Thursday, December 11, 2008

Things I've Done...

Julie posted this on her blog today recently, as did Karen so I will too. The things in bold are the things I have done. If you want to play, copy the list to your blog and bold the things you have done. Leave a comment if you do it so I can read it. :)

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (drums)
4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (only DisneyWorld)
8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped (are you crazy!!)
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise (only a small day cruise)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung karaoke.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa (I want to…)
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance (in Rio de Janeiro)
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (a pretend one in Small Business Management class.....)
58. Taken a martial arts class.
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (I've tried many times)

65. Gone sky diving (see bunge jumping above....)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury (almost - my number was too high so I didn't have to report....)

91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (when I was 12 or so and the lake was awesome...)
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a mobile phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day (if children's books count?, jk)

normal or uncommon

There is a quote I found recently that states, "Perhaps, there is no more dangerous place for a Christian to be then in safety and comfort, detached from the suffering of others." This quote was attributed to Shane Claiborne's mom in "Jesus for President." I love it because it seems SO true.

I'm in a place of limbo. I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing. I've arrived at a career that I love at a place that I love. I love where I live (the apartment, not the city) and how I feel right now. I can make payments on loans and I can handle this. But as much as I feel like I'm doing what I want to be doing I recognize equally that I'm not doing what I want and I'm not where I ultimately want to be. This is good for now, this is easy and it's comfortable. And I'm tempted, sometimes, to ask for more time here. To be responsible and pay off my college loans on my own, little by little. I'm especially tempted at times to make compromises of my intended vocation in order to settle down a bit. Have a real life with real people instead of the unending transient existence.

But today, again, I chose to take the lonely uncommon path to be single and to pursue another lifestyle. I felt a little like I could relate to the story where Jesus had to say to Paul, "Get behind me, Satan" because it was oh so tempting to change the trajectory of my life to follow a person I have loved dearly. But God, it seems, has uncommon intentions for my life. So I kept my impulses at bay and bravely stood my ground as an easier life beckoned for me to accept. I may be insignificant and frail but an easy, comfortable, common life does not belong to me. Hopefully, I will continue to persevere and accept my vocation.

I am running again. This is uncomfortable and proves to be a great exercise of discipline and perseverance. I intend to run a 4 mile race this Saturday and if the next week of endurance runs (up to 8 miles) goes well, for Christmas I will enter myself in the Austin 1/2 marathon and the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. I will begin an 18 week training regimen Christmas week. And perhaps this go-round I'll blog more about my experiences running.

For me, running is a blessing. I believe that I shouldn't be able to run, but I do because it represents a tangible process of sanctification. I feel myself being conquered and reformed. I feel myself surrendering to my frailty and pushing beyond what I should be able to do and this makes me rejoice and find renewed strength. I love to run. Running is prayer.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Where am I?

It's just a few short days from my birthday and I'm getting stressed thinking about having to decide what I want to do/get/eat. Tonight my best friend is taking me out to dinner. Wednesday my family is offering me dinner. That means I have to choose two restaurants in Lubbock that I'd be willing to enjoy. And it dawns on me just how much I miss Chicago. Every restaurant in Lubbock is the same. Hamburger, steak, or Bar-b-q. I hate them all. The pubs are only about cheap domestic beer, the sandwich shops have never heard of bean sprouts, avocado, spinach, and all the other delicious veggie concoctions. The mexican food places are texmex which is great flavor but I can never be sure that it's actually vegitarian. How can you be healthy without meat? my family wonders. They insist that I get blood work done soon to insure that I'm not anemic. I am certain that I am healthy and getting better protein and iron then they ever have.

