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a busy laura makes for few posts

Wednesday, January 31, 2007
I've become this person who has stuff to do all the time. A lull in the action is generally meaning some time to catch up on sleep and not coming up with amazing blog content.

But February is proving to be awesome. Busy that is. Awesome busy. I'm sure that the awesomeness will be filled with all sorts of interesting blog topics. And here is why I think I'll have lots to say over the next 28 days.

This Sunday = superbowl.
Did I mention that the Bears are playing in the Superbowl? And that the Bears are my team? I'll be hanging out with the youth here at church, participating in a gutter sundae again, and enjoying the game and commercials. Holy cow, so excited.

Wednesday next week starts my co-leading of the Disciple Bible study on Romans. I'll be doing all of the historical background part. I'm really really excited for it. I'm learning more and more that I love teaching Bible stuff. It is good times and really makes me get my head around stuff.

That next weekend I'll be taking the youth with my awesome friend Whitney to the CCYM retreat. Central and St. John's youth are going together and we are so totally going to have a fantastic time. One of the great things about these CCYM events is that the adults have very little responsibility other than to make sure the kids don't kill each other on their breaks and whatnot. The last one was really good for me spiritually and I think is something I really need to get out of this winter funk.

Then the following weekend is a wedding and I'm speaking to all of the elementary age kids of the church. That should be good times.

Then that following week is pancake supper which is fun along with Ash Wednesday. I'll probably be going to services here at Central because I've got a meeting directly before it that I should go to.

Then I get to spend 2 days here in ABQ listening to Brian McLaren speak. I am BEYOND excited for that. Seriously. Very cool.

The last day of Feb I'm taking off to go visit Princeton for a Volunteers Exploring Vocation conference. I'm excited for that one a ton too. Should be 4 good days to meet and network with other young adult missionaries and maybe figure out just what all I feel called to be doing. You can't get enough vocational discernment right?

So really, I'll be busy. And I'm excited about everything I'm busy about. I'm sure I'll have lots to say about all of these events. They're all pretty exciting for me for sure.

So keep reading even though I'm horrible at updating lately. February should prove to be fun.

sometimes life is funny

Friday, January 26, 2007
This has been one of those weeks where I just sit back and laugh at how ridiculous life can be.

Tuesday I had a whole fiasco regarding this trip that I'm taking the youth on and not having a van then freaking out that maybe I couldn't rent a van because I'm not the magic 25 years of age. Ridiculous. But we got that all straightened out, and were able to rent the van and everything fell into place. I'm taking 9 youth to camp in a few weeks for a weekend of good times. I think the best part of it all is that my entire Tues. night Bible study friends will be there as chaperones. It will be a weekend of good times for sure.

Then came yesterday. I was taking our case manager to have a procedure done, and thought I could just come back and pick him up when it was all said and done, but nope, I had to go sit in the waiting room and waste my morning. Well, as I was heading out to work, I got a phone call that our alarm was going off at the offices, so I had to book it over and see what was going on. Thankfully it was just this door that is alarmed that our next door neighbors opened, but still a pain. As I was trying to figure out what the deal was with the alarm on the phone with my boss, I locked my car key in my car. Brilliant.

So I got that taken care of, then realized that my shirt had been on backwards all day. Now that was just the ending to a very funny day.

I think sometimes we have to have days like this to remind us that life can just be funny some days and it all works out in the end. I'm thankful that I had wonderful people to bail me out of the whole keys being locked in the car thing.

I tell you what, I seriously laughed a lot yesterday for sure despite all of the trouble I went through.

not settling...

Monday, January 22, 2007
I'm not settling for surface faith anymore. I need things to challenge me and push me and make me seriously think about what I believe and how I believe it.

I was talking with my friend Christy today, stating just that. I'm not looking for Sunday School answers, because they just don't cut it for me anymore. With all of the time I spent in undergrad trying to deconstruct and reconstruct God, I just won't settle for the easy answer. And I think that's a good thing. As Christy and I talked more and more about where I'm at and what feeds me, we both saw that we are at a different place than many, and that's when the revelation came.

We see our faith as silly putty. It is this substance that is there, and that is constant, but it moves and bends and can take different shapes in different situations. We adapt, and sometimes when we need to stretch, we stretch. Sometimes when we need to break, we break. Sometimes when we need to bounce, we bounce.

Silly putty has this ability to pick up images and words from newsprint. We take those images, those words from others, and then decide whether to blend them in, or to use them to make other images elsewhere.

