Sunday, December 14, 2008

Date Bars

There are many jokes to be made out of the phrase "date bars."

"I'm going home to make date bars tonight."
"You're going to what?
"I'm going home to make date bars tonight."
"You've been doing that a lot lately. It must be working out well for you."
"I'm going home to make date bars tonight."
"What? You're going to bars to find dates and make out?"

Those are just a few examples. I am sure you can only imagine the other possibilities. However, "I'm going home to make date bars" has fallen from my lips several times this last week, and today I succeeded. I love Larabars - an energy-type delicious bar wrapped in clever packaging - and every Larabar usually only has 2-5 ingredients. I decided I wanted to try my hand at making them when it became impossible for me to eat less than one a day.

So off I went to Wal-Mart to find dates, almonds, and coconut. Mmmm, coconut. Then, the experiments began. My friend Bethany suggested I boil the dates so as to make them a stickier binding agent. Then I chopped up the almonds and coconut in a food processor. I combined the boiled dates with the dry ingredients (including a dash of cinnamon) and food-processed it more.

I then tried several different baking methods at varying temperatures and times. I finally settled on the following method:

Grease cookie tray
Roll mixture into little balls
Place on try
Press flat with bottom of cup (to 1/2 inch thick or so)
Bake at 315 for 30 minutes

I am so excited that I unlocked the secret to my own Larabar version. In fact, I believe the Larabar company must dehydrate or otherwise slowly cook the bars because they do not have the baked texture, making my little cakes totally original.

I shall call them:


Ingredients: Dates, Almonds, Coconut, Cinammon, Elbow Grease, Ingenuity, Love

200 Calories of
non-gluten, anti-processed sugar, dairy-free, potato-free, corn/corn-syrup/other-corn-derivatives-free, legume-free

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Post Christmas Party Joy

I just had my first Christmas office party. It's so great to be part of an organization that celebrates the heart of Christmas. Further, I led us in singing two Christmas carols. How does it get any better than that? Five or six years ago, I wouldn't have imagined being able to play Christmas tunes on a piano let alone sing and play. It gives me such great joy each time I have the privilege to provide this service for people. It is one thing that makes my heart sing.

This week has been a bustle of activity for me since I realized the need to buy all my Christmas presents before I go home to GJ for the weekend. The coming weekend at home will be the last time I see certain friends and family until after Christmas and New Years. I hope to make this weekend as special as can be.

Now I should actually start working again. I just needed to express the joy of a day well-spent so far.

PS: Here is a picture I really like -
I keep imagining elements of the Christmas story in different ways this year. Like, what if the angels came to some Mongolian goatherders. The shepherds that first visited Jesus must have been really dirty and smelly from being out in the fields. Even baby Jesus - I often picture him with open eyes, looking angelic, and smiling up at the shepherds. Well, if they visited him right after his birth, he probably couldn't open his eyes yet. He couldn't hear the noises going on around him well. All Jesus could do a few weeks after his birth was sleep, eat, cry, and gurgle. Baby Jesus was totally helpless - born into a grimy barn to road-wearied parents. I love thinking about this.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Believe in Someone Today - You May Change a Life

I just checked my work e-mail. Lame. You know you are new in town when you don't have anything to do on a Wednesday night except watch "Pushing Daisies" on and take a few moments to edit a letter for a co-worker. Yep.
So to the news. I have a new job. I am the Advancement Writer for ELIC, a non-profit that sends English teachers to Asia. If you want more information than that, then you'll have to ask me in person. My job is kind of top secret...or on the dl...or must submit to the CG (correspondence guidelines) set forth by ELIC. Yep. We're not newsmakers, and we'd like to keep it that way.

The excitement I have for this job is truly true, however. If I could have written, directed, and cast my own first real job in the real big adult world, I would have been hard pressed to develop something as well-suited to my skills and interests as being the Advancement Writer for ELIC. It combines my people, writing, editing, and managing skills in one role. Plus, I get to be extremely nerdy about words and research.

Further, I have learned that most people are good at heart.

I pondered often when I was waiting to hear about this job, two months of pondering and waiting to hear, if I was qualified enough. I pondered how I performed at the initial interview. I also pondered if sending my new boss two personality profiles (I'm an S-I-C on the DISC test, btw), four more writing samples, calling, and several e-mails would be too much. After all, he did ask me to send him anything and call with thoughtful discussion questions regarding the job.

So I did. I pondered and I was over-actively persistent. My now-boss terms my obsessive persistence "showing initiative." After three and one-half days on the job, he asked me what I really thought. He wanted to know the "true dirt" I had told my good friends and mom up to that point - first impressions about the job and such. So I ever so delicately ventured,

"I feel like I have been lifted out of nothing and given something," heavily emphasizing the something in a positive manner.
And here is what he said,

"Sometimes we just need someone who will believe in us and give us a chance no one else will."

Then he back-peddled,

"I have full-confidence you can do this job well based upon your leadership skills, writing skills, people skills, and self-starting attitude, but not everyone would have given you this job."

Truth be told, the other person they considered strongly for the job of Advancement Writer had a journalism degree, one-year of teaching experience in Asia, grant-writing experience, and had actually published some writing. Me, with my English degree, no grant-writing experience, two months of teaching experience in Asia, and no published pieces, should have been an obvious "no."

But then there is grace. My boss's wife told me at the new office building dedication ceremony ELIC held last Thursday evening that there really was not any competition. Her husband preferred me from the start. Plus, she told him my writing was better.

I am not writing that to sound cheeky, but here are my take-aways (a business-y term I picked up this week, meaning most important ideas to put in your tool bag and utilize when most efficient):

1. First impressions count.

2. Persistence pays out.

3. Be hungry.

4. Show initiative.

5. Never give up in the face of giants.

6. Believe you are the best you that you can be.
7. Say yes when opportunity knocks.

8. Be ruthlessly honest.

9. Be yourself.

10. Don't be afraid to show some emotion during an interview.
11. Venturing out into the real world is fun.

12. Always be inspired by your close friends.

13. Know that love is a constant.

14. Fear not.

15. Embrace the new.

I dedicate this blog-entry to Carrington Schaeffer for always encouraging me to write. Thanks pal.

PS I have a boyfriend. More on that later, but for now, know that waiting two months to hear about this job just may have been perfect timing in more ways than one.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Little Slow on the Uptake

Well, I am no longer between California and Colorado, just Colorado for now.  I decided not to return to school in order to take care of some health issues I have been having - possible Celiac or some acute allergies to wheat and other mystery foods.  

I am not avid blogger.  I am sure if you check this blog ever, you will notice the inconsistency of my entries.  Whelp, I simply journal a lot on paper.  

Beyond the prior prattle, I am beginning to settle in to home again...although "home" in and of itself is an ambiguous term for me right now.  I am not living at home with the parental, nor am I really living anywhere for certain, just kind of floating from one twin bed to the next.  I hope to hear back from a Denver friend with the ok to move into her parental's basement for the next few months.  

Job interviews are great.  I love to talk to people, a quality, which incidentally may not work out so well at a law office that's interested in hiring me.  They are all down to business there.  All two of them.  It should be interesting and fun, but slightly more quiet than what I am accustomed to.  

In the meantime, I am taking time to re-establish old connections, make new ones, and start my own house-cleaning business.  I hope to visit a professor, an old travel buddy, and a best friend before the week in over.  I will also go geo-caching with a few new friends I met last week at a college Bible study group.  Then, it's re-connect time with the bff.  All in all, settling in isn't so bad.  

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ticket Genius

Let's face it, gas prices are only going up and up, which also means plane tickets are going up and up. Tonight I looked for a one-way ticket from GJ to Ontario, CA (20 minutes from my school) and found tickets no less than 300 buckeroos and up to 550 buckeroos. I was not having this, so I tried to get creative. If you live in GJ, you may know that there are Las Vegas flights on Thursdays and Sundays. So, I checked them out. $141. How does that get me closer to Ontario?
Enter Southwest Airlines. This airline has a "Wanna Get Away" ticket category. And get this - I found a ticket from Las Vegas to Ontario for $69. Yes! What great success. It gets even better...the lay-over time is only an hour and ten minutes between flights. I have just enough time to sip a Naked Juice and a read a chapter in a book. Sweet genius. I lose a day at home, but I save almost $300. I can live with that.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Change or Rest Until You Get Up

Well, the whole going to Honduras for the summer just became really different. I am still going down to Honduras, but instead of staying there until the end of June, I am staying until the end of May, which is quite the change from my original plans I wrote about in my newsletter. The dust is still settling, and to be honest, I do not know how best to express what has happened to me this week as far as my plans changing! :) (it's all good, by the way).
On Monday, one of my professors said something very frank to me. She said that she would not take me out on the field right now if she were my team leader because of how tired I am. Wow. That hit me like a load of bricks - a pleasant load of bricks in the shape of hearts. She noticed acutely that I am on my way to being a "ministry casualty." The Lord has been telling me all year to rest. I must humbly admit that I do not know how to rest. I have tried to rest, but resting is so foreign to me that I have pretty much failed at it. But God is gracious. He is giving me the opportunity to respond to Him and use wisdom. Learning to rest is perhaps one of the greatest challenges culturally for Americans and especially for those within service-oriented occupations such as pastoring. If I do not learn how to rest and care for myself now, I will probably never have such a gracious window of time as the coming summer.
I am now flying home May 29th, in time for my cousin Andrew's wedding. I have not seen all of my cousins all-together for almost eleven years, which is almost criminal! Then I plan to seek the Lord in deep rest for the remainder of my summer. I know I am not supposed to work, and God has even told me not to stress out looking and applying for scholarships for school next year. His mandate is simply difficult: rest!!!
I will still be leaving for Honduras on May 18th, so even though my stay in Honduras is much shortened, I need to raise $1000. Air travel is expensive in contrast to the relatively low cost of staying in Honduras for a week and a half. I am growing accustomed to the idea of not being in Honduras, and I know there will always be opportunities to return there. However, I am learning that if I do not take much needed opportunities for rest, I may not have future ministry opportunities.
There is still a need for prayer and financial support, but both are being modified to fit this new situation. Even though I will be at home for most of the summer, I still need prayer covering for that time...that it would indeed be a time of rest, healing (I really need my tonsils to heal because they are swollen, and I do not want to have tonsil surgery), and spiritual-strengthening. I believe my swollen tonsils are connected more to being exhausted and to the spiritual bondage I am trying to walk out of - it is truly a fight for me to rest. Please pray also that my time would be protected from anything and anyone that would take away from my rest for the next three months. It might sound strange for an almost 23 year-old to be burnt out, but that indicates just how busy and stressful my life has been for a number years.
Let me know if you have any insight for me in the area of resting. I hope this answers any questions you may have due to all the changes in my plans. I would love to hear from you!

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Fast - How to Become Spiritual People

School this semester has been going well! On Jan 29, I spoke to my entire school at a chapel service about the subject of "fasting." At the close of the service, I invited my school to join me in a three-day fast this coming week. Over half the campus signed up to join me in fasting! We ended the fast together with a service in my school’s chapel and chicken salad. We encountered spiritual opposition during that time with almost the whole campus coming down with a flu bug, death of close friends/family, and spiritual discouragement, but we pressed through to the end. God brought forth several promises of revival during that time. Particularly, God confirmed a word from Acts 2, which tells of the Day of Pentecost. We know that God will pour out His Spirit on this campus and that God will be restoring our sense of community unto true devotion: “They devoted themselves to…teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done…” (Acts 2:42-43)

Monday, January 21, 2008


The look on a child’s face who has just pulled on someone’s hair or stolen a pretzel from a classmate or lied about stuffing toys in a closet instead of carefully putting each where it belongs is a telltale sign of our common humanity. Children instinctively know from an early age what right and wrong behavior is. Extrapolate this innate knowledge a few years further, and there is similar evidence that humans of all ages are perfectly aware of how their overt and closeted beliefs and behaviors each fall into two categories: right and wrong. Biblically this concept is also known as righteousness and unrighteousness. We seem to understand ourselves as either being right with God, the universe, and everything created or terribly wrong with all of the above. We all share the common and fundamental knowledge that we must embrace our humanity as a blessing and a curse because we begin life with a basic knowledge of the truth about God but quickly fall away from that knowledge into human foolishness.

Paul explains the blessing and curse of being human in the first chapter of Romans. He writes that “since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (1:21, italics mine). He writes further that “although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and…. exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator” (1:22,25). Gradually, for those hardened to, fallen from, or unexposed to the sacrifice of Jesus, salvation from sin, promise of new life, and discipline of following Jesus, the truth with which they began life – the truth about God and His laws – is replaced by compromise against God and against their soul. So we are all without excuse.

It is this common humanity with which the would-be evangelist is confronted. We grapple with people’s stubborn resistance to truth. This is the truth which people already know even when that truth is buried beneath years of mind-warping sin. The job, then, of the evangelist is to utilize two main tools: conviction and compassion.

The Apostle Paul, evangelist to the Gentiles, provides an excellent demonstration of the type of conviction of which I speak. The historian Luke records in the book of Acts a time when Paul walked into Athens to find a city full of idols. He made his way to Mars Hill and to the Areopagus, a gathering of the philosophical elite of the city, to convict the Athenians of their common humanity. He begins his poetic speech by saying:

Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. (Acts 17 22,23, italics mine)

With adept perception, Paul compliments the Athenians on their interest in religious elements and subjects. He acknowledges that he and the Athenians share a common knowledge and interest in all things divine. Yet, for all of their statues and philosophies, they do not know the true God. He points out how they make themselves busy worshipping something they do not know. Then, fully inspired by and filled with the Holy Spirit, Paul brings home the punch line. He promises a revelation of the full-truth that will illuminate all the tainted half-truths of which they were already painfully aware. He describes the one, true God with the following:

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring. (Romans 17:24-28, italics mine)

Paul convicts them of their historic opportunity to reach out for God, no longer allowing the Athenians to lay claim to ignorance or confusion with his concise description of God’s intentional design and placement of each human being on the earth. Paul’s idea echoes a much earlier writing by an ancient Hebrew poet who wrote, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end….God does it so that men will revere him” (Ecclesiastes 3:11b,14b). Truly, no person is without excuse before God. God’s spiritual presence in this earth is always working to confront and convict people everywhere of that deep something they already know about God and his laws. Paul left the Athenians with one alternative to their groping for God: repentance. He finishes his speech by saying, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). A few notable members of the Areopagus decided in that moment to repent and believe.

The Holy Spirit’s conviction comes from such an otherworldly place, a pure and heavenly place, that un-believers (ie: people who once believed; I reject the notion of the non-believer, since this implies absolutely no knowledge of God and his laws) cannot help but alter their behavior around the in-dwelt believer. It is one thing to have convictions about sharing the gospel, but it is quite another thing to be so powerfully in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit that the Spirit of God walks into all of life’s situations with you and performs the work of loosing and convicting the hearts of the lost for you. I experience this phenomenon of conviction most often in the workplace. When I worked as a barista at a coffee shop in my hometown, my co-workers would often carry on hushed conversations in the back room. The hushed tones and trembling excitement in their voices always signaled to me that they were talking about one of three things: sex, drugs, or cussing someone out. I would purposefully walk to the back room just to see ‘what-up,’ and immediately those conversations would halt. Out of curiosity, I began asking my co-workers why they would stop their conversations around me. I relay their unanimous response to illustrate the power of Holy Spirit’s conviction. Their unanimous response was always something like, “You are too pure. I know I won’t offend you, but I don’t want to corrupt you.” My response was usually something like, “Oh yeah, what makes you think I am pure or that your conversation could corrupt me?” Again, people innately know right from wrong, even if they claim that wrong is right. This was clear around my co-workers. The righteous presence of the Holy Spirit in me was enough to convict their hearts of their sin. It was not so much that I was “pure” or even somehow better at being human than them. They were simply reminded by me everyday that all was not right with their state of common humanity. They knew the truth but did not live by it. So how does the convicting work of evangelism move people towards repentance and belief?

The prophet Isaiah filled his book with acute descriptions of the Israelites’ failings in their relationship with God. They of all people understood the plight of knowing God’s truth and being seemingly incapable of living by it. Amidst this atmosphere of foolish living, Isaiah prophesied to them a great hope and promise from God. He wrote that if they turn from their selfish and worldly habits to a true compassion for all people, that their “righteousness will go before [them], and the glory of the LORD will be [their] rear guard” (Isaiah 58:8b). Essentially, the going before and behind of the Lord’s righteousness and glory works like the Holy Spirit conviction of the New Testament, but Isaiah also described in detail what their compassion should look like in the two preceding verses. He wrote the following as a direct oracle from God:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share our food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isaiah 58:6,7)

This is the compassion of evangelism. When people are convicted of their own tragic displacement within God’s good order, they do not go looking for a good beating. The conviction of the Holy Spirit causes them to examine the loneliness of their hearts and souls. They realize how wrong they are. They become broken.

It may be that the Holy Spirit uses you to speak to them in their brokenness, but such speech must be compassionate and not harshly judgmental. The compassionate speaker identifies him/herself as having been commonly human too and compassionately offers the hope of being lifted up out of pain, hurt, and despair by a God that seeks people out of His love for them and who longs to end injustice, oppression, hunger, poverty, and the nakedness of His creations that strayed from Him.

However, the Holy Spirit may use you to perform compassionate acts in order to speak louder than words to hearts of the broken. This requires self-sacrifice and the discomfort of risking all of your heart and life to save a life. So you sell everything you have to move to a foreign location in order to teach English or open an unassuming coffee shop or an orphanage to be with broken people and offer them the hope that is found in Jesus Christ. Or you stay where you are at a job or school you love or hate in order to continue having short lunch-time conversations with your co-worker who is recently divorced and likes to tell you all the gory details. We offer our lives as “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:2) as our only act of gratitude to the God who makes Himself known to all people through the most convicting and compassionate man to walk the earth, His son Jesus the Messiah. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him will not perish but acquire everlasting life” (I John 3:16).

The work of evangelism uses the tools of conviction and compassion to turn the broken back to the truth about life and God, to a lifestyle of glorifying and thanking God for sending his Son. These two tools issue from the Holy Spirit’s presence in the life of the evangelist. Such in-dwelling is my desire. Come Holy Spirit, come.