Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fixing the Budget

I am thankful for my job. It's a pretty rockin' awesome one. I get to talk to people all day and sell them some of my favorite products in the world. It's a lot less like working, and a lot more like hanging out with people. As a social person, this is totally ideal. Also, I work with a huge group of amazing people, and I can say that I genuinely like all of them. With a group this large, it's pretty astounding that I can say this with honesty.
Another thing about my job for which I am thankful is the paycheck. It is always satisfying to look at my bank statement and see the numbers rising instead of falling. Christmas is coming, and now I feel much less obligated to buy gifts - now I get to do so, without worry, with the perfect joy of being able to give something nice to people I care about.
For lots of reasons, having money is nice. Not only can you buy Christmas presents for your family, you can also eat food, have clothes, get the occasional Starbucks, see a movie, have a place to live. This is something I'm not sure we hear enough: If you can do all of these things, you are blessed, and you are rich. Even though I can't afford to move into a nice apartment right now and am still living at home, I know that I am richer than 95% of the world.
I think this holiday season we should all reevaluate our budgets. Mine is just getting started, seeing as I am recently back on the map of having a paying job, but I'm going to do this, too. Look at your budget, try to find a little extra money. Then take that money and give it away. Donate to a charity. Support a child. Support a team whose cause is near your heart.
Personally, I'm going to start supporting Unearthed Pictures. Unearthed is trying to expose sexual trafficking through film, as well as fund organizations whose work it is to free the slaves of sexual exploitation. You can read more about it on this page of their website. I know personally some of the Unearthed team. I have heard their hearts, and I share their desire to see sexual trafficking stopped. Take a look at their site, and consider making this one of your new year goals, perhaps. But you don't have to wait until the New Year to start giving. :)
Realize what you have been given. Be a good steward of that. Love the world - especially those people in it who have been forgotten. Help them find a voice.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pat Pat

I have arrived in Washington, D.C. for Tiny Turkey Day! The traveling went rather well, except for one thing: I got the full pat-down at the airport in Albuquerque.
I guess there's a big controversy right now about the legitimacy of the full body scan. Apparently it's not helping TSA find any terrorists, and it is kind of a violation of privacy. TSA raved about it because they claimed that, by getting a full body scan instead of going through a metal detector, you are less likely to have an error in your scan and, therefore, less likely to have to go through the process of getting the full body pat down. However, a full body scan essentially goes straight through your clothes, so the people running that computer can see everything - EVERYTHING - about you.
I can't say that I've flown a lot, but I have flown several times. Today, after going through the full body scan for my first time ever, I also received a safety flag for the first time ever. They said that something showed up in the area of my pants. I was lead to a private room with two female TSA workers, one of whom carried all my belongings. They were both professional as they explained everything that they were going to do. The way I see it, I got a full body massage - it was just really fast and I had to stand the whole time. When I asked what was flagged, they told me that it was something to do with my pants. One of them suggested that it was probably my zipper and the fact that my jeans are a little on the thicker side. Once they decided I was not a terrorist, or a threat of any kind, they filled out the paperwork. Neither of them had a watch, so they asked me if I maybe had a cell phone so I could tell them the time. Yeah, impressive.
When I relayed my tale to my sister, she had a few suggestions for how my situation could be improved if ever I go through that again. She said that, during the pat-down, I should probably become incredibly ticklish and giggle and wiggle the whole time. Also, to fix the problem caused by wearing thick jeans, Casey said I should wear a thin, short skirt and no underwear. This will make it much easier to prove that I'm not hiding anything.
I don't know if I would actually do either of those things. I don't think it would help my case or get me away from airport security any faster. But one thing I do know - from now on, I'm sticking to the regular ol' metal detectors. They've never failed me in the past, even with thick pants.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Musings on the Soul

Today I watched a one hour show on the Discovery Health Channel titled, "I Am My Own Twin." Unlike it's channel mate "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant," this show was not scary. It was just rather interesting. It followed the stories of two completely unrelated women who found out through different life circumstances (one was filing for welfare and had to prove the parentage of her children, the other needed a family match for a kidney transplant) that their DNA did not match that of their children. The show explained how every child has 50% of one parent's DNA and 50% of the others. So there is no way that a woman who gets pregnant and gives birth to a child cannot share that 50% DNA match with the child... or is there? According to their findings, the children of these women could not possibly be the children of these women, though DNA tests revealed that there was some matching to the rest of the mother's family. After years of tests and head-scratching, one doctor had an idea: maybe his patient was a chimera.
The term comes from Greek mythology and is a creature that is part lion, part goat, and part serpent. Obviously these women were NOT liongoatsnakes. When pertaining to humans, the medical term chimera means that two fertilized embryos fused into one at an early stage of the pregnancy and formed one individual. This happens in the first four days of the pregnancy, because if they were to fuse after that time, there would be portions of spinal columns and the result would be Siamese twins. Instead, a chimera is one person, but with two distinct DNAs. Essentially, it is two people in the body of one, twins sharing one space.
Typically, chimeras have outward physical characteristics that clue the doctors in on the existence of the anomaly, but these two women were not typical chimeras. Most chimeras will have odd pigmentation on their skin. Also, if the two fused embryos were opposite genders, the resulting child will be truly hermaphroditic, with one set of DNA being male and the other set being female. In the case of these two women, though, the fused embryos were both female, and had it not been for DNA testing, they would have gone their entire lives without knowing they were their own twin.
The show discussed the possible legal ramifications of chimeras that do not physically show symptoms. One judge talked about the heavy reliance on DNA evidence and wondered if he had ever denied custody based on DNA findings that were actually false. A person could be the physical father, but it is the invisible twin who passed down the genetic material. My deepest thought, though, was a bit different.
You see, all my life I have believed that a person becomes a person at conception. I believe that at that moment, they are endowed with a soul, and that after conception they will never cease to exist. If they are aborted, their little souls will just go right on up to heaven. If they have the good fortune of being born and living a life, then they can reach an age of accountability and have to take the consequences of their actions. Hopefully, they will hear and accept God's Word and then their soul can go to heaven at death. But this is not my point, so let's get back to it. My question is this: If the soul exists at conception, and there are two fertilized embryos in one womb, then there are two souls... well, what if they merge? Do these chimeras, then, have two souls? If not, then when does the soul begin to exist? If they DO have two souls... man, I don't fully understand the implications of that. There are a hundred roads I could go down for that one. I really want feedback on this. What do you think?
To close, this concept of absorbed twins and two entities in one body is not new. I immediately think of a book by Stephen King entitled "The Dark Half." In it, there is a man - a good man, an author with a family - who has a twin living inside of him about which he does not know. But this man experiences blackouts where his evil twin takes over his mind and does evil things with the body in which he also lives. One body. Two souls. Again, write your thoughts.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Life as a Room

