27 November 2009

Facebook & Mother Teresa

Below is a reading response for my class with Dr. Garber on Monday mornings. In it, I am responding to his book, The Fabric of Faithfulness, and its call to develop a unique and sustainable worldview for God's creation (See this past post to learn about the class and Dr. Garber's book). As I begin to search for opportunities to act on God's vocational calling in my life, I am beginning to see the great importance of seeing this calling and my future through a persepctive that God has uniquely placed in front of me. This will become the lens through which I see God's kingdom in relation to a fallen world - to see where the secular and the sacred meet. So although it is recycled, here you go:

How can you tell if something is really important to this generation of the iWorld? Check their Facebook profile, of course! And one of the more recent additions to our main page gives us a convenient place to put our worldview for all the world to see. Right under your profile picture, there is a little box for you to sum up the whole of your existence in a few short sentences. Here is what my little box reads: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

I found this quote while reading the writings of Mother Teresa in college, and over the past few years, I have found that it rings true in most aspects of my life. Her words have become a major lens through which I see the world and my calling within it. In light of Mother Teresa’s words, my question upon reading Fabric of Faithfulness has become this: how will I connect my behavior for the rest of my life around a deep understanding and conviction that my life is not my own? First and foremost, my life belongs to Christ. Every action, thought, and breath of my life must be eternally and seamlessly interwoven into His heart and Kingdom. I am confident that this is how my life ought to be…and I am also confident it will take me a lifetime of wrestling to truly understand and live this out daily. At the same time, I must remember that my life belongs and is accountable to His creation as well. It does not belong to a political party or an intellectual ideology, but to human beings created and loved by God. It belongs to those I love – and to those I do not even like a little bit; it belongs to those I know as a best friend – and to those living across the world, who I may never know. My life will be an exercise in recognizing that my actions do not exist within a vacuum of my own experiences and ideas, but within a world in which, as Byron Borger puts it, “how we live our lives affects the big picture.”

As I read Byron’s account of his life and struggle to understand his vocation in a way that would “make sense of life as he faced the challenges of new ideas and new relationships,” I was struck by this same understanding that I believe Mother Teresa had: even the smallest actions are “part of God’s movement to bring restoration and healing to the whole wide world.” I may not always know what I believe when it comes to a certain political position or intellectual theory, but I know there will always be a connection between every one of my seemingly insignificant actions, and God’s great plan for His creation. It is the idea that my actions today will not only affect myself, but also my children and their children after them. And, God willing, my understanding of my vocation will not only affect my own life, but also the lives of the people I want to serve in Africa or India or the Middle East. We are not living for ourselves, and although God does not need us, He chooses to allow us to be a part of His plan to make all things new – so we better take that commission seriously!

Whenever I come back to Mother Teresa’s words, I am reminded that not only do my actions have significant value in God greater vision, so too does an understanding that my life is not my own. The two connect in a way that is subtle yet essential within the lens through which I see the world. Much too often I am able to forget all the brokenness simply because it is not right in front of me everyday. I have the luxury of being a woman with rights that much of my sex cannot even dream of; I have the luxury of living without fear of dying from a preventable and treatable disease; I have the luxury of food. Because I am not constantly being reminded of the pain and suffering of my fellow human beings I forget that the whole world does not have it as great as I do. It makes me marvel at my own shortsightedness. If we were always aware that all humanity does indeed belong to each other in such a way that binds us to one another’s deepest destinies in the eyes of our Creator – if we always remembered that – how different would life be? Would we have racial injustice? Oppression? War? If we saw the inherent human-ness in each other instead of living with this “us versus them” mentality we are so caught up in, how would the world change?

Of course, this idea is not a panacea. We will always disagree, but I do not believe that our understanding of this idea lives in conflict with the fact that we have to continuously stand on the truth of God’s world. Why do we continue to love and respect our friends despite our disagreements? Because we know one another and so are able see the dignity and integrity inherent within the other. What if, in even our fiercest of enemies, we saw this same dignity as one created by God? I am not saying this idea will necessarily fix everything, but it is one that I will invest my life in understanding and living out on a daily basis. In my mind it begins to flesh out the question, “who is your neighbor?” and it convicts me to always be looking deeper and remember that starving and orphaned children in Africa are not so different from me; women in the Middle East wearing a hijab are not so different from me; in many ways, even the woman who sells her body on the street is not so different from me.

07 November 2009

Reading the Word and the World Together

One of my first classes of the semester is one called Reading the Word and the World Together. It is taught by my friend, Steve Garber (the one who got me here in the first place!), and, in essence, it a class designed to help us see, as Steve puts it, the place where the sacred and the secular meet. Through it, we are already beginning to see how the world is not a series of dichotomized categories separating the holy from the brokenness, but rather that creation and everything in it is in a state of “glorious ruins” to quote C.S. Lewis. We are living in a constant, flowing state of both of these elements and we are beginning to realize that although we are fighting against it, all of creation is crying out to the glory of God. Steve talks a lot about his friends and colleagues who are practicing, what he calls, “common grace for the common good;” who are striving to heal a broken world in ways that may not always be deemed explicitly Christian, but nevertheless, speak to the glory and the coming Kingdom of Christ. In fact, one organization he talks a lot about in light of this topic is my former employer (and great saving grace!), the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust!

In class, we are essentially trying to understand what God’s vision is for His creation, how we can view ourselves and our place on earth through this lens, and how we can live in a world that is at the same time, sacred and secular; a world that is both glorifying to God and horribly broken. One major avenue of developing this worldview comes within the nature of storytelling - hence our class name, Reading the Word and the World Together. We began by reading narratives on our most basic and fundamental elements of identity as human beings: our sexuality. God created man and women to be distinct and unique from one another for a specific reason, and although our place as sexual beings has been greatly distorted and perverted since the Fall, our sexuality is still at the root of our very being. We long for intimacy to our very core; to know and be known in a way that cannot be expressed anywhere else. Next, we went on to explore the nature of a developing worldview. In light of this, we read Dr. Garber's wonderful book, The Fabric of Faithfulness. Through his own insight and the insights of his friends whose stories we read, we learned of the great value in developing a worldview that will not only drive our unique calling in the world, but will also sustain us throughout our entire lives. Finding a lens through which to view God's creation will not mean anything unless it is a worldview that will remain sustainable past our idealistic years as young-adults and into our cynical years of middle age. This lesson of developing a sustainable worldview is one which I feel I will be continuously learning throughout my entire life.

27 October 2009

Six Things I Have Learned in DC

A bunch of my friends from the Concordia Honors program have been posting notes on Facebook regarding what they are learning after graduating from undergrad, living in new cities, and embarking on new adventures. I thought I would join the party and figured I would also post it here for your reading pleasure.

Here are a few things I have learned in my first two months of living in DC. It is intense. It is chaotic. It is awesome.

