Hello. Welcome.

I'm a very determined kind of individual. Sometimes my determination is misplaced and things get very ugly. But, sometimes my determination leads to laughter, deep thoughts, and words on paper.

I write everything. I'm not very good at filtering ... so you will see it all. Maybe there will be a little inspiration for someone else along the way. I hope so. My sister also likes to guest blog and I'm sure you will appreciate her wit and wisdom.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Penny for my thoughts...

I just read Caroline's line-up for this week (Uh, yeah, I'm that behind. It's been a crazy week!,) and I saw that she is requesting my thoughts. At the exact moment of reading the line-up. So, I will (somewhat happily) oblige.

My thoughts...

I'm tired. We just successfully completed an outreach event at our church that had a volunteer and guest count of over 5200 people. And it was a two-day event! Yikes!

I'm happy to be alone in my house this weekend, yet it feels very quiet here.

I'm feeling a little weird about how much I like to hang out with married people. I feel like I should hang out with single people more, but I really don't like "singles groups," they kind of give me the heebie jeebies.

I'm sad that no-one is on facebook chat to hang out with a little bit before I head to bed. Usually I don't really use it, so I don't know why I'm wanting to chat it up right now. Probably the roommate gone thing.

I'm feeling glad that I borrowed a few books from my boss to try and read this weekend. Nothing, I mean nothing, relaxes me and takes me to my "happy place" than reading stimulating books over the weekend. Whoo hoo!

And I think that's about it! A few dollars worth, surely!

Cool Compassion

"It's become "cool" for evangelical Christians to distinguish themselves by insisting that they're not one of those close-minded fundies who base their vote primarily on a candidate's position on abortion and gay marriage."
These are the first two lines from an article over at Boundless (Focus On the Family).

The article is called Cool Compassion, and I think it's a must-read before the election coming up. When did being passionate against abortion become the one issue it's uncool to care about? When did environmentalism climb up the ladder of importance to something that should be weighed the same as life?

Check out the article. Then pray about making a decision about who you're going to vote for.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

24-7 prayer

Please, join me in prayer this week! Today marks the first day of a week my school is dedicating to 24-7 prayer. Championed by my friend (and asst. spiritual life director) Tiffany, this week is to be set apart for our bold commitment to be in constant communion for one week. We are praying in the ACTS method (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) and God has already been moving and shaking in our hearts.

The idea is new to the school - and very foreign to the students - but we really believe God will use this time for His purpose and glory! Join us this week in purposeful prayer. Here are a few things we are praying for:

-'for the faith of a few'... God is calling Christian students at Pinares to rise up and act!
-for God's daily guidance and providence
-for safety amidst treacherous weather

-more teachers (we still are struggling without a full staff in the high school and in the elementary)
-sickness (many staff have been seriously ill)
-the state of the country... with heavy flooding and mudslides, many families are struggling
-classrooms... that God's presence would be known in each classroom and His truth seen

These are just a few. Thank you, mighty prayer warriors!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Musical Stylings of Josh Garrels

In the current age of the internet, mediocre musicians have an easy time gaining a substantial following. The media only encourages their mediocre melodies because shallow is much easier to sell.

Josh Garrels is about as far from shallow and conventional as you can get. Born in the midwestern United States to a musical family, Garrels never really attempted anything conventionally. His first formal musical venture was with a group of interns in a missionary house in Muncie, Indiana.

His father a music teacher, Garrels grew up around all types of instruments and spent hours experimenting with different sounds influenced by rock, acoustic, funk, hip-hop, and folk. Possibly for this reason, his own music refuses to be pinned down to any certain genre.

The song “Freedom” describes his own journey out of a youth of drugs and alcohol into a transformational relationship with Christ. “...time to start livin’ and get a reason for the rhyme/I don’t wanna be dead wrong on the deadline/standing on the dark side and all out of time/like a blind pantamimes fantasized/climb up his own ladder to the sunshine/nothing’s mine that has been given/and no one’s alive now that ain’t been risen.”

Garrels’ poetry calls out to others still lost as he was. The rhymes weave unique stories through the fabric of complicated musical masterpieces. In his most recent work, Jacaranda, he does not stray from his truly original style. Although, this time his originality is attracting a few more ears.

"Freedom" - Josh Garrels from Josh Garrels on Vimeo.

"Restless Ones" - Josh Garrels from Josh Garrels on Vimeo.

Growing Pains

Found this over at (www.batikbatiknakariktan.blogspot.com)

So, last week I experienced breakdown number one.

Before I came down here, I thought I was alright - you know? I was confident in myself and my abilities and the way that God made me. Hm. God has a funny way of reminding us that no matter how He has gifted us, He's still in charge.

Last week, standing in front of my class of 10th graders I literally felt powerless. College conversations flashed through my mind where my friends in the Ed. department spoke of rubrics and management and lesson plans. And as my vision blurred when I spoke the words, "Seriously, for the last time I need your attention up here," I wondered at my calling to this place. I finally sat down in the front of the class, with 10 minutes left, and just stopped teaching. A few students noticed my frustration, but at the end of the day I was more frustrated with myself than the students or the situation.

"Why don't I have the tools to make this work?"
"How come I didn't take a few of those education courses?"
"Why does it seem like I'm doing the very thing that I can't do, that I'm not good at?"

These are a few of the questions I picked through. The strange thing is, last Wednesday (two days before my breakdown), I joined my co-worker to pray through the school. As I prayed through the halls, I kept saying, "It's about souls." Because it's so easy to think that my post here is about my growth or about the students learning or about creating new guidance systems or (insert another). But, then the Lord showed me as I prayed more that even thinking it's about souls is a detour from life true purpose. It's about the LORD.

It's about the LORD.
"The chief end of man is to love God and enjoy Him forever."
-Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 1
I walked away Wednesday night with wet cheeks and a humble heart. And then Thursday and Friday happened.

Last week now seems miles away, but over the weekend I was reminded that the battle for our effectiveness is waged in our weaknesses. Satan tries here to get a foothold while the Lord offers to be Strength. And my weakness is where I am least comfortable.

And so it is with growing pains. Well, I hope it's growing I'm doing.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Before you vote...

Check this out- found this at RuthAnn's Blog

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Weekly Lineup

I know, I know - the lineup is supposed to come out at the beginning of the week to let you know what is coming up. Well, my apologies - it just didn't happen. But, let's move on.

This is a very critical time for both the country I live in presently and the country I most naturally call home. This week we will (and have) talk a bit about the US election on Nov. 4 and also the growing concerns for the flood-ridden Honduran countryside.