I crave Uncommonground Cafe on Clark street in Chicago. I want a treetini and veggichili. I want avocado bruschetta and tofu Benedict from Earwax Cafe on Damen. I want to have access to Somali, Vietnamese, Arabian, and Indian food all within walking distance. I want a delicious mushroom shaped pizza from Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders. I almost wish I wasn't a vegetarian so I could have fish n' chips the Grafton Pub while enjoying the warmth and comfort of the plush couches and corner fireplace. I wish I could have Caribou Coffee, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods. I would even like McDonald's cousin, Chipotle for a filling of black beans, four types of hot salsa, and guacamole. Any of these tasty small places will meet my craving. Most of all I want to take my jeep Clayton into the intercity of Chicago, slowly maneuvering narrow streets, avoiding pedestrians with a few like-minded friends who accept me and don't want to change me. I want to enjoy their conversation. I want to be the master of their adventure. I don't want to be confined to a homogeneous town of 200,000 ultra conservative agricultural offspring. I want to be surrounded by people from all of the nations, speaking every conceivable language, belonging to a myriad of cultures, and living at peace as neighbors. This is part of what Chicago means to me and I miss it like crazy. I want to cold, the snow, the exercise, the trails, the train, traffic, and the three-fold community I once belonged to (school, work, church/faith). I am a foreigner in my hometown. I enjoy the work I do here but life is taxing as it is in another country. I belonged to the Chicago culture even though I was born a couple thousand miles away. Okay, it's time to put on a smile and get ready to meet my best friend. I love her, she loves me, it's just different now.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Photos from Late October mostly at a park near my home.

This is the Cheap gas station. I'm pleased to see cheaper gas, part of what spurred me to travel to Kansas City this weekend.
My very own apartment.

the latest

As is my usual, it's been a while since I've written in this place.
I've been a lot of places and seen a lot of people since my last entry. Today I started listening to the audio book, "Eat, Pray, Love" one of my favorites from the reading spree I took while in Rio. I'll be driving up to Kansas City tomorrow and the book should keep me entertained well. I love the story and her soul journey. She gives vocab to some of my experiences and she even has a bit of drama surrounding a David.
I've been on a bit of a soul journey myself beginning about a month ago while in Venezuela visiting the InnerCHANGE folks. In such a spiritually influenced place God's voice was impossible to ignore on a few specific instances. I was awakened to a new reality in the world, or at least a better understanding of a reality and then I was blessed in a unique way. But after a short visit of ten days I returned to face the storm that generally awaits a young adult returning after years of absence to her childhood hometown. Many people have welcomed me back with open arms, even people whom I didn't expect.
But even if I have received a warm welcome I still do not have friends. Maybe I have two friends but one is married and one causes me such great anxiety I would rather not go there most of the time regardless of how lonely I find myself. The goal at this point is either to make a new friend whom I have no previous history with and whom I do not work with OR to come to such a place of peace and inner joy that I can be completely content coming home to my empty and quiet apartment and being alone.
I do not like being alone or not doing anything. Hence going out of town to KC when all I have off is 2 1/2 days because I cannot bear the thought of sitting at home not doing anything for that long. I'm even leaving Lubbock for the Tech/Texas game. It's a big game this year as everyone I'm sure already knows. I don't have the money to leave either but I'm looking forward to seeing my friends from this summer.
Work is going well and the back is doing better day by day. So well in fact that I probably will not be able to have a surgery before leaving for Venezuela sometime in the upcoming months. Either way, I feel glad to be playing football and soccer with the residents and have even tried running a few times but max out in strength at about 3 miles.
This was a fairly useless blog posting I guess. Just a bit of an update as to where I am and what's more or less going on in my life. Expect photos to appear as I've gotten a new camera and have gone for nature walks through the concrete jungle that is home. Some have turned out pretty good. But I'll let you be the judge.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Well yesterday was a bit of a crazy day for a couple reasons. Yesterday Lubbock was declared in a state of emergency for flooding and achieved an all time record for rain fall in a 24 hour period of time. I don't know what the final count was but at the 9pm news that I caught while visiting my parent's house we were already over 6" and a stronger storm cell was still moving over. The roads were amazing. Cars stalled out all over the place and several inches of water covering especially the the far right lanes. Here's the thing with Lubbock, it's in the middle of the plains and this part of the south plains is about as flat as any place in the world it's also incredibly dry (most of the time). So when the rain falls the only place for water to collect is in the roads. We also don't have lakes or rivers to transport rainwater elsewhere so 6" becomes a disaster. At least most people don't have basements that so easily flood, unlike in the north. I went to Wal-Mart this afternoon to find cheap furniture and 75% of their parking lot was more then 4" submerged. Amazing. To add to things, yesterday was the 3rd or 4th consecutive day of rain and though it didn't rain much today we have high chances of rain over the next couple days. So chances are we'll stay flooded for a while.

