Well Hello There. Haven’t seen you in a while!

What a crazy, I mean CRAZY, last few months.

And again… I am writing an apology blog. I am literally the worst. What happened was I was writing a book review for a very academic book, that was wonderful, but taking FOREVER, and I stalled out. I didn’t want to post until I finished it as motivation, and now 3 months later, it’s still not done.

So I give up. That stupid review will not be posted. BUT I WILL POST! Life has been an absolute whirlwind, and I am finally getting settled back stateside.

So here is a fly-by update of what I missed telling you all about over the last 3 months.

In Belgium:

  • April 4-8 – Camp with our Students
  • April 21 – Trip to Bruges/Brugge with Jennifer & Shawn
  • May 8 – A 9-Hour Romanian Wedding
  • May 21 – Lecrae Concert
  • May 22 – Surprise Party for me (the night before I left)
  • May 23 – I came back to the US of A (And got trapped in Tulsa overnight because of crazy storms)

In Oklahoma

  • May 29– My Friend leave for Nicaragua for a month with a bunch of my students!
  • June 1-5 – Middle School Camp with my students
  • June 4 – Broke my toe at camp… seriously.
  • June 6 – My BEST FRIEND got married!
  • June 15-18 – VBS!
  • June 12-14 – Weekend Retreat in the Woods (Processing Belgium and such)
  • June 19 – Started a week long temp Job
  • June 25 – Got hired on Full Time at my Temp Job (For the summer until I go back to Belgium)
  • June 26 – Everyone comes back from Nicaragua!
  • June 28 – July 1 – Volleyball Tourney with The Youths at church
  • July 4-5 – Good Times with Family in Stillwater.
  • July 10 – I quit being a loser and start blogging again.

Now you are caught up. Welcome to my life.

In all seriousness, the challenges that I have faced over the last 6 months has been exhausting. Some were expected, some caught me completely off guard. Things I thought were true, are not, and things I would have never believed are now concrete in my heart.

For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  – Phil 4:11-12

This has been made true in my life. Contentment and rest are trending as the theme for my summer, and as frustrating as learning these lessons are, I am enjoying the process. I am enjoying the freedom from feeling obligation and the depths of joy in resting and feelings rested. I am still working on not feeling guilty when I say no, and the feeling of needing to do more, but I have decided this is a fight worth fighting.

I will write again soon. I will post LONG overdue pictures from Bruges. I will reinsert myself in your lives. Sorry for taking so long a sabbatical. It wasn’t just you, I promise.

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Twas the Night Before Belgium…

Twas the night before Belgium

And all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring

Except for a Morgan.

The bags all packed

By the front door with care

With Prayers

The Jesse and her

Could make it the airport.

The snow has come quick

And mounted with ease

While Morgan whined loudly

Wishing snow to be gone.

[Hope you enjoyed that… it just came to me… Because I am a dork like that.]

ANYWHO…

It’s here.

The night before I leave.

I cannot believe that in 12 hours I will be on a plane heading for Belgium.

For three months!

This is just insanity – of the best sort.

I am so excited and honestly, these past few days, I have been absolutely blown away by the kindness, love and generosity of my friends and those in my life. Even my Middle Schoolers… they have been sending me the most encouraging text and letters. I am amazed. Simply blown away.

The Lord is so good.

I learned a long time ago that on my own, I am not well liked and I am not very likable. [I am OK with this assessment of myself – don’t worry, my self-esteem and all such things are fine, I am stating fact.] However, The Lord has been so faithful to me and has grown me into this person that people love. [Hope that doesn’t come across as prideful… oh gosh!] Seriously though, I grew up in my hometown being generally disliked and picked on, and now the Lord has been so gracious to give me favor is so many environments and so many people that love me and show me love that I cannot even begin to process it. I look at my friends sometimes and just ask they, “Why do you fools even like me?” or “I still cannot believe that you wanted to be my friend.” I really ask these questions… and I know that it must be because of the Lord being faithful, gracious and loving. There is not other reason I can even begin to accept or believe.

So unending thanks to God, my Lord, for his Faithfulness in loving me, despite how broken I am, and for giving me the privilege of my friends, my church and this call to Belgium. I don’t deserve such extravagant gifts, but He gives anyway.

So… anyway.

T-Minus 12 hours…

Until I Fly Away.

Woah!

Keep up with me on here because I will be trying to update regularly.

Pushing Back Darkness

[Note: This was written back few weeks ago (mostly) and I thought it had been lost, then I found it… so it was finished and posted… so the time delays are weird. Sorry, not sorry.]

This weekend, and currently, I am with my middle schoolers serving all around OKC. We painted, cleaned, take, tore down, edged and prayed all over this city these past two days. We also invited an apartment complex to a carnival that we will be throwing at their complex. Here are some pictures from our weekend thus far!

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Then, this morning, we attended church at Frontline Church in Mid-Town.

