<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d11370521\x26blogName\x3dlifeawakened\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://lifeawakened.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://lifeawakened.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d-9042490887796518309', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

and... i'm back

Friday, December 29, 2006
Back to the 'burque, I find myself buried in snow (I guess I was pretty lucky to land) and still sick. I came down with a cold immediately upon my arrival to Illinois, and I haven't completely gotten rid of it yet. It was bearable for the flight, so that was good because I've been pretty miserable.

I keep making blog promises that I'm going to write soon, but that time has been spent working on an article I'm writing for a magazine, an article for a group blog (ok I will post about this new group blog that is launching soon), and spending time with friends and family.

I had forgotten the whole idea of solitude, and coming back home I am confronted with it full force. I'm not complaining, yet.

For now though, it is time to get some sleep. A long day of travel and having a cold has certainly taken its toll on me.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 24, 2006
Well I'm enjoying a wonderfully relaxing time at home so far.

I just wanted to wish my readers a Merry Christmas and blessings upon you all!

I've got lots in my head to write, and really have just been enjoying time with family and friends. Expect some posts after Christmas!

first vlog

Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Because today was just that kind of day... I made a vlog.... that is, a video log. (blog stands for web log in case you were curious.) You can't see me very well, but expect more vlogs in the future.

The thing I neglected to say in my vlog... my windshield wiper fell off in the middle of my 2 hours of being in the car this afternoon. I had to pull over and put it back on. Sad stuff.

Here are some more pictures too...

walking in a winter wonderland...

The view from my office currently...

And something I did this morning...

Jim's funeral

Monday, December 18, 2006
I attended Jim's funeral this morning, it was hard, but definitely brought a sense of closure. One of the coolest parts of it all was that we walked away with a rose from Shirley. Whitney asked why, and Shirley told us that she just wanted to show us how much we all meant to Jim. It was touching for sure.

We've started week of fun at Saranam. By that I mean, week that drives Laura crazy. I like planning to do things, but I don't always like the actual doing of things with lots of kids. It is fun, but certainly not my favorite part of the job. I guess we're supposed to get 3-5 inches of snow tonight/tomorrow, and that should make for some fun times here in Albuquerque. Did I mention that no one knows how to drive in snow here? Awesome. I'll be up early to scope the scene and make sure we can still have our day of fun planned. If not, well then I'll just be able to get the other work done that has slipped through the cracks in the last week. I am so ready for Christmas it isn't even funny.

I'm off to a Christmas party tonight, a busy day tomorrow, a busy day Wednesday and then it is time to head to the great state of Illinois. There I'll have people to see, an article to write, a resume to work on and seminaries to apply to. Ha. Like that looks like a vacation at all. Oh well, all in fun! (minus the applications and resume stuff, that isn't ever fun)

i love free stuff.

Sunday, December 17, 2006
Since I've moved here I've been on the lookout for free stuff. This mainly comes in the form of finding things on the internet. Sometimes on a tight missionary budget, you have to look for deals, which often includes free stuff.

For awhile I was getting books from inbubblewrap, I've been looking for deals at jellyfish, and I play at tenhunt (if you want to sign up, let me refer you), but so far the favorite thing I've gotten for free off of the internet was won off of pomomusings, one of my favorite emergent blogs. He gives away books now and again, and I saw one that caught my eye and answered the question.

I received Divine Nobodies by Jim Palmer a few weeks later. It was ironic really. Christy had used an article during WOW the week before written by Palmer, and I thought to myself, I should get his book completely forgetting that I had indeed won it. It showed up the next week, and I was ecstatic to sit down and read it.

Though I don't agree with all of his theology (but then, when do I ever agree with all of anyone's theology), I think this book will have a profound impact on my life. People are saying that he is the next Don Miller, or the next Brian McLaren, but honestly, I liked his book in different ways than I liked theirs. I guess it is because of the importance that I put on relationships with other people. I see God most through those I interact with in really ordinary situations. I find God in the simplicity of interactions, of the smiles I get from the clerk in the checkout line, from the unlikely friends I've made here, from my families.