We - Christina and I - have been busy this past week, but then I guess this is a busy time of year. For that matter, our lives always seem quite full. I know we are no different than the 6 billion other people moving about the earth, in various states of frenzy. But, we like to give snapshots of our frenzy (and even sometimes when we slow down) and we suppose that since you're here you don't mind reading them. Enjoy this week, as it's already well underway!

VOTE schmote
This week we may be posting little segments that have to do with the election. It seems much confusion shrouds the ballots this year - maybe more so than at other times in history. Regardless of the outcome of the election, we can say for certain the world is changing.

growing pains
Last week my posts were haphazard and tired. I am learning much in this journey and little of it right now is 'self-esteem' building. The painful process of being refined is never really something we stay up late dreaming about, but it will surely come if you are seeking the Lord.

Life of the Party

This is a follow up from last week. After the excitement of the fall party, I lost steam mid-week and wasn't quite in the mood to be amusing. But, now I've got another anecdote to add (our apartment hip-hop dance class) which should just add to the laughter.

a penny for your thoughts
So, when Christina and I swap thoughts, we are regularly amused at how differently our minds work. Since I'm writing this lineup, I'm going to ask Christina to just share (at this exact moment) what's on her mind. I'm not quite sure how this'll work out, but hopefully she'll be clever and witty (naturally).

Grab Bag
As always, look for things out of the ordinary!

ALSO - if anyone else is interested in an interview, let us know! We want to get to know our readers and we want people to get to know you! So, comment on this post and we'll contact you. Be careful, we may just hunt you down if we think you've got something that needs sharing!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

You're wondering what I dressed up as?

Well, all you wonderers, here you go :)
We were rockstars. I, specifically, was a mondern-day Amy Grant.
Like, if she was a 20-something now. And I totally got that purse at a garage sale. So Hannah Montana!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Recovering from Retreating

So, the annual (first to me!) High School Ministries Fall Retreat was last weekend, (Is that a mouthful or what? Whew!)and it was a blast.

We ate, hung out, talked, played Rock Band, played soccer, volleyball, football, stayed up way too late, had great sessions that challenged us in our faith, and generally had an amazing time. Some kids that we had to practically knock down their doors were saying by the end of the weekend how incredibly glad they were that they decided to come. What a blessing! Of course, there were challenges... like how I got kicked (pretty hard) in the shin while playing doubles soccer, how I spent the weekend trying to figure out how cool I need to be to really relate to these kids, how I wrestled with how late to stay up and tried to keep my eyes open later than the 5 months pregnant youth pastor's wife, and how I kept my eyes peeled through the entire drive back on the bus for teenager boy/girl cuddliness.

But on Monday we had the day off and I spent great time with the Lord- thanking him for all the amazing relationships that were started or grew on the trip. Retreats like this can serve as relational incubators- and it sure did this past weekend! Here are some pics from the weekend...

this is us chilling at the retreat!

Here's some hard-core paintballers before the battle...

and here is my boss and one of the youth kids, who both dressed up as "stay-at-home-moms" for "what-I-wanted-to-be-when-I-grew-up" party.
Ah, youth leaders :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Daily Dose... of Great Design!

So, my favorite Design Blogger, Grace Bonney, over at Design Sponge, is now guest blogging for one of my fav. magazines- Domino! Here's the link to her Under $20 post!

Are. You. Kidding me that that rug is only 19.99?? Ahh! Great style for cheap- my head is going to explode!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

teach us how to pray

"He has shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee. But to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8
I've read this verse a hundred times, but today as I read it I am thinking about how Adam and Eve walked in perfect humility in the garden with God.

I'm trying to listen to John Piper's current sermon series on the Gospel of John. Last week, I listened to the immensity - the weightiness of "In the beginning was the WORD and the WORD was with GOD and the WORD was GOD." Wow. In the beginning Jesus was with God - our personal Jesus was God in the beginning.

Last night, I had a brilliant discussion with one of my roommates (who graduated with a degree in ESL) about language. How powerful that thoughts are communicated through language. And how much more amazing that our understanding of communication makes sense in light of how we were created: as a reflection of the very WORD, the essence of all language.

And how much more stunning that God invites us into communion - into conversation - with Himself.

I guess it's coming out all philosophical tonight, but I think that's because I'm tired. The burden I feel in my heart is not anything abstract. Maybe I'll revisit this when I can think more clearly.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What I'm reading ...

Well, amidst first quarter grades and many students' persistent pining for extra credit, I've been trying to read for relaxation.

Currently, here's what's on my nightstand:

After a glorious first Dostoevsky experience (with the Idiot) I picked up his famed book "Brothers Karamazov" with big expectations. Somewhere in the middle, in one of the endless dialogues involving the feuding brothers, I got lost in the philosophical argument against the existence of God. I'm still very much intent on finishing, but in the meantime, I picked up a rather lighter choice from the school library.

I absolutely loved Robinson Crusoe. So much so that I would say it would easily be on a top 10 list. On a whim one weekend when I was home from college, I rummaged my mom's old books and found Robinson Crusoe among the treasured classics. So, after that first great experience, I also had high expectations for this short novel. I've followed David Balfour from his home in the Lowlands of Scotland to some island off the coast of England where he is now hiding with the likes of some strange character in order to escape an army of redcoats (in pursuit because David is believed to have conspired on a murder). Interesting and light.

I continue to be inspired, encouraged, and challenged by the story of these China Inland Mission missionaries who are pressing in to the Lord to find His will and way in the midst of a very confusing assignment. Kuhn's practical approach is refreshing to my own obsession with extravagant language.

Well, that's it for tonight. I just got back from a rousing game of soccer (definitely still learning!) and about to call it a night.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pray for Honduras

This is just a special bulletin to ask you to pray for the people of Northern Honduras who have been hit with almost constant rain for the past month. The country is calling it a national emergency, which (as you might expect) means something much different in the third world.

Please join me in prayer for this country - the people who are struggling to escape the rains and those who are coping over the loss of loved ones. A family at the base of this mountain (where I live) was swept away with their home yesterday and the news is getting closer to home.
Read here for more information.

Also, if you're not up on your third-world news, the current Honduran President has made and is making some pretty poor decisions. He is moving towards a stronger relationship with Hugo Chavez, the current Venezuelan President who has long been wreaking havoc on South American affairs and anywhere else he can flaunt his oil clout.
Read here for more information.

Long story short, this country needs the prayer.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekly Lineup

Whew! What a weekend! Do you ever fall into your pillow on Sunday and think "it must be Friday by now"?

