Friday, May 27, 2005

IS IT 8PM YET?!



my best friend, heather, will be in portland, oregon tonight at 8pm. i am so excited i can hardly stand it! needless to say i am getting absolutely NOTHING done at work. i feel like a little girl who has just been asked to her first sleep over.

HAVE YOU SEEN THESE GIRLS?



this picture explains why i love student ministry so stinking much. just look at these knuckleheads. who wouldn't want to hang out with them?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

GOODBYE DEVIL PILL!



today i kicked the habit and threw that nasty unfinished pack of pills into the trash. birth control pills will no longer reek havoc on this body! i will no longer have to experience month long episodes of feeling as bloated as the blueberry version of veruca salt. i will no longer feel the pangs of hunger every five freaking minutes. i will now have the freedom to frolic whenever i want without clutching and cringing at the pain of my sore breasts. oh how i will miss the two and half weeks of break through bleeding. and how could i forget the joys of crying every 2.7 seconds because my hormones are so screwed up and out of whack.

with all this to say zovia has actually been one of the better birth control pills out there. i would recommend it to a friend. i would not however recommend ortho tri cyclene. if you thought the exorcist was scary then you have no idea of the horrors that it turned this girl into. why am i writing about birth control? i have no idea. maybe i'm trying to convince myself that trashing those pills today is not scary but rather liberating. from this day forth i am no longer a woman oppressed by the tyranny of the pill. in a few short months i will be back to my old self again. i can't even remember what that poor girl is like.

ARE YOU SURE THERE ARE NO SHARKS IN HERE?



have you ever gone to bed and woken up more tense and anxious than when you went to bed? lately my dreams have been more like a bad acid trip than rest. i've been popping pills left and right, smacking up lester and have been on a myriad of other dysfuctional adventures in my dreams. i want to be a strong faith warrior like paul but at night my mind reveals to me that i'm anything but that.

i fear that God doesn't realize that He put me in a situation that is over my head. will i be able to withstand the attacks that are thrown at me here in st. john's? will i crumble under the pressure and become a pill popping addict? will my marraige disentegrate? will success be my downfall? will i become a red-eyed pride monster who crushes everyone in it's path? will i lead people astray because of my brokeness?

it's not that i don't trust God. i just don't trust myself. i'm sure that's healthy in a lot of ways. i don't want to rely soley on myself. when i put myself above God that's when i crumble. i feel like i'm a little kid learning how to swim for the first time. i've finally had enough courage to take off my floaties but i'm still not confident that i can stay afloat by myself or that my swimming instructor is going to catch me if i start to drown. i know God is right there stretching out His arm to me. i can't get my heart wrapped around what that really means so i'm too uptight to enjoy the experience of learning how to swim.

i feel like i'm at the edge of the pool getting ready to take my first leap into the deep end and i keep stopping to ask "do you remember when i was really little and i tried to dive into the big pool and almost drowned? what if that happens again?"

the instructor just smiles and asks "do you remember who was there that day? do you remember who pulled you out of that pool and stopped you from drowning?"

"oh yeah! but...but what about the sharks? are you sure there are no sharks in here? i know i felt one nibbling at my toe the other day. what if i get eaten by the sharks?"

"would i take you to a pool just to get eaten by sharks? i'm here to teach you the joy of swimming. i want you to be able to experience the thrill of jumping off the diving board. i want you to know the peace of just resting and floating in the water. you have to let go of the side of the pool if you want to experience the freedom of swimming."

"i want to experience the joy of swimming but letting go of the side of the pool is so scary. i don't know if i can do it. i don't know if i can let go."

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

MY STUPID MOUTH...



with all the clicks, clacks and other various noises that come out of my mouth it's inevidable that i will offend a person or two now and again. my mouth like my face has a mind of it's own sometimes. well...most of the time it has a mind of it's own. i had no idea that the utterance of two words could provoke such a response. "hey trouble!" one man or woman's term of affection can be another man or woman's insult. anyway you slice it i had one pissed off peepaw today. this encounter has lead to my first lesson here in st. john's. cue the drum roll...

