Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Winter's Scorn -a letter regarding the mental illness of the upper midwest-

My dear friend,
I fear it is with a heavy heart I write this letter. However, I can keep it tucked away no longer. An issue has been eating away at the core of my being for quite sometime and frankly, it must be addressed. I truly believe this confrontation is the only path to reconciliation and peace.
The issue I speak of is somewhat sensitive in nature, which is perhaps the reason I have been so hesistant to bring it up. I have sucessfully avoided the issue all together a few times, but this was only by avoiding you altogether which may or may not have done either of us any good.
I am not even entirely sure that you are aware of this wieghty situation. I'm told those with your condition or those similar to it often are not. But what I can assure you is that there are many professionals who can aid you tremendously with overcoming this misfortune of mental stability. I, however, simply cannot bear the brunt of it any longer.
While so often you are supremely good and generous to me, you seem to be harboring a sort of split personality, extreme mood swings, at least, causing to you move from genuinely amiable to being a full on bastard. Barely I can tell you are one and the same as your pendulum swings wildly from one side to the next. You shine on me rays of glorious sunshine and nourish me with that which you yourself bear. Like a child eager to please her mother, you bring me sweet and heart-warming gifts. A flower. A strawberry. A rainbow. A song.
Like a lover you woo me with your sultry nights. I lie back in your arms and gaze at the stars.
But then, as if weary of doting, as if sick of my praise, your kindness flees and I am left alone in the outer most layer of hell. Though I hold on so tightly, I watch as you fade. Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde. Any kindness you've given, you yank from my hands and finally...spit in my face. While once we embraced, we each now have become lovers scorned.
What have I done to you?
Where did I ere?
Whatever it is, I repent!
Here I am on my knees, pleading with you. Begging you'll stop and you'll see...the one I know you can be. You'll remember those warm summer nights, those crisp autumn days...the beauty of you that you seem to forget. When your whispers brushed the lobes of my ears, your warmth caressed my back. Return to the time when your rain flooded the land with wildflowers and your soil was the sorce of life. This death of your winter, simply too much to bear.
Though I bow humbly before you and beg for your grace, now again your fist ready to strike. As I brace for your blow, one last time, I implore, return to who I know you can be. This devestation wears on you as well as on me. I see it as your color seeps slowly away each time this affliction rears its ugly head. So much of you dies, and that which survives merely inches along. And saftey's a matter, nearly too grave to mention. I'll not mention the countless lives lost. Surely, for that matter alone, you must be willing to face this unholy side of yourself, and once and for all, overcome. This cataclysm must come to an end.
These words of harsh reality, hard to bear, I know. But I come to you as friend and one who dwells in your embrace, both cuddled and crushed. Please. Get help. I will assist in any way that I can. I eagerly await the day when I can finally rest wholly in you...steady and unwavering.
Be well, friend.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

a rough draft (ie-work in progress)

why is it, people are unable to tolerate silence?
what are they afraid of hearing
whispering from within?

if you see him
ask elijah
when it was
he heard the voice of God

"What are you doing here, Elijah?"

crank up that radio
make that tv blare
because who wants to be faced
with such a question

Friday, December 10, 2010

Everlasting University...Who Needs Gobstoppers?

My current facebook status is this:
Does anyone know if (and where) there is a "school" where people can just take classes and learn for fun and personal interest rather than for a degree or career sake? If not, who wants to start one with me?

I have serious doubts as to the existance of such a place, but oh, how I dream of it! This idea is just beginning to mill about in my brain, but I think it would be such a fun invention. A "university" of sorts where folks could enroll in a class or two for a nominal fee simply for the sake of learning. Perhaps local professors could share an hour out of their week (again, for a nomimal fee) and lecture and lead discussions about ideas, histories, philosophies, sciences, arts, etc.
Or perhaps, blast the thought of it, in this computer savvy world, with the genius of Skype and whatnot, there could be virtual classrooms completing the tasks mentioned above.

Say I'd like to take a class in Russian Literature? Click! Enroll! From 3-4pm CST Professor Plum lectures on the likes of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky.
Perhaps a course in art history to brush up on theories and style? Oh, I know all sorts of folks to teach this one (Ms. Gilkerson, I'm looking at you)
How fascinating the human body is! Perhaps you'd like to enroll in the physiology course taught by Dr. Bod MD. It's Saturday mornings 9-10am.

An on-going university simply alive for the purpose of learning?Yes. Yes please.

There was a point in time when individuals coveted knowledge simply for the sake of knowledge. It seems now that in many cases, universitities have gone from haven of learning to graduated techincal schools.
(Two side notes-1. This is not true in every case. I was fortunate to have gone to a university in which both discussions and ideas were valued. 2. I in no way wish to demean technical schools. Those who emerge from them are far better equipped to do the necessary tasks that life demands, which I am far incapable of doing. And quite frankly, in today's society, tech schools are most likely the most logical and economical choice for making a living in the real world.)
Universities, it would seem, have become gradiose, expensive trade schools. Learning for the sake of learning has all but disappeard. (From my life, anyway. This could all be stemming from no longer being in university, but rather drudging through the mindnumbing "real world.") And yes, I realize with the internet at my fingertips and google providing me every tidbit of information I could ever desire, this is not what I am after. Real people discussing real ideas face to face (even if it is face to computer screen face)...that is the creme de la creme.
But, I can't go to university forever. Not in the way that it's set up now anyhow. I'm already up to my ears in student loans. I don't want to bury my children in them. It always boils down to money, doesn't it? When declaring a major in college, the million dollar question is "What can you do with that?" (At least for those of us who chose the less practical fields of study.) Translation: What kind of job can you get/How much money will you make? When did it happen that anything worth a damn has to have a price tag affixed to it? I can't get degrees in history, philosophy, art, physics, biology, etc simply because I'm interested in them. My children's children to the 28th degree would bear the weight with tuitions what they are these days.