1. Honking is polite? Coming from the rather friendly highways of Oregon and California (at least in relation to the East Coast), I was astounded and filled with shame the first time someone honked at me. I was sitting at a stoplight and apparently did not accelerate with satisfactory speed the millisecond it turned green. As I drove away with tears in my eyes (not really) I wondered what I had done wrong. Now I realize that in DC, honking is somehow considered a polite reminder to move your ass and keep up with the (in my opinion) rather unnecessary fast pace of the city. It still kind of freaks me out.
2. Don’t ever get caught simply “strolling.” While we’re talking about fast pace…this city is ridiculous. I mean, do we all really need to get where we are going so quickly? Are we all so important that we need to drive as fast as possible, walk as fast as possible, and live as fast as possible? I don’t think anyone is that important.
3. WALK ON THE LEFT, STAND ON THE RIGHT. If you ever come to DC and plan on riding the Metro, memorize this motto like your life depends on it. Really. I have never seen people get so upset about not being able to walk…on an escalator. Some probable responses if you don’t adhere to this rule include loud sighs of exasperation, the words “excuse me” sounding like they are really saying “move, you dumbass”, or simply a light shove towards the right side (usually with some form of briefcase or purse so as to not actually touch someone). I know people are trying to get to their trains on time, but really, they come every 2 minutes. Just another example of an unnecessary need for everyone to move as quickly as possible given them the right to get indignant if others do not move as quickly as they should.
4. How to ride the Metro…aka the steel tubes of death. Once you step onto the escalator and descend to the hot, sweaty underground world that is the Metro station, there are two things you must avoid at all costs: eye contact and/or talking to anyone except your Blackberry or iPhone (yes, I am pretty sure that when you move here the city government demands you purchase one). There are also two things you must remember in order to ensure neither of these rules are broken: an iPod and a book or stack of papers that make you look like you are important and smart…and probably a snob. As you sit on the Metro with your head down and mouth closed, you will realize that you are no longer a human, but simply an android waiting to reach the sun again.
5. Compete, compete, compete. The god of DC is power and competition is the best way to get it. And, although it does not seem possible, the city’s atmosphere of competition has gotten about ten times worse given the current economic crisis and lack of jobs. People are nice, but in a way that says “if you ever threaten my career, success, etc, I will ruin you.” I think that’s why everyone is always moving so fast – the faster you move, the busier you look, the busier you look, the more successful you look, and the more successful you look, the more power you have over everyone else.
6. Embrace all the chaos, because when it comes down to it, this is still the best place to live if you want to see change. Despite the past five hard lessons I have learned in our Capitol City, I am hard pressed to say that I would want to be anywhere else at this point in my life. No one will disagree that DC is on the very edge of reform – both politically and in many ways, culturally. Especially in the past ten years or so, as musicians, and actors, and artists have begun to take more seriously the dramatic influence they have on the masses (think HIV/AIDS policy reform and Bono), public policy reform in DC has become even more powerful. In my vocational calling to see change in developing nations in terms of extreme poverty and women’s rights, I cannot think of a better jumping off point that this city. Despite the dehumanizing nature of the Metro; despite the ruthless competition for power; and despite the pace of the city that is quickly turning me into one who can practically run in high heels, this is a city in which opportunity flourishes and change truly begins. For better or for worse, it is a city that is changing the world.

Note: Please keep in mind that this is just my experience of DC so far. Although, I love the city, I am HUGELY blessed to be able to retreat to the sanity of Northern Virginia every night. I don't know what I would do if I lived downtown - probably spend my weekends wandering aimlessly around hoping for at least one person to smile.

30 September 2009

A Little Taste of the Fun...

I finally got around to uploading photos!!! Pictures will be more integrated into my posts as the year goes on, but for now, here's a little preview for you! You can also go to my Flickr account and see everything!

Volleyball Little League Champions
(back row L-R: Bill (the coach!), David, Steve, Pierce, Leck, Rob
front row L-R: Lauren Bleam, Elizabeth, Sabrina, Kim
not pictured: Lauren Black, Kelly, Carrie)

Dressed up for a fundraiser and taking Pierce to the prom!
(L-R: Elizabeth, Sabrina, Kim, Pierce, Carrie, Lauren Bleam)

Posing with the park ranger at Great Falls Park
(L to R: attractive park ranger, Carrie, Lauren Black, Kelly)

What happens when I leave my phone unattended
(L-R: Sabrina, Steve, David)

This is for all my Portland loves...you know who you are!

29 September 2009

Fellows Season 3 - 11 Reasons Why This Was the Best Decision I Ever Made

Here’s what I think: going insane with 11 other people is a lot more fun than going insane on your own.

As I enter into my fourth week as a Fellow and begin to realize that this is probably going to be the busiest, most challenging year of my life, I am indescribably grateful that I have 11 other Fellows to share the experience with. Coming into the program, perhaps my biggest anxiety was who these 11 people were going to be. Knowing that I was going to be spending 9 months seeing them almost all day, almost every day, I had a lot of fear concerning the issues that can come up with 12 people in the same space and time. Would I like them? Would they like me? Would we trust each other enough to be honest and vulnerable with each other? Would we have enough fun to make all the pressures of the program seem a little less demanding?
Let me tell you: every single question I had was answered in a positive way. From that awkward first day when we sat around in a circle trying not to act like complete idiots to this point, almost exactly four weeks later, I am amazed how much I have grown to truly and completely love these people. They are the best part about my day…EVERY DAY. Here are some of the reasons why:

1. First and foremost, there are 11 reasons why. They are (in no particular order): Lauren Bleam, Leck Shannon, Elizabeth Gillespie, Steve Metzger, Kim Mascher, David Braddy, Pierce Babirak, Rob Bloss, Kelly Davis, Sabrina Moran, and Lauren Black
2. We laugh A LOT. I think I have laughed more in the past four weeks than I ever have in my lifetime. We dance in the car to Miley Cyrus (that’s right…we know how to Party in the USA!). We take Leck to the “big city” (DC, that is) for the first time and try to hook him up with pretty girls on the Metro. We take Pierce to the “prom.” We abbreviate every word we possibly can. We rejoice at the array of mistakenly (or not) inappropriate gestures and comments, including jokes about what will happen at our year-end banquet. We go to the park and take pictures with attractive park rangers. We email each other ridiculous pictures and a million little notes every day we are at work.
3. We have no cliques. All the girls hang out with all the guys. We always have to move tables around at restaurants so we can eat together…they probably hate us. Everywhere we go we bring the party.
4. We trust each other. After only 4 weeks, I am somewhat shocked at the level of emotional trust we have with one another. Especially with the girls, we are already telling each other aspects of ourselves that we have shared with very few people.
5. We love and respect each other. Even if we do have little issues later on this year (which, considering the almost excessive amount of time we see each other, I’m sure we will), it is a comfort to know that we have built a pretty strong foundation from the beginning. No matter what happens, I am confident that we will continue to keep our unity because of this respect.
6. We are all different. We come from lots of different places and backgrounds. We have vastly different personalities. But we somehow mesh together rather serendipitously. We learn from each other and since we respect each other, we embrace our differences pretty wholeheartedly. As the year goes on, I think I might have to write a post about each individual because they are all just so wonderfully unique and special.
7. We love Jesus. This may seem like an obvious point to make, but it truly is really unique to find a group of people who honestly, genuinely, and fervently love God. This is what allows all the other amazing aspects of our group dynamic to fall into place. From our class discussions, to our conversations of vulnerability and honesty, our desire to see God in everything is always at the center. It brings me so much peace to know that I am going through this crazy time, I am with people who truly know me and accept me and who are seeking after the heart of God first and foremost.

My Slow Descent into Insanity

As I enter my fourth week as a Capital Fellow, I am beginning to wonder what I got myself into. They say the third week is the hardest, and given the mental breakdown that a few of us had yesterday, I believe it. We have finally finished with every introductory BBQ (there have been about a million), met EVERY SINGLE person at MPC, started all of our classes, began trying to memorize the names and faces of the kids we will be working with at youth group, and started our third week of work. Don’t get me wrong, I am still super blessed and excited to be here – but I am also a little bit worried that I might die of exhaustion before the year is over. I probably won’t, but in an effort to explain to you just how busy I am, I have provided a little day-by-day schedule of events to illustrate my slow descent into insanity. Plus, I am hoping this will assure some of you that I am not avoiding your phone calls or not returning them out of my own volition…I really do want to talk to you, but here’s why I am the worst friend ever right now!