I just love this imagery. I love what it means to where I'm at today and what it means for where I can go in the future. I don't have to be ok with every piece of theology spit at me, and the Lord knows I'm not. But what is good and right, I can spread to others, and what isn't can just blend into the background.

It becomes a level slightly deeper to me. I struggle in defining my faith to people in a concrete way that can be easily understood. This one is good. This one makes me excited. This one has potential written all over it.

exciting day

Sunday, January 21, 2007
So I thought that the most exciting part of my day was going to be the Bears win vs. the Saints to clench a spot in the Super Bowl.

And while yes, that was exciting, that was nothing compared to the rest of my evening.

I was doing the whole youth group volunteer thing, and the youth director taps me on the shoulder, and says "Come with me."

We get out into the hallway, and I smell smoke. So we search the floor we're on, and finding nothing, we're a little concerned. It still really smells like smoke. So we make the decision to get everyone out of the building and call 911. The dispatcher told us to pull the fire alarm, so I ran back in and pulled the alarm.

Soon, there were 5 firetrucks and the news crew on the scene. They didn't actually find anything, but we were better safe than sorry.

What a day for sure.

Explora Adult Night

Saturday, January 20, 2007
So the children's science museum has an adult night every now and again, so I dragged some friends with me last night and we had an absolute blast playing with all of the fun exhibits. It was certainly good times.

Here are some pictures of the experience. The place was pretty crowded, but it was nice to not have to chase after kids and worry about losing them. But we kept losing Jarrod. I guess some people never grow up...

Feeling a little green... Whitney, Halecia and I playing with light.

Apparently Jarrod and Whitney are feeling a little blue... but they sure don't look it.

We had a race. Jarrod's car was the only one that actually moved without some serious prodding.

Definitely too much of me.

Jarrod is the bubble master...

Whitney lounging in the elevator. That's right. This huge room is the elevator.

Jarrod and Whitney being goofy in the elevator...

Whitney, Jarrod, Me and Halecia... the Tuesday night Bible Study Fab Four. We're good times for sure.

We finished the night by playing Catan, and I won. By a landslide. It was a fantastic evening for sure. Gotta love being a kid!

homeless ministry and the struggles it brings

Monday, January 15, 2007
Last night I went with the youth group to the largest homeless shelter in ABQ. It also happens to be the only one that takes families. I can't say I've been given a favorable opinion of it since my time here, I know that there are good and bad sides to ministry, but I've heard things from my clients and many others about how rough life really is at this particular shelter.

I was a little apprehensive to go on this service trip with the kids, mainly because I was afraid of running into former clients or people who have applied to our program. But as we got out to the shelter (which is pretty much as far away as you can go and still be in the city), I was feeling a sense of peace about it all, and that I would take it all in stride.

That sense of peace changed fairly quickly. My heart sunk when I saw her. A former client and her two young sons found themselves back at the shelter we had picked them up from a year and a half ago. I was left not quite knowing what to do or say to her, and I knew that her reaction might not be pleasant towards her, so I kept my distance.

So what do we do in these situations? It was her choice to leave our program, getting as far as she could. The things that we run into as far as mental illness, drug addiction, and abuse are ones that really are hard to deal with. But honestly, how do you reach out to those who are stuck in their minds and don't see a way out. In December I asked myself about needs and whether we're meeting them, and whether we can even guage what they are. I'm not sure we could for this client. Things will likely always be this way for her because of her mental health. The kids don't stand much of a chance either.

Frankly, the systems just aren't working. I know that Jesus said you will always have the poor with you, but that doesn't stop my compassion for those who are struggling in these kinds of situations. it makes days like today a little more tough. As I'm working through our database and working on where people have ended up, it is hard. Granted, we are a 3 year old program that has only had 2 graduates and they are really recent. So success in terms of people being in great places now is tough to measure. And even though that isn't how we measure success, it is tough to input things like "shelter" or "prison" in last known residence.

So I'll keep working and striving to make things a little better on my end because that's what God has called us to do. What are you doing on yours?

how does change happen?

Sunday, January 14, 2007
I love a great sermon. I got to church this morning in time to slip into the service and hear a phenomenal preacher, Felicia Hopkins, from El Paso.

She's one of those preachers that you just can't help but say Amen while she is preaching. Her sermon was definitely amazing.