I need a place where I can sit and absorb and discuss ideas, both new and old and learn and wonder how this world works.

So, this everlasting university thing is probably just another hairbrained idea stirring from my cranial mush as a result of 8hrs of mindless and mindnumbing "work," and will most like result in nothing. But, it's a fun idea. So, if you agree...if you're in....when do we start? And how the hell do we get something like this off the ground?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Day

Happy Chanukah!
I know. You're (most likely) not Jewish. Neither am I.
But, should a person of Jewish faith wish me a Happy Chanukah, I would in no way be offended. They are simply offering me the best of what they know, and I would happy to recieve it.
In Korea, there were holidays that I had never pataken in celebrated all around me. Chuseok, the Korean Thanksgiving and the Lunar (Chinese) New Year are some examples. I am not Korean, but I celebrated them, because it was a part of who they are. I did not shudder or cringe when people wished me a happy Chuseok or Lunar New Year, even though I do not celebrate them. Once again, they were just wishing me the best of what they me a part of who they are.

This time of year, people can sometimes get up in arms about proper terminology and politically correct well wishings. Well, you know what? Merry Christmas! That's what I know, that's a huge part of who I am. In wishing Merry Christmas, am I trying to sway one's beliefs to that of my own? No, I'm simply wishing you the best from what I know and who I am.

So, what about "Happy Holidays?" Doesn't that cover everyone and therefore offend no one? Oh, that arguement makes me laugh! First of all, some one is always going to be offended, because it's in our human nature to want everything our own way. Our reality should obviously be everyone else's. Second, the word "holiday?" A holiday is (or once was) a Holy Day. So, I guess to all of my athiests friends (and yes, I have them) I'm just going to say "Happy Day!"  Because, you know, I don't want to offend them or anything. I certainly can't wish them a Happy Holiday, because, well, that would just be rude.

So, as the snow falls ouside this season, hang up your day stockings, bake some day cookies, wrap your day presents, and enjoy the day lights.
Or, share with someone a bit of who you are.
Merry Christmas, friends.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Idealism? Reality? A Battle to the Death!

Yesterday's blog had a healthy dose of my idealistic side. Sadly, my idealistic side and realistic side often don't see eye to eye. Point in case: Um, I like getting Christmas presents. Who doesn't love getting Christmas presents? It's a tradition and a fun one at that. I also thoroughly enjoy giving Christmas presents to other people. And I'm not wholly convinced the getting and giving of Christmas gifts is morally wrong.
But every year for the past several years, I've seriously contemplated the whole getting Christmas presents thing. I don't need anything. Sure, there are plenty of things I want, but nothing I really need. And, as I said yesterday, That Christmas Fellow (the manger one, not the red one) urged folks to give away all of thier stuff to those in need. Every year, I think, I should just tell my family I don't want anything. Give to charity. Donate time or money to people who need it.
But, I don't.
Because, I'm selfish.
Perhaps this year, come to think of it, there is a solution...Thanks to one Mr. Blake Mycoskie (philanthropic heartthrob). Ask for toms, give toms, give kids shoes in the process. Or Ten Thousand Villages! There's a good Christmas shopping store, too. A win win situation. Tradition. Fun. Good for mankind all around. Christmas shopping/wish list seems much more in line with my idealistic side. In the battle of idealism vs reality, I rule this a tie!
Yesterday, I promised cynicism, but he's bowed out for the evening. Lovely break.
Also, without Christmas presents, there would not be precious moments like this. (My grandpa with his mask from Korea I gave him last year) Ah, family fun!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Friday Black Friday

Not to be confused with Sunday, Bloody Sunday

So, after working 56 hours (give or take) in 4 days, my blog had a little rest. (While I did not)
So, this Black Friday blog will find its home on the Tuesday (or Wednesday if you're somewhere far from me) following Cyber Monday. Oy! With the labels already! We get it! People like to shop!
 'Tis the season, anyway, for swiping plastic and a mighty river of flowing cash. Several people have asked me if I partook of the American Holy Day known as Black Friday. (Ok, I added the American Holy Day thing). My general response is to shudder and reply "Do I look crazy?"
  The throngs of people running, trampling, thieving, and general disrespecting the other thousand throngs of people is enough to keep me home hiding under blankets with a good book. Or Netflix, I guess. But to be honest, Black Friday crowds are not my number one annoyance with the new American tradition. It is the supposed celebration for which these gifts are being hoarded that fuels my frustration.
Why, it should be asked, are these masses of people lining up and literally trampling each other to death? For Christmas presents, if I am not mistaken. It is for the sake of the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, Messiah and redeemer of life (not coupons) that we shove, name call, trample, destroy public property, and even rip items out of our neighbor's hands. (I'm sure He was just kidding about that whole not coveting your neighbor's stuff thing.)

Um. Yeah. Hi. Have we even read the Bible? That cute little baby in the manger grew up to say some pretty profound stuff. Things we seem to love to disregard to suit our own needs. (Trust me, I'm the queen.)

Remember the rich young ruler? Young guy, stacks of cash, loads of belongings, lots of power. He bumped into Jesus one day.

"Teacher, (that's the cute little manger baby in grown up form) what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"Yeah, yeah. I do all those things. So, I'm good right?"

"Wait, what? You want me to do what? Sell my stuff? Give it away to the poor? Um....ok. I'll.....I'll think about it."

Then he skulks away, bummed.

So, let me clarify. In celebration of the birth of the guy who says get rid of our stuff, we do what now?.

