Friday, April 30, 2010

Pablo the Prime Mexican Man

 My mom and I were talking a few weeks ago about the importance of stories. I was talking about my great, great, great (or something like that) grandpa and grandma who seemed like they could have had an absolutely timeless love story (he being a guy who walked over 100 miles to mark trees that were ready for harvest each year and she being a British school teacher). We don't know any details about them though because through the generations, their stories have been lost. We have no clue how exactly they met, what their courtship looked like, or how everything took place.

 In the last year my grandma on my mom's side, her health has been fading so whenever we go over to North Dakota, I have started to ask her more questions about different things. It's been wonderful learning more about my grandpa who died before I was born and their love story as well as some other family history. 

 See, if we don't pass down our little stories, don't write them down or tell them by mouth, eventually everything will be forgotten. So I decided to start writing down some of my own stories, just little memories and special things from my short life. Here is the first of them and I hope you enjoy! 

Pablo the Prime Mexican Man
 I could not tell you the first time I saw his face come across the television or the first time I heard that name – but somewhere in my preschool days I first watched a TV show that would change my life forever and make me infamous with my extended family. Those of you hard-core PBS lovers may remember the show Zoom.

 Oh Zoom… you half an hour of entertaining education! I miss you terribly. You were the one that first introduced me to Pablo… Pablo – you had me at Ubby Dubby. What’s so important and life changing about Pablo you ask? Well it’s truly very simple. In my three or four year old mind, a husband was created.

 Some children have pretend friends. I had a pretend husband.

 Oh and not just a pretend husband, I also had about one hundred pretend children (some also named after Zoom characters like “ZoĆ«”) and don’t forget that I was the queen of Ea Land. Ea Land was the world that my brother and I created based off of my nickname Ea (said “ee-ah”). And what a beauteous world it was! I was the amazing ruler with Pablo by my side and it was a wonderful several years that I spent in marital bliss.

 Now when I would go to visit my grandma and my cousins, word leaked about Pablo and my undying love towards him. It became common to be asked, “where’s Pablo?” and I remember one time vividly explaining that he went to get gas. My aunt’s brother in law Scott was particularly fond of Pablo and up until I was about ten, he asked whenever he saw me about him. It has forever formed a special bond between us.

 Then, time went on and I realized that most six-year-olds didn’t have pretend husbands, a fact that saddened me. Eventually, I became embarrassed by my handsome Mexican man, which today I am embarrassed about. So in my mind, I made Pablo die because of course a divorce was out of the question. I never really mourned for him or put on a funeral, but slowly as that vivid imagination of a little child diminished inside of me, Pablo did as well.

 As it goes with many things, when you step away from them long enough you are able to love them again. And so, today Pablo holds a very dear and special place in my heart as my first love. Someday, Lord willing, my true and not-so-pretend Pablo will come along and sweep me off my feet. Whether he is black or blond with blue eyes, he will be my Pablo and my family will never let me forget it. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Faithfulness in Friends

 "Starting over again." 

 That was how I was feeling less then six months ago as I looked forward to our move to Virginia MN. I was excited that we were embarking on the great adventure of church planting and was excited to see what God had in store, but the thought of once again having to make friends all over was a daunting one. Sure I knew a few people over in that area, but no one that I was close to at all or that I ever saw myself hanging out with. So me and my mom started praying for God to provide me with friends.

 And He has! Oh my goodness, God has just been so good and His faithfulness is just so evident that I am left in amazement and awe. It all started back in late December when a guy I know started a student led Bible study with a few friends over in Virginia. I decided that I might as well go since I know what it's like to start up a Bible study and have a small turnout and it couldn't hurt to start meeting some other teens in the area.

 The Bible study started out small and for awhile, truthfully I was mostly just going to support my friend James. Then God started really working. The numbers for our Bible study grew, but that was only part of it. I watched as the conversations got deep and personal, the fellowship and depth to our relationships grew, and the Spirit of God was evident and working in our little group. At the same time I started visiting two of the youth groups in the area, one a sister church to our former church (one that I have a bunch of friends at) and the other that is a sister church to the church plant.

 Over the last few months the friendships have grown as I've witnessed God bring a bunch of crazy teenagers from different backgrounds, schools, towns, and churches together in a strange but awesome way. I absolutely love my little Bible study, I love my friends, and for the first time in a long time, I feel like I belong. That has to be one of the best feelings ever. 

 The best thing about the friendships that I am currently making is the foundation they have: a love for Jesus. It's been so spectacular to join together in prayer, worship, and Bible study with others every single week. This weekend I was at a youth conference and as me and some friends met to discuss plans for an upcoming event, we prayed together multiple times. And in general we just have come together to pray and I've never really experienced that. Sure, the goofing around and randomness and laughter has added to the friendships, but not nearly as much as the prayer. 