The second crazy thing to happen yesterday was I got a promotion at work. I had an evaluation scheduled with my supervisors (the administrators at the shelter) and had been preparing myself all day for a bit of a gripe session of them calling me out on slacking (they have video cameras everywhere so nothing I do goes unnoticed). As I sat down they opened the floor up for me to make suggestions, since I had worked there a couple years ago, to make comments of current employees or just how I felt everything was going. I gave my concerns about lack of training, leaderships,for a person with additional training to be shift leader keeping everyone on task and coordinating on the job training. They offered me the job. Easy as that. How do I always find myself in positions of leadership? It stresses me out but lets be honest, I secretly enjoy the work load and responsibility.

Today was less exciting. A bit of a soul searching day. No work just a meeting to pick up a paycheck and my new position was announced to the group. I will start that on Monday. After the meeting I came home to work on the apartment a little bit, eat queso, then I found myself doing some serious prayer time. I think I'm ready for surgery, disk replacement, if my PCP will recommend that to the insurance.

I really do love my life. Even if I have down moments or bad news, the overall thread of my life is adventure and joy. I'm bothered but not destroyed at the moment and that's okay. I've been in this place before. It's all part of starting over in a new (or old) place.

I know very few people actually read this but it helps me to process through writing and I like to have a record of life. The Internet just makes that easier.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Well Lubbock, you got me back. I hope you're proud. You suckered another one who went away back into your limits.

I've been back in this city for 3 full weeks now. In that time I have returned to my old job at the Children's Shelter working too hard for too little pay, I have gotten all but kicked out of my parent's house for being me, settled into an efficiency apartment, seen the Physical Therapist 8 times, gotten an MRI, seen my primary doctor and an orthopedic surgeon, and put in four applications for part time work at coffee shops just to make ends meet with this Master's degree load of loans.
I'm exhausted and frustrated. I'm lonely and not interested in going out much. My personal pace is slower probably because of the back so I feel like even though I don't go to work until 3pm everyday I never can managed to get the things done that I really want to.

Yesterday the bad news about my medical condition hit me over the head like a ton of bricks. I was left feeling more alone then ever. I cried when I got to my car realizing that the rest of my life will be affected my this condition. Here's what I know, L4 (second to lowest disk) is arthritic. L5 (lowest disk) is desiccated (dried up, shriveled, and dead) and additionally L5 has a paracentral disk protrusion more commonly referred to as a bulging disk. My PCP has made a note on the MRI report to refer me to a neurosurgeon. I haven't gotten to meet with him directly yet.

I'm not as down as this report may sound. I just don't have good words to describe how I feel. In part I wonder why my body has betrayed me. Why my back acts like I'm 60+ while in reality I'm just a kid, just 22. I wonder what God is up to. Doesn't he want me to be healthy and go to Latin America and serve? I wonder why He has allowed this and how it will impact the work that I will be able to do. I wonder also what blessings may come through this "limitation." What people now will I be able to identify with? What new forms of relating or working will I develop to compensate?
It's true that I am sad. But I'm not mad. I am frustrated. But I'm also mostly just wondering about my future and how this changes things. I'm thinking a lot about the future as I try to decide what type of surgery I should get and if I should try to wait or just go for it. I'm thinking a lot about running. Do I want to try to run one more long race before I completely loose that ability or will it just rush in the inevitable "next flair-up" that will be 100X worse than the past one. And in this place of wondering I will remain for a while and at least until Tuesday when I again meet with my primary doctor who will make recommendations on my next steps.