**Stay tuned tomorow when my idealistic side, cynical side, and the side that likes Christmas presents go head to head to head.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Giving of the Thanks

It's Thanksgiving here in the good ol US of A. While most are off with family and friends, eating hoardes of turkey, yams, mashed potatoes, heavenly green bean casserole, and....well, not much else matters after green bean casserole, I am at work. SpongeBob on in the corner. Family and friends scattered throughout the globe. Usually, at work I succumb to the internal writhing resulting from the mindnumbing, life-sucking nature of my job which leads to feeling like a giant pavement roller is slowing making its way over my bones from metatarsal to occipital. But, today is a day of giving thanks. And so here is a list of 14 things I am thankful for...1 for each hour of work today. These are in no particular order.

1. Family/Friends
2. Travel experiences

3. Spending a bit of time with the Gilkerson's today.
4. Music
5. My dogs (at my parent's house)

6. Having a 2 year old squeal with delight and run up to me everynight when I get home from work.   (Roommates' son, Jonas)--Um, and my roommates Nicole and Dustin :)
7. South Dakota sunsets

8. The ocean

9. My lifegroup (from "my" church, The Crossing)
10.The smell of horses
11. Finland

12. Coffee (and days like Monday when I get to just sit at the coffee shop with my book, sketchbook, and    notebook, and pen)
13. My education
14. Hope                  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I'm (Not) On A Boat!

I wrote this a while ago, when I was still one of those seminary kids. It was a creative project for a class. I randomly thought of it a few minutes ago, when I was thinking about being completely disenchanted with life. I'm not really sure why it took on the tone that it did. Lots of stuff I write ends up writing itself..and those are usually the better pieces.

Based on Matt 14:22-33

Yo, Pete

You go mad or sumpin’, Brothuh? What was you thinkin’? Don’t you know rocks sink? That’s wha’ yer name means, right? Rock? Was it ‘cuz you had rocks fer brains? Steppin’ out the boat like that. You musta done gone crazy, man. Maniac.

See this boat I’m a standin’ in all safe and sound like? See how I’m all dry and warm? You was out ‘ere coughin’ and a snortin’ out all the watuh that done washed right up yer nose. Yer buddies all starin’ wide-eyed at ya, thinkin’ they really be fishers of men now, ‘specially fer you.

Yessuh, I’m a fairly certain you had to ‘ve lost yer marbles. I ain’t talkin’ ‘bout those shiny shooters ya get at the dime store, neither. No suh, you was out yer mind. You won’t erer see me steppin’ out this boat. Uh-uh. No way. I ain’t no fool. Not like you.

Didn’t ya see them waves? ‘Bout a mile high! You just lucky you didn’t a get swept right out t’sea. Wind was a howlin’ ‘bout a thousand miles an hour, ya idiot.

That dude you was a-chasin’ woulda got there eventually. No need fer you to be jumpin’ ship just ta prove sumpin’. Who’s ya tryin’ to prove sumpin to, anyhow? Yaself? Yer buddies up ‘ere on board the boat? That shadowy dude out ‘ere on the watuh? I jus’ don’t get it, man. Ya left all ‘at safety and s’curity for a stormy swim. Why’d ya do it? You lucky that dude grab ya when he did. Fish food otherwise, brothuh.

Anywho, I jus wanna write you this letter, let ya know I think ya crazy. Don’t get out’the boat again, man. I hope you a learned yer lesson. Take it from me. I’m a jus gonna sit right here in my lil’ raft. Watch ‘uh world go by. Ya enjoy th’ watuh.

Yers Truly,

One mighty concerned dude

Dear Concerned Fella,

You gotta get out ‘the boat, man. The only thing holdin’ ya back are fears and insecurities, and I tell ya, that jus’ won’t do. You wanna let those win, then you jus’ stay there in yer little raft of false security. You keep tellin’ yerself you’ll be alright.

Ya, I’m aware I looked a fool, but there’s only one place fer me, and that’s where he was and where he a called me. Ya didn’t see the look in his eye when he said that one little word. “Come,” he said. Well, I a tell ya, there wasn’t no time to waste after ‘at.

‘Sides. I ‘as the one who asked him if I could come out ‘ere. I mean, I ‘spose I was a expectin’ him to say, “just a hold on, I’ll be right ‘ere,” but he didn’ and after that there was a no holdin’ back. I couldn’t a lived with myself if I’d a stayed put. So I went.

Nearly peed my robe, too. Yer right. Those waves seemed a mile high. Wind seemed a thousan’ miles an hour. Scared the hell outta me. (Good thing I got the keys to Hev’n.) An’ I tell ya, I hadn’t even finished yelpin’ “Help me!” when he grabbed me an’ pulled me up from that current. Mighty strong ‘un, too.

But ya, see, nuthin’ woulda happened if’n I hadn’t a gone out ‘ere in that storm. I’d a lived my simple lil’ life, all the time a wishin’ I’d just taken that lil’ risk and stepped out. Ya gotta take a risk, friend. It’ll be aight. He ‘on’t let ya go nowhere. But nowhere's the only place you'll go if’n you don’t step out. You can a keep yer raft, fella. I’m a gonna walk on watuh again and again.


Simon “The Rock” Peter

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday School Songs Gone Awry

Tonight, at church we sang the song "They will know we are Christians by our love."
I made 2 observations

1. They'll know we are Christians by our love, until they tell us something we disagree with or that contradicts our interpretation of what we call the Word of God. Then, they'll know we are Christians when we tell them they're going to burn eternally in Hell.