I love Albuquerque. I love being home. I love afternoon thunderstorms. I love green chile. I love Esther. I love Lacey. I love Carly. I love mom.
Currently, I do not have a job (though I did have my first of many interviews with Apple today - something to keep me in the black while I'm in the Burque). So instead of working or going to school, I am helping my mom with house projects. This past weekend, we cleaned out and painted my dad's old office. I think the peachy paint color combined with the dark wood trim gives the room a feeling of a beach house. Hopefully once the transformation into House Library is complete, my mom will stop threatening to put seashells on the walls.
Another project of the house is the canning of summer fruit. I made a giant pot of peach butter this week, and my mom canned it this past weekend. We still have a ton of apples.
With these two projects, our house is currently quite chaotic. The kitchen is full of canning materials and apples, so it is very cluttered, and the living room is full of everything that was in the office. I nearly had a claustrophobia attack in the kitchen, and my mom almost went crazy while she was looking in the living room. Needless to say, if you live in the area and want to help me clean this week, please call. Also call if you'd like to buy five old CPUs. The computer relics we found in the office are astounding in sheer volume.
Okay, all of this to say, I don't like clutter. I'm not the cleanest, tidiest person in the world; don't get me wrong. I like a little bit of a mess because it feels more relaxed. But in the general scheme of things, I want the clutter OUT. I think the same thing can be said for our lives. We live in such a busy world, our days get filled with this and that, and suddenly we feel claustrophobic in our day-to-day happenings. This past week I had four evenings that I spent away from home. On Thursday I thought, "When am I going to go for a walk with my mom if I keep this up?" It becomes essential to remove certain things so that we can fit other things in - or even just take a night to relax!
And now, a lesson learned from cleaning out a room: it is hard work. Not only do you have to physically move things, but then you have to decide what is to be kept and what is to be donated, what is to be sold, what is to be put in storage for later use.... It's all a lot of work, and you have to consider each thing. It's a daunting task. A lifetime of collecting is easy if you just keep adding things to the same room. My goal in life is not to just keep adding, but be purposefully removing things as I go as well.
This leads me to my spiritual point for the day. When we first enter into a relationship with Christ, we have a full life, filled to the brim with things of our past. We have our memories, our friendships, our relatives, our jobs, our hobbies, our habits. And then Christ comes in, and he doesn't want to just be part of a list that makes us who we are - he wants everything we are to be about Him. To do this, we might have to purposefully remove things that are in our lives - things that don't revolve around Christ. A room can only be so full. If the office we cleaned out is any measure, a room can hold a whole lot of stuff, but eventually it will be full. So if we want to make room for something else, we have to take something else out. If we want to grow closer to Christ, we have to take things out of our lives. Perhaps there are some things that will be harder to change than others. For instance, you can't switch relatives, and if they don't honor Christ, it would seem that they should be removed from the room, right? Well, no. Maybe you should try to tell them about Christ instead of just purposefully removing them from your life. But maybe you will have to remove some hobbies or freetime activities. No more flagburnings or watching crass movies. And it is hard work. It is daunting work.
But I am convinced that the end result is worth it, just as I am convinced that cleaning out and transforming the office into a library will be worth it. It's still hard work, and it won't be over in a day. At this rate, it won't be over in a week, but I'm going to keep working on it, just as I keep working on my life as a room.

Monday, August 16, 2010


This week I will be travelling around. Camp is done! It was a good finish. I rode all 24 horses at camp during my summer. I certainly have my favorites and the ones that I hate.

Right now I am at my friend Mel's house. She was a wrangler with me, and had no car, so I drove her and her stuff home to Rogersville, MO. Yesterday we saddled up her horses so Mel could show me around their property. I was on a horse that I was told took a lot of kicking to get going, so I was prepared. I was pleasantly surprised, then, when she took off just fine. It was as we were coming up a hill at a canter and she started bucking that I first grew a little concerned. I sat it out and was fine. We kept going, this time walking and trotting, and the horse was perfectly good. It was when we started cantering again that she started bucking again. This time I was not so fortunate. I flew off and landed mostly on my right hip, shoulder and head. Don't be worried - other than a little bit of bruising and a slightly sore neck, I'm perfectly fine. After this, Mel and I switched horses.

Today we are going to her lake house to spend a day laying in the sun and swimming and boating. It'll be very relaxing. Tomorrow I will go to Joplin for a couple days, and then to Broken Arrow to see Kinsey! Then on Saturday, I will make my way back to Albuquerque.

My sister is going to be in Phoenix, so I am going to drive down there on Sunday to see her and hang for a few days. It's all very unplanned, other than the rudimentaries, but I will be happy to be with sister again.