Well, both Christina and I had very interesting and eventful weekends. Maybe you'll hear about them this week! We're going to opt for a more spontaneous route this week, so enjoy our randomness!

What we're reading (and recommending)
Of course, I'm in the middle of several books right now - from Fyodor Dostoevsky to Robert L. Stevenson to Isobel Kuhn. And, I just received some new books in my packages last weekend! I promise this might even be interesting for non-readers. .. Well, maybe.

Weekend Retreat - from the other side

Christina just went on a retreat this weekend, but she was retreating... she was leading. Read about how it's quite different from the other side.

Power of Prayer

We've been talking lately about how amazing it is that God invites us to be a part of his glorious work, even in the most intimate ways through prayer. Read about our joys and struggles with this thing called communion.

Grab Bag
What could this be? We actually don't even know:) so just read up this week.

How to liven up a party

So, I don't have a whole lot of experience, but when it comes to social gatherings, I have a few tricks that seem to always bring smiles, induce laughter, and in general make merry the crowd. We had a fall party (hoedown theme) this past weekend for the staff and I seized my 5 minutes of fame!

Also... anyone interested in an interview sometime soon? Or, better yet - anyone interested in nominating someone else for an interview? Let us know!

Okay - hope everyone has a fantastic week!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

surprises, fall, and home

Well, I write this after we regained power and internet access after being disconnected yesterday.

I write with such a full heart - my grandparents sent a package about a month ago and my parents sent a package probably two months ago and they both arrived the this weekend (I would give anything to see the route of said packages - I'm pretty sure at one point they are carried on the backs of sherpas across the mountain ranges)!!

Every time I open any package or mail, I am overwhelmed with a sense of being known. Have you ever received a gift or encouragement or even just a note - and only certain people in your life could know that it was just exactly what you needed? I've had several of those moments lately. Of course, on my birthday, my sister brought an absolute downpour of cyber-loving by way of encouraging notes on this blog. My grandma sent in her package sugar-free candies (a personal favorite and such things are still very strange here:), decaf coffee (also unheard of), and a beautiful assortment of teas. How blessed! And then my mom, who knows me all too well, sent a very personalized package that couldn't have touched any closer to my heart. A slinky... even a slinky to remind and encourage my quirky, spontaneous side. It was just exactly the thing I didn't know I wanted. Does that make sense?

So, needless to say, my spirits are high. Recently, I've been thinking so much about the season of fall. Here in Tegucigalpa there are two seasons: hot season and rainy season. Right now it rains pretty much every day and can even be chilly. Though the students protest, I LOVE the idea of layers, jackets, and (YES) galoshes! If ever anyone chances to ask about this season in the States, they are privileged to hear my endless stories of bonfires, hot dog roasts, late night adventures, football games, harvest time, and garden fresh produce. I can almost taste the apples and peaches my grandma is right now picking, peeling, and pie-making. Mmmm!

I'm not really sure how people define 'homesickness' or 'culture shock,' but I'm pretty sure mine comes and goes in waves. It's never too much to bear, but always rocking to and fro in my mind. More than anything, a love for people swells in the empty places of my heart. Little things on top of little things - like apple pie and coffee on my grandparents deck or drinking apple cider with the fam on a lazy Sunday or going on a walk with Meg under autumn leaves or ... well, there are many of these little things on top of little things that amount to my love for people who do not live near to me.

But, the Lord is teaching me more about home. Every year, it seems, my idea of family, home, and community grows a bit bigger. Last year at this time, I was writing from Austin about the distance between Texas and Iowa. And this year, I'm a few miles farther South. In any case, the Lord goes before me and remains beside me, as I remain in Him. Today, we cooked lunch and invited my favorite maintenance man, Jose, as well as the couple who live just below us. Over spaghetti, salad, and homemade bread (a surprising success made from brown rice flour, wheat flour, and a few other ingredients), we talked and laughed in broken Spanish.

Who knows where I will call 'home' next year or the year following? I just know that today I am content to be right here where He has called me.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Occupied with JOY

First of all, I can not possibly express in blog-form the love I felt on Monday morning as I sat at my office desk reading all the special things people wrote. If you could only each know the emotional bedlam I was trudging through just days before! You are each a dear and wonderful blessing in my life. And between the blog posts, facebook messages, and emails, I feel incredibly loved. As lame as this is - consider this both a thank you card and a great big hug!

Oh - and I know most of you are already aware, but my sister is pretty great. She knew exactly what I would need to celebrate my birthday and I'm super thankful for her! Now, on to today's post:)
I guess that kind of ties in with what's been on my heart lately, which is a little gem of a verse I found tucked in between the apathetic frustrations of Ecclesiastes. Per the advice of Elisabeth Eliot, I've been reading through Scripture at a much faster pace and really enjoyed looking at the bigger picture instead of getting caught in semantics and singular words. In any case, I ended up in Ecclesiastes and found myself asking similar open-ended questions.

Then I came to Ecclesiastes 5:20,
"For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart."
Wow. For he will not much remember the days of his life... I tend to get so wrapped up in today's struggles and embarrassments and frustrations and even my own victories. I'm currently deep into Isobel Kuhn's account of a missionary couple and their daughter who were the last of China Inland Mission members to escape Communist China.

Being denied food, access to bank accounts, correspondence, and even human interaction are not things easily forgotten. Yet, Arthur and Wilda Matthews spent hours in prayer, "When, Lord, will you provide a way for us? We trust you for our rescue. We trust that you will be our escape and we will wait for you to come." But, as their time grew longer and the restrictions greater, the couple struggled much in understanding why the Lord had not yet come. Finally, in the midst of their turmoil, a light illumines,
"...it came to Arthur like a flash: the Son had left heaven, not submitting to the will of God, but delighting in it. Up to now they had been submitting; rather feverishly submitting because they felt they should press His promises "Lord, why dost thou delay? We could be out spear-heading advance into new mission fields! Open the door now, Lord!"

They had been acting like servants who don't want to do it but have to, because they can't get out of it. What a different attitude was the Son's! There came a day ... when Arthur and Wilda knelt before the Lord and abandoned themselves to live on in that stinted little kitchen as long as He wished them to. And the peace of God poured in like a flood bringing such joy as they had not known before.
And, though I cannot relate to the harrowing circumstances of Arthur and Wilda (and little Lilah), I can understand that when delighting in the presence of God, the days of our lives fall away and we are left with an all-consuming joy.