I appreciate prayers but I already know my life is cradled in God's hands and I have nothing to fear. My life is His and not my own. May these things be according to His will. Blessings and peace to you my friends.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Now What?

I again return to mirror the patterns of the boomerang generation of which I belong. Meaning, I'm inhabiting the room where I lived for 13 years of my childhood just a few yards from the room where my parents sleep. Yup, I'm living under my parents roof again. Why am I here I wonder? I don't have a job. I've been surviving with my back and it seems to be healing on its own without medical attention. I don't have more then two friends here it seems. I don't know what I'm doing. I don't have an immediate plan. Sure I have my more long-term plan in place. I know where I want to go, who I want to work with. I have my application all in order and communications beginning in that department but even that has been put on hold and outside of my control.

So what am I doing with myself now that I have finally come to a place in life where I have no responsibilities (oh I still have financial responsibilities but that's a bit different then taking care of kids or classes)? At this very moment I find myself sitting in a chair where I've sat many times before at the most chic/trendy coffee shop in this medium-sized college town where I was raised being bombarded by noise from a local jazz band. The music isn't bad, I just had come here for respite from the confusion of home only to be met by a bad too loud for this small venue and lots of college kids some of whom I vaguely recognize talking about the boys now at LCU and what they are doing and what kinds of guys they want to date and what types of weddings they want and all the things that sound completely ridiculous to me now. No, I don't think I'm too good for these conversations, honestly I think I'm just lonely and out of my element.

How does a person become a foreigner in their hometown anyway? I've only been away for just over two years. But my personal culture and world-view began to change long before I moved away. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to move away. In elementary school I knew I wanted to move to Colorado or someplace beautiful like that to enjoy the mountains and be secluded from all kinds of people. But as I grew up I never became the homebody-type that would enjoy living in solitude in the mountains. In high school my identity began to change in such a way that I felt distanced from people and like I couldn't be understood. My experiences were unique but so are the experiences of every other person who has ever lived. These things perhaps I didn't so much recognize at that age like I do now at least a little bit better. Either way, I was free after that point to develop understandings and beliefs somewhat independent from my peers. Peer pressure was an issue for me in many ways but at the same time, my identity was not completely dependent on what others thought of me or how well liked I was. What a blessing it was to have that stability going through college. Those were formative years for me especially as I traveled to far off places like China and took epic adventures with friends into New Mexico.

After three years of college I finally moved from my hometown not to the mountainous lands of Colorado but instead deep into the mid-west, the great windy city (less windy then Lubbock) Chicago. The Wheaton grad school attracted people from all over the world like Russia, China, India, Rwanda, Australia, Togo, Bolivia, Uruguay, Peru, and from every corner of the US. Those of us from the US were interested in being scattered to the far reaches of the world also. What a beautiful place to fellowship and grow. I am so grateful for this time of training among so many diverse and yet similarly-minded followers of Christ. What each of us had in common was a desire to glorify God completely with our lives wherever He may choose to send us or return us. I have never been understood so well or when my opinions where different from those I was around I have never been so well listened to and respected.

And from that nurturing environment I have returned home. Now what?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Goals Revisited

A year ago I posted a list of goals to accomplish is life. I've had some interesting experiences over the last year and have a bit of a different perspective on what I really need to do verses what would make for interesting experiences to tell the grandchildren or whatever. So read on for the actual posting last year and at the end I'll create a new list of goals and a bit of a commentary on what things I have actually accomplished this year.

Friday, May 25, 2007
Life Goals
A couple years ago a friend told me about a list of things he wanted to do in his lifetime. He wrote it while he was in high school and by this point he had graduated college and realized his time was running out to accomplish some of the things on his list before the strains of adult life held fast their unrelenting hold on him. The most remarkable thing on his list was to run a marathon. This man was at least a hundred pounds away from running a marathon but that didn't stop him, it actually became greater motivation. He inspired me to come up with my own list. Now two years later I think I'm finally ready to give this list a try.

