As the sky turns dark…

I am finishing off a batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Yum!

I have to give a shout out to the person that these cookies are for: Daniel Johnson. He’s the one with dark hair who’s not making a goofy face.* He is my computer saviour. Last week I called him when my internet browser kept pulling up chair2porn. I was yelling on the phone: “Daniel! Daniel! What’s happening? I’m on Facebook! Why is there porn? Make it stop!” He laughed, and I’m sure that he was grinning, 1400 miles away, as he explained and coached me to get the mess off my computer. (of course, my dad had to finish fixing it, there’s only so much you can do over the phone) So I’m making cookies for Daniel to say: Thank You!

In the midst of mixing the dough and adding some mystery ingredients not on my recipe, I told Jesus that I needed him to be really clear about some job opportunities that I have coming up. I interviewed at a Starbucks yetserday and I think it went well. I’ll be able to say more on Tuesday. But it’s a huge pay cut from what I’m used to. I also had replied to a family that wanted to interview me as a nanny. Both had upsides, both had downsides. In my arrogance, I assumed** that I would easily get both jobs, or at least, the nanny position. I mean, clearly, that would just come. So I asked God to make it really clear where he wanted me to be, and this (rather large) part of me wanted him to turn me down for Starbucks, because that will be early in the morning and actually be a challenge, whereas children aren’t (and it would be a paycut). Hm, yeah.

Got an email back right after I pulled the last batch out of the oven. Yep. They already filled that nanny position.

At least it was clear. I mean, it was very clear. No. We filled the position. Thanks for your interest. Good luck. Signature. Can’t get much clearer than that. But I sat down in the rocking chair, on top of my purse that glitters with mirrors when the sky isn’t grey and stormy, and I was quite disappointed. But it was clear said a small voice. Yeah, I know, I said back, but it wasn’t the clear that I wanted.

Ah, Matt Chandler is onto something–and so are all the new reformed pastors. My wicked heart! My fickle heart! I asked and even when I received I was ungrateful! Ah me, what a sinner. My fickle fickle heart.

I can’t even eat my sorrows away in chocolate chips, because the cookies have been promised away.

 

*The other is Robb Willett, who is pretty awesome in his own right. But he’s in China which makes it a long distance call, and really, I talk to Robb about scottish drinking songs and awkward jokes–not computer issues. It’s far too sensible a topic for our friendship.

**once again, when you assume, you what? oh yeah, make an “ass” of “u” and “me”

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Old City, New City

today, as you may have noticed, is Sunday. I think that most of the Western world think sSunday is another day to sleep in. It should be, in my opinion. Especially when I got up yesterday early and stayed up late last night playing hearts and 041708_17121laughing to the soundtrack of the Beatles with my awesome family.

It seemed unfortunate at the time that I was rolling out of bed in the dark at 5.45 am. You heard me. And I wasn’t just up to hug my brother before he set off in his T-6. I got up that early so I had time for a latte before leaving for church at 6.45. Of course, I don’t run on time, so I arrived at 7.10 instead of 7. But Aaron and Tye said it didn’t matter and put me to work right away.

You see, I’m on the set up and tear down crew, on a bi-weekly rotation.

Today, I unloaded one of these huge black rolling cases that must be six feet tall two feet thick and five feet wide. I almost got run over on the way down the ramp, even as I tried to hold it at bay with all the strength of my comparably weightless little self. I helped set up the children’s room with Tye and he asked me question after question. And after service, we did the same thing in reverse. I am the only girl on our crew, it was great fun. We laughed about my betrayal of Denver–due to occur tomorrow night when I cheer for Roethlisberger and Palomalu. I told the guys they had to do the heavy lifting and smiled my way through the manual labour that was more fun than anyone should have been allowed.

At the end, Aaron stood in the back of our trailer and throwing his hands to the wind, spread eagle, he grinned: “that’s basically it Sara,” he said. Tye hugged me and called me “sister.” John said I managed to weasle my on to the “good crew,” and I said that I only work with the best.

