that sense of pride

Sometimes I forget that my grandparents fought for me. Literally.

They lived through the Second World War. My grandpa served. I guess I forget sometimes because I don't hear as many of those stories as I do so many others. But tonight, for some reason, as I drove my grandparents to dinner, they started sharing stories. Of what happened, of people they knew, of how history should be taught differently to kids today (which I totally agree with) and of how proud we should all be of our country.

And yet, I still sat there in the car not quite proud of America. They seem so sure of their country. I'm not there yet. I'm not sure if I'm going to get there. I've seen too much of what America does, of what I as an American do to the rest of the world. I can't be 100% proud right now.

This is the global generation. A guy I met last night told me that this generation is more interested in missions than any previous generation. I wonder why. Is it the easy access? The ability to communicate home so frequently? Is it the internet?

I won't say my generation is the same as my grandparents. They've gone through so many hard things. I've seen so many hard things.

Is it wrong to not be wholly proud of my country?

I'm not sure.

But I think for now, I'll side with Derek Webb when he says that he serves a King and a Kingdom. I know that I am proud of that.



I can’t help thinking about Easter this year at Christmastime.

Sidenote - I’ve been crazy emotional lately and I have no clue why. I’m pretty sure I’ve cried every day for the past week. Granted, I have seen a sad movie (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas), I have heard Chris Rayis sing his heart out at church, and it is Christmas. But I still don’t understand the emotions I’m feeling. Maybe it’s because two weeks from Christmas day, I’ll board a plane for the first of four flights to Zambia for three months. Maybe it’s because I just graduated from college and know I’ll most likely never live at IWU with those people again. I have no clue what’s going on, but I have a feeling it’s contributing to this thing I have with Easter at Christmastime this year.
(that was a long sidenote… sorry)

My favorite season used to be Christmas. That has changed. It is now Easter. Easter is a wonderful celebration for everyone. It marks the coming of summer. So the common theme running through my head this season as I listen to Christmas sermons and go to Candlelight services is that Christmas was the beginning. Christmas exists because it was the beginning of Jesus here on Earth. I understand the importance, but it’s just the beginning and Easter is the ultimate goal.

So here’s to Christmas. Here’s to the birth of my Savior, who was born in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes and died on a cross and then rose again 33 years after his birth at Easter for me and you and everyone. We go through Christmas to get to Easter. Here’s to Christmas.


blessed to be here

how blessed am i to have people that have been through this three and a half year journey with me...


the stoop down challenge

I just finished reading The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver. There’s no doubt it tops my Most Influential Books list, which I’ve been meaning to post for a while. I haven’t stopped thinking about it. It plays into so many aspects of my life, with leadership and missions and preparing to live in Africa for three months next year. Maybe it’s good I can’t stop thinking about it.

Nathan Price never cared enough about the people of Kilanga to stoop down and meet them on their level. He wanted to implement “American Christianity” on this culture that was so different. It would never have worked. He didn’t bother to learn that the water scared them. He didn’t care enough to pronounce the word bangala so that it would mean “precious” instead of “poisonwood.”

He NEVER stooped down, and he never even realized that some of his girls did, and that they had a more effective ministry than he could even dream of having in this jungle of Africa.

Isn’t that the same danger with me? I carry “American Christianity” around in my pocket. I will soon be carrying a bachelors degree in Intercultural Studies and Leadership around in my pocket. But it’s all worthless unless I stoop down and meet people where they are. They could be Africans next semester or the girls I live with right now. It could be my family or my closest friends. When I hold an air of superiority because I have this degree buried somewhere in my house, my credibility shrinks to nothing. If I don’t stoop down and care about people first, my message will be lost.

So here’s the stoop down challenge for everyone. May we seek first to understand, and then to be understood. May we listen instead of saying, “you’re wrong” right off the bat. May we stoop down like Ruth May, and Paul and Jesus, and all the other great servants. May we forget our education for a second and appreciate the people around us for who they are, and where they’ve come from.

May we love.


still standing

Dear Father,
Thank you for forgiveness in the form of an unexpected hug. Thank you for people that mean more to me than I ever realized.

*when the world is falling out from under me
i'll be found in you
still standing*


grandma susie

I’m thinking about saying goodbye, or hagone (see you later) in Navajo. You see, there’s not many days left here, in this place I’ve called home for three and a half years. And now it’s time to move on, go forward, make my own way, leave my own trail.

In Arizona, they are deliberate with goodbyes. I remember the last day of church. They had all four of us stand up and talk, say thank you to the congregation, tell about what we learned, and then say hagone.

And we went to every single person, shook their hand or gave them a hug and said thank you. And I got to Grandma Susie, and she hugged me and started crying. And so I started crying. And she thanked me for cooking all summer, told me how much she loved to cook, and prayed for me. It was one of the most special hugs I ever received. And after the service, she gave me her frybread recipe. Grandma Susie’s frybread recipe. It was probably one of the most special gifts I’d ever received.

Someday, I hope I get to tell Grandma Susie thank you. Not just thanks for the recipe or the hug, but thanks for letting me be a part of the family, thanks for teaching me more than just how to cook, thanks for letting me stand right next to her and hold down the sheep while she cuts the throat, thanks for the love she poured into everything.

I also wish that I could show the family how many times I’ve cooked frybread. I wish they knew that not a day goes by that I don’t think of them. I wish I could tell them that this Christmas, we’re having Navajo tacos, and that I will constantly be thinking of them.

Thank you, Grandma Susie.


closing a chapter

Everyone knows the analogy that our life is like a book and different events and time periods constitute as chapters. Life up until Jr. High is a chapter. Jr. High is normally its own horrible chapter, high school is another, and I’m getting ready to finish another chapter entitled college.

9 days. That’s pretty much all I have left. That’s not to say I don’t have a few large papers and tests within the next 9 days, but still, 9 days? Am I really that close? I’m writing the last few paragraphs of this chapter, and soon, very soon, it will be done. I’ll move on to the next chapter, to that next phase of my life where the clan will see me as a “real” person and I have to step up and get a job or something like that. But as I finish up, I’ll reminisce. I remember the good (and bad) times, I’ll think about the amazing people I’ve met, the incredible opportunities I’ve had, and the ways in which I’ve grown into this woman God has created.

It’s gone fast. Ask any college student, and they’ll tell you that it feels like the days fly by, the semesters are over before we know it, and soon, we’re all standing in our ugly black gowns with these ridiculous cardboard hats staring at what lies before us. And maybe we still feel a little unprepared. Maybe we wish we had just a little more time to learn a few more things. Or maybe we’re so ready to leave, even though we know in our heads that three and a half or four years doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of everything we “need” to know in life.

So we walk off of the college bubble campus with our little degrees and admit that we’re still a little clueless. I’m not even close to knowing what my parents know. Maybe someday I’ll get there. Maybe someday I’ll be as wise as my mom. But for right now, as life decisions smack me in the face, I’ll seek out those who’ve been there. I’ll not rely on my own measly “education” and instead look to the source of strength that got me this far and will carry me in the future. God knows my future. So even when I get that dreaded question, I can still feel at peace with the idea that I will be in the “real world” in less than a month.

I’ll enjoy these 9 days, and know that God’s guiding me forward into the next crazy chapter of my life.


what i really want for christmas

I gave my mom my Christmas list. The things that were on it are inconsequential. They don't matter at all today.

What I wish for today is wisdom, for my friends as well as me. There have been more moments in this last week where I wish I had something to say to a broken-hearted friend than I ever remember having before. In the words of Emma, "we all suck." And there are days where that rings true. I have seen the hearts that we have for each other in the past few weeks, and yet, we are all still powerless to make a difference unless we pray, unless we look to the one that changes lives.

It's not easy, being a good friend. Wisdom doesn't just come. You have to chase after it.

I just wish today, that I knew what to say and when to say it. I wish I knew when to offer chocolate and when to leave someone alone. I wish I always knew exactly what to do.

But I'm an imperfect person. I don't always know. And yet, that doesn't discredit the fact that I love these people in my life with everything that I am.