I wrote a lot in my journal while I was at camp. There were some good, deep thoughts recorded that I will probably get up here and elaborate on them sometime in the future. I don't know how often I will be able to check the internet during my weeks of travel, but I have my phone back now (hooray!) so please give me a call or text me!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Plus, Mom

Right now I'm sitting in a hospice house visiting my aunt Connie. Her battle with cancer is coming to an end, so I drove down from camp to say my goodbyes and see her one last time. My mom drove from Albuquerque to see her (and me, too, I'm guessing), so it's a fairly depressing family reunion. But I'm pretty sure that seeing your mom can fix any problems of life. Moms are great, and my mom is fantastic. I needed a mid-summer mom visit.
The reason this visit is so hard is because I have never seen someone with cancer. I mean, I've seen people with cancer, but I've never been around all the side-effects. My family doesn't have cancer in it, and so this is really the first experience I have had with seeing it so close. I had never realized just how severe the pain was. I had never realized how hard it is to watch someone you love slowly break down from the inside, but still have all the soundness of mind. My knowledge has been limited to those who fade both mentally and physically. I think it is much harder to watch someone go only physically, while knowing they have so much to live for and so much more that they want to do. I am sure that my aunt has total awareness when she is awake. She is still totally herself. At one point in our visit, my uncle Ed said to her, "Connie, I'm going to shift you over now," to which she responded, "I'm going to fight you." Totally Connie.
I don't think she's going to be going back home. I think she is in her final days, which really breaks my heart. For someone so dedicated to her family, so devoted to her church and her other passions and commitments, to be robbed of so many years - it is terrible to think about. There are so many people that value and depend on her. She is the central member of her family, the crux of them all, and a crucial member to her extended family. She is a wise and amazing woman of God, and I will miss her dearly. I cannot express how glad I am that I got to come down here one more time and see her and uncle Ed, even if she was too tired from medication to really talk. There is great comfort in bedside sitting.

In much happier news, I will now relate some highlights from my week at camp. Both of these have to do with being a wrangler. On Tuesday afternoon, no kids showed up for the third and final trail ride, so we decided to do a wrangler ride. We grabbed our horses and set off down the trail at a canter. We picked up speed, going into a gallop, turning fast around the trees at the sides of the trail. It was exhilarating. At one spot on the trail there is a little root that stretches across the path. My horse, Biscuit, jumped right over it. It was really fun.
The second fun thing is this: my wrangler friend Mel is teaching us other wranglers how to do drill! This is sort of like dance teams on horseback, making formations and doing cool-looking things in neat patterns. We practiced on Thursday and Friday morning. On Friday morning, we had our drill planned out. This drill, at full speed, should take about three minutes. The first time we just walked it all out, and it took about thirty minutes. The next time it only took fifteen, and the following two times we did it in five. It is so much fun, learning about a totally new (to me) aspect of horsemanship. Drill takes a ton of focus to get everything just right. It is very hard, but totally worth it. The horses were exhausted. I don't think any of them have trotted that much ever. They need to get in shape!
Okay, I'm going to hang out with my mom some more now.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Humor Elitist

My second installment for Session 4. Lots of rain, which is fantastic in many ways. It keeps the temperature down, so you don't die of heat exhaustion. It also prevents overworking at the barn. There is still a lot to do, just everything is much easier.
The farrier came to the barn this week, so we all spent three days taking turns holding horses while they had their shoes changed. I got stepped on by my favorite horse during this time, but nothing worse than a swollen toe. It still kind of tingles a little bit. I don't know what that means.
All in all, it was a pretty uneventful week. I had a lot of fun with my cabin. Their awesomeness never abated.
Yesterday on my time off, Jo and I went and saw Toy Story 3. It was fantastic. I cried. Jo laughed at me and then started crying. I laughed continually. There were two moments when I was cracking up and no one else in the theatre was even smiling. I don't remember which parts these were, I just remember being struck by the thought of how weird it was that no one else saw the humor in the moment. This thought made me just remember something.
A while back, I was at the movies with my friend Jared. A preview came on that was full of crass humor, and the full theatre was all in stitches, except for me and Jared. I looked at him and said, "Sometimes, when everyone else laughs at something that you don't find funny, do you secretly think you're smarter than them?" He said yes. I kind of agree. I do that too. But I think while I was watching Toy Story 3, the same thing was going through my head, but in reverse. It was so clear to me that the animators and story board people and directors thought that those two moments would be funny, but I was the only one who caught the joke. I suppose you might call me a humor elitist.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Week 1 of 2

I am on my day off during my first two-week session. One thing I can't get over is the fact that parents will send their seven-year-olds to two straight weeks of camp. I would hate to be the counselor of a cabin of ten homesick seven-year-olds. Pure misery. Thankfully, I am in a cabin of 16-year-olds, and they are blessedly awesome and amazing! This week of camp has been wonderful, from the campers to the weather, which has been significantly cooler than past weeks.

I write to you today from Joplin, Missouri. Since I had a few extra hours for my time off, I drove up here yesterday afternoon and went to a traditional Third of July cookout with Momma J and Papa Ryan - and Josh, of course. There was lots of delicious food, along with great fireworks, and a bunch of people I didn't know, which was fine, because all but about four of them were adults. I can totally get rest from camp by being around adults for a day. Win.

Good news: The pink eye is gone! On Sunday when I was at camp, the pink eye was really bad. Usually on Sundays I would be greeting campers and their families, but we didn't want to scare families by showing them my terrifying eye, so instead of my usual job, I was sent to a place where no one would possibly have to see me: the radio room. All afternoon, I made announcements over the loudspeaker at camp. It was actually really nice. I was in the air conditioned office, and I had a lot of extra time to myself in between making the announcements. I used the time to write some letters and doodle on a Post-it note.

Since the weather was so much cooler this week, all the wranglers went on a couple trail rides during rest period out to the hay barn pasture. While there, we would run our horses around and have a good time. One day I rode my favorite camp horse, Biscuit, who is afraid of everything but is still awesome. He's the youngest horse at camp, and is very poorly put together, but I love him. Anyway, we came in third in a wrangler race. It was a lot of fun to go at a gallop and a canter, since all of our trail riding with campers is at a walk and we rarely even go over that in the arena. It was a literal great change of pace.