Tonight, I went to my old church, which is a great place too. I sat in the nursery, hugged a few children, handed out toys, wiped noses–the usual. I even went to “cafe” and socialized with some people over dinner. But there was something missing. No fault of the people there. Maybe it was the lack of sweat, or the plush chairs or the way I ignored someone I knew, or just the awkwardness of being there again–three years later and totally different than I was. Or maybe, it just wasn’t right, in a totally unexplainable way.

But I like my new church. And do you know, I didn’t think that was possible. But I LIKE my church. I like the people. I like the crummy donuts out front. I like the theatre seats that almost put me to sleep this morning. I like my pastor and his very cheerful wife and their three beautiful children. I like my church. I could have shouted it from the rooftops today! I have been so irritated with the church lately. But this was beauty at the early hours of the morning. My pastor knows my name! People give me hugs! People caaaaare about me. People love me here.

And the picture? Well, that, my friends, is how I feel about the church right now. And I don’t mean mine, I mean the whole big world wide church.

Watching The Rockies = Freaking Out

And I don’t even care about baseball. I don’t even like baseball! But come ON man! Are you TRYING to walk him?

It’s been an up and down week. I’m getting turned down for jobs right and left it feels. On Thursday I drove to work in the snow, 25 minutes east where the weather gets worse at every major intersection sometimes. I couldn’t see much on the drive down Lincoln, through the open space between I25 and Stonegate TWP. The wind was blowing across the open space, the cows were hiding, the cars either hugging too close to one another or too far to see much except hazy outlines and brake lights. I drove behind a Ford pickup–a 350 to be exact. Burgundy. Chunky, like a child’s toy. In some ways, I thought driving behind a pickup would be awesome. Not only because I could lust over my dream car (not specifically a Ford 350, but a pickup). Also, I thought it would block some of the wind, keep the snow away and give me some more visibility.

Nope.

Did you know that driving behind a truck is akin to driving in a wind tunnel and thereby creating your own personal blizzard for a unique driving experience? Well, it was on Thursday.

I picked up Salem at a friend’s house down the street. We walked home in the softly falling snow. Or rather, I walked home carrying Salem because the snow was flying into her eyes and I couldn’t explain to a three year old how to keep your head down but still look up to see were you’re going. But it was fun, she played with my hair, giggling: “You have snow in your hair Sara! It’s all white! Can I eat it?”

I bundled her up better and we went out on the back porch. I stood on the deck, because I made a bad decision concerning shoes and didn’t feel like falling my way to the grass  below an extra long flight of slippery stairs. Denali came out with us, the goofy dog practically sprinted to the grass that was covered in snow like a thin layer of powder sugar. She rolled around, barked and circled Salem who didn’t even notice. I stood on the deck, feeling silly for the shoes I wore and talked to Salem as she wandered aimlessly through the snowy yard. The world was quiet, the way it always is when Colorado gets snow. The back road behind the house was nearly empty, a lone SUV made the trek homewards through the neighborhood, rushing towards warmth at its destination.

I couldn’t help thinking that I feel as slow as the world was on Thursday. No job, hardly any social life, not much purpose. Just me, and Jesus, and the oddly comforting snow. But as I watched Salem on the ground below me, eating snow from the grass with her floppy mittens, licking it from the edge of the fire pit, kicking it in the dirt, scooping it up off the picnic table with me to throw at Denali–it didn’t seem to matter. All the nothing-ness melted away. She giggled a lot, her pink little nose wrinkled every time it touched the snow as she tried to shove more of it in her mouth. I picked her up and spun her around, let her feed me some of her freshly picked snowflakes, danced. We listened to the snow as it fell and flakes landed on our hair as quiet as whispers on Christmas Eve. And finally, with my fingers stiff and frozen, I convinced Salem to go inside.

But I was almost as sorry to go as her. Because in the quiet stillness of Thursday evening in the snowy air, I felt oddly at peace. Salem loves me, not becuase I wear great clothes, drive a an awesome car, have a high salary or some other ridiculous thing. She loves me because I eat snow with her and curl up with her to read books by the fire; because I’m someone to hug and be loved by. It’s kind of like God. I don’t really have to do much to be loved–I don’t actually have to do anything. Just be.