So, Father, teach me what to say and how to comfort the way you do. Because I'm sick and tired of the hurt and the pain and the not-knowing. Help me and all those I love to look to you first.


dear obama

Maybe I didn’t know whom I wanted to win the election. Maybe I’m still not sure how I feel about the changes you want to make to this country. But maybe, I then remember that change can be a good thing. And so, future President of my country, I want you to know that I am praying for you. I have felt a little helpless about the whole political situation for a few years. And yet, I have slacked in the one thing that I could do, pray. But no more. Obama, I may not agree with you but I promise you this, I will pray for you. I know my God is still in control. He can work through you or in spite of you. I don’t want you to fail. I want to see good change. And I pray that that is exactly what you will try to bring about.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you. I’m disenchanted with America. And yet, I know that this country has provided me with incredible opportunities. So, as I spend your first three months of office in one of the poorest and AIDS wracked countries in the world, I will remember where I am from and that you are know the President, and I will be praying for you.

The red-headed Navajo


chris rayis and little kids

I’ve had this conversation with my mom. That conversation where you talk about music, and how it’s so strange that we can remember the exact words to songs when they come on the radio or a cd player, even if it’s been years since we’ve heard them. It’s crazy as to what strange memory ability our brain has. When you hear songs that you know you know, that you haven’t heard in a while, it’s like a little piece of the past. It’s safe, it’s comfortable, it’s nice.

Songs hold emotional value for me. I attach them to things, to people, to how I felt when I first heard them. Songs are special. They’re more than words. Sometimes they mean more than words. They take you back somewhere to a specific moment in time and help you remember.

This summer held a great many number of songs for me. Most were fun, there were a few that were serious, and I will always associate certain things to Arizona. But the week I came home, I went to church and sat in my seat next to my parents for another “typical” service. And then, Chris Rayis started playing, and singing.

It was a well-known song, and I think I’d heard it before, but I never stopped to listen. That’s when songs take root for me, when I stop to listen. And so that Sunday in August, back home in Ohio after a long and wonderful summer, I listened to Chris. I love this kid. I love the way he plays and sings with everything he has. He touched my heart that day, and I could not keep tears from coming. He sang “Come to Jesus.” The simplicity of the song and the words struck such a different chord from the chaos of the summer. It hit home. Come to Jesus.

I was taken back to that moment this weekend, as I watched and heard a different group of little people sing this song. I took a much needed road trip with Emma to Grand Rapids to visit our dear friend Anna at Calvin. And at Anna’s church on Sunday, this wonderful group of elementary kids stood bravely in front of the church and sang the exact same song. I couldn’t help myself. Again, the tears rolled down my face as I watched their innocent little hands do the motions and listened to their amazing little voices as they sang as passionately as Chris does. It was incredible. It was emotional. And I remembered that in spite of the craziness of graduation and looking forward to Africa and writing a crazy number of papers, and thinking about different people in my life, that what I need to do is crawl back to my Jesus and rest in His arms. And I won’t do that just today, but everyday, until I kiss the world goodbye.

*weak and wounded sinner, lost and left to die
raise your head for love is passing by
come to Jesus, come to Jesus, come to Jesus, and live

now your burden’s lifted and carried far away
his precious blood has washed away the stain
so sing to Jesus, sing to Jesus, sing to Jesus, and live

like a newborn baby, don’t be afraid to crawl
remember when you walk, sometimes we fall
so fall on Jesus, fall on Jesus, fall on Jesus, and live

sometimes the way is lonely and steep and filled with pain
so if your sky is dark and pours the rain
they cry to Jesus, cry to Jesus, cry to Jesus, and live

when the love spills over and music fills the night
and when you can’t contain your joy inside
then dance for Jesus, dance for Jesus, dance for Jesus, and live

with your final heartbeat, kiss the world goodbye
then go in peace and laugh on glory’s side
and fly to Jesus, fly to Jesus, fly to Jesus, and live

fly to Jesus, fly to Jesus, fly to Jesus, and live*

Thank you, Chris Rayis, for the CD you made earlier this year and for recording Come to Jesus. It has been a great comfort to me this year. You have a wonderful talent, and I have no doubt that God is going to use you for his glory with that wonderful gift.


the major award

According to my dad, tonight I won a major award. Although I did not receive a leg lamp, which we all know is the true major award, tonight was still an honor I am trying to believe really happened.

I received the Servant Leadership Award along with two others tonight. As I sat there and listened to their acceptance speeches, I realized how blessed I am, to have had the opportunity to serve in the crazy ways I have. God is so good, and it’s simply an honor to live my life completely for him.

For those that are interested, the following was my acceptance speech…

*I have recently been thinking about who the real heroes are in a few of my favorite stories. The main characters are the ones who get all the publicity. But the background characters are often the ones that make the most difference. Like the Bishop in Les Miserables. Without the influence he had on Jean ValJean, there wouldn’t have been any sort of redemption story at all. Like Sam in the Lord of the Rings. Without Sam’s service and loyalty, Frodo would have never even made it out of the Shire, much less all the way to Mordor to destroy the ring. And like the faithful who traveled with the apostle Paul on his journeys, and who were often imprisoned with him as well.
I spent this past summer working for Experience Mission on the Navajo reservation in Arizona where my personal job responsibilities included cooking for the short-term teams that came in and bussing kids back and forth from Kids Club. I learned more about service there than I have in almost any other place. This was not a flashy job, but I did have experiences that were beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
Arizona taught me that a life of constant service is not easy, that the day in and day out things like washing dishes are not always fun, that people may criticize how you serve instead of always appreciating the fact that you’re serving. Perseverance is required. Remembering the God you serve over the imperfect people you serve is key. Although the days were long and hard, they were also incredibly rewarding. There is something wonderful in forgetting about ourselves to serve others. I find myself still thinking about Arizona and missing it more than I realized I would. Through serving, I left a part of my heart there. And as I’ve had time to look back and reflect, I see that I’m ready to go out again, to serve without having to think about myself, to watch others succeed.
One day as we hiked down into the canyon in Arizona, we all talked about which characters in Lord of the Rings we would choose to be if we got to pick. The boys all picked the warriors like Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, One of my fellow teammates wanted to hold a big stick and be Gandalf. And I told everyone that I would be Sam.
There’s a part of me that’s always known I would be the best friend in a story. I’m simply not the main character type. Please, stick me behind the scenes. I have found that I can still lead there. That is, in fact, where I thrive as a leader. Servant leaders aren’t always the ones out front. So I want to be the one in the back giving hope, the one picking my friends up when they fall down. The one pushing others out the door.
I have begun to see servant leaders in those people that are often overlooked. The ones who work behind the scenes, who do the little everyday things that really make a difference in people’s lives. God has continuously shown me over the past few years that it’s in the little things, in baking cookies for someone, in listening to friends when you don’t really have the time, in doing something out of your way to make someone feel special, that you truly begin to serve and also learn how to lead out of those acts of service.
I wish I could list and thank all the servant leaders in my life. The people that have stood behind me as I have faced different challenges. The people that have helped me step out of the Shire with the ring I have to carry. My parents top the list with their ultimate support for me, but there have also been professors and great friends who have pushed me beyond my limits to step out and learn and grow in who I am in Christ and as a servant leader.
So, thank you, mom and dad, for your never-ending support and encouragement and for allowing me to follow God wholeheartedly, even when He takes me to crazy places. Thank you to all my professors sitting in this room who have always asked me the hard questions and forced me to go deeper on every level. Thank you Dr. Millard for providing me with opportunities to work with Experience Mission and also to travel to Africa for three months this coming spring. Thank you to my friends who have seen every step of my journey and have picked me up when I’ve fallen down. Often they’re the ones that give me that final push into the unknown. All of you have modeled the kind of servant leader that I aspire to be. And it is because of you that I am standing here today. I especially want to thank James and Sarah Tunney and the entire Tate family of the New Testament Indian Gospel Church in Inscription House, Arizona, where my donation went from this award, for making life both difficult and wonderful at the same time this summer. I also want to thank all of them in Arizona for including me in yet another family, and showing me a way of living and loving that I won’t ever forget.
I know without a doubt that I could not have done anything without the strength of God in my life. He has led me through ups and downs and been there for every step, in ways that no human support could be. It is because of his grace that I can freely accept the gift you all are giving me tonight. Thank you.*

I really want to thank my parents for coming tonight, and for Sarah Black and Emma who were also there to support me.


the paradigm shift

I could have sworn life was going to be easy after Arizona. I kept telling people jokingly that my last semester of school and Zambia were going to feel like a piece of cake.

Ha. I was wrong. Again.

Simple fact: God changed me this summer. I’ve known this. I knew that I came to school this semester more confident, more sure of who I was and who God was shaping me to be. I can say that I know who I am. I know what I like and don’t like. I know my strengths. I know what I’m good at and what I’m not so good at.

