Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Saturday was our last Laundry Love of the semester.  Maybe you’re unfamiliar with our Laundry Love community project – let me catch you up.  One Saturday out of every month, we show up at Harold’s Laundry, a laundromat right down the street from Russ and Jamie’s house.  For two hours we throw a laundry party, putting quarters in machines, talking with the laundry-doers, and playing with their little kids out front. 

When I first went to Laundry Love, I felt ridiculously uncomfortable.  I didn’t know how to approach people and ask if I could pay for their laundry.  I knew if someone asked if they could do that for me, I would likely turn them down (hello, pride…).  But God has taught me a lot about myself and about the people that live in the community around UNM through Laundry Love.  He surprises me in some new way, every time I go.

This Saturday, I began talking to Ronnie* right away when I got there.  She was drying about 40 basketball jerseys for a local high school team.  We talked about the game for a little bit and her children, and then she shared with me how she was diagnosed with and beat cancer this year.  She invited me to come visit her at work.  I helped her fold the jerseys.  Ronnie left, and I felt like I was waving goodbye to a friend.  We only spoke for about 45 minutes, but friendships form quickly at Laundry Love.

A pair of guys comes in every once in a while during our Saturday laundry parties.  Every time they’ve come in, they leave while their laundry is in the washer and come back with a pizza and breadsticks for all of us volunteering.  At least one of these guys – I don’t even know his name! – goes to a local church and wants to express his appreciation in some tangible way.  It’s so encouraging to get a glimpse of the body of Christ working together, loving each other while loving others.

The Mission – and now Young Life College – has been involved with Laundry Love for close to two years.  I still get nervous every time I pull up to the laundromat.  Sometimes I play with the kids, drawing chalk faces or singing “Let It Go” with them.  Sometimes I get to hear life stories like I did with Ronnie.  And sometimes I simply ask, “Can I put some quarters in this machine for you?”  Whatever it is that I do, though, I always – always – leave Harold’s with a smile on my face.  And maybe it’s a bit trite to say this during the Christmas season, but I believe I leave with a full heart because it truly is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).  I want to keep this spirit of generosity before me as 2014 comes to an end and the new year begins, following the generosity of the Father who gave the greatest gift of all. 

Merry Christmas, friends!


*Name changed

Monday, December 15, 2014

To live is human

"to write is human, to edit is divine."
-Stephen King, On writing: A Memoir on the Craft

Writing is tough.

For me, writing is one of the most difficult crafts. I have all these thoughts and ideas that sound good great in my head but once I try and transcribe them onto paper (computer screen)...

haiodsosaijd aosdklasfh adilshpiehq pqolajew indsoaqopejiopj asdaklhdeioqhw iodajslkdjpqwiop aios

You know what I mean? Last week was finals for all you college students, I'm sure those who had written ones can relate to the difficulty of this art. Instead of writing, we try to convince ourselves Segway crash compilation YouTube videos or the trending pancake art videos must be viewed immediately. Me laughing takes precedence to me writing this mediocre [insert writing assignment here] and I will stop at nothing to comply to my laughing needs. I know at this point you definitely know what I mean (And if you took a break from this blog post to look up these videos, I am not offended. In fact, I would be offended if you didn't...this is where you go look up these videos if you still haven't...).

Editing is a whole other world. The other day, a friend of mine asked me to review a communication paper for her, to edit the paper. By no means am I some English wiz but I do talk to people on the daily so I figured I had the communication part down. I said yes. Stephen King said it best:

" edit is divine."

I didn't know what I was doing. I spell pretty well (dotted red lines*right click, select correct word*) but Grammer? (See what I did there?) I was out of my element but I did my best. Let's just say I'll stick to writing; to write is human.