So: here’s to three year olds teaching me sunday school lessons I should have learned a long time ago. :]

No WAY. Colorado: You are FULL of Surprises

Like the sunsets that are beautiful thanks to the fires raging across the California countryside.

Or like the time that I almost got hit on the highway last night. That’s right little red car, maybe you shouldn’t tailgate. Mmhm.

Or like the fact that I have entirely missed summer and you are sailing straight on into the time of falling leaves and crisp mornings. Bring on the cold!

Or, better yet, like the church I just visited. And the girl I met from Alabama and how she wants to be my friend.

Or the way that being with Caitlin was wonderful–even on my grumpy days.

Or, perhaps best of all, that my “childhood” friend is now engaged! Oh Colorado, is there nothing you can’t produce? Is there no miracle too great? (Not that it’s a miracle, I just can’t believe we are growing up. Sara! You can’t be engaged! Who will I giggle with about boys? We can’t sleep in the same bed in your parent’s basement! There will be someone else in that bed! Eeeek!)

Barely two weeks ago I was flying in after being awake for approximately 26 hours. Criminal Minds was playing loudly in my headphones to keep me awake. I was asking the stewardess for coffee every fifteen minutes and using that itty bitty lavatory every twenty minutes. But I was awake when that pilot cheerfully announced our descent over the speakers. I buckled my seatbelt with two fumbling hands and shoved open that window. I haven’t had a window seat this whole trip, I thought. I’m going to see at least one dang city from the air before I land in it. Thank you very much.

It was chilly and rainy the night I landed. It was like Moscow in Denver. We came down from the cloud cover, wispy and clinging to the wings of the plane that I sat over. And there was Denver in the distance. It glowed gently through the moisture that hung in the unusually damp air. For a moment, I forgot where I was, what language they were speaking on the television, and the baggy sweatpants of hte girl next to me. For a moment, I thought the plane had taken a turn back to the North East or entirely overshot our planned destination.

There was a tower that looked like St. Basil’s through the mist, a little cluster of oddly shaped roofs that sat glowing, red, green, amber and white. A bright red eye blinked at our plane as we tilted towards the west looking down to the ground running fast below our wings. A power plant? Sleeping away the night before belching tons of grey smoke into the morning air? The mountains were no where to be seen, everything looked flat. A highway of lonely cars glimmered like the river just outside the Kremlin wall. In the misty night, with my face pressed against the cold plastic window, I had a glimpse of Russia in my home.

We ground to a halt. The blue lights of the runway welcomed us to the ground, albeit a bumpy landing that rocked the plane from side to side as the tires squealed. It was smoother than the take off from Moscow. When the center crease of the ceiling creaked and I thought for sure the plane would split in half, with me in the center row. I could see it in my mind’s eye, the two halves snapping and flying apart before crashing down to the unforgiving ground below. (1) Compared to such a traumatizingly morbid thought process, our landing was like jumping onto a feather mattress (albeit surprisingly bouncy). We taxied through the empty airport and up to our gate. In the light of the terminal and gangplank being lowered to our aircraft door, I could see ice on the wing below me. Ice. Shouldn’t I have left that behind? Shouldn’t it be hot here? Hot and sunny and painfully dry?

And then I remembered.

I have been gone all summer long.

And I am not going back to Seattle in September.

I am a grown up.

And I have to figure out my life now.

I was overwhelmed. (2)

But a quiet voice said that Colorado would be good to me, the sun will stay though the heat is moving on. Something will turn out. Something always turns up. What do the Amish say? Way will open. He’s out there, you know. I don’t even think I know what that really means. But he is. And someday, we’ll look back on this and laugh. How could we have doubted? How could we have been unsure? Because he always comes through. Shall this be any different? All things work together. Even though they usually don’t work together quite in the way we had planned.

and oh my gosh. Sara Huston is engaged. And it blows. My. Mind.

(1) though Daniel swears a few people have escaped such incidents as have a parachute not deploy, I doubt I would be so lucky.