This morning I got to go to Carterville for church. This is what I was most excited about for my day here in Joplin. The service was marked with sadness, as I found out when I got there that a deacon in the church had taken his own life on the Tuesday prior. Even with this event having taken place, the family of the man was at church this morning. I got to see the body of Christ lived out as the congregation gathered to pray. The minister, Robin, preached an excellent sermon about the elephants in the room: that we are in a serious war; that we need to stop fighting each other, but we should come together and fight as one against Satan; and that it is okay to have anger, but that anger should lead us to righteousness, not to sin. I felt blessed to share my morning with such an amazing family. I also got to see some of my family group that I was in this past school year, which was great. I had been keeping up with them through email, but I was really glad to get to see the Jordans and the Fewins in person. All in all, a great trip.

And now I have to go rather quickly, for I am supposed to be back at camp in less than two hours, and that's about how long it takes to get there from Joplin.

But really quick, a shoutout to those who responded to a previous post and have sent me camp mail: Thank you to David Heffren, Jessica Scheuermann, Candice Summers, and my mom. Camp mail is just about the best thing ever. I love and miss you all!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Maybe I Should Write More

So I woke up this morning unable to open my left eye. Bad news bears. Sure enough, I looked in the mirror after peeling my eye open and it was a fine shade of pink. Darn pink eye. Fortunately, Camp War Eagle offers free medical care to its campers and employees and is wonderfully staffed with a great team of doctors, nurse practitioners, and nurses. So I went on over to the Health Center and got some eye drops. Score! My eye is itchy and oozing, but it should be past this stage no later than Monday morning. I have a feeling I'll wake up with sealed eye again tomorrow, though. At lunch, I was discussing this with the wranglers. We decided that next week at the barn could be pirate themed. My name is going to be Salty, and I will wear an eye patch. Not only will this disguise the pink eye, but it will also remove the temptation for me to scratch it and infect my hand with germs. So when I went to Walmart today, I bought an eye patch for $2. Money well spent. I'm pretty excited to be a horse pirate.

In my last post I promised to tell you of my new favorite pasttime. It is called cold tubbing. Cold tubbing is the exact opposite of hot tubbing. I was unfortunate enough to be working outside all week during the hottest week of the year. It was in the upper 90's every day, and the humidity was high, but we were never blessed with any rain. And working in an arena full of dust didn't help. It was on a hot day, right after lunch, that one of the other wranglers, Alexa, and I decided to fill up two of the water troughs with clean water from the hose and then sat in them in our swimsuits. They each hold 110 gallons. That's 110 gallons of magically cold water. So we sat there in the horse trap, where all the horses live, in their water troughs. It was amazing. It was the first time all summer that I had felt comfortably cold. A couple days later, Alexa and I were joined in our cold tubbing by Rachel and Megan, two other wranglers, as well as several of the horses. The horses, though not getting into the trough, were curious about why we were sitting there in their water. They still would get drinks, and then happily drooled on us. Good times.

At the conclusion of this week, I have spent three solid weeks with ten and eleven year olds. It was fun, but also incredibly challenging. I was definitely stretched in my patience levels. I am still loving what I am doing, but I was very happy to be able to have a day off! I'm also really excited about this next session. It is a two-week session, and I am assigned to cabin 2, which is the second-oldest girls' cabin. I think they are mostly 16. I feel much more at home communicating and relating to 16 year olds than I do to 10 year olds. That hope alone is going to wake me up tomorrow and get me back to camp on time. Well, that, and that I get to wear an eye patch this week.

For my final thoughts today, I would like to reflect on a note of sadness. There are several counselors that have now left camp and are not coming back, and I am going to miss them so much! Megan, my fellow wrangler, is off to Texas and then Maine. We would frequently share long talks of deep subjects together, ranging in topics from demons to the book of Hebrews to cultures to our preferences in men. Alexa, another fellow wrangler, is gone but is coming back for 8th session. I'm still really sad to see her go, even though I'll get to see her again in seven weeks. After all, she is the co-inventor of cold tubbing. I am going to miss her pure joy and sincerity and her calling her back pack a "pack pack." And also Josiah, a counselor who was trained with me in horses, who was my closest guy friend at camp. I gave him an awesome haircut. He's off to Oklahoma to work for the rest of the summer. These three people will be especially missed! They are all amazing people. I'm really going to miss seeing them everyday. But with their going, others are returning. My cousin Jo is back, and so is Aimee! And my other wrangler friend Mel is back, too! And Heidi, who has been in the kitchen, is moving into the wrangler room and joining us at the barn for this session. So, though I am sad, I am also excited.

Basically, I love camp. I love that here is a place where there are so many Christians - good, solid Christians of my similar age, but in no way affiliated with Ozark. I love the constant reminder that it is our calling to be in the world, but not of the world, and these are people who are doing this wonderfully. They attend public universities and maintain a Christian lifestyle. They are working at a Christian sports and adventure camp for their summer, dedicating their lives to children who might otherwise have no contact with a strong Christian. And all their future plans are for going into the world, getting jobs that aren't in the church directly, and being a Christian influence and light in the world. After four years at Ozark, I was, sadly, getting into the mindset that you have to go to a Christian school and get a degree in ministry to truly be effective for Christ. This is such a falsehood. Around me all summer are 350 people who have never sat through a Bible class, but still know so much about the Bible and have a strong desire to serve and spread the Word. This is what we are called to - to serve and spread the Word. There is no requirements of education, only of faith and of faithfulness.

