collection here. Anyway, this book goes through the life of this tree that struggles through winter and still comes out blossoming. The tree finds strength from those around it, especially from those who show it some love. In any case, it is a story of overcoming loneliness, finding hope and growing from experiences. Tiffany, the US-2 in Denver posted a poem a few weeks ago that I've really begun to relate to here. Those days where I struggle and miss home, and miss people from home, I think about this poem and how my time here is seasoned by the fact that I have to struggle through some loneliness. It is a part of life, but I didn't ever see myself being so far away from everything I've known this soon in life I guess. Thankfully, when I feel that loneliness, I have people here that remind me of that God shaped hole in my life. I have people from home who lift me up in prayer every day. I have people throughout the world praying for me. I know that my need of God is so absolutely clear, and when it gets rough, I turn to those that give me strength.

Don't surrender your loneliness
So quickly, let it cut more deep
Let it ferment and season you
As few human or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight,
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice so tender
My need of God absolutely clear.

Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly.

-Shams-ud-din Muhammad Hafiz

The great Albuquerque adventure...

Friday, March 24, 2006
So I suppose I've waited long enough to share about the great Albuquerque adventure. My friends got here on Saturday, completely exhausted, but hanging in there. I took them to Frontier for lunch so that they could have some green chile. I love frontier for many reasons, but the atmosphere is absolutely great. We hung around for awhile then headed to counterculture which they were definitely fond of. We went out with the group to Bennigan's and pretty much came home and crashed.

Sunday, I had to be at church early to make sure all was set for the baptism of our newest Saranam member, and that went swimmingly. That's when the surreal experience hit me that people had actually visited me from Illinois. I had somewhat of an existential crisis while sitting in the pews saying to myself, wow, I can't believe that there are 3 people next to me from home. I almost pinched myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. That afternoon we went to El Pinto for lunch, which was great once we found it. Then we headed out to the Petroglyphs because it was kinda gross outside and we weren't so keen on going up on the mountain when the mountain was covered in clouds. It started to rain and snow which wasn't so much fun, but Drew found a tumbleweed that he needed to take home. We stopped at Tracy and Scott's on the way home because we were out that way. I guess the rest of the day we just played video games and played a hilarious game of Apples to Apples.

Monday I took my friends out to where I work and then we decided to go down to Old Town. We wandered around and found the crazy hat store, got candy from the candy lady, and found the coolest tables ever. Well I should say that Drew and I found the coolest tables ever because Nick and Jodie wouldn't come in the store because they were afraid they would break something. Drew bought a little candle in a pot so that he could uproot a tiny plant from the soil here and take it home. He is one strange but lovable boy. We came back that night and I got a call from my friend Leah who came over and we played a rousing game of phase 10.

Tuesday, I had to go in to work for a meeting, but it isn't like my friends would be terribly productive in the morning anyway. When I got back, we headed to lunch at Dion's with Leah. I had never had Dion's either, so I was in for a treat as well. How can you ever go wrong with pepperoni and green chile pizza? Drew and I got randomly left at Dion's for a bit, but the rest of them eventually came back. Leah had to go to work, so we headed to the mountains. I couldn't exactly remember the road we needed to go up on, so we got a bit lost, but we eventually found where we needed to be and headed up the back side of the mountain. There was definitely fun had by all on top of the mountain including a couple of snowballs thrown around.

Wednesday was departure day, so we hung out, I brought them over to the church again, and we ate at Flying Star. After one more game of Mario Party, they headed out. Of course they had to drive through a nasty storm and it took them 5 extra hours to get back to Champaign. Should have just stayed in Albuquerque...