LESSON # 1 CHOOSE AND USE WORDS WISELY
i've struggled with this before and this incident has just clarified to me why this is so important. there are so many things in this world that tear us down. advertising companies get paid the big bucks to get us to think that our lives will simply not be complete without product A or that we couldn't possibly measure up to the jones' if we don't purchase product B. oh sorry, you don't seem to be pretty enough, smart enough, successful enough, or (fill in the blank) enough to measure up to the cream of the crop of society. we can help you to choose a very nice plot of land for you to go dig a hole and bury yourself though. the world constantly tells us that we are not good enough and that there is no way we measure up. this is completely contrary to what Christ tells us. He tells us over and over again how much He loves us no matter how much we may have screwed up or how f'ed up we are. He reminds us of how much we are worth and how much we mean to Him. i want to be the face of Christ to this broken community. i want to help people see the truth about who they really are. they aren't who this jacked up world says they are. they are who Christ says they are. why would i want to add to the mound of crap and lies that most people believe? teasing and joking at someone's expense isn't worth it. i know i will once again insert one flat foot into one big mouth. i do however want to be mindful of just how powerful my mouth and the words that come out of it can be.


Friday, May 20, 2005

THE EVIL GREEN BEAST



i always thought people in austin were friendly. people would smile at you while walking on the street or wave or even extend the curtiosy of opening a door for you. wow! you don't see that everywhere. it's different in st. john's. people here in st. john's not only wave they stop to talk. i've been trying to put my finger on what makes this place so cool. les and i get to walk everywhere. we walk to work, to church, to the grocery store, to the movies. that in itself is very stinking cool. but there is something else that makes this little spot in the world different. it hit me yesterday . the pace of st. john's is different. the pace of america is so frenzied. a lot of times you don't even realize it until you have been removed from it. when les and i went to belize for our honeymoon we definately got a lesson in pace of life. we would go to a restaurant and the service would seem to take FOREVER! we couldn't understand why the service was so bad. a couple days into our trip we began to realize that it wasn't the service that was bad it was the pace of life that was different. the people in belize live life at a different pace.

the people in st. john's live at a different pace too. it occured to me yesterday why there is a difference. it comes down to the bling bling, money thang. st. john's or nopo (north portland) is the poor side of portland. it is the area of town you do not want to be in. there aren't a lot of people running around st. jonh's preoccupied with climbing the corporate ladder of success. there aren't a lot of people who are doing everything they can possibly think of to be successful. most people here probably don't even realize they are capable of sucess. they have been beaten down, margenalized and are the outcasts of society. most of them probably wouldn't have choosen to have their idols of success or money to be removed from them but because of the situation they are in those idols just aren't available.

the beatitudes finally come to life for me here in st. john's: Matthew 5:3-11 MSG

You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
You're blessed when you're content with just who you are--no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.
You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.
You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'carefull,' you find yourselves cared for.
You're blessed when you get your inside world--your mind and heart--put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.
You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.
Not only that--count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable.

i heard about one of my old youth leaders yesterday. when we worked together i knew he didn't quite get it but was hopeful that in time he would. i found out that since quitting the student ministry he has quite going to church. it's not about attending a church service every sunday but it was sad for me to hear. he is a lawyer and puts in a lot of time at work. in fact that's the reason according to his brother that he has stopped attending church altogether. what is it going to be like for him when he has a family someday? what is it going to be like for his wife and kids if he's working all the time? what about himself? what's it going to be like when he realizes he's eighty and he's wasted his entire life working? you can't take it with you. you can't take the job title or the chizled body or the fat bank account or the home in aspen with you! don't get me wrong i don't think that everyone should run out and quit their jobs. i just think people should consider the costs.