 I could easily ramble on for a long time... sharing how excited/anxious I am to be closer to everyone and all that good stuff, but basically I'll leave you with this: God is awesome and so are the friends He's given me. :D

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cousins + ND + Newish Camera = Awesome Shoot

 Over the years, friends come and go and for me, as I approach my eighth move of my life, that's especially true. I am a person a that makes friends easily, but over the years I haven't had too many that have been in the "best friend" category for very long. One of the exceptions to this is my amazing and awesome cousin Elyssa (or Sissy as we affectionately call her). 
 Being cousins and her being four years older, our memories go back to the very beginning. Playing store in my grandma's basement in North Dakota, pretending to be spies, more playing and pretending, watching Little Women around Christmas time curled up in our fuzzy PJs, late night giggling, walks around the tiny town my grandma lives in, getting candy and renting movies from the old grocery store, just being dorks... Elyssa and I have so many great memories. 
 Even though we are older and don't see each other as often as we like, when we are together it's truly like no time has gone by. We talk late into the night about the issues we are facing and what's been on our mind lately. We take goofy pictures and laugh and just hang out like we do it every day. This Easter her and her family were in ND and we had a ton of fun... and an awesome photoshoot! 
 (I would be putting these in a better order... but blogger is being a bit glitchy and I don't want to be here all day, so I'll just explain the photos as we go.)

 Some fun "model like" shots. :)

 I took a photo shoot with Sam too over the weekend. The vast open fields were just so picture perfect!
My mom took this shot of Nina... she's SO beautiful!

My amazing grandma and Corina... they both love pink, dolls, and Winnie the Pooh

 Elyssa, her sister Anna (my birthday buddy!), and Corina... I love these girls!

This shed provided us with such a nice backdrop!

 I think the wind added to the effect. 

 Sisterly love!

 "Look! No legs!"
 Salt and Pepper as they have always been known as. :)


 This is one of my favorites... I think they all turned out very well. 

 More pictures to come eventually! I actually have a hundred few more to go through and process still. I've been using Aperture on my dad's computer and while it's not as powerful as Photoshop or such, it's great for quick fixes. So stay tuned for more pictures and an update. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Prostitution, Human Trafficking, Me, and Minnesota

 When a person thinks of modern slavery or human trafficking, the most typical thing to envision is girls in Cambodia being sold for sex, child soldiers in the Sudan, or slave workers harvesting coffee in Brazil. It's a horrifying thing when looking out into the world and seeing this cruilty and atrocity but far too often our involvement stops there, with the big obvious forms of human trafficking. We let it touch our hearts and even our pocket books and even at times, our prayer, yet we think it's something that's "out there" like lack of clean water in Africa. 

 But it's not. This is something I have come to realize more clearly over the last year and particularly the last few months. Over Christmas break I was talking to several friends of mine and the subject of human trafficking came up. One of them who currently attends school in Duluth, only 90 minutes away, mentioned the fact that it was something Duluth was having issues with because of their huge shipping industry. Though I had never thought of it before, it made perfect sense. A combination of huge ships, no way to monitor them without spending a fortune, and an easy way to bring foreign women in and pretty Scandinavian girls out and it sounds like a traffickers dream.

 After hearing about that, I went on a search to find out more about trafficking in my area and the results were not satisfying. Information was hard to come by and not very specific at all. I could find no organization or ministry or task force working to stop this or even information about exactly what is happening. What I did get was the assertion that it is in Duluth. And the reservations.

 I live in an area with a large amount of Native Americans and reservations and again, it made sense that prostitution and sex slavery would be among them. Most people in reservations are below the poverty line and come from broken families filled with drug and alcohol addictions and general darkness that includes things like sexual abuse. But here again, information on the connection to prostitution and human trafficking was scarce. 

 This furthermore brought me to study Minneapolis and as I did God pressed this burden onto my heart for the city. Here I was able to find news articles and task forces and information about the prostitution and human trafficking that goes on and I have been left broken hearted. There is such need a short four hour drive from my house and it's in a highly concentrated area that there are a few ministries and organizations reaching out to the prostitutes. At the same time, not enough is being done. 

 The issue of prostitution and human trafficking is such a messy, all encompassing, tricky thing to fight and sometimes it seems like "enough" will never be done. More and more, it's becoming evident that it needs to be something that the federal, state, and local governments as well as the police department, schools, churches, rescue and homeless shelters, and general public need to all work together to help stop or at very least minimize.  It can look so huge and scary from this perspective, but if everyone worked together, some real change could come. 

 And change has come. My mom remembers in the 80s being able to walk down Lake Street in Minneapolis and it was everywhere. Has it gone away? No. But it has become less public and almost harder to stop. Sadly, change is a slow thing most of the time and it simply takes time. And in that time women with be murdered by their pimps, fourteen year old girls will get addicted to drugs and develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, eighteen year old olds will be faced with beatings and unplanned pregnancies, and more women will be destroyed by this raging monster. 

 It breaks my heart and very soul and it sets it on fire to let my meager life be used as a vessel of the gospel. Of the good news to those who are broken, destroyed, lonely, hurting, and dirty. Jesus came for the sick, for the prostitutes and sinners, and it's up to us to make sure that they know that. I look forward with great excitement for the hope of how Christ can use me to reach the prostitutes of Minneapolis both someday through physical and active work, but also currently through prayer. 