Overall I had a great time showing my friends around and having some fun. It was interesting to not have my quiet apartment all to myself, and I definitely was a bit confused after they left because it went from loud and fun to quiet and somewhat lonely. I'm ready to get back into the swing of things in my life here though because my friends visiting made me really realize how much I love it here and how my life here is really just plain great right now. I was worried that they would make me want to return home, but that isn't the case, it definitely made me appreciate Albuquerque and appreciate how much I love my job.

the crazy hat store

Wednesday, March 22, 2006
the crazy hat store in Albuquerque's old town is now my favorite place on this earth.

a little hiatus...

Monday, March 20, 2006
I've got friends here this week, so no time for major blogging, but I'll tide you over with the best picture ever.

The Dance

Thursday, March 16, 2006
My secret (only not so secret) passion is college basketball. I've been checking on scores all day, I am sad that I didn't get to see the double overtime of the BC vs. Pacific game earlier in the day. I'll have some game on the rest of the day for sure (of course the Illinois game will take priority over anything else tonight). I didn't join a bracket group this year, which was slightly sad, but that didn't keep me from putting down my predictions on paper which I'll track throughout the rest of March.

So why do I love the tournament so much? I think it is because it gives lesser known teams a chance. I mean really, Bucknell? Did Montana really just beat Nevada? It is all wonderfully exciting, I absolutely love every moment. So you want to know my final four... I've got Duke, Gonzaga, Illinois (I'm a loyalist), and Ohio St. Hey, there were 2 Big Ten teams last year, why not this year? Maybe one day I'll wise up and stop taking Illinois to the end, but what else are you supposed to do when you bleed orange and blue?

Last year I had the ultimate in college basketball experiences. I went to the final four and championship games. Although my team did not make it through to the end, it will be remembered as one of the best experiences of my college career. There is nothing quite like the energy that was felt there. Everyone in orange was family. After North Carolina won (and come on, didn't everyone see Sean May kick Roger Powell, Jr. in the head while he was down? Can we say referee bias?), the Illini cheering section which was well over 3/4 of the stadium broke out with Hail to the Orange. It wasn't anger, it wasn't hatred, it wasn't yelling and screaming obscenities... we all just stopped, grabbed one another and sang that loyalty song of Illinois. I'd say that is some love for a school. So here is to another year of March Madness, and more importantly, here is to the Fighting Illini.

"Hail to the Orange
Hail to the Blue
Hail Alma Mater
Ever so true (SO TRUE)
We love no other
So let our motto be
Victory, Illinois (sssssssssssssss)

ugh, sick again

Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Update: Though this wasn't meant to be a sympathy post, it turned out to be one, and friends just showed up at my door with soup, sprite, nyquil and some books to read. Thanks Billy and Tara!

I have been awake only 6 of the last 24 hours. I am once again sick, definitely have the flu which is pretty miserable. I just hope I get better by the time my friends come on Saturday. I'm actually feeling a bit better right now, and I think my fever finally broke. I'm hoping since it came on ridiculously fast that it will also choose to leave my system fast, but who knows.

I'm working through reading the first section of the new McLaren book, but can't do so when my eyes are watering. I think it will be movies and tv for me for the rest of the day so that I can actually sleep tonight. It is really hard being sick and living alone. I don't have any chicken soup on hand and really don't think I should be driving in the state I'm in as I have to rest after walking from my chair to my kitchen and back. That is no fun. It definitely makes me want the comforts of home. I think this is the one part I hate about living alone.

On Luke Chapter 8

Sunday, March 12, 2006

My Bible study is honestly one of the best ones that I have been a part of in my life. We get on tangents a lot, but I feel like there is a lot to be said of sitting down and really addressing what we think about the scriptures rather than taking everyone else’s word for it. So as we’re going through Luke, we got to the point where Jesus calms the storm and ended up having a really great discussion about how we are judging of the disciples in this instance.

For reference:

Jesus Calms the Storm

22One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set out. 23As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

24The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!"

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25"Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."