This book is filled with Palmer's interactions, and they touch my heart. With each one, I could relate it to someone I've come across in my life. This is the story of the book, finding the divine in the interactions with those every day people.

The book wasn't always an easy read. There were parts of it where I just had to put the book down and walk away, knowing that I had to face whatever it was that was there in front of me, but knowing that I could only take it one piece at a time. I found myself laughing, tearing up, feeling like I wanted to throw it, all sorts of emotions. For me, this is what I look for in a book. One that makes me really feel like I'm a part of it like I know everyone in it.

I think the best part of this book was his inscription to me. (The book came directly from Jim) It says, "Hope you enjoy it, Laura. May the truth set you free. Grace and peace, Jim Palmer" I did enjoy it, and the second piece hit me in a powerful time in my relationship with God. The truth for me in all this is that God has plans beyond anything I can comprehend, and that is ok. If you know me at all, you know there is this continual logical struggle that asks the questions that keep me from always giving everything I've got to God. This book came at the precise time that I needed to realize that it isn't me controlling all of this. The truth is setting me free. In any case, I give this book my stamp of approval.

I've got a busy week ahead, but once I'm back in my home state, I'll probably hit the whole writing thing a little harder. Or not. I'm sure I'll have interesting things to share about what my friends and I do in B-town, we always seek to entertain. That and I'm sure I'll have something to say about at least 1 of the 3 church services I attend next Sunday. (yes, i am overchurched, but I have my reasons)

cancer sucks.

Thursday, December 14, 2006
I was going to write a post about how busy I am, and then got a phone call.

One of our board members who was diagnosed with cancer last year passed away today at 3:30. He was one of the most amazing Godly men that I have ever met. I had the privilege of being in a Bible study with him until the treatment got too rough on him, and I have always been impressed by his resiliency and his determination to fight it.

Rest in Peace Jim, Central UMC won't be the same without you, and Saranam will never forget all of the amazing work that you did. You truly were a blessing to those of us who have been touched by your life.

Please pray for the church family at Central UMC who has lost one of its beloved members. Pray for Jim's wife Shirley, and pray for my friends Jeremy and Daen and their son Gavin who were very close with Jim and Shirley and who have lost someone else close and precious to them in the last week to cancer as well.

I saw Jesus today

Sunday, December 10, 2006
As I mentioned last week, today I spent a few hours in downtown ABQ with 184 of my fellow United Methodist youth directors and youth. I didn't come up with an answer to what the homeless may or may not need, but I certainly saw Jesus today.

I saw Jesus in the hard work of the youth who had under an hour to set up a dining experience.
I saw Jesus in the willingness for the praise band to add singing members as they wanted to join in.
I saw Jesus in the last words of a homeless man, well the last notes as he sang "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."
I saw Jesus in the group of people praying with and for a homeless woman.
I saw Jesus in the attitudes of the kids as we ran out of food.
I saw Jesus in the stories that were shared afterwards.
I saw Jesus as youth had it click for them that the homeless population of Albuquerque is filled with amazing and wonderful people.

It is amazing to see the change that happens when people realize that the bodies that roam the streets are not just bodies, they are people. I know that my parents helped me to understand that at an early age. Time spent on Thanksgiving day at Court Street UMC in Rockford feeding hundreds certainly made me understand who people really are. Time spent in Tennessee reaching out to those who were in physical, spiritual, social and emotional need taught me that I should appreciate everything that I have because it could disappear in an instant. Time spent here I have learned that I will always be learning as long as I am willing.

We served over 130 people today. Less than last year, but still a significant amount. God has blessed me with countless opportunities to be in the presence of Jesus. I think that from this day forward, I will be keeping track of ways I see Jesus. Of people that I catch glimpses of Jesus in, of situations where I know that Jesus is present. I think we miss out on these blessed moments sometimes because we just aren't looking. We get too caught up in our busy lives worrying about everything that could happen that we forget that God calls us beyond that. God calls us into fellowship with him not to make us busy, but to give us a peace that transcends all understanding. I've had that peace today, and it is more wonderful than I could ever imagine. (Thanks to my friend Tara for inspiring just about all of this last paragraph)

So how did you see Jesus today?