i had another youth leader who i eventually had to ask to step down who was on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. he was a musician and a passionate one at that. at one point he quit his job so he could focus on music fulltime. the kid couldn't pay his bills. he couldn't understand why that made people nervous or upset. what les and i are doing makes some people nervous or upset. the uncertainty of our situation would drive some people mad. the difference between him and us? direction. passion without God's direction can be wreckless. it would have been different with this youth leader if he was following the lead of God. i would have been fired up for him if he was. unfortunately he was following the lead of himself and his desire to be a performer. how do i know whose lead he was following, how can i judge? i knew because the path he was following wasn't God's best for him. he was hanging out almost every night at bars and clubs with musicians or his friends trying to get gigs and was getting loaded almost every night. he showed up a couple times to youth group reaking of alcohol. he even drove home drunk and wrecked his car. we all screw up and make mistakes. i make them ALL the time. but if this was the path he was following i know it wasn't the path Jesus was leading him down. he wasn't ready or strong enough to be in that environment without hurting himself. i feel for him. i know what it's like to have an quenchable burning passion. i too once was full of passion without God's direction.

so where is all this going? i'm not quite sure. watch the village by m. night shyamalan think about it and let me know what YOU think.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

BABY GARMAN DUMPS A COLA



the word baby has been seen popping up around the brown house. i can't believe i'm even admitting this. having a baby seems like such a grown up thing to do and i don't feel like much of a grown up at all. i do have to confess that if the evil pill failed me i wouldn't be upset about it. the whole baby thing and the adventure les and i are on right now just doesn't seem to match up though. in a couple months we don't even know how we are going to provide for ourselves much less for an ankle biter. i can't leave out the fact that we are without health insurance. what lame brain would even consider such a thing as a baby with all these financial uncertainties!?

i can remember talks les and i used to have about a couple who said they couldn't afford birth control who had several unexpected pregnancies. i never could understand that. wouldn't spending thirty dollars a month be a lot cheaper than HAVING A BABY! this is the mind set that i'm coming from. the strange thing is God has taken us to a place where nothing makes sense. it does not make sense to move 2300 miles to a church who can't afford to pay us. it doesn't make sense to move to a place where there are no guarantees. it doesn't make sense to not at least get part-time jobs so we can support ourselves. i wanted to get a job. the first week we were here i wanted to run off to the pub and bag me a job. i don't feel that's what i'm or we are supposed to do. if les and i got jobs we would be relying on ourselves for provision and i feel God has taken us to a place to really stretch our faith. i know He's saying "do you trust me? will you really let go of everything and trust me? i promise i wont drop you." this in a crazy way all ties into the whole baby thing. no it doesn't make sense to even think of the word baby right now. once again it feels like God is saying "do you trust me that my timing is always right?" my response as usual is "OH ALL RIGHT! i'll do it but i'm not gonna like it." even now the thought of trusting God with this freaks me out. it's not like les and i are even ready to start trying to have a baby it's more like we are at a point where we feel we should stop trying not to have one and trust that God will not give us a blessing that we aren't ready for. even now i can hear the whining. "but God what if your timing doesn't match up with my plans for the student ministry. oh please please PLEASE! if we do this, give us at least another year completely baby free." all this stuff has been spiraling through out my head. at least it was until i found my mute button.

last night les and i watched the garman kids to give there awesome mom a little break and a chance to go to home community. this probably sounds horrible but it seems like there are several of us who has a "favorite" garman. there are six of them and they are all great and it's impossible not to love all of them. but come on we're human and have favorites. my favorite garman is the oldest and of course is a high school student. les just loves their two year. now let me explain the two year old. he's huge!!!! i thought he was five the first time i saw him. he is not just big in stature he is also supposedly a big in poops. i hear it's five times a day and no he's not potty trained yet. well, since the two year old is les's favorite i thought we could strike up a little deal. he gets to change him if he "dumps a cola" (garman saying for "this kid just dumped a toxic load that will singe all the hairs in your nose") and i'll change the baby if he "dumps a cola." seriously how bad could a baby's diaper be. well, i picked the winning child! baby garman dumped a cola. i had no idea something so small could produce something so horrid. it was almost as big as he was! and then it happened the baby dialogue in my head was silenced. do i still want to trust God with everything in my life even if that means ditching the pill? yes, even though it's scary as all get out. BUT! now since the idea of baby goes along toxic waste my mind has decided not to entertain any thoughts of anything of that sort.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