It is only when we aren't looking for God to act as we insist, to perform or orchestrate, to 'show up' and change or improve our situation ... when we are instead fully prepared to live exactly where He has us ... it is then when He keeps us occupied with joy.

I'll leave it up to you - but I'm sure I'll take that occupation absolutely any day!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Application to Date my Daughter

My uncle, after seeing the line-up, sent me this great application to "Date my Daughter." As a youth leader, my application would be a little different, but kind of the same gist. I wouldn't as much threaten bodily harm as threatening me as a chaperone at their next dance, butting in and creating space for the "Holy Spirit" between them and the lady. Anyway, this is the dad version- enjoy!

Application For Permission To Date My Daughter
Note: This application will be incomplete and rejected unless
accompanied by a complete financial statement, job history,
lineage, and current medical report from your physician.
Name:________________________ Date of Birth:_________________
Height:_________ Weight:__________ IQ:_________ GPA:__________
Social Security #:___________ Driver's License #: Number:_______
Boy Scout Rank:_________________ Telephone:___________________
Home Address:______________________________________________
City:__________________________ State:__________ Zip:___________

1. Do you have one male and one female parent? ____
If "No", explain:

2. Number of years your parents have been married: ____
Any brothers or sisters? ____
Are they normal? ____

3. Do you own or have access to a van? ____
A truck with oversize tires? ____
A waterbed? ____

4. Do you have an earring, nose ring, or belly button ring? ____
5. Do you have a tattoo? ____

If you have answered YES to #3, #4 or #5, discontinue
application and leave immediately.
(I actually disagree with #4 and #5, I think an explanation would be in order though  )
6. In fifty words or less, what does Late mean to you?

7. Who did you learn your dancing styles from?
a) Rap videos
b) The movie “Dirty Dancing”
c) The Puritans

8. In fifty words or less, what does Abstinence mean to you?

9. In fifty words or less, what does Real Pain mean to you?

10. Church you attend: ____________________________
How often do you attend: ____________________________
11. When would be the best time to interview your mother, father
and youth pastor?__________________________

12. Please fill in the blanks:

a. If I were shot, the last place on my body I would want
wounded would be my ____________________________
b. If I were beaten, the last bone I would want broken would
be my_____________________________

c. A woman's place is in the ____________________________
d. The one thing I hope this application doesn't ask is

e. When I meet a girl, the one thing I always notice about her
first is______________________________

Note: If answer begins with "T" or "A", discontinue and leave premises--keeping your head low and running in a serpentine fashion is advised.
13. What do you want to be if you grow up?

I swear that all the above information is correct to the best of
my knowledge under penalty of death, bodily harm, dismemberment,
torture or mental abuse.
Signature of applicant _________________________________
Signature of father _____________________________________
Signature of mother ____________________________________
Signature of pastor ___________________________________
Signature of State Representative _________________________

Thank you for your interest, and it had better be genuine and non-sexual.
Please allow 4-6 years for processing. You will be contacted in writing if approved. If denied, please never apply again. Don't call me, I'll call you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More Hugs to Honduras!

From Meagan and Myla in Western MI:
CARE BEAR (turtle).. happy belated birthday from meg and myla! myla is a little bit like her mommy in that she likes to be fashionably late (well.. 4 days overdue and she still didn't want to come out..).. so it is only natural that we are late to wish you a HAPPY 24th.. but we LOVE auntie caroline SO much! Myla can't wait to meet you. she loves her little turtle with your voice message in it and will definitely know you when she meets you in person because of it :) she also wants to teach you a little bit about fashion.. specifically high heels. she may be a shorty like us so she already has heels. i told her about you not brining any heels to honduras with you and how i was trying to convince you that you should have at least ONE pair. maybe you have shopped by now though and gotten some. :) although they probably won't do you much good when you are doing crazy things like getting lost in the mountains. here is a pic of my in her "Heeliarious" high heels for babies. altough.. (yawn) she doesn't seems too interested in them. maybe she is more like you than her mama :) just thought you would get a laugh out of this.. a friend ordered them online after seeing them on the Today show and deciding that they were ridiculous but funny. Anyways.. sending love from our little west michigan corner of the world. we miss you around here and can't wait to spend time at Christmas! lots of LOVE!!!

Meg and Myla xoxoxoxox

Jacqui from Columbus, OH:
So forgive me...I'm a day behind...but not because I wasn't thinking of you yesterday. Amazing how whole days completely slip away from you!
I hope you had a fantastic birthday. And I remember you painting a "It's Your Special Day" plate for my bachelorette party. So if you don't have a special plate, you should get a paper plate and a marker and make yourself one. And remember, every day should be celebrated! And I know you do that so well.
Love Jacqui from Ohio!

Monday, October 13, 2008


Happy Birthday, Dear Caroline!

This is your present from your dear sister, sending you happy birthdays from up North. From Iowa, to Kentucky, to Canada, people all over the world love you, sister, and we wish you the best of days today. You are so special, and we love and miss you!

From your cousin Heidi and honorary niece, Amaya in Lincoln, NE:

Caroline! I have so many memories with you! You have been such an encourgement in my life! I can remember layng in the hospital, being somewhat drugged, and seeing your beautiful face. I could NOT believe that you traveled two hours just to support me. Even though I was just laying there, Amay inside me still. You are so loyal and so caring for others. Today, you need to be selfish and take a "Caroline" day. It's your Birthday! Have an AMAZING day Care! Know that Amaya an I love you and are praying for you! Happy Birthday!

From your cousin Anna at Truman State College in MO:
I love Caroline because she is hard-core! We have kayaked all the way
across clear lake and back because she is tough and likes to take on
challenges! Every time we kayak we have the best conversations because
Caroline is so personable, easy to talk to, and full of encouragement
and wisdom! I love her passion for missions and for serving others.

Anna and Jaime in Kentucky:

Caroline, remember the time we were at Impact in Des Moines. You, Me, Margee, and Crystal stayed in the same room. You woke up really early one morning and started singing "Naked Parade, Naked Parade!" at the top of your lungs. Margee thought it was funny and Crystal and I were so annoyed because you woke us up early! That was a really fun time! I miss you and hope you have a beautiful birthday.
Happy Birthday Caroline!! We love you!!

