Monday, June 29, 2009


doing my first split shift today, so I have 2 hours before I go back in to work.

Work is work. Simply put. I do not love it, but I am constantly being reminded by the Lord that I need to hold on to hope for the future. At Saranac, Mike Kramer (the speaker) said something that I keep coming back to: If there is no hope for the future, there is no power in the present. So, I hope. I have been reading some awesome scriptures lately that are truly affirming this.

1 Thes 5:18:
Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].

Romans 15:4:
For whatever was thus written in former days was written for our instruction, that by [our steadfast and patient] endurance and the encouragement [drawn] from the Scriptures we might hold fast to and cherish hope.

Anyway. Good stuff. I am hopoing for the future. Praying that waitressing is not the future.

Cool fact about the South: People from here ask me where I am from because they think I talk funny. many people here call their parents "Mommy" and "Daddy." And surprisingly, its not annoying in that baby talk way.

Friday, June 26, 2009


I am currently blogging from the nearby Caribou Coffee. There is not a great internet connection at my studio apartment above the garage and this place is about 2 blocks away. Plus after consulting with Charles yesterday, I have decided to jump on the "I-am-never-paying-for-internet-again" train. It's ridiculous. With places like Caribou and Panera (who have FREE internet - BOO starbucks) you don't need your own. I can come sit here for as many hours as I would like just sucking up their free internet connection while not having to buy anything. Clearly I am cheap.

I am sitting here RIDDEN with anxiety over something in my life that is causing more stress than my 18th Century English Novel class where we had to read 4 books over 800 pages each in one semester. I am here with three more hours to cram for the first of 4 exams in order to be considered done with training for my new job. What sort of job is this where I have hours worth of homework to do you ask? Am I taking the CPA exam? Nope. Am I taking my health and life insurance exam so that I can sell something so important that you gotta have it to die? Niet. What about a test in order to be a physician that saves lives? again, no way jose.

I am studying for the first of four FOOD tests that make me eligible to be a FULL-FLEDGED SERVER at Firebirds. And trust me, I am taking it seriously. Today I gotta be able to rattle off the ingredients and my own little spiel about the 7 appetizers. Wanna know the most popular one? I know you don't, but because I am studying you get to anyway - the Lobster Spinach Queso. Yes its great...but really...can't people read the menu.

In all seriousness I am happy that I am being trained as diligently as I am. I never went through any proper server training at the golf course that I worked at in college and so, never felt comfortable or well-equipped when I had a table who wanted something besides the all-you-can-eat buffett. MOVE OVER Keri Russell in Waitress.

In other news, not much else going on. Michael Jackson died. Please be thinking of my brother as he copes with this news. He spent yesterday in his room alone, and crying after hearing the news of his idol passing on into the afterlife. Does Allah even have an afterlife? Anyway, Robert is taking it pretty hard knowing that he no longer has a sleepover buddy. And its not like they sleep together, "he is on one side and Michael is on the other side of the bed." What's so wrong with that?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A slew of stories from Saranac

So...where do I even begin?

I am so glad this week that the assignment team harped on the fact that we are not above having our lives changed by God while at a young life camp with high school friends. I think at times I have gone into camp with the mindset that my only goal for the week is to serve my girls and where THEY are at with the Lord. This past week I was so blessed to have God screaming my name in a thousand different directions. Calling me to stop trying to be self-sustaining and seeking glory for myself.

I will start by saying that the program rocked, and not in the sense that it was the funniest thing I had ever seen (though it did not lack in humor), but because of the quality. You could tell from the audience that they loved each other. It was evident to our high school friends and also so clear how hard they worked on each and every detail. We got to send like 10 of our Mariemont kids up front to be a part of different aspects of program. That coupled with the placement of leaders into the program throughout the week set us up better than ever before. Whether it was entertainment night, the opera, or role play...we as leaders were really served by the assign team in the ways that they made us a part of the program to open up doors with our high school kids. I pray that the Lord keeps this assign team together because they showed us and our campers so much in how the loved one another.

