Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Teary-Eyed

I just finished meeting with Steve and Alycia for my staff review. And there were a couple of moments when I was near tears. No, not because I was being chewed out. Because I will be leaving this place in six months, and though that seems like a long time, I know it will fly by and all of a sudden, I'll be saying goodbye. Shepherd of the Hills will be starting the hiring process soon for a new youth & family minister, which is going to be really weird for me. I want the very best for this church. When I said that to Steve, he said, "Well, you also know what we need here. . .We need you." He was kidding, of course, but it makes me cry. He said I'll always have a home here. And it really is different than if I were going to work for another church. Going to seminary is a different ballgame. It's saying, "This place has been a huge piece of my call to ministry." I honestly don't think I would be going to seminary had I not worked here first. Well, maybe, but only God knows what's up. *sigh* I'm just teary today. Dang hormones. Yes, it's the glorious phenomenon of women: yesterday I'm laughing at everything and today the slightest thing makes me cry.


I find that the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Bit o' Trivia

My sister and I keep singing this song tonight. . .yes, it's annoying, but who can tell me who sings it? ;)

"I will never find another lover sweeter than you (sweeter than you).
. . .And all my life, I pray for someone like you
And I thank God that, that I finally found you
And all my life, I've prayed for someone like you
And I hope that you feel the same way, too"

Hello, junior high dances!

Okay, I must add this to my list below, completely of my own accord, without the subject's request or suggestion. . .

ROB WEST IS CRACKING ME UP TODAY!!!!

Now, I'll admit, I laugh a lot at this guy. But he deserves a place on my list because today's subject is laughter. And he makes me laugh.

Laughing Out Loud

I'm laughing a lot today. Here's why:

1) I watched Love Actually for like the hundredth time last night with Court and Leah and today I've been talking about it with my co-workers and laughing about all the silly parts. Some of my favorite moments: a) when Sam, the 10 year-old, tells his stepdad that the reason he's been bummed out is because he's in love. . .and the stepdad says with relief, "Oh. . .I thought it was worse than that" and Sam goes, "Worse? Worse than the total agony of being in love?" (said with a cute British accent, which I can imitate quite well, I might add--I made everyone laugh at lunch today with my rendition. ;) b) when the old rock star who's now a weird, dirty scoundrel gets on a kids' show on TV and says, "Oh yes, I have a message for you kids. Don't buy drugs. Become a rock star and they give you them for free." c) when the prime minister (Hugh Grant) goes door-to-door in search of Natalie and these three little girls dressed in princess outfits demand that he sing them a carol. . .all of a sudden, his bodyguard bursts into song behind him with a beautiful baritone voice. . .Hugh Grant looks around like, "where did THAT come from?"

And of course, some moments never cease to make me cry: a) when the guy stands at Keira Knightley's character's door and holds up the cards that say his "wasted heart will love" her forever; b) when Emma Thompson's character cries in her bedroom, then pulls it together for her children; c) the very beginning at the airport. . .the scenes of hugs and kisses always gets me.

Court was making fun of me because I kept saying, "Oh, this is my favorite part!" at pretty much every part of the movie. Okay, so I have lots of favorites. :)

2) I'm in love with my new car. Any excuse to be near it, even if it's to grab something to bring back inside, I'm almost skipping out the door and down the steps. I'm in love. Isn't this what love feels like? And it can't reject me! I must believe that it loves me, too.

3) I realize I've forgotten to share a quite funny tidbit from Guatemala that I was reminded of today: since they don't speak English in the village where we stayed, many times they wear American t-shirts and have no idea what they're advertising. For instance, one nine year-old boy ran up with a black shirt that read, "I'm a lesbian!" And another man, the sweetest, most gentle and quiet man in the village--one of the leaders of the church, I might add--proudly wore his "Pimpercrombie & B**ch" shirt for all to see.

4) We decorated for Christmas at our house last night. Except that all the ornaments and lights on the tree were strewn everywhere by this morning. Dang cats threw some sort of party while we were asleep. It's actually kinda funny, though. Hence the reason it gets included in my "things that make me laugh today" list.

So here's to laughter! Some days we just don't do it enough. . .

Sunday, November 27, 2005

I Love Johnny!

Mom, Leah, and I went to see Walk the Line yesterday. Oh my goodness. Fabulous. And I will go ahead and admit something embarrassing (and hilarious) to all of you in blog-world: when I saw the previews on TV for this movie, I said to my sister, "Oh, that's about Elvis, right?" What a nerd. My mom cracked up when I told her this, so during the movie, I joked with her, "Why do they keep calling Elvis 'John'?" To be honest, I didn't know much about Johnny Cash (really, Lauren?), but now I'm probably annoying to all true Johnny Cash fans because I all-of-a-sudden love the guy. I came to my dad's house afterwards and we got out his old Johnny Cash records. . .fun stuff. That movie was so good. Again, I probably loved it because I didn't really know much about him and his life. . .but still. I loved it. And it doesn't hurt that I love Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, too.

Last night a bunch of us celebrated Teddy's birthday. . .I saw some people from high school I hadn't seen in like 6 years. Crazy. We went to Fox & Hound, then to Cowboys. If you know Cowboys, you're probably laughing right now. I still am. It's basically the only dance club in Arlington and, hence the name, quite country. Lots of drunk cowboys. . .and us. We were out on the dance floor quite a bit, which was really fun. I was out til 2:30 am, which is quite late for little Lauren. But no regrets here.

Headed back to the ATX tomorrow sometime. Until next time, my friends. . .

Friday, November 25, 2005

Interested?

Thanksgiving leftovers are almost better than the original meal. Mmmmmm.

The latest Death Cab CD, Plans, is absolutely fabulous. Get it.

I have much work to do. . .let's hope it gets done in the midst of hanging out with old friends and being lazy this break. What was I thinking? I never get work done while I'm home.




I wish we could open our eyes
To see in all directions at the same time.
~DCfC

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Indescribable

I got a car!!! After months of searching and e-mailing dealers in Austin and Dallas (my Dad is the coolest Dad ever for helping me out with this), I finally found one to buy. As of yesterday, I am the proud owner of a black 2005 Honda Civic. Yeah baby.

Here comes responsibility. Yes, my friends, this is the first car I've ever bought for myself. My name on the title. My money for the payments. Me. I've been incredibly blessed in the past with a good car to drive. And finally, the time has come for me to purchase my own. Right before I go to seminary. ha ha But my other car has been costing me a lot lately for maintenance here-and-there, so it's time for another one! And I'm sooooo excited. Again, thanks to Dad for helping me. He's the best.

Perfect segueway into my "I'm thankful for. . ." list:

1) My family--Mom, Dad, Mike, Barrett, Lee-lee, Byron, and numerous pets between the households. . .as we grow and the years continue to fly by, it's ever more amazing to me how blessed I am to be a part of this family. It's the one group in my life I can't choose. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

2) My friends--too many to list, but you know who you are. And if you're unsure whether or not you're on my list, rest assured that you probably are. :) I've often said to friends that laughing is my best (and often only) workout. . .therefore I attribute my healthiness to my friends --sometimes the mere thought of you can bring a smile to my face. What would we do without friends?

3) My job, my life in Austin, my future ahead of me--lots of wonderful times this past year and lots of changes coming up in the next. . .I'm thankful that things keep changing and that I don't feel "stuck" with where I am right now. My kiddos keep me guessing, laughing, and questioning that which I thought I knew. My co-workers are the best ever. I have come to recognize how much I love ministry and was indeed created for church work--and I'm not just okay with that, I'm excited about it! Thanks be to God for showing me new things.

4) Our God--though I question some things, complain about many things, wonder "why" way too often, try to hide the true Lauren from the world and be who I am not. . .Every day, You're the same. . .You never change. . .No, Never. (DC) All I can say is not enough--THANK YOU.

May the turkeys be yummy, may the naps be many and restful, may the hugs be comforting, may your tummies be full. And even as our tummies are full, let us remember those whose tummies are empty. May we not just be thankful for what we have, but be bold enough to give what we have to others.


Happy Thanksgiving!


***
I just realized that I started out this post talking about my new car and ended with remembering those who don't have what we have. How do we keep perspective? It's tough stuff, but we gotta keep trying.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Jump!

Nashville was WONDERFUL! I love the Youth Specialties conventions. . .great worship, my favorite Christian artists, fabulous people (including random run-ins with an old high school friend and a new friend up in Dallas!), incredible time for rest and rejuvenation. It was great great great. And now I get to go home for Thanksgiving! Sooooo ready!!

Hugs to all. Goodnight.




I'm waiting for the world to fall
I'm waiting for the scene to change
I'm waiting when the colors come
I'm waiting to let my world come undone.
~JoC

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Yay for Birthday Parties!

After a lovely dinner at the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate my b-day, some of the girls and I went out to Sixth Street. We went to Exodus, an 18-and-up club (so Lee-lee could come with us) and it was empty when we got there. Empty. Plus, they were playing 80s music. I was excited, anyway, because I just pretended that we rented out the whole club for my birthday. :) After we talked to the DJ and requested booty music, crazy fun ensued. And more people showed up, including some people who kept us out til the bar closed! :) Here are some pics to commemorate the evening. I love my friends.


The group @ Cheesecake Factory. Court looks pissed off--lol. I was intent on ordering "at least 5 cheesecakes, guys." Em wisely convinced me that three would be plenty. So I ordered three different forms of chocolately cheesecakes. What can I say--I'm a chocoholic.


"Paige, I'm so glad you came to my birthday party. You really do love me, don't you?"


Leah, me, and Em on one of the cows by Amy's Ice Cream. You should've seen how ridiculous we looked gettting on that thing.


Yes, Court and I danced on the stage. No, I only had one beer. The bartender joked with Em, "No more drinks for her (meaning me). She's drunk." Em tried to explain that this is how I am, um, all the time. But whatever. My goal is to make my friends (and, subsequently, myself) laugh. And I definitely succeeded last night.

*******

Shout-out to Em:

I always have the best time with you. I know I always say this, but your visits are so very fun. Thanks, girl, for everything. You made this birthday very memorable. Best friends. . .since sixth grade, for forever.

God can do anything, you know--far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!

~Ephesians 3:20 The Message

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Still Celebrating

1 day, 10 hilarious kids, 5 birthday song choruses, 15 voicemails, 5 cards, 1 e-card, 1 (surprise!) visit from Daddy-o, 1 visit from best friend in the whole wide world, 1 two-layer cake of yumminess, and too-many-to-count hugs later. . .

And I'm a happy 24 year-old chica. (And I haven't even had my party yet!!)




Love is all around you.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Traces of Dirt

You could say Jesus never really left the earth--
He just took up residence in each of us.
(author unknown)
Our church decided two years ago to "adopt" a rural church in northern Guatemala. This church is a new Lutheran Church, formed by the Mayan villagers of the community of Aurora Ocho de Octubre. The congregation still maintains many of its Catholic roots--in fact, the name of the church is Virgen del Rosario, or Virgin of the Rosary Lutheran Church. Not a common Lutheran church name. :) These people work hard. They struggle. Hurricane Stan coupled with a bad year has destroyed many of their crops. They rely on their crops for income and, of course, food. And through the struggles, they worship together in their new church, eager to grow in members and honor God in all they do. Our purpose for being there was not to do anything necessarily, as in a project or some physical task. Instead, we simply spent time with our brothers and sisters, living the life they live (if only for a week), hiking through the rainforest with them to see their farmland, worshipping with them, and just loving them. Of course, we do help them financilly, but mostly in the form of loans that they are expected to pay back when they can. Five days of our trip were spent with these people. . .half of the trip, but the majority of our reason for going, as well as the majority of meaningful moments and memories.
It's hard to re-adjust. I'm constantly thinking of how to keep this experience with me. I still find traces of dirt under my fingernails--a subtle yet still powerful reminder of my life one week ago. I hope the dirt stays there for while. I need the reminder when I'm in line at Starbucks. I need the reminder when I'm in the grocery store choosing among the numerous brands of soda pop and snacks. I need the reminder when I pull out the credit card for a $40 outfit that I just "gotta have." I need the reminder even while I'm sitting here looking at the computer screen, blogging and instantly able to communicate with friends from all over the U.S. (and elsewhere). I long to constantly be reminded because I'm deeply afraid of forgetting.
I'm afraid of forgetting what it felt like to sleep on a wooden platform every night, and how I surprisingly grew comfortable with it by the end (when you're tired, you can sleep on anything!). I'm afraid of forgetting the smells of the rainforest. I'm afraid of forgetting the sound of the children chanting "Lorena!" over and over as I trudged up a slippery, muddy hill to greet them. I'm afraid of forgetting Ana's ringing laughter, Sylvia's toothy grin, Angel's gentle demeanor, Anastacio's enthusiasm. I'm afraid to forget. And I know these experiences will surely fade in my memory--it's impossible for them to remain so fresh as time goes by. But I believe writing this down may help when I miss them most. . .
I want to remember:
The pain--in the eyes of the people of Ocho de Octubre over division in their church; in their voices as they sang and spoke of their hardships--loss of crops, hunger, back-breaking work to bring home food for their families; in their faces as they expressed fear that the difficulties in the church may keep us, their friends, from returning to visit them again.
The laughter--from children as they played and tried to teach me Guatemalan games and corrected my Spanish; from adults as they spoke in Qe'chi (the Mayan language of the community) to each other, sharing small joys and admiring their children at play; from our own mission group, with one another, as we slipped and fell on slick clay mud, guarded the place where we shohwered from the curious little ones, and made our best attempts to communicate (one of the highlights was, of course, my own mess-up: After dinner one night, I said to my new friend Anastacio, "No tengo hombre," thinking I was telling him that I wasn't hungry. A slight change of the word to "hambre" and I would have been correct. Alas, I began to laugh immediately because I realized I said, "I don't have a man." Which, I pointed out to our group, is as true as the intended statement. :)).
The beauty--of the Guatemalan forest; of winding roads through the mountains; of bright-colored fabrics at the market; of the Guatemalan people.
The novelty--of living with and observing traditional Mayan dress and culture; of new smells and colorful flowers; of new tastes, like coconut milk and nibbling on azucar (sugar cane) in the rainforest.
The whisper of a call--from God, to my heart, still nebulous and faint, yet stirring me to wonder just what He's got in mind for me. . .
Pictures follow. Thanks for reading! I still don't feel that I captured all of it, but how can you when there's so much to bind up in words?
*****
In other news, I'm headed to Chrysalis in a few hours with my kiddos. My birthday is tomorrow and, while there are several things that are currently attempting to put a damper on my celebration, I just won't have it! So there! :) I seem to have brought home a not-so-fun souvenir in my intestines (sorry if that grosses you out--I'm a blunt one), but it's getting better thanks to medicine that kicks lil' bacteria butt. I got my hair cut this week and looooove it. And Em's coming for 2 days to chill and celebrate my b-day. Good things, good things. I hope there are good things with all of you, as well.
Dios bendiga.