What I didn’t know was that the American culture holds absolutely no appeal for me now.

God not only shaped me as a person for what He wants me to do. He changed my mind. He changed my worldview. He changed my thinking. He changed the way I look at learning, school, my friends and other people that I’ve never met.

This thinking fit the Navajo culture. It doesn’t quite fit the IWU one.

I have this strong urge to destroy the whole educational system and start over. That’s how frustrated I am. In some way, higher education teaches us to only be worried about ourselves. And that sucks. Life is so much better when we stop thinking about what we need to do for ourselves during the day and cook a meal for someone else or write a letter to our grandparents or have coffee and listen to other people’s experiences.

I’m NOT done learning. I never will be.

But I’m done with the classroom.

Hello, outside world. You hold more lessons for me than I could ever imagine.


looking out the window

“We take expressways because we fear the cities and the poverty there” – Robert L. Green, author of The Urban Challenge: Poverty and Race

I’m still not a fan of downtown Columbus. There is this crazy irrational fear, even though it is not justified at all. The homes by Cooper Stadium always looked scary when I was a kid. That mission trip to the Short North was a huge step out of my comfort zone. And it was 30 minutes from my house.

How many people have I walked by who are living in poverty while going to Tree every day? How many people could I have helped? How many times did I focus my attention inside the car and never look to the world outside that was and is hurting so badly?

I was so used to Ohio. I thought everyone kind of lived like I did.

In Venezuela, I couldn’t stop looking out the window. The scenery was different. And the people were so different. I couldn’t help seeing everything; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Every trip since then, I have continued to stare out the window. There is so much to see, so much to experience, and so many people that need help.

This urban poverty research is starting to get to me. It has ceased being a project and has me seriously thinking. Yeah, I’m a college student, but I can do something, can’t I?

I’m not taking the expressways. I’m looking out the window. Always.



That’s it, I’m officially going to Africa. Zambia, specifically. For three months. God is so good, as are the people at IWU that are giving me this incredible opportunity.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think of going to Africa for extended periods of time. But God’s plans are always bigger than my own, and I have found, over the past month especially, that I do have a heart for this place. God has given me a heart for Africa, he has opened so many doors, and pushed me in so many directions. He has provided the resources for me to go, and taught me to be content when things were up in the air.

I’m so ready. Let’s go. I’m loving life, loving people, and loving Africa.


thank you, bethel

The hospitality I experienced this weekend was more than I could ever ask for. I traveled up to bethel to see the EM people and make frybread for my boys.

It was better than I expected. There’s a sense of community at bethel that I’ve never seen before, even at iwu. And I got to be a part of it. Yon and Chris and Justine and everyone else welcomed me with open arms and were the perfect hosts.

It was so good to be with them again, to share Arizona stories and know that they understand who I am and what God did in each of us this summer. They’re like family. They’re just great.

So thank you, you three. And thank you bethel, for teaching me things I won’t ever forget, about community, about really sharing life together, and about how to have fun!


eggs benedict

“…but you, you knew the real me. I didn’t. Benedict. I love eggs benedict. I hate all the other kinds of eggs. If I ride off into the sunset, I want my own horse.” – Runaway Bride

It took Julia Roberts four weddings that she ran away from to learn who she really was. And that’s what it was about, learning the real her, and not becoming who any of the men wanted her to be.

Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to run away from four weddings. After 21 years, I thought I had a fairly good grasp on myself. And then this summer hit, and God stretched me and made me give up all my ideas of home, and love and servanthood. And he showed me who I am in Him.

And now, as I was talking about different aspects of life today with Sara Lynn, I realized that I am perfectly content today with who God has made me to be. I know what I like. I know some of the desires God has given me. And I want to walk confident in that fact.

So whoever comes along is going to have to deal with the fact that I love to travel, that my heart lies with those in other cultures, that I love to cook, that I love my family, that God is number one, and that I am willing to go wherever He takes me.

If I ride off into the sunset, I may very well want my own horse.


lessons from the bungalow

- Only most people think you’re a creep for butchering a sheep. Some of your best friends want to hear all about your crazy experiences.
- I still love cooking for others, and I make way too much for 5 people.
- Sarah Black is the most patient person I know.
- Alyson comes up with the best stories, and can make me laugh the same way Stephen can make me laugh.
- Coffee and tea overflow.
- People in Indiana and people in Arizona really aren’t that different.
- I live with 5 very brave girls.
- Even in the summer, Indiana is too cold and our house is always freezing.
- I miss Arizona.
- It takes God to get me up in the morning.
- Life is good, but my heart always hurts.
- I love our front porch, the kitchen, and the girls that occupy the living room.

I’m trying harder every day to get used to the fact that I’m finally here, in my last semester of college, living with these people one last time. I don’t want to miss it. I want to spend as much time with them as possible. These girls mean the world to me. They challenge me and they listen to me. There are days when I wonder why they love me. But God bless them, they’re the best.


the pieces of my heart

I grew up in one place. I’ve lived in the same house for 20 years. My family was here, my friends were here, my church was here. Columbus, Ohio was really all I’d ever known. Until that day in August of 2005 when I moved away. It was two months at college before I came home again, and I realized that when I was at school, I missed home. And when I was home, I missed school. My heart was in both places, and at any given moment, I had to choose one place to be. I’m limited. I can only be one place at a time. All of us are like that. Yet both places began to feel like home.

It didn’t really make sense until this summer. Arizona became another home. The Navajos are my family now too, just like my family in Ohio and my family in Indiana. And coming back to Ohio made me see that there was a huge piece of my heart that stayed in Arizona. I’m not complete in any one place anymore. I’m always thinking about where I’m not and how those people are, because I miss them so much.

I felt somewhat empty after coming back. Like I’d poured myself out so much on the rez that it was hard to give more here. And there are very few people that will sit and listen to your hours and hours of stories and pictures and memories and laughs that defined your summer and changed you. I felt empty and drained.

Until the other night. I decided on the spur of the moment to go see Hillsong United in Indiana with a very dear friend. And as I was once again simply a part of the crowd, with music so loud that I felt it in my heart and couldn’t hear anyone around me sing, I found that God was filling up my heart again. He was taking the pieces and fitting parts of them back together. I was filled with love again and a desire to go out and serve Him more.

I still have pieces of my heart all over. Ohio. Indiana. Arizona. And now that I’m full again, who knows where else I’ll leave my heart in the future. God’s taking me somewhere. He’s using me for something. And I’ll take the adventure day by day and leave my heart where I go.


more leaps of faith

There’s a simple beauty to Ohio. Maybe I’ve always taken it for granted, growing up here and all. But as I was pushed into free falling out of a plane today I noticed the patchwork quilt of green and cornfields that make up Xenia, Ohio.

Arizona never stopped being beautiful to me. Every time I walked out our front door I was reminded of where I was, how isolated we were, and how incredible it really is. Every time I went to the canyon, my breath was taken away by the sheer vastness of what God had done there. It wasn’t simple beauty. It was breathtaking.

And I’ve become convinced that you only see God’s true beauty when you take a leap of faith. Arizona was a huge leap of faith. I was clueless heading into this summer. But if I had known ahead of time every obstacle I would face, there’s a great chance I would have backed out and said, no thanks. Maybe it’s good that we don’t know where God is leading us or why. It’s only when those moments and situations come that you find out God has enough strength to help you through. All we have to do is take that first jump.

Before this summer, I highly doubt I would have said yes to an invitation to go skydiving. I kind of used to have this fear of heights. It didn’t take the Navajos long to find out our fears. And I’m not kidding when I say that they did everything in their power to make us face our fears head on. And so by the end of the summer, there wasn’t much that scared me anymore. And when Anna called and asked if I would jump out of a plane with her, I didn’t have to think twice. My fears will never again get in the way of seeing God’s beauty, whether it’s standing at the top of a canyon or seeing the patchwork quilt of Ohio while falling from the sky.

The only way to live is by leaping into life.


I'll come back when you call me

*It started out as a feeling,
Which then grew into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet word
And then that word grew louder and louder until it was a battle cry

I’ll come back when you call me
No need to say goodbye

Just because everything’s changing
Doesn’t mean it’s never been this way before
All you can do is try to know who your friends are
As you head off to the war
It could start on the dark horizon
And follow the light

You’ll come back when it’s over
No need to say goodbye
You’ll come back when it’s over
No need to say goodbye

Now we’re back to the beginning
It’s just a feeling and no one knows yet
But just because they can’t feel it too
Doesn’t mean that you have to forget
Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
Till they’re before your eyes

You’ll come back when they call you
No need to say goodbye
You’ll come back when they call you
No need to say goodbye*

The Call – Regina Spektor

This became my theme song for the summer after I saw Prince Caspian. I’ve seen Arizona as my own type of Narnia. While there were parts of it that were so much like my world, there was so much that was different. I faced different challenges, I was stretched in different ways. And when I learned my lesson, I had to board a plane and leave.