And right now, I'm going to stop, even though I know that I have a ton more to say on this topic. But, you see, there are three small children playing in the room where I am writing, and they are officially rendering me incapable of deep thought. I am so tired of children. I don't want to be spending my day off around children. So I'm going to post this and go into another room. I'll write again next week. I love you all!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Blazing Saddles

Today contains scorching heat. I have suffered through three morning instructionals in the arena, and now that it is after lunch, I decided to take the time to finally write out my blog for last week in the comfort of the air-conditioned Counselor's Lounge. Lucky you!
Last week was very fun. My cabin was all ten year olds, and they had just barely turned ten, too. They were mostly space-cadets, and I had a hard time connecting with them. It was a bit of a struggle all week to stay involved with them. They all had good hearts and willingness to try new things, but they couldn't even remember my name or the names of the other girls in the cabin half-way through the week. Bad sign. In any case, I had plenty of other things happen to break up my week and make it fairly exciting and interesting. So, here they are:

  1. On Wednesday, we were getting ready to send out the third period trail ride, when a freak thunderstorm reared its ugly head and it began to pour. Luckily we didn't have any kids out yet, but all our horses were tied in the three arenas with their tack still on. And so began a crazed rescue of the horses, running down and bringing them back up to the barn. We brought up and tied 17 horses in under 4 minutes. We were pretty proud of ourselves.
  2. Then again that afternoon, the rain had cleared off and we had continued with trail rides. The last trail had left, when another storm came in. Those of us not on the trail prepared ourselves, and when the riders came in, it was all rescuing kids off the backs of horses to get them under cover from the storm. We were all soaked! We had to keep the kids there at the barn for over an hour, so we played some games and then put on the movie "Spirit" until a bus came to take them down to dinner.
  3. On Friday, I got to go to the horse vet with my boss, Penny. We took four horses in the trailer down to the town to get their teeth floated. Floating a horse's teeth involves sedating it, cranking its mouth open, then filing down the sides, which become sharp because of their chewing. So as the horses were drugged, I was allowed to put my hand in the horse's mouth and feel all their teeth both before and after the floating. It was fascinating! I had never realized just how big their mouths truly are and how many teeth they have. We were also getting one horse's vision checked, because he has been acting blind, and we found out that he has cataracts in his right eye. He is becoming fairly unresponsive to his rider, so we're thinking that the best option for him would to be for him to go to Horses for Healing, a therapeutic riding place where horses are lead around by lead ropes. He'd be perfect for it.

The rest of my week was pretty standard. I still love love love what I'm doing here. I'll be writing again this weekend to tell you about my week for this week and my new favorite camp pasttime.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Session One. Check.

I just got done with week one of camp! Only nine more to go!

This week I was assigned to a cabin of 11 year old girls. I was a little worried, but I ended up loving it a whole lot. All of the girls were amazing. They have been through so much, and their faith in God is so huge and beautiful. I have a lot I can learn from young people.

Sad thing: On Monday, I started feeling sick. I think I had a stomach flu that never manifested itself in actual vomiting, but there was a whole lot of nausea. My supervisor gave me Tuesday night and Wednesday morning off. I didn't even go to dinner. I slept for 15 straight hours and woke up feeling so much better! This is my new favorite remedy. But as soon as my illness was gone, some wicked allergies set in. Now I sound like a sick person, but really my only problem is an inability to breathe through my nose.

My mornings at camp are pretty full of feeding, grooming, and saddling horses. Then kids come up and I get to give lessons! It's a ton of fun. It is definitely never slow. My afternoons are full of taking kids on trail rides. We do three rides in just over two hours. My evenings are spent with my assigned cabin, hanging out at the special event and then helping with devos in the cabin. All in all, it is very tiring, but incredibly rewarding work. I absolutely love what I'm doing!

Feel free to send me mail at camp. So far I haven't gotten anything. :( You can send it to:
14323 Camp War Eagle Rd
Rogers, AR 72756

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Mission: Orientation

I heard this conversation between two guys at the lunch table at camp the other day:

Guy #1: Is all those cupcakes gone?
Guy #2: "Are" all those cupcakes gone.
Guy #1: What?
Guy #2: It's "are," not "is." You said "Is all those cupcakes gone."
Guy #1: No, I said "Was all those cupcakes gone."
Guy #2: Um, either way, you're using the wrong tense.

The bad news is that everyone who works at camp is in college. I guess the good news is that half of them have successfully comprehended eighth grade English. I feel really good about spending my summer in Arkansas.

Seriously, I do really feel good about spending my summer in Arkansas. The kids will finally get to camp tomorrow! I spent the past eight days living a week of camp as a camper. It totally exhausted me. I'm hoping that living camp as an adult isn't quite as exhausting.

I've already made a ton of new friends. Everyone here is amazing. And I really love the mission of the camp. I truly believe that it is a God-driven ministry that makes a huge impact on the youth of Northwest Arkansas. If I was a kid, I would be so excited to get to spend a week here, doing all of these cool things. Even as a 22 year old, it's so fun and exciting. I mean, this week I got to go on a Blob! I went fishing in the fishing pond and, with four casts of a line, caught three fish. I was inducted into one of two tribes (Go Caddo!) and spent a week playing games on a team and running a crazy obstacle course on the last day.

Another thing that we did is called Mission: Impossible. It's basically just what it sounds like. In the middle of an evening event, the theme song from Mission: Impossible came on, and everyone scattered to their cabins and changed into dark camouflage shirts and long pants. Then we were handed our mission, and we all ran around in the dark finding our assignments. There were people going around, searching for us, so we'd have to drop to the ground frequently to avoid the flashlights. The maximum time allotted was 20 minutes. My cabin finished in FIRST place, completing the whole mission in 7 minutes and 38 seconds! We totally rocked it up. And that is just one of the nightly events at camp.

My hope is that I'll be able to post some more interesting stories here in the future. I probably won't have any posts for the next two to three months that don't have to deal with camp, so if you have no interest in that, you might check out for a while. But I really hope that you are interested enough in my life that, even though my posts become repetitive, you'll keep reading, because you love me.