I had girls in my cabin who were so up for everything. I got to go barefoot skiing, attempt barrel rolls on the tube, whiz through the ropes course in under and hour, and play knockout for about 2 hours every day. They were not the sit in the cabin and sleep type of crowd, although we did spend a FAIR amount of time making friendship bracelets with string and beads. Possibly the greatest blessing of the week was when the girls in my cabin served me beyond their understanding. I hate cabin cleanup, and yes, I know everyone hates cabin cleanup...but it brings out the worst in me. So I was ELATED (sarcasm) to hear that ours would be postponed as it was because the trip leader evaluation meeting was the final morning of camp, at 8 am...right when cabin cleanup should start. So, I made sure the girls had things packed the night before and I relied on Amy and Ally to get things "started" since they had plenty of experience. I expected to come back to find girls still dragging their luggage out of our cabin, step one of the whole process. I ended up being in the trip leader meeting for an hour and walking back to the cabin, slowly asking God for patience and love in the midst of misery. I am dramatic. When I opened the cabin door it sparkled. It was SPOTLESS! Without any of my help, whining, pushing, and nagging they had finished the whole process without me. Are you kidding? Talk about senior leadership. We had an hour to spend hanging out as a cabin at the point, just talking and rehashing the week. Thank you God...thank you, thank you, thank you.

For the first time since I have been leading, we went to camp with other schools from our region. This was great in so many ways. From a leader perspective it was such a blessing to have other people pulling for you, people who REALLY know what you are dealing with because they even know some of your kids. Leader meetings felt like fellowship and I felt so blessed to be part of a much bigger team of warriors. I received constant encouragement and affirmation that only helped to give me energy...and God knows I needed that. From a camper point of view, we had students making friends with tons of peers from their rival high school in Cincinnati, as well as some huge schools in Columbus. They made friends, caught visions, and made so many contacts for college with people who shared the same experience as them. None of us felt like we were fighting the fight alone...and seeing other warriors, high school students and leaders alike, just helped me to feel that much more bold in my faith.

It was such an honor to see friends of mine from Columbus love on their friends. It is such a testament to their relationships with the Lord. I had the opportunity to see Crock and Chilcoat take leadership of their teams and yet still be fighting on the level of everyone else. Awesome, awesome stuff.

It was hard to leave there. It really marks the end of my 4 years in the Buckeye Region in more ways than one. Like I said yesterday, so many emotions of the past 3 years are wrapped up in my perception of Saranac, and I felt Satan pulling me in a lot of directions while I was there. God was so merciful every time I was brought to my knees. The climax of all of this was Cece getting sick. On day three, 5 of us woke up at 6 to go barefoot skiing, one of the most amazing things I have ever done in my life. That evening, Cece started feeling sick during cabin time. I went to be ASAP once we were done and work at 1245 to her puking. Amy was up as well. After about 10 minutes I got the radio from the leader's lounge to get a hold of the EMT. She came over and sat with the two of us for an hour before Cece felt well enough to get some sleep. We all thought we were in the clear until an hour later I can hear her puking again. I call the EMT and she comes back over to our cabin. Anna and I sit with Cece, while Amy lies awake in her bed, until 4 am, just helpless to the pain that she is in.

I feel so bad that Anna is hanging around so I tell her that she is welcome to go, that I can stay up with Cece. She was amazing. She refuses to leave me alone and blesses me so much at a time when I knew I would lose it. Man, wow God. Thats it for now. More to come.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Only a week?

Welp...its been a week, but it feels like I have been absent from the blog world for a month. I am just posting a teaser tonight because there is much to catch you up on. Last week I was so blessed to spend an amazing week at Young Life's Saranac Village with some of my best friends. The Lord did so much to affirm the call to stay involved in this ministry. My heart aches to leave that place in all of its glory because of how full and deep the time was that I spent there 3 summers ago.

There is something so huge about seeing the Lord totally wreck high school students and then pick up the pieces that I just can't put it to words, but I will try and drop some stories this week.

In Charleston, WV for two nights and then Charlotte Tuesday morning. Summer flies when you are having fun. :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I showed up.

Tonight my co-leader Nate asked me how I am doing in my time with the Lord since moving to Charlotte. I immediately answered, "amazing...probably the best time I have ever had with the Lord in my 6 years of really being a follower of Christ." Really, this is probably honestly the only time I could have ever given an answer like that and truly meant it. It's not that God has spoken to me more all of a sudden since being down here, or that I get to spend lots of time outside in His creation, but rather...I have showed up. I have been listening and being obedient when He has called me to spend time in prayer or His word.