And that’s where I am now, in the Philadelphia airport, less than three hours from the place I call home. And a huge part of my heart is still on the rez. I think I knew it was going to be hard to leave, partly because, like in Narnia, you have no idea when you get to go back.

There’s no word for goodbye in Navajo. They simply say, “see you later.” I like that. That’s one Navajo tradition that I’m going to carry with me through my life. With Christians, no matter where and when, you never really have to say goodbye. You can simply say “see you later” and know that no matter what, it will hold true.

* I’ll come back when you call me – no need to say goodbye *



“The church is a whore, but she is my mother” - St. Augustine

My Basic Christian Doctrine professor promised us that we will get burned by the church. Especially for those of us going into ministry, whether a head pastor or youth pastor or working in missions. The church isn’t made up of the perfect suburb people. The church looks like this, like the family that I’ve been working with all summer. They are far from perfect, and so am I. And the issue is learning to work together. It hasn’t been easy. There have been days where I’ve been burned, when all I’ve wanted to do is run.

But you stick with it. Not for yourself, but because God calls us to be faithful. He’s been the most faithful to us broken down and sinful people, so why is it so hard for us to turn around and understand where the people we’re working with have come from? Why must we judge when we’re all the same in the end. We all need our faithful God. We also all need each other.

The church may burn me, but I couldn’t live without it.


a frybread hotdog

The countdown is 5 days and I saw tonight the things that I am going to miss the most from Arizona. It rained hard tonight and so as we butchered another sheep with the team and made frybread, everyone was gathered around either the fire or under the shade. There was a sense of real community that I’ve seen only a few times in my life. Why is it that community always happens around food?

Sarah was explaining tonight that we butcher for the community. It’s not about how they butcher (which is still culture-shock cool) but it’s all about the why. Normally, the Navajo would butcher when a family member came home from being away for a period of time. It was a welcoming home thing. It was about bringing people together for a celebration. The tradition is much like the story of the prodigal son. When he returns home, there’s a party.

They get it. There’s something different about living like the Navajo do that changes the way you view life and the idea of community. I know being here has changed me. I’m going to live differently when I go back. No more suburb life. I may be stuck there for a while, but I’m still going to make an effort to keep some Navajo ways of living that I’ve picked up. I want to “get it” too. I want that sense of family that comes with knowing Jesus and sharing good food.

And hopefully, we’ve left a small mark on them as well. Like tonight, when we wrapped a hotdog in frybread dough and fried it. It was excellent, and I’m thinking it might be something they won’t soon forget.


one more

It’s like that scene in Schindler’s list. At the end, he’s upset with himself for not saving one more. He thinks of all the things he could have sold to save one more, he thinks of all the things he could have done better.

I feel a little bit like that right now. I have 7 days left. I’ve been here over two months and time is slipping away so fast. And what could I have done better? Who is that one more that I could have impacted better? God sent me out here for a purpose. Did I fulfill it? Did I connect like I was supposed to? Have I learned what I needed to learn?

There’s unanswered questions, but there’s also still one more week. So I guess the question is, how am I going to live this last week? It hit tonight as Townie and I were lying on a trampoline that there’s moments in life you’re never going to forget. There’s been so many this summer. There’s been so many conversations with Daniel, with Townie, with those that have come and gone, and even several with Yon.

In the spring I remember deciding to have a good day, no matter what. And that’s what I’m deciding this week. It’s going to be good. I want to laugh. I want to leave with all the good memories. I want to leave not asking what more I could have done. I would prefer to not be Schindler this time.


old school

I just have to mention that this week, the Kids Club team used the felt board to tell the Bible story. It took me way back to Sunday School days with the Weavers and those old movies where the kids would jump into the Bible and go through the story. It was awesome, and the kids were so attentive during the story. Felt boards should never be done away with.

On the other hand, our logistics coordinator that has been taking care of us from the main office in Washington is here with us this week. She was my sidekick today, helping me with the small things I do, one of which includes driving and picking up kids for kids club. We had some serious bonding time and we got to talk about our summers and what our jobs have looked like on the field and in the office. And it was awesome. She basically considers Arizona to be like an international site because of the limited resources we have while we are out here. And she saw it first hand today when we passed by several cows on the road and almost hit a sheep with a church van packed full of kids. Needless to say, her experience is nothing short of exciting.

It’s amazing how reverting back to the old way of doing things can be so refreshing. Like cooking outside for instance. I have never in my life spent this much time outside, it’s almost all day. And besides barbeques, I have never really cooked outside. So to come here and learn and see the cool and interesting ways of doing things has been awesome. I feel like I now have a whole set of “Navajo skills” that I can carry with me the rest of my life. And I carry a knife everywhere, can it get any better?


the unexpected

*stepping out, what a child, my steps ahead of my mind
not a doubt, till you knocked me off my paradigm
simple me, only trying to see you in the stained glass
I walked right past the unexpected

Any way you want to show me all your glory
Anywhere you choose to speak, tell your story
In the low and lofty places
Strangers’ faces
And any way

Doubt that I would have found you there in Bethlehem
It’s no surprise you changed the world through fishermen
Good to know you would go so far to finally get through
It’s just like you, yeah, and so unlike me

Any way you want to show me all your glory
Anywhere you choose to speak, tell your story
In the low and lofty places
Strangers’ faces
And any way

In the back streets and on a rooftop
And at the end of a rocky road you don’t stop
On a mountain, in a rainstorm
And in a coat where a mother keeps her baby warm
In the back pew, at the altar
And at the well where you gave the woman water
In the chaos, in the holy
In the darkness and anywhere a heart beats
Anywhere a heart beats

Any way you want to show me all your glory
Anywhere you choose to speak, tell your story
In the low and lofty places
Strangers’ faces
And any way*

- Kelly Minter

I remembered this song the other day as I was washing dishes. And I don’t exactly remember what happened that day, or why this song jumped out at me again, but looking back, especially on this week. I realize how true this song is.

Too many times I look in the wrong places to find God. And then, like a breath of fresh air, He shows up in the unexpected. Like this morning, as Kiki took my hand to walk me back to the house, or the team offering to do the dishes for me. He’s shown up in little kids’ faces and Sarah’s wise words. He’s shown up in Daniel’s talks and the Euchre games we now play at night. He showed up yesterday as Townie and I talked for a long time. And sometimes it’s Him talking through people who ask you if you’re doing alright. I’ve seen God in the canyon, on the dirt roads, at the swap meets and in the women making frybread. I’ve seen God in a drawing instead of a stained glass window. I’ve seen him on long road trips and early morning hikes. And the other night, when I was the last one to run up a steep, sandy hill, He was waiting for me at the top in those that were standing there encouraging me. God surrounds these people. And it’s wonderful to see God in the ordinary, in the mundane, and in the people of the Navajo nation. He’s here, friends, don’t worry, he’s here.

And he’ll go home with me too. And to Indiana and to wherever the next year takes me. I just pray that I’ll be able to see him in everything there too, even the unexpected.


being sam and frodo

Daniel talked again tonight. And no matter how many times I hear a talk about his drawing, God always has something new to say to me…

A few weeks ago as we hiked down into the canyon, we all talked about which characters in Lord of the Rings we would choose to be if we got to pick. The boys all picked the warriors like Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, Townie wanted to hold a big stick and be Gandalf. And I told everyone that I would be Sam.

There’s a part of me that’s always known I would be the best friend in a story. I’m not the main character type. Please, stick me behind the scenes. No one would write a movie based on my life. But I want to be the one giving hope, the one picking my friends up when they fall down.

There are times in all of our lives when we’re each Frodo. It’s true that each of us are on our own individual journey, carrying certain burdens and things that no one else carries. We all fall many times. But there are Sams in each of our lives; those real heroes that pick us up and force us to move on and continue the journey.

I’m blessed I guess. I have so many Sams in my life. And I realized that tonight. But I also remembered that Sam is exactly who I want to be to people in my life.

Sam couldn’t carry the ring. So he carried Frodo.

So dear friends, when I can’t carry the thing, I’ll carry you.

