fall in the northeast kingdom.

go ahead, you can be jealous.

hey - that's MY story...

so i read something yesterday that really resonated with me. but first, a little context.

i'm a pretty critical person in general - and i never really stop thinking. these are two qualities of myself that don't always go well together. especially in my present circumstances. as i find myself at my particular age, with my education and experience, i stand at a crossroads of sorts not really having any clue which way to turn, let alone which way to walk. and i've been a bit overwhelmed by this situation. and when i'm in the sort of situation that i find myself in right now, i tend to look at others' situations and grow a bit envious - especially of those who seem to have 'figured it all out' and are 'getting settled' in their lives. because i REALLY want that, and probably my biggest challenge in life is trusting that God will provide that for me (and yes, i realize that what is provided for me may not be a clear "career" or a house with a picket fence and a dog - and yes, that scares me). so i often get jealous of friends, or even random people who seem to have everything going for them. and that's a hard reality to face.

so i've been reading through the chronicles of narnia (almost because i feel an obligation to do so - but they are good). i'm on The Horse and His Boy right now. i've liked a lot of the imagery in the books so far. but one particular and subtle message popped out at me as i read yesterday. as shasta on his own encounters Aslan, he asks Aslan why he "attacked" Aravis. Aslan says this:

"'Child,' said the Voice, 'I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.'"

while this may be a simple statement, it cut really deep for me in that moment, and in the last day or so thinking over it. we each have unique stories, and we each have unique struggles within our stories, and each of our stories are meant to be gloriously different and unique - without comparing or measuring our story against an other's. i easily lose this great element when i am feeling sorry for myself and envious of others. there's part of me that wants the elements of a storybook life - that status quo that i loathe so much. what's the deal with that - desiring what we know repulses us? it's mindboggling to me. maybe i just think that is what will bring me joy - and i know that it's joy i desire. and it goes back to trusting that the lord has great desires for me. and what am i to do but follow and be faithful. it doesn't seem all that simple most of the time. but i think it is - it's just not easy. and as i am learning, simple does NOT mean easy. it's quite the contrary.


wise words.

"we often hear grown-up people complaining of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train. did you ever hear a small boy complain of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train? no; for to him to be inside a railway station is to be inside a cavern of wonder and a palace of poetical pleasures. because to him the red light and the green light on the signal are like a new sun and a new moon. because to him when the wooden arm of the signal falls down suddenly, it is as if a great king had thrown down his staff as a signal and started a shrieking tournament of trains. their meditations may be full of rich and fruitful things...but in the case of all such annoyances, as i have said, everything depends upon the emotional point of view. you can safely apply the test to almost every one of the things that are currently talked of as the typical nuisance of daily life."
- G.K. Chesterton.


it is finished.

so as many of you know, i have owned for sometime a very beloved orange kavu visor. i have been trying to think of when i purchased this child of mine, and i honestly can't even wager a guess as to how long this security blanket has been with me. example:
my visor has been well-worn and i have beaten the heck out of it - dirt, sun, other nastiness. and it has slowly deteriorated over time. toward the end of the summer, i knew i had to begin to come to terms with the need for a replacement. it was difficult, but i began to grieve this coming loss.so i wanted to let you all know, that my orange (now very light, faded tangerine) kavu visor is officially retired. and there is a new member of the family i would like you to help me welcome...it's canvas instead of nylon (hoping that it will get less-damaged by the sun) and i decided to go with a nice vibrant fire-engine-red. booya.


a memory.

today i want to revisit an experience i had on 11 september 2001. i do this not as a stereotypical tribute to said date (as i don’t think the way our country holds onto this date/event is very healthy). i offer this story to share how God worked on that day.