2. I'm not very good at loving people like Christ does.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sweet Dreams

What if our beds were portals to another world? Get your heads out of the gutter, I’m talking about dream worlds. I’ve been having super vivid dreams the past view nights. Dreams seeming more real and even more physical than dreams I’ve had before. I’ve had dreams that I’ve thought about throughout the day, but these stick with me just as real as yesterday. They hover over me like memories of a recent vacation. And honestly, that could be it. I’ve just returned from a vacation to the mighty northwest, and I drove back alone…over a thousand miles. I left at 9:30am Thursday morning and returned 11:30pm Friday night. So it’s quite possible that I’m still reeling from such a strenuous drive. Especially, because driving or needing to be getting on the road has been a substantial part of the dreams. But so vivid they are! I walk past my bed like it’s a door, waiting to whisk me away to this other place, often much more pleasant than the one I leave when I close my eyes and draw the covers over my head. It’s a sensation that leaves me both a bit leery and a bit excited. Leery, because, well, it’s a strange sensation to have such realistic dreams. Excited, because my dreams are warmer than reality.

I hope I don’t sound like a raving lunatic. (More than I usually do.) To clarify, I don’t actually think my bed and/or sleep is a portal which magically whisks me off to happyland. But it’s a fun idea. One I may flesh out into a story sometime, though I’m fairly certain it’s been done. But to that I say, “Meh!” I’ll probably do it anyway.
Sweet dreams and safe sleeping,


Also, after writing this, a certain song is stuck in my head. I imagine you can figure out what it is, but I thought I'd post the video for entertainment sake.

Friday, November 19, 2010

How He Loves-John Mark McMillan

Here is a video I took when I was in Washington.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Prayer

Sounds of distant waters
Voices of distant dreams
Hold fast to me,
And speak to me
In this time of
Topsy-turvey turmoil
Through falling leaves and silence 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Coffee List

On an old blog, I posted a list of people I want to sit down and have coffee list. I wanted to refresh my memory, so I'm posting it again here, with some updated names, which requires the absence of space and time contraints.

CS Lewis
Kathleen Norris
Alex Trebek
Jane Goodall
Krista Tippett
Anne Lamott
Samantha Brown
Anthony Bourdain
Chris Martin
Derek Webb
Shane Claiborne
Greg Graffin
Christopher Moore
Aaron Wiess (of mewithoutYou)
John Mark McMillan
The folks in charge of Iowa's Writing Workshop
Jonsi and the Sigur Ros kids
Martin Luther
Rainer Maria Rilke
Jesus (Ok, I debated putting him on the list, because it seems so cliche' and obvious, but hey, I wouldn't turn down a cup of Joe for some face to face time to finally be able to "get it." "It" being stuff that he said and who he is. Or...maybe I would. Coffeetime with him may be more life altering than I would care for it to be.)
Donald Miller
Christopher McCandless (Into the Wild)
Conan O'Brien
Jeremy Enigk
Shane Claiborne

That Adorable Michael Cera

How many hipsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
*shrug* I don't know. The answer's pretty obscure. You've probably never heard of it.

I watched Scott Pilgrim vs. the World today. Oh, Micheal Cera, how adorable you are. I imagine you being able to have any of the ladys thronged around you, each a sweet little waif with scarves adorning thier pastey necks, doting on you in barely audible mouse-like voices. You, oh King of the Hipsters, bring joy by light of the video screen.


Saturday, November 13, 2010


I still feel like I'm moving. Though, it feels fantastic to be sitting stationary. Last night, I had dreams of driving on dark, windy, forrested roads. Driving for so long alone most is the most likely suspect.
I've just returned from a road trip to end all road trips. I helped my friend, Brandon, move to Seattle, which means that while he drove some of the way out, I drove back....alone. Now, according to Google maps, it's 1480 way. So, round trip, plus cruising around the city and a day trip to the Pacific totaled 3714 miles. My brain is fried and my body is still adjusting to not being in constant motion. Brandon and I left last Wednesday night, Nov 3. I left Seattle Thursday, November 11 at 9:30am. I fell onto the couch at my house at 11:30pm on Friday November 12. It was a long drive is an understatement. However, it was thouroughly enjoyanle.  To reflect/process on my trip, I wrote down 37 observations, 1 for each 100 miles. Some of them are things I suppose I've known for quite some time, but hours and hours and hours of driving time coupled with being far away from home and being surrounded by such intense beauty gave way to churning them over in my mind. Here they are in no particular order:
1. There are a lot of F*#^ing stars. Central South Dakota in the middle of the night is the perfect place to appreciate them, as well as to be awed by a meteor shower.
2. Who is Clark and why does he have 11 forks? (or maybe it was 12, I lost count)
3. Anywhere from Livingston, MT to Coeur d'Alene, ID I could just stop...and stay. Forever.
This is Livingston

4. While I drove and drove miles and miles:
     a. Long haul truckers need be hearty folks
     b. I saw no black dogs, but got to cuddle with a golden lab in Bozeman
5. Due to things like cuddling with golden labs and meeting pleasant people, I would much rather stay in a hostel than some stingy smelling, God-knows-what's-on-the-bed, alone with cable TV, bad artwork crookedly hanging hotel.
6. Idaho? U-da-ho.

7. I heart Montana.

8. Seattle traffic is worse than I remember.
9. Aaron Sprinkle is short.
10. The Fremont Abbey Arts Center is fantastic and has really blossomed into something amazing. Good job, guys.
11. A giant bottle of Blue Moon after 12 hours of driving makes me sleeeeepppppyyyyy.
12. Kettlehouse Brewery in Missoula, MT makes a Scottish Ale that you should really try. One of the top beers I've had, I think.
13. I'm a little bummed at the yuppifying that's happening in Seattle....Honestly, it reminded me a bit of Korea. Tearing down and/or closing cool stuff and building the same condo buildings all over the city. They're just different colors, as opposed to Korea's single white building scattered across the country.
14. The best cup of coffee I had the whole time was actually not in Seattle, but at Java, in Coeur d'Alene, ID. (Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of good coffee in Seattle, too.)
15. The Top Hat in Missoula, MT is far superior to the Top Hat in Sioux Falls....though with far less nostalgia, I suppose.