“…together we can run to the finish line
and when you are tired, I’ll carry you…

… we were never meant to make it on our own.
and when the load becomes too heavy and your feet too tired to walk
I will carry you and we’ll be carried on…”

*rebecca st. james


the leadership major

Whenever I tell people I’m a leadership major, they always ask me what you do with that degree in the “real world”. I shrug my shoulders and say I have no clue. I could do anything with it. Why do people always pressure us to have our lives mapped out? Why do I have to know today exactly what job I’m going to be in for the rest of my life?

Why isn’t what I’m learning more important that what job I may have in the future? I wish people would ask about who I am because of the classes I’ve taken instead of what I’m going to do with some degree in the future.

Many of my classes have come back to haunt me in real life situations. I guess that’s what happens when you let God tell you what to take in college. This summer is no different. Those leadership classes are constantly in mind.

I took a class this past spring called team leader. It was a great class, I learned more than I though I could. And I got to work in a team and apply right then and there what we would talk about in lectures.

But today, in Arizona, I’m the only one who knows these principles. And my team of three is about to change dramatically in 48 hours. We’re adding a member. Experience Mission is sending us another intern to help with the last three weeks of teams. And he comes on Friday. And while I think this is going to be a good change, that never means it’s going to be easy, or that there won’t be things I need to focus on to bring all of us together.

I was telling a friend last night that the split second decisions you have to make on the field are some of the hardest I’ve ever made. I’m one of those introverts that thinks everything through before I make my final decision. And that’s not a bad thing. But sometimes, you simply don’t have the time. Sometimes, taking your time is the wrong thing to do.

Getting the phone call that someone new was coming was somewhat of a shock to me. My team, that I’ve now lived with for 7 weeks is suddenly going to change. And what am I going to do about it. How can I apply what I know from those leadership classes to make this transition smooth and good? What is God showing me here? What in the world am I going to learn here that I could never learn in a classroom?


love, the chef

dear future housemates and friends at iwu,
i officially have our first meal picked out for the fall. you have to promise to eat it, and i'm telling you right now it's great. i know i promised i'd cook once a week, so for anyone brave enough to come to dinner, we'll have a good ol' navajo classic dish.

the chef


a God I don't understand

“But today you have met a God you do not understand. Such is the mystery of His sovereignty. Such are his ways in every generation. No man has ever understood God, not fully. No man ever will. God will always be something other than what men expect Him to be. He will work out His will in ways different from what men forsee…

…the question is, “Will you follow a God you do not understand? Will you follow a God who does not live up to your expectations?” – The Prisoner in the 3rd Cell

I wonder why I was placed in Arizona.

Why, God, why?


youth group of the year

We’ve had three teams come and go. Houses have been repaired and painted, shades have been built, floors have been tiled, and a lot of food has been eaten. It’s hard to believe that half our teams are done and gone. Time flew by. And now, it was time for me to go on another adventure.

Ever since we arrived, I’ve heard the church youth group talk about Trail of Hope. It’s a native youth conference, a place for these guys to be encouraged and see what other native youth are doing around the area both on the rez and off. It’s like their own version of Christ in Youth conferences that I went to summers in high school.

I didn’t think I was going to get to go. It wasn’t until the night before that it was decided I would go. Chris and Townie had to stay to run errands and take care of things around the church. But God granted me yet another crazy adventure.

I wish I could express how much I love these people, especially the youth. Two of the girls have been my traveling companions as I pick up kids for kids club and they have been so much fun. The boys are always running around and helping me cook for the teams and Daniel the youth leader has become a friend that can be both crazy and serious. I was so excited to spend this time with them and share in the experience of Trail of Hope.

As with most things here, this trip was completely unpredictable. Everyone was chasing us off on Saturday, saying we were going to be late. In reality, the conference started on Sunday, and we had to buy some tarps and camp out on Saturday night since we were a day early. I loved it though: the randomness of life and the spontaneous decisions. They make my day without even knowing it.

The actual conference was really good, a little different from ones that I’ve been to in the past, but it was yet another learning experience for me. The kids were the best part. I got to see them learning more about God, I got to see and hear them worshipping and singing, and as always, I got to laugh with them and have fun.

And God spoke to me too. It’s a place I would never have expected to be and yet God showed me how I got there. I got to go to a seminar on missions, I got to meet some really cool people that are working with native youth. And I was challenged by what God is doing in my life. I knew after the first week that these people and this place would hold an extremely special place in my heart. I saw that even more as I spent time with the youth and Daniel on this trip. They mean so much to me, more than they might ever know.

On the last night awards were handed out to the youth pastor of the year, youth group member of the year, youth group of the year and there was a lifetime achievement award. Our youth from New Testament Indian Gospel Church won youth group of the year. I could see it coming. I was so incredibly happy they won. No other youth group deserved it more. These kids help out so much. There’s no way Chris and Townie and I could survive without them and what they do for us. And on crazy days, they keep us sane. When I see those boys pull up, I know the day is going to be alright. They make the long days worth it, and knowing that we get to hang out with them all summer is so wonderful.

They so deserved it, and when they opened their gift they were shocked. They won a Wii for being the youth group of the year.

And no one deserved it more. You gotta love them.


the lamb

Our third group left really early Friday morning, so we had a “day off”. Normally after groups leave, our days off consist of cleaning and running around, which is exactly what this Friday also entailed. I cleaned the grill and the food storage shed and headed off to Tuba City with James, Sarah, their daughter, Townie and Matt the journalist intern that had been with us for the week. Chris woke up really sick so we left him home deciding whether or not he wanted to survive. We were gone most of the afternoon and randomly ended up riding home with Felix so we could help butcher a sheep with the family that night.

The way home was more than interesting. Felix is one of those people with testimonies that you almost can’t believe because God took someone so broken and completely turned them around. And as Felix was sharing a part of his testimony with us, he was also asking us deep questions, like the one thing we would ask of God that would edify the church body and how do we recognize that we trust God completely in our lives. I wrestled with those that night. I wrestled with what Felix was talking about.

And then we get to grandma and grandpa’s house and we wrestle a sheep to the ground, tie it up and slit its throat. It was such a crazy picture. Once the sheep or lamb is tied up and lying down, it doesn’t cry at all. It simply lays down its life. Like Jesus, like my Savior did when he willingly gave up his life on the cross. I watched them slit the throat. I held the legs while they took off the skin. I helped hold the bowl as they pulled all the insides out of the sheep. I held up the fat so it could dry and then after they cut it into strips, I wrapped the intestines around the fat so they could cook it over the open fire. I ate the liver and the tongue and had the time of my life.

A few years ago, there’s no way I could have done any of that. There’s no way I could have watched any of that or participated in any way. But I look at where God has brought me, how’s he’s given me the grace to jump into different cultures like the Navajo and appreciate who they are and the traditions they carry.

Without the lamb dying, there’s no celebration, there’s no family party.

Without Jesus dying, there’s no party in heaven.

He died willingly… for you and me, so one day we can have a big feast.

what it's like to be followed

First off, I forgot to write about the nicknames that the Navajo have given us since we’ve been here. Chris just got his from a grandma that kept seeing him at the gas station driving the van. And so in Navajo she called him the tall white pole or an easy target. Alex has a t-shirt that says “townie” on it, so that’s what the boys started calling her and that’s probably what I’ll refer to her as throughout my blogs. And after I jokingly yelled at the boys for throwing a football they started calling me Mama Marge, or just Mama. It also applies since I’m the cook as well.

So, twice a week we have to take the trash to the dump about 30 minutes away. Normally, Chris does this since he’s technically in charge of the van. But on Tuesday, Chris was in charge of the evening program and so Alex and I had to do a late nite trash run (it wasn’t really midnight).

Now townie and I were off on an adventure. We’d only made this drive in the day and we were also only passengers. So townie made me drive since she’s short and she was real scared since it was just the two of us going to the dump by ourselves. We felt a little safer since we both had our knives (not that we’re great at using them for self defense yet).

It was a pretty entertaining drive and we kept getting passed because I don’t totally trust the van so I was going slower than most people would like. We get to the dump and we’re trying to throw these big trash bags into the dumps that are too tall. It was funny because we were trying to hurry since townie was so worried. Townie also thought she heard someone say “hey” from behind one of the big trash cans. We emptied the van as fast as we could and hurried to get back to the road.

Halfway home, we were passed by a car and had someone wave at us. Turns out, it was Jere Bear, Steven and Sister. They didn’t trust me and townie to take the trash all by ourselves and not get hurt. Well, at least they care that much to follow us out.