Life Goals:
1. Hike the entire Appalachian Trail
2. Run a Marathon
3. Spend a minimum of 8 years in another country
4. Adopt children
5. Write a book

Now we all know that dreaming about doing things is not enough. Unless we make concrete efforts to accomplish goals they will never get themselves done.
So here's where I'm at in accomplishing each of these things:
1. Looks like I'll begin preparing to make the voyage across 14 eastern states from March-September 2009.
2. I'm trying to run 2-3 times a week to maintain current shape but have not selected a marathon or year.
3. Preparing to work on a Servant Team with Word Made Flesh this fall to see if WMF would be an organization that I could serve with for many years.
4. I know that I want a boy from Africa and a girl from South East Asia but I'm single and in a transitional stage in life so I am not prepared to have kids of my own yet. I would prefer to wait until I'm married and plan to live in one place for several years before beginning the adoption process.
5. I have an outline for the book I want to write. I plan to work on the majority of it after graduation from Wheaton while working in Lubbock. Some before the AT and finishing after just before going overseas long-term. Approx. date of release: 2011.

There, that was a fun exercise. I'll come back to this in a year and see what kind of progress has been made. You should come up with a life goals list as well. No matter how young or old you are goals and very good to motivate us to constantly better ourselves and benefit the world we live in.


Alrighty, Well I ran the Traverse City Bayshore Marathon on May 24th 2008 and finished right at 5 hours. My goal was to finish in five hours and that I did.
I have not continued plans for the AT or made any significant headway on writing a book but I'm thinking I need to get busy with that because I'm headed overseas sometime in the next year guaranteed. I still have the book's outline saved on my computer somewhere but it probably hasn't been opened in nearly a year. I did write that I was planning on serving on a servant team with Word Made Flesh. I went with them to Rio de Janeiro. As far as adopting children goes I might just be happy unofficially taking kids in from the barrio or favela wherever I find myself living and working. These will be my kids and I don't have to be married to have and take care of them.

My goals now are to get a pet and be healthy again.
Last night I had other goals in mind that I wanted to write about but I've already forgot what they were so I guess they weren't that impressive or important.

9/10- I remembered what one of the other "original" updated goals was: have an avocado tree. I guess that can replace the have a pet goal. I want an avocado tree and to be healthy. Unfortunately I just learned that I'm never going to be healthy in the sense that I meant ever again. boo, sad day.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Road Trip Path, kinda

View Larger Map
So this is the basic trajectory that I plan to take over the next couple weeks. Right now I'm in Eagan, MN. Tomorrow I'll be in Minneapolis. Wednesday I'll make my way to the western suburbs of Chi-town. I don't have any dates for the other places just yet.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Packing up, again

I don't have anything profound to write about today I just find myself in that strange tension and knotted anxiety again at the cliff of another relocation. It seems that the chapters in the book of my life do not last very long which is sad because apparently I have a way about me of developing really deep relationships and connections with people fairly quickly. Today I have been frantically pacing the church that we have called homebase for YouthWorks! over the past 2 1/2 months taking what things I can down and making list after list of things that I cannot forget to do while at the same time desperately wanting an excuse to stop, breath easy for a few minutes and realize what is most important, that being respectful to the people we work with and among. I don't know really what will be next for me. I know that I will have some much needed doctors visits to schedule and some job options to weigh out. But before I can even get there I have some soul searching to do that will stretch me the geographical distances of Minneapolis to Chicago back through Kansas City, Hope(fully) into Arkansas, and eventually winding my way back to the place of my origin, Texas. Anything could happen along the way. This will be my longest (miles and days) solo road trip and I do expect to experience some physical discomfort from the back injury and wont be able to take medication for it because I'll be driving, but otherwise it should be a good change of pace from this 24/7 gig I've been working the past couple months. I know lots of my friends are also experiencing major changes in their lives and I'm not alone in this soul searching scavenger hunt across spiritual and physical distances but nevertheless this will be a unique time in my life. The journey begins August 12. I move from Kansas City on August 10th and expect to arrive in Lubbock by September 1st. Don't expect any blogging between now and then.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