From Mitch and Karen in Canada:
Happy Birthday Caroline! We wish we could be with you to eat......whatever it is they eat in Honduras on birthdays! Well the Lord has you (and us) outside the good 'ol US of A for His purpose and His glory. Our birthday prayer for you is that you continue to hunger and thirst after righteousness, and seek His will for your life day by day as you serve Him. Remember Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future." We love you as a daughter, and know that you are blessing others and being blessed as you serve the Lord in a foreign land. We look forward to a day when we can give you a big hug and talk about our adventures. Have a Groovy Birthday.
We Love You!! Mitch and Karen

From Jared, Tina, and Titus in Indianapolis:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! We miss you and think about/pray for you often! So... we would love to think of a hilarious story to send your way, but instead we are going to be sentimental... thank goodness you aren't Christina and can handle a little mushy stuff... haha. I hope you know by now that we absolutely adore you... you are honestly one of the most thoughtful, caring, loving, and selfless persons we know!!! You are always smiling and Jesus' love is reflected so amazingly in you! You are like a little sister to us and we love you SO very much! We are planning on sending you something soon.... until then, have a marvelous birthday...
Love, Jared, Tina, and Titus

Crystal Becker in Des Moines, IA:
Happy Birthday Caroline!

I've been putting off writing a birthday note to you because I wanted to come up with some smart, memorable thing to say. But then I realized that you are the one who does that. You always have such insightful things to say. So I gave up trying to come up with something original... and I'm just going to speak from the heart.
You are a JOY Caroline Marie. Every time I see you that's what I think. You bring joy to all those around you. It's been such a joy for me to be able to know you the entire 24 years that you've been here at our temporary home. And I've seen God do such a might work in you throughout the years. You've always been the mature, insightful one... and I've been the dramatic and... well, the dramatic one. :) And our bond is strong because of one little word: cousins. I've learned so many things from you over the years and I look forward to learning from you in the years to come. And I'm excited to share in all the joys that the Lord blesses us with.
Happy Birthday Care. I've included a picture of the Nichols cousins... and whenever I see it, it makes me smile. It's my JOY to call you cousin and friend. And I take great joy praying for you daily.

I love you,
Crystal Minnie

From the Maakestad Family in Pella, IA

Dear Caroline,
How well I remember you as a toddler, with a china doll face and such a big heart. And you haven't changed at all - you are still awesomely beautiful and so very caring that you are halfway around the world caring for kids. Please know that Aunt Sherry in Pella, Iowa, is very proud of you and I wish you a very blessed day on this your birthday. You are so precious and important, and you are loved by so many.

All our love,
Sherry, Mike, Hannah, Kirsten and Sara Jane

From Margee in Mexico:
I wish I had my pictures with me! There are so many photos and memories! One of my favorite pictures is of us lying in my bed when I had a very bad cold,drinking ice cream floats and being ridiculous. It always reminds me how much fun we had doing everything (which was usually nothing).
Happy Birthday!
Love, Margee

Aunt Jane in Atlantic, IA:

Sweet Caroline~! Just like the song--I hope you can sing your way through this day and remember that back in the USA there are alot of people that love you and are wishing you the VERY BEST on this your 24th birthday. Your testimony, your faith, and your ability to care and show that you care I'm sure are speaking VOLUMES as you are doing God's work this year.
Hope you have a GREAT day and again, remember, we love you and miss you!
Aunt Jane

Mom and Dad in Lewis, IA:
Dear Caroline,
If you were here we would make a Caroline sandwich (like the picture) and hug you to death! But since you are in Honduras, you will have to get your new friends to do this for you and pretend it is from us!
We love you.
Mom and Dad
If I could give you a birthday present in person, I would give you a flashlight to take on future adventures! ....and a Garmin...and some trail mix....and some hiking boots....and some Puma repellent!!!

From your friend, Amanda Hoye at Dordt College in Iowa:
Hi Caroline!
Just wanted to wish you happy birthday and say thank you for all you've done for me over the years. You've been such an amazing example for me and my sister! I am always surprised during camp to find that I get as much (or more) out of the speakers than the campers do! It was true this year, as always, and your message throughout the week reminded me how much I want to be involved in missions- even if it's a mission to Atlantic, Iowa. Remember being my counselor, by any chance, at Bethany Camp about...oh, 5 years ago? I do, very well, because you were such an encouragement to me. All the late-night cabin talks...we were in the smaller lower room. I learned a lot that year, especially from you. You're an incredible person, and I've been blessed by knowing you. I'm really excited to see where God continues to use you, because it's going to be awesome! Happy birthday again, and I hope you enjoy your year!

In Christ,
Amanda H.

Grace from UC Davis, CA:

So when I thought of fun memories, I thought of our road-trip to "New
York." And specifically, the "series of unfortunate events" that we
encountered when we decided to stop at Bob Evans.... dun dun dun! Between
you sliding off the road and almost hitting whatever that big thing
was, William losing his phone, and the crazy winter storm that we ventured
out into that was one of the craziest days I have ever experienced!
Happy Birthday Caroline! I love you!

Hope this makes you smile on your special day!
I am sure missing you on this day- wishing I could give you a big hug and an even bigger care package. But alas, I'm not on the ball enough to get a package ready a month ahead of time! So you can get excited for your gift that is to come, all these birthday greetings and more from the many people who love you, made into a hard bound book for you in Honduras. It’s called

Hugs to Honduras.

I love you, Sister!
PS- Maybe you should take a cue from when you were little and lost at the state fair- and some nice person brought you back to the fam b/c of a shirt that said your name. Might be nice for your next "lost" experience? A shirt with your name and where to return you to? :)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Weekly Lineup

Well, another week has gone by and I'm definitely feeling the distance of countries. I let the first tears fall as I heard reports of football games and read about apple picking. Yet, the blessing still abound. I am ever thankful for technology - that allows me to call home with crazy stories of mountain rescues and also to see my best friend's baby for the first time.

This week - who knows? The Lord is very thoroughly refining me and I have a certain feeling He is not done (and won't ever be). So, I'll probably be sharing a bit of this in the course of the week, but it looks like Christina will have some interesting things to share as well. ENJOY!

application to date my girls
Part of Christina's great new gig is to disciple girls. Recently after a high school dance, her protective nature was appalled at the stories her girls told. So... she decided the next boys wanting to ask her little flock out on a date would have to go through a very intense application process.

occupied with joy
After reading in Ecclesiastes, this verse emerged from all the "vanity" and "chasing the wind" ... "For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with the joy in his heart." (Eccl. 5:20) This is amazing!

feelings of fall
A cool breeze, hot chocolate, sweaters... all these things remind me of fall.

what is a family
Living so far away, my definition of family is expanding. God has a very specific and perfect purpose for the way community is formed and lived. I praise God for the blessing of family (and friends) I grew up in and with. I'm still trying to understand how I can enjoy and bless back if I'm called away.

gRaB bAg
Again - don't know what this could be, but expect greatness!

