Friday, November 26, 2010

On Earth.

Alright, here it is - the first of my three promised posts. I hope you who read this did not expect these to come in any kind of timely manner. Because of course this one has not, and neither will the other two if I'm any guesser. And, knowing myself pretty well, it's safe to say they won't. I would apologize, but I just don't feel that bad. haha. Anyway, here it goes.

My mom has a friend who is ordained in the Methodist church, not the United Methodist church. She chose the Methodist church because she knew that she probably wouldn't get ordianed by the UMC. Or at least that's how I understand it. She figured she wouldn't get ordained because she has an interesting theology. She doesn't believe in heaven and hell. She believes these two places are what we make of our lives here on earth. I'm not going to say I necessarily agree, but it is quite an interesting concept to me.

I've said before that I think that heaven is "just like earth, but without the stupid." I say this because, really, I like life quite a lot. I realize that I have been blessed beyond measure, and that others are not so fortunate. However there are many who, even in the worst circumstances, seem to enjoy life a lot as well. For years I've had this idea that heaven won't be all that much different than here, but it'll be a whole heck of a lot more safe and less stressful. Of course I've never been to heaven, so I can't say for sure.

Recently the phrase "on earth as it is in heaven" has been popping up in my life. In the high school Bible Study I lead, in my thoughts when I'm driving, in the book I'm currently reading (The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns), just to name a few. With this thougth stuck in my head it's taken me back to thinking about my mom's friend and her idea that heaven may be on earth, it just depends on what you make of it. In looking at that idea in light of the Lord's Prayer I have to say I think she may not be too far off. We really are supposed to strive to make earth "like it is in heaven."

I'm now going to share the section of the book The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns that is found on pages 54-57. You really all should go and find this book and read it. I'm not even a third of the way through and I love it. Of course I can only read a chapter at a time because I have to spend 3 to 4 days digesting everything, but that's the mark of a truly great book in my opinion. Anyway, here it is:

Isaiah 58

The following passage from Isaiah is almost breathtaking in its splendor, its vision of God's kingdom, and what that vision might look like manifested in the lives and communities of His people. Written in the seventh century BC, Isaiah's book was addressed to a people in captivity, a chastened people who had been brutally conquered by Assyria as God's punishment for centuries of unfaithfulness and idolatry under a succession of corrupt kings. They were a nation at the end of their rope, desperately trying to "get right with God." Yet God juded their attempts at holiness to be shallow and insincere. They were just going through the motions of faithfulness - by praying, fasting, holding religious observances and cerermonies, and so on. God first derided their hypocrisy and then cast a soaring vision of what true faithfulness would look like:

Shout it aloud, do not hod back.
Raide your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the house of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
"Why have we fasted," they say,
"and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?" (vv. 1-3)

God here acknowledged that the people appeared to be seeking His will and His presence. Their self-image was that of a nation "that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God." They even "seem[ed] eager for God to come near them." In fact, they were actually a bit angry with God, who appeared to be ignoring their fasting, worship, and prayers. But God saw through their veneer of religiosity.

Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD? (vv. 3-5)

Yes, God was wise to Israel's superficiality. On the surface, they may have looked godly. But they hadn't changed their underlying behavior. God is never satisfied with rituals and liturgies when the hearts of His people remain corrupt. So He suggested in this passage something that ought to stun our own beliefs about prayer - that because of their hypocrisy, He would not even listen to their prayers! We take it as foundational that God will always listen to our prayers, but this passage suggests that we should not expect God to listen to prayers offered by insincere hearts. So, if God is not pleased with man's prayers and veneration, what does please Him?