So I know that I’m always quick to look at this passage and say come on! How can the disciples still not get this stuff, I mean, this early in Luke Jesus has already performed a number of miracles and has been teaching his disciples as well, you would think that they wouldn’t have to ask who this Jesus character is and that they wouldn’t have to freak out about the storm because they should get that God is in control? Now of course these guys were fishermen so they probably encountered storms all of the time and this had to have been a rough one for them to be so alarmed, but still, this Jesus guy they've been following around has got to be something special for them to be following him around.

To the group, this is a prime example of the disciples being the “B-team,” being pretty substandard. Well we all had to laugh after discussing this because how often are we the ones saying “This is too hard” or “This storm in my life can’t be calmed, OMG we’re all gonna die!” How many times do we freak out and panic when it is unnecessary… our answer was that we freak out far more than we should. So we determined that though the disciples may be the “B-team” in quite a few cases, but we’re likely to be the JV “B-team” or not even that but the “Z-team” brought in under no circumstances. Thankfully this will serve as a reminder to me of how to react to rough situations. There are certainly days where I lack faith and feel like my world is crumbling around me, hopefully this will serve as a reminder to remember that my call in life is to be faithful to Christ and his mission.

Next up on the agenda blog-wise? My thoughts on the first section of Brian McLaren’s new book, The Secret Message of Jesus, which I managed to get my hands on. Sweet!

I am truly blessed...

Thursday, March 09, 2006
No, still no post on Luke. Weekend maybe? I had planned an evening in tonight to get some stuff done at home, watch some taped tv shows, read a bit, spend some quality quiet time by myself. As you might guess, that didn't happen. Instead I got a phone call from Billy saying he had an extra ticket to see David Crowder Band and Third Day and before I knew it I was headed in the car downtown to see the show. I definitely feel blessed that I have great friends who think to call me on a moments notice to do something very cool, I probably needed it more than anyone will know.

There are also other little blessings that fill my life constantly. One of the great things about being a missionary is that people are constantly offering to pick up a meal for me. I hate it, because I like to be self-sufficient and there is some sense of dignity and pride involved in being able to buy your own food, but I'm also gracious and accepting because I know that it is another way for people to show me that they care. Tomorrow night I get just that, good conversation and good food. I've already been forewarned that I don't get to pay for my food because the guy who I'm meeting is a member of my fan club. I love it. I seriously appreciate all of the hospitality I've been shown both here and from my home churches.

So the concert was great. I was definitely there as a fan of Crowder's, but Third Day was actually pretty decent. I had a phase where I really really enjoyed their music, and some of the songs just sort of resonated with my soul right now and reminded me why I'm here doing what I'm doing. I took some pictures and some video, and I'll post some pictures. They aren't great cause we were pretty far back and flash pictures don't tend to work in settings like that so I left it off. I'd post the video if I didn't fear the MPAA and their overbearing tendencies in regards to live music.

Regardless of what happened today, what happened yesterday or last week or what may happen tomorrow or next week, tonight I go to bed feeling loved, restored with hope, and really glad that my friends here are so great to me.

David Crowder Band

Third Day

Crowder and Third Day singing "I Saw the Light"

woo hoo!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006
UPDATE: I promised a blog today about Luke 7, and I just didn't get to it. As it is nearing midnight and I'm still not ready for my presentation in the morning, I think it will have to wait until tomorrow. Back to work and always working under deadlines even out of school...

I just found out that one more friend is coming to visit me at the end of next week which is awesome! :-)

Tomorrow I'll hopefully post about Luke Chapter 7 which was our bible study for tonight. Mainly my thoughts are about how the disciples are the "B-team" but really we are more like the "Z-team" so really who are we to speak. Tonight we had a great study even though I started nodding off around 9 and had to leave before all discussion was finished. Of course it is now 11:30 and I'm still not in bed, but honestly with seeing 4 good friends next week I'm really excited. :-D

In other news, I've got lots to do tomorrow, including but not limited to going to my women's book study, going and getting some pictures printed up, helping our Christian Ed director figure out her blog (I'm a bad influence on others as far as blogging goes), and preparing to talk about being a US-2 on Thursday morning. That is a lot to fit into a day so here's hoping I can do it without too much trouble in the peripherals, cause then I'll get all sorts of nothing done which certainly isn't an option tomorrow.

i'm wide awake its morning

Monday, March 06, 2006
Mornings and I don't get along, I just didn't have a witty title, so I stole one from the band Bright Eyes. And honestly it isn't even morning anymore.