Church- closed to the public?

The day that Caroline was stranded on a mountaintop, I was safe in little Des Moines, IA. Even though I was safe and sound, I was also stranded like my sister.

Stranded outside Des Moines churches.

Why? You say. How could this be? Well, let's travel back a week. Our church is sponsoring one of the biggest bands in Christian music, Starfield. The Student Ministries team (some of the coolest folks I know) split up the city to head to big churches in the area to chat with them about the concert and invite their youth groups to the concert. We headed to the first church, (Kudos, Johnston E Free!) which wasn't hard to find, and friendly folks were inside, so we briefly chatted, gave them the poster, and headed to the next place.

This is when some problems arose. As we canvassed different churches around Des Moines, we realized that getting into churches is easier said than done. We pulled into one church, and since there were two cars in the parking lot, we assumed at least a few people were working. But we tried every door around the place, and from the locked doors all around, we thought, "Well, this church must be locked on Mondays!"

So we moved onto the next church, confused about a church shutting down for a day of the week, but alternatively feeling a little jealous that our church didn't have the same day-after-worship-day perks. With the next church we got super lost, so after 40 minutes I finally *411-ed it and they gave us directions to their house of worship. After kicking ourselves for not seeing it before, we headed in that direction. When we got there, though, the front doors, again, were locked and windows dark! How could this be? We JUST talked to a nice lady on the phone who gave us directions! Since I had (wisely) had a text message of the number sent to my phone, I called the church again. They said of course we're open! All the doors on the back side are open! Hmm. back doors? Ok! We found our way in and gave them the materials, happy to have found our way into a church, to speak with a human inside. We thought, if this church, with locked doors and dark windows, had people inside, maybe the last church did too? So I *411-ed that church as well and what do you know! That church was open too! If you call having to enter in through the side door and pushing a small black button to buzz the office, "open."

My goodness! So we thankfully gave the info to that nice lady as well, and moved on. Our next church was, of course, dark and locked as well. By this time we were fed up. If there were people in there, we were getting to them. We walked around the entire church, banging on doors and trying to raise the reclusive workers inside. As we were about to give up and walk away, a nice guy surprisingly opens the front door, answering our door pounding plea. We give him the poster and move on.

It made me want to call our Office Manager, and thank her for keeping her office bright and lit.
It made me want to thank my Church for keeping their, clearly front, doors unlocked the majority of the time.
It made me want to ask these churches- If you're locking the public out,
Who are you hoping will come to your church?

Endorsement- the Eat Clean Cookbook

I finally found a cookbook that has recipes for exactly what I'm going for... I'm so incredibly happy!

It's called the Eat Clean Diet Cookbook, by Tosca Reno. The recipes look super tasty, but they go with my goal to eat non-processed, healthful and chemical free foods. Whoohoo!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

a book; an escape

When friends told me I should bring reading material to Honduras, my reaction was, "yes, of course, but I'm sure I won't have time to do much reading." Wrong.

Some of my favorite times in solitude here have been with good books. Now, in the middle of "The Brothers Karamazov," I'm already looking for something a little more uplifting. And, just as I'm thinking this, I get emails from two very respected women in my life who are doing some reading of their own. Joel Rosenberg is on their list of authors.

After I scanned his website, I too am intrigued. If US News and World Report, CNN Headline News, New York Daily News, and Rush Limbaugh all endorse him, I figure his books are worth a shot.

The hard part may be finding him in Honduras. But, either way, I'm recommending you take a peek!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

nobody wants to be 'just average,' but everybody wants to be 'normal'

Nobody wants to be just average. But, as a student in school, you want to be "normal."

We could argue about definitions and connotations, but the bottom line is that no one wants to be left out. Tonight, I'm struggling. I'm in the office, hurriedly searching for resources that relate my knowledge of behavior to a teacher's knowledge of the classroom. I'm looking for ways to reach out to students who learn differently - those students who have a rough time concentrating in class, finishing homework, or simply require a longer time to complete a task.

These students are on my heart tonight. The other day, I came across this description of Asperger's on this website. I thought the visual picture extremely helpful in understanding the different ways students' minds might work.

In order to better understand Aspergers Syndrome, an analogy can be used. Imagine an office containing several cubicles and a hallway down the centre. This represents the two hemispheres of the brain. In the majority of the population, information flows freely between the cubicles on either side of each other as well as with the cubicles on the other side of the hall (exchanging of information from the left side of the brain to the right side and vise versa). In this scenario, each cubicle has a working computer, fax machine, telephone, filing cabinet and bulletin board as well as the ability for each worker to step into another cubicle to talk to a co-worker. That is how information flows in most people’s brains.

In someone with Non-verbal Learning Disorder or Asperger’s, and in some cases of Autism, the office is there, all the workers are there and the information is there as well. The difference is that some of the cubicles don’t have phones, but have fax machines instead. Some of them don’t have e-mail, but have information on that computer. Some of them can only fax their information, which is on paper in a filing cabinet that is not in alphabetical order, but rather in chronological order. 35% of them have boxes stacked up in front of their cubicles, so they can’t get out. That means not only does it take longer to find information, but it also takes longer to compile it, process it and transfer it to the place that it is needed. Add to that the fact that each person has more than one boss, giving them different objectives. If you worked in an office like that, you would dread going to work everyday.

Just thought I'd flat out tell you what's keeping me at the office.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Interview with a Dreamer

We're interviewing Kathleen today, of the Blog Cake Dreams, and one of Christina's fave people in Des Moines. Welcome Kathleen!

What do you do?
I am a registered nurse at Blank Children's Hospital. Right now I work in general pediatrics on the 7pm - 7am shift. Later this year, however, I'll get certified to give chemotherapy and will work as a pediatric oncology nurse.

What are the coolest and weirdest things you've seen in your years in that career?
Oh gosh! There are so many cool things that happen at work. I am always amazed by families that pull together when their children are sick and get really involved in their children's care. I see it a lot with kids who are in the hospital for a long time with car accidents. It's neat to see a kid come in totally broken and then be able to walk out after all of the work everyone has done to make them better.

I have also seen a lot of weird things. One of the wierdest things was when my patient's lips fell off...they got a little too dry and crusted together. When he opened his mouth the top lip stayed connected to the bottom one. Gross. I had no idea what to do. But with a lot of care, pain meds, and Vaseline, it got cleared up.