(2) Job. Car. Insurance. Cell Phone. Housing. Church. Friends. there is soooo much that must come together. But Taylor assures me it will. : )

August 30th: Or, On the Plane In the Twenty Minutes Before My Battery Dies a Slow Death that I hope Daniel Can Someday Bring Back to Life

I am going to have carpal tunnel by the end of these twenty minutes. Thanks to the man in front me and his desire to sleep, thanks to the darkened cabin that is making everyone but the children sleepy, thanks to the short tray table and the seat that has leaned back and thus pushed my computer forward, thanks to the awkward angle of my wrists… I am going to get carpal tunnel. But it’s okay, because it’s genetic, and I have tiny wrists which is also a bad sign: so I suppose it was inevitable.

I haven’t much to say about my trip right now. It was good, although, it was entirely different from what I expected. I have never been on a half administrative-half mission trip. Not to mention I am struggling to understand what role I think short term missions should play in the church. Not to mention I am wandering around in my faith a lot lately.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not losing faith.

I think I’m gaining it.

But this has always been a hard spot for me. My faith goes through plenty of ups and downs. IN eighth grade I tried Atheism on for size. It didn’t stick past Easter. My sophomore year of college I was barely clinging to hope when I came home for the summer, not really sure what God was doing on his big throne with flowing robes that fill the temple. This summer I graduated college, was a little unsure of what my plans would be, and then God sent me packing to Russia. I was protesting with my dad about writing, and now I’m sitting on the plane, going back to a place I can finally call home, and all I want to do is write. I feel like my life is all over. There’s not straight path through the woods, just a big field with lots of beautiful flowers and I’m traipsing around.

I’m reading a book right now called Confessions of an Amateur Believer. I’m only half way through, but I would recommend it pretty strongly. Patty Kirk is telling me where I am. Or at the very least, she is hitting the surface and putting words to lots of things I’ve felt but haven’ been able to explain to people. I have so many questions for Jesus. What’s the church supposed to look like? What’s the point of the “sinner’s prayer”? Why are Protestants so angry about works when James is all about works and the Christian life seems to revolve around works too? How does salvation really work? Because most of the atonement theories seem to leave something out… I only really like Ransom Theory because it makes Satan out to be a moron and Jesus wins by a sort of righteous trickery.

And my faith is still all over the place. I can pray to the Holy Spirit, I can pray to all three, because really it’s praying to one. I don’t understand God’s timing, though I am learning a sort of disagreeable contentment with not understanding him.  Jim said he thought that God would give me an answer if I just asked. “I don’t like to keep things from my daughter, I don’t think that God keeps things from us, either.”

Which is weird. I felt like I was being rebuked for saying that I am trying to learn patience and just wait for God… for whenever he feels like showing up. The in between times are a little crummy—but I’m learning that like Patty Kirk says, God is closest when life is crappiest. Life isn’t crappy right now, it’s actually pretty good. Confusing, but good. I just wish that Jim would understand: Abba works with me like an old Jewish Rebbe (maybe that’s why Jesus became a Rabbi). He’s asking me questions, leading me to the answers in a circular, exasperating manner. We’ll get there, but he’s taking a circuitous route because he wants me to answer my own questions,  and he’s just leading me there.

So they handed us lunch, or dinner, or some meal that was meant to be pasta. And I thought about what Patty Kirk writes. I dug past the grey-ish brown green beans to the mooshy pasta noodles and scraped a few together onto my fork. I chewed them over thoughtfully, wondering about the disciples, and Moses and Paul and Abraham and so many other heroes of the faith. They started out pretty unsure, fairly skeptical, didn’t they? I’ll sleep with my slave then send her away, I will say I have a lisp, I will say I don’t know him, I’ll kill people who follow him… These aren’t the type that we think will be great leaders of religious movements. But they are. Because Jesus’ Ransom covers us. God’s grace does something weird when we believe, and it’s all figured out. The Spirit takes up some kind of residence inside my flabby little body that has had to pee for an hour but is still waiting for the lavatory line to calm down.

I think it might be okay to wander around. Maybe that’s why my favorite hymn acknowledges that I am prone to wander. But I still come back. I am here, and I’m not leaving the trail. Just wobbling from side to side as I stumble along.

And I think that might be okay.