8:00am – Accountability with the Girls9:30am-12:30pm – Class (Reading the Word and the World Together)
*we are supposed to have Monday afternoon off to study, but once a month we volunteer at a homeless shelter, and once a month we have a leadership meeting for youth group…I haven’t had a free Monday afternoon yet
6:00-9:00pm – Roundtable (Dinner & Group Discussion at the Director’s House)

8:30am-5:00pm – Internship at Philanthropy Roundtable

8:30am-5:00pm – Internship at Philanthropy Roundtable
7:30-9:30pm – Class (Spiritual Formation)

8:30am-5:00pm – Internship at Philanthropy Roundtable

9:00-10:00am – Bible Study
10:00am-12:30pm – Class (Kingdom Seminar)
*we are also supposed to have Friday afternoons off, but also have other obligations such as meetings with our mentors, contact time with kids in the youth group (i.e. attendance at soccer games, choir recitals, etc.) to attend to

MY ONE DAY OFF!!! (Usually spent sleeping and studying like crazy)

9:00-11:15am – Sunday School with the 7th and 8th graders
11:15am-12:30pm – Church (during which we sit with the youth group and make sure they are quiet and listening)
4:00-7:00pm – Sunday Evening Youth Church
7:00-9:00pm – Harvest Young Adult meeting (this is optional, but many of us love it since it is the only event during which we have no responsibilities and are not on display)

**Further obligations that take up the one full day and about 8 hours/week (that’s right, 8) that we have free:
- Fellows Retreats on the weekend (there are 4 throughout the year)
- Youth Group Retreats on the weekend (there are 3 throughout the year) at which we are counselors and one of which I have this weekend
- Meetings with our mentors
- Contact time with kids in the youth group (i.e. attendance at soccer games, choir recitals, etc, as well as taking them to things like coffee, movies, mini-golf, etc)
- Homework, homework, homework (I have about as much reading for 3 classes as I had for 6 classes in undergrad)

Oh goodness.

22 September 2009

And So it Begins...What is the Capital Fellows Program???

Here it is folks, the long post you have all been waiting for! Well maybe not, but nevertheless, in the next few paragraphs (pages?) I will try my best to layout what this crazy year is going to look like as I am a “Capital Fellow.”

Formal Mission Statement: The Capital Fellows is a Christian Leadership program that brings together recent college graduates in community to wrestle with calling and vocation. Together we explore what it means to have Christ be lord over our lives, work, relationships, culture, community, and world.

The Many Exciting Elements of Being a Capital Fellow (in no particular order):
**This is a just a brief overview of every aspect that makes up the program, I will dive more deeply into them as the year goes on and I start figuring out how to manage my time!

1. The Fellows: In all, there are 12 of us from all over the US. I am from the farthest away, but we have people from Alabama, Maryland, Maine, and all over Virginia as well. Throughout the year, we will see each other at least 5 days every week and will be able to build the type of community that Christ calls all His apostles to in the New Testament. We are all vastly different, but God-willing, our personalities are seeming to mesh rather serendipitously. I am SO excited to tell you about all these wonderful people I am already in love with!
2. Being a part of McLean Presbyterian Church (MPC): It has been astounding to me how the people at MPC have been beyond excited that the Fellows are here. I have had countless people come up to me and tell me how happy they are that I am here and that they will be praying for us throughout the year. I feel so blessed and loved to be accepted into a church with such open arms! It is definitely a much different church than I am used to in terms of traditional worship and liturgy, but I am definitely in love with the people and mission of MPC!
3. Weekly Classes: We are taking 4 graduate-level seminary classes (2 yearlong and 2 on a semester basis). It will be A LOT of reading (one semester of 3 classes is about equal to a semester of 5 classes in undergrad reading-wise) and a lot of pretty intense discussions. Three are more academic based, and one is a spiritual formation class taught by the wonderful pastor of MPC, which I am SO excited about! We also get to do a Bible study once a week with the young adult pastor (who has an amazingly awesome Scottish accent!) which is starting out in Galatians, my favorite book! I am positive that there will be quite a few blog posts regarding these classes.
4. Host Family: Part of being a Fellow is to live with a host family for the year. These are people from the church who have volunteered (and are getting no financial reward for doing so!) to let each of us live with them and be a part of their family. I am living with Amy and Dave Johnson, their 2 ½ year-old daughter, Summer (who is the most energetic little ball of fun I have ever met!), and their 6 month-old son, Caleb (who I have yet to hear cry after almost 2 weeks…seriously!). I am going to dedicate an entire post to them in the near future, but basically put, they are the most AMAZING family I could have asked for as I am going through this year!
5. MPC Youth: In our quest to do learn how to glorify God in every aspect of our life, the Fellows will also be volunteering for the youth at MPC. I am one of the 6 who will be serving the “Breakthrough” ministry to 7th and 8th graders (the other 6 are working with kids who are a bit younger). This will probably be the most challenging aspect of this year, simply because it is not something I have made a priority over the past 4 years. But I am also really excited to get to know girls who are going though what I think is the toughest part of their school career (really, who didn’t hate junior high?).
6. Part-time Internship: You can’t learn how to see God as the center of every aspect of your life, if He isn’t the center of your work life, right? I mean, other than sleeping, we spend a biggest part of our week working (or in DC, commuting) right? I will be working 3 days/week at an organization called Philanthropy Roundtable. PR is a non-profit organization that serves private foundations and helps them learn the best ways to give away money. Given my desire to work for a humanitarian non-profit, this is a little more indirect than what I was hoping for, but it will be an awesome way to learn about fundraising and potential donors for my future career! Plus, because of all the other stuff I am doing in the program, for the first time in my life I am actually going to work everyday with the thought of building God’s kingdom first and foremost in my mind! The only down side? It costs me $10.50 and two hours (an hour each way) to commute everyday!!!! I have to drive to the metro station, pay $4.50 to park and then pay $3 each way to ride the metro. For the first time, I am actually going to have to budget for transportation… about $200/month, no less!

What the mission statement and all the aspects listed above are going to mean for me on a personal level this year:
Throughout my college experience my passion for a more just world has intensified as I explored various human rights tragedies such as extreme poverty, preventable diseases (especially HIV/AIDS), women’s rights in developing nations, and an increasingly violent and war-prone world. As I have continued to dive deeper into these issues, I have felt confident in the vocational path God is leading me towards as one who will “be the change I wish to see in the world.” In combining this passion and my experience within the non-profit and private foundation world over the past two years, I am increasingly aware of God pulling me toward a long-term career improving the world through non-profit development. I am not sure if this will first lead to a graduate degree in something like International Relations (with an emphasis on gender studies, I think) or lead directly into a job with a non-profit that I am, first and foremost, passionate about. I truly believe, that no matter what kind of job I have in the beginning, if I am invested in the mission and vision of an organization, I will do almost anything to be a part of it…even if I have to start off answering phones!

In deciding to be a part of this program, I am essentially taking a step back from this path in order to wrestle, not so much with God’s call on my life, but with how He will continue to remain an active voice in this call. As ridiculous as it sounds, too often, in my need to proactively pursue what God has for me, I forget that He is the reason I am pursuing it. So this year, as I still continue to work toward my vocational goals through my internship, I am also praying that God will use the classes I am taking and the church and community I am a part of to teach me how to live everyday with a deep understanding that He is at the center of every single aspect of my life. Especially in my tendency to sometimes become desensitized to what I am passionate about because I over-commit myself and forget why I am saying yes to everything!