And now, a shout out to my good friend Connor Farris, who drove down to Rogers on my day off to visit me! A big group of us got to go out to dinner, and Connor, being such the awesome friend that he is, bought my dinner. I think he really just wanted to be able to say that we went on a date. I guess that's okay. So, thanks again, Con-o!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Camp is Campy

I have been at Camp War Eagle for six days now, and it is awesome. I get up every morning at 6:45, throw on my boots and jeans, and head to the barn to feed the horses with the other wranglers. Once we're done feeding, we all have a devotional time, sitting on the concrete barn floor. I think this is fantastic, as I know that later in the summer, when I am completely exhausted, I will need this time to focus myself on what gives me strength. After devos, it is down to the dining hall for breakfast. We haven't had any kids yet, as we are still in orientation, but once they get here, right after breakfast I'll head up to the barn, help groom and saddle the 24 camp horses, and take them to their respective arenas, depending on what they are doing that morning. Right now, before the kids are here, we're just riding the horses some to get them used to having people on their backs again.
All of the camp horses are really good. I'm getting to know their personalities better. Some of my favorites: Foxy, a Missouri Foxtrotter; Hazel, a really easy-going appaloosa; Heidi, a barrel-chested palomino; and JB, who, despite years of kids on his back, still listens rather well to instruction.
I really like all the other wranglers. I am, by a long shot, the least experienced of them when it comes to horses. A couple of them have done rodeo, or worked at dude ranches, or at least own their own horse that they ride quite frequently. I was told, however, that every year in the past, they had hired a wrangler who knew nothing about horses, and so that is a small comfort. I have already learned so much about horses and what running a large-scale facility is like, so this summer is becoming incredibly valuable to me. I have been blessed to be paid to learn and gain experience and ride!
So this summer, I will spend my mornings and afternoons with kids, teaching them how to ride and taking them on trail rides. Considering I had never in my life even received a riding lesson, I wondered at how it would be to give one. So far I have given two, and they both went really well. I think I'm really going to like that. And the trails here are beautiful! They are all wooded forest trails. We went on a long one the other day out to a place called the Point that overlooks the lake. It was gorgeous!
Right now, I'm staying in a camper cabin, because it is still orientation. Next week I will move over to staff housing. There are a couple very important differences between camper cabins and staff housing. The first is that campers stay in camper cabins, and only staff stays in staff housing. I will still be assigned to a cabin each week of camp, but I won't sleep there with the kiddos. The second is the overall temperature. My camper cabin peaks right now at 92 degrees at around five o clock. There is no joy in this. The staff housing has a little bit of air conditioning in the central room, which saves the whole building from being scorching hot all day. The third difference is the set-up. Camper cabins are one room, 14 bed cabins, with a central bathhouse or two for everyone to share. The staff houses are four rooms with a few more beds, connected bathrooms, and a large central living room. This space has couches, a microwave, a refrigerator, and a washer and dryer. Success!
And now on to the bad news. I really wish I could attach a couple pictures onto this post to let you see how beautiful camp is, but, alas, I have lost my camera! I know exactly where it was left: on a window table in Columbia Traders in Joplin. So if you happen to be the person who picked it up, you will know it is mine from the pictures of me and Krystelle that are on it. In a couple of paychecks, I will be getting a new one. Sad day. I loved my camera, and I had a huge memory card. This will be my third digital camera. I'm pretty sure my sister is still on her first. I have bad luck with cameras, I guess.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

This is the End

Not gonna lie, I'm crying right now. I'm crying because I just read my friend David's most recent blog. It is a story of his friendship with his bestie, Charlie, and how much he's going to miss him next year. For the past three years, these two guys have been my best friends here at Ozark. No offense to the rest of my Ozark friends, but the three of us are tight. We even have a name - the Tripod.
You see, Charlie and I are graduating on Saturday, leaving David here for another year of school. Charlie is going to Indiana, and I'm going to Arkansas for the summer, then back home to New Mexico. And the fact that I'm not going to see them every day anymore is finally setting in. Up until today, I've only been excited about graduating and going to camp, but today is a totally different story. I'm leaving. This place I've called home will no longer house me. And even if I stayed somehow, it wouldn't be the same, because so many of my friends here are going off on their own paths of life.
So now, in an effort to get all of my tears out at once, I'm going to make a list of things I will miss about Ozark and its people.
  • bowling on Monday with Dave (and sometimes Connor)
  • making Charlie feel awkward
  • brunches with Kinsey
  • Nertz! (6 people, of course)
  • living in the dorms (seriously, it is great)
  • chapel
  • visiting Monica at work (while working)
  • listening to Connor's crazy dreams
  • getting kissed by Jim (not on the lips - don't worry!)
  • life talks with Kevin Greer
  • life talks with Doug Aldridge
  • life talks with all the other professors
  • dancing with Krystelle, Emma, Crystal, Jessie, and everyone else who has been in on one of my room parties
  • eating Chick-fil-a with Dave, Charlie, Jim, Connor, Blake, Jake, and everyone else at Ozark
  • working at campus events
  • living in a place with so many amazing servant hearts
  • hearing amazing stories of ministry almost every day
  • going on creek adventures with Jessie, Connor, Kylie and Peter
  • Salty, Salty and the Dirties
  • Mamma J and small group
  • Papa Ryan
  • the Tripod. Oh my gosh, so much.
  • taking roadtrips with people
  • having a guarantee of seeing someone I know everywhere I go
  • Carterville Christian Church and my family group
  • writing songs for projects
  • learning from amazing, godly professors whose lives set the example for my own
  • living in a community where everyone around me is my age and everyone loves God
  • going to the movies with my movie buddies - David and Jared
  • hanging out with Karyn!
  • attending OCC sports events - watching my friends play and commentating with everyone else
  • intramural sports (go Armadillos! You'll always be my favorite team!)
  • sand volleyball
  • baking for the boys
I really have to stop now. I thought this would be pleasantly cathartic, to get all my sadnesses out at once, but I think all I've really accomplished is to give myself an incredible headache from crying.
This really has been an incredible four years. Ozark is amazing. I'm going to miss everyone so much! You are all incredibly dear to me.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A New Kind of Normal

Okay, today's thought is going to be a bit meandering, for the sole reason that I don't know where I land on it at the end of the day. I was talking with my friend Lisa about how we go about meeting people. The fact is that for the past four years I have been stuck in a very weird place called Ozark Christian College. I love this school, but one of the weird things is that, because it is so small, you know everyone. And even if you don't talk to every single person, you at least know who everyone is by sight. And if you run into someone you don't know very well, it's perfectly acceptable to just talk to that person like you've always been friends.