 It's hard for me because I want to do something hands on and relational, but it's a matter of time. I'm still very young and still live four hours away. But I have no doubt that in time God will show me what He wants me to do and that He will guide and bless my desire to work with prostitutes. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

March Recap

 When I told you all I would try to get a March recap post up soon after we got back from spending Easter with family in North Dakota, I had no clue what a crazy week was in store! The stomach flu, house showing, my bro's 2nd birthday, a wedding, more sickness... add onto that we spent three days driving 4+ hours with little kids and needless to say, blogging has not been my top priority. Thankfully now after getting back late from the cities last night, I'm sitting at my breakfast bar downing the second cup of coffee (yay!) and wearing my awesome Crown College sweatshirt and feeling ready to write a post.

 March was a pretty busy month, but a fun one as well. Starting with church planting news... we have our first Cross Hill Community Church Bible study currently going on Biblical Peacemaking. We are meeting Sunday evenings at a church in Virginia and having a potluck every week after Bible study. God is really doing some great things and it's so exciting to see Him work. Lord willing, we will be holding public services starting this fall. Please continue to pray for us!

 Now, can you guess what THESE pictures mean?!?!?!
 That's right!!! I got a beautiful new Nikon D5000 which is absolutely awesome and I absolutely love! His name is Clarence and the story of how I got him is a little long for this post, but we'll just say it was a mixture of saving and planning and a last minute decision. I'm very happy with my choice and I love having a DSLR.

 On March 19th I had to deal with the crazy feelings of having my ity bity sister Corina (Nina) become a *gulp* teenager! It's so weird to think that May marks 9 years with this precious girl as my beautiful sister. I love her SO much and despite the struggles of having a sister that is mildly mentally handicapped, I wouldn't trade it for the world. (We went to Duluth and spent the day painting pottery at this awesome place called the Pottery Burn with some long time friends then mom, Nina and I went shopping.)

 Then my brother, one of his best friends, and I embarked upon a wonderful journey to CHICAGO! Yes it was a lovely time visiting a friend that goes to Wheaton college and seeing the city. We listened to Frank Sinatra, ate deep dish pizza, saw the Lincoln Park Zoo, rode public transportation, saw a snow covered bean, played lots of games, saw the writing desks of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and the wardrobe that inspired The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, had good chats, and went to a fantastic improve show put on by some Wheaton students. The only problem is that it was only one weekend.

 Also, on top of normal craziness... I was in a play at the Mesabi Community and Technical College for which we did 10 (yes, TEN!) performances of our play The Mysterious Case of the Missing Ring the last weekend/week of March. It was a children's play so we did tons of school performances including 3 travelling shows. It made life pretty crazy driving twenty miles to thrice a week play practices and ten performances, but I was able to build some great relationships in the Virginia area and had a good time. I was an old Chinese woman who quotes random proverbs and man, that was such a hard accent!! But it was a growing experience and that was good for me.

 We also got the last of our adoption paperwork filed! For those of you who don't know, we are in process of adopting two beautiful boys (2 as of Thursday and 3 1/2) domestically through foster care. Since they are still foster care children technically, I can't post pictures yet but just wait. These are the two most adorable boys ever (of course I'm not biased at all). They have been "ours" in spirit for a long time now but soon they will be ours legally and that's so exciting! March also marks 1 year of having them in our home. :)

 I also finished the 40 Days of Water with Blood:Water Mission and it was absolutely fantastic time and I have come away with a brand new appreciation of beverages that I before took for granted like milk and coffee. God has blessed me so much and it was a great experience giving up one of the blessings for a chance to bless others.

 That is all at this time and I hope you feel a little better knowing that I have a good reason for not keeping you updated. I have some post ideas brewing currently in my mind and I hope that I'll be posting more in the next month. I can't make any promises though. Every single weekend this month I have stuff going on and I have tons of school to catch up on, but I am still so thankful for my amazing readers! God bless you all.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pile of Coals

 No, I did not disappear from the world, though I did disappear from the blogosphere for the last several weeks.  I have not been idle though, oh my goodness I have been busy! I'll give you all a March recap after I get back from spending Easter in ND with the fam, but since my poor blog has been neglected, I felt that I should post a song that I wrote several weeks ago. 

 This song is basically my winter and what God has taught me during the last several months. It's a very personal one and I decided to post it after reading my friend Abigail's blog post where she echoes much of the same stuff that I've been going through. I hope you enjoy!

Slowly it settled in
Like a fog over my heart
Carefully it seeped into my life unaware
I didn’t know – I didn’t expect
Yet here I am

(Pre Chorus)
I didn’t know I
Could feel this cold
The fire inside of me has grown old
Now what’s left is simply a pile of coals

Passion – once upon a time
Had overtaken me
Now I’m left miles from where I want to be
Lord speak into my life
And revive this pile of coals

Lord I need the passion
Infused into my veins
Complacency – has overtaken me
Save me from my apathy

(Bridge like thing)
Now I’m right back to the beginning
Under the shadow of Your cross
Only here will I feel that fire
Only here can I be revived
This small pile of coals
(Copyright 2010)