Expect the Unexpected

Exactly six years ago, when MySpace was booming, AIM was the coolest way to communicate, and Facebook was struggling to find its footing (none of us kids wanted something so boring without ostentatious backgrounds and music bursting from every page), my family moved from Kentucky to South Carolina.

It was the night before my first day of high school. At school the next day I would know exactly two people: my sister and a loud, blonde, senior who went to my new church. Heck, I didn’t even know him–he was just a familiar face. I spent that night–the first night we ever spent in our new house–on an air mattress in the dormer cubby in my new room. I rolled over and saw three red finger-sized dots on the attic door beside me. How welcoming.

The next morning, my sister and I got up early enough to catch our 6:20 am school bus which apparently zoomed by at 6:15 because we completely missed her. Thankfully, our grandpa could take us to school as he was down to help get the house together before we moved the furniture in. The next morning we made it outside early enough to watch our bus driver zoom straight past us without considering to stop. (Once we got the hang of the system, our driver ended up being a lovely lady who we grew close to as bus kids). It was a rough start.

Fast forward four years. Two years ago, MySpace was in the process of trying to reinvent itself, iPhones had taken over the world, Mark Zuckerburg was a young billionaire, and I was starting college. I was happier to go to college than high school. It was a new adventure and it was my choice. There were plenty of ups and downs, but my first year was a very positive experience.

This week, my iPhone 4S (soon to be upgraded) and I will be embarking on our third year at the university. As of a month or so ago, none of us live in that tiny SC town anymore. I cried last week leaving that house and my cat behind for the last time. That town where my sister and I never wanted to live shaped our lives in ways we could have never dreamed. It holds wonderful memories and wonderful friends and new family to which we will always return. Afterall, my sister and I are taking the two best parts with us–her husband, a friend of hers from high school; and that loud, blonde, senior boy who caught my heart in ninth grade.

God is good.

Then and Now

Then and Now

Guatemala: Day 3

Who says God isn’t good?

“We’re finishing this house by five,” Caleb repeated as we drove to our second house of the day. When we stepped out at our first house after an hour and a half of driving–a ride complete with Dwayne losing his breakfast coffee–we knew there was no way to build two houses in one day. We hadn’t done it yet, and this was the farthest location. They told us this part of the country would be hot, and they were right. It was sweltering and sticky. As we worked, we could hear the volcano rumbling in the background (which was actually kind of cool). Even still, the first house went very smoothly. The family was extremely welcoming, and they had very nice bathrooms for us to use nearby–a major plus. We finished by lunchtime. When we learned that the other house was no more than ten minutes away, we took a trip to the hardware store and set off to continue our work. Upon arrival at the second house, our spirits dropped again. The ground where we were to build was hard and full of gravel, and the space was tight with no spare room to work. We were all hot and tired. Although it’s rainy season, dust has been whirling around us–it has been very dry since the earthquake a couple of months ago. Thankfully, the neighbors let us borrow their shade to build doors and windows, and we were able to break through the rock. Across the street, a woman supplied ice packs to cool us down. We bought literally all of the cold water and Gatorade a small tienda down the street had in the fridge. Did I mention it was hot? Finally, the house was finished and ready to be dedicated. This time, thunder crashed in the background. The homeowner cried, told us her testimony, and thanked us and God profusely. We loaded up the tools, gave ourselves a round of applause for finishing two houses in one day, and hopped in the van. The sky opened and rains poured as we closed the doors. Terry looked at his watch and said, “it’s 5:02.”

Now Meets Nineties

Ok guys, one thing that really inspires a good blog entry is my beloved Boy Meets World. Girl Meets World, the current spin-off series based on the best show from the nineties, has hit the air. Cory and Topanga have grown up and begun to raise a family of their own, and now their daughter is the focus of a new series. Here’s my take after two episodes.

Pros:
The moral lessons that made BMW what it was seem to still be popping up, if somewhat less profound.
The themes of the show target both viewers of the classic (No homework, more freedom!) and kids watching the Disney Channel today.
The best characters from the classic resurface themselves and in the form of their children.
It’s not the old BMW remade. There is new focus.

Cons:
It’s made in the style of modern Disney Channel which includes a few too many saturated colors and bit too much hyperness.
It could borderline on ridiculous, although I believe it is better than most shows now. Nobody is a pop or reality tv star.

