Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The eyeliner is thicker and everyone has iPods

Last weekend I got the chance to take part in yet another retreat that my church's youth group attended. I've lost count of how many of them I've gone to in my lifetime- a couple in middle school, even more in high school and two this year as a leader/work crew member. The format of these retreats varies a bit each time, but in general each retreat is the same. Friday night opens the weekend with the goofy skits, an awesome (and sometimes not so awesome) band playing a mix of their own songs and worship songs, and then the speaker gets up there to tell some stories, throw some Bible verses in there and attempt to speak to the hearts of the students in attendance. Then there are the delectable Young Life meals and free time on Saturday afternoon followed by a really serious session when the speaker invites anyone who wants to accept Jesus in their hearts to raise their hands to be prayed over. There are always tears during this part. Right after that is Family Time when a deep discussion can be had, and then more free time late into the night. Sunday morning brings another session when the speaker tells the kids how to re-enter the world with their new identity in Christ and then more delicious food at brunch when the famous Chicken Enchilada Casserole gets devoured. Clean the rooms and attempt to fold the blankets properly and then it is time to drive back down the mountains.

I'm glad that hundreds of students get to experience these retreats each year and I'm hopeful that they are greatly impacted by them. To be quite honest, these retreats just aren't my cup of tea. Young Life is an amazing organization and I fully respect their mission, but it just isn't my style. It's too comfortable. I've always been much better at practice and application than I am at theory, especially when it comes to love. This is why the mission trips we called Doulos always affected me more than the weekend retreats to the mountains. It was easy for me to see Jesus in the smiles of the street kids we played with and the mouths of the homeless we fed and in the various construction and cleaning projects we took part in on those mission trips. It was hard for me to see Jesus in the inflatable games we bounced around in and at the tables where the yummy food was always in supply at the retreats.

I wish I would have listened more closely when I was a participant in these retreats several years ago. I can honestly say that I only remember bits and pieces of one retreat speaker's message when I was in high school. If I had paid attention and let the messages penetrate my heart, I could have saved myself a lot of heartache while I was in college when I was bitter and angry. I wish I could go back to my high school self and tell her how stupid she is. I'd like to tell her that she worries about silly things way too much and that she needs to love and respect herself a whole lot more. If she would stop envying every other person in her life, maybe she'd find out that she isn't a hideous beast.

Fortunately I've learned a bit since then. Plus I have an amazing opportunity to invest in the lives of our church's high school kids and hopefully convey some of the messages that I needed to hear when I was in their shoes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I'm Still Tickin'

Today was a weird day.

I went to the post office to apply for a passport. I'm not really sure if I'm going anywhere yet (especially with my bank account in it's current dismal state), but my New Year's resolution this year was to start planning to go somewhere and getting a passport is the first step. As I walked into the back office, there was a woman shouting at the employee behind the desk. I had to appreciate the irony of a patron "going postal" on a postal worker. Another employee in the office waved me over and helped me out with the application. I turned in the check for one hundred bucks, two photos of myself (which I took at Walgreens last week when I was having a rare good hair day) and my birth certificate. The employee said it would take about six weeks to process and that I would receive my birth certificate in the same package as my passport. At this point, the angry patron was still ranting about her lost package and as I stood up to leave, the employee reassured me that they wouldn't lose my birth certificate in the mail.

An hour later I arrived at the library for my shift and was immediately greeted by a hug from a fellow shelver. This isn't normally how we greet each other so I was a bit taken aback. She explained to me that she thought I died. I think my response to this was "nope, still here". Apparently she was a bit confused because another staff member of the library passed away over the weekend after a long struggle with cancer. Her name was also Becca. The employee who gave me the hug never met her because Becca quit working at the library to start chemo. So when someone told her that Becca died on Sunday, she assumed it was me. We shared an awkward laugh after that and commenced shelving the many books on our sorting shelves.

Now I wonder how many others think I'm dead right now. And I hope I don't have to prove my existence within the next 6 weeks because my birth certificate is out of my possession.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cleaning out the junk drawer

Every six weeks or so, I empty out the junk drawer in my nightstand which accumulates all the stuff that I like to put off to take care of later. Today it occurred to me that I've created another "junk drawer" in the form of my blogger account since I've become really good at starting posts without finishing them usually because I don't think the topic is worthy of posting. Consider this a cleaning out of my blogger junk drawer of all the randomness that has been going on in my head in the past two months.

Colorado is really dry. I think I managed to use the same tube of chap stick the entire time I was in Mississippi where the humidity kept my lips moist and healthy. Colorado is radically different. I think I've gone through 4 tubes of Burt's Bees since I got back here in November. If I keep this up, I'll probably have invested enough money in chap stick to pay for Burt's condo in Aspen and a deluxe hive for his bees.

Muh Dawg Chloe has three passions at this point in life: chasing my mom's cat, creating yellow snow and hiking. She and I only share one common passion and I hope you can correctly guess what that is.

If I were wealthy enough to move up to a ski town (which will probably be never) I would definitely pick Winter Park because the people are great. They are friendly and down to earth and quite laid back. I've been fortunate enough to meet several Winter Park/Fraser residents while volunteering with NSCD and thus far have not meet one that I didn't like. Last week I met the aunt and uncle of the husband of a woman whose parents go to my church. We started talking up a storm about their nephew and wife even though I don't know the couple very well and couldn't tell you their last name! Despite that, I felt like I was chatting with old friends whom I've known forever.

One of my toenails fell off the other day. No warning at all, just fell off. When I ran a 10K three years ago, I had a toenail fall off, but I knew it was coming because it was black and hurting for weeks leading up to the race. I'm not sure what the cause was this time. I should probably look into figuring that out.

The last time my parents and I ate at Red Robin, a hilarious though unfortunate event occurred. There was a birthday at a table across the restaurant and the waitress was bringing over a special dessert with a balloon tied to the fork. As she walked by our table with the beautiful dessert, the balloon got caught in a ceiling fan which ripped the balloon out and took the fork with it. The fork then proceeded to sail in the air and hit a male patron sitting at the table behind us. As far as I could tell, he was fine, but the waitress was a bit embarrassed as nearly the whole restaurant burst into laughter.

Forbes has named Boulder, Co as the smartest city in the U.S. for the second year in a row. Longmont was not named number one for obvious reasons. Here's an example: our newspaper, the Daily Times-Call has a forum called the T-C Line where readers can call in and anonymously give their opinions about topics. Sometimes there are really smart comments but most of the time the callers are not so smart. My favorite recent entry from Saturday 2/16: "I was wondering where Obama was born, because if he wasn't born in the United States, he's not eligible to be president". The editor added a note about the requirements for eligibility to be president and stated that Obama was born in Hawaii. I really hope this caller is an eight year old who is learning about the U.S. government in school, otherwise, I'm really sad for this adult who either doesn't realize that Obama probably looked into the requirements before spending a boatload of time and money on his campaign, or else the caller doesn't know that Hawaii is in fact in the U.S.

On Valentine's Day 2004 I was a Freshman in college and I had an odd conversation with a friend in the dorms. She and I were talking about guys and our relationship histories. To make a long story short, she came up with a theory to explain my lack of dating. She called it the _____ Curse which stems back to my Elementary School days when I had a boyfriend who's name I leave blank in order to save what dignity he has left. To this day I still have no idea why I did it, but during recess one day I kicked him in the genitals and left him doubled over and crying on the playground. Even though he forgave me for the incident I still feel really guilty and wish it never happened. So, fast forward to the conversation in the dorms. My friend (who is very into astrology and tinkers with witchcraft) believes that the lack of dating in my life is a direct result of that incident on the playground and the universe has sent out a message to all guys warning them about me. Thus they avoid me in order to be spared similar pain. I laughed at her when she came up with the idea, but who knows, perhaps there is some truth to it.

In high school I used to pretty much only listen to Christian music. I definitely don't have the same philosophy today as my iPod has songs like "Crazy Bitch" by Buckcherry and "When I Get You Alone" by Thicke. Both are really awful songs that I shouldn't even like, but I listen to them anyway.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Library Evangelism

On an average day, we check in roughly 4,000 books at the Longmont Public Library which means the odds of finding something interesting left in the returned books are usually pretty high. Most often we'll find grocery lists or sticky notes with random scribblings on them. One time I found a ten dollar bill which was apparently used as a bookmark (I called the patron and they came to claim their money). Lately I've found a few items that really make me giggle.

Last week I found a note that was obviously written during class and I'm guessing the authors were two middle school girls. They were debating about who was cuter: Toby or Ben. They were unable to come to an agreement which is probably for the best since they won't have to fight over the chosen boy.

Today I stumbled upon something I haven't seen in a while: Christian tracts. If you don't know what a tract is, go to Colorado Springs and walk around Acadia Park in downtown and you're sure to be handed one (especially if you have scraggly facial hair and don't appear to have bathed in a while). These are evangelism tools that some Christians use to spread the Good News. They are usually very basic and tell the story of how to obtain salvation. They have easy to follow guides on how to accept Jesus Christ into your heart and thus avoid eternal damnation in the fiery pits of Hell. In my mind they are the most ridiculous and impersonal method of telling people about Jesus. I was given one on the airplane ride from Denver to Gulfport on my way to interview and tour the coast for the YAV program. I sat next to a woman who was with a group of church folk going to Guatemala for a mission trip. She and I were chatting before takeoff and oddly enough the conversation led to my faith journey and salvation. Apparently she wasn't convinced that I was a "real" Christian and so she handed me a tract to read. I politely took the tract and proceeded to put my headphones on and tune her out for the rest of the flight.

Back to the library books. Smart evangelists wedge the tracts into some obscure page in the middle of the book where the next reader will stumble upon it and possibly come to accept Christ. Not so smart evangelists put the tracts right in the front of the book where we staff members open the book to scan the barcode and then throw away the "debris".