16. Eat at Glo's on Capitol Hill...order the Salmon Benedict. Trust me.
17. The shellfish in Puget Sound are toxic....and not like Brittany Spears.
18. Driving through 2 times zones, only to have Daylight Savings Time end the next day really messes me up.
19. Driving sans shoes is way better than with them.
20. Sometimes I hurt people I care about.
21. I'm pretty sure I missed my calling as a Ski Bum.
22. Dead birds don't bounce.
23. It takes a really long time to feel like you're not moving after driving a thousand plus miles.
24. It's fun to say stuff like "sleeping with strangers," but in reference to staying at a hostel rather than what one may think when that phrase is mentioned.
25. Sacajawea is placed both seperate and behind Lewis and Clark on signs indicating a place they were. Interesting...
26. 17 year old poets are the most honest human beings on the planet.
27. Pumpkin gelato tastes exactly like pumpkin pie....and makes me quite happy.
28. Going to the ocean is really really good for the soul. Driving on the EDGE(not being inside) of Yellowstone is not.
29. Toms get really smelly.
30. One starts do to strange things when alone in a car for so long.

31. While Montana does in fact now have a speed limit, obeying it seems optional.
32. If you're tired enough, you can sleep anywhere.
33. Cloud Cult is amazing.
34. Sigur Ros is (obviously) the perfect music for driving through hazy mountains.
35. I still see God at the ocean.

36. Burritos the size of babies are among man's greatest innovations.
37. Sometimes, blessings are messy.

Here are the rest of the photos.

Reading through this, I realize there are spelling and grammatical errors which will remain as indicators of how wiped out I am. Also...sometimes I make spelling and grammatical errors and want to pretend I don't. Consider it an exercise in humility?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election Day Blues

Another big day for America, as millions of us poured into polls, searching for redemption in those who scratch and claw and tear each other to shreds in the name of completely divided unity. I can't wait for Hope to arrive, when we can stop choosing between the lesser of two evils, and fiinally stop scratching and clawing and tearing each other to shreds for opposite votes; when we will see evil cast off the ballot all together and dance perfectly in unison.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

National Public Rodeo Queen

I'm not really sure how it happened. It would be like if I had a child and she grew up idolizing Paris Hilton or dreaming of joining the Dallas Cowboy Chearleaders. How does one differ so much from those who nurtured and grew them from infancy?
I have just finished my cowgirl workout, which I partake in every six months or so, involving dirty boots, a stained ball cap, and anything from a pitchfork to a 4-wheeler. I came home for the weekend, because, well, I have it off and not much else going on and sometimes I enjoy playing farmgirl and hanging with the fam. It becomes evident, however, that "farmgirl" is not my destiny as I'm lecturing about socialism while pitching hay. It's no eqalitarian system round these parts, since the "dumb" steer in the hospital pen didn't need to get any more to eat, while the pretty new "weaners" were getting a smorgasbord.
There we were, my mother and I, out among the dust, rust, dogs, and cattle. She pointed out "that there brockel face," was a big ol' meany and would "ram jam" that poor sick calf. It's a whole other culture out here, complete with its own vocabulary.
In this post-chore, pizza, beer, football, and bullriding evening, I can't help but did I go from Rodeo Queen and Teen Age Republican Camp to Punk Rock Shows and NPR?
This post changed directions...and now I'm distracted. So I'm just going to post it and be done. :)

Friday, October 22, 2010


Now, landlocked, Oceans crashing on tv screens.
Soon, sea side, Oceans crashing before my eyes.
I'll run to it.
It will fall at my feet.
Heart at home.
Love reunited at last.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Water Brought It

The water brought it
and set it at my feet and said
-drink of me, o you who are thirsty-
so, i cupped my hands and drank it
in furious gulps like the tide crashing down on the shore
its cold startled my throat
but i swallowed it all the same
never did the water tell me
-you don't deserve my gift-
it simply brought it
and set it at my feet
and with eager anticipation
invited me to drink

Thursday, October 7, 2010

South Dakota Gives Way To Threadbare Sanity

Is it considered Indian Summer yet? Today...outstanding. Too nice not to sit outside and enjoy a cup of coffee in the warmth of the sun. The cold cold hell of South Dakota winter will be upon us soon enough, so I must soak it up while I can.  I despise how my favorite time of year, what with pumpkins and sweaters and oranges and browns, always has the dark shadow of the impending doom of winter cast over it, ever threatening to destroy this sacred time of year without a moment's notice. One can never trust the warmth in South Dakota, outside of July and August. One day you're basking outdoors with coffee and pen, and the next your calling a plummer because your pipes froze and now your basement is flooded and your sleeping in three layers of clothes and eight blankets. I cherish the warmth of the day while living in fear that tomorrow it may be ripped away from me in a blizzard that lasts six months. This volatile state plays mind games and wreaks havoc on my already threadbare sanity.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Got Jesus?