HELLO DRY EYES!



i have finally made it through a staff meeting at red sea without crying. yeehaw it's time to celebrate! i am still blown away by our meetings together. the prayer, the honesty, the authentic community, it's awesome!

i have seemed to replace my tears at the staff meeting with tears EVERY time i see or even hear about a peepaw. i miss my grandpa and i know the pain and grief is still there lurking, waiting for the most inconvenient possible times to pop up. i've decided to help relief some of the impending grief by adopting a peepaw. in my search for a peepaw, i discovered i need a peepaw to adopt me just as much as i need a peepaw to adopt. i wonder if my future peepaw will let me call him peepaw?

i think i've already found my potential peepaw. he's not a very old peepaw. in fact he's only 61. his name is clarence and i simply adore him. i don't know how it happened. i've met him several times and honestly really hadn't given him the time of day until sunday. we got to hang out a little bit while he helped me put up lights for service and i totally found a soft spot for him. i don't want to rush into things but i really think he's the peepaw for me. the downside, i don't think clarence will let me call him peepaw. doh!

Friday, May 13, 2005

EVER FELT LIKE THIS?



i wish i had some witty comment to go along with this picture but i feel that it does a good enough job speaking for itself. besides, i'm way too occupied trying to figure out if anyone would notice if i unbuttoned the top button of my pants. i think i just might be a seal trapped in a human's body.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

ESTROGEN FEST HERE I COME, YIKES!!!

tomorrow i embark on my first journey to a woman's retreat. YIKES! i have no idea what freaks me out so much about a gathering of woman minus any testosterone, but it does. i am a woman i should be able to hang out with a bunch of other woman, right? YIKES! i was hoping that i would be able to march through life dodging events such as these. i was almost able squirm my way out of this one too. until christy. yes, she had me at tatoo. i knew i should go anyway to meet people and get to know the woman of red sea but...YIKES! Christy meationed how last year some of the woman went to go get red sea tatoos after the retreat. okay, any woman's retreat, estrogen fest, whatever you want to call it that ends in tatoos can't be all that bad, can it? i guess i'll find out. i guess it's time to finally face the fear. isn't that what we are supposed to do anyway? YIKES!

THERE SHE IS...MISS AMERICA



I'm surprised I didn't break the camera on this one. I have been known for my crazy faces. I'm always freaked out that my face gives me away in situations where I don't want it to. It could quite possibly have a mind of it's own without me even realizing it. This is my "Holy Smokes! That Rash Really Is Bad" face. Don't worry this expression cleared up right after I discovered No Pudge! Fat Free Brownies. It's okay to eat the entire pan of brownies if it's fat free right?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

IN THE MIDST OF CHAOS

so it's been awhile since i've blogged. so much has happened over the past weeks that it blows my mind. yeah, yeah i know i say that a lot but this time there is absolutely no exaggerating in "a lot has happened." i wish i was an eloquent communicator so i could accurately convey all that has occurred but who am i kidding i'm not eloquent and most times my mind works like an child with ADD. so here goes...