Just one of many crazy adventures.


“All God wants to do is take you where you cannot go alone and make you what you cannot be alone. You were not created to live your life absent of God. There is a dream for your life you can’t even begin to imagine without God. Without him you are settling for less. If you were meant to fly, not even running really fast is that impressive.”
- Erwin McManus – Soul Cravings

I read the above book last summer when what I did all day was sit by the pool and watch two girls. Last year, I was dreaming. I knew then that this summer was going to be different, that this summer was going to take me somewhere I may not want to go. But I still couldn’t see it. At that point, I was still running really fast. And it wasn’t that impressive.

Today I feel as though I’m flying. Being here is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and yet also one of the best. It’s hard now to imagine my life without these people in it. In one month’s time they have changed me. They have taught me so many things, so many life lessons. And I know without a doubt that if I left today I’d be a different person for the rest of my life.

The good news is that I’m not leaving today. I still have 6 more weeks with these amazing people. I get to live alongside them and participate fully in their culture. I’m flying. Last summer I was running safely. This summer I’m flying without a parachute.

But that’s all right. I was meant to fly.

“You can spend your whole life trying to become what your soul longs for without God. You might resent that he’s made it so hard for you to live out your dreams or fulfill your destiny. It’s never quite hit you that it’s in the struggle, in the process, even in our search for God, that he is making us strong enough to take flight.”
- Erwin McManus – Soul Cravings


the initiation

This morning at church, James and Sarah stood us up in height order (Chris, Me, Alex) in front of the congregation and talked in Navajo for a while. We had absolutely no idea what was going on until they handed each of us a knife and told us to always carry them with us and be prepared. When the Navajo’s ask, we better have our knives on us.
I didn’t know how to say thank you. We stood there dumbfounded. None of us had a clue that the church would do something like this for us. We were simply amazed. As I told someone this story later, she told me that the moments like this are the ones that make every heartache and backbreaking thing we do worth it. It seems to me like we’re a part of the family after all. And once again, I felt so blessed.

Every day is a new adventure. You never know what is going to happen; what challenges you’re going to face or what amazing moments you’re going to have. The pastor at Exit 59 where I go to church when I’m at school always says that he would have never dreamed he’d be where he is today and if he could have seen the future while in college, he wouldn’t have ever believed that this life would happen for him.
It feels like that this summer. If I could see into the future for the rest of the summer, I’m sure there are things that will come across my path that I would never have believed I’d do or handle. But that’s the beauty of living in the now, living day by day, and not worrying about what may happen tomorrow.
It’s still hard to believe I’m here: cooking outside for 50 people, washing pans with ash from the fire (it takes the fire burns off so your clothes don’t get black!), hiking down into canyons, eating new things, actually wanting to butcher a sheep, driving big vans on crazy dirt roads and tackling my fear of heights.
There are times when I wonder what in the world I’m doing here, and times when I’m simply amazed that I’ve had this incredible opportunity.


my cloud of witnesses

I used to be scared of the spring. For four consecutive springs, we lost a member of our family. The first was unexpected, the second was necessary, the third was not what anyone wanted and the fourth seemed a little unreal. Since then, there’s been more, not in the spring, but they hurt nonetheless. There’s been at least one death close to me every year since 2001. That moment in may when uncle buzz died was the moment I realized life wasn’t easy.
It took me a long time to even begin to understand why I’ve dealt with so many of these. I have friends that just recently have experienced the first death close to them. And while I have no answer, God has granted me a peace that transcends understanding. And tonight, he made things somewhat clearer for me.

In the church I’m working in this summer there’s a large mural on the wall that Daniel drew using pastels. Some weeks he explains the meanings of the different images that are portrayed. There’s a picture of a young person with an old grandma above her. In Navajo, the elderly are given much respect. They carry so much wisdom and they also see the potential in all the young.
Then there’s the symbol of those that have died in service to the country. At the front of the mural is a gun standing straight up with the hat on it. This signifies those that have died for our country and have gone ahead. And Daniel talked about not only those that have served but any of our family members that have also gone ahead and become our cloud of witnesses.
They are up there, looking down, and they see our potential. My many family members and friends, they are my own cloud of witnesses. They see my potential. They see who I can be if only I let God work in my life. Though I can’t see them, they are like a constant encouragement, cheering me on as I run the race, as I work in Arizona this summer, as I finish college and as I head to Africa in the spring. And maybe they see the potential in me beyond that as well. Maybe they’re up there dreaming up things with God for my life.
And just maybe, your own family members and friends are doing the same for you. When we let God dream for us, it’s always better and more adventurous than anything we could come up with on our own. And there are people cheering us on in the faith, even when we can’t see them or hear them or feel them.

There are people here too. I have the best support system anyone could ever ask for. Mom and Dad, thanks again for giving me up to God and allowing me to follow where He’s taken me. Matt, thanks for being the best brother and friend. Kelley, even though we’re separated most times, thank you for the lifelong friendship. Christi, I don’t even know where to begin, but I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without you. Sarah Black, thank you for knowing me better than I know myself most times. Sara Lynn, thank you for challenging my thinking and talking intellectually with me even when I don’t understand half of what you’re saying. Beth, you taught me so much, thank you for being the first one willing to fight and disagree with me, but still love me at the end of the day. Emma, thank you for your smile and the sunshine you bring to my life. Sisterhood, thank you for providing me with something so unique and special. Mark and Scott, thank you for being like brothers to me. And to those that have gone before, thank you for your wonderful examples of lives well lived.

Every day I realize how blessed I truly am.


*when my faith can't reach that far*

*don’t leave me now
my memories are more than I can take tonight
and God show me how
I’m supposed to trust in things beyond my sight…

So teach me how to kneel
When I don’t know how to feel
And show me where you are
When my faith can’t reach that far
My faith can’t reach that far…

And tell me there’s more
To this life than only what my heart can see
Take all these things
Make them into more than who I used to be

Is my soul too blind to see
The truth you have for me
Cause this peace I feel inside
Is too weak to survive
Too weak to survive

My heart has left me alone again
Is this the beginning, is this the end,
Is this the time you’ll never let me in again?

So teach me how to kneel
When I don’t know how to feel
And show me where you are
When my faith can’t reach that far
My faith can’t reach that far…*

“reach that far” – eleventyseven

My brother is the music man. One of our friends once said that if there was a jeopardy Christian rock band edition, she’d want Matt on her team. I don’t know where or when he found the above song, but I remember him telling be about it. He hands me cd’s and tells me which songs to listen to. This one has been in my library for a while and has applied at different times in my life.
Today it hit home in a different way. In a nutshell, I’m more out of my comfort zone than I’ve ever been. And while it’s good, and I find myself turning to God more, it can still feel as though my faith isn’t reaching far enough. The days aren’t easy. They’re long, they’re hot and sometimes they’re downright frustrating. It’s a battle in my mind on what to focus on at any given moment. The small decisions I make affect not only me anymore.
I’m living with two amazing people that I’ve grown to love and respect, despite the fact that we’ve known each other less than a month. It’s a team, and there are differences, but we still share so much. And it’s strange at times, and it’s also fun. And I realized tonight that I need to work harder on encouraging these two people God has placed in my life. I’m here ultimately to serve God and the Navajo people, but I’m also here to serve these two.
God shows me in a new way how much of a behind the scenes person I truly am. Tricia was right in putting “the man behind the curtain” on the back of my t-shirt. We saw it then. I saw it in softball. I struggled with it this past spring break in Costa Rica. And I’m here doing it again. And there are days where I feel I have a thankless job and I wonder whether what I’m doing really matters.
But it does. Rob Bell said in Velvet Elvis that it’s the small, quiet, stealth acts that change things. I may never see it, but it could be those small actions that I do every day that change things. This is where faith and trust come into play.