So there it is, my hope for this year and what God will do with it. For one of the first times in my life, I am totally and completely ready to be changed by Him…and I am expecting it. If I could ask for one thing from you people who love me enough to actually read to the bottom of this beast, it would be to pray, pray, PRAY:

- Pray that God continues to teach me how to live with a tangible and deep understanding of my place in His Kingdom and that He will be building a strong foundation in me regarding this for the rest of my life

- Pray that I continue to be open to this teaching and constantly seeking it. I want to be like Jacob, who wrestled with God and would not let go until he was blessed in what he was searching for.

- Pray that I will not die of exhaustion! Although I absolutely love every aspect of the program (and would never dream about getting rid of anything), I am already feeling like we (the 12 fellows) are dangerously close to being a little too busy. The only day we have off is Saturdays…and don’t forget all the reading we have to do! Prayer for physical energy and alert minds would be greatly appreciative.

- Pray that the 12 fellows as a community would continue to grow in our ability to be vulnerable and honest with one another and that we would continue to tease out what Jesus meant when he called 12 apostles to follow him in community. Pray for open minds and respectful opinions in class, for continued cohesion throughout a long year, in which we see each other A LOT, and for a continual reminder of how blessed we are to all be in this together.

There are lots of other prayer requests, and so much more to say, but it is late and I have probably made your eyes bleed with all the reading! I promise that I will not write such a long post ever again…let’s be honest, I probably will, but I’ll try my best! In closing though, I just have to say how much I love and appreciate who you are in my life. Regardless of how well you may or may not know me as you are reading this, I hope you know that in some small (or perhaps very big) way, you are the reason I am here! I love you!

07 September 2009

Days 5-8 :: Finally in DC!

Although this post is essentially the climax of the “Carrie and Adrienne are Off to DC!” adventure, I am going to make it a little short. For one thing, I am SO excited to start telling you about the Fellows program. And secondly, I am tired...really tired.

Adrienne and I finally made it to DC on Wednesday proceeded to pack about a weeks worth of tourist fun into the two days we actually had before she left on Saturday. The first night we got here, we stayed with her high school friend who is currently getting his Master’s degree from George Washington University and lives right downtown. We were planning to go see the monuments, but ended up getting to go to a DC United (Major League Soccer, in case you didn’t know) game – and guess who they were playing?!? The Seattle Sounders! After driving across the country and landing in a city so different from anywhere on the West Coast (I will get to that later!), it was surprisingly comforting to have a little piece of the Pacific Northwest in DC. Adrienne, Collin (her friend) and I cheered loudly and proudly for Seattle, and considering the hardcore DC United fans around us, I was a little surprised we didn’t get beaten up. But in the end, Seattle was victorious so it was all worth it! Definitely the best way to spend my first night in my new home!

For the next two days, we managed to squeeze in most of the monuments, the National Portrait Gallery, the Holocaust Museum, Arlington National Cemetery, and the National Geographic Museum. It was quite a whirlwind, and each day ended with us almost passed out on our hotel beds, with aching feet.

I also have to mention that I got to reconnect with one of my friends from high school who is interning for the Smithsonian, and I am SO glad to have her here for the next few months! It will be awesome to have a reminder of home and someone who understands all my Northern California references!

Adrienne left me to fend for myself on Saturday, thus beginning Carrie’s new adventure on the East Coast!

01 September 2009

Days 3-4 :: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, & Pennsylvania

Here we are…in A LOT of corn. When I mentioned in my last post that we were not surprised Nebraska is the Cornhusker state given its abundance of corn stalks, it was only because we had not yet driven through Iowa and Illinois, and Indiana and every other state that is consumed by kernels. In the past few days we have driven through not only a lot of corn, we have also discovered the highway robbery that is tollbooths. Being a West Coast girl, I have never had to stop at one of these lovely little “toll plazas” (do they think that sounds nicer or something?) and pay to drive on a road until now. And let me just say, it is a bit more confusing than I ever thought it would be. For example, who knew that in addition to knowing and having the exact amount you will need to get on and off the freeway, you also need to have it in change. Really? I mean who actually drives around with nine dollars in change in their car? I guess people on the East Coast.

On Monday, we drove from Nebraska to Illinois, crossing through Iowa on our way. The drive was pretty typical, but when we stopped for lunch we somehow found our way to Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa. As we drove in, to what we thought was going to be a Subway on the side of the road, we were greeted by college students everywhere… they replaced all the corn we had been seeing. This college town made Adrienne and I nostalgic for our own college days that ended not to long ago. And it kind of freaked us out to think that we were older (albeit, not by much) than all the students wandering around the town…is this what it feels like to grow up? Nevertheless, we made it out of Hawkeye territory and continued on to Chicago.

Chicago on the other hand, was NOT the quaint little place Iowa City had been. As we entered the city, we entered into the most confusing freeway construction I have ever had to drive in. Not only that, but there were tollbooths everywhere. The drivers were definitely not as nice as Portland drivers, and by the time we finally made it to the hotel (after accidently blowing off two tolls) my hands were shaking and my heart was racing. You would think that would be it though, right? After checking into the hotel, we somehow thought it would be fun to go downtown for authentic Chicago pizza – through the construction and tolls, but at night this time. It was not our smartest idea, but in the end we made it to this really cool restaurant called Giordano’s and had some truly amazing food. We even splurged and got tiramisu for dessert.

Tuesday was another pretty uneventful drive to Pittsburgh, by way of Indiana and Ohio. We did get to cross over the Mississippi River which was awesome, but other than that it was just a lot more of the same landscape. Don’t get me wrong, beautiful (corn-filled, of course) landscape, but by our second to last day of driving we were ready for a change of scenery. And once we got into Pennsylvania we did see some change. The mountainous and lush East Coast seemed to open out of the flat and arid middle-of-the-country like an oasis in the desert. Suddenly we were out of the corn and driving under tall, green trees arching over the highway. It was a much-needed change of pace and we were grateful to be reminded of the West Coast as we entered the last day of driving.

See you tomorrow…in DC!!!

31 August 2009

Days 3-4 :: Colorado & Nebraska

Here we are in the Cornhusker State. And let me tell you, Nebraska is not lying. We have seen rows and rows of corn on either side of the highway for the past hundred miles or so. Adrienne has taken dozens of pictures of it, which I think is a little excessive, but it is a lot of corn! The land is flat and corny (hah!), but actually pretty beautiful. We are driving parallel to the Platte River and clusters of luscious green trees dot the countryside in a way that somehow seem to break up the monotony of an extremely flat landscape. Also, the day started out a bit overcast, but as the blue sky has gradually broken through, big, puffy clouds like cotton candy have opened up ahead of us and seem to stretch on forever in this flatland. We have entertained ourselves the way we used to when we were little kids lying on our backs facing the sky on a cloudy day: by discovering swordfish and stampeding elephants and tree-houses in these mountains of cumulous nimbus.

We started out this morning around 10am from Denver, CO, after a much appreciated, 2-day break. Our good friend from Concordia, Jyndia is going to grad school for Physical Therapy near Denver, and it was Adrienne’s birthday on Saturday, so we decided to spend a day of fun in Denver before continuing on to our next stop in Bellevue, Nebraska. It was great fun and definitely a huge blessing to spend some much needed time with Jyndia, especially as I am preparing to be so far away from all of my Portland family. We spent Saturday wandering around her school (University of Colorado Health Science Center) and downtown Denver. We also went to great coffee shop called Stella’s that reminded me so much of Portland coffee shops that I felt a twinge of sadness for the wonderful life I left behind in the Pacific Northwest. That night, we made dinner and played Apples to Apples and the Friends trivia game while we drank rum and Cherry Pepsi. We took a ton of pictures (which anyone who knows Jyndia should not be surprised about!) and had so much fun just being around people who knew us the way only great friends can. Jyndia’s housemates were pretty awesome as well and it was great to have a break from driving and spend some time with such laidback and outgoing friends. Overall it was a great day and an “awesome birthday” according to Adrienne.