I have a feeling this blog is going to be short isolated thoughts because that's just the mood I'm in.

I find it completely entertaining that so far the most comments I've gotten on a blog involves discussion about spaghetti-os and comfort food. I post these long convoluted discussions about theology and the intricacies of life and the thing I get comments on is spaghetti-os. There's just something inherently wrong with that.

Though my Johari Window has not elicited the kind of response I would have imagined, I've found it positively intriguing. My qualities I picked for myself have all been picked by others, but I've also got a long list of qualities that I didn't pick for myself that people think I am. So people think I'm reflective, trustworthy, and accepting. I think those are good qualities to have. If you haven't had the opportunity to do it yet, click on the words johari window above, and if you want to see my results so far click on the word intriguing up there.

I was completely productive yesterday and it made me feel awesome. Sometimes there are benefits to not sitting around doing nothing all weekend.

Last.fm is my new vice. It tracks what I listen to at home, and then I can go and listen to their online radio station that plays recommendations for me based on what I listen to. That makes me happy at work to have some background music that I like. It feeds my need for good music.

I've got visitors coming soon and I am positively excited to show them ABQ. My friend Dylan is stopping through next week and we're gonna have lunch, which is wonderful because I haven't seen him in a couple of years. Two other friends are making the trek from the great state of Illinois to ABQ for their spring break and will be here for a few days. I'm really excited to have them around and be able to just goof off a bit and show them cool things here. I think it will be good for me since I've been longing for home a lot these past few weeks. Hopefully it doesn't increase that desire to be home though. I'm just starting to actually make solid connections with people here, so I hope that having a taste of home won't mess with my head too much. In any case, friends rock and I'm glad they're visiting me. :-)

Did I mention that it has been 70 degrees and sunny the past few days? I love it.

i want to be a kid again...

Friday, March 03, 2006
It has been quite the week. I am SO thankful that it is Friday and that I have a couple of days to relax and process through everything that has happened. I'm pretty mentally and emotionally exhausted as witnessed by my lack of inability to sleep. See I've had sleeping trouble off and on since going to college, but for the past few nights I have passed out completely. This is a 180 for me in the sleep zone but it definitely means I need it, and I'm certainly thankful that I've been able to sleep because I'm not sure I could handle much more mental strain.

Even though the week has been rough, I've also had some amazing experiences. I attended an Ash Wednesday service that was really good and there is just something about the beginning of Lent that makes me extremely thankful to have the opportunities I have. I also got to hear one of our residents say that she knew God existed this week. In the midst of turmoil and some scary stuff, she found God and wants her kids to know God. That right there makes the messy parts of my job completely worth it. I also had an entertaining dinner last night to get rid of the woes of work with Tracy that was definitely what we both needed to leave this week behind. My face still hurts from laughing so much.

Tonight I had spaghetti-os for dinner. I keep a can on hand for those days I want to retreat and be a kid again. Sometimes we need opportunities to retreat, and I'm really glad that one of my vices is a can of spaghetti-os. That does well for my missionary budget for sure, and is incredibly simple. It brings me back to days of playing ridiculous amounts of ghost in the graveyard/bloody murder and staying out past when the streetlight came on and getting in trouble for it, it brings me to times of catching fireflies and keeping them in a jar by my bed, it brings me to times of flying down the street on my bike just because I could. Having ways to retreat to those times of being carefree makes being an adult so much more pleasant. I'm thankful I had parents that let me be a kid and let me eat spaghetti-os, cause today they brought me peace. :-)
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