It was a smokey Tuesday at the Nickel Spot. Zach and I out to enjoy billards, Guiness, and really crappy music. Mostly, the term "buttrock" crossed my mind. I've noticed the last few times I've gone there that a group of deaf people have been haning out there. I don't mean to stare and be rude, but sign language fascinates me. Tonight, however, there was a different fellow there. By the way he was talking, I believe that he was deaf, but he was with a group of somewhat obnoxious girls who clearly had no hearing problems, though felt the need to scream what they were saying to one another in colorful language. He had dark hair and a patchy beard, and what struck me about him was his T-shirt. Black, in white letters, it asked "Got Jesus?" When I first noticed him, Hootie and the Blowfish was blaring out of the jukebox. I decided I wasn't even old enough to enter the bar the last time I heard that song. Once in a decade is enough, it seems. Anyway, he'd shoot pool, smoke his cigarettes, and talk loudly with the girls. All the time, though he may or may not have been aware of it, he was asking, "Got Jesus?" And...I don't just struck me as funny. More of a shirt I would have seen at one of my many many Christian concerts and/or music festivals than in a dive bar. But there was something sort of endearing about it as well. Unless he was wearing it to be ironical, which is totally possible. Either way, between this interesting fellow, Hootie and the Blowfish, losing repeatedly at pool, and a pitcher of Guiness, it wasn't a bad evening.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Growing Grapes

Oy. It's been too long since my last blog. My computer has been giving me fits, thus deterring me from writing. Well, blogging anyway.
This morning I find myself once again at the Lifelight office. Since I am here only occasionally and voluntarily, there are times when I've not much to do, so here I am...contemplating the idea of abiding in Christ while at the same time working toward what I want to be doing.

Since my last blog, I have applied for several jobs, all as a youth pastor. These job possibilities are scattered across the country, though two are in Europe...and of course, these are the two I am most greatly hoping for. One is in Stavanger, Norway and one is in The Hauge, Netherlands. Both are at English speaking churches and both are located on the continent on which I wish to serve.

So there seems to be some tension between abiding and taking steps to begin this other phase of my life known as full time ministry. There is a difference between being idle and being still. I am trying my best to be still, to listen to the Lord and wait for his direction. Yet, I continue to peruse ministry sites in search of a place in which to serve.

John 15 seems to come up a lot. This is the chapter in which Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains (abides) in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." I had been thinking of that verse in terms of "abide. abide. wait. abide," and so on. But for some reason, today, the latter half of that verse stuck out, "(s)he will bear much fruit." It's not just a matter of being plugged in....stuff comes out of that. Good stuff.
Also, I noticed, that in the latter half of John 14, just prior to the vine and the branches part, Jesus had been talking about leaving his disciples. The disciples were in distress. Thomas asks, "Lord, how can we follow if we don't know the way?" I think they were probably feeling quite abandoned.Their leader and teacher and dear friend was now talking about going away. This man in whom they had placed all of their hope was talking about leaving them. What comforting words they must have been to hear about remaining in him.

He appointed them to "go and bear much fruit." But the abiding, the remaining had to take place first in order from them to be able to go and bear such fruit.

Lamentations 3:22-24

 22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
       for his compassions never fail.
 23 They are new every morning;
       great is your faithfulness.
 24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
       therefore I will wait for him."

Wait. Await. Abide. And bear some fruit in passing.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oi Unelmiin (oh in dreams)

Oh Ariel,
If you knew what fate was to await you, would you still go?

Pining for a world not her own, Ariel reaches out and takes desperate measures to get to where her heart for which her heart yearns. Taking matters into her own hands, she trusts the sea-witch to give her her hearts desires. Devestation.

She loses her voice. Her father is turned into...something. (Does anyone know what those shrively things are, besides mermaids/men who couldn't pay thier debt to Ursula?) An all out battle ensues between Eric, Ursula, and a ship. It's utter chaos.

Forced to return to the sea, Ariel watches from afar; heart in one place, body in another.

Then, she's given a gift from her father. A good and perfect gift when he was ready to give it to her. When she was ready to recieve it.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wait and Rest for What's to Come

From Kathleen Norris citing the Book of Common Prayer:
"This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen."

Ask me who I want to write like, and Kathleen Norris will be the answer (along with Anne Lamott and Donald Miller)
Here, her words remind me to live daily, where the Lord has placed me, to do what he has asked me to do for the day. No more. No less.
The line "If I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly," sticks out greatly to me. I am reminded that in this space of waiting, I must wait, sit, be still, and rest. The idea of doing nothing should be the easiest thing in the world. Instead, it is one of the hardest.
I went to a Memorial Day picnic at my pastor's house. He asked me how it was being back and "is it hard to sit still for a while?"
"Harder than it's ever been in my life," was my reply. Then I had to walk away and grill my turkey dogs to keep from choking up.
But, as the Alissa from Barlow Girl says in the video I posted a few days ago, "If you're going through a difficult season, keep going, because it means something is about to come."
Waiting is not a season of permanence. It is a state of refining, and when I chose to trust and believe in the ultimate goodness of God, it is meant to be a season of rest. A time to be filled and built up and changed further into the woman God has called and is calling me to me.
So I wait. And I trust. And I hope expectantly for the time "to come."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Trying to Enjoy the Journey

Encouraging words from my friend Vanessa:

Read your blog... Oh, Melisa, your words echo what so many of us have in our hearts (including me) as we all wait upon God for something. I will pray for you, my friend. God knows what's coming, and I say this to you in my OWN pain of waiting, that God works all these things together for good. It's a strange thing to be in the midst of the tapestry he's making - heck, that's a lot of bending of yarn, poking, stretching, changing - but it's making something beautiful. Just trust Him in the process. He knows what is in your heart because He put it there, but you've got to trust Hs way of fulfilling it, and take it one step at a time. You're an amazing woman, Mel, and God knows it. Trust Him to bring you to that place of fulfillment and don't despise the journey. And I will be praying for that miracle for you! Love you!

