living. loving. laughing.

living.  loving.  laughing.

Monday, February 27, 2006

the need to be liked

Ministry is a weird thing. It's a hard thing. It's the best thing. It's "me," whether I feel completely inadequate or adequate in the given situation. I find that as soon as I start to focus on SELF I begin to lose sight of the bigger picture; I suppose that's true in any situation in our lives, but recently it's become true when it comes to the concept of kids liking me.

I firmly believe that if I would have gone on staff (with Young Life) right after college - instead of into teaching - there would have been MAJOR issues with the need to be liked. What?! A kid doesn't like me?! Are you kidding me?! What did I do wrong? But then I became a teacher...and I quickly found out that being "liked" wasn't the main ingredient, so to speak.

So now I find myself thrown into the world of middle school kids - in that awkward 11 to 14 year old range, they're continuing to go through one of the biggest transitions of their lives, as they move from childhood to adulthood. I realize that it's hard...I realize that all of the sudden that which wasn't a big deal a couple of years prior is suddenly the biggest, most major event of their lives. And I realize that I get to play a tiny part in the play of their lives, and that makes me excited. I get to walk into their world and just LOVE on them. I get to be their friend (or at least try to!) whether or not they want to even be seen with me.

I know that it means the world to kids when I remember their names...when I'm constant in saying "hi" to them at lunch...when I see them in the hallways and give them a high-five... And sometimes I wish that they just got it. I too just LONG and YEARN to be understood in the midst of their chaos and confusion. I wish they knew my heart for them...but that's not the important thing, it's not the focus of WHY I do what I do. So then, as I was telling my friend Bennett tonite, a feeling of mild persecution (otherwise known as self-pity?) comes into the picture. Today I counted that every other table of 8th grade kids laughed at me when I started talking to them. Today I noticed that the girls whom I've poured into avoided eye contact at all costs and ignored me, hoping that I won't call them by name around their peers. So does it bug me that kids don't always like me? No. I go back to the beginning of this paragraph, where and when I remember how it makes them feel inside, even if they can't quite connect the inside with the outside (especially when the outside involves their favorite crush across the table).

I feel like I'm getting the teensiest taste of parenthood: parents love their kids. Good parents want their kids to know that they are LOVED and they are WORTH it beyond a shadow of a doubt...yet that awkward early adolescent stage hits, and MAN, parents cannot do ANYTHING right! What worked yesterday does not work today and might work tomorrow. You just don't know. So you (the parent) keep walking with one foot in front of the other, and you hope that someday the kid might realize how loved and special he or she is.

So yeah. Middle school. What a time in life! What a PRIVILEGE it is to be chosen to just be a lover of kids. But sometimes those realization days are hard. Yup.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

hot dates?

Where did this week go? I actually got to rest this past weekend...it was beautiful...it now fully messes up the present week, as far as feeling like I'm on any sort of schedule whatsoever. Although in light of working with Young Life, it's not like there's usually such a thing as a "regular" schedule. I love the freedom and flexibility! Yesterday was my day at the office...whew! I admire all of you who are able to stay in the same room all day long. Yes. I just picked up Angela (from SC) from the airport, and she'll be here hanging out this weekend; we're going to take it easy tonite and then have a little playtime Friday and Saturday. Good times. :)




So. I thought my cute little Elph camera was broken...I was about to send it in to Canon, but then realized that it's not actually the camera that's broken, but the memory card! Sad! Does anyone know of a secret (cheap) friend in the memory card business who lives to save my Christmas and New Year's pictures? On we go; the title: hot dates. I figured I needed to give ya'll a picture of my weekend: first with "dates" Aaron and Shea at Emma's wedding. (Emma was an Australian friend on summer staff at Woodleaf, 2000; we were lifeguards together...and tea drinkers...and runners of the backwoods trails at the 'leaf). Next we have Danny, hot date of three hot women Sunday night. We celebrated the Italiano theme by eating pizza for dinner and then finding a fabulous gelato place just down the street. Sundays have somewhat become my Seattle catch up with (grown up) friends day, and I LOVE it!



So, the pics. Here you go!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

a good day in the mailbox

So first of all, are packages not the coolest thing to receive in the mail? You're having not a good day, not a bad day, but just a day. You get home, and sitting there, waiting for you in all its crumpled mailman glory is a package with YOUR name on it. I think someone could send me a rock or a lump of coal in the mail, and I'd STILL get excited. I'd still feel my heart pounding and my mouth twitching with glee; of course, then I'd open up the package and wonder what to do with the coal given the lack of a fireplace or wood-burning stove (or fine - wherever coals are burned...assuming that I'm not receiving it out of naughtiness:), but it's still a package! And it's still addressed to ME!

This week a couple of fun ones came in the mail; some more fattening than others (happy valentine's day, hips), my friend Shelley sent me a CD. I opened it up and read the note: Cara, to you and your Love. Love Shelley.

Now you have to understand, the woman is coming upon her sixth month wedding anniversary, so I'm assuming first of all that in her marriage giddiness she's trying to spread the hot-husband love to the remaining population of single ladies in America. Rub it in, Shelley. Bring on "All You Need is Love" (and other such fabulous wedding hits from jer and care's wedding:).

So another day goes by before I actually listen to it. And then I do. And then my presumptuous, fed up at Hallmark heart finds that my "Love", as addressed in the note, was my real LOVE. My Jesus. My intimate. The one I SHOULD be thinking of and celebrating on Valentine's day.