God show me where you are… when my faith can’t reach that far…

*Matt: I’m always thinking about you… I wanted to let you know that I’m so proud of you and I love that you and I share a heart for good music and for missions. I always listen to the songs you tell me to listen to… those are actually the ones that have changed my life. I miss you like crazy and I’m constantly praying for you this summer. You’re the best ever. I love you.

when truth makes you cry.

today I saw my mother. I wish it had been in a way where I could touch her and hug her (no one hugs me here), but it wasn’t this time. it was through someone else. Someone who carries my mother’s wisdom and strength and love throughout her whole being. And it made me miss home so much.
Sarah, the pastor’s wife talked with us for a long time today about almost everything under the sun. she talked to us about teamwork, she told stories of people she knew, of the church she’d grown up in, of her family, and what a real friend looks like. And it felt to me like it was my mom sitting there teaching me all of these lessons. Maybe it’s because I’ve heard them before, or seen them in my mom’s actions and the way she lives her life. But real truth was spoken into my life today. And sitting there with James and Sarah and Chris and Alex, I just cried.
I cried because I missed my mom and her wisdom. And because it was Father’s day and I couldn’t be there to give my dad a hug for being the best dad and always providing for and loving our family with everything he is. Every time I leave home it gets harder. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Isn’t it supposed to get easier?

So thank you, mom and dad, for being the kind of parents that are hard to leave. Thank you for being my constant support, for still letting me lean on you when I’m tired, for loving me through everything and not only letting me be gone for 2 or 3 months, but actually encouraging me to take hold of every opportunity, even when it means we’re far apart.
I am blessed, so blessed. And although I now call the Navajos here family, no one and nothing could ever replace you two. I could never thank God enough for the both of you. You mean the world to me. And I love you so much.


failing and falling... and climbing back up

The team told me the meals were good, but I got a different word from others, and I have to admit that I wasn’t so impressed with myself. The timing is insane when trying to cook for 50+ people, and I haven’t been in the rhythm I need. And when someone tells you outright you need to go to spaghetti class, it doesn’t quite make your day. There’s so much to learn for a seemingly thankless job. And when I took on the cooking, I didn’t realize that there was so much cleaning involved as well. Cleaning is not my favorite activity.
Plain and simple, I failed a lot this week. Only a few saw it, but it was so evident to me that I once again felt completely inadequate to be here. Is that how I’m supposed to feel throughout this whole summer? Or will some measure of confidence slowly start to creep into my life as I continue to cook and live 24/7 with this crazy job? There are definite moments when I look up at the sky and ask God what he was thinking…

Our “days off” have been more than incredible. They always involve cleaning, which isn’t my favorite, but kinda has to be done. But then there are hours and moments like we had today, as we hiked far down into the canyon and saw the most incredible sights. Pictures are never good enough, and for those of you that could make the hike, I would encourage you to come down here in a heartbeat. God’s handiwork is everywhere, and as we sat and listened to Daniel’s canyon stories, I have to admit I was convicted. They’re testing our character here. Maybe that’s why life seems so hard sometimes… most times. Maybe the hike down was a test of character. Did I pass? I made it back up, but I honestly have no idea what they think of me.
But does it really truly matter? Am I here to please the people here or am I here because this is where God has placed me? Where’s my focus? Who’s my focus? It’s a hard question to answer. Hard because you have to deal with the people you’re working with and yet they are not perfect either, like me… and I’m not here to worship them or give them any sort of glory. It’s all for Him. It’s all for the man who saved me so many years ago and brought me to this place.

I’ve failed and I’ve fallen in the past week. But even when I’m tired and I can’t breathe, I know there’s some sort of strength in me to climb back up. I did it tonight. I made it back to the top of the canyon. And yes, I had some amazing people standing beside me or behind me or holding my hand. But there was still some courage and strength to get back up. It came from Him, the man I’ll gladly hand my life over to.

you learn something new every day...

*to all my future housemates and family…
… I now officially know how to fix a septic tank, a talent not all women should necessarily possess, but one that may be helpful nonetheless.

Thursday, June 12: a layer of grease.
Seriously, I need to get a before and after picture of this event grill I have to clean every week. It wasn’t that bad until bbq chicken night and by today, it was just a mess. I’m pretty sure it takes about 3 or 4 hours to clean and to make it worse, we couldn’t shower or go to the bathroom in our house until we figured out what was wrong with the septic tank. So we started digging, and digging, and all the while smelling this wonderful smell of the backed up stuff. And then grandpa Roy appeared and figured out what was wrong. So now we are allowed to shower, but the septic tank is something we have to check regularly. So fun.
Another sweet thing I did today was clean the grease pan from the grill which was chalk full of grease, all the way to the rim. So I stuck my hand in there and dug it out. It felt kind of like clay and it was real interesting. Alex was grossed out, but I thought it was kind of cool… crazy new adventures every single day.

On the flip side, we got to sleep in today, which was great. And the boys slept over last night outside on their cots. They didn’t invite alex and I to sleep out there though, which was fine with us to have the house to ourselves.

You honestly NEVER know what’s going to happen next. It makes life real interesting.


more adventurous than i can tell you.

Monday: simply amazed
It’s 8:45 and the teams just left me. I’m alone here at the church and I’m wondering how much of this time in the morning I’m going to have throughout the summer. There are a million things to do (like cleaning – mom, you’d be so proud). I have meals to prepare and things to get ready because my afternoon will be spent getting kids for Kids Club and visiting the work sites on the last day. Tonight’s meal isn’t the easiest to fix either. But for some reason, I can’t stand up. My mind is racing with everything else.
I don’t think, wait… no, I know I’m not ready for this team to leave. Maybe it’s because it’s my first. Maybe it’s because they have been amazing and organized and so much fun (especially for knee highs!) The days are long and hard. Everyone was right when they told me this was the hardest summer of their life, but also the best. Even though I want to throw my alarm clock in the morning, I also love when it goes off. I’m normally the first one up, making breakfast and putting things together for the teams. The mornings have been cool, but beautiful. And the sight when I walk out our front door and over the parking lot to the outdoor kitchen is breathtaking. How blessed am I to wake up to that every morning this summer…

On Saturday night we took the group to the canyon, on the other side where we could safely hike and build a bonfire. And as I looked across and saw all of the edges and straight drops of the cliffs, I thought about how I’d gotten here. Arizona… never in my wildest dreams. As a freshman, there’s no way I could have taken a leap of faith like this. Look where God’s brought me. And next year, He wants to take me to Africa? What? I never dreamed I could do these things, but then again, it’s really not me doing this at all. It’s all God. The fact that I’m inadequate means that He gets all the glory. And living this way is more adventurous than I can tell you…

*Mom – we have to start investing in Blue Bird flour so I can make Navajo tacos with fry bread when I come home. Miss you lots.

Once again, I thank everyone who has been a support system in my life. Leaving was harder than I thought this summer and I miss you all so much. I am so blessed to have you all in my life. God is so good.

Hanging on to Jesus,

“I found a way out through everything I’d known
I’m walking fearless with my faith down and all that I own
Don’t take my picture, cause I won’t be there standing alone
I’m living fearless, so fearless, like everyday’s my own”
Fearless – Falling Up


annie, get your gun

Friday: my first puddle-jumper…
I flew to Phoenix in the morning and met the other interns before our puddle-jumper flight to Flagstaff. It was the smallest plane I’d ever been on (besides my uncle’s two-seater that he let me kind of fly). We met Kristy who was sent to help us get situated and hopefully teach me how to cook for large numbers of people.
sidenote: if anyone remembers the section at the old COSI where you fake-cooked from the pioneer days, yeah, cooking here is just like that, only with real food and for 50 people. I should have a picture posted for you soon
Anyways, after we met Kristy and gathered some groceries, we headed out to the reservation. This place is beautiful. There are so many mountains and with the red dirt and clear blue skies it was such a wonderful change from the flat Midwest that I’m used to seeing.
We met a good portion of the Tate family on Friday as well. Grandpa Roy and Grandma Suzie greeted us. They have 8 children, all of who live on the same road with their respective families. Their daughter Sarah is married to the pastor of the church and we met her and her family who we will be working close with as well.
We came back to the house and the church property, had a late dinner and went to bed early since we had all been up since 4 or 5 in the morning.

Saturday: get your gun…
We had the morning to ourselves but that probably won’t happen often. By lunchtime we had half of the family running through our small intern house fixing some of the plumbing and hanging out with us. We sat down and met with Pastor James and Sarah about some logistics and spent time sitting and talking with the family.
Relationships are key with the Navajo. Time is flexible and they love to sit around and talk with everyone. So that’s exactly what we did. And then the boys decided to take us on a little adventure.
In this family’s “backyard” is a canyon that they know like the back of their hand. It’s not that far away, but you have to do some serious off-roading to get there. So here we are, in the back of a truck, driving next to this serious canyon. (mom, you wouldn’t have made it, there were times when I couldn’t look). The canyon was beautiful. There’s a part that hangs over a 3000 foot drop that they call the egg shell. It’s a good thing they didn’t tell me where I was until I was on top of it.
We then hiked up a little mountain thing to get a better view of the canyon and this is where I experienced a first in my life. I shot two guns off into the canyon. One kicked a little and that’s the video that will hopefully work on this page. The other pictures are mostly from the canyon on Saturday. We finished the evening with a very late BBQ with the Tate family, which was, once again, amazing. They are so full of life and can always make me laugh.