fall of 2001 found me just starting my second year as high school youth director at liberty corner presbyterian church. our town was only about 45 minutes outside of NY City, and was located on a main commuter-rail line into the city. we had many families with one or both parents who worked in the city. at the church, i had begun to grow really close to my students and was really excited for the year as it began. most of my students went to Ridge High School. as i had grown up in liberty corner, and had attended that local high school, i still knew a lot of the teachers/administrators. i thus had a good relationship with Ridge and had the open opportunity to freely visit my students there. i was also invited to be a participant in a program called Challenge Day that this school was using to benefit the student community. the had piloted it the previous year (which i also got to be a part of), and they were now going to institute it as a yearly event for the incoming freshman as they entered high school. so the morning of 11 september 2001 found me at Ridge High School as a volunteer for Challenge Day for the freshman – school had been in session less than a week.

the morning had just barely gotten rolling, when an announcement came over the intercom (i believe around 9am) that something had happened in manhattan, involving a plane and the world trade center. the announcement was communicated in a way that didn’t lead anyone to believe it was a large-magnitude crisis – or at least i didn’t get the impression that it was anywhere near the horror that it actually turned out to be. no one in the gym reacted after that announcement. minutes later, another announcement was made that seemed to communicate a bit more of the magnitude of the situation. after this announcement, our program took a short break. i exited the gym with my current partner, Laura (one of my youth group kids), and we headed for the bathrooms. as i walked down the hall with Laura, i spotted another student of mine at her locker – a sophomore named Allison – as my steps drew me closer to her, i saw tears in her eyes. and then it clicked in my head: “o God, your dad works in the trade center.” in that moment, we didn’t know what exactly the situation was, but knew that there was potential danger in what had transpired. i immediately put my arms around Allison, and began walking her toward the main office to make a phone call (cell phones hadn’t yet been acquired by every human between age 5 and 105).

at this point Allison was inconsolable. we got to the office and there were at least a couple dozen other people there already, all with red eyes and tears on their cheeks. she tried to get through to her mom, but cell phones were down, and land-lines were jammed. i saw student after student that i knew…even Laura (who i was partnered with earlier) had ended up at the office – she had forgotten that her dad was supposed to fly from Newark to Boston that morning. thankfully he wasn’t on any of the involved flights.

it was unbelievable to be at our high school that morning. to see SO many people who had parents working in the towers, or others who potentially could have been on the involved flights that morning. it’s impossible to describe the feeling of being so close to something so horrific – SEEING the horror realized on the faces of teenagers and adults alike. i mingled around with the students i knew for awhile, trying to be some sort of presence. Allison’s mom soon arrived to pick her up – to head home and wait for word of whether their father/husband was ok. i couldn’t imagine. eventually, they received word that Allison’s dad was alright.

after seeing Allison off, and then tending to a few other students i knew, i eventually headed back to the church. anything that had been intended as work that day was postponed, and we spent the rest of the day on the phones trying to check in on all the families we knew who worked in and around manhattan. as the afternoon grew on, a handful of us started cooking – making food for as many of the families as we could who had spent their day worrying about a family member, instead of remembering to eat.

all in all, our church had a few families with members who died in the world trade center events that day. in particular, we had two families with students in our youth groups who lost fathers. the one, a high school girl, lost her father – and he was virtually all she had left as a family. the other – a brother and a sister, lost their dad – but thankfully (at least) still had their mom.

i still remember, in the days that followed, hearing stories from people – like, choosing to go into work late that day – a choice that unknowingly led them to be safe from the events that unfolded earlier that morning. and me – insecure, meager, high school youth director – God allowed me the chance to be at my students’ high school that morning. i’m not entirely sure why – i had no great words of comfort, i held no extravagant prayer vigils – but i got to stand beside a few students of mine who were trapped in a moment of thinking they had just potentially lost a parent. and i can’t think of any better situation for God to use someone in than that.


a captured moment.

an early morning thunderstorm rolled in across the hill, as i sit in my parents’ kitchen. i am bundled in fleece socks and a sweatshirt, hood up to draw in warmth and comfort. my space this morning occupies a rocking chair, where i sit with coffee (dark and strong) in one hand, and The Horse and His Boy in the other. the storm produces a low rumble. the rain sheets blow across the pond. the birds have gone, seeking cover. the wind chimes gently clang and bong. my dad (who, since moving to VT has found peace and joy) turns on the stereo, and William Fitzsimmons begins to play. as he unloads the dishwasher, i take it all in, breathe deep, and know that life is good, and God is great.
[a journal entry from 9 september 2009]


about me.

