November 6, 2013
Well. The last couple of weeks have been a bit much.
On Thursday nearly two weeks ago, I got an email in the morning from the church who wants to hire me in Canada. The Canadian government had finally gotten to my visa application and there was an error in the way the job had originally been posted. The process would need to be restarted, which means a delay of about another three months.
On Thursday afternoon, I got a call from my mom, telling me that my brother’s wife Sando was leaving the Mayo Clinic. At age 31, her leukemia which was diagnosed in March, was totally resistant to the seven months of chemo she had gone through, and their best option at this point was hospice care. She would go home and likely only had a few days to live.
A bit much.
On Saturday morning I flew home to Minnesota and my mom and I drove up to Detroit Lakes, where my brother Wayne lives. He and Sando had been married a year and a half, but there is already a family — her four children from previous marriage. We went to visit, and Sando was in the middle of doing “spa treatments” for her 7-year-old daughter, Harmony. Sando was short of breath, even just sitting on the couch, her hair gone, her body swollen from her medication, and dark circles under her eyes. But she painted Harmony’s toes, put cucumbers on her eyes, and even gave her a hot stone massage — intent on creating a memory for her little girl with the moments she had left.
On Sunday, the sun was shining, and Sando wanted to take family pictures. She put on makeup, her wig and a bright red coat, and we all went out to a park. I snapped photos of her with her kids, her with Wayne, her with other family members who had come to visit. She directed the shots — she knew who she wanted gathered together. Again, she was out of breath and in pain, but she was determined to take these pictures with those closest to her.
Only a little more than a year ago, she was taking pictures with my brother at their wedding. Now pictures again, but this time a plastic pill organizer with all of her medication stuck out of my brother’s pocket.
On Monday, Sando began to let go. When we went over in the afternoon, she was in her room, and barely able to open her eyes. Each breath she took included a moan, and her breathing got raspier and more burdened as the day went on, her lungs filling with fluid. She no longer spoke or responded. Hospice care was now there permanently, trying to make her comfortable in her last moments. We prayed with her, thanking Jesus for saving her, for loving her and her kids so much, and praying for peace and comfort. We asked Him to be her strength and shield, that our hearts would trust in Him and be helped.
Around 10:30 that night, her breathing slowed down and quieted. She slumped into the arms of her brother. Her heart stopped beating. We are thankful that she had come to understand her need for Jesus — the salvation he brought her through His death and resurrection. We are thankful that her hope was secure in Him. And the restoration that was started when Jesus came, will continue. Like I mentioned before, one day all will be made right. Death has been swallowed up in victory. It does not get to win.
The hardest part has been seeing those who are so sad because of this loss. The kids who have to grapple with the loss of their mom. My baby brother who no longer has his wife to talk to.
But what has been beautiful in all of this, is to see the kindness demonstrated by family, friends and strangers. Cards, flowers, meals, money, prayers — people are demonstrating what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, to love your neighbor as yourself.
When I found out about the delay in my work visa, I was devastated and discouraged. I still am. I likely will not be moving to Canada until the end of January, and that stretch of time is difficult. It is hard to constantly live out of a suitcase, to not get a regular paycheck. Andrew is coming to visit this weekend, and I am so grateful. We haven’t seen one another in over two months, and it is hard to stay connected, to keep a relationship strong with someone a thousand miles away.
I still don’t understand why this delay had to be so long. However, I am so, so grateful I can be in Minnesota right now. I am glad I can spend time with Wayne and the kids. I am grateful to give hugs and play games and eat supper all together. I am thankful for a chance to reconnect with my brother in a real and tangible way.
It has been a lot for everyone. But in the sadness and confusion, we press on, trusting that God is good, that He is loving, that He is worthy.
Even when it’s a bit much.
October 23, 2013
I’m just here in Colorado. In the United States of America. As usual.
It’s gotten bad. I’ve started talking to myself.
Today is October 23 which means that it is my Jaci’s birthday!! I haven’t seen Jaci in a year and a half, which is quite tragic. Jaci and I lived together for some years. Two maybe? Three? Jaci, how many? Anyway, we did all the things together, and would even check in on each other to say goodnight every night. She made me read so many good books, and we once planted a victory garden (that was not very victorious). If anyone would like to buy me a plane ticket to Washington D.C. so that I can go see her and take more pics like this, it would be appreciated. Happy Birthday, Jac! I miss you.