In other news: Adrienne is getting pretty good at driving a stick shift – a feat which, in case you didn’t know, she couldn’t really do before we started! Yay, Adrienne! And I am about to start a new Terry Tempest Williams book, which I have been excited about for the past 3 months, but not allowing myself to break into until this great adventure. Our next stop tonight crosses the Missouri River and tomorrow we get to pass the great Mississippi on our way to Chicago. We are pretty excited for the next few days – expect some pretty cool pictures of national landmarks coming.

See you tomorrow.

28 August 2009

Days 1-2 :: Nevada, Utah, & Wyoming

Here we are in Beef Country. Along with its nickname, which we were informed of just after we crossed the border (and which automatically makes it my favorite state of course), Wyoming also seems to be full of a lot of wide-open space. Being girls from the West Coast and growing up in towns where mountains close in around us like a security blanket, we have been obsessively taking pictures – of bright blue skies that go on indefinitely, red rocks that are so huge and flat you could build a football field at the top, and miles and miles of land that stretch out until your vision fails. We have about 3 hours to go until we reach our friend Jyndia in Denver and if we see another billboard telling us to come to this place called Little America because of their new shower heads and spotless restrooms (yes, some of the ads do actually say that) we might throw ourselves in front of one of those million semis.

I am currently sitting in the car while Adrienne drives and guess who we have chosen to listen to off my iPod of 10,000 songs: the Jonas Brothers! Now before you start judging us based on our adolescent, teen-pop musical taste I must remind you that we have now been on the road for two days and have already gone through the musical likes of everyone from Bon Iver to Brand New and even a little Coldplay. We have also been driving on the same strip of flat road for the past 5 hours, passing about a million semi-trucks and plateaus – probably going a little bit crazy. So if the Jonas Brothers are the only ones who can keep us awake and driving we are going for it! (Note: After about 3 songs, we have realized our insanity is only getting worse and switched over to something else.)

Yesterday we drove 580 miles from Lake Tahoe to Salt Lake City through Nevada, my least favorite state in all of America. It was boring and flat and I got a speeding ticket from a incredibly rude and patronizing police officer for driving too fast in a construction zone that I didn’t even know was a construction zone. Whatever, Nevada. The only cool part about the entire state was when we finally saw the “You are now leaving Nevada” sign. We then proceeded to drive through the Bonneville Salt Flats, which was actually rather beautiful with its vast plains of white desert and low mountains that seemed to float on the horizon line. Passing by Great Salt Lake, I was reminded of Terry Tempest Williams and her narrative of natural life in Utah, which I have now come to believe is a vastly, underestimated state. It was probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Salt Lake City was pretty amazing too – a city that both Adrienne and I wouldn’t mind living in if we ever wanted to live anyplace other than the West Coast. This morning we headed over to the Mormon Temple for a whirlwind tour of the Tabernacle with perfect acoustics and world-famous choir (Mormon Tabernacle Choir, of course), and a quick walk around their Temple Courtyard. Incidentally, we saw three different sets of wedding ceremonies taking place and some pretty awesome statues of Joseph Smith.

We just passed yet another sign informing us of a nearby state penitentiary and that we are not allowed to pick up hitchhikers for the next 2 miles. Damn, we were just about to pick up a nice-looking man in an orange jumpsuit.

See you tomorrow.

27 August 2009

Carrie & Adrienne are Off to DC!

When I decided to move to Washington, DC for the next few years of my life, I don't think I really thought of the fact that I would have to drive over 2500 miles to this new city on the opposite end of the country from my beloved Pacific Northwest. So as I was preparing to pack up my life and drive across this great nation, I was somehow able to convince my old college roommate, Adrienne to drive with me. So on Thursday, with my car packed to overflowing and my mom tearing up in the driveway we headed off. I will be documenting our road trip, as I will be doing with my adventures in DC for the next year or so. So I guess this is my first Washington DC entry! Here is our plan:

Thursday, August 27th: South Lake Tahoe, CA - Salt Lake City, UT
Friday, August 28th: Salt Lake City, UT - Denver, CO (we are staying two nights here with our good friend, Jyndia)
Sunday, August 30: Denver, CO - Omaha, NE
Monday, August 31: Omaha, NE - Chicago, IL
Tuesday, September 1: Chicago, IL - Pittsburgh, PA
Wednesday, September 2: Pittsburgh, PA - Washington, DC

Once we get to DC, we will pack about a week of tourist fun into 2 days before Adrienne flies out on September 5. Then I will start my program on Tuesday, September 8.

See you tomorrow.

P.S. In the interest of saving A LOT of time on my part and giving you more to look at, I will post pictures on Flickr and give you link as soon as I get them up!

13 August 2009

Fireflies - Owl City

(Sorry you might have to watch an ad first! It was the only way I could get it on. It is well worth the wait, I promise!!!)

You would not believe your eyes
If ten million fireflies
Lit up the world as I fell asleep
Cause they fill the open air
And leave teardrops everywhere
You'd think me rude, but I
Would just stand and stare.

I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly.
It's hard to say that I'd
Rather stay awake when I'm asleep,
Cause everything is never as it seems.

Cause I'd get a thousand hugs
From ten thousand lightening bugs
As they tried to teach me how to dance.
A foxtrot above my head,
A sock-hop beneath my bed,
The disco ball is just hanging by a thread.

I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly.
It's hard to say that I'd
Rather stay awake when I'm asleep,
Cause everything is never as it seems.
(When I fall asleep.)

Leave my door open just a crack.
(Please take me away from here.)
Cause I feel like such an insomniac.
(Please take me away from here.)
Why do I tire of counting sheep?
(Please take me away from here.)
When I'm far too tired to fall asleep
To ten million fireflies.
I'm weird, cause I hate goodbyes
I got misty eyes as they said farewell.
But I'll know where several are
If my dreams get real bizarre
Cause I saved a few,
And I keep them in a jar.

I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly.
It's hard to say that I'd
Rather stay awake when I'm asleep,
Cause everything is never as it seems.
(When I fall asleep.)

I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly.
It's hard to say that I'd
Rather stay awake when I'm asleep
Because my dreams are bursting at the seams

09 August 2009

Blue Like Jazz - Chapter 19

“Love your neighbor as yourself…He was saying I would never talk to my neighbor the way I talked to myself, and that somehow I had come to believe that it was wrong to kick other people around but it was okay to do it to myself.”

I just finished reading the 19th chapter in Blue Like Jazz about how to really love yourself. It is amazing that I never looked at how I love myself. For my entire life I have striven to follow God’s greatest command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” I have tried (and failed many times) to look at others with love first and then with judgment. I have found my passion in the physical act of loving people who are oppressed and impoverished and sick. Even in the more “secular” sense, I have striven to treat others how I want to be treated. But now I think there is a reason God did not word his command in the same way that the world words its own golden-rule. In the world, I am supposed to treat others how I want them to treat me. Ultimately, my own actions depend on what I hope others will do in return – I treat others well so that they will treat me well. But in God’s world I am supposed to love others how I love myself. That means I have to take the initiative first and actually accept God's love for me. I can live and love sacrificially only because Christ did it first. If I don't allow God to love me how can I expect to love others?

