Sunday, December 13, 2009

I'm dreaming of a White Christmas

White Christmas is my favorite Christmas movie. It says a lot about the film since I'm not a huge "old movie" buff. But I just love that movie. The Christmas season is not complete without one or two, maybe three viewings of it. But, that's actually not what this blog is about....It's about the fact that I am literally dreaming of, and praying for a White Christmas. Will you pray with me?

Oh, sure, everyone likes a white Christmas. But I feel especially desperate. I honestly cannot tell you when the last time was that I experienced a White Christmas. It's always a white Christmas wherever I am not. For example, when I lived in the states, my parents would have a white Christmas if I stayed home in Chicago. If I went to New York to be with my parents, or if we went south to be with my sister, they would have a White Christmas in Chicago. Last year, when I was here in Germany, wouldn't you know it, they had a white Christmas both in Chicago and in New York! What is the deal? Do I personally repel snow on the most important day of the year?!!!

So this year, I seriously, whole-heartedly praying that the Chicagoland area will have snow in the days leading up to Christmas. It would be icing on the cake if it actually snowed on the day of Christmas. But I'll take old snow still on the ground. I just want to look out the window and see snow. Is that too much to ask for? Answer: NO. I know that God likes to give good gifts to his children. So, my grown up Christmas wish for 2009....a White Christmas.

Oh wait, I think I previously declared to God that I would be satisfied, even ecstatic if I could just "Be Home for Christmas"... OK, I suppose I am happy enough just knowing I'll be home with friends and family for the holidays. But that doesn't mean I'm gonna stop praying for snow. You don't have to either :-)

I'd love to insert a picture here of a white Christmas, but I don't have any. Last time I saw one it was before digital cameras!

Friday, November 13, 2009

My loyalties

So, I've been realizing lately how fiercely loyal I am. Once you have been an integral part of my life, I will love you forever. This sounds like a great quality, and I'm sure that it is. But it also means I hold on to things and don't let them go after everyone else involved has. Can't tell you how many times I've tried to relive things or reconnect with people who think I'm crazy that I still care. But you know what, I'm gonna choose to look at this part of my personality as a good thing. So, I'm gonna give a shout out to all the things and people I am fiercely loyal too. Here goes:

Well, gotta start with my family. Anyone who is a part my family, whether blood or adopted...I love you. I love the way we share a hometown that most of us have never lived in. I love that we have regular family reunions. I love that I played Star Wars with my cousins in the treehouse. I love that my parents and aunts and uncles pray for our generation everytime they get together. In a nutshell...I love you!

Then there are the people I grew up with in Mexico and Jamaica from both church and school. We've had good times and bad.... But I gotta say, I actually thank God for facebook for being able to reconnect with so many friends from back in the d-a-y. I'll always feel connected to the people I learned to read with, the ones I played on the playground with, even the ones who always picked me last to be on their team in PE. And the ones who loved NKOTB with me. Man, I miss you guys!!!

At 13, I started working at Camp Troutburg...Wow, I could go on for hours about the great memories and friendships I have from there. Great nights of laying at the fork in the road watching the stars, great musicals like Antsy-Antsy-Antsylvania. Quick trips to Brockport and water wars in the middle of the night....I mean, in the middle of the day (in case Aunt Grace reads this :-) I love my Troutburg gang. I miss you to pieces!

College - The best days of my life! I lived on the same floor of the same dorm for 3 of the 4 years I was there. Miner Penthouse RULES and I'm so grateful for the ladies I lived with there (and even those I lived with on the 3rd floor that one year). Roberts was also the place where I had more good friends that were guys than any other time in my life. Sometimes I feel like I was a different person there than I ever have been since. All I know is I experienced snow there first, it was my first few years of living in the US and I have incredibly friends who helped me thru that transition. I don't get to see you guys often enough.

Well, I've got to start with OBT - the best church you have ever heard of. Man, I really miss that family. I cannot even begin to express the fun, the growth, the worship, the love I have experienced there. If you are or have ever been a part of OBT, you are a part of me. I will always hold you close to my heart and consider you a part of my family.
The Ladybug House - you girls are my sisters! Thru thick and thin, I will always stand by you. We have been through it all together and somehow still manage to be friends today. I love you! Now, you know how I feel about nepotism, I think I made myself very clear :-) but if I allowed it, I would move heaven and earth for you because you are real sisters to me! I love you!
Wheaton friends - I'm so lucky to have made more friends even when I thought I didn't need them, cuz you turned out to be the only single friends I have left at home and I don't know where I'd be without you! I have had so much fun with you, I love that we still get each other!
CBLI - after so many years of being on CBLI staff that I can't even keep track of the number, words cannot express...