Umm, Japan has created a wine for cats, obviously. It is for pet owners who want to celebrate birthdays or Christmas with their cats. You know. That’s what they want to do. They need some celebration drinkies.
Last week I got to spend some time with these fine gentlemen.
We spent some time creating paper airplanes, racing them, having a dance party, playing Connect Four and writing a piano book. This all took place in a span of about an hour and a half, so we were quite productive.
Here’s Jonny’s plane. (It didn’t fly so well.)
Here’s my plane. It also didn’t fly so well. (Photo by Elijah Shaky Hands.)
I hung out with my friend Sonya yesterday, which was super fun for a couple of reasons. First of all, she asks good questions and pretends to be interested in all of your whining. Secondly, her house is super cute and it’s the exact same floor plan of my old house, Cherry Springs Wonderland! I felt so at home — maybe she felt I was a bit too at home when I went and took a nap in what would have been my old room…
Guys, I’m just kidding about that last part. It’s hilarious.
Are there any new shows I should be watching this fall, you guys? I watched the first couple episodes of The Blacklist, but then I forgot about it and now I’m far behind. I pretend to watch the Michael J. Fox show sometimes, but I really don’t. Anything good out there? Let me know.
The other day, I was reminded of my thesis (yuck). But then I remembered all the cool things it taught me about God and his character. I mostly focused on the exodus, and from Genesis to Exodus, it was amazing to see how God worked in the story to show the Israelites his character. He made promises and then kept them. He showed up when he said he would. He proved himself faithful. He let them know that he could be trusted. He was patient throughout the whole process. If you read through the first two books of the Bible and notice the things God says and does, notice the way people talk about him and how their understanding of him progresses, it’s quite amazing. Our God is quite amazing.
OK, hafta go! (I don’t really, but I’m out of things to say.) Have a good day, friendsies!!
October 16, 2013
I just got an email from my Canadian employer saying they checked with the Canadian visa office and my application is still “Decision Pending,” which basically means that no one has gotten to it yet. We’re supposed to call back if we still haven’t heard anything by the end of the month.
I feel discouraged by this. I know it’ll come through at some point (although every once in awhile I worry that for some reason, it won’t get approved at all), but this is just taking longer than I thought! (4-8 weeks processing time is a lie!) I had so much fun in Colorado the first month. It was great to catch up and hang out with everyone. But now the fact that I’ve been living out of a suitcase for two and a half months is catching up to me. It is starting to get cold outside, and all of my coats are stuffed into the back of a storage unit in Denver. I have a cute new turquoise coffee pot, and it is sitting unopened in the back of my car, along with other household things I cannot use.
The majority of my freelance work is done, so I don’t have much to do each day besides work out. (And even that is getting harder since it’s cold out now, and, as we all know, I am not hardcore enough to go running unless it is a perfect temperature of 70 degrees with a slight breeze.) I have to be very careful with my money, since I’m not getting paid regularly, which means I can’t do much to entertain myself during the day.
The longer this stretches out, the further away from reality it feels. It makes me feel disconnected from Andrew — it was his birthday yesterday, and I was so sure I’d be there to celebrate it with him this year. I just feel like my life is completely on hold — I am waiting to start a job, get a new place, move to a new city, feel settled, etc.
These are a lot of first-world problems, and minor ones at that. But today I just felt discouraged. And I thought I would tell you about it. Overall, I need to remember to pray about all this. I worry or feel sorry for myself instead of turning it over to Jesus. Instead of asking him to use me for his glory while I wait. That would be a better plan.
OK. That was horribly whiny and Debbie Downer-ish. Ultimately, things are not that bad, and I am so grateful for all my good friends who have made me feel so welcome while I wait (and let me mooch off of them rent-free). God really does provide for me.
Let’s change the tone of this post, shall we? I think a bit of Roaring will help us do that.
On Saturday, Ashley and I did the Incline, because we are stupid and foolish.