It blows my mind that He never leaves us. Really..all this time that I couldn't honestly say that I was having "mind-blowing" (for lack of a better adjective) time with the Lord...I was giving it up willingly by not giving in to His will for me. This summer is such a gift. It was slow coming for me to get a job...(I have a waitressing job now as of next week when we get back from Saranac) well as slow going making friends (which if you know me is painstakingly hard). But I know that He is here with me in Charlotte, and I know that he is giving me copious amounts of time with Him where I am so encouraged and reassured about the future. And I have no idea what it will shape up to be. So...I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

two top tens there are some things that I have experienced in the past few weeks of being in North Carolina that seem essential to me learning how to fit in down here.

1. The city center of Charlotte is not referred to as the "downtown" area, but rather, the "Uptown" U.
2. Southern people don't enunciate. My friend Andrew who I know from summers at Kiawah is from Statesville, NC...about an hour north of Charlotte. He told me that NASCAR fans don't particularly like Dale Earnhart, Jr. for one reason...he enunciates. Props to you Mr. Earnhart. You just won my non-southern heart.
3. NASCAR is big. REAL big here.
4. wassup is one word not two.
5. My new BFF Julia prefers that you slur her name to where it sounds something like Jewya.
6. Being a Christian is part of the culture, not necessarily something you choose.
7. Churches are about as abundant as gas stations.
8. Chicken for breakfast is a staple (i.e Bojangles).
9. Everyone really is friendlier in the South.
10. Some of the most generous people I know have treated me since being here. It's crazy how big their hearts are!

Things I miss about living with Molly O:
1. Always being called Jackleen.
2. Random outburts of singing about life's daily activities. (It is a known fact that Molly sings about using the toilet, cooking pizzas, walking down the stairs, and sitting on the couch.)
3. Laughing so hard that I almost cry when Molly does impressions of other people.
4. Random crying outburts followed by either: I am going to miss you so much. I can't believe we are moving...OR...I just love Logan so much, do you think we will be okay when I move for the summer?
5. Sitting on her bed ready to go out for the night, while I watch Molly spend another hour doing her makeup and hair.
6. Having Molly ask my opinion on an outfit and then seeing her end up in the opposite of what I suggested.
7. Always having a constantly growing pile of clothes for Goodwill.
8. Eating out as a simple excuse to just do something with the two of us.
9. Watching movies alone because Molly always fall asleep.
10. Hashing out life's joys and hardships on my blue futon.

How I love good 'ol Molly O!

God is changing my heart

First off, for the 3 of you that actually read this, I apologize for not blogging for so long. It has actually been a pretty busy week.

If I am being honest I have felt overwhelmed lately. It was hard to come here with no expectations at all, and in the midst of being in the craziness of the past few weeks, I have been blindsided again and again with the fact that God has His own timing, and it is so much better than mine. It has been a lonely and slow adventure, but I am praying every day that I come closer to a place where I need no one but the Lord. I am the kind of person who will constantly substitute one-on-one time with the Lord for some fellowship with friends. I have a tendency to never say no when someone invites me to do something, and in doing so I fall back on the comfort and ease that comes with being surrounded by people. When I was on summer staff for a month at a Young Life camp I remember avoiding my quiet times because I did not want to miss out on the conversation that was constantly going on. It was easy for me to make excuses to just be with other people because we were having fruitful conversation...and they were Christians after all.

When it comes down to it, my relationship with Christ STRUGGLES and FALTERS when I choose to not spend alone time with him. If I were to constantly tell my friend Molly that I couldn't hang out with her one-on-one because I would rather hang out with a big group of our other friends, I would miss out on so many things about her. It is unfathomable to me to think of blowing off one-on-one time with Molly, so why is it so easy to do it with the God of the UNIVERSE? (not that Molly isn't up there in the whole universe spectrum). I get lonely, and I am really learning to come to a place where I crave time with my God...just me and HIM (how's that for good english?). Since being here I can tell when I have good days and bad, they are directly coorelated to the time I spend in the word or praying. On bad days I have a nervous feeling all day, like I have made the wrong decision in moving, like I will never get a job, like I won't make friends. This feeling almost immediately turns to peace when I sit down and let myself be reminded by the Lord that he will sustain me. One of the notes in my Bible today said this: "Needing people's approval in an unbalanced way can steal away our destinies" and this "God is working MIGHTILY on my behalf."