The Mediterranean…

Well here’s to topless beaches which are taken advantage of primarily by old and sagging women.

Today, after some wandering through the south of France, and after contemplating a road trip to Barcelona (383 km) those of us in the directionally challenged van belonging to Dr. Davis stumbled upon a white strip of the Mediterranean’s shore.

I have wanted to see the Med for a long time. Probably since the time my dad went to North Africa, and promised to take me with him if I got a 4.0. Well four AP classes with straight A’s later and still no Blue Mediterranean from the shores of Muslim Africa. That’s okay though, because I went today. And topless beaches in France are obviously more exciting than fully covered women in Africa. I mean, really.

We waded out from the white fluffy sand to the blue water and shivered our way in, up to our knees, our waists, our shoulders and finally a few of us went under entirely. We walked along jetties that kept the water calm and tranquil. They reminded me of Oceanside, and the salty air tasted fresh and clean. The water burned my eyes, but only for a few minutes. Eventually, I was back at home, in a sea I’ve never enjoyed but somehow knew in the same way I’ve always loved the world’s salty water. Not to mention, Jesus could have touched some of the same water molecules that I swam in today. The little waves that lifted us gently over the smooth ground below might have once sped Paul’s ship onward to Rome or roared over the deck and crashed him onto Malta. But in some ways, despite the religious implications, I was happy just to be in an ocean again.

Oh Russia, I’ll miss the ocean blue when I come. That has always been my great disappointment with Colorado, the landlocked mountainous beauty has beach.

In other news… I am in need of prayer. I like it here, but I also don’t. I don’t think I ever want to travel with people in a group setting like this. It’s fun, I enjoy the “grown ups,” the cooking, the sites. But this group is full of students who are (obviously) here for no reason other than themselves. It makes total sense. I’ve just never been in a group of people whose only purpose is to worship the sun and eat food that they complain about cleaning up. It’s quite challenging. If I make it through five whole weeks without snapping in my self righteous little way it will be an honest-to-God-Miracle. I am reading through the NT and today was James. Mmm. Lots of stuff about works and controlling your tongue. A message? Okay, yeah, I’ll listen. But I could use a little help, here, Jesus. And this isn’t purely irreverant sarcasm.

Mom and Dad, can you put more money in my account?

I just got back from this place we refer to as the “pirate bar.” It has a wooden statue of a pirate standing outside and a nautical theme inside. It’s fun, pricey, but fun. So tonight, I also decided I wouldn’t spend money. But you know, it was our second place, so I decided I’d get a chocolat viennoise. Well, the lady heard us wrong, or we miscommunicated, or something. She got me two drinks. And instead of spending nothing, or very little.. I spent 10 euros.

But you know, it was fun. I had a great time. It was worth it. Earlier in the evening, Dr. Davis sent a note down with some girls to Tully while we were at the Jazz Club. It had 20 euros, and it said “Dear Tully, please treat Hanna to a good time.” So Taylor and I went up to kidnap Hanna from the house. We took the long way around, I’m not sure why. I was following Taylor. Maybe he wasn’t paying attention. But it was nice, we had a good, funny and cheerful conversation on the way. And we had a great time nagging Hanna to come with us.

At the “pirate bar” we sat and talked about lots of meaningless things. This trip is turning out to be a great combination between meaningless and meaningful conversations. Taylor and I talked about TPing, Becca and I talked about prophetic dreams. It’s interesting to be with so many people, have them stare at you when you say something that they don’t expect, or when they say something that totally blows your mind: about them, about you, about God. When you find out that who you thought was a punk freshmen is actually a a PK and is sweet and generous, when you discover someone who is cheerful and funny rather than grumpy and cynical like you expected… it’s suprising, it’s humbling…

So I’m learning a lot about not judging people, not having previous conceptions. Because people keep surpirsing me. They keep saying things about God that can change my mind. I’m trying to realize that everyone here has a great story and something to share with me. I’m excited for the next few weeks, the opportunity to be with them and learn from them. It’s humbling but good.

And in the meantime, since I’m going out with people to hear all this (because there’s nothing to do but go out and spend money), can you put some money in my account? 🙂 Just kidding.