I walk around thinking that it is not right for me to be loved – I have to be humble first, which apparently means that I cannot receive love. But really, isn’t that a bit more like pride in the end? Thinking that somehow I must be above the need for love and acceptance while everyone else needs it? Plus, as Donald Miller puts it, “if it is wrong for me to receive love, then it is also wrong for me to give it because by giving it I am causing somebody else to receive it, which I had presupposed was the wrong thing to do.” Basically, if I am going to believe with all my heart that all people deserve to be loved and treated as beloved creations of God (which I do), then shouldn’t I first have to believe with all my heart that I deserve to be loved and called beloved in the same way? I need to change my thinking. It is not wrong to receive love, it is wrong to believe the lie that I am somehow not worth it. It’s just not healthy. If I want God to change me – if I truly am willing to let Him into my life – I have to accept that He loves me and that He has placed people in my life to love me. And then I have to go love others in a way that understands this love enough to live sacrificially.

“And so I have come to understand that strength, inner strength, comes from receiving love as much as it comes from giving it. I think apart from the idea that I am a sinner and God forgives me, this is the greatest lesson I have ever learned. When you get it changes you…God’s love will never change us if we don’t accept it.”

Simple enough idea, I guess. But I think it will take me a little while to really understand and find as truth in my own heart.

Blue Like Jazz - Chapter 18

“The problem with Christian culture is we think of love as a commodity. We use it like money…with love, we withheld affirmation from the people who did not agree with us, but we lavishly financed the ones who did…It is not a commodity. When we barter with it, we all lose. When the church does not love its enemies, it fuels their rage. It makes them hate us more.” P.218-219

I just finished reading the 18th chapter of Blue Like Jazz about how to really love people. It is amazing that I never looked at how I love people. Or how we love each other. We hold out our love for others to try to reach for, but we quickly pull it back if they offend us, or disagree with us, or hurt us, even if it may be unintentional. How often have I decided to make it known that I am upset with those I love or that they have hurt me, in the hopes that they will change? How often have I withheld love from them, thinking that will somehow get me what I want? And how often have I simply loved them for loving me and sometimes making mistakes? How often have I judged people for disagreeing with me? How often have I looked at people as “valuable” or “priceless” or worth “investing in?” How often have I looked at my love for people through the metaphor of money: that which must be earned and then given away carefully and on a strict budget?

Donald Miller says he had to train himself to stop looking at his love for others economically, but instead through the lens of a “free gift” or a “magnet” that, if he gave to people as if it were unending and unconditional, would pull them “from the mire and toward healing.” He says that he knew that was the right way to do it because that is how God does it. He says, “God has never withheld love to teach me a lesson.” And it’s so incredibly, indelibly true. Who am I to treat my love as a commodity that must be earned or paid for when my Creator loves me infinitely and unconditionally? Miller says that after he realized this, he was “free to love.” He was able to stop disciplining and judging and looking at people as if they were not worthy of his love. He says he could “treat everybody as though they were my best friend, as though they were rock stars or famous poets, as though they were amazing, and to me they became amazing.” I guess it sort of goes along with that phrase, “fake it until you make it.” If I stop training myself to treat my love as something I must give in order to get – if I stop treating it as something I can trade for goods – maybe I will learn how to really love people. Maybe I will finally realize that it is not even my love to give. Maybe I will understand that it is really God’s love to give – it just has to come from this confused wreck of a person. Because after all it was Him for first loved me – outside of all economic metaphors.

23 July 2009

Leaving The Beech House

(See beginning of previous post for more explanation.) So this one is a bit long. Unless you were a part of it, you probably won't find it too interesting. But you might be surprised how many people were a part of it...so maybe you will.

July 1, 2009 - Leaving The Beech House
Today we moved out The Beech House. Well, for the past week we have been moving out. But today, we were finally gone from our little house at 5817 NE Beech Street. As we surveyed an empty house that had served as a sanctuary for so many more people than just the five of us who lived there, I realized that it was over. And as I drove away for the last time, I cried in the way one cries for something that was so perfect and then lost for the simple reason that things cannot go on the same way forever. And I began to wonder what it was that made this house so special; what made this year so uniquely perfect for this specific time in our lives.

It was all the little things that, somewhere along the way, turned into the things we will remember forever.

It was the moments of complete and utter honesty, full of so much vulnerability that it felt like the room could barely contain all our truth. Moments when the pressures outside of our little refuge managed to seep in and forced us to address them– pressures to be parents to our parents, to be therapists to our peers, to be adults when we too often still felt like children. We would cry and talk and hold each other, trying to make the reality of the world a little lighter when shared by friends. And those moments were always followed by something much lighter and easier to handle – dinner with friends scattered around the living room, marshmallow-darts aimed at each others eyeballs, stealing each others toothbrushes and hiding them in the scarecrow man hanging on our wall from Halloween.

It was the nights spent watching the same episodes of Friends over and over again. So much so, that our lives became dictated by that one little show. Everything reminded us of something that Joey or Ross said; we began to talk like Rachel and Phoebe; some of us even began to act a bit like Monica and Chandler (you know who you are!). Even more so, though, this was the show that brought us together. As the roommates trickled in at the end of a long, hard day, it was Friends that allowed us space and safety to breathe. Some nights we would simply sit and watch, letting the last of our busy day go out with some laughs. Other nights we would end up talking over the episodes that played, allowing the characters’ friendships to serve as background noise for our own.

It was the drinks we created out of leftover coconut rum and cream soda that somehow seemed to ease the torture of three-hour-long night classes with the most misogynistic, pompous, disrespectful professor. The nights we would walk down to our own tiny neighborhood bar, Peter’s 19th Hole. Then, when we were just a tiny bit drunk and didn’t know what else to do, we would…watch Friends of course. Champagne Tuesdays, Champagne Wednesdays, Champagne Thursdays…well you get the picture. Never irresponsible and never disrespectful – just a lot of fun when we needed to let go of things for a little while.

It was the house parties brimming to life with laughter and friends and love (and a bit of alcohol as well). There were Halloween costume parties with a big crayon-box costume left by the previous tenants serving as a replacement for anyone who was silly enough not to wear their own. There were Christmas cocktail parties with our best party attire, perfectly pink cosmos, and white-elephant gift exchanges where the red checkered apron was modeled all around and an old version of Catch Phrase was ruthlessly fought over. There were St. Patrick’s Day parties with Irish car bombs and Cinco De Mayo parties with margaritas and a huge sombrero. There were birthday parties and “just-because” parties, and there were even parties that no one knew about except the two people who decided to have one when they were home alone on a Friday night.

It was late night chats that began as a simple goodnight on the way to our room, but lasted hours just because we loved talking to each other. Chats about boyfriends, or our lack thereof. Chats about families and senior projects and plans for the weekend. Chats about our busy days and the busy days ahead. Chats that weren’t so huge in the grand scheme of things. And yet, these chats sustained us – the act of sharing ones life, no matter how inconsequential it may seem, with someone who cares.

It was meals made with each other and then enjoyed amidst friends and community. Breakfast-for-dinner, potlucks, and crab fests where the crabs started out alive and ended up in our bellies…well, some of us couldn’t bear to stomach that one. Regardless of what we ate, it was never really about the food, it was about the act of breaking bread in authentic love. It was the understanding that to eat is to share in community, and to cook it together beforehand is even better.

It was small groups of people who would come together once a week to share life and walk alongside each other. It was already-friends striving to achieve more intentional and genuine community. And it was new-friends coming together with nothing in common but our church. How amazing to find out that the most unlikely of people can become great friends if they all share one love for one Creator and a willingness to see the world through each others eyes for a moment. It was groups where we would, just for a few hours, try to understand how to drop our walls and remove our masks and be honest about our lives and our walks with God. We would share our struggles, our doubts, our joys, and our wisdom in such a vulnerable way that sometimes it almost seemed to be too much. But we always muddled through together inside the walls of The Beech House.