But this week I have come to the realization that this is not normal. This is not how real life works. In college, you are surrounded by people that are your same age. Once you get outside of this, there are suddenly people of all ages, so finding people your same age becomes more difficult. And even more difficult is the challenge of becoming friends with people your same age. Not only do you have to find someone in your age bracket, but then you have to have the guts to talk to them, and consistent follow-up, and there's so much to keep you from doing something like that. And as one coming from a "holy hill," it seemed crazy to me to meet someone in such a normal fashion.

So in my discussion with my friend Lisa, I learned that she, too, has been thinking about how people meet people. I quote: "I've always struggled with how much of any of that is determined by the worldly culture (infatuation, lust at first sight in a bar where you're wearing a see through halter)....or how much is just human kind (boy meets girl and there's follow up)....or how much is out of being in a similar circle because of similar values (Christian campus...)."

She also said that "how you meet someone is directly proportional to the kind of person they are." Which I think is a good point. If you meet someone in a bar while wearing a see-through shirt, chances are that he isn't the best kind of guy to meet (or conversely, the girl you picked out with the see-through shirt isn't worth knowing anyway). If you meet a person because you're on the same Christian campus, they'll probably be a Christian, though there is definitely no guarantee.

So at Ozark, if you want to get to know someone or date that person or whatever, the standard behavior is to sit by them in class or during Chapel or whatever. It's really a lot like high school. And it just seems so strange to me, even though it has somehow seemed normal for four years. But I'm leaving this place in less than two weeks, and I'm going to have to get used to a new kind of normal. A real kind of normal, where you meet people by chance rather than orchestration.

I still don't feel like this post is done, but I honestly can't think of anything else to say without sounding incredibly repetitive. It's that whole issue of not having a direction or a solid idea of how I feel about the topic. I don't think I'm going to write another post like this. It makes me feel just as anxious as I felt while watching the entirety of "Punch-Drunk Love," which I hated.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

For the love of God

One of my favorite things in life is talking to my best friend Esther. We are able to share life with each other, and one of my favorite things to discuss is our heart for the church. We grew up in the same church in New Mexico, the church she still attends, and I would attend if I lived there still. Inevitably, in sharing our joys about service in the church, we wind up talking about frustrations and heartaches involved in serving in the local church. The people we serve alongside ask too much, or disappoint us, or we end up getting burnt out because we do too much and try to make too many people happy.

This all reminded me of something that Chad said in class on Wednesday about why you get into ministry. He said that you should not get into ministry because you love people, because people will always end up letting you down. You get into ministry because you love God.

This really stuck with me, and I shared it with Esther. I think it is something that is imperative for every Christian to remember while they serve - that the main focus of your service, and the main driving force and reason behind that service, should be for the love of God. If we go into every day of ministry because we love people, eventually people are going to disappoint us, and we will become burdened and tired and potentially angry. But if we involve ourselves in ministry because we have a love for God, and then we serve people with the intent to glorify God, to show that love of God by loving people, then I think our motives are correct, and we run a much lower risk of ministry failure. There is a distinct danger when we see our ministries through human terms, by things that are measured by the response of people. I'm thinking along the lines of the pleasantness of the people, the numerical growth of the congregation - and on the same page, these things can have a negative side, such as the growth not meeting our expectations. When we see success through these humanly determined measurements of results, there is great danger of disaster.

All this to say, I think it rather important (and I so loved hearing it and will keep the message with me for a long time) that we go into ministry, not for the love of the people, but for the love of God.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Peck of Dreams

I just woke up from a series of dreams. I remember them all.
  1. I was walking through the snow on a sunny day with a group of people from Ozark. We were going through a small village that had been abandoned. We looked into each tiny shack and saw a TON of styrofoam. When we got to a larger building, which turned out to be Dennis Hall, I stayed there. They all left on horseback.
  2. I started setting up my room, because I was going to be the RA on Dennis first floor. I plugged a microwave into an extension cord and plugged that into a power strip. Probably not very safe.
  3. I was a professor on campus. To get from class to class, I would ride in a tractor. The inside of the tractor was a lot more like a bus, though, so I gave a lot of people rides. I was like the school bus professor.
  4. I was upstairs in the chapel, when I saw a large, young black girl crying on the floor. I sat down to talk to her. She told me that she was a cutter because her mom was abusive. She was also planning on getting a boyfriend for the sole purpose of the boyfriend abusing her mom. I counseled her for a little bit.
  5. I heard a shout for help. I looked down a metal gangway and saw a group of people around a man who was bleeding profusely from the head. The man was also wearing an edible black lobster suit over his whole body, except for his head and his right hand. They quickly told me that he had been attacked by his own dog (probably because he was wearing an edible lobster suit) and needed stitches right then. I quickly ordered stitches to be given. I went outside to where the attack had happened and found a black lobster hand with a bite mark taken out of it. I ate the rest of the hand. It was good.
  6. I had just recorded two songs to promote the school. I had also made very poorly done music videos to go along with them. A big advertising expert came over to my house to watch them. My mom, sister and brother were all there for the big movie/song debut. We put in the DVD, and a TOTALLY different video played for the song. The video was really good, with real actors and multiple locations. We were all so confused until my dad walked into the room. We were all so excited to see him! He said that he was the one who had remade the music videos to be so much better, then he swapped out my DVD with his new one. When we asked him where he had been for nearly five years, he apologized and said he had faked his death so that he could get away and have some rest. I spent the rest of the dream running into every room at Ozark, telling them that my movies were a success because my dad had helped me.
Okay, enough of dreams! I have to go get ready to leave! Albuquerque, here I come!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We Love Weather

Talking about the weather might be considered the universally most boring topic, but for achieving such a status, it sure seems to dominate a great deal of our thoughts and actions. For example, we check the weather to know what to wear. It dictates our clothing and accessories (Do I need an umbrella? If I take an umbrella, I'll need to take my bigger purse to fit my umbrella. Should I wear my raincoat? How about galoshes?). We pray about it all the time (Thanks for the sunshine, please send away the rain, please send the rain to Africa, etc.). It controls our moods (I'm sad because it's cloudy. I'm depressed because I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. I don't want to work because it's sunny.). It dominates world news (floods, droughts, heatwaves, winter storms).