HOME SICK IN PORTLAND SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO
on march 31st les and i started our new adventure and our treck up to portland. after a few stops here and there we ended up in at our destination thursday april 7th. prior to leaving one of my students had mentioned that when she moved from michigan to texas it took a while for the move to sink in. at first it just felt like vacation to her. well, she was stinking right. the first week it did feel like a vacation. a vacation with some really cool people. a week later les and i found our selves sitting in our first home community. everybody was stinking cool and again i really enjoyed everyone's company but it was during that first small group gathering that i felt the disease of homesickness creep in. sitting there in the middle of the small group meeting i decided to throw and internal tantrum. the dialogue in my head went much like this "i don't want to get to know these people. i don't want these people as my friends i want my old friends!" there is a huge bratty child who lives in my head who l;likes to kick and scream and act completely irrational. it was that same night that i felt like i really needed to go home to san antonio. my grandpa was still in the hospital and my family was starting to fight over whether or not they should move him in to another hospital. i really felt like i needed to be there to help calm the storm. after thinking about it and trying to figure out if this intense desire to go home was stemming from my sudden outbreak of home sickness and a hidden desire to flee from the situation in portland. i decided to ask my mom if i should come home or not. she told me everything was fine and to stay put. DOH!

IF ONLY...
sunday evening only a 11 days after arriving in portland i got a call that i should come home right away because my grandpa who had been completely stable had taken a turn for the worse. i caught a red eye flight back home a few hours later and begged God to have the chance to say goodbye to my grandpa. i wanted more than anything to read to him the verse in the bible that talks about receiving a new body in heaven while curling up on his hospital bed to paint his toe nails. when i arrived in san antonio and saw the look on the face of my cousin and his wife who had come to pick me up from the airport i knew i was too late and would not have the chance to say goodbye. i missed my chance by 4 hours. i can't explained the agony i felt in God's timing at that particular moment. if only les and i had still been in austin and we could have visted him prior to getting really sick and would have been less than two hours away. if only we had turned around march 31st to go see my grandpa in the hospital. if only i had gone home that wednesday when i had that sudden and strong desire to come home. if only i had answered my phone when my mom called at 5pm sunday evening instead of the phone call at 9pm. if only, IF ONLY! as we went to go get my luggage my mind was screaming "I DON'T UNDERSTAND YOUR TIMING GOD!!!" over and over again this cry of anger repeated in my head. still to this day i don't fully understand and deeply regret not being able to say goodbye. but i'm at peace that God had His reason for the timing and my inability to say goodbye. there was a reason why i wasn't there sunday evening when my grandpa yelled my name. maybe it was for me. maybe i would not have been able to handle seeing my grandpa hooked up to machines and suffering. it might have been too much for me to see the man who was my daddy as a little girl be in that condition. i don't know and i don't understand but i do have the assurance that i'll see him again one day soon.

REGRETFUL WISHES
back at my grandparents farm looking at all the inventions my grandpa made over the years i realized that i grew up in the presence of a brilliant and incredibly talented man. why didn't i tell my grandpa every time i saw him how much he meant to me and what i truly thought of him. why didn't i ever tell him how much he changed my life for the better and how i wouldn't be who i was if it hadn't been for him. why didn't i tell him that him allowing me to torture him by putting his hair up in thousands of different hair styles many which involved treacherous little rubber bands and him allowing me to paint his toe nails the many colors of the rainbow made a difference in this little girl. why didn't i ever tell him thank you for being the daddy i never had? why is it so hard for people to tell others how they really feel? if there is someone in your life that has made a difference in your life or someone who you care about deeply and love, tell them! don't make your goodbye be a regretful wish.

GOD'S REASSURANCE
it's crazy how satan can rob you of the joy and reassurance that God offers us. after my grandpa's death i struggle with the doubt of whether of not my grandpa was a believer or not. my grandpa went to church and i knew that he believed in Jesus but i wanted that neon sign that confirmed it for sure 100 percent. i wanted to know for sure that he wasn't just a cultural christian but that he believed and had a relationship with Christ. well i got my sign at the funeral home. i went with my mom to go view the body to make sure it was okay before everybody else. seeing a dead person especially one that you know well is a crazy experience. it was definitely my grandpa in that coffin but it wasn't at the same time. it was just his body it wasn't his spirit and it was then that i knew. there also was and i know this sounds crazy but my grandpa had a smile on his face. it wasn't huge and it wasn't obvious but it was the smile my grandpa had often. it was if God was telling my mom and i that my grandpa was okay and he was at peace. the stranger thing yet is that it wasn't there the next day at the funeral. by then it didn't need to be there for me to rest assured that one day i will see my grandpa again. honestly i don't know how people who aren't believers do it. i don't know how they can loose someone they love and that be it. in my flesh i am so sad that i can't see my grandpa here on earth again. i would give anything to hug him again, to stroke his hair, to give him a hug ole kiss. i want him here but he's so much better where he's at right now. he's in heaven with Jesus. he no longer has to suffer. he no longer has to be trapped in a body that keeps him from doing what he loves to do. i can't wait to join him!