death and humilty

June 21, 2008
Shawnee, KS
I’ve not been contributing very much or very deeply to my blog in a very long time and earlier today I felt the urge to give it a try so we will see what comes out in this computer session as I drink my orange cream slush from sonic and sit at the dinning room table at the pastor’s house from the church who is hosting YouthWorks! in Kansas City. This weekend we are sleeping in real beds instead of our usual air mattresses and taking showers when we want and we even have access to washer and dryer and TV and real couches. What a wonderful weekend it has been. The carpet feels so good on our bare feet and the atmosphere of being in a real house instead of a shared space is wonderful. Don’t get me wrong, the church where we live is wonderful also, but there are some comforts at home that we still enjoy. Not personally paying rent, utilities, food, and all those other things is also wonderful but our arrangements have other costs. Like working 24/5 ½ (meaning 24 hours a day for 5 and ½ days strait without a break). And even on the weekends we have some constraints, it’s not like we can just resume normal life entirely. And all these things are okay. I like my job. It’s tough but it’s good. What does suffering produce? Perseverance. And what does perseverance produce? Hope that does not fail us. I’ve reached the realization of perseverance at this point but I’m still working towards hope.
Let me take a moment to explain a bit about what I’m doing. For those who are just looking for ways to waste their lives away on the Internet, check out For others who just want a quick description, I work for YouthWorks!, inc. and they are a missions organization that exists to provide Christ-centered, transformational mission experiences for teenagers. I am the Site Director for their new Kansas City site. We are located in Westport, the Volker neighborhood at a wonderfully hospitable (as evidenced by the pastor letting us use their house) Lutheran church. Each Sunday evening 50-75 youth show up and we keep them until Friday morning doing service type projects, worshiping, eating, sleeping, and seeing various parts of the city. Some of the places we send them are Kansas City Rescue Mission, Northland Neighborhoods, Metro Lutheran Services, Catholic Charities, Operation Breakthrough, Mission Adelante, Clara Manor Nursing Home, Harvesters, Kansas City Community Gardens, and others. Ask if you have more questions about what we do. Now back to my story.
On May 24th I ran a marathon. I felt on top of the world. Moving to a new place (I love traveling and the idea of new starts) and starting a new job had me very excited but at the same time a bit mournful of loosing the community I had built up while attending grad school in Wheaton, IL. I had not expected to grow so close to so many people in such a short time. But the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. And this was one of those times. Running the marathon seemed to be proving to myself that I could do anything I set my mind to. Originally I had seen running distance as something I could only accomplish through the aid of God. I didn’t think I would ever have the strength to complete such a thing on my own and during all my training runs I heavily relied on prayer and meditation on the supplication of God but during the marathon no such meditation took place. I ran all 26.2 of those miles by my own determination. I couldn’t focus on God with all those people running around me. I had a couple wonderful conversations along the way that were the main source of my fuel. And afterwards I felt better that if I had just run 9 or 10 miles. I was still jumping around. I could have turned around and run another ½ marathon at least. It was a wonderful feeling of power and accomplishment. Except that I had done it all on my own and I realized that right away. And I wasn’t as ecstatic about my run because I couldn’t appreciate God’s companionship along the way. I couldn’t reflect on mile 8 when God showed me the bay and sent the breeze and whispered gently into my ear all the wonderful ways he created me and the beauty he created in this place. Instead all I remember is being bored and strong on my own.