So, I am working on only seeking approval and validation from my Lord, I can't please everyone, so sometimes I need to back up, take a breather and consult with my God. That being said, I am spending the next few days consulting with the Lord on a huge decision. I have decided to follow Pauls example and not "confer with the flesh" just yet. I need to rely on the Spirit that is in me (John 14:17) before I start to seek the wise counsel of others.

FYI: I got a job. crazy right. After Young Life camp (June 13-21) I head in for training at Firebirds wood grilled cuisine restaurant. Exciting I know. You can hardly hold it in. A dream job for a colelge graduate and just what I would have thought after coming out of college with an English major.

That enough for this post and the subject matter is going ot change dramatically on the next so hold your pants up Michael...I know you're looking for the "non-scripture" stuff.

Friday, June 5, 2009

'Tis a bummer

I was totally looking forward to seeing a FREE, OUTDOOR performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night tonight. It is raining, which is what it did all yesterday (monsoon rains last night) and all morning. There was about 5 hours of great sun this afternoon, and now were back to rain. The dork in me is so NOT embarrassed to express my sadness at the state of the weather right now because its Shakespeare! My favorite and what I think is his funniest.

Anyway, the rain here doesn't really get to me, because like I have said before...its crazy when it rains. There is sun during rain and sun almost right after the clouds here just most faster? Schweird. In and out folks. Like this post. I am so funny.
Well, this week has been a little more occupied with events that have taken up some of my time! I never thought I'd be feeling this much longing for busy-ness. I was lucky to spend some time with Justin (YL metro director in Charlotte) and Amie this week at their house, along with Holly and Neil Gardner (Neil is on staff here too), and some Columbus high school grads that are attending Queens University. It was the first time I have felt at home with a lot of these people. It was so great. We really got ot just sit down over a great meal and chat all together.

I have sorted out my living situation from now until August and will be staying in a condo of a Young Life parent here while she closes on her house in Pennsylvania. I am there until August 9th and after that we are up in the air again.

I had the great opportunity of doing lunch with my friend Andrew, who I met at Kiawah about 6(? wow that long) years ago. Andrew and the four guys that he was at Kiawah with in the summer became fast friends for my sister, cousins and I. It was great to catch up with him and we ate at a great restaurant called Firebirds. Our server was such a nice guy and threw me a bone on the job application thing. He informed me that they were for sure hiring and gave me an optimistic nudge to apply. It was great to see Andrew and nice to know that I know one person down here prior to the 3 weeks of living here. :)

This morning I had such a great opportunity to have coffee with a Young Life committee mom. She is born and raised a Carolinian, but lived in the midwest for 18 years after getting married, only ot head back South. She is so generous and helpful, so it was great to be around her family this afternoon to babysit. I got ot hang out with her two wild and crazy sons. We had a water gun fight and then just sat out in the yard talking and playing. Her daughter heads off to Frontier tomorrow for her first week of young life camp as a high school student. My gosh I was almost at the point of tears remembering what that first year was like. It is something that I will never get back but also memories that I will never forget. There is just something about how special Young Life camp is when you are in high school. As a leader now I can't think of anything greater than experiencing camp through the eyes of someone who has never been. You can't even imagine or describe it. What a blessing this ministry is! I am so thankful God put its roots in Jim Rayburn's heart and that He has lead me to be a part of it.

Tomorrow I head out on my own to the US National Whitewater Center about an hour away. I will be participating in National Trails Day. I signed up at the REI store that I applied to work at, so I am hoping this will be a little bit of an in because many employees are participating. We are cleaning up trails for a few hours, then we get a free lunch and a free t-shirt. Later on I am babysitting for the boys again so it should be a great Saturday. Pray that I am bold in meeting friends and seek validation only in the Lord so that I can just be me!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Weekend of epic proportions

It has been a while, but I can assure you that I had a great weekend. I was lucky enough to head back to Cincinnati to tie up some loose ends, attend some grad parties, say some college goodbyes and see some amazing high school friends graduate from Mariemont.