It was the people who came to visit…and those who came to stay. It was the boyfriends and fiancés and long-lost friends and random people who entered our lives. It was the old friends coming to visit and the new friends coming to experience our unique life inside these four walls. And it was how all these people made such a huge impact on our identity as The Beech House. They brought life and reality and fun and even some really tough times into our little home. They brought tea and beer and occasionally some good food. They brought themselves – their questions about God, their difficult pasts, their honest doubts and fears, their joy. They brought love.

It was the five roommates that occupied the four rooms in one little house. Our personalities so different and similar, our relationships so complex and simple. For a little while we let each other in – to know and be known. We were allowed to be our most honest selves. We got upset about silly little things and some not-so-little things. We got hurt by each other for stupid reasons. And yet, we loved each other unconditionally, in a once-in-a-lifetime way that will not fade, no matter where we all go or what we all do in our lives. There will be Beech House reunions. And we will watch Friends and drink coconut rum and cream soda and roll around the floor laughing so hard we forget that the world outside our little sanctuary is there. Just like we did in our little house at 5817 NE Beech Street.

I don’t really know what it was about The Beech House that was so perfect. What it was about this year and these people that was so unique. All I know is that for a little while I knew what it felt like to have a home – to have a place where I felt safe, knew I was accepted unconditionally, and understood what family truly looks like. Just for a moment, and for the first time in my life, I had sanctuary. It was God perfectly shining down on us for just a little bit. And I will always be thankful for that.

My Ode to Portland...sort of

As I sit in my newly furnished room in my newly built house in Tahoe, I am trying to find the words that somehow explain why I miss Portland so much; and why I will miss it so much. I look back at journal entries that I have written over the past few months and think that, although I don’t really enjoy the idea of posting my diary on the world-wide-internet, maybe they can explain it better than any “ode to Portland” I try to conjure up. So here you go, friends. Two journal entries that somehow sum up a few years of ridiculous, frustrating, imperfect, bliss. Hopefully all of you who have been such a huge part of my life (you know who you are) will appreciate it and realize how much I truly and deeply love you. You have all meant more to me than words will ever begin to express.

May 18, 2009 – Leaving the Rain
The rain falls outside of my window. How many times over the past four years have I sat, listening to the rain wash over the world? How many times have I tucked my hair into my jacket, pulled my hood close to my skin, and ran through the rain towards some sort of shelter? Always trying to get out of it, but sometimes (not often enough) letting myself simply rest in its divine and perfect wetness. Now, as summer thankfully approaches in Portland, I realize that this may be the last time it rains before I leave. So I sit, like I always have, and let the sound of the rain wash over me. It sounds ridiculous, but the rain truly does wash over my spirit and cleanse it. Even in the middle of the winter, when it feels like the rain will never stop, it always seems to make me feel comforted and safe. I think it is the peace in knowing that there is this blanket of water covering the earth: sustaining growth, reminding me that everything washes away and eventually becomes new again – we just have to be a little bit patient. The cold air from the open window nips at my arm as the rain falls outside. There is a frog somewhere out there, happy for the rain to soak into its dry skin. I will miss the rain. Even if it rains in California or in Washington, DC or wherever God leads me, it will never be quite the same as Portland rain.

I am biding my time. Trying to make the last two months really count. Going to all the places I always wanted to, reading all the books I never had time for, spending time with friends who will seem so far away in just a few short months. These two months have to count for something big. But when I think about it, this year has counted for quite a lot in itself. That is why I am finding it so difficult to leave. My tears are not so much out of sadness as they are out of gratitude, passion, and unyielding faith in this city and the community of authentic love and vulnerability that I have built here. It is like the rain that falls not to drown us, but to fortify our souls, my soul. I realize from these tears that I have made it count. I have made every relationship – even the impossible ones – count. I have made every conversation, every Sunday at Mosaic, every laugh and every tear count for something. These little details – all the little aspects that I have stepped towards with intention – will sustain me as I venture out into the world. For these are the details that have formed my identity; formed my character. In those times when I feel as though I am alone in a place so far from those I love, I will draw upon these details for comfort and peace. And I will draw upon our nights of Friends marathons, just as much as our nights spent in deep conversation about our families, our world, and ourselves. All of it has counted for something that helped me discover who I am and who God is calling me to become. I will look back and see this time as a period of rain, falling down, cleansing me from who I thought I needed to be. And what is left after all the rain? I suppose it’s me.

04 June 2009

#19...Cuban Food at Pambiche!

Ah Pambiche, how has it taken me so long to find you?
How did I never taste the sweet perfection of your sugar cane lemonade or the delectable flakiness of your spinach and cheese empanadas?
How have I ever truly lived without your banana spice milk shake with the perfect amount of cinnamon or your guava and cream cheese empanada?
I could probably live without the "Cuban Red Beer" though. Good thing Tyler got that and not me.

Empanada Dulce w/ guava & cream cheese - Tostones (fried green plantains)

Chewing on sugar cane after finally figuring out the right way to eat it!

Empanadas w/ spinach and cheese & Limonada de Guarapo (sugar cane lemonade is my favorite!)
Croquetas w/ Codfish & Potato & Michelada Cubana (Red Cuban Beer tastes like beer with V8 in it...NOT my favorite!)

19 May 2009

#6..."Swinging on the Swings on the Ocean"

Since my roommate, Adrienne, is leaving in just a few short days, we decided that one of our last days together had to include a road trip to Seaside. While it was great fun to be able to check #6 off the list, it meant so much more to be able to spend a few hours with a great friend who I will miss so very much. Some thoughts on Adrienne, my roommate, great friend, and occasional counselor (it's nice to have a psych major for a roomie!):
- What a spirit for adventure! Whether she is diving into the most chaotic of situations in our house, spending a summer camping in the woods, or even deciding to live at home for a year after graduation, I am continuously amazed by her courage and strength in the life she lives to its very fullest.

- As I look back over the past year, I find her there, always there. She has so much wisdom and grace for someone who is only 21 and I am so very thankful that she remained a constant in my turbulent and sometimes melodramatic life. It truly was her practical and compassionate presence and advice that kept me sane.
- It's hard to describe, except to say that there could very well be a carbon monoxide leak in our house. Or maybe it is just that we, as roommates, are so comfortable with each other that we can be our truest and most inane selves. Adrienne always brings out the best in our silliness. From nights spent rolling around the living room floor in laughter, to episodes of Friends quoted for weeks like inside jokes, to the ridiculous games that end with me lying on the ground on the sidewalk outside of Starbucks, the Beech House is ALWAYS fun...due in large part to the wackiness that is Adrienne Hagen.

- Above all else, there is her love and her peace. In those most difficult times, I am always amazed at how Adrienne rises up to secure a sense of practical and unyielding peace in my soul. She reminds me that although life might be hard and mean and quite dramatic, you should never let it take itself too seriously. She reminds me that to love people and to love God truly is enough to sustain a life that is peaceful and silly and full of authentic community. She reminds me that life is a series of choices we make and it is only through courage and faith that we will be able to decide.
So there it is, my ode to Adrienne Hagen. Man oh man, I will miss her.

24 April 2009

Oren Lavie - Her Morning Elegance

Sun been down for days
A pretty flower in a vase
A slipper by the fireplace
A cello lying in its case

Soon she’s down the stairs
Her morning elegance she wears
The sound of water makes her dream
Awoken by a cloud of steam
She pours a daydream in a cup
A spoon of sugar sweetens up

And she fights for her life
as she puts on her coat
And she fights for her life on the train
She looks at the rain
as it pours
And she fights for her life
as she goes in a store
with a thought she has caught
by a thread
she pays for the bread
and she goes…
Nobody knows

Sun been down for days
A winter melody she plays
The thunder makes her contemplate
She hears a noise behind the gate
Perhaps a letter with a dove
Perhaps a stranger she could love

And she fights for her life
as she puts on her coat
And she fights for her life on the train
She looks at the rain
as it pours
And she fights for her life
as she goes in a store
with a thought she has caught
by a thread
she pays for the bread
and she goes…
Nobody knows

And she fights for her life
as she puts on her coat
And she fights for her life on the train
She looks at the rain
as it pours
And she fights for her life
as she goes in a store
where the people are pleasantly
and counting the
as she goes…
Nobody knows

12 April 2009

Easter Sunday

Luke 24:13-35
How is it that You, Oh God, could save me? I am so unworthy of your sacrifice.
How is it that You, Oh God, could redeem a broken world? We are so unworthy of your gift.
You have risen and I am saved. You have risen and we are saved.
You are here.