At RAMP (the YouthWorks! training week in Minneapolis) I remember praying for death again and I know I have not written the promised blog about why I meditate on death and what that means to me but I’ll summarize that now. When I ran 15, 18, and 20 mile training runs I would meditate on death. Death of the sort that baptism represents as well as the death I survived during my bleak and painful high school years. I learned years ago that my life would have no significance if lived outside of the will of God. Though not knowing exactly what it would mean to live according to God’s will, I knew that I had to die to my whims, my desires, and my ambitions. Instead I had to learn what God desired of his followers. I had to learn what it would mean to allow God to transform me and begin the process of perfection. And as I figured bits of this out I learned that the life where I choose yes to God and no to my ambitions was so much more wonderful and exciting then I could have ever envisioned for myself. Years later I have learned to pray that I die so that Christ can live through my body, that I can more and more fully be a body that Christ uses in this world to spread love and peace and advance his kingdom. But it’s hard to live like that all the time. There are lots of times where I would rather just look out for myself and use my money the way I want to or my time the way that would be most comfortable for me. But I desire above anything else to be completely God’s instrument.
Back to RAMP, I was praying to be set back on this path of being God’s servant and all and was feeling myself slip more and more into selfish decisions and was very frustrated about where my mind was during the marathon. On Thursday morning I was reflecting on how I was leading my new staff team and wrote in my journal these words, “Lord, break me down. Teach me humility. I choose to die to myself and be a life for you today. Make my body your instrument of love and peace. Work your will through my life. Transform my staff and myself. Today I choose death. Show me how to live.” Before I move on to the next exciting part of the story I want to jump back to February or sometime around there. We were playing with sticky sticks or whatever they are called (colorful sticky wand-like things that you can affix to stuff) in my Holy Spirit and mission class and we were supposed to design them in a way that reflected the way we saw the Holy Spirit involved in our lives. I created a girl running and this wind like thing that was all around but never intersected with the running girl. Basically I described it as myself running both physically and metaphorically and not actually feeling God involved with any of it. In years past I have felt very close to God but since this fall while I Rio I have not had that close communion with God that I used to enjoy and even rely on.
Back to that day at RAMP. In a matter of hours after writing that prayer I found myself in a lot of pain. I went to the bathroom then couldn’t really stand up off the toilet. Somehow I pulled myself up along the wall and slowly pulled myself out of that awkward position into a more heavily trafficked room where I was spotted by a couple people digging a dinosaur out of a clay egg. So they sat in the hallway with me for a while digging the dino out and that kept me company while I tried to figure out what to do with my pathetic self. After a while I had an informal meeting with one of the regional directors about potential ministry sites. She witnessed this miserable situation and didn’t have a whole lot of advice to offer. So I called the parents and other trusted friends who knew of my previous back disaster day 4 in Rio de Janeiro. Basically the same thing happed there. Just couldn’t stand up any more. Hurt, a lot.
So I went to the hospital and God rendered me helpless for the next week or so. Couldn’t walk much, couldn’t lift nothin’, couldn’t really do my job. I felt pathetic, miserable, frustrated. Humbled. I began to see God intervening, answering my prayer. I am still acting very selfish in my leadership. I still don’t understand how I can be a servant leader in this position. I still am frustrated with my situation of helplessness. I can do more now but maybe I shouldn’t be doing as much as I am. I don’t really know what God is trying to teach me and so I’m figuring I’ll have more of these tough lessons to learn. This past Thursday I began hurting again after a couple of weeks of feeling nearly better. Today especially I’m having a hard time standing up again. So I don’t know what the rest of the summer will look like or what will happen after this summer if I make it that far all I know is what is right now. And this simple vision of the current moment may itself be a lesson of God’s.
Thanks for reading about my struggles and the lessons I’m struggling to learn. I think I’m going to go enjoy some pizzookie with my team. Pizzookie for you who don’t know is like a pizza cookie with cookie dough cooked about five minutes and a pint of ice cream on top. Today’s flavors are Snickerdoodle cookie dough with Blue Bell Moo-llineum crunch on top. Yum… I think that’s enough of my thoughts for now. Thanks for reading all two of you who make it to the end. Leave some love.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Booneville, AR