It always cracks me up when a preacher gets up and says "I'm on a schedule so I can't preach for my usual 45 minutes." I knew we were in for a good one when the text was John 5: 1-9 which is always a great passage. In case you don't want to go look it up, it is the story where Jesus goes to the pool at Bethesda and tells the paralytic man to pick up his mat and walk. As we heard in the first line of the sermon, this is one of those stories you hear time and time again in Sunday school, so when you hear it you immediately think... "man, I don't need to listen to this one, I know where she's going with this," and if we thought that, we were going to be wrong.

So the 3 point sermon rundown was this...
To be made whole...

1. Change your surroundings
2. Change your strategy
3. Change your self

Changing your surroundings... you can't get well if you hang out with people who are always bringing you down. The man who has been there for 38 years was just continuing to hang out on the 5 porches with everyone else who is sick. If you surround yourself with people who aren't well, you're probably not going to get any better.

I've been thinking about the Christian martyr lately. You know the kind, the person who just talks all the time about suffering for Jesus. I just don't think that is what God has in mind for us. I mean, how do we show how amazing God is if we are always suffering? Now I'm not saying people don't go through some tough stuff sometimes, I'm saying that negativity can be infectious like a disease. When I was in Tennessee, some horrible stuff happened. I would email and write my prayer partners each week, and even though there were some absolutely crazy things going on, I always tried to end it on a positive note. I remember when I got home, my pastor and I met over lunch and he talked to me about how powerful those emails were to him. Through everything that my staff worked through, each week was a story of God doing amazing things through it all.

So you've got to change your strategy. This piece brought all sorts of different ideas for me. I guess mainly because of my interest with emergent. I guess I see emergent as a change in strategy. We've got to start looking at ways to do things differently. Churches get in these ruts, don't change things up, and just continue to die. Strategy is what it is all about. Whether it is making churches whole or yourself whole, we've got to look at this from a different perspective.

Last, you've got to change yourself. Jesus asks the man one thing... "Do you want to be well?" Then the guy goes and makes excuses as to why he is not. We can't keep doing that. We can't keep saying things that keep us from being made whole. God can do more than we imagine.

I got a lot out of this sermon, probably more than I can begin to express here. It certainly will have me thinking through the next week.

Oh... and final thought... Bears win! :-)

New Years review...

Saturday, January 06, 2007
I know that back in August I did a review of all of the things that had happened since I got here, but I'm seeing these posts of "What happened in 2006" and I just can't resist. I'm skimming through old blog posts to come up with this stuff, so if you want to know the full story behind anything, click on the archives and check it out. Lots has happened, and I am grateful.

Jan: To start out the year, I got stuck at the top of the mountain with Tracy. Funny stuff, but was great for our friendship. I'm so thankful to have a supervisor who is knowledgeable and also someone I'm really glad to have as a friend.

Feb: I got started in my Bible study with Jeremy, Daen, Jarrod, Whitney, Jim & Shirley. It took us nearly the whole year to get through Luke, but that group of people has really helped form my faith over the last year. I also got my haircut short. Which I now adore.

March: I got visits from friends who were out on spring break, I saw David Crowder in concert, I hung out with our families over spring break and got to see what parenting classes really are about (craziness) . It really was great getting visits, fun stuff.

April: Had a fantastic Easter bbq, helped our families figure out what kind of programs they were going to enroll in at the end of the month, made it to Santa Fe for the first time.

May: Our 2005 families got promoted! It was a fun time. I also started helping out with the youth group by planning and pulling off a lockin. Remembered how much I love ministry with youth and young adults. My MIRYAP Lauren came to visit me, and then my mom did. I also built our behemoth display board for annual conference.

June: Went to NM annual conference, then IGRC annual conference. Was really glad to be back at home but ready to come back to NM too. My friend Holli passed away, which was difficult. I went and saw Beck in concert.

July: Saw the Goo Goo Dolls, Augustana and the Counting Crows in concert. I went to Denver on the youth mission trip, and came back knowing I really had to step up into a volunteer role with the youth. Actually witnessed monsoon season. Worried as my friend Ryan tried to get out of Lebanon safely, taught preschool music at vacation bible school. Processed applications for new families and did lots of prep for them coming in. Jeremy and Daen moved away. :-( It was a really busy month.

August: Moved families into apartments, after a huge process. It kept me busy most of the month. Read a great book with WOW called Mister God, This is Anna. Got seriously rained on at an Isotopes game. Went to the ABQ zoo for the first time. Love it.