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It was an excellent service on the difference between finding out identity in Morality and the law versus finding our identity in Christ. The difference in freedom between those two is insane and humbling.
A couple of great quotes…

The law doesn’t give you righteousness , it shows you that you don’t have any! — Andy Burkhart

“We are children of the promise, it’s a miracle that God saved us [all of us, not just the really bad ones]” -Andy Burkhart

We talked about how Christ was and is our only righteousness and that when we try to obtain righteousness in any other way, we devalue His works on the Cross, and we elevate ourselves to a status that we cannot begin to obtain. Thinking we can do anything to save our selves, that our works are anything more than mere “filthy rags” is absurd and defames our Lord. Our ability to follow rule and make things look good for everyone IS NOT REAL CHRISTIANITY. It’s a facade that stops us from interacting with others genuinely and limits our ability to look to others around us for accountability and strength. When we begin to depend on ourselves, I am reminded of Ephesians 2:3 where Paul talks about us following the “desires of the body and the mind” which leads to wrath. Ephesians 2:1-3 gives a pretty good idea of where we stood before Christ intervened. Legalism and self-righoutness can very easily fall into these desires of the mind. It’s far easier to be focused on doing the right thing and following rules than it is to humble yourself, admit you cannot do it, and follow someone else to step in and save you.

We are a proud, proud people. We includes me, but it also included you. We cannot stand to fail, or be wrong. We HATE being forced to be dependent or anyone else. Any true and honest Christian will tell you that learning dependence on God is the most painful, difficult process that we face,but one that is so well worth it.

Impromptu Adventures!

Today my dear friend Laura and I spent the day together. First off, we went to lunch, our fav, Pho. If you do not know what Pho is, it is a Vietnamese Noodle soup made from Beef Broth with noodles, the meat of your choice, onions, and your choice of how much sweet basil, jalapeño, sprouts, lime, and Sriracha you wish to include. It’s delightful, spicy and surprisingly light. Low calorie and full flavor.

Then we ran around down in Bricktown, OKC for a while. We walked up and down the riverwalk and over to the Centennial Land Run Monument. This is a pretty legit monument, or rather series of monuments.

I took some pictures for you.

Enjoy!

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I edited them all separately, so they all look a bit different… And I am not a photographer… or an editor. I am using Fotor on my MacBook Air for crying out loud… I do what I can. Lolz!

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[I also included lots of pictures to be nice, because my next entry will be a poem that is a heck of a lot longer than I meant for it to be… but I want to share it anyway.]

After wandering around Bricktown (Home of The Thunder), we went to mall, which got evacuated for a false fire alarm, then back on home for me to finally finish my personal joy task for the holiday season, re-watching the LOTR originals. Finished Return of the King today. Ya know… Samwise Gamgee! I mean, wow! I need a friend like Sam in my life.

I am off for bed now… working at the Coffee Shop tomorrow bight and early.

Christmas Time?

Merry Christmas from OKC!

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On this Christmas Eve, I am sitting at home, sipping on some Hot Chocolate and watching one my favorite Christmas movies of all time, The Family Stone. This is such a funny movie and the family in the movie just reminds me of my family in all their quirks and insanity, but there is also a deep undercurrent of love and fierce loyalty that only grows out of surviving pain and life together. This movie just encompasses all the fears that I have of ever taking anyone home to my family for the holidays, and I am sure that the first Christmas will be an adventure (I may make sure that the first meeting is not Christmas just to ensure that this kind of thing never happens!). Wonderful quotes like this…

 I hate to see you miss out on something… because you have this picture in your mind or you thought you can change something you can’t. I’d hate to see you not find what you really want. -Sybil Stone

I generally love Christmas! The Lights. The Music. The Family Time. The Wonder of the Season. All of it! But this year has not felt much like Christmas. Maybe it’s the fact that Oklahoma is 60° in December. Or perhaps its that I am working way too much and haven’t been able to slow down enough to enjoy the holidays. No matter the reason, I still cannot believe that tomorrow is Christmas. Like at all.

Having some downtime to myself is allowing my mind to run wild, which isn’t always the best thing, I am thinking about the bizarre nature of our emotions. I mean, seriously. Emotions are the very core of us, but how often do they betray us, contradict us and drive us mad. We use them to justify our actions and decisions, but at the same time, we fight them and try in vain to banish the ones we do not want. Personally, the thing about emotions that drives me so very insane is how we can know something, like really KNOW something to be true, but our emotions can make us doubt this truth. Emotions can cause us to question and second-guess ourselves like nothing else in all creation. Emotions are fickle beyond words and vastly irritating. How dumb a thing, emotions.

Anyway… I hope that you have a very Merry Christmas and that if your emotions try to ruin your Christmas, just focus on the small things in the holiday that bring joy, and let the rest roll on by. The holidays will be over soon and there is a whole new year to seek out and find Hope.

[A follow up Blog on Hope to come soon!]