So much for writing a string of blogs on running this spring. I'll get back to what I was going to write about death and running at some point but for now I wanted to give just a quick update on where I'm living and what's going on with all that.

I realize that I've moved more than 10 times in the past five years and that is OUT of CONTROL! So right now I'm in Booneville, AR. I've been living in Kansas City, MO for a week. The week before that I was training in Minneapolis, MN. The weekend before that I was moving away from Plano and West Chicago, IL and running a marathon in Traverse City, MI. This has been a CRAZY two weeks. I have gone from running 26.2 miles to being confined to a wheelchair five days later.

Another crazy thing that happened recently included trying to send a fax out of Kinko's in KC on Friday and I met a guy named Cody who was waiting on me to get done sending the fax so he could receive a fax. We talked. He labeled me a transient. What does that even mean? that I'm not committed, not deep, I'm into experiences more than I am to people, that I'm like the man in "Into the Wild?" But maybe it's true. I do love moving and traveling about. Meeting as many people in as many places as possible.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

This is long overdue

So it looks like from my blog I've been traveling home from Brazil for over four months. The truth is(n't) I traded my international flight for a 150cc Brazilian motorcycle and have been struggling with intra-continental travel since mid December. My family got concerned when Christmas rolled around and I wasn't' there. The debt collectors got concerned in January when my student loans went from repayment to default status and I got concerned when I realized at this rate I would be making better time running the last leg of the journey from Mexico to Chicago then trying to keep the bike in functioning condition. So that's what I'm doing these days. This past Saturday I had an amazing 18 mile run. And if 18 miles in one day is better distance then riding the motorcycle you can only imagine what these past four months have been like. But it is true, I missed the snowy winter Chicago is said to have had this year.

The truth is this has been quite a busy semester. Not so turbulent in the realm of culture shock as I had initially expected but none the less there have been many adjustments to be made. Looking back I thick my disposition fits better with the rhythm of Latin America. This may come as a shock to many of you who know me well and think I thrive on business and unplanned obligations. My rhythm didn't exactly match Brazil's but they were complementary like breaking 4/4 time into triplet quarter notes. It becomes something like Bosa Nova and is totally groovy. So I grooved in Brazil and now that I'm still plowing through this semester at breakneck speed and intensity I am really craving a groove. Here's the deal though, in one week all my class work must be completed. So if I can handle to demands of academia on top of all other life obligations for one more week I'll be free finally to pursue a new rhythm of life.

A refresher course on the recent history of my life just for reflection's and procrastination's sake: Spring of 2007 I attempted a hunger project in which I ate little more then Breedlove dehydrated soup (stuff that USAID uses for international relief aid). This project began to cultivate within me an increasing brokenness for the plight of the poor in the majority world.
The summer of 2007 I embraced voluntary homelessness by ending my traditional lease situation and primarily camping in the backyard of a friend's house. This lifestyle of camping was also mixed with a bit of cross-country road tripping which facilitated some amazing prayer and listening to C.S. Lewis audio books.
The fall of 2007 was spent applying the values that have been surging and seeking expression by living and working with Word Made Flesh in the second largest favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Please read my reflections from each of the phases in my life by flipping through my previous posts.

What is going on in my life now? Well to be sure, I don't have a motorcycle, I also don't have a lease but I do have two bedrooms that I flip-flop between and I still work at the coffee shop in Wheaton. I'm a week from finishing my Master's degree at Wheaton College and I'm within a month of running a marathon. And running is what I should have been posting about throughout this spring. Running has been my extreme pursuit of the season. I have been running in -2 degree with strong wind weather. I have also been running in 90 degree high humidity weather. I have had icecicles growing on my eye lashes and I've been sun burnt. Running is extreme. Anytime I run more then 5 miles I wonder why the heck I do this painful thing to my body.

Well, the reason is death. I wont expound on that yet. Maybe after this afternoon's run, after I've had another chance to meditate on the topic the words will come to me to explain the thing that compels me to run 26.2 miles on May 24th in Traverse City, MI.

I'll try to start blogging more regularly again. Sorry for checking out of the world of media connectivity for so long. No promises that I'll do any better at answering my phone or checking my email but maybe I can promise a blog at least every two weeks.