THE UNEXPECTED
the most unexpected thing came out of my grandpa's death. it's just like him and just like God to bless me even in the midst of what seems like the worst circumstances. my stepdad came to the rosary for my grandpa and to the funeral. i have to admit that it was definitely awkward. neither of us acknowledged each other with anything more than a glance. i realized at the funeral that my stepdad no longer had power over me because i was finally ready to forgive. this is definitely not a place i was able to get myself, i give all the credit to God. even when i doubt His timing, things like this happen and it's so obvious that His timing is perfect. anyway after the funeral he came over to my grandma's house and i went in to the back bedroom to pray that God would give me the courage and the strength to say i forgive you. i had no idea how he would react to my saying that since he never ever owned up to all the things he had done but i felt it needed to be said. not particularly for him but more so for me so that i could be completely set free from the bondage of the past.

i went to go sit on the kitchen counter trying to figure out how this whole thing was going to go down and my stepdad comes up to me and whispers i am so sorry for everything i've done to you and then he took off. i was left speechless. i'm not quite sure where all this will go but it's the first step. i'm not ready to run off and be best friends or to even have a relationship of any kind. i'm still leary and if he hasn't changed a relationship with him would be toxic. but the fact that he said sorry and admitted that he had done wrong is a sign i think that he has at least been doing some changing. we'll see. i think more words need to be exchanged but we'll see.

STIFF ARM MCGEE GETS A LESSON IN TRUST
after the funeral i stayed in san antonio for a little over two weeks to be with my grandma. at that point i was in san antonio longer than i had been in portland. even today i still think i've been in san antonio longer than i've been in portland. my grandma is doing better in some ways than i thought she would be but in some ways she's much worse off than i thought she would be. my grandma is plagued by fear and worry. the area of town she's living in too isn't the best place for a now single and elderly woman to be at. she seems so fragile and satan completely robbed her of the freedom and the joy that christ gives. if you think about pray for her. at times it seems like she'll never get it but i know that God is bigger than that and can protect her and can give her the peace that can set her free. pray that God will protect her and show up in ways that she's never been able to experience before. it was so hard leaving my grandma on monday. it's hard understanding why God would take me so far away and not give me the ability to help her more. then God said TRUST ME. i trust Him in so many things but there's other things that i totally forget that He still has everything in complete control. the best way i can help my grandma right now is to pray her up like crazy. God has her and He can do a much better job than i can at taking care of her.

on the plane trip back home i got another dose of homesickness. i wanted so desperately to go back home to austin. the thought of having to grieve in portland without the comfort of my friends was horrible. then it occured to me that i have friends in portland. i was ready to do life with people back in portland but i wasn't ready to let them do life with me also. just another area where i need to trust God. transparency is hard and being volunerable is scary but it's where Christ has called me to be. so i had a choice to make would i let people back in portland be my friends or would i stiff arm them and be alone. i decided not to be a hard headed idiot on this one and honor God. it's worked out great so far.

LEFTOVERS
there's just a few more last tidbits i'd like to throw out there before i quite. grieving over the loss of a loved one is hard. it's still hard to believe that my grandpa is gone. i miss him like crazy. i miss everyone in austin as well, my friends, family and students. i do rest assured in the fact that even as God provides for me here He's providing for them as well in austin. oh yeah and last but not least i cried in the second staff meeting i went to too. i hope this isn't a new trend.