So why do people deny wanting to talk about it and act like it is boring?

I think maybe people should stop denying their extreme interest in the weather and start really talking about it freely.

Perhaps we talk about the weather because it is one of the only things to which everyone can universally relate and have some assurance of knowledge. Maybe the problem is that the world is too dull to talk about anything other than the weather.

So, decide you like talking about it and embrace this conviction, or educate yourself (and others) and then talk about something else.

Like pop culture and celebrity gossip.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Golden Arches

I don't remember when I first saw the commercial for it, but as soon as I heard about a machine that mapped your foot and prescribed a specialized insert for your shoe, I wanted to try it. It's from Dr. Scholl's. You can learn about it here. I was just so curious about what it would have to say about my feet. And so, when I saw one of these "Foot Mapping" centers at my local Wal-Mart, I couldn't wait to hop on - despite fears of germs voiced by my two shopping companions.

I removed my shoes, just as the screen told me to, and stepped on to the rather squishy surface. I followed the prompts on the screen, and a nice little "map" of my feet came up. It was obvious from the image on the screen that I have incredibly high arches. There was a nice circle for each heel, and an oval for the ball of each foot, and a nice little circle for each toe - but there was no arch to be seen on my foot map. Before I was able to proceed to the next step (which is lifting each leg in turn), the screen asked me to make sure that I had taken off my shoes because the pressure I was exerting was so weird, with absolutely no arch touching the ground. I assured the machine that I had, in fact, removed my shoes. It then gave me the reading that I have very high arches and very high foot pressure. It told me which inserts I should buy. They were fifty dollars. I did not buy them.

It was still fun, though, affirming something I had known all along. As long as you do not have an extreme fear of fungus, I would recommend this activity the next time you're in Wal-Mart.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


In the past week, I have had two experiences with hypodermic needles.

On Wednesday past, I got my nose repierced. This is something that has been a long time coming. I first got my nose pierced during the summer of 2005. I was 17, and could not get it pierced without parental consent. Fortunately for me, I have an identical sister, whose ID was readily available. This is the only instance in my life I have ever used an alias. It totally worked, even with my sister standing right next to me. I had my nose ring for a little over a year. When I switched to a new school, I had to take it out, because at that time they did not allow facial piercings. It was a sad moment in my life. When they finally allowed them at the start of this school year, there was a mad rush of Ozark students to the piercing parlors, but I was not among them. Seeing so many of them made me not want one. Not yet. Then on Wednesday, the urge struck me, so my friend Kylie took me to her favorite place in downtown Joplin and, about ten minutes later, I had a hypodermic needle in my nose. I couldn't have been more thrilled.

As for the second hypodermic needle, that came late on Sunday night. I had been experiencing chest pain off and on all day, and finally got scared enough to go to the hospital. They gave me an EKG and did some blood tests - thus, the hypodermic needle. Everything turned out fine. I apparently have been stricken with a really bad case of heartburn (which is still mildly ongoing, despite the use of antacids). But I learned that when you're in the hospital, they put in an IV needle to take blood, and then they just leave it in you. I had a needle sticking out of my arm for about three hours. When I have a needle in my vein, I'm afraid to bend my arm because I'm sure that the needle will go straight through the other side of my vein and I'll suffer massive hemorrhaging and get sick bruises. I don't want to look like I have drug tracks.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Beginning

April 7, 2010. That sounds so futuristic, but it is totally today’s date. When I was little, I would have potentially used this date as a futuristic one, one where I was imagining living in space (but not experiencing muscular atrophy) and doing futuristic things. But here I am, in the year 2010. I am sitting at a desk in the world’s smallest office. This thing is so small, it would make the Japanese proud of my economy. The only thing that I need is a sliding paper door. As of right now, my office is so small it doesn’t even have a door – just a frame.

I think our expectations of the future have always been way off. I think that long in the past, the expectations did not reach high enough, and I think that in the more recent history, they have reached too far. Consider for a moment the Dark Ages, when I genuinely think people saw no future other than the one they were living. Then I think about Orwell’s 1984, which reached too far (though still made an excellent point). I also think about the movie “Blade Runner.” That movie is set in 2019 and assumes highly established off-world colonies. Also, the background features advertisements for Atari, which I think we all know will never happen. In fact, Atari hasn’t been advertised in about 15 years anyway.

What I’m getting at is this: we can’t rightly predict the future. Perhaps we can guess the next step or two, but even that is all speculation. We might be able to predict the next step of entertainment (holographic TVs, anyone?), or certain health trends (like morbid obesity – a problem already on the rise, with 67% of American adults being overweight or obese, and 34% being obese) and perhaps what that will do. But seriously, when we start projecting 20, 30, or 100 years into the future, I think we get really whacked out ideas. I watched a movie recently called “Idiocracy.” Like 1984, the message was good, but I think the conclusions were rather far-fetched. “Idiocracy” is set 500 years in the future, where everyone is completely stupid, with incredibly low IQ levels, which the movie states happened because educated people choose not to have children, or have fewer children, because they actually think about it, while uneducated people have children because they don’t know any better. The movie assumes that, on a long enough time scale, humanity will become idiots. The people of this future America do not even have the knowledge of how to grow plants, and think that putting the futuristic equivalent of Gatorade on plants will help them grow.

But this is not about education in America. This is about predicting the future. My conclusion is this: we can’t. We are historically bad at it, and I don’t think that being farther along in a timeline of the world makes us any better at it.