Friday, August 18, 2006

Hey guys,
Not sure who reads this, but say prayers for my dad as he travels back from business in England. I'm encouraged by the fact that there's been so much awareness and security at the airports, but it's still a bit scary.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Several updates....

1. One of my teammates- Laura- came to faith in Christ just a few years ago and is growing, but absolutely one of the most joyful people I've ever met. I was incredibly encouraged by her. Amazingly, God reached out to her through her meeting new friends when she moved. They invited her to church just to have fun and hang out, but when they invited her, they didn't tell her they were going to a church. She went through some tough times and then one night she said emotionally she was a rollercoaster. She was in her bedroom one night and she felt alone, afraid and overwhelmed. Then a peace came over her and she felt comfort like she'd never felt before. She went back to her Christian friends and told her she thought it might have been God and they prayed for her.
Now Laura is living in a home with three non-Christians. Her parents are Chinese and relationships in the home have broken down to the point that neither really speaks to her.
When I was with her on the trip, she really felt like leaving home because things were so uncomfortable. But I encouraged her to pray for her family, stay in the home and even ask them if you can pray for anything for them.
The other day she did just that----and a huge fight broke out, with everyone just leaving things unresolved in the end.
But then something amazing happened---her father came back to her in the afternoon and asked if she would pray for his friend.

PRAISE BE TO GOD! He can do all things and my goodness, can you believe that? He's stirring this young girl's father's heart all because she asked if she could pray for something.

2. For the past several months, one of my best friends has been struggling in her marriage, feeling neglected and feeling like her husband doesn't want to make an effort in anything. The last straw came when she found out he was struggling with gambling and they separated. For the past few months they've lived apart and her anger has boiled and she's wanted to just get a divorce and have it over with because it's been so painful (mind you, they're Christians).
Before I left, I begged her not to make any serious decisions, to keep praying for her husband and to seriously give counseling a shot. Her husband had finally set up a session when she called and told him she was through with him. She didn't think it would work and decided to go only to feel vindicated, that she did what she needed to do.
Counseling wasn't the best right off and she went back home to think things through more before recommitting to going back to counseling. On her way back from her hometown, she ran across a marriage CD in her car that she hadn't listened to in a long time. For the four-hour drive home, that's all she did was listen.
When she got back home, she asked her husband to go over to the house and listen to the CD with her. They prayed, decided they both needed to get their lives refocused on God and decided to give counseling a better shot.
He even moved back in!
While they're not out of the woods yet, this is a HUGE step in the right direction and one I haev been praying for for a very long time. I truly believe God can save this marriage, but it's amazing to see Him working as quickly as He has.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Back from Northern Ireland and it was an amazing experience! It's been incredibly hard getting back into the groove of things--it's been like slow-mo at work this whole week. Hopefully Monday will be better...
Anyway, we saw one teen commit his life to Christ, which was awesome! We were having all kinds of issues with leadership and then finally one night, our assistant leader for the trip completely quit. She left the same night we had an evening church service. We had one of the groups from the drop in center (an evening hang out place where kids could come and play pool, buy snacks, chill with their friends, get on the computer, etc) come to the service and this teen boy sat behind me. His name is David and he was always super nice and not so rough around the edges. Anyway, he came up to me after the service and insisted I go with him downstairs while everyone else was hanging out in the community hall having tea.
Reluctantly, I followed him downstairs, preparing myself for anything. We sat down in the foyer of the building and he told me- with a sparkle in his eye and a giant grin on his face- that he had prayed for Christ to come into his heart and said he wanted to be a Christian.
I was over the top excited for him! I had been talking with him all week and he seemed like he had a belief in Christ, but he told me he had never made the commitment to follow Him.
After that I took him around to each of my teammates and introduced him as our new "brother" in Christ. It was amazing.
Beyond that, each night was filled with conversations with kids who were entrenched in the Troubles and tensions over in Northern Ireland. Though kids might call themselves "Catholic" or "Protestant" it's more of a political affiliation than anything else. Sort of like "who do you support?" when it comes to football (soccer). They might say they belong to a religion, but there's nothing really there. They drink (underaged in most cases), smoke, do drugs, have orgies and sex, break the law; basically anything that makes them "cool" in their friends' eyes. Many don't have hopes for the future and their only ambition is to shoot a Catholic in the kneecaps. (Most of the kids we worked with were "Protestant" or "Loyalists."--Loyalists don't want to see the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland rejoined and generally view Catholics the way Whites used to view Blacks in the South back in the day).
It was terribly sad and hard to comprehend why the kids harbored such hatred in their hearts for people just like them. Why they could possibly follow a fallacious statement such as "all Catholics are murderers" basing their facts on previous incidents.
I'm going to continue to pray for Ireland, the teens in Ballymoney and the youth workers staying there. The country needs its youth to be healed or healing will never come to the country itself.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hello all and what\'s the crack? (N. Irish slang for \'what\'s up\')
I\'m in Ballymoney now and working in a drop in center with my Summer Serve team. Basically we\'re putting on programs with games, testimonies and dramas and hanging out with the kids each afternoon/evening from 3 to 10 p.m.
The teens here are great! We\'re having a blast with them and they seem to be warming up to us pretty quickly.
Please pray that God would stir in their hearts and that we could communicate the gospel even more with them. They\'ve had many Summer Serve teams here in the past and we hope it will be a time of harvest.
Secondly, pray for continued unity within our team. We\'re all getting along fantastically and everyone seems to bring something unique and wonderful to the group. Pray for God\'s hedge of protection over us.
Lastly, please pray for my allergies. I don\'t have them back home, but I\'ve had a pretty bad case of hay fever while I\'ve been here. A friend has given me Claritin, but now I have to wear my glasses which is a bit awkward. Pray for God\'s healing.
See you in a few weeks!

Thursday, July 13, 2006


I want to know strength in weakness
Of victory in the midst of seeming defeat.
I want to know rejection's sweet reality-
His Words sticking to the wounds and
Stinging the pride that tries to fill the emptiness.
I want to know love in its depth
Clarity in confusion
And trust despite the unknown.

Take me beyond this skin,
Til I can trust in myself no more.
Wake me out of this earthly slumber,
Cleansed down to the core.
For I am nothing without your strength
Though I'm everything in this world.
I am just a shell of your appearance
Your creation unfurled.


Tia and Me at Cosmic Bowling
Say "hello" and "welcome" to the newest member of our Vineyard Family- Miss Tia from N.Y.! She'll be helping out with the teens and I'm sooooo excited!

"Peace" Northern Ireland-style :)

Susie, Hannah and DD

Tia gets a Strike!!!!

DD contemplates "strike" strategy with Hannah

Getting ready to use the strategy.....

Yes, as you can tell, our group of five girls had a FABULOUS time for Ladies' night. First, we hit Applebees and scored a free appetizer (for being charming, of course!) and knocked out appetizers, a few drinks, entrees and even a dessert! Then it was off to Starbucks to chill until our late-night date with Cosmic Bowling at AMF in Chandler.

It was a very late night filled with "Baby Got Back" requests, sing-alongs to a popular Queen song and of course, who can forget that time DD tossed the bowling ball backwards? (don't worry, it happens to the best of us!)

Lots of our wonderful ladies from group were missing, but still, we had an awesome time! We'll plan to do this at least every few months.

Welcome, Tia! You're one of us now! :)

Later people, I'm off to Northern Ireland...

PEACE out- (guess what sign I'm using!)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The countdown continues!
Less than five days until we leave for Northern Ireland, can you believe it?
For whatever reason, it still hasn't completely sunk in that we'll be there in just a few days and scattered all over the country. Sure, my bag is packed (c'mon, you know me!) and I've been doing my journal entries in my notebook and praying like crazy, but it's still not reality. I suppose it won't be realized until we're touching down in Belfast. I'm pretty sure Harry and Rhyss are going to meet us there (Rhyss mentioned he missed my chocolate chip cookies--so I guess I'm baking on Saturday!).
Though it will be hard to be separated from Obadiah for 2 weeks, I'm not worried or dreading it, quite honestly. I know that God uses those times especially to grow us because it takes away any possibility of dependency on others we normally seek for comfort.
I'm not sure what my abilities will be or how effective I will be about communicating the Gospel, but I continue to pray that God will just breathe on me, and breathe into me the words he wants those I come in contact with to hear.
All I can do is be obedient and step out in faith. I'm realizing that more and more each day with each action I take in that regard. It's hard to put yourself out there sometimes, but I truly hope this trip will create more of a boldness in me to share my beliefs even with those who seem opposed to listening.
Anyway pray for us! We'll be gone for a while!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Here's our "baby." Coal is now about 6 1/2 months old. Isn't he cute? He's a little brute and extremely strong, but as sweet as can be. He has tons of energy and loves to play. We've got him enrolled in obedience class and he has one more until he graduates. He's still having a tough time leaving the leash alone, but we'll let it slide for now and continue to work on it. He's very photogenic, as you can tell. I love our little pound puppy!

Day 1 of taking Paul's challenge to work with Mormon Friend:Failed miserably. I'm pretty sure I did everything Paul told us NOT to do. Let's see... so first, I asked about what was going on in her life- not abnormal at all. She told me she went to a baseball game with her church. BING- a light goes on in my head, though I'm not at all prepared to talk about religion or whatever. So we keep talking about baseball games and nose-bleed sections. Then I ask her "So what do you think of your church" and "so what do you believe" and "what about Jesus Christ-what do you believe?" Listening pretty well. Nodding and's all looking good until (you guessed it) I opened my mouth....and told her what I believed. It never turned confrontational but boy did it turn into a tennis match. She believed she had to strive to be like God -smack! I'd tell her I don't believe we're bound by the law anymore- return smack! And so it went on... Then a met a couple of 20 somethings later in the day. They were standing at the freeway off ramp where I turn left to drive home everyday. I sat in my air-conditioned little white car trying not to look at the 20-something-year-old guy with piercing blue eyes, yellowed teeth and dirty t-shirt and jeans. I didn't have any money or food or anything to give to him and his female companion, who looked to be a little younger than myself. I looked up a few moments before the light turned green to see the guy staring me straight in the eyes and the girl clutching her hands together in a begging motion. Their makeshift cardboard sign read "Stranded- need money to get back to NM..." and some other stuff I can't remember. I remember their eyes though, especially as I drove away after shrugging and mouthing to them "I don't have any cash." As soon as I turned left to go toward home the Jesus' voice echoed in my ear "what you do for the least of these you do for me." It nagged me and churned in me and I knew I needed to do something. I drove home with the 20-somethings' faces in my head and prayed they'd stay at the corner in the 110+ degree heat. I let the dog out, grabbed a mini Gideon New Testament Bible and a makeup bag and drove to Target where I grabbed Clif bars and Balance bars, water and mini-toiletries. I prayed more "please let them be there still." The checkout clerk and the woman in front of me buying earrings and hair decorations clearly didn't see that I was in a hurry or they just chose to ignore my finger tapping against my debit card. Didn't they realize I needed to get out of there? I finally got the stuff and hurried out the door of the store, my black heels clicking, my hair falling out of the neat updo I'd created earlier in the day. I drove a few minutes back toward the off ramp and saw them standing there. Now I just needed to find somewhere to park. About a football field away was some industrial building with signs that screamed in big red letters "Unauthorized vehicles will be towed at owners' expense." But there was no where else to park. So I parked at a spot away from the signs, hoping my car would still be there after I walked to the off ramp. Their faces were grateful as I handed them the bags. I chatted for a while with them. They'd been together for two years, lived in New Mexico and worked as telemarketers. They said their jobs weren't "noble." They said they drove out to visit his family after the family promised to pay their way back. After some conflict, they said they left the house, but had no way of getting back home. Frankly, the only reason I tell this story is because of the next step. The next CRUCIAL step. They thanked me for the gifts and I told them it's what Jesus would want me to do and some other stuff. That he brought joy to my life, he was the light in my heart and he's the one who told me to help them. They smiled and nodded in a friendly nature and thanked me more. I told them "good luck" and "I hope everything works out for you in New Mexico" and I walked across the crosswalk which began flashing the red hand. I should have taken the sign as a "sign" and turned around and went back, but I didn't. All I could think of was "I forgot to ask them if I could pray with them" and "I didn't really even share my faith." Yes, I was obedient, but man, am I ever human? It seems like something like that should be the most basic instinct of a Christian. Hurting people + Christian person = PRAYER. But I've never been all that good at math, obviously! Obadiah encouraged me and said that maybe it was just a test to see if I would be obedient. Maybe it wasn't at all about doing the steps I was beating myself up over. Maybe showing Christ to them was all about just reaching out in their time of need. But I'm still having a tough time with both situations because I feel like I've failed. Maybe I've planted a seed somewhere, but maybe I haven't. How is it going to be in Northern Ireland if I can't even develop the instincts here? I know that God will take care of me and that it will be different over there. You can bet I'll be doing a lot of praying and reading my Bible before then, however.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Every day I realize how little I know.
I'm learning how to navigate the harsh waters of office politics. I'm learning how to keep my foot out of my mouth, how to keep to myself and how to let my light shine despite the walls I face each day in my office.
Maybe this is just office life, the way every place feels and how all employees feel at one point or another, but I feel a bit used and abused. I don't get positive feedback and when I do, a caveat is attached to it.
"You're doing a really great job here, but..."
"Thanks for filling space, but could you..."
There's no grace. No empathy. No pat on the back of encouragement.
Part of me wonders why I worked so hard to get where I am.
Is it all for nothing?
Sometimes I want to go and hide under my covers and just forget about the working world. I wonder how I'm ever going to be a good mom if I'm working in the job I am, or how I'm ever going to be there for my family if I pursue my dreams that have turned out to be so bittersweet.
Maybe I'm just new to this and don't understand it. Maybe I can attribute my need for encouragement and support to this generation I grew up in, which depends so highly on outward stimulation and appreciation.
Maybe. Maybe my expectations have been too high and that I've grown up in a bubble of teachers and books and grades always giving me my satisfaction. I had the stellar grades, I pursued my collegic dreams, I got the scholarship, met the man of my dreams, got married, got a dog (no white-picket fence). But why this dissatisfaction? Why do I feel underappreciated and just plain used?
The grass is always greener, as the cliche goes. I know that I'll never feel as appreciated or loved as I'd want to feel and find myself depending more on God as I cling to truth and the soft-spoken words whispered within. Hold on. You're trying your best. You're doing great.
Is it the job, or is it something more in the depths of my heart?
I don't want to lose my passion for what I'm doing, but I feel it waning as I deal with yet more expectations outside of myself, the ones that weigh on me heavier than the load I already choose to carry. Yes, my head says 'give Jesus your load, surrender.' Much easier said than done. How do you just coast?
I'm learning every day. And it's not easy.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Counting my blessings...

1.) Husband and I were looking into buying a brand-new washing machine and dryer--would have been a couple grand. But, I got an e-mail from my mom on Friday saying a friend of a friend was buying a new set even though hers were only about 4 years old. The lady wanted to just give the set away rather than selling it. The only catch was that you had to go pick it up.
So, we now have an almost brand-new set. The cost? $0. Is there a better price out there? That was a huge blessing!

2.) School's out which means my schedule at work slows down a bit. Yippee!

3.) A really cool journalism conference is coming up in Texas, but it was going to be really pricey. Fortunately, I got a help from my dad and now I can stay in the same hotel as the other reporters :)

I'm sure there are more, but those are on the top of my mind. Hasta luego!

Monday, May 22, 2006

For some crazy-strange reason, I'm actually able to log on to the blogger Web site today, so here I am again...finally.

It's been a while since I posted, mostly because access to this site is limited at work and the Internet isn't working at home. But boy have I desired to do some free-writing after writing all day long and listening to others' thoughts and visions and experiences.

I'm not sure when this all began, but a change has been erupting from the innermost core of my being over the last few months or so. First I think it began with listening to what I thought was God's voice. Inexperienced in actually following through with what the small voice is ordering me to do (when it seems crazy and illogical), I decided to take a small step of faith. I had to call a friend whom I hadn't spoken with in ages, a friend who is no longer a friend by his own decision several years ago. I called to tell him that God wanted to tell him something, for him to look at John 14 (I think that's what it was...) He was busy at the time, but promised to look it over. He asked me to call him again soon. That was months before Thanksgiving and now we're pushing for Father's Day. I haven't called him back mostly because I'm waiting on God to tell me "when" or "if."
That was step number one.
Next came the healing step.
I grew up in a conservative church where we believed the extent of healing prayers was focused on God--i.e. "God, please heal so-and-so of his foot. Amen." Not very extensive, it just wasn't a focus and the gifts of the spirit were not discussed.
Then I went to the Vineyard and my eyes and ideas were opened.
I stepped out in faith when the pastor asked if anyone needed healing. Physically, I didn't step out of my seat like the rest of the would-be healed. My injury just wasn't severe enough, I thought. I didn't have cancer. I wasn't struggling to breathe. My life was good, I just had a bit of a thorn in the flesh, namely a sore wrist that limited the pressure I could put on it.
But when our pastor asked us to lay hands on the injury and tell the ailment to "go," I did, to myself. I remember hearing the Joy Williams song running through my brain "I believe in you" and truly thinking to myself "yes, if you want to do it Lord, you're the ultimate healer and you can do it."
The pain was gone.
That was step number two.
Since then, I have been dreaming dreams and others have dreamed dreams for me. A lady in the congregation came up to me yesterday saying she saw me cloaked in a robe with a material she had identified as "international" or "missional" from other dreams she had had and the words God had spoken to her. She told me she interpreted the dream to possibly mean I was meant to serve the nations in a missionary capacity. It was a confirmation to me that God truly has always placed on my heart. It was love and compassion that drove me after my first mission trip to Mexico, to learn Spanish, learn about the culture and ultimately visit the border over and over. It was the stirring in my heart that has led me to pursue a trip this summer after watching a video when my fiancee returned from Northern Ireland after working with youth. My heart broke and continues to break when I see youth straying from God, devoid of purpose, chasing so many things that entangled and trapped me until the age of 20 when God grabbed ahold of me and I clung on for dear life.
And now He continues to work.
I may not fit in to what my former Bible mentor thought was what I was supposed to do to grow closer to God (memorize Bible verses, get in the word each day with a quiet time, etc--all good things), but still I am. I seek after God in my own ways daily and though I'm not perfect, he still sees me fit to invest in, nurture and love.
I am a Raggamuffin. I have been beaten down, called names, rejected, scarred in a number of ways, yet He still loves me and accepts me, flaws in all.
And I'm still growing.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Okay, going to copy my husband...

Four jobs I've had...
1. Nanny for family ($7 per hour in summer, $10 during school year)
2. Program Coordinator for PBS station here (about $8 per hour)
3. Intern summer and fall for newspapers $10 and $11 per hour
4. Education reporter (not enough!!!)

Four TV Shows I love to watch...
1. Project Runway
2. American Idol
3. Oprah
4. Dr. Phil

Four Places I've been on Vacation
1. 2 places in Hawaii
2. Maine
3. Disneyland
4. San Diego

Four favorite dishes
1. Salmon
2. Spaghetti
3. Manicotti
4. Not exactly Cobb, Cobb salad at BJ's restaurant

Four Web sites I visit daily

Four Places I'd rather be
1. On the beach in Kona, Hawaii or surfing in Kona
2. Wakeboarding on Lake Powell or other local lakes
3. Hiking in Sedona
4. Running in Maine

Four Blogs like to see do this
1. HW
2. PM
3. S4U
4. RH

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Limits. We as Americans don't seem to pay attention to them. Take for example speed LIMITS. They're not speed SUGGESTIONS or even speed BOUNDARIES with a swinging gate. I'm not going to say that I'm always going 65 when the sign says "Speed Limit 65," but why do we even bother calling it a limit when photo enforcement switches on at 76-11 miles over. Why do we get mad at someone on the freeway who's actually going 65 or, God forbid, 64? (Don't say you haven't done it!)
When it comes to food, one serving isn't enough. 2,000 calories a day is supposed to be our limit (in most cases), but we want more. We have a limit on our credit cards, yet if someone fills it up, just get another one or go over the limit and pay the fee.
The word "limit" seems finite. You're not supposed to go over, that's supposed to be your boundary. Yet more and more the word "limit" has lost its meaning and in a society that values "more," "better," or even "the best," it's no wonder it's more expensive to live. It's no wonder people are obese. It's no wonder people are in extreme debt in excess of $100,000. It's no wonder states like Arizona are resorting to photo radars on freeways to deter extreme speeders. There are no limits in the minds of most Americans.
And it's not like I'm completely innocent...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Ahhh, back in the blogging world! Sorry for my absence, but both my computer at home and at work have had issues with this site.
So we have a new "baby" in the house--a little black lab-chow mix puppy named Coal that will quickly outgrow the "little" part of his description. From the day I brought him home to two days later, he gained 3 lbs! I think he's gained some even since his last vet appointment on Wednesday. He's a growing boy. We're up in the middle of the night every night letting him out to go to the bathroom and then up every morning before seven to let him out again and play with him. We're crate training him and so far he's doing a great job and hasn't even pottied in his crate.
What else is new? Well, Ireland is quickly approaching with only 5 months left of fundraising. I think we've done pretty well though and should earn enough, but we'll see.
Also, our backyard is now all torn up because we've started the revitalization process. We're getting rid of the dirt and adding lots of grass--something Coal will be absolutely THRILLED with. We'll also be adding a fire pit and an above-ground water feature. I'll be really happy when it's all done and we have grass everywhere, but it looks like we're probably about two months away from that.
That's it for me now. I'll try to update more frequently now that I know I can use this computer to blog.