so as i've mentioned in other posts, i've spent a lot of time the past year+ trying to be more honest with who i am, how i work, hopes, fears, strengths, limits, blah, blah, blah. and in digging into the deep stuff, it's also been fun to know more wholistically more about myself - the fun stuff included. a lot of you, even those who know me just a little, may already know a lot of these things. and feel free to ask more about any of the below. but anyways, here's a look at a broad spectrum of who i am...

-i love big, amazing breakfasts, but can't eat that much right away in the morning.
-i love breakfast sandwiches.
-i have a slight addiction to taylor ham.
-i'm a relational person.
-i find that i can invest better in things less-complicated/singly-focused.
-i need to be part of a community to thrive.
-i need to operate within structure/vision, but get drained by institutionality.
-i am secure in myself, but rather insecure with regard to others (yes i know that sounds contradictory).
-i loathe selfishness.
-i love GOOD music (etc, etc, etc).
-i hate bad music.
-i love GOOD beer (etc, etc, etc).
-i hate bad beer.
-i love GOOD movies (etc, etc, etc).
-i hate bad movies.
-i love both good and bad coffee.
-i get frustrated really easily.
-i desire to see people living their best.
-i desire (and believe my true nature is) to live simply.
-i loathe superficiality.
-i look up to those who are authentically and truly themselves.
-i love reading.
-i am financially-challenged.
-i don't know what i want to be when i grow up (although when i was 4, i wanted to work at Dairy Queen when i grew up.)
-i believe my (and most others') basic needs are to be included and engaged by others.
-my native way of being in the world is as a servant.
-i have a incredibly loving and supportive family, and do not take that for granted.
-i have a deep desire to see the Church behave differently today.
-i am (sub)conciously over-anxious about wanting to be married.
-i am not one to "beat around the bush".
-i desire (and truly enjoy) to simply be present for others.
-i am a christian not because i think it is the "right belief", but because i believe that jesus' desire for us (the world) is the right desire.
-large groups of people and the energy they command drain the life out of me.
-i am refueled by spending alone time, time in thought/reflection, or in meaningful interaction with one other or a couple other people.
-journaling heals my soul.
-being in the out-of-doors heals my soul.
-i would roadtrip for the rest of my life if i could (and may try to figure out a way to do so).
-i wish i could write songs.
-i have packrat tendencies (and i inherited it from my father).
-i love to cook, and am getting better at it.
-i want to build my own house.
-i want to hike the (entire) appalachian trail.
-i have tattoos, and desire many more.
-i believe most conversations/experiences can trigger some reference to a simpsons or seinfeld episode.
-i do not like preserves (fruit chunks), can tolerate jam (crushed fruit), and love jelly (no chunks at all).
-i could eat good fettucine alfredo until my stomach burst.
-there are many things in my life i would do differently, but only one regret.
-i like most nuts by themselves, but largely loathe nuts in things such as breads, cookies, etc.
-i grew up in new jersey, and am proud of that (but would not desire to live in new jersey again).
-i believe the word evangelism is not defined by what you say, but how you live.
-i understand best through experience.
-i enjoy the learnings of analogies.
-i wish i operated with more grace.
-i know God is real, through tangible examples in my life.
-"status quo" nauseates me.
-jesus loves me, this i know, for the bible tells me so.



wise words.

"we try to keep a vital balance on the thin rope of life that is stretched between the two definitive poles [birth and death] that mark our chronological lives. we are surrounded by the reality of the unseen and the unknown, which fills every part of our life with terror but at the same time holds the secret mystery of our being alive. that secret is this: 'though we walk in darkness, we have seen a great light' (matthew 4:16). and this light, while it can be masked, cannot go out, as it shines for all eternity." p.78-9
-henri j.m. nouwen
Spiritual Direction


the mind controlled by the SPIRIT, is life and peace.
romans 8:6