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to lose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter -
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (vv. 6-7)

These words describe a people and a society characterized by justice, fairness, and a concern for the poor. They portray not just a personal ethic but also a community ethic. The reference to "break[ing] every yoke" suggests that any system, law, or practice that is unjust must be broken - whether personal, social, political, or economic. This sounds a lot like what I described earlier as the "whole gospel," the good news inherent in a kingdom based on the character of God rather than of men. And for this kind of kingdom community, a people whose actions demonstrate this level of authentic personal and social change, God offers this amaazing promise:

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say; Here am I.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail. (vv. 8-11)

What a promise! These words requre a little explanation. God will delight in His people when they obey Him. When the hungry are fed, the poor are cared for, and justice is established, He will hear and answer His servants' prayers; He will guide them and protect them, and they will be a light to the world. This is a vision of God's people transforming God's world in God's way. There is no hole in this gospel. This is what Jesus ment when He prayed, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Charity, equity, and mercy are the marks of the kingdom of the Messiah, and Christ wanted it to begin on earth.
Later in Jesus' public ministry, even John the Baptist began to doubt that Jesus was actually the Messiah, so he sent some of his own followers to Jesus for reassurance. they said, "John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?'" (Luke 7:20).
Jesus answered by listing the signs that heralded the coming of the good news (the Messiah): "go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor" (v. 22). Jesus encouraged John by pointing to the tangible evidence of the coming of God's kingdom through Himself-the Messiah.
If we are to be part of this coming kingdom, God expects our lives - our churches and faith communities too - to be characterized by these authentic signs of our own transformation: compassion, mercy, justice, and love - demonstrated tangibly. Only then will our light break forth like the dawn, our healing quickly appear, and our cries for help be answered with a devine Here am I.

Wow. How great would it be if everyone did just that - showed their faith in tangible ways? Don't get me wrong, I think most people do in small ways, but what if we all did it just a little bit bigger? I really want to spend some time thinking about how I should change my life in subtle and not-so-subtle ways to strive toward a life more like the one described above.

I also find the thought that if God finds you insincere He won't listen to your prayers. Something else I've thought about a lot about since reading this passage. I'm always afraid that even if I think I'm sincere I'm not. What is the defining difference?

What if earth really was like heaven? Certainly sounds like a good way to try and live to me. This is something I will continue to think about and chew on. And I'll definitely be looking into careers where I can implement this. Richard Stearns is definitely making me want to work for World Vision. Of course there's still Play for Peace and other organizations of the like. So many options!

Monday, November 15, 2010

You know God's trying to teach you something when...

Ideas, thoughts, and other things start showing up in your life in multiple places.

Sometime when I'm more awake I hope to write 3 entries on the three things that seem to be coming up in multiple places. They are:

- The phrase "on earth as it is in heaven" from the Lord's prayer
- Matthew 25, the sheep and the goats passage
- This quote "the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." -Fred Buechner

Hopefully they will be entries worth your time to read. They've certainly be ideas worth taking over all of my thoughts for the last few weeks of my life.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mission Trip Report.

I wrote this letter last week to the members of the committee that gave my youth group a grant for our mission trip. Rewriting details of the trip reminded me what an awesome week that was.

To whom it may concern:

Words cannot possibly describe how thankful I am that the First Presbyterian youth group was a recipient of one of the Northminster Mission Grants this past summer. I am a first time Christian Education Director and although I knew that taking the youth on a mission trip was something I desperately wanted to do, I had next to no clue how to go about it.
I began planning the trip early in the year but seemed to hit a lot of speed bumps along the way, organizations that were too expensive, trip logistics being changed without notice, parents who were unsure about the trip, and a lack of chaperones just to name a few. Another large hindrance was the fact that this trip was planned after the church budget had been set for the year, so students would have to pay out-of-pocket for the trip and fundraise most of the funds.
In the spring we held several fundraisers, but none of them seemed to bring in more than 200 dollars at a time, and many students and parents were expressing concern that they would not be able to afford the trip, no matter how much they wanted to go. Fortunately another Christian Ed. Director within the presbytery informed me about this grant and gave me the information to apply. On a whim, without knowing what to expect, I applied.
As I'm sure you can guess I was ECSTATIC when I received a phone call telling me that we had been approved for a $1,500 grant. I've never won the lottery, but that day it sure felt like I had. We used that money to assist all of the youth going on that trip, making the total cost of our weeklong trip $70 a person.
On June 20, 2010 I loaded 7 youth, 2 other chaperones, myself, and all of our luggage into a 15-passenger rental van and we headed off to Ronceverte, West Virginia for First Presbyterian's FIRST ANNUAL Youth Mission Trip. We arrived at Ronceverte Presbyterian Church at about 3pm. We had about 2 hours to get settled in before jumping feet first into the week. Their Vacation Bible School - our main project - began at 5 that evening.
Each evening Sunday-Thursday we assisted with their Vacation Bible School. Our students did everything from helping with crews of children to taking main roles in the Bible Story presentation every night. Since Ronceverte is located in a very impoverished area of West Virginia Ronceverte Presbyterian's VBS was a way for them to reach out into the community to minister to many children who were not members of their congregation. They served a full dinner as a part of their program, not only to help our group, but to make sure each of the children who came would get at least one warm meal each day they participated in the program. Having to interact with the children of Ronceverte definitely opened up the eyes of our students and put the luxuries they enjoy every day into perspective.
On Monday morning our group was taken on a hike by a Ronceverte native who taught us about the area and history of the town. Tuesday through Thursday mornings were spent at a variety of locations. The morning projects we worked on consisted of: Helping Linda, a member of Ronceverte Presbyterian with some home repairs and yard work (Linda has some developmental disabilities), volunteering at the local Women's Domestic Violence Shelter and cleaning at the local food bank.
Each of these projects provided our students with more eye-opening experiences. Every day they had something new they wanted to discuss or an epiphany about how different life was for most of the people of Ronceverte than it is for their families in Eaton, OH. They also made fast friends with everyone they met throughout the week, especially the children at Vacation Bible School.
On our last full day in West Virginia we went to ACE Adventure Resort and had a full day of whitewater rafting down the New River. Even on our "fun day" I saw growth in our students. Our group was asked to split between two rafts in a group of 3 and a group of 7. The youth decided to pile all into one raft, leaving us adults to fend for ourselves. They worked together as a team, listened to their raft guide and supported each other throughout the day. A few of our students jumped off of "jump rock," a rock about 30 feet tall, even those who are afraid of heights. A week or so after our trip I even received a Thank-You card from the raft guides on that trip thanking us for such an awesome day on the river. I've rafted with that company numerous times before and have NEVER had that happen.
By the end of the week my group was already discussing the possibility of returning to Ronceverte next summer. Many have stayed in touch with the pastor of Ronceverte and other members of the church through the social networking site, Facebook. Just moments before we rolled out of town they asked if they could deliver all of our left over breakfast and lunch food to one of the groups of children they had met earlier in the week.
When we returned to Eaton all 7 youth piled out of the van all smiles and laughter, bubbling to their families about the week they had just had. We returned Saturday evening and on Sunday morning the youth took over the morning worship service in order to witness to the congregation about the mission trip. 4 or 5 of the students spoke during 3 different "reflection" times which took the place of a normal sermon. A few talked about what they felt like before the trip, being nervous and not knowing what to expect. A couple described to the congregation what we did on the trip, detailing all of our work projects and what it felt like to be in such an impoverished area. Finally 2 of the youth stood up and told the congregation what they planned to do with the experience now that they were back home, they blew me away by saying that they were planning to start a service organization right in Eaton. The 2 of them said that they realized on the trip that everything they had done there (cleaning, working with kids, volunteering at the food bank) they could do right in their own town.
Since we returned home our youth volunteered to help with our own Vacation Bible School, which happened to be the same program, the 2 who wanted to start a service organization have done so, and the 7 youth who went on the trip have become some of the closest friends you'll ever see. Happily, their excitement to hang out with their church friends has spread to many of our other youth. Some of them have even begun planning youth events by themselves and then ask for them to be placed on the calendar. We've also begun a Sunday Night Youth Program which is steadily growing in number and our mission projects have doubled since last year.
The momentum that this youth program has gained from one week in West Virginia is incredible. I definitely credit much of that to the grant we received, which made the trip possible in the first place. A million and one THANK YOUs to those of you who made it possible.