As you can see, I’m overall happy! I have to wonder if anyone is, in fact, watching this show for the sake of THIS show. I can’t imagine kids watching Disney Channel and stumbling upon GMW with no BMW in their background… that’s just sad! But I also can’t imagine that the whole audience consists of twenty-somethings criticizing the new show and trying to relive the happiest series of their child/young-adulthood. Either way, it’s pretty cool that BMW hasn’t quite died yet. I can’t hope that GMW will leave a legacy like its parent series did, but I hope it outlasts its associate shows and sets itself apart just a bit. BMW will always have a special place in my heart, so I hope this one makes it into someone else’s.

Shaking Things Up

Update: the green busses no longer take me to church. They’re all pink now 🙂

Everything is running pretty smoothly here in Oaxaca. The new students are getting oriented and the old students are relishing in being back, for the most part.

We had a little surprise around five this morning when we were awakened by wobbling beds in a wobbling building. Oaxaca is used to the occasional earthquake and therefore built for it. The one this morning was a 5.7. It lasted long enough to wake us all up and get us out of our bedrooms, jackets in hand, but it stopped shortly after that. We went back to sleep 🙂

Another possible bump in the road is that of the teacher marches. They like to peacefully block off main highways and stores in pursuit of higher wages. It serves to make everyone in the city of Oaxaca have a bit more difficult day. One day a 30 to 45 minute bus trip took us over an hour and a half. They say there will be a big one today. We’ll see how the trip to the children’s home goes.

Yesterday, I got to introduce some new students to some old friends in the village. That was lots of fun. We continue to read Bible stories with R and talk with him about their importance to his life and ours. He is learning a lot, but please pray that he will take it to heart. Along with this, some of the students this summer will be teaching health lessons in various villages. I’m very excited for them! It is a much needed service in many places that don’t have much education on how to care for wounds etc.

As I finish up my last few days here (wow!), please pray that they will be productive and good. Pray for the four students who have been here all semester as they head out Tuesday. Pray that their transition home will be as smooth as possible and that they will learn and grow through the trials. Pray for the students who have recently arrived that they will get along, stay healthy, and grow in their relationships with God this summer. As always, pray for my Oaxacan friends. I very much appreciate it!!

Another Home

Well, I am finally back in the beautiful city of Oaxaca! I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. Spending two months here last summer was an awesome adventure, but I knew returning would be a whole new type of adventure.

I have been surprised at how little some things have changed. Rico and Dany are still selling their raspas at the same spots in the zocalo. R is still sitting behind his scarcely stocked display counter hoping to sell a notebook and waiting for the library truck to come through town. The ladies are still selling pan in the morning, my fruit booth hasn’t moved, and the pink and green buses still take me to church for six pesos.

However, some things have changed. I’m staying in an apartment a bit further outside the city instead of a house in el centro. One of the lovely families that helped guide us last summer has moved on and none of the other students are the same people (yet!)–although they are all very wonderful. There are some new styles of shirts for sale in the markets. The zocalo is a bit dead because it’s early in the year.

All in all, Oaxaca is still Oaxaca.

Jose and I had the opportunity to visit some friends en los pueblos yesterday, so that was very good. We’re planning to see them again later in the week. There is a BSU team here right now that I’m helping out with a bit, and more summer folks will be coming in tomorrow and Thursday. The week is looking very busy but very good!

Prayers are much appreciated. I’m very happy to be back 🙂

Middle School

I was digging around in the deep file folders of my computer and found this write up that I apparently never posted. Enjoy 🙂

I’m pretty sure that being in a middle school classroom has given me some major insight into . . . life. I remember how middle school was. I was definitely the shy girl. I turned red if the teacher spoke to me, and I didn’t go out of the way to talk to people. But, I had friends, especially in eighth grade, and that’s pretty much all that mattered. I did okay in my classes. I was kind of bummed when my final grade in science was a 97. I can probably name most of the guys I had crushes on. Those were serious stuff in middle school—way more serious than pre-algebra. They knew how to flip their hair just right, and God forbid they hold a door open. Swoon. The funny thing is, I crushed on at least two guys that my best friend also crushed on. She was just a lot more vocal. Then there were all the nice guys who asked me out—probably about 8 of them. Of course, that was the case of they weren’t popular or athletic but probably grew up to be better guys than all the rest. Except maybe a couple of them… some were just plain weird. I wonder where they are now.

