Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Black Belt Patriotism

Black Belt Patriotism: How We Can Restore the American Dream Black Belt Patriotism: How We Can Restore the American Dream by Chuck Norris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I give this book three stars which may be a bit generous, but I rank it that high because of its entertainment value, not so much for the content. I appreciate how Chuck Norris points out that he is not a scholar or an expert on Sociology or Political Science, but just a concerned citizen. I admire the fact that he is voicing is concern for the current state of our nation, since a lot of people seem to be apathetic. I have to admit that when I looked at the table of contents for Norris' book I thought "Huh, I agree with him on a lot of these points". Ceasing our national debt? Yes please. Valuing human life? Of course. A call to get American's physically healthy. Oh yeah. But then I kept on reading and kept on getting frustrated. I could go point by point through the chapters and talk about why I disagree with Chuck, but I don't feel like that is the purpose of this review. Instead I'll just give you one tidbit that would have caused me to throw the book across the room had it not been a library book. In making his case for the need for family values, Chuck lists off many statistics about the current state of the American family. In the middle of listing off percentages of family incomes and "latchkey kids" Chuck states that "Nearly half of America's labor force is women, and of course many of these women are mothers". He doesn't elaborate on what he means by this sentence, instead he continues to bombard the reader with more numbers. I'm left to assume that Chuck means the rightful place for women is in the home, especially if they are mothers. Oh Chuck, you're breaking my heart and this is only page 11. I knew I wouldn't agree with a lot of what Norris would be talking about in this book which is why I read it. I think it is important to know what people are talking about on the other end of the spectrum, especially when they are people who have much public appeal. I realize that a lot of people would be more likely to pick up Chuck Norris' book than a Howard Zinn book. All in all, this book wasn't a complete waste of time. It was much needed relief from the heavy reading that I'm doing at Seminary and it was good for a few laughs.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Little gems

Since arriving in Austin I've been exposed to a lot of really neat things and thought I would pass along a few in particular that make my heart happy.

Everyday Justice

Julie Clawson is a member of our seminary community (I don't want to label her as the wife of one of my fellow students because I feel like that discredits her - kind of like that one time at CU when Laura Dern was introduced as "Ben Harper's wife" not accomplished actress and social activist. But anywho.). I haven't read her book yet because other books like Calvin's Institutes and The Bible seem to have taken priority in my life, but she has spoken to our community about the book and I saw an excerpt for it in Sojourners magazine so I have a feeling it is full of some pretty great stuff.

Sweet Leaf Tea

I discovered this magical beverage at UCCS where it was sold in the cafe and I fell in love and developed an addiction. My friend Josh told me that I was mistakenly born in Colorado and that my heart belonged in the South because I loved sweet tea. I guess you could say that Sweet Leaf is part of the reason why I felt called to the South after college and starting thinking about living there later in life as well. I just recently found out that it is made right here in Austin, TX! I don't want to admit to how much time I've wasted on their website, but I recommend checking it out because it is fun. Love their ideology.

The Rocketboys

My new favorite band. I've become friends with Justin who plays the keyboard and a bunch of us went to their CD release show last week. It started at midnight. On a school night. It was badass.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

It's Like a Whole Other Country

I've had several moments where it has dawned on me that I now live in Texas. Like when I walk into stores with large signs on the door saying "Weapons are prohibited on this property". Or when I woke up on Wednesday and thought about going for my weekly hike in the mountains but realized that the nearest "hike" goes up to 700'. But tonight as I read this article about some pretty amazing efforts being put on by some local Austinites, reality completely set in: I'm living in Texas. Be sure to read the comment forum posted below the article.

In case you didn't catch that number, 20% of slaves in our country are in Texas. My heart hurts.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What kind of moron doesn't bring a Bible to seminary?

At this point I've pretty much OD'd on orientation- between facilitating the YAV orientation last week and now receiving my own for seminary this week, my brain can't take much more! Since I'm barely able to form complete sentences, here are some thoughts on Austin so far:

Last night we went to Max's Wine Dive for Linda's birthday dinner. Their catch phrase is "Fried chicken and champagne...why the hell not?". I had the Max & Cheese with a glass of champagne. I had to wonder if I was in Heaven, only to realize that Austin might be the closest thing to Heaven on Earth.

There are 6 bars within walking distance of my apartment

The UT stadium is about 1/2 a mile from my apartment. If I could hear the Longmont High games at my house from 1/2 mile away, I can't even imagine how crazy noisy the UT games will be. I'm excited.

My hot water smells like rotten eggs. I can't tell if I do as well because of the shower I took yesterday.

I didn't bring a Bible with me. I vaguely remember packing one in the boxes which are currently sitting in my car in front of my parents' house.

I finally gave in and got a haircut yesterday. My new favorite thing in the world is gossiping ladies at a Texas beauty parlor. They are so much more animated than women at other salons.

My new tattoo has finally ended the nasty peeling stage and is now in it's pretty new phase. I'm very happy with it. Pictures to come.

Our student body president has a tattoo of John Calvin on her leg. She is fabulous.

I finished reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies on the plane ride here. Normally I would protest any sort of "tweaking" of that book, but I admit I laughed my ass off during parts of the book. Plus I loved how things turned out for Mr. Collins, Lydia, Wickham and Lady Catherine. If you haven't read it, do it. I have 23 books on my required reading for this semester alone, and I'm satisfied with P&P&Z being the last novel I get to read for a while.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fantastic news!

From my inbox today...

Just hours ago, we heard big news that proves that miracles do happen!

The U.S. Supreme Court granted Troy Davis the chance to finally present crucial evidence in court that may prove his innocence.

Until now, Troy has been denied the opportunity to present all the facts supporting his case. But after a 6-2 ruling from the nation's highest court, Troy will get that chance at justice we've been fighting for since day one.