What does Christmas mean to you?

Thursday, December 07, 2006
You may recall how my families really have amazing and unique insights on the Bible. When we first started our bible study, they asked me what Mary did with the gifts that Jesus received from the Magi, and I believe it was Pastor Craig who left a comment that the more important question was, what are you doing with yours? What do you do with the gifts that you bring for baby Jesus?

I'm co-leading my Women of the Word Bible Study currently, and we're doing the Advent study that is published by the General Board of Church and Society. One of the things that I have been feeling more and more strongly about is being a resource for groups that are starting to acknowledge the need to go above and beyond sitting in a pew on Sunday morning. I've also been asked to teach a class on the Social Principles of the UMC in the spring, which I will likely end up doing. (Getting excited about telling someone what the Book of Resolutions was yesterday really shows how big of a UM nerd I really am)

So what are your gifts? What do you bring to Jesus this season, and what do you continue to bring each and every season? Do you forget the reasons behind all of the Christmas madness until you set foot in church on Dec. 24th? Or are you living each day like Jesus is born? These are all questions I'm asking myself these days.

Blog posts on their way... a book review and some thoughts on Advent lectionary use.

how do we determine needs?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006
One of the questions that I was asked in my US-2 interview was something to the effect of, "Can you fix people?" and my answer was simple. No. The only person that can fix people is God, and that's only if they're broken in the first place.

I think that white, middle class America (of which I am a part) often sets out to fix people. Well if I just give enough money to my church I can fix people. If I give to the Salvation Army or to the Red Cross, or to any number of other agencies, I'm doing my part in fixing broken America. When I started working for Saranam, it became abundantly clear that I couldn't fix people if I tried. I can pour myself out time after time for people, and the only change I will see has to come from within. It seems to me that our culture just reinforces that whole idea that we can fix people, especially around Christmas time where people are filled with giving and good cheer.

Sunday I'll be serving homeless people downtown as a youth group sponsor. I had to make a decision, I could go up to Santa Fe and have fun with my friends, or I could stay down here and try to make a difference downtown and show people that the UMC youth of ABQ care about the needs of homeless people. But that begs the question, how do we even know what their needs are? I think that we are so quick to just judge and try to fit people into our mold that we neglect to really ask that question.

I know that when I ask my families what they need and what I can do for them, they often are taken aback by that question early on. Most of the time they have had people just assume that they need things that they couldn't use at all. Sunday we'll be passing out socks, backpacks, blankets, anything to help keep people warm. But we're also going to be in conversation with all the people that come through, I know that I plan on talking to people, not about what can be done for them, but about what they might actually need.

I've been thinking about generational differences for awhile now, specifically boomers vs. gen x vs. millenials (or whatever you choose to call all of those). In the context of the work I do with my families (who are all basically defined as Gen-Xers), I don't see the same struggles that I've read about in book after book about these generational differences. Simply put, all of them had different needs, and many of them didn't have time to be angsty in the 80s. (That is a sweeping generalization, but I had to say it to prove my point). I haven't quite figured out where I'm going with that discovery, but it could definitely have a lot to do with any further studies I might do on the differences in generations as well as the differences in Christian thought over the past 50 years.

It seems to be just another issue of needs. What do the different socioeconomic differences do to our needs? Can I ever begin to grasp what someone else might need in their life?

I know when youth go on mission trips, they experience a different culture and can go through some serious culture shock and can begin to understand that not everyone is like them. But I also know that many go on mission trips because they want to make others be like them. I think there is value in our differences. I think I've gained more from working within differences than I ever could if everyone I ever knew were a cookie cutout of me. I think when we as a culture step back and maybe realize that we are not the best or brightest, that maybe then we can truly begin to see that God is the only one who can fix us. Maybe we should stop trying to fix others, so we can work on fixing ourselves.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution
NonCommercial NoDerivs 2.5 License