The stated Stephen King quote has been stuck in my head and I can't stop thinking about it since discovery. Writing is putting pen to paper, finger to keyboard and just writing. Don't worry about perfecting the content, that's the editors job. Just write. I came up with my own Stephen King-esq quote and here it is-

"to live is human, to live perfectly is divine"

I think my biggest struggle in writing is the beginning, to just start writing. I think it has to be perfect the first time around so I allow fear to prevent my thoughts to form into sentences. That being said, I think my biggest struggle in life is starting, to just start living. I feel I must live life perfectly all day, everyday. To live perfectly is divine. We should strive for perfection* but understand it is a process to perfection that is orchestrated by God. Let's not be the editors of our own life and let's not try perfecting ourselves without God. Allow God to edit us, making corrections and revising the structure of our lives to guide us toward perfection.

In my high school years, I had a very foul mouth. Jonah Hill in Superbad may be a good representation of both what I looked and acted like in high school. It wasn't good. One day, I said I was going to stop cussing. I woke up every morning telling myself, "Today is the day. Not one cuss word." I would spend the rest of the day thinking over and over,

        don't cuss don't cuss don't cuss don't cuss don't cuss don't cuss don't cuss 

I would make it only a couple hours before the verbal poison leaked out and by the end of the day, it was gushing. I would wake up the next day and it would happen all over again. I'm just as bad at editing actual papers as I am editing my own life. When I finally handed the red pen over to the Big Guy, my language began to change.

"God, I'm tired of trying to stop cussing. How come I can't stop?"
"Because that's all you think about all day. If you want real change, start thinking about Me."

I learned two lessons from this short and sweet conversation. One: If I think about not sinning all day, I'm thinking about sinning all day. The don'ts do not change the subject of my focus and what I focus my thoughts on has an impact on my lifestyle. I should focus on God because He will edit out what needs to change. Two: If God can start sentences with "Because", then it must be okay to do. Because He is all knowing.

Perhaps the point isn't to stop sinning. Maybe the point is to respond to God, our life editor, when He makes corrections. A writer's work will only become better if they are obedient to their editor. And the next time the writer puts pen to paper, his work will reflect his obedience.

"to live is human, to live perfectly is divine"

in His grip,


*"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

-Matthew 5:48

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."

-John 15:1-2

Monday, December 8, 2014

Set A Fire

On Friday night, there were two events going on at UNM.  First, as pictured above, the traditional "Hanging of the Greens" started as soon as it was dark.  Every year, campus organizations put together thousands of luminarias and place them around campus.  There is hot chocolate at the President's House and if you're lucky, you might even run into carol singers!  It's really beautiful and loads of people from the community come to walk campus and see the lights.

The second event was Lobo Worship Night, an incredible event put on by our very own Lauren McAuley.  Lauren has been organizing these nights at the end of each semester for the past several years.  It's always an awesome time of worship with other campus groups, made even more awesome this time around because our very own Russ Collins was the headline musician!

As I was on my way to campus for Lobo Worship Night on Friday, I totally forgot Hanging of the Greens was going on.  And if you know me, you know that I LOVE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS/DECORATIONS/CHRISTMAS IN GENERAL.  So you can imagine my delight when I walk on to campus with luminarias lighting my way around every turn.  I stroll into the SUB (the large building in the picture) and come to find the room Lauren reserved is the ballroom with huge windows overlooking the campus plaza that has lights absolutely everywhere.  Wow!  A perfect set-up despite the fact that the technology in the room was malfunctioning, and we weren't able to get words to the songs projected on the wall.

The night proceeded, however, and when I talked to my friend Elise later about Lobo Worship Night, she said something about how not having the words on the wall made the experience "raw" and authentic and so personal.  I love this description of Friday night.  And being on campus, singing praises to the Prince of Peace, surrounded by decorations celebrating HIM (even unwittingly) reminded me that I am, yet again, in the midst of His great work.

We sang one of my favorite songs that night.  One verse goes like this:

Set a fire down in my soul,
that I can't contain,
that I can't control,
I want more of You, God.

As morbid as it is, I imagined one of those little luminaria candles lighting its bag on fire, and then jumping to another bag, and another, until the entire campus of UNM was engulfed in this flame.  (Let's be real, this is probably influenced by the fact that my hometown has almost burned down...twice).  What if this is what God is in the process of doing right now?  He's lighting fires in each of us so that we can go and light other people on fire to spiritually burn down this campus...heck, this city? Boy, I hope this is what's happening.