Then there is BFA...11 years ago I showed up here in Kandern and lived with 30 teenage girls, 4 other staff members, and one dorm brother. See, if you live in a building with me...then that makes you family. So, my Haus 1 fam, you cannot get rid of me. You may try, but I'm not letting you go. I will always care for and about you. I will always be there for you. You have brought me such joy!
Now I'm back at BFA and my BFA family just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I get to add to it a long list of Spanish students, class of 2011 students, small group girls, HBR guys and staff members to whom I am fiercely loyal. I have the pictures to prove it. (OK, now that just sounds creepy, doesn't it :-)

Have I mentioned Urbana Missions Conference, Bible Study Fellowship, the many short term missions teams, etc.? (Actually I do have to give a special shout out to my Ecuador SMTeam. They are the best missions team ever and I was so blessed to be a part of it. That trip is beyond words...I love you guys!" Eres tu la unica razon!)

If you're actually still reading this, I'm guessing you fit somewhere on this list. Even if I didn't mention your category specifically, I think you get the picture. YOU ARE SPECIAL TO ME. I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH AND I'M HERE TO STAY. Hope you can handle that.

Loyally yours,


Thursday, October 29, 2009

'Tis the Season

You may be wondering what brings on the Christmas season for me here in Germany. Well, all the German Christmas chocolate, advent calendars, and sweet treats have been in the grocery stores for a month now. It's a bit ridiculous...I'm supposed to start buying Christmas chocolate and pastries at the beginning of October, really? So, no, that's not what has brought on the Christmas season for me. What has? BANQUET ASKING!!! What is that? Well, the last Saturday in November is the annual Christmas Banquet at BFA. That means that the last week of October is when the boys start getting really creative and extravagant in asking the girls for the honor of sitting next to them for dinner one cold night in late November.

Earlier today, I found out one of my small group girls had been asked to banquet. I was excited for tonights small group time to hear the story. I figured I should go ahead and plan for the majority of tonights time together to revolve around talk of banquet asking. I was right. Before it even began, one of the girls came in to tell me that two boys were planning of asking two of my girls during small group time. So, we started the evening by hearing 'C's story of how she got asked...she was 'kidnapped' and taken to a park where her date had lit a bunch of tealights placed in the shape of a question mark. When she took her blindfold off and saw the candles, he asked her to banquet. Soon after the story was over, 'EJ' was asked to come out into the hallway, were a boy was waiting for her with a plate of cupcakes, with frosting decorations spelling out "Banquet?". Then we all got to eat the cupcakes! They were super yummy and he baked them himself. Finally, a half hour later, after I'd given them my banquet speech, about how it really is just a relaxed time of sitting next to someone at a table with 9 other couples. Just have fun and talk to the boy...another boy burst into our classroom with guitar in hand and sang a song he and his sister had written for 'E' asking her to banquet. It was quite funny and I had to give him props for going all out, even packing a bouquet of flowers into his back pocket. His whole small group stood outside my classroom windows watching the spectacle. Good times!

So, now the school is abuzz with who is asking who, and what they will wear for the Christmas banquet. So, although I'm in no way in the Christmas SPIRIT yet, there is not doubt I'll be hearing the word "Christmas" every day from now on. Just wish I had known the plans before I'd left home. I would've taken my camera and given you a taste of what it was like. These boys can get rather creative!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I might be the strangest person you know

Now, I'm not strange in a Phoebe Buffay kind of way. But I am such a strange mixture of dichotomies and contradictions, I can't even keep track of myself. What brought on this declaration, you might wonder? Well, I was walking home from church today thinking, as usual, how much I love walking everywhere I need to go in town. I love walking! I love that when it's time to go to work, I bundle up, put on my huge red backpack and head out for my 15 minute walk to school. I love that at the end of the day, when I'm not in a hurry I can take the long way home that leads me along the creek that runs through the middle of town. I love that when it's grocery shopping time, I load up on reusable, cloth bags and walk to and from the store. I love that I finally have a form of exercise that I actually do. I love that my muscles and feet can now take long days of sightseeing without being in pain. I love that whenever I walk out the door, I am blessed with the opportunity to walk through a quaint and beautiful town in the Black Forest of Germany. I love it, I love it, I love it! So what's so strange about that? I really don't like walking. I'll hardly ever go for a walk just for the fun of it. I don't go for hikes on the many trails our area is famous for. If I had a car, I know I'd end up driving to school cuz I got ready too late. If I have some spare time, or I want to hang out with a friend, I'll never suggest going for a walk. (I'm going on a hike with a friend tomorrow, her suggestion. I'll enjoy it, I'm sure. But I would never choose it on my own.) How can I love to do something so much that it makes me smile and be happy every time I HAVE to do it, yet never want to do it when I DON'T HAVE to?

This is not my only personal contradiction. I'm split right down the middle on being an introvert/extrovert. I love being social and hanging out, but I am quite shy and love being home alone. I can't fathom the idea of living in a country long enough to learn the language without doing so, yet I can't get motivated to learn a bit more of German. I miss home like crazy, but I absolutely love being here! The list goes on but you get the picture. OK, maybe that doesn't make me the strangest person you know, but I'm definitely weird. As a teenager, one of my favorite sayins was: "If you're not weird, you're not worth knowing." I hope that means I'm worth knowing. :-) (My other favorite quote was: "You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose.")

Looking forward to my next purposeful walk,


Sunday, October 11, 2009

I'll be home for Christmas...You can count on me!

I JUST BOUGHT A TICKET TO GO HOME OVER CHRISTMAS BREAK. I was, just the last few days, trying to resign myself to not going home over Christmas break. I didn't last year and I had a really great time here in Germany...very relaxing and peaceful, not bad at all. But over this summer, I had kind of decided I wanted to go home for Christmas. I wanted to be at my home church on a Sunday when most of the congregation was there (something that never happens over the summer!) Plus, so much of what is Christmas tradition for me, happens only in the US at my church. I want to help with Christmas kettles, drive the bell ringers to their spots, count money, go Christmas shopping at all my usual spots, help with Angel Tree, stay up ridiculously late wrapping gifts with my sister while watching the 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story, etc. etc. and so forth.

But the more I looked for affordable tickets, the less I found them. I had kind of given up hope and was trying to wrap my brain around staying here, trying to get excited about the good things about staying: a lot more rest and down time, hanging out with friends like we can't during the school year, the peacefulness, etc. I just figured I'd keep looking and if by some miracle something turned up, I'd take it. Well, today, when I was about to sign off the internet, I decided to check again. And there it was....the cute little gnome was my friend today. He found me a ticket that was cheaper than anything I'd seen for the days I wanted to travel. Its not everything I wanted in a ticket, but its almost everything. And on a Sunday, the day of the week I miss home the most, it was an offer I couldn't refuse!

So, I'm going home! Hope to see many of you there!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I had my first small group time last night. I have 5 freshman girls and I'm pretty sure I'm gonna LOVE this! Four of my girls are home students who have lived in the area for many years. The fifth one is new this year and she is in the dorm that I worked at 10 years ago. For our first time together we just spent time getting to know each other and having fun together.

There were so many things that I loved about last night. First of all, the girls wanted to know about me. As soon as we got to my classroom I was bombarded with all sorts of questions about me, my life, etc. They had even done some research on me before coming, because they knew who my roommate was and where I lived, they had made guesses about my age (thankfully they were wrong - 28). So, I started out with sharing about my story, my life and how I ended up here. Sure enough, before we moved on to anything else, they asked how long I was gonna be here. They always want to know how long you are going to invest in them.

Then we played a good game of Pit, new for several of my girls. Then it was time for them to tell me a little about themselves. So, I brought out the marshmallows and the candle stick. While each one roasted a marshmallow and at their smore, they got to tell me some stuff about themselves. One of my girls was born in Japan and lived there till she was 7. One of my girls is Korean and has lived in Turkey since she was 5. One of my girls loves people, big groups of people, she just kept telling us how much she loves to be with people.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My first attempt at blogging

OK, I've avoided this for a while. But I have many reasons for trying this out, so let's give it a shot shall we.

Welcome to my blog. I hope you and I can continue to enjoy our journey together whether we are near of far.

I don't have too many thoughts for the day. I'm mostly overwhelmed with an enormous "to do" list and wondering why I picked tonight to start a blog. So let's just consider this a trial run and see how it posts.

More soon!