Monday, December 12, 2011


Pulled through space, towards a new reality. That explains a lot, actually. It explains the confusion. It explains why thoughts and ideas and potential realities are swirling around me- as I try to understand who I am, who God is, and who I am in Christ. My master has my arm, and we are traveling. He knows the way. I am not afraid.
And now that I know what's going on, I can look around; I can see the different ideas and understandings that are swirling around me.

I am trusting. I'm a skeptic. I'm compassionate. I'm self-focused. I am feminine. I'm a tom-boy. I am trustworthy. I'm a flake. I work hard. I waste time.

* Once saved, God won't let you go (this is my "probable") vs: You can turn away from God. * God calls and provides a way for everyone - even those who never hear the gospel in this life ("probable") vs: God calls only those who hear the gospel in this life. * God makes some "bad" things happen (ie: death), and sometimes gives us consequences because he knows that our lives are a speck in eternity, and so the cost is worth the gain ("probable") vs: God only allows bad things to happen because to not allow it would be to deny free-will, and all consequences are natural'..... * and other stuff that's between God and I.

All I know is: God loves me- me individually. He never would have spoken to me otherwise. He never would have revealed himself to me otherwise. But he is still so mysterious, and the more I know, the more I crave... and how can I claim him when I don't know his character? But I know he is good. And he has my hand. And he is pulling me through this hole in space, and bringing me to the other side.
.... by the way, I wasn't wasting time- this time. Journaling is one way I focus on God in my "God-time."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

If I Die Tragically

Sometimes I worry about death- but not so much about dying, as about the people who have to deal with it. I won't finish my thoughts here tonight; maybe I'll add to it at a later point. But there are some things I'd like to say now.
1) If I die tragically, people will wonder about my last moments, so I want to say it went one of two ways: I either fought for my life til the end, or God gave me a sense of peace and helped me to let go. There was no sense of hopelessness. And hopelessness is the only thing to fear.
2) As much as I love life, and as many dreams as I have for the future, No one ever sits in Heaven saying, "Man! I wish I could go back."
3) If you didn't get to say goodbye, ask God to pass it along; but know that my last moments on earth aren't what eternity is based on- so if the last goodbye was abrupt and un-meaningful, or even hurtful, it's not like I'll spend eternity thinking you didn't care about me.... and I hope you know that I care about you too.
4) I didn't die too young to experience what God wanted me to experience. And, in fact, my life has already (while I still hope to live to be At Least 121), been very meaningful. The meaning is in relationships (and of course, in getting to know our creator who wants the ultimate relationship with us), not in worldly success. My goal is to be an encouragement every day, whatever I'm doing. Some days I succeed, other days I don't. But my now isn't building up to some goal which, if I don't attain, makes my life a failure. If my life blessed others, then my life was meaningful. And if it didn't bless them (hypothetically speaking- cause if nothing else, I at least got one run-away away from a probable pedifile/pimp and back to her family) well, my relationship with God still made my life meaningful.
5) I know I'll be in Heaven because I love God. He loves me. I want to be with him; I can't imagine being away from him. I crave him. No I'm not perfect, but he understands and accepts that. He knows I seek him. I don't have to be perfect; I just have to believe upon him- to rely on him, trust him, want him, put my hope in him- and not perfectly. I don't look to the day I get to have this and that in Heaven, or even to the day I get to see this person and that person. I look to the day that I get to be with God more truly than we can be here on earth. Those who don't make it to Heaven are those who reject him- don't care to be with him- they may want to live in a cool place like Heaven, but they don't care that it's his creation, his home- that they are guests. It means nothing to them. If he said, "Let's have dinner," they would blow him off to spend time with each other. They will probably be rude and inconsiderate to his other guests- the children who accepted his offer to "adopt" them- as well. No one in their right mind invites someone over to live as a guest if that person only wants to be there for the cool electronics, etc. Neither does God. But God does invite those who want to be with him, so I know I am invited; that's where you'll find me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Passionate and Rebellious

I took a personality test to discern my fascination triggers, and the results were passion and rebellion, meaning, these are the things about me that are most likely to fascinate or engage others. I do think that trust might have surpassed rebellion if I hadn't been biased with the choices that seemed about even. Where I had needed a middle-ground answer, having to choose between slightly more than neutral, and slightly less than neutral, I know I veered away from anything that would imply I was too shy- because I'm not; I'm just often a quiet listener since I don't need the spotlight, and this gets mistaken for "shy."

But anyway, I'll go with this here. Passion and Rebellion.

A couple years ago, I did a different personality test, and one of the questions was, "How passionate are you?" It left me at a loss. I mean, there's more than one meaning for "passionate," right? I mean, I am passionate for sure about social issues:

I want to live in a world where no child is abused (huge issue), and a world where all people have the opportunity to meet their needs such as food, clothing, medical care, etc (we can make them work/volunteer for it, that's fine, but then we need to make sure they can work for it). I want to live in a society that is less individualistic and materialistic, and more social- I mean, why don't I know the majority of my neighbors?... Well, at least I do have a core group of friends that I know and try to encourage.... I am passionate about these things.

I am passionate about the juvenile justice system- it should be more rehabilitation-based than punishment-based.... for that matter, criminal justice as a whole needs to improve on the rehabilitation so that we don't keep sending people back. I am also passionate about wanting people to know who my God is, so they can choose wisely, rather than based on stereotypes of Christianity and inaccurate understandings of what the Bible actually says.

And I am passionate about helping people with developmental disabilities. People with Autism, Down's Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, etc. have potential. Real potential. And if our society cared more, we would improve our programs to help. Many of them dream of having jobs- and they just need help to find the right one, or to get to and from work, or to be trained more thoroughly. Many dream of having their own homes- maybe with their own staff to help them- meaning they don't want to live in group homes under a schedule set by the staff in charge of them, which is based on what will work for everyone (ie: Scott wants to go to the Christmas party, but Patty is too tired because of the meds she takes at dinner, and there aren't enough staff to split the group so sorry, again, Scott, maybe next year).... yes, I'm passionate.

But what about the other sense of the word? Was I passionate, as in, relationally? Well, how was I to know? I don't have the experience.... But since then I've been more alert to the word. Now, I'm coming to believe that passionate people are passionate all-the-way around.

In the last couple years, I've built some good friendships- with the kind of friends that hang out outside of the context of where you originally met (ie: school, work, church); the kind of friends that remember to ask how a certain situation is going; the kind of friends that accept you even though it is quite clear that you are imperfect- and maybe even a little unstable :-)

Well, I'm starting to see that it is a matter of passion, that makes me stick to my friends. I am fiercely loyal, and if it doesn't show, then I am overcompensating to prevent being pushed away. It is a matter of passion, that draws me to relationships.... friendships, as I said, but I see how that is connected to more serious relationships. I am also romantic at heart. I've known that for ages; and I see now that this too, is connected to passion.

And then there is another side of passion- it is sensual in nature (both, as connected to the "more serious relationships," which was part of my how-am-I-supposed-to-know question, and otherwise). And that, too, is me. I love seeing colors and textures and sound and touch. I am in love with the gorgeous, mystical redwoods. I can take a gazillion photos of wispy clouds, colliding waves, jagged-towering cliffs, and peaceful, colorful prairies with a brook running through. I love standing in the shower with the water pouring over me, and massages, and my warm- fuzzy blanket. I love sitting by a fire at night- the smell of it, and watching the flames dance... for that matter, I love the days where people are cooking on their grills, and the smell permeates the air. I love waking to the sound of birds singing. I love music- drums and horns and violins and.....
Yes, I am Passionate.

So then there is rebellion. My first reaction was to laugh in it's face. Rebellion! Yeah right! Oh.

Okay, so maybe it's true.... actually, yeah! I think it IS true! I'm not the type of rebellious that breaks laws or norms.... unless the law or norm is wrong. Then I'll fight. It kinda goes well with passion.

I am very justice-oriented. If someone treats you or I wrong, I will go all the way to the top to argue it, fight it, demand yours or my rights, tell everyone about it so that the perpetrator doesn't get away with it- whether it's a business, or the law, or another person that wrongs us. Yes, I'll demand until justice gets its way. I don't care about your power- you can be highly respected, or the one with the money, but if what you are doing is hurting someone, I'll put up a fight.

More than that though, I don't care about social norms. Many people probably make the mistake of assuming that I desperately want others to accept me. Truthfully, I would like that very much, but when it comes to cost... I cannot hide who I am. I cannot stand the stifling result of a wearing a mask. What I need is for others to see me for who I am.... or actually, who I strive to be. If I can have this, then if someone doesn't like me, well, it's disappointing but it's their problem. So if you don't like me because I think certain big businesses need to be more socially responsible [yes, they do nice things here and hold them up for us to see so that we can say, "Wow (insert business), you have such high standards!"... but then they use sweatshops and find loopholes in laws to save money]... well, if you don't like me because of what I preach or how I live, then so-be-it. I don't care if all the world disagrees with me (well, actually I do, but only because what you disagree on might exacerbate the problem I'm concerned about, or might be harmful to you), I'm going to live by the standards I believe in.
So yes, I am Rebellious.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Strangers (picture blog)

Okay, so I know that my picture blog needs to get it's own space because it isn't quest-related.... but I'll get around to that. In the meantime, it's here: 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Define Healing

A few days ago, I added a new post. For me, it was an act of healing. It was a matter of: Okay. I'm not ashamed. I'm not going to hide. I am going to let it go. For me, if I don't talk about things (or if I turn down time with friends), I am crawling into myself, I am retreating..... although, because I'm not the best at articulating myself in person, sometimes writing, for me, is like talking. When I write, it allows me to process information, to acknowledge it, and to move forward. And when I wrote that post, and then published it for others to see, it was like blowing a wisher into the wind. I let it go... well, letting go is a process, but I got closer, and I felt so good and free and at peace.

A couple days later, someone expressed concern for me. She said that she sees that I am having a hard time coping. I tried to explain my viewpoint, but she only sees it through her own lens. She knows how she feels. She knows how she acts and interacts. She assumes I'm the same; she assumes that by writing it, I am clinging on.
But for me, when I don't write, the thoughts spin in my head repetitively. Writing does help me let go. But I can't convince her of this.

So she's trying to convince me that I need to get rid of everything written, that relates to my dad- his journals, documents, everything- just destroy it. And I am fine with getting rid of most of it. But a few pages of it actually acknowledges what he did- and coming from a past in which people didn't believe me, I like knowing that proof exists, so I don't want to destroy that part of it. It may be that when I put it in a box, I forget about it for 10 years, then see it again and think, "Nope, I don't need it anymore." But today, I want it- not to look at regularly, but to just have. And I do believe that letting-go can't be pushed. It comes with time; with growing- and I am growing, and am not concerned if it takes a little while. So why do I have to be pushed?

So then, I was telling a good friend about this. I actually had a point I was trying to get at- but never got there because she started telling me how she agrees with the first person. And in her argument, she completely downplayed the past- said, "well, he never actually succeeded in doing those things to you." I know that! I know it could have been 10 million times worse. But he still did hurt me.... and her comment hurt a lot, because she's my friend..... Then she wanted me to set a date for "letting go"/getting rid of certain things- well, if I knew I needed to let go of those things, I'd do it today. But these items seem like the side-act to moving on; they aren't the issue.... And some would say I should also take all the photos of my dad out of the albums. To me, it is a fact that he's a part of my past. I can't take him out of my past, so taking him out of the albums just leaves a void- which is just as obvious, and more evasive.

For me, the question is, what's going on within me, when I acknowledge the past? Can I say, yes, my dad abused me, but I am free now? I think that's the truer form of moving on in life. Yes, I think back to the past. I think of family vacations, of girl scout activities, of camp, of the time I flew off my bike, of the time dad tried this or that, and so-on. I remember them, and depending on the situation, I may mention them.... and if people around me are making it a current issue, I may mention the past more, because it relates to the present- but that doesn't mean I'm stuck in a rut. I also talk about the future- of career, and marriage, and possibly children- and tomorrow and next month- much more than I talk about him.... unless someone else starts the conversation (and yes, when he makes some new jerky comment, or if people bring him up- or anything meaningful, good or bad- my thoughts tend to be partly on it for hours.... so when Mom says she received another jerky letter, and tells me about it, I think about his being a jerk through the next day, and may mention something about him to my closest friends. But usually, it's a comment-in-passing when I do).

Thing is, I'm not claiming to be "healed." I am "healing." I am growing and feeling good and alive and new.... and I don't want the people I care about to be blind to that. But these two people are telling me they're certain that I'm holding on- and somehow, that makes me feel trapped. So now I'm trapped, disagreeing, and not allowed to dwell on fun things because every day, someone is bringing up their concerns for me.... and now I feel like I can't talk it out with friends without the risk of being accused of not letting go, but I can't let go, without talking it out enough to know what I'm letting go of.

Some days are so extremely frustrating.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


As I wait on my boss, I guess I have time to write something.

 Several weeks ago, I left California on a roadtrip to Illinois, to visit Grandma (I'll talk about the drive later). She has always had this thing about making sure I knew she wouldn't be around forever.

I remember when I was 7, or there-about. I was telling her how much I loved her. I wanted to live with her. She told me I'd miss my mom and dad. I insisted I wouldn't. It wasn't that I didn't want to be with them; I just adored Grandma- and probably the 1-1 attention I received. And I knew Grandma adored me- even though she couldn't say my name right. She even had a doll named after me- also mispronounced.

And at night, we would share the big bed, and I would talk forever. "Grandma." "Yes honey?" "What are we doing tomorrow?" "Oh, I don't know. We'll see in the morning." "Grandma." "Yes?" "Can we go feed the ducks tomorrow?" "If we have enough heels. We'll see." "Grandma." "Hmmm?" "You know what my teacher said?" "Hmmm.".... "Grandma?.... "Grandma?" "hhggah ssshhh (Zzzz)".... ya know, she doesn't snore like that now that I'm grown up, and not keeping her awake.

All to say, I really loved Grandma. So I probably said I wanted to live close to her "when I grow up." (I lived in Illinois at the time, but was a couple hours away). She told me that she wouldn't be around to see me get married, and maybe not even to see me graduate high school. I reiterated how much I loved her, and she told me that she was old, and that she wouldn't have the energy when I was in high school, to do the things I wanted to do- that when I was in high school, I'd choose to stay home and spend the weekend with my girlfriends rather than to have to go with the family to visit her. I was adamantly certain that this would not be the case.

Well, she's still around. I'm not married yet, but that's circumstance; not time. She did come to my high school graduation- although she couldn't fly to my college graduation. And every year now, when I've visited, she has said goodbye, dreading that it was probably the last time. I've tried to convince her that she's not necessarily correct, and she has argued that she doesn't want to live to the point of being a burden.

So most years, I go out there for a week or two, but her fear of dying without spending enough time with me was getting to me, so I decided to go out there for 5 weeks.... that was hard- she has energy for 1 or 2 errands per day, tv, and a multitude of card games. I have energy for hiking and exploring. But while I was there, something amazing happened:

I was in the middle of cooking, when she said, "So when you're 44, I'll be 100, huh?" For a couple seconds, I was horrified. I don't want to think about being 44 yet. It's not old, but I have so many plans between now and then. So why was she thinking that far ahead. Then it struck me. She's planning for 100! Wow! Grandma's planning for 100!

Now, I fully understand that she could die anytime- in an accident, of an illness- possibly just from old age, although I don't think she's there yet. And of course, she's still aware of this fact. But she isn't expecting it. She's planning for it, but she's also planning for a longer life. This really makes me smile.... but no more 5-week visits; maybe 2 short visits: spring and fall.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Humbling Quest

I guess it's time to acknowledge it. I'm a slacker. That hasn't always been true, but I can't seem to get into a groove. Facebook is my current vice... I'm wondering if I'm going to have to give it up completely. But I love that it has kept me in touch with so many people. I don't like phones- unless we are very good friends, I'm not likely to keep in touch that way.
So every day, I try again. I need to get a, b, c... done. I need to at least spend x hrs doing this stuff. And day after day, I end with, "It's okay. I'll try again tomorrow." Why? I keep wondering what is wrong with me; why I can't seem to stay on-track. It's frustrating. And humbling.
I try to reason with myself.
* If I get this done, I can really relax- not just stress while I'm wasting time.
* Once my internship and thesis are done, I can look for a real job (something in the camp industry).
* I want my life to be meaningful. This stuff isn't meaningful.
But "just a few more minutes" is like a marshmallow placed perfectly on the edge of a bonfire. It expands... vastly.
 So I have my list of things to finish today. I got some of them done- at least the most important ones. I met with my supervisor, and he's happy with what I gave him. But I know I can help better if I finish sooner. My product is the key to they're expansion. I still have a few more things to do tonight.... And then tomorrow's a new day.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What I Don't Say Because I Don't Want to Make You Uncomfortable

If knowing someone's story makes you uncomfortable, please don't read this; I don't want you to be uncomfortable. But my life is good, I've learned from my past, it wasn't my fault, and I am okay, so I have no shame in telling it. I will say, to reduce any fears, I was not raped- and obviously not killed, so that takes the worst out of the picture. Also, if you, the reader, are my friend, please let me know if you do read this- via blogger, facebook, in-person, or whatever. It is my personal story, and I would like to know who knows. That's all I ask.

I was looking at old journals and blogs today, and remembering the past. There are many many good and fun memories. Some were very hard- but I had a positive perspective at the time, and that made the memory good, overall.... others were riddled with fear and sadness.

One of the things on my long-term to-do list, is to write a book about my life- my struggles with childhood epilepsy, bullying, and abuse- and how God has helped me through.

I would not take away the epilepsy if I could- though I'm so glad it went away. Every seizure terrified me; every time, I was certain that I was like Lorenzo, and it would never stop, and I might die- and it hurt, and it was exhausting, because I was alert though I couldn't talk, and I never knew when it was going to start. But it gave me my perspective on accepting all people. Compassion and empathy are my strength, and I don't think I'd be able to say that otherwise.

The abuse, on the other-hand, I would take away in a heart-beat. It's not like dad terrorized us daily as I was growing up. To a large extent, he worked nights, I was at school during the day, Mom was home in the afternoon and evenings, and dad couldn't do much harm. He could ridicule us. He did. He could humiliate us by breaking public rules- such as bringing a dog into the store, or by coming out of his room without clothes on- when our friends were over (and say he didn't know)... but at the time, we didn't know he got something out of it. My siblings and I considered him, "dumb." That was it.

Thank goodness for two things. One, I learned in school early-on, that if ANYONE, even family, tries to touch you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, you tell them to stop, and you tell someone you trust. Two, my dad was afraid of being caught.

His method was to try coersion, justification, etc. As I became a teen, he tried to convince me he needed to make sure I was growing healthily since he was "a doctor" (he worked in a hospital). I finally conceded part-way by letting him look, but when he started to overstep those boundaries, I screamed bloody-murder (gosh, the whole neighborhood probably knew), Mom came running, he downplayed it and made excuses, and she gave him the warning of a life-time. Mom regrets not doing more, but I know first-hand, that when you love someone, it is nearly impossible to assume their intentions were bad- his behavior, yes, but his reasoning, no. I don't blame her.

He continued at times, to try and rationalize and coerce, but he never pushed those limits again. Still, he made me uncomfortable, and I didn't really feel safe.

Being on medication for epilepsy, I would walk into things, I'd get hit by balls in PE because my timing was off, I talked slowly and had a bit of a slur. Some kids thought I was mentally disabled. Kids threw rocks at me, or more-often, avoided me. The popular girls gave me advice so I could be "popular like us." They told me what to wear, & told me to steal Mom's make-up. That was the deal-breaker. There were a couple girls that seemed to want to talk to me in junior high- I didn't see them every day, but I felt accepted by them. There was also the group that I hung-out with most days- standing off to the side. I felt inferior because they were in the smart classes, and would talk about models of the 4th dimension, and so-on. I almost never found a way into the conversations. We never hung out outside of school; it was just a lunch-time deal. A couple of them, I'd say, really did consider me to be a friend. The others, I think just allowed me to be there.

The older of my brothers must have been asked what was wrong with me, and I doubt he really knew how to explain. He began telling his friends to stay away from me, and that I had AIDS. When I'd get home, he would convince my little brother to help him hit me- my sister would help taunt, but I don't think she actually did any hitting. But the boys would come up out of no-where and sock me in the stomach, knocking the breath out of me- that was the worst. Or they'd just start punching me in the back, head, neck, or whatever they could get to. I was the oldest, but my response-time and coordination, due to the medication, were horrible. If I hit back, it seemed somehow, I'd always be caught and punished. I knew the rule was to tell- not retaliate, but telling Mom seemed to be met by, "Well, what did you do? It takes two to fight." Well, normally, that's true, but not in the case of bullying.

I avoided them as best as I could. It was the hallway, which was around the corner and out of Mom's sight, where the hitting would occur. The rest of the apartment was normally safe. They had no excuse for being in my room, and if caught torturing me there, the excuse that I started it would go out the window. So I'd walk those few steps quickly.

When only dad was home with us, I had to be more careful. Dad had lost his temper once on one of my brothers, and Mom had lectured him. So dad got his revenge on Mom by playing helpless. My brothers would hit me, I'd ask him to make them stop, and he'd claim he couldn't. One time, I continued to beg, and he said to the older one, "Please stop." My brother laughed, knowing he wasn't serious, and my dad said, "See, I can't make him stop." My brothers then took the opportunity to run up and hit me several times until I hid in my room. After that, I always hid in my room. I'd walk in the door, go straight through the apartment to my room, close the door- blocking it with heavy items on the occasion that I still felt threatened, and stay there until Mom got home. Usually, being in my room was enough- they'd forget about me and go do their own thing. I didn't have to tell Mom what I was doing because I had figured out how to keep myself safe.

Dad said he was a "nudist." He wanted all of us to try it. He invited us to this amazing beach. My siblings went. I and my mom refused. He claimed Mom was making us uncomfortable. He found other opportunities to try and turn us against her. My dad and siblings would complain about meals together- after it was already ready to eat. I'd say, "I don't really like stew, but it's okay. I'll eat it." Once, dad pulled me aside and told me I was making the situation worse by choosing her side. He said that if it was all of us saying we didn't want it, she would give in and we could order something. Another time, he took me down the street to meet another girl my age. We talked while he and her mom chatted for close to an hour. I didn't understood why, but I felt like he was betraying Mom, and it made me very uncomfortable.

It wasn't until I was 18, that things really escalated. At that point, I was legal, and my dad had more leeway. He was looking up porn regularly online, and calling my brothers over to come look at it. Then he started calling me over. I'd refuse. He told me he was finding all this amazing information about men who have great relationships with their daughters, and that their daughters say they like it. He somehow convinced me to look at the screen, saying that it was just information, not anything disgusting. He lied, it was very hard-core porn. He started saying that it wouldn't be immoral if we did it. Then he asked me if I would. I vehemently refused, and from that point on, avoided him as much as possible.

My first semester at college, I would make the hour trek home after school, and go in my room to sleep. But often, I'd wake and find dad standing there in my doorway, breathing heavy and swallowing hard. I started keeping the sheets all the way up over my head so he could see nothing. I wasn't sure what he was doing, exactly, because I had no experience in that area (partly due to the medication, I was a very late bloomer), but it made me very uncomfortable.

 In the spring, I found out about a camp job that I wanted- largely, to get away from my dad. I had no other transportation to the interview, so, with plans of jumping out of the car if necessary, I allowed him to drive me, and thankfully, got the job. That job was such a blessing, but it really pointed out what I had been through. Up until then, dad was a dumb jerk who I protected myself from. Working at camp, I felt completely safe for the first time. I became terrified of going home.

Since I had no other options, I made a plan. I asked Mom to drop me off at my college at 6:30am, and to pick me up at 8 at night, because I had a lot of studying. I was exhausted in the morning, and fell asleep on the couch in the lobby of the main building. I had talked with one of the school counselors about some issues one of my siblings was going through, and he saw me sleeping there, but never said a word.

As things had become worse, DCFS got involved, one sibling was put in foster care as a precautionary measure while they investigated for three months, and dad moved out of the house by court-order, and at some point, got into drugs. He came over to the house as he was permitted, during the day. Eventually, DCFS left the picture, and he moved back in for awhile- until he proved he wasn't going to change, made threats to one of my siblings, and Mom told him to leave.

While he was home,  he had a habit of making the most offensive comments when I was around. When Kobe was accused of rape, he suggested that maybe they could sell me to him. He said that it would make him rich. Looking at dad at that moment, it was obvious that he was really mulling over this idea of his, thinking how great it would be.

For the most part, I have kept my distance as best as I could, other than the week I spent at his apartment, trying to help him detox from methadone, sleeping with a sheet over my head, and my ears alert to every sound. That kept him clean for a couple months.

Eventually, he started making death threats- saying he'd kill all of us. In a journal we found, he described the high-powered gun he planned to use. He told me he should have burned the house down with all of us in it. I started making plans to run. I talked to someone at church, about having everyone pray if I didn't show up, because that would mean I was on the run. We had a restraining order.

Now, he is on medication, and overseas, and the world feels so much safer that way. But I never intend on giving him my address, or telling him where I work, and he will never be alone with my kids if I have that opportunity. Those are the most obvious precautions I will always take.

There's so much more I could say, but I'll say it when I write that book. Through all my struggles, God has been there and helped me through; I've never doubted that. When I felt alone; like no-one knew me for who I was, I considered giving up, but I felt God there with me. I felt big, strong hands on my shoulder-blades, and I knew I wasn't alone. I had faith, and it got me through, and life is good. Never easy. But very good.

It is possible to be afraid for your safety, sad for your traumas, and happy (and on many levels, content) at the same time. This post is not long enough to portray the whole picture. I have many awesome memories too.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Moving Forward

Here in the sitting and waiting stage of this quest, I have been learning... and then learning the same thing more deeply.

I keep a journal that is my prayers to God; sometimes it helps me to write them down; it allows me to formulate my ideas more thoroughly and it helps me to move beyond the repetition of worrying about the same thing over and over. Often, an answer or an encouraging message becomes clear as I write. I don't write every day; I might for several days in a row, and then I slack off for a spell. I've been debating over the last couple days, whether-or-not to share one of my entries in my prayer journal- one that feels like the near-culmination of a fairly big personal struggle. But they are my conversations with God, so is it appropriate to share a prayer to God.... and do I want to share so much anyway? It might not seem like a huge revelation to readers... but it's a matter of making myself vulnerable once again.

In some ways, I think it will help me to share- that this would be the Amen to that entry- and if you, the reader, are friends with me, then I am sharing something that explains me... and if you don't know me, well, it doesn't matter 'cause I'm just another random person. Part of me feels like if I share this, I can move on with stuff I've dwelled on too long- unless, well, the entry explains itself. Part of me feels like it might take away my need to share so much- that what I write will be about the fact that I just feel like sharing. Then also, a friend of mine recently said that what I write has the potential to help others... and if it helps people, well... As I write this, I am contemplating whether I'll post it as a draft, or for others to see. At least, it doesn't hurt to write it.

Anyway,  this is it:

Lord God, sometimes I wonder about what I say on FB and my blog. I share myself so vulnerably, and often, the people who I hope will comment to me (not necessarily publicly), don’t, and I’m left wondering, Did I make a fool of myself? Did they misunderstand? Do they disapprove? Or did they just not see it? Usually, all I really want, is to know who read it; who knows what I said. That is the biggest downside of sharing in written form; I don’t know who knows what about me....
Lord God, I used to say more to you. Then I started saying it to friends. You, I know, do not withdraw from me. At some points, you may make your presence less obvious- perhaps to teach me something. But you, yourself, do not withdraw. When I am earnest with you, seeking you, asking you to be in my life, you do not decide that I’m too needy. You do not decide that I’m too off-base, that I’m too insecure, or that I’m too unstable for you to be in my life.
Perhaps that is why I started sharing with friends. I felt secure in my relationship with you, but I wanted to know that fellow humans would also accept me. I wanted them to understand me, hoping that would enable them to accept me, because it seemed like most people didn’t accept me, and I figured it must be that they just didn’t understand. And I didn’t want to be alone in this world.
I’m not sure whether-or-not it was a mistake to make myself so vulnerable to others. I do have friends who have stuck around, and some have become much closer over time. But I remain insecure. I don’t think my mistake has been so much, sharing myself in such detail, as it has been relying on acceptance by them. You are the only one I should aim to please…. And yet, you are the one who said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” And I was very much alone.
I am so grateful for my friends. I am so glad you put them in my life. After years of praying for a real Christian friend; someone I can talk about religion and God with… whom will be interested… whom I won’t offend or bore…. who will understand where I’m coming from when I say I believe in forgiveness, and not tell me I need to push away those who hurt me… who will understand my using the Word in my decision-making…when I choose to make a career out of serving others, when I choose to aim for something other than the “American Dream,” when I believe in putting aside personal security and uprooting my life to strive for something that seems impractical- just because that is where God is calling me (not that doing so has proven easy on any level); I have found such friends… and more than one.
Thank you so much. I have a group of people who care about me, who accept me, who at least acknowledge that the basis of my decision-making is an acceptable one. Thank you that I have friends who both encourage and challenge me; who are willing to be straight with me, and call me on my faults, but who haven’t run because of them.
Please Lord, help me to continue to find more of my strength in you. My friends are only human, same as me. Even as a group, they can’t do it all- especially if I expect all from them. But they love you Lord, and they love me too. That is enough for me. Let that be enough all-the-way around; let me not feel insecure just because they aren’t always available on every level; that makes me too needy.
I want to be there for others. I want to encourage people. I want to share your love. I want to glorify you. I want to be a light. And I feel like I’m in the way- or at least I threaten to be. I’ve been so self-focused, and that is not what I want. I want to focus on you. I want to glorify you. I want to be close to you. You make me whole. Let me not get in the way of my relationship with you. Let me not base my security on anyone or anything but you. Let me still have close friends… And let me be a better friend. But please be the center…. Maybe that’s been my mistake.
Haven’t thought of this song in soooo long:
“Jesus, be the center. Be my source, be my light, Jesus. 
Jesus, be the center. Be my hope, be my song, Jesus.
Be the fire in my heart. Be the wind, in these sails. Be the reason that I live, Jesus, Jesus
Jesus, be my vision. Be my path, be my guide, Jesus.”

Monday, June 13, 2011

Secret Weapon: Friends (WM pt2)

This week, the monster is Fear of Friends Pulling Away. It's probably the most frequent villian at this point, but it has another thing coming if it believes it will actually win...

But today, he tries a common angle:

I write things on my status on Facebook, and later, I think, What if they thought it was inappropriate? What if she was offended? What if it made him uncomfortable? What if they misunderstood? What if they think I'm lying? What if they think I'm manipulating? What if they think I'm trying to guilt-trip them? What if they think I'm being fake? I could stop posting on Facebook... but I need them to see me for who I am. I cannot hide. I'll lose myself if my reason for not posting, is to hide. And it's not about posting on Facebook; that's just the door the monster is trying today.

So then the monster tries another angle:

I think, "My friends are wonderful... hmm, I say that a lot"- whether to them, or a general public statement. My former "best friend" for the past 16 years always complimented me. I learned from her, how to encourage people. Then she turned out to be the master manipulator- many people have been conned by her, so my fear becomes: "What if my friends think I say it too much... and think that I have an alterior motive in saying it? What if they don't trust me?"... But I fight the monster as I think, "Oh what the heck, my friends are awesome. Shut up monster. They're wonderful because they know I'm imperfect but they don't care. They know we all struggle. They accept me for who I am. And even if they question my sincerity, they'll just watch more carefully. They won't push me away just because they aren't sure. They'll give me a chance, and they'll see that I'm for real. They care about me. And they believe that God can change people. They won't give up on me. They'll talk to me if they have concerns- if they see a problem that needs to be addressed. That is a big part of why I know they're wonderful in the first place."

So I can be me around my friends, 'cause even if my friends see me as strange, they'll still be my friends; I don't have to hide. If I hide, they won't be able to help me. And I do need the help of my friends. They are the secret weapon against this monster.

And even as I'm fighting this monster this week, I'm also seeing the battle being won. It struck me, as I commented a few days ago about crocheting, that I would not have written that a year ago. There's no way, no when, no how that I would have acknowledged it because to me, it symbolized the epitome of a homebody. Not that crocheting was a bad thing, but I needed first, for my friends to see certain things about me that I felt people never saw.

A few of my teachers as I was growing up, labeled me in many ways- they saw me as lazy and weak, someone who used my disability to get out of responsibilities, a faker, a loner, excessively shy, and so-on. I needed my friends to see the outgoing, adventurous, determined side of me- the part of me I know is very real, but felt was invisible to everyone else. But I know my friends see me now; So I can be more fully me now. I can acknowledge all of who I am- even to myself. My favorite activities will probably always be camping, exploring, biking, and outdoor adventures such as backpacking, rock climbing, and such- and of course, making jewelry and scrapbooking. But I also do enjoy gardening, cooking, crocheting, reading, art galleries... and I can say all of that, and it won't contradict. I can be me, and know myself even more than I did before because I can trust that my friends know and accept me for who I am.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wrestling w/ Monsters (WM pt1)

I am in Illinois right now, visiting my grandma. I drove here from California, by myself, which meant a lot of alone time. And now, I still have a lot of 'alone' time. Grandma is here, but she isn't highly energetic. There's lots of TV, interspersed by games of Chicago Rummy. Sometimes she starts telling me about her past, which I find interesting. But I can't grill her all day. So I read my Bible. And I exercise. And I crochet. And I read other stuff. And I crochet or read some more. And I think. And it's good for me even though it's a little hard to be still.

Cause I am wrestling with some monsters... some mean, ugly monsters- varying colors and sizes, some with claws and some with horns or spikes, each with varying numbers and types of appendages, eyes, scars, etc... and they threaten to do great damage if I don't do something about them.

When my oldest niece, Lauren, was 2, she wanted to run down the sidewalk, so I ran with her, yelling, "Ahhh! The monster's gonna get us!!!!" We yelled as we ran all the way to the end of the block. When we got there, I needed to get her home without a fuss, and I didn't want her to be afraid of monsters, so we chased the monster all the way back (still yelling). Then when we got home, I said that the monster was sorry, and we agreed to be friends.

My own monsters will never make good friends, however. They must be gotten under control and banished. Two of my favorite quest authors, Ursela LeGuin (in Wizard of Earthsea), and Madeleine L'Engle (in A Wind in the Door), talk of power in the ability to name each star, each grain of sand, and so-on.

In sociology, there is the "labeling theory," which in part, acknowledges that labeling and defining a situation- giving it a name and a description, is what makes the situation what it is, and allows people to create a response. If, for example, we name spanking as abuse, then we react individually and as a society, to spanking as a form of abuse. If a child is spanked, and discerns, "I misbehaved and this is the consequence," then the child may try to behave next time. If on the other hand, the child tells himself that the spanking is because the parent hates him, then the child will feel increasing resentment.

Point being, naming is powerful... So I must name my monsters.

Beyond that, I must recognize them- when they go away, and when they come back. They do seem to come back time and again as they try to find other ways to get to me. It's only with consistency, that they learn they really are not welcome.

And I will have to find the appropriate weapon to fight each; the truth that yields them powerless.

And I may have to fight them multiple times, in multiple battles. If the monster is strong, it may keep coming back like the monsters at the end of each level of many video games, each time with a newer, fancier weapon.

But I will continue to fight them. They stand no chance of winning against me. Because I won't give up. My master is nearby. I don't even need a fancy whistle to call him for help. He sees where I am. He hears what I'm thinking. He'll help me because I trust him, and am open to his help.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Smart Aleck

I have this habit of daydreaming up scenarios of how I would react, or like to react in various situations. I think I'm more of a smart aleck in my daydreams, than I am in real life. Today, I walked over to 7-11 for a hot dog. On the way, I saw an old man crouched down against a wall, hands on his head, covered in dirt, and looking worn out. I wished I could help him. I got to the store, and bought myself a hot dog- and decided to get him a couple steak taquito rollers- figured maybe he's had enough hot dogs, and they're cheap, so no big deal.
As I walked back, I passed him, glad he didn't disappear, and gave them to him. He smiled big and thanked me, and I continued walking, wishing I could do better, and praying that God will help him. Then I thought about the food distribution laws. It is illegal to distribute food without the right permits. The purpose is health-related. The implication is that technically, it's illegal to give food to the homeless without a permit.... not that any cop would uphold it, but if they did... say a really legalistic or grouchy cop happened to pass me as I gave the old guy food. Thus began the daydreaming:

Cop: May I see your permit?
Me: What permit?
Cop: To distribute food. It's illegal to distribute food to strangers without a permit.
Me: Well, I know his father. He wanted me to get him something.
Cop: His father? He's too old for his father to be alive!.... Oh, you mean God :-( ..... but you can't tell me this man's name, so it's illegal.
Me: Okay, so is that what the law says... that you can't DISTRIBUTE food?
Cop: Yes.
Me: Oh, okay (I hand my own food over to the old guy)
Cop: (quizzically) How does that help?
Me: Well, if I give it all to him, you know I'm not distributing it among people, right?

... I have a hard time with endings.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


No, I haven't forgotten my blog. I am just at a point where doing the quest is taking up all my time, and there's no time left for writing about it. Mostly, my life is internship and spiritual growth right now- and time away, with friends on Sundays... but I will be back. I want to write. But it's 6:30 and time for me to start working, so that's all for now folks!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Out of Turmoil

Born into a realm of good and evil, to parents who appeared to those around them, as loving and gentle. In truth, the mother was. Of course she was imperfect; she was human. But her love was real, and this was what mattered most. The father, however, was not so good, and the father's influence on her siblings made being at home all-the-worse when her mother was not around. So the child found herself dreaming of making a home in the school's courtyard, which was surrounded by walls, but open above, with plants all around- a perfect place to hide at the end of the day.

School was a sanctuary in many ways, and in others, it was another harsh reality. Kids taunted, threw rocks and dirt, hit her with a broom, made threats, and whispered, "what's wrong with her?" But she refused to acknowledge them- outwardly. She received low grades, and frequently visited the school nurse, but what made it a sanctuary were a small handful of teachers; good people who seemed to care. Of course, not one of them knew anything was wrong, other than the fact that she struggled to make the grade. And she did not know that confiding in her teachers could help.

But not far away, stood a shadowy figure. Watching to ensure her safety. He was always hidden, but she knew he was there. She knew that he had the power to know her thoughts, and she knew that he knew the truth about her. So in this, she took refuge. When things were so bad that she wanted to give up, knowing he was there gave her a reason to live, and a hope for a different future.

She knew who he was, and she knew what he wanted. She tried to do right, and she knew he was pleased. But it wasn't 'til college, that he came close enough for her to feel him. Life had gotten easier for awhile, but then it took a turn for the worse. Her father's behavior was tearing the family apart. She did not feel safe at home, and therefore went home only to sleep; she stayed away as much as possible. She was afraid of losing her sister, and it was during this time, that the shadowy figure stepped forward, and placed his palms on her shoulder-blades (Even now, many years later, she can feel it again when she thinks about it). It was her master. He had claimed her many years before; he called out to her when she was young, and she had welcomed the invitation. Now he was there, letting her know, "I'm here for you."

He had been watching her for many years. He had seen her willingness and determination. He had given her small tasks, and she obeyed. He had encouraged her through challenges, and she trusted- albeit, far from perfectly. But he knew she had the heart of an apprentice. And so began a more stringent training; he called her to step out of her comfort zone, This was something quite different from the past, where uncomfortable situations approached her; now she was asked to make the step herself, and she daringly obeyed.

[I love you Lord]

Thursday, March 17, 2011


The camp that I dream of starting is geared towards youth, ages 7-17, who "have been abused or are dealing with issues of violence." No kid will be turned down if they wish to come because many kids deal with such issues whether anyone else realizes it or not. This camp will have two primary focuses: outdoor adventures and community service. These components will also weave-in hands-on environmental education, team-building, and leadership skills.

Outdoor adventure activities in my dream camp will include backpacking, rock climbing, horseback riding and horse-packing, kayaking, canoeing, wind-surfing, sailing, mountain biking, high and low ropes courses, with a zip-line into a lake, cave-exploring, outdoor survival skills, orienteering, & hiking. Community service activities will include making toys/dolls for homeless kids or kids in hospitals; helping plant trees or flowers at a zoo, community center, etc.; collaborating with environmental organizations to provide service in exchange for admission/special activity; putting on a puppet show or leading an activity for the younger kids; etc.

I have so many more ideas planned out: basic blueprint of the campsite (which will depend on the site itself), special activities, logistics for how to ensure safety, reduce cost, find & recruit participants, etc. But it all comes down to my master's plan. If he has a better plan, I need to be listening enough to follow.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Tool of Humility

As I work on my thesis and internship, and wait for my master to allow me to leave his workshop, he has me learning about the tools on his wall. An apprentice needs to learn to identify and to use each one- well, at least most of them. As I've said before, I covet the tool of communication. I'm not completely inept at it, but I want to master it, and that is my struggle. But there are many other valuable tools around his shop.

One is humility. I normally see myself as humble, but then I wonder if that's really true. I don't really judge others. I'm good at differentiating between a wrong action and a bad person; for example, I emphatically believe that sex outside of marriage is wrong, but if I know of someone who's doing it, I don't see them as any worse than me for it. I figure we all have different struggles, and at different levels, and are in different stages of growth. The question comes down to the heart and the person's relationship with the master, and I can't see the heart, so that is for the master to discern.... if the person says that they choose to do it and don't care what the master thinks, well that's another issue.

But sometimes I doubt that I'm really so humble. It's hard to tell. I struggle with uncertainty on where I stand in the eyes of the people I consider friends. I think if I had humility mastered, this would not be my concern. I have no need to feel superior, but every desire to know that I'm equal. I love character complements because they mean I'm doing something right, and this reassures me. I also love it when people are straightforward with me, because then I can trust that they aren't hiding negative thoughts about me; instead, such thoughts have been put on the table, and I can work on it. And they are trusting me to be able to work on it, which is a complement.

I know I'm imperfect; I'm human. But my fear is that others won't feel as merciful about my weaknesses. And that is not humility. And it creates a cyclical problem. My desire to be reassured means that others see me as insecure, which makes some people uncomfortable, which I sense, and so I desire to be reassured even more.

So, this is another tool that my master has me working on. I think the trick is to focus more on him. He is straightforward and direct and merciful. I am certain of this. And he's the one that I should ultimately be trying to please. If he's happy with me, then who cares what everyone else thinks? Complements and straightforwardness are still useful because they help me to know what God sees in me- but if I focus my attention more directly on serving and being obedient to my master, then whether others like me or not, I'll be pleasing the one who matters most.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Master & Apprentice

I talk a lot about "my master" in this blog. There is a series of books called Earthsea, written by Ursela LeGuin. It is about a boy who grows up under the care of a master wizard, as he becomes a young man, and then an adult with his own reputation as a powerful wizard. I know there are many Christians who are wary of Harry Potter and other books and movies that involve magic and wizardry, but I love this series, written by an athiest who has an interest in religion. It was great to read as a kid, and even better as an adult. As I read it, I see a fight against the forces of evil (including a "shadow" with no form, and a dragon), and obedience to a master who has his best interests in sight. I see a young man who knows that despite his talents, he must always acknowledge something higher than himself, and trust in it.

The boy could have been like the majority of people in his world, who aim for independence as they do in our own world, but he would have turned out just like most of the other people; He would have had a few small powers, but nothing to be excited about. Once he started learning, he could have given up because each lesson seemed so long, nothing exciting seemed to be happening, and so many other possibilities seemed more inviting, but for the most part, he stuck with his master, and when he made the wrong decisions, his master showed mercy.

The greek word for master is "kyrios." In the Bible, this is translated to "Lord." Many people refer to God as "Lord," but to refer to him as "master" may be harder. From my perspective, "Lord" is seen as defining who God is, but "master" focuses on both our roles. If he is master, then I must obey. He has that authority over me. I am like a servant- although... Jesus said, "I no-longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends. For everything I have learned from my father, I have made known to you." So Jesus is more like the master in this book, than like the master that we see as handing out orders and placing demands for his own interests.

That kind-of goes with my idea of myself as the apprentice. The apprentice serves the master, but receives teaching in exchange, so that he/she is ultimately stronger and more skilled for it. The master imparts his knowledge to the apprentice.

A good master can invoke strong loyalty from an apprentice. A good apprentice does not gain the skills, leave, and forget the master, but always sees the master as the one to go to for advice and for help. The apprentice holds high honor for the master, and the master, seeing the loyalty of the apprentice, entrusts him/her with valuable tools, teaches powerful skills, and assigns adventurous and potentially dangerous missions- because he trusts the apprentice to be able to do it wisely and successfully.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Time Away

Jesus had a quest. To come as a human, teach people about God, explain the meaning of the law, and to pay the price for our sins. He spent a lot of time in prayer. I guess he was seeking guidance, or waiting for direction. It seems like that is a big part of life for me. I have loads of responsibilities, but through them, I am constantly praying &  trying to discern what I am supposed to be doing. What I am craving most right now, is time away- out in the wilderness, to reflect and listen- if I can find  the time and money for it. This desire is slowing everything else down. I keep telling myself, I’ll get this and that done and then I’ll have the time…if I have the money. But maybe my master is telling me not to wait…. I know where I would go- it’s a Christian campground that markets to people who want to come and spend time in reflection/prayer. I could set out on a whim; make a few calls, and leave tomorrow, conceivably….. what to do?

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Coveted Tool

There are many tools in my master's workshop- too many to name. There are those that address personality, such as "love" and "faith," and there are those that involve skills. One of the tools that I longingly eye each day is "conversation." I want to use this tool fluidly. I want to master it. It is important for friendships, and it is necessary for my line of work. I've asked my master to teach me, and I practice with it when I can. But sometimes it's a bit heavy, and even picking it up is hard.

The other day, a friend of mine asked me if I consider myself shy. The way I understand shy, it refers to someone who is timid in interactions with others- someone who pulls away from it. No, I am not shy. Not by my definition anyway. I am drawn to people. I crave social interaction. I enjoy intimate friendships, and I enjoy being part of a group- not on the side-lines, but a contributing member. Yet I have a few things going against me as I try to convince others that I am not shy.

First, I have a hard time fitting my own thoughts into a conversation, so I tend to listen instead, and that is often fine with me 'cause I like hearing people comparing stories... although I do sometimes wish I could find a way to step into it- when I have a story to tell. That is something I continue to work on.

Second, when I don't know you, I am more likely to be be quiet because I don't know the questions to ask. I have always had a hard time with small talk; I enjoy deep discussion on religion, social issues, and such, so when I ask a shallow question, I feel fake. I don't want you to see me as fake, and I don't want to alienate you by being fake. I am starting to get this, though. If I treat it as a challenge to get you to tell me a story- more than the name of the place you work at, the types and numbers of pets you have, and so on; if I ask, "how did you get that job/pet/etc", rather than "when," "how long," or "what's it's name," which all get one-word or one-line answers, then I am more likely to get a story, which helps me to actually know you. But really, I'm just realizing this difference as I type it here. I need to try it out.... This for me isn't an issue of shyness; this is an issue of literally not knowing what to say.

Third, when I'm at a party, pot-luck, etc, I tend to be quiet because I have a hard time hearing. I hear sound fine, but I have a hard time with background noise. So when there are multiple conversations going on, or when there is music in the background, it takes all my concentration to listen. I rarely have enough left over to consider what I would say, and to say it at a time where it's relevant to the discussion, during an actual gap so that I'm not interrupting. There's just too many logistics to work around.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Petra - Right Place

I was just listening to this song, and it's a wonderful encouragement of my previous posts.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


I am standing in front of a long, brick wall, with multiple doors. Each door is labeled with a vague description.

Door A: "Complete thesis now. Keep temp job. Spend remaining time starting your camp."
Door B: "Complete thesis now. Obtain camp-related job"
Door C: "Take time. Perfect your thesis."

I've been a bit at a loss regarding this next step in life. I don't want to take the wrong door. I decided this week, to take Door C; I'll take more time on my thesis. There are many things that went into this decision, though without confidence that it was the right one. Most of my friends have only heard one of my reasons....

>> It's funny how, when people ask me how I'm doing, I can give a different explanation to each one. If I'm having a hard day, I may tell one person that I've had a headache all day. I may tell another that I'm worried about a family member. I may tell a third that I'm good, and looking forward to an upcoming trip. And I'm not trying to be dishonest; I'm just trying not to inundate anyone with too many issues. So I say the part that comes to mind first. Or if I'm having an excellent day, I may limit my explanation to save time, to not hog all the attention, or to avoid sounding boastful.

But as I was saying, I will take more time to finish my thesis. First, I want to be proud of my final product. I want to turn in a masterpiece. Whether it compares to what other people do or not is not my concern, but I want it to represent my best. Working under that time constraint was not conducive to my best work. Also, I have the opportunity to collaborate with the American Camp Association, and assuming I do well, to present it at a research symposium. I believe that these opportunities will help me in the long-run, as far as making it in the camp industry- especially in regards to marketing. More importantly, it allows me to serve the camp industry in the area of helping camps to become more financially sustainable. Whether-or-not a larger project or job comes out of it, by taking more time on this thesis, I am creating a more useful document with a larger scope than I would otherwise, and I am doing what I believe best fits what my master told me he wants me to do.

>> It's funny how in writing my thoughts out, I am more confident that I made the right decision. I have felt that I am supposed to do more in this arena, and I don't have other known opportunities to help camps financially. This may lead to more opportunities, but even if it doesn't, it is more than I'd be doing otherwise. So Door C, it is.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I have been assigned two primary responsibilities for right now: my thesis, and my internship. These tasks will sharpen my knowledge and skills for future, more adventurous responsibilities, but for now, I have been told I should hang around the shop. And really, there is adventure to be had even in these parts.

My internship involves working with an outdoor education program that includes camps, after-school programs, and field trips. My assignment is to develop a donor PowerPoint presentation, donor packet, and marketing plan, and to build relationships with potential corporate donors. I'm good at planning. I'm not as comfortable with relationship-building. Right now, I'm working on the marketing plan, and focusing on determining potential competition. As part of it, I spent this past week looking up outdoor education programs, and came across so many. To get all the information I needed, I often had to go through every page on a given site. Thus, in the process, I was inadvertently job-searching.

I am enthralled by the possibilities! I am simultaneously worried. Here I am, realizing that there are a plethora of opportunities for year-round camp jobs that do not require an MBA. So many jobs that are hands-on, rather than management. I went into management to secure a year-round camp position. When I started on this road, my wish was that I could work directly with these kids, but I was told that the chances were almost zero, from a career perspective. Now it turns out that I could have.

BUT. Now I enjoy the creativity of being a decision maker. I enjoy the challenge of the trouble-shooting, and of the collaboration with various stakeholders...but I still would like to work directly with youth.... specifically, youth who have been abused. I want to know, is there a position where I could do both sides?

There is this camp in southern California that sounds awesome! Absolutely perfect... almost! At least on paper. They teach environmental education, and unlike many environmental education programs, they also lead ropes course, wall climbing, archery, and other camp-type activities. The down-side is that they don't focus on abused kids, and in fact, don't have the resources to keep kids at the camp if they are acting up- so I guess they aren't going to be the place where I ultimately end up.

But their attitude towards staff learning, and towards personal growth leads me to think they might be interested in working with me, to give me management/marketing opportunities as well. And they give staff the choice to work "normal" hours (days one week, evenings/nights the next), or to work around-the-clock (which are true normal camp hours), Thus, on weeks that I chose to work their "normal" hours, I could work less and go off, exploring.... And I really want to work there- based on what I've read. The idea of both direct work with youth and potential management/marketing opportunities, and of some free time to wander sounds fantastic.

The question is, is this what I should do? Is this a step towards my long-term goal/ my calling? Or is it some really awesome assignment that will ultimately keep me from a more awesome assignment? I wonder if it can be a step towards the goal. I wonder if, assuming I worked the shorter hours, I could use my free time to help other camps with marketing (as I've mentioned before). I wonder if it's the right way to go. Oh I would love it! I'm sure I would! But if it keeps me from serving where I should, I will continually feel like something is missing.


Friday, February 18, 2011

The Gathering

I attended the camp conference last week. People of all ranks, including serfs and peasants, knights, and lords, all get to attend the conference. Students got to attend for free this year; Being that we are the poorest of the poor, this would be the only way that most of us could attend. It was lovely, attending a conference full of knights and lords, making connections with people that may help me move up the hierarchy, and of course, learning a great deal that will help me when my time comes to venture out.

The entire conference was full of value, but the most exciting aspect was the last session, in which I had to choose between two classes that I wanted to take. There was the fundraising session, which I felt would be wise to take for the sake of my thesis, and a leadership session, which I really felt would help my long-term goals. I chose to attend the leadership session. I sat down, and was waiting for the speaker to come in. The woman next to me commented that he was late. A couple seconds later, I stood up to leave for the other session. The woman looked confused, and I felt confused, wondering why I had decided to leave, but I was already walking out, so I figured I might as well go with it.

After the fundraising session, I introduced myself to the speaker, referring to my thesis. She told me that a leader within the camp association had mentioned that he would like someone to do a broad study on the marketing structures of camps- almost exactly what I'm doing on a much smaller scale for my thesis. I followed-up, but at this time, the funding isn't there... but I'm curious: will I somehow be involved in that, somewhere down the line? That would absolutely fit what I believe God told me last summer: "Help camps...." Plural. And one of my questions had been, "Well, should it be Christian camps?" (after-all, it was God talking, so maybe he'd have such specifics). The answer I sensed (though without any certainty) was along the lines of 'no; just camps.... no other specifications.' And I found that odd- that there wouldn't be any specifics, since some camps contradict others. But if I'm to be involved in such a study, it makes sense. If I were involved in this, I would be helping camps, in general.

But that is, at this point, out of my control, and up in the air. So in the meantime, I really don't know where I'm going next. I know I am aiming for the camp realm; God doesn't seem to be opposed to that; But beyond that, I don't know, so I tell God, "Well, I'm working on my thesis now. And when that's done, I want to do 'x' and 'y'  if I can, but then I need direction or I'm just going to start looking for camp management jobs, or any jobs at camps that have year-round programs- starting with Oregon, Humboldt County (northern Ca), and the L.A. area....not that that will hurt, cause you can just make it not work- like the donkey in the Bible, that stopped and refused to move, at God's direction."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

At the Fork

Life is strange, being so much up in the air. I am a planner, naturally, but I've had to put off job searching (for the most part) because now I'm not certain what God wants me to do next, directly after graduating. I did have plans to start immediately on starting the camp, but with the change in direction, the one thing I sense, is that it's not time for that- at least, I don't think it is.

More specifically, I feel I still need to do more in the area of "help[ing] camps become more financially sustainable." But I'm not certain of that, so as I'm keeping my eyes open for potential opportunities, and seeing nothing, I'm left telling God, "Okay, this was your idea- not mine. If you want it, you gotta make it happen, cause I can be willing, but I can't make it work."....Glad that my relationship with God is strong enough that I can talk to him like that, and it is in no way an insult- it's all about trust. "God I can't do it on my own; I am relying on you here." I'm standing in a forest, looking for the right trail, listening for the voice to tell me, or the flash of light to show me- cause there are at least five trails within sight of where I'm standing.

Maybe I'm jumping ahead of the gun; I need to finish my thesis and internship, and that is taking a great deal of my time. I have my current assignment. I haven't been left hanging, and my master doesn't have to tell me the next step yet....But wisdom also says that it usually takes time to find a job, and if I wait until I'm done, I will be spending some time doing nothing but job-hunting.... And maybe that's the plan.

In the meantime, I have in the last several weeks, come to the understanding that perhaps I'm not heading towards a job title of, "Fund Developer," or such; there aren't many such titles in the camp realm, from what I've seen. So perhaps I will be looking for a job in camp management, where one of my responsibilities among many, involves development. But that feels a little shaky. Last summer, in listening for God's direction, the words were: "Help camps..." The plural caught my attention. Now I am helping camps, plural, in my thesis, and if I take a job at a camp, that's one more. Technically, it fits the call, but I'm not convinced that this is what God meant. To me, it would make more sense if I found a job that helped a group of camps- and that has left me wondering whether such a possibility exists through the camp association. I had thought maybe I'd hear of something at the camp conference.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Want to be Apprentice

Maybe a month or two ago, I remembered my childhood fantasy of being sent on a quest. It struck me that life really can be a quest- for knowledge and truth, and to impact the world. As I see this world, God is the one to send me out on a quest; to give me a mission and a task that will bring me closer to who I should become- to make me stronger and more wise. The adventures and challenges are just the means. He may also assign me to help others in the process; I enjoy helping others, so I hope that's a part of it. But the true goal of an apprentice is to know one's master, and the master's work better.... hmmm, so I'm just thinking, being that my master's passion is for all people, to know his work would mean that helping others- one way or another- will definitely be a part of the process.

So that memory led me to realize that basically, my discussion with God over the summer, was an official invitation to go on a quest- not the first invitation; I think my life as a whole is a quest... but perhaps, an invitation to start the next phase. What I remember from my very realistic readings about such opportunities, is that the master never told the apprentice what the whole picture was. It was generally done one step at a time. The apprentice had to trust the master. Often, the tasks seemed to take the apprentice in circles. But the all-knowing master knew what he was doing. He knew he was preparing the apprentice for the next big step.

I want to be the apprentice. The apprentice's tools included faith and obedience, which to many, seem rather lame. But the apprentice lived a life of adventure. The apprentice pleased and was rewarded by the master. And the apprentice experienced results greater than would have ever been possible if he had set out in pride, on his own.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Recognizing the Quest

This past summer, I went camping with my sister and her family. I had been craving spiritual time away to think and to listen.- to "hear" God if he has anything to say to me. I spent the first night- probably 2 or 3 hours after everyone else went to sleep, staring into the flames of the campfire, mostly wrestling with the thought, "What do you want me to do?" Suddenly, I "heard," "I want you to help camps to become more financially sustainable" ... Now, I don't mean I heard a sound. The few times I believe I've heard God speak to me, it bypassed sound, straight to whatever part of the brain processes the actual words....

So I struggled with that idea. I didn't say no, but I had tons of questions: "But what about my dream?" "Was that really you saying that?" "Is that really what you want?" I heard nothing else. I hoped I heard wrong. I talked to a friend about it a few days later. I said I wanted to be willing, but I wanted my dream also. I knew I'd do it; I just wanted to feel better about it.

About a month later, I was in class, staring through the professor, thinking to God, "Yes, I'll do it." And I meant it completely- no hesitation. Suddenly, I "heard," "And I'll help you with your dream." I wasn't seeking to hear anything at that point, so it totally took me back, and I couldn't just sit there, so I left the class and went outside to think, and to thank God. He wanted me to be fully willing, and once I truly was, he revealed more to me.

A few weeks after that, I had the idea to change my thesis topic, which hadn't been forming right, to find out about the current donor marketing strategies of camps, and to make recommendations to strengthen their efforts. After sending my proposal to the advisor, it crossed my mind that technically speaking, this thesis would fulfill what I had heard God asking me. So over the last couple months, I've been wondering if this is all God wants- since technically, it fits the assignment.... but it doesn't quite feel like that's it- I feel like I'm supposed to do a little more. Of course, I don't know. I'll have to see what happens.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Dream of Camp

My first week working at camp, I rocked to sleep a 5 year old who a year before, witnessed her stepfather kill her brother. I'll never forget her. Somehow, she trusted me. It was amazing to realize that though I couldn't fix her situation, I could give her comfort, just in showing her that I cared about her. A couple of weeks later, several of the girls in my new group were comparing notes, showing me every scar, and explaining the source of each purposefully inflicted mark.

I began questioning whether I wanted to work more permanently with this population, or keep my plan to work with animals. I knew I was allergic to cats, and that had me worried that I might not be able to work with animals. More importantly, something in me was wondering whether working with animals really had true meaning; or whether it was just something I enjoyed. I went to the school career counselor to take a couple personality tests, and the counselor was able to narrow down my career goals: either work with animals... or do something to serve kids. I hesitantly chose to switch my major to sociology, but kept my plans to attend Humboldt State (this was what I had decided on while camping when I was 12), where I could take wildlife classes as electives, and switch back if I wanted (somehow, even once I got there, I never did take wildlife electives).

My third year at the camp was when I mentioned, casually to the program director, "Maybe I'll start a camp." That would have been summer of 2000. I wasn't too serious. I liked the idea, but I knew I didn't have the management or social skills. It was more of a, "This would be nice" moment, but the idea grew on me.

As time went on, and I realized I was growing in my ability to interact with others, I realized that who I was at that time did not have to be permanent. I transferred to Humboldt, became chairperson of our residential counsel (which amazed me because in high-school, such things were about popularity rather than integrity and ideas), and became a volunteer program director of the Juvenile Hall Recreation Program, through our school's service program, YES- that also amazed me: that my supervisor would see anything in me that said I could do it; that was the first time I ever danced around in excitement- and in front of the administrators too! I remember during a YES meeting, saying that I knew that one day, I would really be leading- rather than being seen as a timid follower who doesn't do well with people.

While at Humboldt, I found a business partner to work with to start the camp, but he ended up backing out, so when I graduated, and moved back to LA, I began looking for a job working with emotionally disturbed kids. Autism was my second choice. I found an agency that served Autistic children, but the position I was given was with a woman with Myotonic Dystrophy. I told myself I wouldn't stay too long unless I could transfer to the kids department. I moved up the ladder to supervisor, but I felt that if I stayed, it would take too long to reach my dream, so I quit to focus full time on my MBA in Nonprofit Management. I decided that I would plan to complete the degree, and use my education to step straight into starting a camp.

I know better than to try and control my life. I rely strongly on seeking God's will for my life, but he had never told me "no," when I questioned this dream, so I decided to go with the assumption that God put this desire in me. I still wanted confirmation, and by this past summer, was craving time away, just to meditate and seek God's will.
(more later)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Altered Plans (Post #1)

For the last 10 years, approximately, I've been planning on starting a camp for kids who have been abused. I say "approximately" because it started off as an unrealistic idea, and slowly became my dream. At the time it entered my mind, I was only trying to think of some way to make a career for myself in the camp industry. Most camp jobs are seasonal, but here was an option. The problem was that I knew I didn't have the leadership skills to take the idea seriously. Still, I wished it was possible.

 Before this thought ever came to mind, I had many other ideas. From the time I was 6, until the summer I was 12, I was sure I was going to be a music teacher (or a famous singer). But my mom was always telling me that it was hard to get a job as a music teacher, and that singers don't sign up; they get discovered.

Then when I was 12, we went camping in the Redwoods. I remember my casual, non-serious comment: "Maybe I'll be a park ranger." My dad jumped on the idea. He loves plants, and loved the idea. He, Mom, and I talked about what park rangers do. I was concerned because part of the job is to lead family hikes and activities, but I rationalized that maybe I could just lead kids activities- I didn't want to have to talk to people I didn't know; I never knew what to say, I was often accused by adults of faking sick or lying, and I didn't know how to acknowledge teasing, playfully, so my blank expression was always met with, "She thinks I'm serious!" I wanted to avoid these issues altogether.

Through junior high and high school, I considered other similar possibilities, trying to avoid the idea of human interaction as much as possible. Really, it was animals I liked, so maybe I'd be a vet.... But I would refuse to put animals to sleep. I settled on the idea of moving to Africa and working on a wildlife reservation with rhinos or elephants... and I'd be a missionary on the side (I don't know how I consolidated that with my "minimal human interaction" policy), cause I understood that missionaries were not paid, and had to survive somehow.

I started college, and took biology. One day, a classmate was wearing a camp shirt, and I asked her about it- I'd been to camps and enjoyed them, and I'd been a junior counselor through Girl Scouts, so I was curious. Somehow, our discussion led to her convincing her boss that I would not "fall over" in fear after dealing with the first week of kids- many of whom were coping with being abused. I had worked with one such child as a junior counselor, and she had taken to me strongly, so this piece of information, and my classmate's insistance that I could handle it (despite the first impression during my interview) got me the job. But it was just going to be a summer job. It was a fact that I was moving to Africa to work with animals-and possibly be a missionary.

That first week of camp did not send me running, or make me fall over, but it changed my life entirely.
(to be continued)
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