Honesty hour:  I am afraid of fire.  Like really afraid.  I've been burned before.  Not bad, but it still hurts because fire is hot. Duh. But I also love standing around a huge bonfire on a cold night.  I love roasting marshmallows over campfires.  I love drinking tea and reading books next to my parents' wood burning stove.  And it's from those experiences that I know how fire pops and crackles and sparks and surprises us sometimes.

I don't know about you, but I've experienced God sparking, crackling, and popping these past few months.  I've been caught off guard, surprised, and sometimes even a bit disgruntled at the way He's moving in my life, on campus, and in Albuquerque.  God brought this verse to my attention this week, though.  In 2 Thessalonians 3:5 Paul writes, "May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ."  Have you ever been totally hypnotized by flames?  The blue, the yellow, the orange, the red.  It's beautiful, really.  This verse challenges me to look at God that way.  To be totally absorbed by Him, but not just with my eyes, with my heart above all else. To be in awe of His steadfast love, directing my heart to the warmth that emanates from King Jesus, especially at Christmas.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, people.  Love to you all!

Monday, December 1, 2014


Monday 11/24

9 minutes.

The amount of time between each alarm after inevitably snoozing my daily 5:30am wake up call. I don't even know why I try to get up this early when I know realistically, my day will start at 5:57am. I gulp down 12 ounces of the human form of octane 87, off brand drip coffee and I inhale my usual breakfast of eggs over easy. I then watch my breath flow to my frigid hands as I drive to the high school, making a mental note to buy gloves - but this will only remain in my head and become lost among the other countless thoughts of things I should do. I become anxious walking into the library where I have been for the past two months, knowing I will be doing monotonous work  and I feel seventeen again as I wait for the 2:25pm dismissal bell to ring.

Tuesday 11/25

27 minutes.

The amount of time it takes me to wake up and then repeat Monday.

Wednesday 11/26

1,560 minutes.

The amount of time between waking up at 9am and eating the meal I have been waiting for all week.

Thursday 11/27

420 minutes.

The amount of time between arriving at my parents house for the Thanksgiving meal and being back at my house, hungry once again. It's Thanksgiving. The day where men eat in their sweatpants and women dig for their maternity pants or borrow some. If there is any day to not be hungry, it's today. But yet, I sit here hungry.

Monday 11/24

390 minutes.

The amount of time I have to try and impact a person’s life while at my long-term substitute-teaching job at Volcano Vista High School. As the librarian, I have a great opportunity to remember a students name, ask someone how they are doing, and be ears and listen, to show students that adults do care about them.

Tuesday 11/25

390 minutes.

The amount of time I have to repeat Monday.

Wednesday 11/26

180 minutes.

The amount of time of extra sleep I get to have on this day and enjoy a day of rest.

Thursday 11/27

 420 minutes.

The amount of time I spent with family and friends while sharing a warm, home cooked meal. My mom went as far to bake two individual gluten-free pies for me, even though she understands I wouldn't mind not eating any but also knowing how much I used to love eating pecan pie. I had a second Thanksgiving meal with my sister-in-law’s family, as I do most years. I am thankful for being able to have not just one family to spend holidays with, but two. 


Dear friend,

Perception is reality.

Sometimes I see my days how I first described them. But when I take a step back and look at them from a different perspective, I see that there is so much to be thankful for and so much life to be found every day. We can look at a job as a means of income, giving time monetary value or as we go in life, impact those around us. Time's worth becomes more than an hourly wage. Maybe God has our paths cross certain people because He wants them to experience Jesus that day. If you’re a believer, you know that Jesus offers life and life to the full. I am thankful that God allows me to have the opportunity to show people Jesus every day, wherever I am in life, through my words and actions. We have reason to rejoice and be thankful in every situation. Sometimes we just have to adjust how we see things.

In His grip,


“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18