And the songs were songs about my Love (note the capitalization). And the songs struck a chord in my tired, exhausted, weary heart; I sang at the top of my lungs, I listened with the most intent of heart; I found my head tilting to the side in wonder and I sheepishly smiled at my own "rage against the machine."

I leave you with the song, and some of the lyrics that struck the deepest chord in my heart this past week. Derek Webb is his name, and he wrote a song (I assume in reference to Luther's quote?!) about Jesus and our relationship and reaction to him. I'd like to to stick an "n/a" next to the song, but altogether too much, I find myself running down the aisle, the whore of the church. Here it is:

I am a whore I do confess
But I put you on just like a wedding dress
and I run down the aisle
and I run down the aisle
I’m a prodigal with no way home
but I put you on just like a ring of gold
and I run down the aisle to you

So could you love this bastard child
Though I don’t trust you to provide
With one hand in a pot of gold
and with the other in your side

I am so easily satisfied
by the call of lovers so less wild
That I would take a little cash
Over your very flesh and blood

As my friend Jessica said, you gotta love a man who can sing about Jesus with the words "whore" and "bastard" still in the mix. I appreciate the authenticity. And you?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

when in doubt, bring on the c.e.

Today I went to the principal's office. I'd had an appointment scheduled with Mt Baker's principal for awhile now, and the time had finally come. She munched on her teriyaki lunch, and I apparently was dreaming of my lunch to come, so out I busted with a full-on explanation of the previous night's meal. Amanda and Jess had come over for dinner...I actually cooked...the chicken enchiladas were just delectable and delightful. And it didn't even have that much cream in it! Yeah, my stomach felt GREAT afterwards! They were just chock full of tomatoes and vegetables so it really didn't do a work to my stomach. WHAT THE ----chicken enchiladas?! I think right after the explanation of my slight lactose-sensitive stomach I realized that I was proclaiming to the principal my digestive track problems. At about that same moment, I looked at her teriyaki, glanced at my planner and realized that the meeting really did have a point other than chicken enchiladas.

So is this what grown-ups do? They just sit in meetings and talk about recipes? Have I turned into such the Betty Crocker that every conversation must begin with a successful, non-stomach threatening introduction? What has happened to me?! In sadness I sign off..... :)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

hold on tight

Four new great bands: Mat Kearney. The Fray. Michael Watson. Paul Wright. The first two hailed up in Capital Hill in Seattle on Friday night...in the midst of a Corona or two, the message of HOPE was clearly proclaimed and thus SO encouraging. Both bands/musicians are Christians (I hear) who prefer to perform on a secular platform...love it. :) Then last night, Christy, my high school buddy and I drove to Gig Harbor for the latter of the two bands; it was SO the youth group concert. Hilarious. I think the best part was simply checking out the interactions between middle school kids especially. They have to look to each other for complete and total affirmation, be it in their cool new dance move, in swaying to the music, in closing their eyes for a prayer....it then makes me a little excited that maybe, MAYBE I've grown up a bit. :)

Sunday, after a sad, sad loss of a great, great team, I'm driving home from the Miller's and Danny calls. CAN'T TALK NOW! I'LL GET LOST! LET ME CALL YOU BACK! (All the sentences were short, abrupt and near yell-age). "Okay, only call me back if you want to go swing dancing." Click! What the SWING DANCING ON A SUNDAY NIGHT, Batman?! But indeed, livin la vida loca, Seattle style, Danny, Charlie and new friend Rachel and I hit up this SWEET ballroom in Seattle for five dollar dancing and lessons. Besides experiencing Danny's slick moves on the dance floor, among the highlights were then getting asked by 86 year old OLAF to dance. I'm trying to do my little back-together, side-together moves to the beat of the music, but Olaf is having none of that; instead, he pulls me in and we just sway, side to side to side to side. Every 30 seconds or so he'd loosen the hold and spin me in and out, but none too soon before I'd be back in against his soft, flabby old man belly. (Perhaps even more amusing was catching the looks on my buddies' faces; if we'd have been at an LDS junior high dance, there would have been NO room for the Book of Mormon...).

Yesterday: I'm leaning up against the cafeteria table, talking to a group of 8th grade friends. One of the teachers (whom I know and "work" the cafeteria with) comes up, taps me on the shoulder and tells me to find a seat. I turn my head and look at her. Her jaw drops to the floor. The kids don't know whether to laugh in hysterics or shame. I laugh, say thank you and hug my new friend. Oh the walls that are broken down when someone thinks I'm 13!

Finally, tonite we had a "storying" training with a guy named Ceasar. Getting back to the oral traditions of the Bible, stories were passed down from generation to generation via the telling of stories. Ceasar and his partner in JC-crime run a ministry in which they train storytellers in the art of stories, and then teach them to facilitate a learning-savvy group discussion afterwards. The pros: students are given ownership of learning about God first-hand. Since (according to him) statistics say that 70% of people in the US are oral learners, this could be very effective. The story comes to life. The "teacher" is a facilitator, guiding them moreso than a lecture-format, and also then isn't the speaker-star-of-the-show. And the "stories" that are told are a collection straight from the Bible, so there's no need to "spice up" the Jesus story with a funny introduction. The cons: will this work in a Young Life type setting? Are kids going to feel more like students in the classroom than kids just having fun? Does this work more with adults (for instance in a coffee shop setting) than your average middle school kid? What about you? How would YOU respond? What do you think about this new movement in the church?

So I realize this was a rather random posting, but it's the best I can do given the craziness of the past week and the current tiredness of the mind. PS: It's been sunny in WA for three days now!!!!