What are your hobbies outside of your career?
I have a lot of hobbies...usually I get really excited about something for a while and then move onto another thing. Currently I'm pretty into making cakes and learning French. Before that some of my hobbies were knitting, painting, playing guitar, and jewelry making. I still love to do all of those things too, but they've taken a backseat at the moment to cakes and French. Another one of my favorite things to do is photography! I love taking and looking at pictures.

I hear you date a genius/rock-star. Tell us about that.
I love it! Ryan and I have been friends for several years. We went to church retreats together in high school but were just acquaintances then. We've been closer friends for about 5 years, but when we were hanging out, I usually just talked with the girls and he talked with the guys. Last winter he was going to buy my favorite book and I got really excited about it. He thought it was pretty cool that I liked to read, so we started considering each other as dating possibilities.
As far as him being a genius/rock-start...it's so true! I've never met anyone who was so nerdy yet so cool at the same time! Way to go Ryan!

How do you know the girls of Musings of foreign hearts?
I know the infamous Christina through Ruth Ann. I am in a girls' Bible study that used to meet in Ames every week when Ruth Ann lived with Christina. She is probably one of the funniest people I've ever met and her stories always make me laugh! I have never met Caroline, but I do love reading about her adventures and hope to meet her if she ever comes to visit Christina.

Do you know what you are on the Meyers/ Briggs test? Does it hit the nail on the head? Explain.
I don't know. Sad day. What do you think?

What is your favorite thing about fall or are you a fall-hater?
I must admit that I am half fall-lover and half fall-hater. I love the beautiful changing colors, the smell of outside, pumpkin patches, pies, etc. But I hate to think that winter is getting close. Some people just get cold if the temperature is below 80 degrees. I happen to be their leader.

Are you an obsessive blog-checker? What blogs do you check daily?

I have been addicted to blogging since 2004 (with about a 2 year lapse between late '05- late '07). On my blog there's a list called "good people" of the blogs I faithfully check. Being nosy is one of my favorite things to do!

Tell us about your blog- Cake dreams!
Originally it was entitled "why dorms are bigger than vans" because I used to live in a van traveling the country conducting youth retreats. When I went to college and only lived with one girl in a dorm room compared to 9 other young adults in a van, I realized how much bigger of a space a dorm really was.

Cake dreams was the name I came up with after returning to the blogging world in 2007. I figured that I hadn't lived in a dorm in 4 years so I should figure out a new title. At the time I was preparing for my roommate Kim's wedding and she was going to make cupcakes for her wedding. So, at least weekly we would try a different cupcake recipe and practice decorating them. It was a lot of fun! So I decided that it was a good title for my blog and began pouring my little heart out once again.

I hear you are a hard-core Jesus- Lover. Tell us about how this affects your day-to-day life.
I do love Jesus! Being a Christian is the most important part of my life. I love knowing that God is with me every moment, helping me through hard times and celebrating with me during good times. At work or school or with friends I try to witness to His love. God is so good!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

There is no God?

So, if you haven't already seen the documentary, "EXPELLED" you should. But, today I want to recommend another link from one of the sites I wish I could spend more time perusing.

Check this out from BeThinking.org:

Flew Speaks Out: Professor Antony Flew reviews The God Delusion

Monday, October 06, 2008

for the beauty of the earth

Our trek started a bit bumpy, when we missed the bus. Actually, as Mandy more rightly put it, “The bus missed us!” Being under the impression that Honduran time is always belated, we arrived at the bus stop 10 minutes early... only to find that the bus had arrived and left 15 minutes early!

After hitching a ride (with our friend Dave Kolmodin) to the base of our hike, we were more than ready to get started. Our group consisted of Heather (outdoorsy Canadian), Emily (active Alabaman), Mandy (bright-spirited Illinoisan), Jess (hike-experienced Californian), and myself (with the imagination of Robinson Crusoe and the usefulness of a small child).
After scurrying around the visitor center with maps and such things, we began the climb. The trails snaked around the mountain amidst our exclamations of, “Look at this vine!” “This tree is enormous!” “I might have to use nature’s bathroom!” “My socks are getting wet!”

The way was muddy, steep, narrow, and difficult, but we each felt equal to the task. We came upon the gorgeous waterfall (La Cascada) and took several moments to just stand in wonder at the glory of it all. At one point, I stood near the face next to the falls and saw water drip in singular droplets down the mossy rock.

We trudged on, following signs and consulting maps. In all we traveled about four hours when we came to a very literal fork in the road. The straight way lay ahead, and a steeper climb with a mysterious sign pointed upwards. We opted for the sign and the climb, but before long we were feeling the effects. Jess and I climbed on ahead, bolstered by adrenaline and a need to reach our destination. The other girls took it a bit slower and before long the separation was great.

As darkness fell on the mountain top (this mountain is known for its cloud forest), Jess and I found ourselves in a clearing. Lost. Without our group. Without a map. Without a flashlight. We thought to travel back down the trail to meet up with the other girls, but after 20 minutes could see nothing but the blanket of darkness ahead and behind.

We climbed back up the mountain, with only the electric light of my ipod lighting the next 10 inches in front of us. We made it back to the same clearing and I promptly began making plans for our camp. With the excitement of a novice adventurer, I set to the forest to find sticks and rocks to make a shelter from the poncho my mother had so industriously packed before my stateside departure.

After the initial shock of our situation, Jess collaborated and we diligently made what was to be our camp. I now wish I had taken pictures, but you can imagine how foolish that would seem as we were preparing to freeze together under a poncho. We diagonally crossed to solid sticks to rest on our packs and on a bench with the poncho secured underneath with hair ties and the string from Jess’s rainjacket cover. We spread Jess’s raincoat on the ground and pronounced our camp, “very good.”

All the while, we were doing one of these three things: laughing, praying, or singing. I can say our conversation almost completely consisted of those things. We were convinced God had ordained that very time for us to be in that very place and we were going to seek Him out in the midst of it. As we added every layer we could find in our packs, we prepared to shiver the night out together.

We climbed into our creation claiming the very ground in the name of the Lord. We prayed for protection, providence, and joy. We quoted scripture and sang nearly every praise song within our frozen grasp, including several from Sister Act. We huddled with a closeness that belied our mere two months of friendship. We were filled with a peace and fear did not dampen the doorstep of our humble mountain abode.

And then we heard voices.

We listened for a moment, then quickly decided the voices could only help (especially when one voice belonged to a woman). We rolled out with a welcoming, “Hola!” And we met an eager group (1 of 4) that had been sent out to find the two wandering gringas (white girls). We fell into conversation and laughed at our foolishness.