This is the Incline (of torture and doom). I hadn’t done it for years, because apparently I wised up for awhile. The “top” there is actually a false summit. There’s more beyond that. Hiking the incline is morbidly funny because there are tons of other people painfully plodding along right beside you. We’re all idiots together.
This is about when I decided the Incline was an extra horrible idea.
At least the view is amazing if you ever dare to turn around and look down.
Ashley beat me to the top by about six million hours because she somehow just manages to scamper up mountains. She is impressive. We did not go back down the Incline because, although some do, it’s basically an invitation to plummet to your death. Instead, we ran the 2.5 miles back down Barr Trail. It was beautiful and fall-ish.
On Monday, Ashley didn’t have to work, so we had ourselves a bit of a Colorado Springs Day O Fun. We went and toured the Olympic training center, which is one of only three in the U.S. They showed a video from the London Olympics, and I may have teared up a bit from all the heart-warmed-ness. I also may have felt slightly patriotic. (Don’t let the Canadian visa office see this picture.)
Then we went and got our eyebrows waxed at a “brow bar,” and it was a very complicated process which Ashley blogged about. The lady filled my eyebrows in and basically made me look like Groucho Marx.
That night, Ashley forced me to go for a 6.5 mile run even though it was bitterly cold and windy and looked like it was about to snow at any moment. Apparently she was inspired by the Olympic athletes who work out for 8 hours a day. (I was not inspired. It mostly just made me want to take a nap for them.) This is what we saw whilst running. Cozy.
In spite of all my whining, the day is looking bright because tonight I get to go out for dinner at Adam’s Mountain Cafe, which is my favorite place in all the land.
OK, I’m gonna work out now. (And by “work out” I mean “watch an episode of Breaking Bad.” Why is it so good and horrible and good and awful?!)
October 15, 2013
So, speaking of being culturally sensitive, we probably weren’t on Friday, when Ashley and I threw a party with every Canadian stereotype we could think of.
We had a goodbye party for me, even though I still don’t know when I’m leaving. We, obvi, decided to go with a Canadian theme, which meant red and white, scarves and maple leaves.
It was so cute and my friends were so fun that I think it deserves a pictorial essay. This one we shall title: “Oh, Canada: Denise’s Goodbye Gala.”
Here’s the table, which turned out really well. Mainly because Ashley had lots of red and white stuff to decorate with. Also, it is super fun to stand on a chair and tape 6 million streamers to a wall. Super fun.
America apparently does not have a lot of Canadian-themed things. But I did manage to find some Calgary Flames napkins!
Ashley made this one — culturally insensitive, Ash!
Baked brie with fig jam is not Canadian until you add a maple leaf to it.
This hot bacon swiss dip is not Canadian, but it is the reason Andrew and I started talking the day we met. It is delish and makes people fall in love with you. Guaranteed.
And, of course, poutine. Andrew was surprised when he learned that ordering gravy with your fries is not a thing in America. Umm, no.
We had a board with Canadian trivia. How many provinces does Canada have? Name one of Canada’s territories. What is the average cost of a home in Canada? Name three Canadian actors. (Comment and I’ll give you the answers. Hint: one of our favorite (NOT FAVORITE) Lost actresses is Canadian.)
Alecia got me some Colorado sweatpants so that I never forget where I came from. They are giant on me and not at all flattering — I have worn them every day and I love them so much, and even if you make me go on What Not to Wear, I will never get rid of them.
We set up a photo booth at the party so that everyone could look as foolish as possible. We put in a bit of American and Canadian flair too. Ashley and I represented the countries where we plan to live.
Crazy story. Cara and I met at the gym many years ago. This summer, she caught up on my blog and read that I was in Red Deer, Alberta. A few days later, she was having dinner with her boyfriend, his family, and their cousins who were in town. The cousins live in Canada and they were on their way to Texas to visit family. These cousins happened to live in Red Deer, Alberta. Cara said that she had a friend who was in Red Deer this summer! She told them my name and the name of my boyfriend. These cousins just happened to be the pastor and wife from Deer Park Alliance, Andrew’s church! Small world city. So crazy.
Josh and I dressed up for the party because we’re spiffy like that.
The girls I met in the fall of 2004, when I first came out to Colorado. My best ones.
The party was super fun times, and it was so great to see many friends who I hadn’t seen in awhile. I am so grateful for the time I’ve had in Colorado — I feel like I grew up here. My first apartment, my first new car, my first job, my first time I fell down while running bases at softball (but probably not the last).
Thus concludes the pictorial essay. It is chilly in the Springs today, which means I should probably just wear my Colorado sweatpants all day, right? Right?
Have a good day, friends!
October 14, 2013
So on Friday, my friend Laura texted me this picture:
This giant banner of my giant face is apparently up at Denver Seminary right now. It is advertising the contextual and cultural sensitivity of the school. With my face. My black girl face. I have a few thoughts. Here they are.
* First of all, am not angry at the school or those who decided to put this picture up. We sign releases when we start at the school, so they are not doing anything wrong in using my image. I also know that this image was not used with any ill intentions. The phrasing on the banner comes from the seminary’s goal to “serve all people effectively and faithfully, with cultural discernment, and without prejudice or favoritism.” I do believe this is a goal of the seminary, and I was chosen as someone who represents that (perhaps because I am good at having friends who don’t look like me). I have received an apology from the school, and I am confident that it is sincere. They have offered to take the image down if it is embarrassing or hurtful to me, even though they have a right to use the photo with or without my permission. I have been very grateful for the seminary’s response, and I know no one there intended to hurt me, and I do not intend to hurt them. I am not going to force the school to take it down or throw a temper tantrum or start picketing. I appreciated my time at Denver Seminary (except when I was taking comps or writing my thesis or learning Greek or …), and I am very grateful for the caring faculty and staff.
* I felt it was a bit ironic to use my face to advertise cultural sensitivity, when it seemed culturally insensitive to do so without asking my permission or at least letting me know. But, again, I know it wasn’t done to be hurtful.
* Seeing the banner reminded me that the organizations I’ve worked at and the schools I’ve been to have often asked me to be in photo and video shoots. It is never explicitly stated, but I assume that part of this is because I have dark skin (and I’m super photogenic and gorgeous, obvi). It makes me feel self-conscious to be the token black girl — it makes me feel like that is all I am seen as. Also, this does not just happen at the hands of white people. I have been invited to join certain groups because I am black, and I know that certain other black people have talked to me solely because I am black. I once worked somewhere where I was asked (by a black lady) to travel to conferences so that customers would know that there was a black girl working on their product. Umm, no.
* Some people of color may have loved to be on that banner, representing cultural sensitivity. But being known for being black has just never been my thing. I am bi-racial, my mom is white and my dad is black, and that is how I see myself. Culturally, I grew up in Minneapolis, was home schooled, then went to a majority black public high school, and then a majority white private, Catholic university. I worked at camps in very small towns every summer. I moved to Colorado Springs and worked for organizations that have mostly white employees. I am moving to Canada — white. Culturally speaking, I would probably be considered pretty “white,” although even that bugs me. How about instead, I’m just me. I want to be known as someone who loves Jesus and loves other people. I want to be known as a writer, as someone who you can ask about the Old Testament, as someone who is hilarious and awesome and likes BBQ chips. I don’t necessarily want to be known as the black girl.
* I like being bi-racial. I like that my parents didn’t care about the color of each other’s skin, and that their families didn’t throw a fit because they were culturally different from each other. Andrew’s sister and brother-in-law recently adopted a bi-racial girl, and I love that she is now a part of their family. If Andrew and I get married and have kids, they will be one quarter black (like the Psych a cappella group). I like all the mixing. I think it shows that we can look beyond color and culture and however we might normally define people, and get to know people for who they are. And I know that my school would agree with me about that as well.
Anyway, those are some of my thoughts. They are solely mine, and I know other people probably have other thoughts and experiences. Tell me what you think in the comments!
(If anyone would like to hire me for a photo shoot in which I eat BBQ chips, I am in!)
October 11, 2013
It’s Friday Listday! Let’s embrace it with gusto, shall we?
1. Here are the 11 reasons I need a teacup piglet. This picture is reason numero uno.
2. Ashley is hosting a going away party for me tonight! A bunch of my friends are going to come to say farewell even though we still have no idea when I’m leaving or if Canada will even let me in. So that’s kind of weird, but who doesn’t love a party? We’re going with a Canadian theme, which basically means a lot of red and white. Here’s a little preview.
3. I had seen this before, but it recently showed up on my Facebook newsfeed again. So I watched it again. And I cried again. It is the sweetest, simplest love story.
4. Did you guys ever play with Fisher-Price people when you were little? I loved them. I would play Little House with them — I had Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura and Carrie. And then they’d go swimming in the pool. (Not quite sure how that worked in the 1860s, but whatever.) Anyhoo, my mom pinned some pics on Pinterest because apparently the Fisher-Price people are now considered vintage. The toys I played with in the late 80s are apparently vintage because I am old enough to be vintage. (Luckily, vintage is my favorite.)
5. Walter White has expanded his business. (I haven’t finished season 5 yet, so don’t say a word!)
6. There’s this. Is that one supposed to be a topless gopher waitress? Children visit the Gopher Hole Museum! Children!
7. I posted earlier this week about the lesson I was writing on Revelation. How it reminded me of when things were broken in the beginning, and how, through Jesus’ sacrifice, the restoration has begun. One day, all will be made right. My friend Kerry reminded me of this song, a great reminder that Jesus is making all things new. We look forward to the day when death dies.
Have a great weekend, pumpkin spices!
October 10, 2013
Guys. I’m so tired of waiting on this work visa! It could still be weeks before I hear something, and there is only so much of TLC’s “The Little Couple” I can watch to keep me entertained all day. (Also, have you guys seen that show? They just adopted a little boy from China and he is my favorite and I want a son exactly like him. He’s so happy and friendly and curious. He stays quite busy running around all day. Also, he’s about 1.5 feet tall and can eat like three hamburgers in one sitting.)
Speaking of how I watch a lot of TV, Sister Act 2 (back in the habit) was on last night. I loved those movies when I was little. Those nuns were always up to some shenanigans. And also, the music, especially in the second one, is really good. I mean, Lauryn Hill.
The other day my friend Sarena and her sweet boy Daniel and I all went to the zoo. The zoo in Colorado Springs is actually pretty cool because it’s kind of built into the side of a mountain. There are basically switchbacks that take you up and down and it feels like you are just in nature and might actually run into an uncaged mountain lion wandering through the park. One of their best exhibits is the giraffes because 1) there are about a million of them and 2) you can feed them so they come right up to visit you.
Also, giraffes have the most beautiful eyes. Their eyelashes are like nine feet long! Maybelline’s next fancy mascara should be called “Giraffe Eyes.” I would buy it. In a second. (Sitting around waiting for a work visa gives me super creative ideas. Clearly.)
Umm, I’ve been working out a lot lately. I’ve been running and doing planks and allowing Jillian Michaels to torture me. Last week I ran 5.5 miles, which was about 5.5 miles more than I’d run in a long time. Also, how did I ever do a half marathon? Running is so hard and boring and horrible. I like not running so much more than running.
I kind of feel like while I’m in Colorado Springs and being a worker outer I should maybe go do the Incline. But then I remember how completely horrifying and awful and life-ending and miserable and oxygen-stealing the Incline is, and I suddenly am not as gung ho about the idea. I’m scared. I have friends who do it every week, but they are stronger and braver and less lazy than I am. I was telling Andrew about the Incline the other night and since he’s never done it, he scoffed at me and boasted about how he could scamper up it in 10 minutes. (If you have ever suffered through it, please comment and gently (not gently) correct him.
I’m trying to finish up this lesson on Paul’s journey to Rome. He was on house arrest the whole time. But while he was there, he welcomed visitors and proclaimed the kingdom of Jesus. He had such a great attitude, because his life truly, truly changed once he met Jesus.
OK, I gots to go. Ashley and I are going grocery shopping for my goodbye party, and I’ve got lessons to write and Little Couple to watch. Have a good Thursday! If you think of it, please be praying for my sister-in-law.
October 7, 2013
Well, the American government has shut down, so I’ve decided to move to Canada. If they let me. I’m still waiting to hear about my work visa, which is making me insecure because what if they don’t want me? Canada, I will bake you a treat if you let me in.
What are you guys up to? I am homeless and jobless. But at least I get to enjoy Colorado Springs.
It’s gorgeous and all, but it doesn’t quite compare to the beauty of Alberta’s Gopher Hole Museum.
I’m actually not at all homeless. I have so many great friends who have been letting me stay with them. When I’m in Denver, I stay with Diana and we pretend to be hipsters in the Highlands. When I’m down in Colorado Springs, I’ve been staying with Micah and Jarred at the Rego Manor or with Ashley at the Boyer B&B. (My friends apparently all title their homes. But I cannot ridicule. I used to call my house Cherry Springs Wonderland. It sounds much more magical than it ever was.) Ashley even leaves me fancy chocolates/Twinkies on my pillow. (Please note that I believe Ashley to have stolen these chocolates/Twinkies from the Rego Manor.)
I’m also not jobless because I have a lot of freelance lessons this month. If you would like to help me come up with an interesting way to tell 7-year-olds about Paul’s life of imprisonment, let me know.
Right now I am writing a lesson on the last couple chapters of Revelation. It is the final words of the story God has been telling since Genesis — since the beginning. In Eden, Adam and Eve lived in the garden God had personally planted for them. God lived with them, walked with them, talked with them. It was beautiful and perfect and whole.
But then, the tree. The fruit. The disobedience. The relationship was broken, and the curse of sin was enacted. And ever since then, there has been struggle.
The earth is not quite as it should be. It floods and burns and wails with storms. It groans for restoration.
People sin against God and against each other. Our relationship with God is often faltering and fragmented, we separate ourselves from him by our choices, by refusing to repent.
Things are not as they should be. People struggle with pain and suffering. Many are burdened with the consequences of their choices, or with the reality of a struggle that has come to them through no fault of their own.
My sister-in-law is at the Mayo Clinic right now — leukemia has grabbed hold of her body and it will not let go. She is in pain, my brother is in pain, the children are in pain, and none of it is their fault. Things are broken. This is not the way it was supposed to be.
Through it all, God’s story has continued. He has worked to restore our relationship with him. He chose a family to begin the process. They were to represent him and his ways. They failed.
He chose a king who would seek after him and lead a great nation. He failed too.
But then came the one who would not fail. Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins and his resurrection from the dead was what could finally reconcile us. In order to begin to lift the curse, he became one for us. It was the victory that no one else could achieve.
The journey has begun — he is the road back to Eden.
We are not there yet. There are still mountains to climb, rivers to wade through, deep crevices in the road. People still struggle. We often choose sin instead of repentance. My sister-in-law is still in the hospital. It is not necessarily easier.
But the road home is there. The restoration has begun. The invitation has been sent.
And Revelation tells us that one day, all will be restored. “No longer will there be any curse.” God will again live among his people and the struggle will be gone. There is no way for me to rephrase what has been said so beautifully in God’s word:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
One day — one day – all will be restored. We will go back to Eden. All will be as it was in the beginning.
September 11, 2013
I’m homeless, guys. Will work for a place to stay. Actually, that’s not true. I’m unwilling to work. Just give me a place to stay, and maybe I will bake you a treat.
So many things have happened since the beginning of August, that I don’t even know how to catch you up! Luckily (and this is pretty miraculous), I have actually taken a few pictures! Let me show you some!
As I mentioned before, we spent the first week or so of August on Vancouver Island on a beach vacation with Andrew’s family. We flew back to The Deer, spent one day there, and then packed up for a road trip to Minnesota to see my family. We had to drive across all of North Dakota, so that was a special experience. (No pictures yet, apparently.)
Once we got to Fargo, we got to visit my high school best one, Clair! It had been about ten years since we had seen each other, and it was so great to catch up. Clair and I used to work at Camp Joy together when we were teenagers. We thought we were the awesomest, but in reality, we were probably the worst. Mostly because we spent a lot of time putting on makeup, wearing denim overalls (why?!), and laughing loudly at inappropriate times. We learned a lot about leadership and organization at camp, though, and we had so much fun. It was great to see Clair and her beautiful family! (This would have been the best spot for a reunion picture of Clair and me, but why didn’t I take one?!?! I blame the fact that I am not very smart.)
Then we moved on to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota and visited my grandparents, aunt, and my brother and his family. Andrew got a haircut from my Grandpa Dale, and Grandma bought us lots of black licorice. One day, I want to give you bloggy readers a full tour of my grandparent’s place. It is the weirdest/awesomest/weirdest place on earth. It almost rivals the gopher museum. (Again, once we left Grandpa and Grandma’s I turned to Andrew and said, “I forgot to take pictures of their place! I was going to do it for the bloggy!” So far my promise of all the pictures in this post has been a complete and utter lie.)
Then we headed over to Deer River (population 903) to visit my mom and stepdad. I love my mom’s place, mainly because she is the best decorator ever invented. (Pictures!!)
We went fishing with Mom and Gary. I caught a tiniest of tiny fishies, and Andrew felt bad for the fish, so he mostly just kept seeing how far he could cast. Here’s my fish. We threw it back because 1) the tinyness and 2) who wants to clean a fish, not me.
And, we got to go kayaking at Kerry’s place. Kerry is so sweet and always reads my bloggy and leaves nice comments and sends me birthday pillows. She also introduced us to kohlrabi, which is a new fave vegetable. Try it. Probably now.
We’ll forgive Kerry for wearing a Green Bay Packers shirt. Andrew felt right at home. Obviously.
The final leg of our Minnesota journey included a trip to Minneapolis to surprise my dad! I had coordinated it all with Bonnie weeks before. He had no clue I was even in the country! He came home from work on Friday, and Andrew and I were in the basement waiting. I called him from the basement, and as we were chatting, I walked up the stairs. When he saw me, he screamed. Like a girl. Actually. It was so fun.
Also, I moved away from Minneapolis right after college. I never thought it was that neat of a place, but it is such a cool city, you guys! At least during the summer it is. First of all, Dad and Bonnie just moved to a new house in Minneapolis, and I love it. Built in the 20s and right by a pretty parkway.
We hung out in Minneapolis and pretended to be trendy and cool.
We went on a bike ride down by the Mississippi River.
(I took the above picture while riding a bike on a busy street because I am defined by wise decisions.)
On Sunday, we went to the farmer’s market, which is filled with colorful fruits and veggies that make you want to eat healthy every second. Until you discover the cheese-filled bratwurst and remember that healthy eating is overrated.
While we were in Minneapolis, my dad lost his flip phone. Bonnie got him a new smart phone, and it was my job to train him. You would think someone would be happy to have a phone that wasn’t from 1982, but not Charles in Charge. He was grumpy about all the new technology. Now he loves it.
Finally it was time to leave, so Bonnie wrote us a nice note and then kicked us out. Fourteen-hour drive across Iowa and Nebraska, here we come!
Eighty-three trips to Sonic later, we arrived in Colorado. Woo hoo! Andrew stayed for about a week, and then he had to go back to The Deer to start teaching school because apparently it is already fall? Before that, though, Alecia invited us to sit in the best seats ever with her at a Bronco’s pre-season game! (Forgive me for my hair. We had been at a water park and then it rained, and then my hair decides to do whatever sad mess that is.)
Then Andrew left, and I started packing!
Because Heather is getting married, and I am moving to Canada, we had to pack up our apartment. I am still waiting on my work visa to come through, so I sold some of my stuff, and the rest of it we moved into storage. Here are my strong moving-day helpers.
Somehow, my life is in this storage unit. It looks messy, but it’s pretty organized (kind of, not really.) I am just happy it all fits.
In the midst of all this craziness, I decided to turn 31. (Who turns 31? That feels so old, guys.)
My Denver friends took me out for Mexican food and ice cream!
And then my Colorado Springs friends took me out for dinner and to the coolest old elementary-school-turned-wine-brewery-restaurant-art-gallery-place. It’s hard to describe. (Micah apparently wore her sunshades the whole time.)
So, now I am staying with friends in Colorado Springs until my work visa is (hopefully!) approved. It could be about a month before we hear anything. Enough time for everyone to be sick and tired of me having my stuff all over their homes.
So far, it’s been really fun. I’ve gotten to reconnect with old friends, work on freelance, and see Pikes Peak every day. Colorado Springs, you are beautiful.
Sorry this was the longest post ever. I’ll try to write a shorter/less boring/less rambling one soon. No promises, obvs.
August 23, 2013
Let’s start this post out right, you guys. With a little gem from the Gopher Hole Museum.
These dead gophers are at the hockey/curling/skating rink ready for some icy fun! I especially like this lady gopher’s figure skating costume. A little lacy apron always gets the judge’s attention.
Guess where I am right now? On my couch. At my apartment. In Denver, Colorado. In the United States of America! Crazy!!!
Andrew and I have literally been traveling since August 1. We’ve been around Canada and across North Dakota, and to Minnesota and then to Colorado. We have had a lot of fun visits, which I’ll tell you about in a later post. (That post will include a lot of talk about how fascinating it is to drive across all of North Dakota and Nebraska.)
I am back in Colorado because my roommate and I have to be moved out of our apartment by August 31. We’ve got a lot of packing to do.
My roommate Heather is getting married and moving into a new place with her husband. They did not invite me to come along. Fine.
I will not be moving into a new place, but instead I’ll be staying with friends in their guest bedrooms and guest couches as I wait for my Canadian work visa to come through.
That’s right, guys! I have been offered a job as a communications coordinator for CrossRoads Church in Red Deer, Alberta. CANADA.
The church has submitted a request for a work visa for me, and if Canada is nice to me, they’ll approve it and let me come up to work! It’s really exciting — everyone at CrossRoads has been really kind, and I’m so looking forward to this job. I’ll learn a lot and I know I have a lot to offer in this position.
So, pretty soon, I’ll be moving to Canada. I’ll likely be in Colorado most of the month of September, but when the work visa comes through, I’ll pack up and drive north. I’ll get a place and start my job, and get to take more pictures with this one.
When I was in college, I assumed I’d graduate, get a job at a magazine in Minneapolis, and stay in Minnesota forever. Somehow I ended up in Colorado Springs. And then I decided to torture myself by getting a Master’s, so I moved to Denver. And apparently I’ll soon be headed to Canada. Sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming — packing, new job, new country. (Do I have to tell America I’m leaving? Do I keep my car registered in the States? Does Canada have Friday Night Lights??!?!?) But overall it is really exciting.
God has provided a lot, you guys. This summer, I connected with someone in the CrossRoads children’s ministry and found out that they use the curriculum that I write for. I went to sit in on one of their Sunday school lessons — in Red Deer, Alberta — and it was a lesson I had written. The children’s ministry friend then informed me of the one job posted at CrossRoads this summer, and it was a communications position. The timing was perfect. They decided to hire me. I think we’ll be a good fit. I have time to come home and spend time with my friends before I move. I feel like over and over again throughout the past year as Andrew and I have been dating, God has shown up, provided and encouraged.
The other day when Andrew and I were driving across the never-ending plains of Nebraska, we read a devotional based on Exodus 16, when the Israelites were in the wilderness. They were complaining because they were hungry. So Moses tells the Israelites that God will provide for them. They look out across the dry desert floor, and they see the glory of God. God says he has heard their grumbling. At twilight they will eat meat and in the morning their stomachs will be filled with bread. Then they will know that he is Yahweh, their God.
The devotional then asked what we’ve complained about, and asked us to think about where and how God has provided enough. It is so very easy for me to worry and complain and forget. I tend to focus on what I don’t have instead of what I do. What I want is to notice — each day — all of the enough God has given me. I had a great summer in Canada — traveled and spent so much time with Andrew. Because we live in different countries, we weren’t sure how to figure things out once summer was over. So God provided me with a job — a job where I can contribute and serve and learn and get connected in Red Deer. I have multiple friends in Colorado who have offered space in their homes while I wait for my visa. I have enough freelance work to get me through until I start my job. I have family who loves me, Andrew’s family who has welcomed me with open arms, new friends in Red Deer, and solid friendships and connections in Colorado. I have a man who is strong and funny and strives after what is best, and I have grown so much with him this past year.
I am excited for this next step. It is a new adventure and I am excited to see the enough God gives each and every day.
I’m also excited for more trips to the gopher museum.
Love you all!