I did not have to drive the 8+ hours alone because I grabbed Sarah (Mariemont grad '06) on my way north, as she is taking classes at UNC for the month. We stopped to eat lunch in Charleston at my parents house and my favorite thing happened: the dogs got out. First of all, why do we have two dogs again? Second of all it was my fault...I did not tell Sarah to close the door quickly behind her. So, I walk inside and start ot make lunch until I realize no dogs begging by the refrigerator...strange sign in our house. The front door is wide open and no dogs are anywhere in sight. I grab a bone and head down the driveway and see them both staring at me, then proceeding ot run the other way. Rocca is an easy catch because he sees that I have a bone, fat kid that he is, but Brady the asian-dog space-cadet is chasing a butterfly like an idiot. I proceed to chase him into the woods until I can grab his collar and walk him back down the entire driveway as such. i.e. I will not have my own dog until my kids beg me to death. I would just as well let them run away but I would have to deal with the wrath. :)

While in Cincinnati Molly and I tackled the daunting task of winning back our security deposit in a cleaning contest. But really, moving is so miserable, but cleaning is worse. Not to mention we had to pay 60 bucks to get the carpets, that are the consistency of hardwood floor, shampooed. Bush league. But! Molly and I got to do all of this together, including visit Goodwill with a years worth of donated clothes and other stuff. I always have fun doing miserable things with Molly because she has a great sense of humor...she keeps it interesting. I got to hang out with my new BFF Henry who begs me for a ride every night...j/k...but really I am his chauffeur. He surprised me with a great gift as a token of his appreciation, so we're even. Hi Clyde.

Sarah's younger sister Amy is our main YL girl at Mariemont, one of my best friends, and an '09 high school grad. Her mom threw and "Amypalooza" on Saturday with family and close friends, and I was so happy to attend. She has an awesome family and it reminded me so much of my own. Her mom has 2 sisters and they are so close...same tendencies. Everyone got a chance to tell stories about Amy, and it was such a testament to her faith to hear how much she sought the Lord even as a little Amy. I admire her quite a bit. The high schoolers graduated on Sunday night and I was overwhelmingly sad. It was a harsh reality that I know so many of those names and faces, and so many of them do not know the Lord. I am reassured that the Lord has used me, and that they are not lost just because they did not come to know him in high school. My best friends are spreading out over the country and I am far more sad now than I was at my own high school grad 4 years ago. What does that tell ya about relationships? :)

After graduation I went up to Oxford to visit some Miami friends. I don't see these friends much and they are for the most part relatively new friendships. We pulled a 4 am nighter (not to be confused with an all-nighter) that consisted of tears over Kris Allen, a brief bonfire, lots of talking about Fairfield (of course), and a 4 on 1 checkers game where Jordan single-handedly took the cake. Lucky for him I let Travis (whose mind was too busy thinking about Kris Allen) make some bad moves. Not a lot of sleep, but quality time and a great sleepover with Maddie. :) In all of those things I rejoice.

So, today I am back in Charlotte and I continue the job search. I have an interview with Human Resources at the Charlotte Suites Hotel at 1 pm for a job as (I think?) a hotel restaurant hostess. Clearly not ideal, but I rejoice in the fact that it is a lead. I am trying to be patient. I was reading the first chapter of Acts this weekend and God spoke right to my heart. After Jesus was resurrected, he appread to the disciples. He came and spoke with them and then left with the promise that they would see him again. The version that I have says that they prepared to wait "indefinitly." Really, "INDEFINITLY?" That is a scary thought, that God's timing really has no bearing in time at all. But, it was a reassuring thought that Jesus keeps his promises. The commentary said this: "Even when we do not 'see' something or 'feel' that God is working, He is working MIGHTILY in our behalf. We inherit the promises of God through faith and patience." I am trying to really be patient and rely on faith, yet be proactive at the same time in this job search process. Pray that I might be patient...

"For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised." Hebrews 10:36