Our mission group--what fun peeps! Who knew you could have so much fun with a bunch of adults? :) Posted by Picasa


"Welcome, visitors from the United States!" Such a warm greeting from the people of Aurora Ocho de Octubre. Posted by Picasa


This is Byron. He's a drummer. He's really cute. :) Posted by Picasa


The chicken coop on the left is something we helped them buy materials for last year. Now the women of the village have a business selling chickens to the community. We bought a couple from them for lunch one day. The women offered us the magnificent opportunity of watching them ring the chickens necks and pluck them. I declined. But it definitely made me think of where my food comes from. . . Posted by Picasa


Ohhh, the incense. Torfilio just loves being in charge of that incense. American Lutherans don't really use incense. But the Mayan Lutherans most definitely do. This is a worship service in their church--very bright nd colorful. Posted by Picasa


Playing games with the kids. They have fun games down there! Posted by Picasa


At the "sacred rock" in the middle of the rainforest. We were invited to join the people of the village for a traditional Mayan sacrifice, which seemed to be a prayer for the crops and welfare of the people. It looks like my sleeve is on fire. Posted by Picasa


Babies were almost always carried around like this, either by their mother, grandmother, or even 10 year-old sister. Posted by Picasa


Marcian chopping firewood (yes, that's a machete--those things are tools for these people, even little kids walk around with machetes! They clear their way through the forest with them when there's no path. I seriously felt like I was on National Geographic. :)) Posted by Picasa


Carrying the firewood home with all the weight on his head. And this he must do every single day. Posted by Picasa


Lauren tries to carry a jug of water on her head like the other (much younger) girls do. It hurt. She was a wimp. Posted by Picasa


It's a piece of cake for her! Uphill! And usually with no hands! Posted by Picasa


Lauren drinks coconut milk (and enjoys it!) Posted by Picasa


laundry day at the river Posted by Picasa


Typical village dwelling Posted by Picasa


Anastacio and his son, Edgar (cutie!) Posted by Picasa


Regina and Sylvia (see what I meant about her sweet toothy grin?) Posted by Picasa


You can see the skyline from El Mirador, revealing the difference between where the poor live and where the "rest" live. Posted by Picasa


one of the streets in El Mirador, a part of Guatemala city where we visited a new Lutheran church Posted by Picasa


The little girl in the yellow dress was chasing pigeons on the square in Guatemala City. The lady on the right was wearing her items for sale, trying to find buyers. Very busy part of the city.  Posted by Picasa


view at breakfast in Antigua Posted by Picasa


me in beautiful Antigua. We came to this very touristy town immediately after returning from the village, stayed in a gorgeous hotel, shopped, did touristy things. It was definitely a culture shock. Nothing wrong with being a tourist, as long as we keep things in perspective. . . Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 06, 2005

She's Back!


Guatemala was amazing. God was and is still speaking to my heart about who I am now that I have had this experience to tuck into my heart. More stories (and pictures!) to come as I try to sort through the many thoughts and feelings over the next few days/weeks/however long it takes. Even as I sit here at the computer, I think of my new brothers and sisters so far away, and wonder if they will ever know how they have touched my life. . .

Thanks for the prayers and good thoughts, my friends. And for the comments. What wonderful friends I have! (Becky, your message was so sweet--I didn't get it til today, but it was great to hear your voice. :) Love ya lots.)