Anyway, I had no idea where my life would take me back then. Heck, I still have no idea. But the last five-ish years have meant a LOT of changes. Now, sitting in my mom’s eighth grade classroom, I wish I could tell these students everything they’re about to encounter. I wish I could tell them that high school is a little less cruel but far more harsh. They’ll find friends who like them and who are like them. They’ll make major choices that will steer the course of their lives, like who to hang out with or what to do on the weekends. They’ll graduate and think ‘dang, weren’t we just in eighth grade yesterday?’ and their parents will tell them ‘it only gets faster.’ Some of them will cry at graduation because high school was the best time of their lives. Others will run out the doors screaming, happy to be rid of that place. But no matter how they feel when they leave, they’ll never forget those four years. And then, just as everything seems wonderful or horrible or like they’re all grown up, college hits. Or the real world. Whichever they choose. In reality, they’re pretty much the same. Both equal more new experiences and, probably, a huge time of growth. And then all of a sudden eighth grade is a distant memory, and they’ll look back on who they were and how they’ve changed and either laugh or cry or a little of both. I wish I could tell them all this and more, but where would we be if we couldn’t figure things out for ourselves?

Let's Go

These boots were made for walkin’…

After being completely Tolkiened out this week by watching the new Hobbit movie and all LOTR movies (extended editions), I just really want to go on an adventure. I always want to go on an adventure, but now I REALLY want to go on an adventure. Wonder where I could go.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11

New International Version (NIV)

Biblegateway.com

Another Year

I remember my tenth birthday. I was at my church filling up shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. I was all happy because I was officially a preteen. Oh the excitement!
I remember when I was in 5th grade. I would look in the mirror and wonder what I would look like as a teenager. I pictured some magical transformation into a . . . Whatever it was I thought teenagers were supposed to look like. Older. Mature. Beautiful.
I remember when I was twelve and I thought sixteen would mean perfection. I would be old enough to not be seen as a kid but young enough to be one.
I remember when sixteen came and passed without any real excitement.
Yesterday, I woke up as a twenty year old. The teenagerdom that I looked forward to is over! But, the good thing is, I am so excited about twenty. I don’t miss sixteen and I don’t long for twenty-five. I’m just plain excited about twenty. I looked in the mirror a decade later, and this is what I saw. That’s a face of surprise and excitement and just happy to be.

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Memento Mori and Carpe Diem

“To not think of dying, is to not think of living.” – Jan Arden

When I went into work on Thursday two weeks ago, hoots and hollers and happiness associated with the coming fall break permeated my small campus. Only one more day of classes. Only one more shift. But campus was different after that shift. A few short hours after leaving the atmosphere of total excitement, I returned to one of silence and darkness. Anyone who spoke did it with hushed, somber voices. Everyone stepped carefully, nobody quickly. I didn’t know him, but my heart yearned for my friends who lost their friend that day.

None of us wanted to think about what the death of a fellow student meant, but we all walked a little closer and hugged a little longer. As is the normal response in such a situation, we all started thinking a little too much. I’m very prone to worry on a normal day, but in a time such as this, I don’t want to leave the sides of those I love. That’s hard, since I love people in many different parts of the world! So, the next day, we prayed and parted ways and headed home for fall break.

I thought about what happened all weekend. I prayed for the family. I loved on my family and checked in with my friends often. I’m glad to report that we made it back from break safely, and the campus we returned to was all the better. It continues to heal, but joy is catching. Classes resumed the following Wednesday, and my day started off with Chapel. A couple of faculty members and our awesome president spoke a few words and then encouraged us to keep on truckin’. I felt for the speaker that day knowing it had to be hard to follow such an event with any sort of sermon to 3000 hurting (or at the very least, affected) strangers. But Tony Nolan pretty much beasted it.

By the end of his explication of John 3:16, I was seriously sad. Nolan talked about death, hell. He didn’t make any bones about their reality. I’ve always known those are real. I don’t want to die yet, but I wouldn’t say that I fear it. Honestly, I was just straight tired of being reminded how mortal everyone I love is. I wanted hugs and lots of them. Even with Heaven as the destination, I’m not ready to lose my people! I just wanted to stop being scared.

But Nolan definitely brought the morning to a close with a bang. He presented the gospel beautifully and, most importantly, truthfully. He accurately described what it means to give your life to God and fully live for him. And then he gave the invitation. But he didn’t let people stand at their seats with their hands up and eyes closed. They proclaimed their decision before men. Nolan explained that just cuz you didn’t walk forward doesn’t mean you can’t be saved. He explained that walking forward doesn’t save you. I can’t really explain the whole scene, but it was beautiful. It was beautiful as everyone opened their eyes and cheered and clapped and hollered for these people that just joined the family. And that feeling of dread was replaced by one of excitement.

We left Chapel 35 minutes late. But I’m not sure that anyone minded too awful much. Ok, I’m sure some did. But, some got to skip their next class because of it. Others of us just lost out on some homework time. Either way, God moved. And when God moves, as far as I’m concerned, everything else can stop.

So, that week I learned to find balance. Treasure the time we have, but don’t stress about when it will end. I’ll never be in control of that.