And yet.

I forget too often. I fail to recognize You when You are standing right in front of me.
I do not see that You have risen from death; You are alive; that You are walking with me.
My spirit is downcast within me as I search for You.
You are here.

And yet.

You pursue me.
You come to the road I am wandering down and ask why I am lost; why I am in despair.
I am lost and without hope, for what I had faith in seems to have been destroyed.
You are here.

And yet.

You did it for me.
You died for me.
You rose for me.
Your death is my life.
Thank you does not seem to be enough.

Jesus Paid It All
I hear the Savior say, thy strength indeed is small,
Child of weakness watch and pray,
Find in me thine all and all.

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

And now indeed I find,
Thy power and thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots,
And melt the heart of stone.

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

It’s washed away.
All my sin,
And all my shame.

Lord when before the throne,
I stand in Him complete,
Jesus died my soul to save,
My lips shall still repeat.

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

Oh praise the One who paid my debt,
And raised this life up from the dead.

Jesus, Jesus.
You’re the One. You’re the One.

The Conqueror of death.
The King if Kings.
Sacrificial Lamb.

Oh praise the One who paid my debt,
And raised this life up from the dead.

20 March 2009

#20...Blue Turtle Seduction!!!

There is nothing better than: old friends visiting and meeting new friends. A little piece of home coming to you when you need it the most. Dancing with abandon.

04 March 2009

#15 or...I found it!!!

So, after almost a year of searching I found it! The one book my mother kept from her childhood that was destroyed in the fire...I found it! I remember when I was little, she would pull it out on those night when I had nightmares and tell me the story of Lillibet's search for her friend, Stanley the Giraffe, on one magic night. I loved how the author combined his illustrations with photographs of a little girl. With her straight bangs and expressive face, I always thought she looked just like me! And I loved how no matter what horrible things I had been dreaming about, Magic Night for Lillibet was always able to lull me back to sleep and dream of flying tigers that let me ride on their back all over town and giraffes trying on bowler hats in a department store.

When I began looking for the book about a year ago, I had no idea how rare Magic Night for Lillibet actually is. But once I found it and payed an amount that is a bit too much to name, I knew it was worth it! My mom loved it...yay!

23 February 2009

Tell me what to do

Sometimes I think about how easier my life would be if God told me what He wants me to do. I have no idea what to do with my life and He does...plus, I know that whatever He has for me is a million times better than what I plan for myself. But how great would it be if, considering all these factors, God just told me what to do during those times when I am just so confused and anxious.

Is it simply a matter of getting to know Him better? I know it is. The better I know His character, the more I will understand His actions and His will for my life.

But how awesome would it be if, for once, I wasn't so confused? Wouldn't it be nice if He could just tell me what to do? I think it would.

21 February 2009


Oh great wall of gum, where did you come from and who had the ingenious idea to create you, piece-by-piece? I stand in awe of your disgusting beauty. I will offer what paltry, sugar-free reward I can and as I stick this gum to a place on the wall that only I will remember, I am careful not to disturb the offerings of those who have come before me.

18 February 2009


This lovely little French film just makes me so incredibly joyful! The story of a young girl who is painfully shy and socially awkward, but whose life changes after she returns a small box of childhood mementos to an old man and then decides to spend time making others smile. It definitely makes me smile and oddly enough, restores my faith in the compassion and grace that can be found in humanity. Not only do I identify with a girl who finds comfort and peace in solitude, yet longs for community and love from other human beings, I love the films way of looking for details. In my own life, I feel as though I have always looked for the tiny, seemingly insignificant details that truly create a human being. Those small intricacies and the things we do when we think no one is looking are what ultimately shape our character and experiences. The way this film searches for and explores those intimate details encourages my own love of them. Just such a wonderfully intricate and pure look at the goodness that lies within humanity.

"Amelie has a strange feeling of absolute harmony. It's a perfect moment. A soft light, a scent in the air, the quiet murmur of the city. A surge of love, an urge to help mankind overcomes her."

17 February 2009

Echoes - Roy Conant

What I said
In ways
I did not say

My words
Return in fractals
I do not comprehend
Less than ever said
But more than I

Words live
In the ether.
Spirit voices
Once raised
Weave rounds,
Viral wreaths and
Endless fugues of
Arial arrays

The life of the word
Is unbroken
The speaker hears
Only a token
Of what anyone
Has ever

13 February 2009

21 things to do before I turn 22

In my obsession with making lists and my desire to make my last few months in Portland worthwhile...here it is.

1. Spend an uninterrupted afternoon at the Japanese Gardens (done)
2. Splash around at the Keller Fountain Park like I did when I was 6 and did not care what people thought about me
3. Find solitude, peace and sanctuary with “Our Sorrowful Mother” at the Grotto (done)
4. Get some inspiration at the Portland Art Museum (done)
5. Have a beer at every McMenamins in Portland (done...sort of)
6. Road trip to Seaside and go swinging on the ocean (done)
7. Learn how to see (still learning)
8. Have a picnic at the top of Mt. Tabor (done)
9. Read three books that I choose…just for myself. (done)
10. Happy hour at the tallest building in Portland (done)
11. Ride on a train (done)
12. Walk across the St. John’s bridge
13. Find a field of Tulips in which I can wander aimlessly (done...with a few adjustments)
14. Visit what I hear is the coolest library this side of the Mississippi (done)
15. Find a certain childhood book that my mother lost in the fire…give it to her and revel in her joy (done)
16. Move into a new house and cultivate a few new memories there (done)
17. Find the great wall of gum at the Pike Place Market (done)
18. Take more pictures...and share them (done)
19. Try the empanadas and sugar cane lemonade at perhaps the most colorful restaurant I have ever seen (done)
20. Dance away my troubles along with my favorite band of mischievous musicians (done)
21. Let it go (still learning)

04 February 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Holy freaking cow! I just saw this film about a young man who goes on Indian’s version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire and I wish I had an explanation for how completely magnificent it was. Beautifully made, devastating and hopeful at the same time, truth in every form. How can a movie about the life of one boy in India be so powerful? Because it is harsh and magnificent and lovely and brutal and pure and appalling and truthful. The camera angles portray a life of chaos, while not discounting the true possibility of destiny that the film thrives on. The actors strike a perfect balance between the characters' resignation with their current lives, while still striving to hold onto a strong sense of hope and trust in the beauty of their world. It is a commentary of the world we have allowed ourselves and others to live in. A world of disgusting and dangerous slums with the governance of an illegal mob as its only remedy. A world of parents lost to religious intolerance, brothers lost to corruption and greed, and true love lost to the perversion and disrespect of others. However, it also has one of the strongest messages of hope of any film I have seen. The man’s trust in the destiny of true love and in the compassion and good that can be found in others prevails over all of the horrific obstacles he must overcome. Like every other item on this list, the film inspires in me both questions and hope for the world God has placed me in. It is a definitive example of why I am such a strong advocate for human rights and social justice, but it is also a definitive example of why I have hope that things can change.