Sunday: rock band
Church followed by a family picnic. Seriously, can this get any better? Navajo fry bread and Jeremy’s amazing grilling abilities left me stuffed after a Sunday lunch with the Tates. I love them more and more every day.
Pastor James took us to see some of the construction projects today (which was good for me because I won’t be leaving the church much with Kids Club and my LARGE cooking responsibilities). I had to remind myself to walk into these sites with an open mind. They simply live differently and we are here to completely help and not judge at all. At times, it’s like being in another country because they ALL speak Navajo. So if they don’t want us to hear what they’re saying, they’ll talk in Navajo around us. It’s really interesting though, because it helps us rely on them. We are so not in control here. We need these people, and it’s humbling, but I’m so grateful for their presence and complete involvement.
Anyways, Sunday night consisted of us sitting around with the boys and being amazed by their Rock Band abilities. These kids are good, and they put me to shame when I attempted to play the drums. (I only failed once!)

Monday: the grill
I think it took us 6 or so hours to clean up the camp and it took a while to clean this grill to get it ready for the team coming Thursday. We also sorted the food pantry and semi-organized what we had so that cooking can be more efficient for me as I attempt to feed 50 people every night. I’m excited though, just pray that I don’t burn anything.

Tuesday: black widow spiders
We finished up some cleaning projects and organizational things. And as we were cleaning the outdoor showers, Kristy found a black widow spider in the corner and I watched her kill it. (I’m so not to the point where I can kill deadly animals myself). We’ve been briefed on how to recognize the things that need to be killed around here, like black widow spiders, scorpions, and rattlesnakes (for that, you call one of the local teenage boys and watch them kill it with a shovel… but they taught us how to walk/run away!).
The family took us to Navajo park where there are some cave-dwellings you can view from afar (again, mom, the height thing would kill you!) And then we went up into Utah to see Monument Valley during the sunset, and it was beautiful. Everything seems so majestic out here and we are all amazed (especially since we’re from the mostly flat Midwest).

Wednesday: the grocery bill
We’re in Page today (an hour from the rez), getting on the internet because we don’t have it where we are and doing our grocery shopping for the upcoming week with a team. It’s completely overwhelming, knowing I have to buy 600 slices of bread plus all of the other crazy numbers of things it takes to feed 45-50 people for a week. I still can’t wrap my head around the numbers and the amount this grocery bill is going to be…

In other news, my fears have faded tremendously. I’m probably less nervous than I should be, especially with our first team coming tomorrow. But God has granted me an extreme kind of peace and I want to thank everyone that has been praying for me and this summer. I’ve already seen his hand in placing me here, with these other two interns (who are amazing, by the way!) and with this incredibly relational and wonderful family (think the Starkey/Aurand clan times 6). He is so good and now I’m simply excited about being here and serving for God’s glory.

In case you want to send me anything, here’s the address.
Margie Termeer
Hc 70 Box 3
PMB Box 5086
Tonalea, AZ 86044

I love you all, and I really do miss everyone. But it’s so comforting knowing that this is where I’m supposed to be.


you jump, i jump, jack...

i'm a little scared.

no. wait. that's a lie. 

i'm a lot scared. 

jumping into the unknown is scary and that's exactly what i'll be doing in 8 hours. i'm once again feeling inadequate, that maybe i'm not quite ready. but maybe that's how i'm supposed to feel. because it's in those moments that i only have one place to turn. i'm leaving my family behind and my friends behind. i've known my teammates less than a week and i don't know anyone on the reservation. 

so there's one place i can go. 

God, i'm running fast into your arms. you're going to have to hold me up this summer and give me the strength to go on. 

i'm jumping and it's all for YOU. 


the people you meet

maybe Disney World has the right idea with their ride and song "it's a small world"

or maybe God is just so amazing that he can take the small things in the big world and bring them to our attention.

bermuda is not that big. the entire country is 21 miles long and maybe 1 mile wide. there's 65,000 people. it's the size of a small city in the states. everybody knows everybody. you say hi to the bus driver when you step on the bus and everyone honks at each other all the time as a way of saying hi. 

and it was here, in this small place that i met kelli last week.
kelli was on our flight from philidelphia to bermuda last friday and my friend overheard her say she was from indiana. turns out that kelli and I had a random connection and that got us talking the other night when we met up and went out for dessert.

we talked about missions, about our life goals, about where God has brought us and the amazing opportunities he has given to both of us to pursue what we love this summer. it was one of the best conversations i've had with a "relative stranger"

and yet kelli didn't feel like a stranger. she felt like an old friend, like someone I had known for a while. she was easy for me to talk to and we understood exactly where the other person was coming from even though our interests and passions are seemingly completely different. 

kelli and I are somehow a part of this larger church body that is bigger than the united states, bigger than bermuda and bigger than any other place in the world we may both travel. and meeting members of the church should feel like meeting old friends. we all share something. we share a love for God, a belief that has carried most of us throughout the hardest times in our life. why are we so unwilling to share our stories, to meet each other in different places?

last week the world felt small to me. 

but this week the world feels big. and not an overwhelming big, but a big that is still smaller than God. God is bigger, and yet he can also work in the smallest ways that we never see coming. 

*at the end of our conversation kelli told me that talking with me had been such an encouragement to her. this, in turn, was incredibly encouraging to me and i walked away thanking God for orchestrating our meeting. i walked away full of joy that night and completely amazed at how our God works. 


being alone

if gas was cheaper, i'd be taking mid-night drives around the 270 loop all the time. 
there's something about driving alone, in the summer, in the middle of the night, alone.
for some, this has absolutely no appeal. 
for me, it's a dream.
kind of like my dream vacation: a week by myself on some beach somewhere with no phone, no computer and no contact with any one person i know. just me, my bible, my journal and the beach. i would love it.

so i don't know what it was about tonight that made me think that the world needs to move slower.
maybe it was the fact that there was no one on the roads.
maybe it was the 5 minute train i had to wait for on orange rd.
maybe it was being amazed by God for making beautiful nights.

on my last night in costa rica this spring break i woke up in the middle of the night and had to go to the bathroom. 
i hated this.
it meant i had to walk outside with my headlight looking on the ground for some kind of spiders or something.
and normally i had to kill some insect in the bathroom first.

but this last night, i looked up at the sky.
and in costa rica, in the jungle, you can see more stars than you ever thought you could see.
and i stood there, almost falling over, looking as hard as i could up at the beautiful stars
this is incredible. this is God. this is how good He is.
why do i not stop sometimes to look at the night sky and be thankful?
why do i not slow down to remember God's faithfulness?

what's the arizona sky going to be like?
what's the african sky going to be like?

God, help me appreciate the sky and the slowness of life wherever i am...


a girl with authority

i'm sure many of you have heard the story about the horrible car crash at taylor two years ago. 
whitney cerak was the girl that lived to tell her story to the world. 
and one day, she asked her dad, "why me?" 
and her dad responded, "whitney, why not you?"

i've been asking the same question over the past 10 days. 
God, why me?
and He keeps responding, why not you?

i've spent this past year, my junior year at IWU, feeling completely unprepared to do what God has been calling me to do. 
i've struggled through leadership classes and my own personal relationships. 
and it was so obvious that i was supposed to pursue experience missions. 
and now that arizona is a month away, i still feel somewhat unprepared. 
but it's coming, and i'm not about to ignore the call. 

Jesus had authority while on earth. people followed him, not because he looked good or had amazing speeches or was the most popular, but because his message had authority. he knew who he was. he was confident in who his Father wanted him to be. 

and as i heard that in the sermon this morning at church, i didn't get really excited. until the pastor told us to turn over to matthew 28. and in that moment, it clicked. i started crying. i knew exactly where he was going with this. 

"all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. THEREFORE, go and make disciples of all nations..."
matthew 28:18-19a

i have his authority, the same authority Jesus had when he was here. 
i have the Holy Spirit with me. 
so God, let's go... to arizona, to zambia, to wherever else in this crazy, heartbroken world you want to take me.
it doesn't matter at all how ready i feel. 
here i am. 
send me. 
margie, why not you?