Words I want to reflect on, for they are good and encouraging. (Vanessa is always really good at giving me words as such.) How easily and often I forget that all this stretching, pulling, poking, and changing is for good...and from a God who is Ultimate Good. I wrestle so much with the things that are in my heart...all this pulling from within. It's such a refreshing reminder that God is in all these things, as he is in me. Such a blessing to be reminded that God knows what's in my heart because he formed me and placed dreams and desires within me.
"Don't despise the journey," she says. I'm so short sighted. All I see are boxes, holding me in. When, instead, I'm on a road. A road that is windy, bumpy, mountainous, treacherous, and beautiful. The Lord leads me. I just much be on the part of the road that's curving up the mountain side. Steep cliffs dropping sharply next to me on this narrow winding road. A curve so sharp I can't see where it's going. Fortunately, like the Sherpa's leading the adventurous up Everest, so my Lord leads me, slow and steady, all the while asking me to trust Him. What other choice do I have?


God is doing something.

I have the amazing opportunity to be volunteering with Lifelight Communications ( here in Sioux Falls. This morning, I was able to partake in the morning devotions, and I was blown away. This is likely to be jumbled mess of a blog as I'm definitely still processing what's been going on in my life and in my heart and what God is doing and how Lifelight is involved.

I came in this morning to help out with reception, answering phones, entering data, you know...general officey stuff while the rest of the staff is in a lengthy meeting. Prior to their meeting, however, was a devotion. Normally, I'm told, these devos only last around 20-30 minutes. This morning was over an hour and a half. But it was amazing and God spoke. The morning began with worship, then a word from Alan Greene, the founder and CEO of Lifelight, and the morning ended with communion with all the staff. It was really beautiful. Music and Missions. I tell ya...If you know me at all, that's pretty much all I've ever wanted to do. And now I find myself in a place where music and missions is all that is done. I'm on the cusp of something great. It's so close, I can taste it.

I'm like the kid in the front row of class raising his hand furiously, waving it like a mad man nearly jumping out of his seat, just begging for the teacher to call on him.


Alan read Acts 17:22-28 which contains a verse that always sticks out to me.

vs 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live
And while that verse did indeed stick out to me again this morning, it was the verse that followed it that I took to heart.
vs. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of usGod determines the times set and the places we live so that we will reach out for him.
And surely since coming back to Sioux Falls reaching out for him is the only option I have. Not that it's really an option ever not to reach out for him, it just seems more obvious while I'm here..and honestly, more often than not, I don't reach reach out for him, because I'm too busy floundering and focusing on the fact that I'm floundering, rather than reach out for the hand that's waiting to pull me up. Wow. Run on sentence much?

But back to being in Sioux Falls...Reaching out for him is the only option I have. And he's definitely brought me here for a reason. Probably more than one. I realized something while I was riding my bike home the other day, and it hit me in such a way that I had to stop my bike and sit on the curb for a little while. I realized that I am not in all. Everyone knows that it was not my intention what so ever to end up back in Sioux Falls, and especially back at my old job. But I did. I feel like I was picked up, transported, and dropped here through no choice of my own. I'm like a toy in one of those machines with the claw. Someone put a quarter in (maybe 50 cents these days) moved the metal claw which descended on me, grabbed me, took me to the chute, dropped me in, and out I came on the other side of the machine. But I suppose there is something pleasant in that metaphor as well. Someone is controlling that claw. Someone is lifting me out. Every decision to go somewhere in my life had been of my own choosing. I'm not saying I regret going to the places that I did, just that I was the one choosing to go there. Not so now...and that's probably a good thing.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Stay With Me- Barlow Girl

Hopeless, getting through this night
And life is not dying in this fight
I'm begging you to deliver me ooh ooh ooh
Confused why you won't take this pain from me

My steps never felt so hard
The end never look so far but
If you won't take me out
Then please take me through this

Stay with me so I won't leave
And make me see that this is not forever
'Cause all I need is your love pulling me

What is the reason for this night
Is hope found in fullness with no light
Does strength grow in our greatest fears
God I pray something good will come from this pain

With you here I know
I don't go alone
I am yours and so
Through the fire I'll go

Friday, May 28, 2010

While I'm Waiting-John Waller

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Daily Frustrations of Infants and Dogs

Babies. Dogs. Cute, eh? But you know, as cute as they are, I feel bad for them. I mean, think about being an infant, just learning to crawl. Away you go, off to see your contained world, when “Whoop!” in comes mommy, or daddy, or some pesky adult grasping you by your belly and setting you back down in the location from which you drug yourself so far. If you’re really unlucky, you get placed back in the playpen. Four damned meshed walls trapping you in, separating you from that all enticing living room floor and maybe even your favorite shiny toy.
Or, imagine you’re a dog. Out you go, bounding happily into the world, chasing birds, bugs, and dutifully covering the scents of your foes, when “Yank!” your forgotten collar jerks closed around your neck and you’re stopped dead in your tracks, barely able to breathe. Back you go, inside the house, to pace around in circles until it’s time to go out again.
These poor creatures…allowed for just a moment to see what’s out there, before being swooped up and placed back in containment. Itching to be free, they amuse themselves with what's before them, all the time looking toward the door.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Recalibrating. That's what I termed my objective yesterday. I used the day to pray, fast, get some business type stuff done, and generally recenter myself. It felt good. It was so beautiful. I sat in the park and read and prayed and sat in silence.
I feel recentered. It's nice.
The word "simplicity" has been coming to mind lately. Last night, I met some friends in the park for a picnic. We sat, chatted, ate, watched the sun set. It was a really good time. It was simple. I've been praying for more simplicity in my life. Especially to be appreciative of the goodness of life. Spending time outdoors with good people, seeing a sunset, playing with a friends baby...these are really good things.
Then, today, was my first day as an "intern" for lifelight. I simply delivered posters to multiple churches around town for an up coming missions retreat the organization is putting on. I was ecstatic. Driving around, doing something related to ministry, something minute, and yet I was elated.
God's doing some massaging of my heart. Softening it. I still yearn to be overseas. I was feeling really good and then I saw a post on facebook from a friend that will be back in the US for some time later this summer, and I was slightly envious, because he'll get to go back to the country that he loves. So, it's still hard. I'm still surrendering. I'm not sure I'll ever be done surrendering. Maybe it's just a daily decision to surrender. Maybe (and more likely) even minute by minute.
One thing, I must say, and that is I'm so thankful. I have more peace about my present location, my heart is being softened, and I am less angry. It was a rough go of it for a while. It still is, occasionally. Again, often minute by minute I need reminders that the Lord is good...and he sends his peace. And I am thankful.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Good Words