In HIS service,
Katie Steele

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Joining Journeys

Last Wednesday was the 2nd gathering of "Faith Cafe," the Bible Study that my high school students and I are working through this semester. The course comes with a DVD with different clips on it. Last week's clip was an interview with Dr. Larry Crabb.

During the course of his interview he said something that really hit me. He was talking about how most of us don't go to a professional counselor when we need to talk to someone, we go to a friend. He talked about how there's usually some desire on the part of the listener to fix the problem of the speaker.

He then made the point that "we don't need to be in the business of fixing problems, we need to be in the business of joining journeys."


I really like that. He also talked a lot about his desire to see the church - i.e. REGULAR PEOPLE step up to the plate and join the journeys of other REGULAR PEOPLE. That's not exactly super hard homework.

It's made me think this week about how many people have joined my journey and how many journey's I've joined. Lots, in other words. I only hope that I've been a good addition to most people's journeys, I for one feel incredibly blessed by all the people who have been placed into mine.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I apparently don't care...

.... about making money.

Because all the jobs that I really want at the moment aren't really jobs at all. They are volunteer positions or educational opportunities that offer extensive travel.

And the job that I eventually want to have will have me working at a camp for the rest of my life. Not exactly high class living.

But I can't complain. My life is going to be more exciting than most.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The joy of summer

Last night I went to my cousin Zach's graduation party. There were people there from both sides of his family and a bunch of friends and church people. So I only recognized a third of the people there. But it was a good time anyway.

There were a bunch of people playing in the pool last night and there were also a fair amount of water balloons floating around. As I was sitting in a ridiculously comfortable lawn chair watching the party I kept being drawn to one particular little girl. I don't know if she was a cousin from the other side or a neighborhood kid, but she couldn't have been more than 7 or 8, if that. She was wearing water wings and a little kid innertube around her waist.

At one point she got out of the pool, ran to the back corner of the backyard and got a water balloon, all while wearing the water wings and trying to keep the inner tube around her waist. After getting the water ballon she ran back to the pool while letting go a screetch of pure delight. And she had a look of pure joy on her face while she was holding that water ballon.

It was a good reminder that while I may not be at camp full time for the first time in MANY summers, summer is still a magical time of year, filled with surprises, adventures and joys of all kinds.

Even if this summer is starting out with taking care of my brother who currently has a temp of 103* and wondering if we'll even leave for our first family vacation today. (Prayers appreciated)

Oh! And my cousin Zach's girlfriend asked about my Stop Sex Trafficking tshirt so I got to educate a few more people about the devastating reality about modern day slavery. Go to if you haven't yet already!

Monday, May 24, 2010

If I am so blessed

If I am so blessed as to have children they will be going to a school like this one.

Friday, May 21, 2010


This morning I had this email prayer request sitting in my in box:

Dear All

Tomorrow, Oasis India will be conducting a raid to rescue young girls who have been trafficked into prostitution. Please join with us to pray, especially for:
- The logistics will go smoothly and we'll be able to rescue the girls
- Safety of the team
- Good cooperation with the police
- Those we rescue will trust Oasis and work with us

Thanks so much
God’s peace

For those of you inclined to do so, please pray that this operation goes smoothly. This human traffiking has got to STOP. Let's be the generation that brings about the end.

If you'd like more information take a few minutes and go check out the Oasis Website.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Death by Nutella

Nutella is delicious. It is. I really enjoy it.

Today, however, my Nutella committed a crime. It killed.

Actually it was kind of amusing. I needed a snack halfway between lunch and dinner and made myself a piece of toast and then spread Nutella on it. (If you don't know what Nutella is, stop reading this, go buy some, eat a spoonful and then come back. I can wait.)

While I was eating my Nutella I decided to go and ask my dad if there was anything he needed me to do. Since he was in the back yard grilling the ENORMOUS turkey we were going to eat for dinner I took my Nutella goodness out back with me.

As I was walking down the driveway a moth or something flew full force toward my face as I was taking a bite of my snack. At first I was startled and then very afraid it had flown into my mouth. As I was making sure I hadn't eaten the bug I pulled the Nutella bread away from my face and immediately noticed that the bug was stuck to my toast. Wings stuck with the body out, legs flailing trying to get free.

So I did my best to try and free the poor thing. Transferred it from the toast to the grass and then tried to clean it up with the napkin I was holding. Which was difficult because that stuff is STICKY.

However I went back to check a while later and although at first I thought it had survived due to a bug-sized Nutella track I found it motionless a few inches away, still covered in Nutella.

I'm sorry little bug for your unfortunate run-in with my midday snack. I have a feeling you didn't enjoy the Nutella today as much as I did.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Tonight my mom and I went to an event to bring awareness to modern day slavery. There were speakers, musicians, and a small market selling fair trade items. You should probably check out Stop the Traffik:
and Oasis: for more information.

The entire event was moving and informational and thought provoking.

One of the musicians spoke at one point about how he came to be involved in activism toward informing the public about this tragic reality. He said something that really struck me. He mentioned how at the beginning he always turned away from the information. That although he knew a little of what was going on, he tried to avoid finding out too much. That might sound awful, but then he made this really good point: He shied away from the information because he knew that as soon as he heard it he would then be accountable for it.


What an amazing point. And how convicting.

How many times have I heard something and then thought "gee, that's really bad, and it needs to be stopped," or "geez, that really needs to get done." But then instead of doing something about it, instead of jumping in with both feet I turn away and hope that someone else will just take care of it.

How many times have you?

Now, I know it's unrealistic to think that I can go ahead and jump into total activism on every single huge issue I hear about. I mean, how many are there? World Hunger, Modern Day Slavery, Cancer Awareness, etc, etc, etc, and so on and so on. You get the idea (I hope). No one can do it all. But there are small things that I can do. For each of the causes.

That statement also just hit me on a personal level too. There are things that have come to my attention in my own life that I need to acknowledge and attend too instead of walking away from or turning my back on. They aren't going to go away, and I am accountable to them.

He also made the point that these things will just keep tugging at you, or that they will keep coming back into your life over and over until you have no choice but to acknowledge them.

What have you walked away from or turned away from recently?

Let's hold ourselves accountable.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pick up your garbage.

Chances are if you've ever walked with me outside for more than 5 feet you've seen me stop to pick up a piece of trash. Here is a video and a slide show that show just a few of the reasons I do.

I'll also never, ever willingly just let a balloon drift up into the air and out of reach if it can be avoided.

This is our planet, people! Let's take care of it, shall we?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

IT'S SPRING!!!!!!!!!!!!

After going to my car just a few minutes ago I turned around and discovered that last nights rainstorm was indeed a magical one. No joke, that rain had magic powers. Yesterday all the trees and bushes surrounding my house had buds, but were still pretty wintry-looking. But today there was GREEN. Little grean leaves beginning to poke out of all those buds.

(Random story: one time when I was really little I remember sitting in the backseat of my car as my parents talked. At one point I was pretty sure they were admiring all the "bugs" in the trees. It was probably a bit earlier in the year than April, so there wasn't any green. I remember looking out the window to try and see all the "bugs." But I couldn't. Yet my parents kept talking all about these "bugs" and made it sound like there were a zillion of them. I'm sure I spent the year thinking my parentals were crazy. Then the next year I realized they had been saying BUDS, not bugs.)

I even made my dad come outside to admire all the green with me. He was a good sport and did, but did give me that "why are you so surprised?" look. Which is fine. I just can't help it. This is my favorite day of the year. The first day of the year where it's sunshiny, warm, clear, you can go out without a jacket and be perfectly comfortable and everything, for the first time you can remember since last September is GREEN. It is my favorite.

There is something a little different about it this year though. Usually for me this is the beginning of the countdown to camp. The beginning of the countdown to the day where I know without a doubt I will pack all my belongings up and move into camp. This year, that is not the case. At least not yet if it's going to happen at all. I have a job at a church and will be leading a mission trip and VBS so two weeks of my summer are going to be spent doing those things. My family has something like 3 or 4 trips planned. I'd like to keep doing things with my youth if at all possible throughout the summer like Wednesday hang times or frisbee nights or something.

But with all of that there's not much room for camp. At least not full time, live in every week kind of camp that I'm used to. This might be my first summer in 8 summers that I'm not at camp. I never thought that that would be me. I'm so used to watching other people come to camp for a summer or two and then moving on. But I've always gone back. Not necessarily to the same camp, but to camp. Since '03. I guess I'm just not really sure how I'm feeling at this moment. I know camps will (hopefully) always be around (support them!!!!). And I know my degree is in camping and so is the majority of my work experience so jumping back in next year or the year after or whenever I finally do shouldn't be a problem.

But.... I love camp. Even when I have a less-than-desirable summer. (Like the last two.) I know I'm going to miss it. Actually, it's funny to me that I do miss it so much when the past two summers were so crummy. But I suppose that's how you know you're where you're supposed to be, and know you're doing what you love. When you love it even when it's not the best.

Anywho, this summer is going to be great anyway. I have lots of travel opportunity. I'll be going on (not to mention leading) a mission trip and will be learning tons. Perhaps this will be a good thing and not a completely terrible one. Who knows?! All I know is I'm going to make the most of it no matter what happens.

And perhaps find a camp or two to let me volunteer for a few weeks :)

Monday, April 5, 2010


I painted my toenails and fingernails tonight.

Doing so just reminded me how un-"girly" I really am on a regular basis.

The jury is still out as to whether this is a good, bad or indifferent thing.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An Idle Mind

First let me say that all in all I'm pretty pleased with life at the moment. My last post pretty much sums up the majority of my mental health, and I'm so greatful.

Today when driving home by myself, however, I found my mind wandering to my ever predictible single status and I had one of those "poor me, poor me" moments. Is it spring? I'm not sure. But I need to find something to do during my long drives by myself other than dwell on what doesn't make me happy. I need to learn to story tell or something.

Because we all know an Idle Mind is the devil's playground. And he will wreck havoc with my mind if I let my mind wander when I'm alone.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

It's that moment....

It's that moment when you're just standing there and then all of a sudden someone is hugging you, and then before you know it someone else yells "me too" and makes it a group hug....

It's that moment when you finally pull up to the spot you've been looking for to pick up your friend and can hand over the keys of your car and they will drive you to your next destination....

It's that moment when you think you won't be able to laugh any harder then you are at that moment, and you're laughing with someone you just really got to know the day before....

It's that moment when someone asks you to share about your life and then just sits and listens because they truly want to know the answer....

It's that moment when you can walk into a group of people you haven't seen for months or years and pick up as if no time has passed at all....

It's that moment when you have to end a good phone conversation but the person promises to call back as soon as they can because they know there's even more to talk about....

It's that moment when you realize you're only going to have 40 minutes to visit, but it's enough because that's 39 more than you really needed....

It's that moment when the rainbow pops out of the sky, as vibrant as can be....

It's that moment when you realize that life is, really and truly, good.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Only Almost a Month Late

Hey. So this post was supposed to be written on Feb. 14. However, being the huge slacker I am, it's just been sitting in my brain for almost a month.


Valentine's Day.

I have a love/hate relationship with Valentine's Day. I love it because I love love. I love the idea of being in love. I love brotherly love. I love romantic movies, watching cute couples, showing love to my friends and family. Really, I love love. But I also kind of hate Valentine's Day because there are so many people who don't like the holiday and try to make it "Singles Awareness Day," and instead of alieviating the singleness issue, seem to highlight it. Like I don't struggle with those depressing thoughts enough already. Sometimes I actually hate cute couples instead of liking them like previously stated. (If you're new, which I don't think many are, I am single. And have been for 23 years as of the 19th of this month. (But, really I guess less than that because, honestly, who dates when the are 2?))

Well, let me tell you what I did this Valentine's Day. I took communion. Three times.

First at the church where I was speaking about camp (something that I love).
Next, at a retirement community where my mom was telling Bible stories for their evening worship. (Being with my family is something I love).
And finally at a Candlelight service for the Greater Cincinnati Young Men's Chrysalis. (A program that I have been involved in for many years and have come to love, and love all the people involved with it).

Communion. Three times.

Communion for me reminds me of the greatest sacrifice ever made. The fact that the Creator of the Universe loves me to make that kind of sacrifice.... It floored me this Valentine's Day.

And in the light of that LOVE, why would I worry about being single?

I wouldn't.

And it was a great day.

I know it's belated, but: Happy Valentine's Day!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Mix of Emotions

Today was such a strange day emotionally for me. I woke up this morning and did my usual online email checking, facebook checking, blog reading and more email checking routine. During this, however, I was stopped cold in my tracks because the handy little birthday reminder thing on my homepage of facebook told me that to day was Philip's birthday. Normally I find the birthday reminder thing helpful and a great way to remember to wish someone a happy birthday.

This reminder was different though. My friend Philip was not happy on this earth and decided to take himself off of it back in the fall of 2008. What made this even harder for me, was the fact that I did not hear about his passing until 2 weeks after the fact and did not get the opportunity to go to his funeral because I was on my backcountry trip at the time. The birthday reminder was strange to see.

I spent considerable time today thinking about Phil. He was a friend from my youth group and we spent considerable time together on things like confirmation trips, mission trips, playing ultimate frisbee, and everything youth-group oriented. He was undoubtably one of my favorite people at church and hanging out with him was always fun, especially with his incredibly dry sense of humor.

I am still sad that he apparently had more stuggles than anyone knew about, but I have no doubt that he is now partying it up up in heaven and is considerably happier than he ever would have been here.

I was also happy today because it was sunny and snowy and the woods on the drive back to my house today were gorgeous. I wish Phil had been around to see it. And to celebrate his 24th birthday.

So I was happy, sad, and a whole lot of other things today. But mostly, I just want to wish my friend Phil, wherever he is today, a very happy birthday. And to tell him that I miss him. Oh so much.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Just $1 a day

That's the average amount it takes, worldwide, to feed a child for an entire day. My breakfast alone usually costs between $3-5.

I've been learning recently that world hunger isn't in anyway a lack-of-food problem. In fact there's more than enough food on this planet to give each person something like 4.5 pounds of food a day. And that's quite a bit of food if I'm remembering correctly from the time when I backpacked carrying all my food for the week around on my back. No, world hunger isn't a shortage of food problem, it's a distribution problem. And in many cases a political problem.

Food is used as a weapon. But who are the ones suffering the most? Women and children. And what is your country gaining by letting your women and children die from malnutrition and all that comes with it? It's infuriating.

26,000 children die EVERY DAY from this problem. 1 child EVERY 7 SECONDS.

When I decided to set up the 30 Hour Famine event through World Vision for my youth group I thought I was just giving them a sweet new free-for-them activity and would open their eyes to the needs of the world. And sure, I am doing that. But I've also rediscovered my own passion for this problem, and my longing to see the day when it ends. There's a part of me that thinks this is the start of something new in my life. I've always known I wanted to work for a mission organization in some capacity. Perhaps this is the beginning.... who knows.

While I figure that out, though, do me a favor and go to this page and donate to World Vision to help end world hunger. And tell all your family to go and do the same. And then tell all your friends, teachers, classmated, whoever to visit too. TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I just booked a mission trip!!!!!!!!!!!

So excited/nervous about this. Who wants to help me figure out how to come up with cost/person and other logistical things?? (coughjoelharbargercough)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


My parents bought me a new copy of Catherine Marshall's book Christy for Christmas, and also the complete series that once ran on television. Needless to say I've spent a good bit of time since Christmas watching some of the episodes.

I'm not sure when I'll re-read the book again but I'm glad I got a replacement, I've read my original copy enough times that some of the pages are falling out.

The main point of this though, is that I love the story and the characters. It's set in the mountains of Cutter Gap, TN where a young girl moves from her home in Ashville, NC to go teach the children of Cutter Gap. It's like it's own universe. It's like Christy (the young school teacher) has stepped back in time.

In reading and watching this story I realize how strongly I myself seem to be called to the mountains. Just the outdoors in genearl. The families in Cutter Gap live day to day, moment to moment.

Winter Camp was a great week. Perhaps it's the kairos kind of schedule still wearing away after last week, or perhaps the foothills of South Eastern Ohio that tugged so strongly at my spirit but I long to live where I can be in the mountains, just living moment to moment.

I think I'd fit in well in West Virginia.

Thank goodness I was a Rec Major. We're much more kairos time scheduled people than the strict chronos schedules of a classroom.

Oh what great adventures lie ahead.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Undying Love.

When I first started this blog I had named it Please Explain. I would pose a question to whoever might be reading and hope for an answer. When I didn't recieve many responses or comments at all, not to mention thinking that my blog title was dumb I renamed it and stopped trying to think of things that baffled me and started to just write whatever I was thinking at the time of posting.

The first thing I'd like to do (well, second I suppose since I just explained some back story) is ask a "Please Explain" question with the hope that perhaps someone out there has a good answer. My question is this: why must I try and figure out new ways to meet people, hoping that one day I'll meet a lovely eligible bachelor who will then fall head over heels for me and I for him. It seems to me that I already know a ton of eligible bachelors, have a fair share of crushes and gentlemen I pine over. Why can't any of them just go ahead and express their undying love for me. It would certainly make my life a whole lot easier. I could just stop looking, work on an already exisiting relationship and carry on with my life. Someone please explain.

Now that that's out of the way I feel like it's time for me to say a few words about 2009. Everyone else seems to be giving end-of-year or beginning-of-year reflections or so I might as well do the same.

Here are some things that happened:
+ Finished one last quarter of classes, including a bowling class.
+ Lived off campus for the first time in my college career.
- Felt hurt and betrayal like I've never felt before.
+ Went to my first camping conference and visited family in Chicago.
+ Survived my internship.
+ Graduated.
+ Celebrated with multiple friends on their wedding days.
- Changed summer camps after 4 summers.
- Got my heart more or less broken, again.
+ Went whitewater rafting multiple times and got paid for it.
- Got asked where my counselor was by a raft guide.
- Learned how to drive a mini bus without a CDL.
+ Got my family to go whitewater rafting.
+/- moved into an apartment.
+ Started a new job as a part-time Christian Education Director.
-/+ Got my substitute teaching license.
+ Co-planned the 3rd annual Camp Otterbein Winter camp.
- Went on a couple of extremely awkward dates.
+ Got to spend sometime with my IWU in both August and December.

Overall it was a kind of so-so year. Not one that I'd relive. I believe the last year that I'd want to realive again is 2007. That was a great year from what I recall. Or at least the latter half of it was.

I'm really looking forward to 2010. Maybe that's just because I read a horoscope that lead me to believe that it's going to be a great year. If only I put a lot of stock into horoscopes, you know. But I suppose there's nothing to lose looking into the new year with an optimistic spirit. Yet I really am. Hopefully it'll be one of those "I'd relive that!" kind of years.

So, cheers and here's to a new year! One that will be altogether re-livable.