The power that we've seen building behind Troy's case is awe-inspiring. Your heart-felt emails, letters, phone calls and actions are opening doors that many said were shut for good.

It's working. But we won't stop pushing until Troy Davis is granted clemency!

Right now, Troy Davis sits on death row. So keep telling his story to those who haven't heard it. Keep hoping for more miracles, because given today's news, it's clear – anything is possible!

We can't say it enough – thank you,

Laura Moye
Director, Death Penalty Abolition Campaign

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I Was the Highest Woman in Boulder

My brother and I plan to knock out a few 14ers this month so I thought I better start conditioning for it. Here is an account of yesterday's adventure.

The Goal: Bear Peak West Ridge (8461 ft. - highest point in Boulder)

I don't remember seeing so many wildflowers in Colorado. Ever!

The view of Boulder from the top...

...and the continental divide.

All in all a great hike! I've heard the trail is always crowded, but I didn't see a soul all the way up. I hung out at the top for a while and finally saw some folks when I started the descent. The solitude made for some quality worship time which was much needed.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How do I sum it all up?

My AmeriCorps year has ended with mixed emotions. Part of me wants to stick around for another year, but I know that would be a poor choice. I'm glad I have my new life in Austin to look forward to, otherwise I'd be dwelling in my emotions. Here is a list- an attempt to sum up the year (I think Erin did this at some point, so props to her for the idea!)

1- The number of months I lasted as a volunteer coordinator before realizing it was boring and I wanted to work with the kids.
2- How many times I ran our short bus into things. Once causing a significant amount of damage, the other time caused no damage but was very embarrassing with a bus full of kids who will never forget it.
3- the number of "compliments" from kids I received this year: "You have Grinch fingers" "Are you pregnant?" "You look like you were raised on a farm". Kids say the darnedest things.
4- How many supervisors I had. Oy Vey.
5- The number of times I had to vacuum Flamin' Hot Cheetos out of my car
9- How many years these kids still have to go in the program. Long journey.
11- The number of months I got to spend with some pretty terrific kids
16- The number of AmeriCorps I got to work with
46- The number of Dreamers who impacted me more than they'll ever realize.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Book burning? Really?

I really need to stop reading the T-C Line comments in our local newspaper. It is best to start your day right by prepping for whatever stresses lay ahead and reading the T-C line is not a good thing to do first thing in the morning. Lately I've tried to convince myself that the people who call in are hoaxters who just enjoy getting a rise out of people. I mean, there's no way people who live right next to the airport would actually complain about noise from the airplanes. I'm only able to sleep at night because I've convinced myself these people aren't for real.

So when I caught this article on CNN about a library controversy in Wisconsin, I told myself it must be a joke. I'm really hoping Alan Abel is behind all this.

So much to say about this situation.

I think my favorite part of the article is when the Maziarkas demand books that will affirm heterosexuality, preferably by "ex-gays". I guess they don't understand that the thousands of other young adult books that are about heterosexual relationships already do that. They don't need to blatantly say that homosexuality is wrong for kids to get the message. It's kind of like the hundreds of TV shows that feature a nearly all white cast versus the handful of shows featuring mostly black or latino characters. This disproportionate ratio sends the message to all people of color that they aren't the norm in our society and therefore need to act more white so they can meet the standards. So there's no need to add anti-gay books to the collection of young adult reading material because the job is already taken care of. The Longmont Public Library has more than enough books that have been published by Focus on the Family to balance out the books containing homosexuality.

I also like how they are demanding that these sexually explicit books be moved to the adult book collection. I agree with a lot of the folks who left comments on the article: perhaps parents should take responsibility and keep an eye on what their kids are reading. But for the many kids whose parents don't do that (like the families I currently work with), maybe it isn't such a bad thing to have the books available. These kids/tweens/teens are probably seeing a lot of sex on TV and in the movies, so why not expose it to them in books? At least they have to use their imagination. Just sayin'. My experience with at-risk youth has shown me that kids don't want to read the "classics" like Little Women and Tom Sayer. Oftentimes the only way we can get them actively engaged in reading a book is if the book is crude or silly like Captain Underpants.

Cataloging books in a library can be a challenge at times. I remember when the Harry Potter books came out and the librarians were all in a tizzy over where to shelve them. They ultimately decided to put the 6th and 7th books in the Teen section because there was kissing and a fair share of violence/fighting in them. It made sense to me. I question a lot of other books in our library. I think maybe they should make an entirely new section for wishy washy books. I'm talking about the books that aren't quite non-fiction and not quite fiction. There are many titles that I've shelved in their proper place on the non-fiction shelves but have been tempted to put them on the fiction shelves. Ann Coulter could have her own end-of-aisle display in this new section.

So, I guess there will always be a debate about books especially when they are bought by tax-payers' money. I do feel bad for the library director in West Bend- I certainly don't think he deserves to be tarred and feathered.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dreamer Video

As if you haven't been bombarded with celebrity news this week, here's a little diddy about Anthony Carter. Actually, the video is a promotion for AC, but it features our Dreamers at our Community Center. And no, I didn't pay the cameramen to get so much screen time.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

1.21 Gigawatts!

Now that I've revealed I'm a bit of a sports fan, I'm also going to let you in on another secret. I'm a time-travel geek. I absolutely love the concept of time travel. I have to make it clear that I don't necessarily think it is possible for us to time travel, but I love it when people theorize about it. I'd like to pay tribute to some of the great pop-culture time traveling adventures:

Lost I watched the first 4 seasons of this show in the months right after I returned from Mississippi. It was a great coping mechanism and distraction from all the crazy emotions going on with me. I thought the show was decent during the first 4 seasons, but when the time travel concept came about in season 5, I officially labeled myself a LOST freak!

Back to the Future I think most will agree that this is the best time traveling movie/series out there. I loves me some Michael J Fox!

The Time Traveler's Wife From the moment I opened this book, I was hooked. While the plot can be very complex at times, the story is so incredible, it keeps you going until the end.

Bill and Ted I have to say, this was Keanu Reeves at his finest! Classic 80s. Love it. San Dimas High School football rules! (Yes, I own two of these movies on DVD)

Napoleon Dynamite Doesn't matter how many times I see it- Napoleon getting his junk fried by the time machine is hilarious!

Peggy Sue Got Married More from the classic 80s. I love the concept of Peggy Sue going back to high school and figuring out if she wants to change how things turned out. The ending is terrific.

A Wrinkle in Time I think this book is what got me started on my time travel obsession. I remember reading it as a kid and having the feeling that my head was spinning, but not wanting it to stop!

Lost in Austen I just watched this series this weekend and have to admit that I enjoyed it. It is about a women in 2008, in her 20s, obsessed with Pride and Prejudice, who somehow swaps places with Elizabeth Bennett and interferes with everyone's lives. Normally I steer clear of anything that tries to twist this tale, but I found out it was about time travel and couldnt stop myself from watching. It's like bubble wrap.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I might be a sports fan after all

I hope you’re sitting down, because I’m about to blog about sports. I know, weird.

Nuggets Fever is hitting Colorado something fierce right now since they are playing better than they have in 24 years. They haven’t been the Western Conference Finals since before I was born, so I guess you could say they’ve been in a lull. We’ve seen the AVs, the Broncos and the Rockies all make it to their sport’s respective final game, but the Nuggets have been written off as somewhat of a joke. That isn’t to say that I’m not a fan of theirs. I very much enjoy the Nuggets even though they play a game I’m not particularly interested in (might have something to do with the embarrassment I suffered in 4th grade while playing basketball and I scored in my own basket).

Of course I still think professional basketball players are over-payed, ego-inflated giants full of testosterone. But I can look past all that and enjoy it for what it is. I’ve come to recognize how sports and other topics are important to our society. It is safe to talk about sports. In Mississippi, folks got tired of talking about Katrina and recovery and construction. But bring up the topic of the Saints or Brett Favre and you’ve got yourself a conversation filled with smiles and memories and hope. Same thing goes for today. Conversing with a neighbor can be awkward when they’ve lost their job, are about to lose their home and have no idea when this economy will recover. But talk about the Nuggets and you can forget all that.

We here with “I Have a Dream” have a particular interest in the Nuggets, since Anthony Carter, point guard and all around great guy, is an official spokesperson for our organization. Plus he generously gives the Dreamers a lot of money! Check him out on Wikipedia if you aren’t familiar with his story- it’s pretty inspiring.

Tonight the Nuggets play in game 5 against the Dallas Mavericks. I wish I didn’t have to work tonight, because I’m sure it is going to be an entertaining one to watch, especially after the drama-filled game on Monday. We got to see Dallas fans at their finest, the Mav’s owner offend Martin’s momma and Melo’s girlfriend, LaLa, leave early because of the harassing fans. Yikes. I admit the Mavs played well on Monday, but I don’t think they stand a chance on the Nugget’s home turf.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lazy Sunday

"I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens, but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string."
— L.M. Montgomery

Nothing splendid or wonderful happened in my world today, but it was filled with simple little pleasures. Sleeping in until my body was ready to wake. Taking two different dogs on two different walks. Going to the gym and enjoying the lack of creepy old men there. Cooking three meals and savoring each one. Talking on the phone to a friend. Reading a book. Reflecting. Lots of reflecting.

Central Pres received yet another punch in the stomach as we said goodbye to our organist Bruce Patterson. He died in a car accident on Tuesday and leaves behind his wife, grown son and teenage daughter. Bruce was on of the kindest and most compassionate persons I've ever met. Always a smile on his face, he made this world more beautiful with his incredible musical talent. I feel bad for whoever replaces him at the church piano bench, because he set the bar high.

Seeing our congregation come together through this tragedy has reminded me why I want to get into the church biz. For weeks I've been second guessing my decision to go to seminary because I can come up with a lot of reasons not to go: frustrations with the church, not really sure what it is I believe in, and of course the fact that I don't really enjoy the typical pastor stuff like preaching and praying out loud. This past week has reminded me how much the church and the people in it have shaped and formed me. To walk away from it would be inconceivable. I've seen some bad examples of ministry, but the heart of the church has remained genuine and that's why I'm sticking with it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Thoughts on Poverty

The first of the month snuck up on me without warning and it is time again for the Presby Bloggers to Unite! This months topic is poverty, which normally I could write about until the cows come home. I had grand plans for talking about poverty in my backyard (Boulder, Co) as well as poverty in the next neighborhood over (Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, etc). But after a rather exhausting week at work I seem to be suffering from mental fatigue and writer's block. So, I will highlight the UN Millennium Development Goals which were created in 1990 and hoped to be met by 2015. In addition to listing the goals, I'll also make a few scattered notes for all they're worth.

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger - Doesn't really seem like we've made much progress since thousands upon thousands die every day from hunger and about 1/6 of the world lives on less than a dollar a day.

2. Achieve universal primary education- not looking good for this one either, unless Oprah decides to keep opening schools all over the world.

3. Promote gender equality and empower women - I'm not really sure how the UN plans to define success on this one, but I'm not going to get into talking about how long this road is right now:)

4. Reduce child mortality.

5. Improve maternal health.

6. combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases- Not sure where I get this factoid, but I once heard that if Sub-Saharan Africa were granted full debt relief, they could afford to stop the AIDS epidemic in it's path.

7. Ensure environmental sustainability.

8. Create a global partnership for development.

2015 isn't far away. I'm curious to see how concerned the UN will be as the deadline for these goals draws near.

So what does this all have to do with Presbyterians? I have to say that I'm very proud of the work that the Presbyterian Church is doing as far as working to end poverty. There are some truly amazing ministries in the church and after working with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, I've become very aware of how the Presbyterian family rallies for those in need. While I don't think the Presbyterian Church could ever be capable of solving the world's poverty problem, I do think it can play a vital role. I'd love to see mission be a more significant portion of the budget in all churches. I'd love to see more letter writing campaigns to our representatives. I'd also love to hear more conversations about the topic in sermons, Sunday School classes and at coffee hour. The Presbyterians have a reputation as being the wealthiest (per capita) church in the world and it is time to put our wealth to work!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Time to clean out the junk drawer that is my brain

Allen Andrande was sentenced to life in prison for killing Angie Zapata- a transgendered woman from Greeley. I watched the press conference last night and was moved to tears when her family was speaking about how much they loved her and miss her. Fortunately Colorado decided that transgender folks should be protected under hate crime laws, but unfortunately that isn't the case nationwide. Hopefully this is one small step towards equality and justice for all.

The Nuggets are smokin' hot right now! I went to a game with our Dreamers a few weeks ago, and while I still don't love basketball, I do enjoy this team.

Yesterday I had to explain what diarrhea is to a third grader. It was awkward.

I just finished reading Taking Back God: American Women Rising Up for Religious Equality by Leora Tannenbaum. I feel like this book addresses so many of the issues that have frustrated me lately. She takes a look at Muslim, Jewish and Christian women in America who are oppressed by their religion/church/faith because of their gender. A personal example of this: two Sundays ago our pastor announced that I received a merit scholarship to attend Austin Seminary. After the service, one of the oldest members of the congregation came up to me and said "you're gonna be the prettiest pastor in the church". I was briefly flattered by the complement, but more frustrated by the fact that women are judged by their appearance, not their smarts. I wanted to remind him it was a MERIT scholarship not a beauty pageant.

This morning I was walking muh dawg and we were both quite surprised to discover a pot roast sitting on a fairly fancy plate in the middle of someone's lawn. Chloe very much wanted to scarf it down, but I told her that it isn't smart to take pot roasts from strangers.

Our Dreamers piked up trash around our community center for Earth Day yesterday and I was quite shocked at how excited they were to do it!

I've become a big fan of this website.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kooky Dream

Last night I dreamed that we took our Dreamers (the kids I work with) on a field trip to Jackson, MS. We played hide and go seek in an alley and then I went back to my car only to discover that it had a boot on it. So I went to the courthouse (which was conveniently across the street) to see about paying the ticket. As I arrived and was taking my earrings off to go through the metal detectors, giant ewoks came and started destroying the courthouse with lasers.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Yo Ho Ho And a Bottle of Dumb

The news has been buzzing with pirate talk this week, and while I'm glad the captain is safe and sound, it is unfortunate that three of the "pirates" had to die.

This is a fantastic article about another side of the story which the U.S. media isn't portraying.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Oh, The Places You'll Go!

A lot has happened since June of last year. Ten months ago I was ready to be done with church altogether. My frustrations and anger had been building for quite some time, pretty much since high school, but last summer I wanted to call it quits for real. This was really bad timing since it also happened to be the same week that I started a job as substitute custodian at our church- it's really hard to run away from something when you're stuck inside the walls everyday. I admit I didn't give 100% to that job and while I regret that, I can't go back and fix it.

Fast forward to September when I started as an AmeriCorps member with "I Have a Dream". I found myself working for an organization that I really believed in. I admire the mission of IHAD which is to commit ten years to young at-risk kids who might not have the opportunity to attend college otherwise. The ironic part of this job is that I sought something not related to church and wound up yearning for that faith element. IHAD is doing a really great thing, but I miss being able to pray for clients/kids and going to God when we have budget woes and trying to figure out what Christ is calling us to do in our community. I suppose the grass is always greener on the other side.

When it came time to start figuring out what I should do next year, I found myself leaning heavily toward grad school. This process has been another long, drawn out debate since I've found so much value in the world's classroom and didn't see myself going back to school. Long story short, I decided to go back. So I narrowed my choices down to four schools: two universities for social work and two seminaries. I figured it would be good to keep my options open and see where I was being led. Through the process of applying, there were instances where God was clearly steering the ship: I missed the application deadline for one school and needed two pre-reqs before enrolling in the fall at another (currently don't have the time or the money for them). Those two choices were eliminated and they happened to be the schools for social work. Ok God, I get the hint.

That left the two seminaries: Iliff School of Theology in Denver, a rather progressive Methodist school which specializes in Peace and Justice studies, or Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Tx. At this point my mind was saying "Go to Iliff! You'll fit in there with people who think similarly to you! You'll be in Colorado with the mountains you love and near the family you love. It makes sense". But my heart was saying "Go to Austin! It makes no sense, but it is where you need to be!".

I heard from Iliff first, with a letter saying I had been accepted and they'd love to see me in the fall. The next week I received a letter from Austin saying I was accepted there as well. Without much hesitation (because I knew that if I drew out this decision it would get ugly) I responded to Iliff with a "no thanks" and Austin with a "see you in the fall". The logical side of me kept reminding me that I hadn't even visited the campus yet, had never even been to Austin before and had no idea how I was going to pay for this. I thought back to time when I made the decision to be a YAV in Mississippi. My vague understanding beforehand was that it would be a year of no pay, living in an RV in the Mississippi swamp and running a camp for volunteers, which I was very much under qualified to do. Not the most enticing job description, but I had a gut feeling that this was where I needed to be. Turns out it was the most difficult and wonderful year of my life, so who knows what Austin will bring.

Two weeks later I visited Austin. I'd been planning the trip for a few months though it was a bit silly that I decided to attend Austin before even checking it out. I guess that's how I roll. When I bought the plane ticket I figured it would be great to see three fabulous friends that I haven't been the best at keeping in touch with, even if I decided the school wasn't for me. Fortunately everything felt right when I was there. I love the campus. I adore the city. I'm excited that I already know some terrific people there.

I then flew straight to Atlanta for a discernment weekend with the Fund for Theological Education. My boss nominated me since I'm sort of the token Christian in our AmeriCorps crew. I had no idea what the purpose of the weekend was, but I wasn't about to turn down a free trip to Atlanta! Turns out it was one of those rare opportunities where people on similar paths collide in one place and have the chance to sort out their emotions and plans and ideas. All of us who were at the conference are serving in year long volunteer programs around the country and are all considering vocation with the church. I'm still processing the experience and will leave that for another post. I can say that it was very exciting to be surrounded by other people who see the need for reform in the church since we aren't satisfied with the way it is now.

At this point I knew where I was going and that there would be some incredible conversations awaiting me there. The lingering worry on my mind was money. Seminary is not cheap and while there is a lot of funding out there for it, I was nervous. Then, the last day of the conference in Atlanta, I received a phone call from the president of Austin Seminary saying that I have been granted the Jean Brown Merit Fellowship which will cover tuition, part of housing, food and books for my three year stay there. I thought he was joking! I applied for that scholarship thinking there was no way I would get it. Through tears and near hyperventilation I told him thank you and that I would gladly accept it. I think this was God's way of saying "Alright kid, you're out of excuses. Get your ass to seminary". Maybe that's not a direct quote, but you get the idea.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Don't Mess With Texas






Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Where were the Presbies?

I look back on my experience with campus ministry and can’t help but giggle because the campus ministry competition was fierce. Having attended a public university in a hyper-conservative, hyper-religious city there was certainly no lack of campus ministries to join up with. On any given evening you could find at least one of the groups getting together for worship or pizza or ultimate Frisbee. The three ministries which were most present on campus were distinct in that they had very different visions for the campus. One was big on evangelism and reaching out to the “un-churched”. The second group appealed more to the crowd who were more likely to read Donald Miller than the Bible. The third group was focused on mission and social justice.

I fell into the third group, mostly by default since the other groups met on nights when I worked or had class. I wasn’t really interested in joining up with a campus ministry since I was still in recovery from a less than desirable high school youth group experience. If I’d had a choice I would have joined the “Rehab for the Churched” ministry, but that wasn’t an option available. The reason I stuck with this ministry for the three years I was at the school was because of the people. This ministry was full of people who were compassionate and concerned about their neighbors on campus as well as their neighbors on the other side of the world. I was baffled. I’d never met people who seemed so genuine and kind and I owe a lot to this group for helping me get through the muck I was in.

While the non-denomination ministries were aplenty, the mainline denominations were noticeably absent from campus. During my first semester at school I was very curious about where the Presbyterians were. It wasn’t until December that I found out they were 7 miles away. That might not seem like a lot, but for a college student who doesn’t own a car and made the unwise decision to live in a city with poor public transportation, it might as well be 1000 miles. Add to it the fact that the college/young adult group only met at 9:45 on Sunday mornings which is unheard of for college students. This seems like a good formula for keeping away the college students. Perhaps it wasn’t convenient for the Presbyterians to be present on our campus, but is ministry ever convenient and easy?

Had the Presbyterian Church been more present on campus, I’m not sure the 18 year old me would have been active in their activities at the time, but the 23 year old me right now would love to go back and change my experience. If I could go back I would have been much more active in getting those stubborn Presbies onto our campus where their ministry could have nurtured and cared for the students.

As for the future of campus ministry? I certainly hope the church (PC(USA) in particular) will continue its efforts on college campuses worldwide. College is such a life changing time for most people as they try to figure out who they are and what they believe now that they aren’t in the comfort of their home. The lack of young adults in PC(USA) is solid evidence showing the desperate need for campus ministry.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My New Obsession

I cannot get enough of these literal music videos on YouTube.

This is one of my favorites:

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Case for Drugs

***For regular readers, this is a post that I put on another website. If you don't care for politics or sociology, don't feel obligated to read it:)***

I get why our Prez & CO. passed the stimulus plan, but I’m still pessimistic about how affective it will be. Being the frugal type, I’m an advocate for cutting budgets rather than spending more money we don’t have. Unfortunately the big kids in Washington aren’t asking my opinion. If they were asking me, I would suggest a reform on our department of corrections to be the number one priority. A few places to start could be doing away with the death penalty, legalizing all drugs and discontinuing the disproportionate arrests/prison sentences for people of color.

Wait, what was that I just said? Legalize all drugs? Why would a goody two-shoes advocate for the legalization of drugs?

Reason number one: racism. The legalization of some drugs vs. the outlawing of other drugs has a lot to do with racism. Smoking opium was fine and dandy when white women were the ones addicted to it, but as soon as the Chinese started flooding our country (about 100 years ago) and the white folks started to exclude them, opium got banned. Next came cocaine. White folks in the South would give this drug to their black employees because it made them work harder. This inevitably led to addiction which fed into the fear white folks had of black folks. Thus, cocaine got banned. Finally, marijuana. There wasn’t any stigma on this drug until the Great Depression when Mexicans in America would smoke it. The white folks claimed that this made them violently crazy. Marijuana got banned. Tobacco and Alcohol are legal today because they’ve always been the drugs of choice for white folks and they are big money makers since both can be produced within our borders.

Not only is our history with drugs tainted by racism, it is still going on today. The 100-to-1 crack-to-powder ratio is an unfortunate example. The sentencing for possessing 5 grams of crack is the same as possessing 500 grams of cocaine. This means the poor and often people of color who use crack get punished more frequently than the rich folks who can afford cocaine. Unfair? I’d say so.

Reason number two: money. The war on drugs is oober expensive and I don’t like that my tax dollars are going towards it when they could be going towards positive things like education and health care. Check out this article for more on that, or read this real great excerpt about Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP):

LEAP—whose members are current and former police officers and police chiefs, federal agents, undercover operatives and prison wardens—is the first U.S. law enforcement organization to advocate for the full legalization of all drugs. It recently co-commissioned a study by Harvard University economics professor Jeffrey Miron, who studied the cost-benefit of legalizing and taxing drugs in the same manner as alcohol and tobacco. According to Miron’s analysis, released in December, tax revenues nationwide would amount to approximately $32.7 billion a year. Miron also found that, if drugs were legalized, the United States would save more than $44 billion annually in costs related to the enforcement of drug laws.

Reason number three: death. The drug war costs a lot of lives which I think most would agree is a very negative aspect of this situation. According to the same article I mentioned above, there were 5,600 drug related murders last year in Mexico alone. Ouch.

Ending racism, saving money and preventing death. Yes please.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Happy International Women's Day!

In honor of International Women's Day, I'd like to honor a few women who have inspired me. I've selected five who have represented our gender well and have made amazing strides toward making this world a better place unlike some females out there **CoughAnnCoulterCough**. While I could mention a dozen women who I know personally, I decided to stick with women who are (or were) in the public spotlight.

Jessie Zimmerer: City Councilwoman in La Grande, OR- That's right folks. A 23 year old City Council member. While most folks our age only care about politics when it is trendy, Jessie has a heart full of compassion and conviction to make her town a better place. I like to think that I'm cool by association since we've been friends for 14 years.

Sandra Day O'Connor- First female Supreme Justice and all around neat lady. She pulled out the funny with Jon Stewart last week.

Anne Lamott- One of my favorite authors who has taught me that it is ok to disagree with aspects of religion and to question authority. Plus she knows how to rock some sweet dreadlocks.

Captain Molly Kool- The first female ship captain/New Brunswicks first feminist. She passed away this month at the age of 93. Manning a ship takes ovaries.

Kate Winslet- My favorite actress. Though I don't know her personally, she seems to be a woman of integrity who truly thinks before she speaks and acts. I admire her boldness in choosing parts that are risky as well as risque.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Then Comes the Baby in the Baby Carriage

For a long time I was convinced that I never wanted to have kids. The reason was because I was terribly scared that I would screw them up with my dismal parenting skills. I didn't inherit a lot of skills that my parents have such as cooking, quilting, building houses and I fear that I didn't get that good parenting gene either.

When I adopted muh dawg Chloe (though some say she adopted me), my perspective began to change a little bit. All of a sudden I had this living being who depended on me for everything: food, water, walks, belly rubs etc. While I'm sure having a pet isn't quite comparable to having children, I think it is closer than owning a plant (which I've failed at miserably many a time in my life).

Now that I work with kids every day, my perspective has taken a 180. While I know these kids aren't mine I feel like a parent figure in their lives and reached the point where I refer to them as "my kids". A lot of them have it rough at home. We have several kids from broken homes. Others rarely see their parents because they work multiple jobs or are in Mexico. Others just have really bad parents. I hate to judge people like that, but some of the things these parents do make my heart hurt. It makes me almost buy into the idea that people should be required to get a license before they can become parents. Some people just shouldn't procreate. Interacting with these folks has given me a bit of an ego boost and I feel like I could potentially look like June Cleaver next to them.

At this point in my life, I definitely see myself having kids whether they are biological or foster or adopted. I really admire people who decide to have kids without a partner, but I don't think I could handle that on my own mainly because I cannot discipline to save my life. I am incapable of punishing kids and following through with threats so I would probably have to leave that part up to my husband. Unless I could get Vin Diesel to move in as a full time manny.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Next Steps

It’s cheesy metaphor time. I know you’re excited.

As I was skiing on Sunday (rather than going to church like a good girl should), I began to think about what’s to come after my year with AmeriCorps. I’ve got a lot of options and while I’m about 90% sure about what I want to do, I still hesitate.

The Bunny Hill Option

I could stick to the safe, secure bunny hill which is comfortable and familiar. Real life equivalent would be living at home and working at the library full time. Just like the bunny hill on the slopes, this option feels way too easy and boring. No challenge involved which would also mean no opportunity for growth and learning.

The Green Circle Option

I could move out of my parents house, stay in Longmont/Boulder and keep working with “I Have a Dream” as a 2nd year AmeriCorps. This option is mildly appealing since I adore the kids I work with, but I still don’t think it will be a challenging option. Just like green slopes, if I were to choose this option I would be stuck in my comfort zone and not pushing myself.

The Blue Square Option

I could go with the option that would be challenging in one sense, and yet easy in another. The Blue runs are usually what I stick to because they are difficult, and yet I don’t feel like I’m going to die while cruising down the mountain. This option would mean going to grad school here in Colorado. I’d still be in the community that I am familiar with, but I’d be back in school which is a scary thought.

The Black Diamond Option

I could challenge myself and go where I’m not comfortable and yet I know I need to be there. On the mountain, I get anxious when on the Black runs and yet I know it is good for me because it is pushing me to learn more and further my skiing technique. In real life this would mean going out of state to grad school. I would be combining the challenge of grad school with learning about a new community and adapting to an unfamiliar environment, away from the comforts of home.

The Back Country Option

I could push myself to my limits and go where the terrain is unpredictable and completely unfamiliar. Every turn would be new and frightening and exhilarating. The real life equivalent would be going overseas to live/volunteer/work. This would be the scariest option available. I’ve never done back country skiing before, but I certainly hope to work my way up to it. In the same manner I hope to work my way up to the challenge of living overseas long term. Baby steps are crucial here.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Original City

The Gulf Coast has been on my heart something fierce lately. The last time I was there was in March which was a trip full of emotions because I didn't allow enough time to pass after my time was up there. My year with PDA/YAV/Mission Year was amazing and confusing and heartbreaking. Now that more time has passed and I've sorted through those emotions, I would love to return.

I found out about a really cool event that is taking place next month and while I would love to go, I can't afford to take time off work. I thought I would put the link on here in case anyone else is interested. It sound fantastic and I'm jealous if any of you get to go. Leroy Barber is speaking, so you know it's gonna be good:)

The Original City

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Wishful Makeuping

I've been debating about whether or not to post about the following topic and have decided to go ahead and post, with the possibility of removing it later.

There's been some guy drama in my life lately. I don't want to post the specifics on the world wide web (call or email to request the juicy details-or to read the poem I co-wrote with my friend Vodka), in order to protect the pride of the guy in this situation. I can't say it has been the most enjoyable experience, but I've learned a lot through the process. I have to admit I feel much more confident after this experience and have realized that I'm not as lonely as I thought I was. For a while I told myself I'd rather spend time with a jerk than be alone. Now that I've spent time with a jerk, I'm satisfied with my single status!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

25 Things

At first I was really annoyed by the "25 Things" note that has been circulating Facebook, but now I kind of like the idea. Rather than post there, I've decided to post it here, partly because I'm weaning myself off Facebook (Thanks Bryce for the inspiration) and partly because the people I care about most read this blog (particularly my cabinet of advisers- you ladies know who you are). Here are my 25 things.

1. I just had my phone interview with the admissions person at Austin Theological Seminary and am beginning to realize that the paths in life that scare the shit out of me are usually the best ones to take.
2. I was the first girl at Lincoln Preschool to get a timeout for kissing a boy in class.
3. When I'm sick I like to throw my used tissues near the trashcan, but not in the trashcan until I'm healthy. I don't really know why, but I do love to see how many Kleenex's I can go through.
4. I'm planning a trip to Prince Edward Island with my friend Jessie to visit "The Land of Anne". I'm secretly hoping to meet my own Gilbert there.
5. My biggest pet peeve is women/girls/teens/tweens who are thin to begin with, but claim they're too fat.
6. My VHS tapes of Pride and Prejudice (BBC Version) are starting to wear out.
7. During my three years in college, I lived in 6 different dorms/apartments.
8. I desperately want to move back to the South and wouldn't mind ending up in Jackson, MS.
9. I'll be spending Valentine's Day in Washington D.C. What could be more romantic than spending that day in the capital of the country I'm starting fall in love with?
10. I am notorious for keeping library books way past their due date, which is why I still work at the library in order to keep the perk of no overdue fines.
11. My first CDs were Shania Twain, Seal and TLC.
12. I do fine with public speaking in most venues (PDA camp, tutor trainings/presentations etc.), except for my church. Not sure why that is.
13. I can't keep plants alive.
14. I woke up at 4:30 this morning (on my own, no alarm clock) because I couldn't wait to watch last night's episode of LOST online. Pathetic.
15. I've skied since I was 6 years old, but I still hate black diamond runs.
16. I'm a big believer in kindred spirits and bosom friends.
17. I own three pairs of Crocs, but didn't pay for any of them and never wear them anymore.
18. The IRS only knows about 4 of the 7 jobs I had last year.
19. I HATE the word suckle.
20. I normally don't read self-help books, but I'm currently reading He's Just Not That Into You and am surprised by how much I'm enjoying it.
21. I could be perfectly content with eating the exact same thing every day- I love consistency.
22. I only wash my hair once or twice a week because I find it too much of a hassle. It is great for saving money on shampoo, but I think I might have more friends if I washed it more often.
23. I can't remember what I did on my 23rd birthday, which was only 8 months ago.
24. I got a gift certificate to a spa, but I don't really like to be touched by strangers. I booked a manicure appointment thinking it will be the least uncomfortable treatment.
25. I'm the type of person who has a few very close friends (vs. a person with many not-so-close friends), but muh dawg Chloe ranks #1.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

My run-in with the law

I have great plans for some awesome posts, but I haven't had the motivation/inspiration to write them. I promise I'll get to them later.

For now I want to share a funny story with you.

I've been sick for the past few days- it stared out as a nasty cough and turned into the flu with a high fever. I should have seen this coming when I signed up to work with germy kids every day, but I thought I was immune to everything after working for the library for 6 years.


I've been house sitting for my uncle every weekend which is fun, but I prefer to be sick in my own bed. I slept at his house last night and decided to drive home this morning. So, I was driving down 287 from Lafayette to Longmont, getting very excited to crawl into my own bed. Then I saw lights flashing behind me.

Lets just say there was a lot of swearing on my part as I pulled over to the shoulder. Here is a little taste of the dialogue going on in my head: "Oh F#&$ F*&# F@$&! Please don't arrest me! I don't remember doing anything wrong. Was I speeding? Did I run a red light? I know Nyquil shows up on the breathalyzer. But I took my last dose at 3am, so shouldn't it be out of my system? I'm going to jail. I can't go to jail! I'm wearing my AmeriCorps sweatshirt! And no bra! And hideously ill-fitting red sweatpants. F$@* F!#@ F*#&."

The ironic part of this, is that I've been anticipating getting my first ticket for a while now, so I should have been mildly excited. There is a lot of pressure on your shoulders when you have a perfect driving record and I have been wanting to get a ticket just to get it over with.

It turns out I got pulled over for not having a license plate on the front of my car. I'd been meaning to get to it, I just kept forgetting. He let me off with a warning and told me to have a nice day.

So now I am still ticket free and did not go to jail. I hope that someday I'll be able to check those two items off of my list of things to do.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mike "outside the box" Weaver

If you haven't met my dad, shame on you! He's pretty terrific in general, but one thing I especially love about him is the way he thinks outside the box. For example, one time he and I went up Poudre Canyon to cut down a Christmas tree. After hiking around the property for a while we finally spotted one that was "good enough" (meaning we were cold and tired of looking). We drug the tree back to his truck, but realized we were stuck up on a cliff and would have to drag the tree an extra 1/2 mile or so. Rather than exhaust ourselves further, dad came up with a brilliant plan: throw the tree over the cliff and climb down after it. Watching that tree sail over the cliff was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Until it hit the cliff several times losing a few branches. When it finally came to a halt, my dad suggested that we not tell mom about it.

That's one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Right now my dad is working in Del Norte, which is southern Colorado. Here is a picture of what he's been up to:

Yeah, that's a cell tower on his truck. Evidently they would have had to dissemble the crane, haul that up the mountain, put the cell tower on a flatbed trailer, drive it up the mountain and then put everything back together again. My dad suggested putting in on his truck.

Classic Mike Weaver move.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Confession time: I'm a closet football fan. I know, shocking. I should clarify that statement to avoid confusion. I've become a big fan of the Broncos, but couldn't tell you much about any other team (I just found out that Carolina has a team, but have yet to figure out if they're North or South). My interest in football began while living in Mississippi where Saints fever was epidemic. Amidst the chaos of hurricane devastation, people were able to smile and cheer and invest hope in something bigger than themselves. Football. I had never seen that side of the sport before, and it really gave me a new outlook. I still struggle with the ridiculousness of the sport: outrageous salaries, confusing rules, outrageous ticket prices, testosterone overload on the field, scantily clad cheerleaders. But the sport is growing on me.

I've taken particular interest in the team since the shocking firing of Mike Shanahan, head coach for the past 14 years- 21 years total with the team. Hard to imagine this team without him. I might go as far as saying that Mike Shanahan is the Broncos. He had some fine moments with the team throughout the years, including back to back Super Bowl victories. But I think Shanahan's finest moment with the organization was the press conference he held shortly after being fired. Here are a few snippets in case you missed it:

"...Pat Bowlen. That is tough because he is a great friend and he will always be my great friend. He is the best owner throughout sports, and I appreciate every opportunity he gave me to be successful. I can go on and on but you have to make tough decisions being the owner of this organization. Pat made a tough decision and you have to do that in an organization. I just want to thank him for giving me the opportunity to do the things I have been able to do."

On if he deserved to be fired

“The thing about deserving is it really doesn’t matter about deserve. I feel good about the job I have done. The thing is, you have to make some tough decisions when you run an organization. You have to do things that are in the best interest of the organization, and I felt that that was right and I understand the direction he went."

"...at least I feel like I’m leaving on a high note—a note with character, a note with a team that’s going to be on the rise. So from that standpoint I feel good."

What an astounding display of integrity. I have no doubt that he is upset by the circumstance, and yet he gets in front of the cameras and handles the situation with class. He doesn't point fingers. He doesn't make excuses. He doesn't bash his friend who pulled a "Donald Trump" on him. Instead he understood that he wasn't the best person for the job and truly did leave on a high note. Shanahan has provided an incredible example, and I can only hope that I would act in a similar manner if put in the same situation.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Chicago trip in a Nutshell

Hopped on plane. Fell asleep. Woke up with stranger in my face. Landed at Midway. Picked up by Erin. Drove down 55th. Arrived at Apartment. Got jealous of apartment. Took Eddie for walk. Saw breathtaking view of downtown. Went to Lauren's restaurant. Giggled when Erin was molested by bartender. Ate yummy food. Took bus up to downtown. Took L up to Northside. Hung out at bowling alley. Experienced Mike Herdegan's sense of humor. Finished drinks. Walked to bar. Drank beer. Drank mystery shot. Walked to L. Arrived at downtown. Walked to Navy Pier. Desperately searched for bathroom. Walked outside. Saw fireworks. Took many pictures. Watched Erin attack Kerry with tiara. Posed with stained glass. Took more pictures. Got mad at middle school kids. Walked to bus stop. Took bus home. Slept. Heard "Priscilla, 405, Priscilla!". Woke up. Agreed to stay in PJs all day. Laughed at the champagne opening extravaganza. Drank mimosas. Ate delicious breakfast. Watched hockey. Played The Office. Drank first Chicago beer. Played Imagineiff. Drank more. Watched How I Met Your Mother. Drank more. Went to bed. Woke up. Watched more How I Met Your Mother. Took bus downtown. Walked around. Took pictures. Went to Museum of Contemporary Art. Met Erin at Hancock Tower. Had drinks on 95th floor. Took pictures in the bathroom. Went to a movie. Cried my eyes out. Missed Chloe. Suffered from popcorn belly. Thought about going for a double feature. Decided not to. Rode bus home. Watched more How I Met Your Mother. Slept. Woke up. Ate yummy breakfast. Walked by Obama's house. Walked to library. Rode bus to Art Institute. Made fun of art. Strolled through Millennium Park. Took pictures. Made fun of ice skaters. Walked to giant Christmas tree. Ate at Giordano's. Suffered from cheese belly. Rode L to Northtown. Sat in bar drinking beer. Got annoyed by the pub crawlers. Got less annoyed upon finding out they were raising money for MS research. Walked to Beat Kitchen. Drank beer. Made fun of hipsters. Listened to awful music. Listened to more awful music. Listened to really good music. Got super tired. Walked to L. Walked to bus stop. Waited at bus stop. Got on bus. Made fun of wood paneling on bus. Arrived at apartment. Fell asleep. Struggled to wake up. Took bus to downtown. Took second bus to downtown. Got on train to West side. Arrived in Elmhurst for lunch with Tammy. Heard all about her 3 years in Honduras. Got back on train heading to downtown. Saw dream man reading Love in the Time of Cholera. Got off train. Bought popcorn for parents. Got on bus. Arrived at apartment. Watched football. Ordered Noodles. Played Imagineiff. Played The Office. Went to sleep. Slept in way late. Went to Museum of Science and Industry. Had two awkward moments with staff at the U-Boat exhibit. Walked back to apartment. Tried to drive to Erin's work. Missed exit. Went to airport instead. Flew home.