Some much needed encouragement from my step dad, in response to my last blog:
The longer you are in your present job, the more trapped you will feel. If a job comes along that you want, go for it! If it pays more, double good.

The secret to success is to match your talents with your goals.


PS: I am still searching for my talents!!

My mood lighted greatly upon reading Jim's email. I think I just needed a reminder that I'm not going to be stuck here. One thing that has held me back from applying to other jobs is the fact that I've been at this job and others like it for so long, that I don't know how to do anything else. I've been worried that that would mean I couldn't get in anywhere else. But, I guess...I"m going to take my chances and see what happens...or something.
It's currently 9:30 Sunday evening. I've been at work basically since 2:30 on Friday with time off only to go home and sleep Friday and Night. Tomorrow will be used to fast, pray, write, fix up the ol' resume and apply for jobs in youth ministry and a few other fields including editing and personal assitance.

We'll see how it turns out and what turns up. All I know is that I can't stay at this job. I was burned out before I got back, and frankly, that's not fair to the boys.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I really miss being an expat. I mean no disrespect toward my home nation, and I feel like it's kind of taboo to say, but I really enjoy living/being in countries not my own. It's been difficult being back in the way of community, because community among other expats is outstanding. I know being in Korea stressed me out and I was anxious to leave, but I always knew I'd miss the folks surrounding me there. I went from having this incredible support system, especially spiritually at Lifechurch, to virtually nothing. I have family and friend's here in So.Dak and I'm extremely greatful for them. However, I rarely see them. If I get 2 hours of communal spiritual nutrition a week, I'm doing well. Aside from spiritually, there's just this fantastic bond that occurs between expats that I really miss. And, I like things out of the ordinary, mundane, day-to-day existence that's kind of beating me down here.
I don't think I realized how big of an adjustment it was going to be being back. It's honestly been way harder re-adjusting here than it was upon arriving in Korea. I suppose it could have been something like a honeymoon period, though. The last few days, I've kind of forgotten how stressed out and anxious I was there.
I'm trying to be faithful by just hanging out here for the summer. I know God is working stuff out in my heart and in my life...but is it disobedient to start tossing out applications for other jobs. I've been pretty continuously looking at Youth Ministry jobs on the internet. There are a lot of them out there. Most of which pay quite a bit more than my current job that is making me insane. But I find myself hesitant. I've never been a youth pastor. I've worked with youth forever, but always in a supervisory setting where I've had to be more like their mom than a mentor. But I'm worried about getting stuck. For a long time, the only jobs I ever looked for were jobs just like the one I've been at in Sioux Falls since 2003...even though I've been burnt out on direct care for quite some time. I don't know how to do anything else and kind of feel trapped. I apply for youth ministry jobs to start in the fall? Or do I wait...keep working at Southeastern, hopefully do some stuff with Lifelight, and hope/turst that something comes my way in the fall?
Yeah....round in circles I go.

Friday, May 14, 2010


The future is here. It's just not widely distributed yet.
- William Gibson

Here I begin yet another attempt at daily writing in another stage of my life. (You know I will fail at the "daily" thing quite regularly, but saying I'll do it daily and having a public blog will hold me at least slightly accountable) This stage, as you might have guessed, is the waiting stage. Now I know, life is short and I need to make every moment count and not live for the future. I'm working on that. However, it has become apparent to me that for the next.....I don't know, months, years, whatever and however long, I'm just supposed to wait.
The above quote just happened to be on my google page today. It seemed a befitting way in which to begin.
While in Korea, I began a "daily" blog, just to keep myself writing. That's the general idea here. I just need to be lease something, to keep my mind going and my writing skills somewhere around par.
Most of you full well know (as I hide it quite poorly) that I had no intentions of moving back to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, United States of America...and yet here I am. I find myself working at my old job, (which I remind myself to be thankful for in this piss-poor economy) which is mindless and makes me crazy. Again a fact that I really don't even try to hide. I continually peruse the internet for something bigger and better...and yet, in my heart and spirit, I hear..."Wait."
So, I'm waiting. I'm trying not to go stir crazy in a city of 150,000 after being in one of 20 million, but I'm waiting. I know that God is good and all he does is for goodness sake. I "know" (this knowing has been a bit shaky lately) that I'm "called" to something...ministry of some sort...and we all know where I'm hoping that to be. But if and when that happens, I can't say. Apparently, God's got some stuff to work out in my heart and in my life. So, for the meantime, I'll wait. I'll write. I'll spend time with family and friends. I'll pray. I'll eat. I'll hopefully learn some good stuff while volunteering with Lifelight. ( I'll echo the words of a worship song I've been listening to a lot lately, "I'll stand with arms high and heart abandoned, in awe of the one who gave it all. I'll stand, my soul, Lord, to You surrendered. All I have is Yours." And finally, I'll leave you with the only song that I possibly could post on this first WaitAwaitAbide blog: