Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday already?

Somehow it made it to Monday and brought me along with it.  I'm not quite sure where the last week went. I've now survived two weekends (5 days) of shearing and all the prep work in between.
Yesterday was our biggest single day shearing of the year.  We had 28 animals to do.  I had the kitchen mostly to myself.  Here's a picture of my number 1 helper for the day:

Saffron, about 1 month old
When she was sleeping she was a big help...when she wasn't sleeping she either wanted fed or was terrorizing the house.  She's teething and loves to teeth on paper...her humans don't always like it when she eats all the papers.
We don't have a shearing this coming weekend so it's nice to have a week with no shearing prep to do.  The weekend after we are at it again and then I'm not sure what happens.  I think we might be done after that.  I hope we are done after that.
Really not a whole lot has happened in this past week and it doesn't look like a whole lot is coming up this week.  I like that.  A nice slow week...maybe some time to rest and recuperate.  I've got some nasty sinus/allergy stuff going on that is no fun, so maybe the extra rest will fix that.  Maybe, I'll also have some time to have some thoughts and write them up instead of just sharing them with the dog...
Be blessed!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

He will cover you with his feathers...

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love Psalm 91.  If you haven't read it recently, stop reading this, grab your Bible and go read it.  Seriously.  Or, if you are a computer nerd and would rather read on the computer, here's a link to it: Psalm 91 in English or in German.  Now go back and read verse four again:  He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge..." (Psalm 91:4, NIV).  I love that verse and the image it puts in my head. Earlier this year I listened to/participated in a teaching on the jealousy of our G-d. One of the images drawn during the teaching was the image of G-d as a mother bird who jealously protects her chicks from danger.  It was said that G-d protects us in that way as well.  I've seen a mama bird protecting her chicks and a mama bird with chicks is not something to be messed with.  If G-d is like a mama bird, I'm in good hands. 
This spring a mama robin built her nest outside the kitchen window.  So everytime I do dishes (and I do dishes a lot) I get to watch her.  It's a great reminder of G-d's jealousy for me and the protection I have under his wings.  I tried to take a picture of her, but the screen on the window gets in the way, so it's not an amazing picture. Those eggs (and soon chicks) are safe under her wings, just like I am safe under G-d's wings.
This morning we celebrated Pentecost. As part of the decoration for Pentecost, they had paper doves hanging at the front of the sanctuary.  Once again I was reminded of the image of G-d as a bird, protecting us under his wings.  The dove is the symbol of the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:22), which G-d sent to the believers on Pentecost (Acts 2) and whom lives in all believers.  A bird, to be our helper and comforter, sent from G-d to be with me.
He certainly covers me with his feathers and gives me refuge under his wings!

Sometimes I think G-d just knows what I need to be reminded of and when...He's kinda cool like that. ;)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Home again

If I could get my computer to type what I'm thinking or if I could teach the dog to type for me, there would have been something up here sooner...unfortuntely, neither of those seem to be likely to happen anytime soon.
I am back in Canada.  We got back around noon on Monday.  The trip back was good, at least, what I can remember of it.  I was pretty tired so I slept through a lot of it.  Coming home is a lot like going back in time.  Everything here is a few weeks behind what it was in Pella.  In Pella the tulips were done, many of the tulips in our front yard were just starting to come into flower on Monday.  There were a lot more leaves on the trees in Pella too.  It means I get to do spring all over again.
The pace of life here is much different than it was at Central and it's going to take some time for me to adjust.  My body isn't used to being on my feet all day. It didn't help that I came home right at one of the busiest weeks of the year- the week before shearing weekend.  We will start shearing here on Saturday and then shear at another farm on Sunday and Monday.  My job shearing weekend, especailly on Saturday, is to keep everyone fed.  Not a simple task when it's 2-3 dozen people (won't know numbers for sure until the day of), meal times are super flexible, and meals will likely be eaten in shifts (one crew will come eat while the other keeps working and then switch, so that there is never a real break).  I started food prep for that today.
Isaac had the day off school today because there was no water at his school.  We got the call while he was downstairs taking apart a camera, and being the "mean" big sister I am, I decided not to tell him and see what he did.  He came up at the right time and started getting his school stuff together.  Finally we couldn't resist telling him.  We all burst out laughing and told him he didn't have school because there was no water.  His first response? "why isn't there water?"....not, "why didn't you tell me?" or anything like that, but what caused the water to fail...I love my brother.
Since Isaac was home he was able to help me in the kitchen this morning, before going over to the other farm to help set up for shearing there.  Here's what he made:

Chocolate Turtle Cheesecake: pecan crust, layer of carmel, chocolate cheesecake.  It was on the menu for this weekend, but nuts and I are currently fighting so I needed someone to help me.  Isaac did what appears to be a wonderful job.
He also made:

Fresh, homemade lemonade to go with our lunch.
In the meantime I made:
Strawberry swirl cheesecake.
I also made chocolate chip cookies and asparagus leek soup (Moria brought asparagus home from work yesterday), but neither of those were very pretty or exciting, so no pictures of those (they tasted good though). After the baking was done, Isaac and I worked together and made Chicken en croute for supper. 
Not the most beautiful things in the world, but tasty!  After awhile I got bored making the chicken small enough to go in the little pockets (and we were running out of time) so we just made big chicken en croute pies (and a cute little one)

cute little chicken en croute pie

Big Chicken en Croute pie
That was it for the baking today. Still to go this week are: tarts in a variety of flavors, hot and cold potato salads, chicken vegetable soup, hamburgers, GF bread of some sort, allergy friendly chocolate strawberry swirl cheesecake and then normal day to day meals...I'm hoping things slow down a bit after this week is over. 
And eventually, I do have some thoughts to put up here in regards to graduation and my time at Central...Until next time!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Thoughts on my last night of being an undergraduate

Tomorrow I graduate from Central College. This is quite likely my last post as an undergraduate and quite possibly my last post from Pella, at least for awhile. My room is almost all packed up. I should be working on it still, but I feel that I’ve made a lot of progress and I want to take a break. My parents are in town and staying with friends for tonight and tomorrow night. I’ll be on campus for 2 sleeps yet. We’ll see how much sleep actually happens….

As I think back on my four years here, one word stands out more than any other. That word is community. The community here at Central has meant so much to me. I don’t even know how to describe it to people who haven’t experienced it. The community here is family. I have professors who will give me hugs tomorrow. My boss gave me a hug today as I ran out of work in a panic (I realized that senior dinner started at 5, not 5:30…It was 4:50 and I was in paint clothes and had paint on me…I was dressed and clean and at dinner at 5). The dietician at the cafeteria hugged me after our last meeting this week. I have friends that I can call at any time and know that they will be there for me. I have friends who see me walking on campus and yell at me out their windows just because. I had an RA freshman year who would spend hours with me making snow toffee. Some of our best talks happened in that kitchen, stirring the toffee forever and ever (after I ate the toffee, serious conversation was pointless, but that’s another story). I had a Christian community that I could worship with at 9pm, 9am, 11am, 3am, 7:30am, 10pm…you get the picture. I had a friend who met with me every morning for the first half the semester just to pray and start our day with G-d. Another friend met with me Thursday evenings to talk about what we had been learning from G-d that week. Friends who would join me for Study Day Picnic on the floor of the cafeteria.

In my four years here I don’t think I have ever walked alone. That is something really special. It’s also something I’m scared to leave. I’ve become used to relying on the community here, to always having someone to call, always having someone to hug, always having someone to cry with or laugh with or pray with. I’ve become used to not having to stand on my own, but to be able to lean on those around me. I leave here Sunday. Many people have already left. I realized as I was typing this that I can’t go upstairs and do night-night hugs because there is no one to hug. I’m going to have to stand on my own. But even on my own, I know I’m not going to be alone. The community might not be so visible around me after I’m gone, but I know they will still be there for me. I can shoot off an e-mail, send a facebook message, make a skype call and there will be someone at the other end ready to keep walking with me. Most importantly though, I can fire off a prayer and know that my G-d always hears me and will never ever ever leave me. No matter how lonely I get, no matter how long it’s been since I’ve had a hug, G-d will always be there for me. Sometime, when I’m stressing and feeling down and alone, someone remind me of this, okay? I’m forgetful…

Central, I’m gonna miss you. Thanks for taking such good care of me these last four years.  May the Lord bless you and keep you.  May he make his face shine upon you and give you peace.  May he turn his face towards you and be gracious to you.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The End

It's almost here.  I've turned in my thesis, my last papers, and written my final exams.  Saturday I will graduate.  I will be graduating with a bachelor's degree in psychology (minor in German) and ON TIME!  This is kind of a big deal if you have any idea what I've been up against the last four years.  At times it was questionable if I'd finish at all and many doubted that I'd be able to finish on time. I did have to drop my German major to a minor, but I have completed everything.  Praise the Lord!
Flashback to last weekend:
Thursdsay through Saturday was Tulip Time in Pella.  For all you non-Pella people, Tulip Time is a big deal.  It's a celebration of the Dutch heritage in Pella and there is dancing and parades and lots of food.  And lots and lots of people.  It was kind of cold (read: extremely cold) and rather icky this weekend, but the weather cooperated enough that they didn't have to cancel any of the parades or dancing.
Here's a picture of me and my dance partner before one of our dances:
Her name is Chelsea Bell and she made a fine man (I don't think I'm supposed to say that though...she says she's not good at being a boy.)
Here we are dancing:

This was Saturday and it was ridiculously cold out...most the day I wore my toque and alpaca mitts.  I only wore my bonnet when we were performing.
This year at Tulip Time the added excitement was breaking a world record.  It's Pella and sometimes strange things happen in Pella (and not just because it is a college town).  Pella decided that it wanted to try and break the world record for the most people dancing in wooden shoes.  The previous record had been set in Holland with 400 some dancers. Pella's goal was 1000 dancers.  We got 2604 dancers and danced for 6 minutes and 15 seconds.  Here is a video I found with me in it from second 29-42.  The music in that video isn't the dancing music so here is one with the dancing music if you want to hear what it sounded like out there Saturday morning.
Other Tulip Time highlights:
- Parking cars Friday morning.  I had a lot of energy and stood on the corner with a parking sign singing and dancing (in full Dutch costume) trying to convince cars to park in our lot.  I did this for 1.5 hours...then laughed uncontrollably for about that long for no real reason.
- Playing the question game from 4am-6am with Amber and Ashley while doing security at West Market Park.  Sample questions: If you could shoot anything out of your wrists, like Spiderman, what would you shoot?  If you could sell anything at West Market Park during Tulip Time, what would it be?  What is the most important thing you have learned this year?
- Carpet ball.  good times happened at the carpet ball tables...for awhile I even ended up in charge of a table...not sure how that happend.
- marching bands.  I like watching marching bands, especially the stuff they do with the flags.
- seeing people I hadn't seen for awhile.
After Tulip Time was done, it was Sunday which was also a pretty rock awesome day. If you missed the post about the awesomeness that was Sunday, you can find it here
Monday was study day which meant very little studying got done, but Study Day picnic did happen and it was a good turn out, so that was good.  Tuesday was paper writing and finishing my ARP research paper.  I cried when I printed it off I was so happy.  Today I turned in my last papers, wrote my last exam and finished! I'm sure there will be more "finishing college" thoughts in the days to come, but that's all for now.  Just one final question:  What noise does a firefly make?

Monday, May 10, 2010


"As surely as water washes away the dirt from the body, so certainly his blood and his Spirit wash away my soul's impurity, in other words, all my sins" (Q&A 69, Heidelberg Catechsim)
Today was a good day.  A very good day. Every spring the chaplain (Joe B) here at Central does baptisms out at Lake Red Rock. I kind of get excited about baptisms and this year I was more excited than usual.  Let me back track a bit...
October 2008:
I have a dream about a beautiful baptism ceremony that was preceeded by the weirdest and coolest funeral I have ever seen.  It was my funeral that I had seen, but it was weird because I was present and participating in the funeral.  It was also weird because it was happening here at school with school people, not the home people.  Immediately after I was buried, I was baptized by immersion and there was a huge celebration.  (If you want to see the original write-up on the dream with more detail, let me know...not going to put it here because it would make this post super long).  My take away from the dream was 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
November 2008:
I start having seizures.  I forget about my dream and start adapting to and trying to figure out life with seizures.
fast forward to February 2010:
We talk about baptism in one of my classes.  I am overwhelmed with the powerful symbolism of baptism by immersion. I feel a tugging inside to be baptized by immersion and express this to a trusted friend.  The only catch is that I have already been baptized and the RCA does not re-baptize people.  We pray about it and sit on the idea.
April 2010:
The idea of baptism has come up a few more times and I've been wrestling with it a lot.  I think the symbolism is powerful and I feel an unexplainable longing for it, but I don't need to be baptized because it was already done when I was an infant.  I can't come to peace with it theologically. Joe B talks about baptism at Sunday night worship and encourages anyone who wants to participate in the Red Rock baptisms to talk to him.  I'm still not at peace with it, so I don't talk to him about it.
April 26, 2010:
Our speaker in Pre-Min talks about doing baptisms for people who have already been baptized in the spirit of remembering what has already been done. He likened it to people renewing wedding vows.  You don't renew wedding vows because they didn't work they first time, but because they did and you want to celebrate that.  I spend considerable time pondering this.
May 5, 2010:
8pm: I have a long talk with a trusted friend and the idea of baptism comes up.  I tell him that I was not going to be baptized because I could not come to peace with it thoelogically. 
9pm: InterVarsity large group worship...our leader (Jordan) invites anyone who feels that they have undergone some sort of transformation this year and is interested in being baptized to talk to him after worship. 
10:30pm:  Worship is over and I have a lot on my mind.  I don't go talk to Jordan, I sit and think.  A friend comes and asks me what is on my mind...I tell her about my wrestling with baptism.  She goes and gets Jordan and I go through it all again.  Jordan sees the theological issues with re-baptism, but is in favor of celebrating the amazing things G-d has done in my life this year.  He encourages me to talk to two other people who have been spiritual leaders in my life this year about it since they have been walking with me closer.
midnight: I'm back in my room, praying about the idea of baptism and remember the dream from October 2008.  I go back in my journal and read the original write up and somewhere inside it clicks that the reason Joe B was baptizing me in the dream was because maybe it was supposed to happen that way.  I share my dream with some friends and they get excited about it.
May 6, 2010:
10:30am:  I talk with the first person Jordan mentioned and she agrees with Jordan.  Theologically, re-baptism is not sound, but celebrating and remembering my first baptism is.  She thinks it's a good idea (or at least not a bad one) but encourages me to talk to Joe B (same as Jordan).
3pm:  It is Tulip Time in Pella and Joe B is real busy.  I catch him for a moment and give him a very very brief summary of the last 24 hours and a briefer summary of rest the year.  His response is that he wants to spend some time praying about it.
May 8, 2010:
8am:  I get an e-mail indicating that Red Rock baptisms are happening on Sunday.  I still have not heard from Joe B.
5pm:  It is still Tulip Time and we are all still really busy.  I catch up with Joe B at the carpet ball tables and we have a very brief conversation. He re-iterates that re-baptism is not theologically sound and I agree. However, he is willing to celebrate what G-d has been doing in my life and remember my first baptism.  He encourages me to ask some friends who have been fighting for/with me and standing with me to come out with me.  People show up for carpet ball and our conversation is over.
May 9, 2010:
7am: I am awake and excited.  It's gonna be a good day.
9am: I'm having trouble focusing in church because I'm so excited.
5pm: I have the feeling kind of like what you get when you are backstage on opening night and you know the house is packed...excited and nervous all at the same time.  The temperature is starting to drop again and it's clouding over.
6:30pm: Kari meets me at my room and we go over to the chapel to carpool out to Red Rock.
7pm: Party time!
We all stand on the beach while Joe talks some about baptism and Megan is baptized.  Hooray for new believers!

Chelsea and Sara help me out into the water where Joe B, Niki and Kari are waiting.  It's a great picture of the community that has meant so much to me in my walk here...I'm never walking alone. We are ready to celebrate the rememberance of my first baptism and the awesome stuff G-d has been doing in my life.

My baptism is celebrated and remembered and Joe B, who has been walking with me for 4 years gets a huge hug.

Lots of hugging and celebrating ensued...those of us who were wet wrapped up in towels and blankets...those who were dry got happy wet hugs.

Back on campus for the last Sunday night worship of the semester (and of my undergrad career) and a dry photo with my amazing friends and warriors.
G-d is good, so very very good!  I am so filled with joy right now...not other words describe it...those of you who know me well know I don't generally make puns on my own name...but that's the only way to describe how I feel.  Joyful.
The next three days are going to be papers and project and finals for me...and packing.  Graduation on Saturday, head for home matter where I go, I will never walk alone.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Remembering how to fly

I flew tonight and it was amazing.  I'd forgotten what it felt like to have wings on my feet.  After Dutch Dance street practice I was not ready to settle in for homework.  I'm two papers and one final away from graduating...motivation is at an all time low.  The sun had already started to set and my computer told me the temperatures were in the 70s (20s).  I decided to grab my bike (and some fluids) and head out and see if I could catch the tail end of the sunset. I told my whiteboard where I was going and when I'd be back and I took off.
I missed most the sunset because there was lots of low lying cloud cover.  Did see some pretty spiffy sun beams though:

When I hit one mile hill I just stopped pedaling and let gravity take over.  It was incredible.  The last time I was out on my bike the temperatures were just above freezing and there was snow and ice on the trails so I had to take it slow.  Not tonight. Tonight I was flying.  I felt the wind in my face, the music pumping through my ears...such incredible freedom.  It was just me and Jesus out there tonight and it was amazing. 
I didn't ride all the way to the dam tonight becuase I got a late start.  When about half my alotted time was up I turned around and headed back to campus.  I didn't think it was possible, but coming back was even better than going out.  I was half way up one mile hill before I realized I was on the hill...I ususally don't make it up the hill in one go...I hit a rythmn and just kept going.  My legs burned, my heart hurt, my lungs were gasping for air (maybe not taking my asthma medication for 1-2 weeks was a poor choice), but I was riding free and I loved it.  Pella, I'm going to miss your bike trails.  I'm going to miss just doesn't work so well on loose gravel.
The verse that came to mind while I was flying:
"but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
Isa 40:31

Oh, by the way, I graduate next week Saturday! (May 15)