Longings of a Would-be Novelist

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This is my view from my room, right outside my window. I love this view when it rains. it’s so pretty. This morning, I work up and started working on my French Lessons (getting ready for my trip to Belgium!) and enjoying the rain. Dreary weather like this always prompts me to two different actions. Either I want to curl up with my favorite book and my favorite blanket and get lost in another time and place. Or, I want to go to a small hole in the wall coffee shop, get either a London Fog or just black coffee and write, write, write. As it turns out, I am usually working as my coffee shop, or I have far too many plans to call and audible and cancel things. Today for instance, Dentist appointment, mentoring, meeting with my supervisor, counseling session, meeting about my trip, cooking for a christmas party, then Christmas Party.

I just wanna stay home and write. I want to write my book. I want to write about how Miriam meeting Russell, and how Petru begins to believe Dominik’s conspiracy theories may be more than just that. I want to write about Stefan’s worry for the future and love for his family. I WANT TO WRITE!

Can someone take all my responsibilities for a couple of days so I can just write for a bit? No… No Takers? Oh well. I get a break from school starting next week for a couple of weeks, that will be nice. Maybe I can find some time to write then. So far now, I will appease my writing fiend by blogging, until the time comes to be able to throw myself head first into my book for a few hours.

Any other writers struggle to be able to write in their novels in short spans of like 30 minutes to an hour? It takes me so much time to get my mind wrapped back into the story, remember what I wrote and get back into character (for lack of a better phrase) before I can actually get ready to put substantial words to paper (or computer). Anyone else know this struggle?

Fall Moving to Winter

Do you ever have those days where you just want to be alone? That was me today. I spent all last weekend alone because I was sick and quarantined upstairs in my room. However, since then, I have literally had almost no down time to relax and unwind. I need to be alone for a while!

[I am not sure when I became this introvert version of myself… really. This is new to me!]

As a result of this need to be by myself, when I got home from work today, I decided to take a walk around my neighborhood. I spent 45 minutes walking and enjoying the 65° weather in December and the time alone. While I was walking, I was astonished by the beauty of the muted colors of the fall moving to winter. Everything is a strange mixture of grey, brown and random pops of red and orange. It’s simply beautiful.

So I took some pictures.

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And I like to share!

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Enjoy!

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Writing…

I really enjoying writing.

Sometimes, I don’t really know what to write, but far more often, I don’t know where to start because I have so many ideas in my head and I just want to see the finished product, but getting to that point is overwhelming! That is how I have been feeling about this book I am an trying to write.

A couple of years ago (yes… years) I decided I wanted to write, so I asked my dear friend Hannah for a prompt. She responded to me with the following 10 words.

“We named it.”

“What?”

“The silence when you were gone.”

From those few words, a whole novel began to form in my mind, and now, it often consumes my thoughts. I have so much mental, and paper, work put into the novel so far… especially for only 14 actually pages typed up. I am ashamed to admit that after two years of work, my novel only has 14 pages written. The entirety of the main plot is written out in my mind, and significant amounts of secondary storylines as well, it has just yet to make it to paper. There are tons of reasons and excuses for why such little product exist, I mean I am very busy and generally function in a state of overbooked.

But I hate it.

I want to run away for a month, or even a week, and just work on my book. Forgo technology, with the exception of my laptop (for typing purposes), loaded with a dictionary, thesaurus, Romanian-English dictionary (the book is set in Eastern Europe) and pictures from trips to Romania I have taken, and write. And write. And write.

That’s just not possible, not for me, not in my life right now. Maybe after Belgium, but not right now. But I am trying to take 10-15 minutes a day to just put something on paper for it. Add even just one line of dialogue or one description, one plot point, or one conflict.

Here is a description of my book, a teaser (?) if you will. Let me know what you think.

Despite losing her mother and father in the Raze, the failed attempt at independence ten years ago, Miriam’s life is everything that she expected it to be, and things are going exactly as they should. Until the government of Timis begins to hear whispers of a new revolution, and concludes that those of Faith are the points spearheading this new revolt. In an attempt to suppress this pending revolt, the government imposes rigid sanctions and restrictions of gathering and movements of Church. Can Miriam, her remaining family and the Faithful adapt and fortify themselves enough to survive in the coming storm? Is Miriam’s faith strong enough to bear hope despite suffering, persecution and the horrors of this reality? Is it enough?

What happened to Fall?

Here at home we literally went from 70’s one day to just barely in the 30’s the next.

That’s awful. The fall is my favorite time of year! Everything turns pretty, pumpkins, orange/brown/yellow, candy corn, Thanksgiving, Football, need I continue. So I am officially upset about not having much of a fall and jumping straight to winter.

There is nothing wrong with winter and Christmas, but I mean come on please! Look at this picture! LOOK!

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This is fall beauty! There are two trees in my neighborhood that remind me of my hometown. That is one of them. The other is even brighter and fantastic… but I was failing epically on the editing so, maybe that picture will come soon.

Pretty much, don’t neglect fall. Justt because it tends to be shorter and the summer tries to take it over, same with winter, and that is not fair! Protect the fall!!!

[Note: I did take these pictures, but I also edited them, which means who knows how they look technically and such. I have no experience editing or anything, consider yourselves warned.]