We followed them, hoping a bed or even a floor might be at the end of the trail. They, of course, had flashlights - and our conversation was a delight at 10 pm! We made it to our destination, where we not only found beds, but sheets and pillows! The bathroom was nothing to speak of, but BEDS and PILLOWS, how grateful we were!

We still shivered through the night, but the memory of the poncho camp was too close for complaining. In the morning, after several cups of hot coffee, we met up with the rest of our group who had their own story to tell.

We spoke with more of the rangers and found that we had not only escaped the cold, but also the prowling pumas (who number over 100) that appear between midnight and 1 am in the very place of our camp. I guess we won’t be camping out on the mountain again any time soon...

But, as frightful as this story may sound. We are filled with such joy, gratitude, and yes a decent dose of humility. We truly believe our hearts and minds were refined through our mountain rescue. Psalm 91 became our theme chapter for the trip and we left the mountain even more aware and in awe of God’s goodness, mercy, and sovereignty.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Weekly Lineup

Alright, welcome to a new week! We are both continuing in God's goodness and grace - truly amazed at the kingdom work in which we are invited to participate.

application to date my girls

Part of Christina's great new gig is to disciple girls. Recently after a high school dance, her protective nature was appalled at the stories her girls told. So... she decided the next boys wanting to ask her little flock out on a date would have to go through a very intense application process.

for the beauty of the earth
Discover with Caroline the joy of being active in God's creation. She will tell tales of her hike up to La Tigra, one of the best spots in all of Honduras and it's right up the road.

occupied with joy
After reading in Ecclesiastes, this verse emerged from all the "vanity" and "chasing the wind" ... "For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with the joy in his heart." (Eccl. 5:20) This is amazing!

feelings of fall
A cool breeze, hot chocolate, sweaters... all these things remind me of fall.

grab bag
This could be anything:)

Many blessings to you this week in everything you do!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Money Management via SNL

Who needs Dave Ramsey- Money management info from SNL- good stuff! :)

Friday, October 03, 2008

Teacher or Friend?

Today I attended the ACSI conference for Honduras schools... and though I was tired toward the end, I left with many new ideas for the classroom.

I'm not going to lie, it's been a struggle to find ways to be interactive, yet still make it through the psychology curriculum. The longer I am here, the more I'd rather be chatting with these students over coffee instead of staring over furrowed brows at their antics.

I'm no stranger to high school teachers - my mom has been "stuck there" for 20-some years. But, I certainly never realized the struggle between maintaining order and having fun.

If there are teachers out there can give tips, please share!

I'm sorry this post is so short, but I am literally struggling to keep my eyes open.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Honduran Horizon - October Edition

The NEW edition of Honduran Horizon is now available at my webpage: Adventures in Tegucigalpa. Check it out to see what I'm up to here in Honduras!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The God of Small Things

Moving to a new country requires a certain amount of faith - some might say a great amount - but I'm finding that the faith the Lord requires is no less in the small things. In the past couple days, I've been blessed with a deeper understanding of the faith-filled relationship God desperately desires.

I just finished reading books by Elisabeth Eliot and Isabel Kuhn. Have you ever been in a place where you look at someone else's faith and say, "When God was dishing out faith, why'd she get such a big helping?" To be honest, it wasn't jealousy I felt, just a bit of resignation. Though I was reading and believing God for the faith he gave these two remarkable ladies, I was still meeting Him in the morning with sleepy eyes and a tired heart.

Well, last Sunday on the way home from church, we stopped for groceries at La Colonia (Honduran grocery chain). I ride with my church groupies Hayley and Tiffany in Tiffany's car every Sunday. As we're leaving, Tiffany gave her keys to Hayley to open the trunk to put our groceries away.

Everything seemed fine until the key did not come out. The only key on the ring was for the ignition and the trunk opens by a button. So, picture this: we are in the grocery parking lot, none of us are fluent in Spanish, our usual fourth (and fluent) church groupie went to the early service, and we have no idea where we are or how to tell someone to find us.

We jiggled, coaxed, consoled, lamented, brainstormed... asked two taxi-drivers and a worker for help, listened to scattered advice about oils and mechanics and directions to a place that wasn't open on Sunday, and heard endless solicitations for rides.

Hayley called Elisabeth (fourth, fluent groupie) to try to figure out how to have someone pick us up when Elisabeth responded, "This has happened before and here's the solution: pray and jiggle." Hayley told Tiffany, who of course had been jiggling. And in my mind I said, I am praying!! I was already on to the backup plan: let's call someone and figure out how to get them here so we can make a new key and tie down the trunk and go up the mountain and ....

But, Elisabeth was insistent on the phone: "Really, you need to pray and jiggle. Trust me, just pray."

As Hayley was relaying this same information to Tiffany, she closed her eyes and was about to give a final shove when the key all but dropped into her hand.

I know this story is hard to read from your side of the computer screen, but as we screamed delight into the phone and jumped into the toasty seats, I started to find perspective in the small things.

Nothing surprises God.

No accident, death, lottery winner, winning sports team, mountain climber, or new scientific discovery surprises our Sovereign Creator. His hand is in it all.

So, when I think about the 'huge' faith of some of my Christian heroes, I wonder at the little tests of obedience. Maybe a mustard seed is an obedient heart - a heart that prays about keys and conversations, impulse buys and interesting flowers.

Maybe the hearts of my heroes are made up of layers upon layers of these types of prayers - prayers that invite God to be Lord over the details.

Live in Central Iowa? Like Great Music? Poor?

Then you should come to the Starfield concert, Nov. 7th, Valley Church, for only $10. Yep, $10. See you there!

Print this off and bring a group!

Back to School...

You know this movie?

Well, it's about a woman in her 20s that, for an undercover story for the newspaper she works at, has to go back to High School for a few months. She has to endure trying to be cool again, finding somewhere to sit at lunch, and all the other fun stuff high school has to offer.

Well, although unlike Josie, I had a pretty great high school experience, I feel a little like her today. For I am, today, stepping back into the world of high school. Well, I'm actually just stepping back into the world of high school lunch, which is equally scary, but anyhoo. The High School youth pastor, Jon, has been visiting the freshmen school for lunch every Wednesday, and this week he invited me to join him. I love the freshmen girls I lead in my group, so I of course said I'd love to. But now the day is here and I feel like I'm a kid on my first day of school. What if they don't think I'm cool in a school setting? What if they pretend they don't see me for fear I'll grab their friends and force them through the Romans road?

Anyway, all this is just so uncharted. So wish me luck. I'm dorkily trying to decide what to wear to seem less uncool as I step back into the world of freshmen.