September: Went to Dallas to visit my brother and his wife. It was good times. Got to see my US-2s in NYC. I'm sure I did more interesting things that month, but visiting NYC was certainly my highlight as most of the posts from that month were about that.

October: Back to my Tuesday night Bible study. We stopped right after Jer and Daen left, but we picked it back up again and added Halecia to the group. Good times for sure. Walked in the CROP walk with my families, went to the Balloon Fiesta a couple of times, got my hair cut short again (some day this will cease to be news, but it doesn't happen often). Also... Trick or Treat Not on the Street where we made an awesome haunted house type thing. Good times.

November: Tracy had her baby. A month early. That meant craziness for me, but Eddie and I can get through anything now. Then there was Saranam Sunday! It was all I worked on and it all paid off. I got to preach at Scott's church which was entertaining amidst all the craziness that happened that whole weekend. Whitney and Jarrod of the infamous Tues night Bible study got married. Went on a retreat with the youth, definitely love that decision to help out with them. Went to Dallas for Thanksgiving, and turned 24 and finally didn't have a disaster of a birthday.

December: Did Feed the Need with the youth group, lost a friend and a friend of a friend to cancer, got thwarted by lots of snow, but still got my families to explora, the children's science museum. Made it home and spent lots of time with friends and even finally picked out my bridesmaid dress for Rebecca's wedding. Got back just in time to ring in the new year here.

It was a busy year. It was a fun year. It was a year that I won't soon forget. A lot of firsts, a lot of great friends. No matter where I am I will always regard 2006 as one of those years where I learned difficult lessons, but had fun doing it. God has blessed me with an absolutely awesome placement site, some amazingly great friends who are there for me thick or thin, and a great job that teaches me new things every day. Here's to 2007 bringing great things to my life.

back in the groove

Thursday, January 04, 2007
Getting back in the groove of things hasn't exactly been easy. Times are rocky here at work, the snow has really caught this city off guard, I'm busy beyond belief trying to make sure everything that needs to get done gets done and fielding phone calls and playing catch-up. I can only hope that starting Monday things at the office will be a little more manageable and easy to deal with. Kids have been in and out today, and I take it upon myself to find things for them to do. This is mostly ok, but then they start invading my office and asking me why I have two computers (really, I can't answer that question other than my mac plays music for me) and wanting to play on the computers and asking me what everything in the world is on my desk and jamming my stapler and drawing me pictures.

I was a little at my wits end by the end of the afternoon with a massive headache, but as I was on my way back from taking someone to an appointment with her two kids, I heard the 5 yr. old boy from the back say to his 6 yr. old sister... "Hey! Tickle me again" and then she would. He would giggle and giggle and giggle. I must say that his giggle is by far the best thing I've heard all day.

When I was a kid I hated being tickled. The rough part of it is how ticklish I was. If you just came near me with hands in the tickle mode, I would bust up laughing. So it was really funny to hear the kid in the backseat tell his older sister to tickle him. He just wanted to laugh. And be joyful. The kids all seem to be a little bit antsy not being back in school, but for a brief moment, I experienced something that just brought a smile to my face. A little joy goes a long way on a rough day.

photos of snow and snow related things...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Here are a few photos from the snow storm of the century in Albuquerque. Schools are still closed today (the storm was last Friday) because they couldn't clean out the parking lots. It has been utterly ridiculous.

A tree fallen outside of my apartment. Thankfully both of those doors are not mine, but that's my complex for sure.

This is my favorite bush ever because it blocks my bedroom window from light. Not so much right now. A bit loaded with snow.

Yeah, this is a LOT of snow for Albuquerque. Side streets still aren't cleared and parking lots are a sheet of ice.

The awning for the gas station fell. I guess this place was all over the news. The worst is that is where I normally buy gas because it is usually cheap.

The interstate (or should I say parking lot) on Sunday after the storm. No one paying attention to lanes at all. It was fun stuff!

We're supposed to get more snow on Friday. Oh joy. Didn't I move to the southwest to not have to deal with this stuff?

new content?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007
I'll have a post later today about the crazy snow here in Albuquerque, complete with pictures, but for now, check out The Uncommon Walk. My friend Parker has put together an awesome group of young adult bloggers and I'm a part of it. It is a promising group of some really great people so I hope that it becomes a great place for dialogue.

Check out my post - Jesus in Ordinary Places
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