Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Random Thoughts from a Random Life

Surprise, surprise. Another month has gone by without a word from me. What I've learned this month is that reading and interacting well take up just as much time as writing a zillion papers. It might actually be harder.
I was watching the Alabama game the other day with some friends when I started thinking about the concept of the "timeout." In college football, as I understand it, there are three timeouts for each team per a half. That means that twelve times (if you count both teams together) during a sixty minute game, everyone gets to take a break. I know that there may be some deep level strategizing going on in the background, but all the the same, things just get to stop for a minute. I found myself wishing that life was like that sometimes. When I'm having a really bad day and everything keeps coming at me, I wish I would make a T with a hands and take a break without losing any time from my day. That's just a passing thought from a girl whose friend offered the advice of "Memorize early, memorize often" for ethics class.
In reality, this semester has been completely draining. I'm drained emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I get drained emotionally when we have classes like I had yesterday in college ministry where we talked about working with students who are thinking about having an abortion. (I can't get the number 11,224 out of my head. The number of children aborted in the state of Louisiana alone in 2004.) I get drained spiritually when I spend so much time at school learning theory that I don't have any time to actually go out and practice. I get drained physically when I go to school from 8-12, work from 1-8, and then have to get everything else done before going to bed, only to do it all again. Sometimes I think it would have been easier to go into computer science like my mom wanted me to...End of pity party.
Today, I went to Tulane/Loyola (they're separated by a wall) to hand out surveys for a research paper I'm doing. Interacting with the students on campus, talking with them about mid-terms and the existence of truth, made me really miss being a college minister. There were students who would have sat and talked all day if I didn't have to move on in order to get my research done on time. I was good at the talking part of my former life. I may not be tons of fun, but I sure can listen and respond.
With that, I wish you a good night. I have research to sift through :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Five Years Later

If you had asked me five years ago where I would be today, New Orleans would not have been on my list of possibilities. That's because five years ago today the room that I'm sitting in was underwater.

I loved New Orleans growing up. We came here as a family when I was in high school and I made another trip here with friends in college before Katrina happened. I remember being enthralled with the city's French background because I was learning to speak French at the time. I remember loving the music and wishing I could play clarinet like that woman in the street. I remember getting recruited to my school early on by missionaries who got their degrees here and my dad who thought it would be cool to have a daughter who lived in New Orleans. My thoughts were "Sure, if I end up doing the God thing I'll definitely think about it." I also remember looking at my college roommate the day we found out the city flooded and saying "I guess I'm not going to school there after all."

I'm ashamed to say that I did not help to rebuild New Orleans. I didn't help to rebuild a home or work with disaster relief. Instead, I tried my best to ignore New Orleans. I didn't want to see one of my favorite cities in such a bad state. It worked for a few years. Then, God had something to say about it, as he often does.

The fifth anniversary of Katrina went by relatively quietly in my world. I got up and went to church where no mention of the hurricane was made. I went to work where none of my customers said one word about it. The only time it crossed my path was while reading the Sunday edition of the Times-Picayune. It talked about the unsolved murders that took place around the time of Katrina and how the city's civil system fell apart. It also talked about the state of the city today.

If I had to choose a word to describe New Orleans now, it would have to be 'hopeful.' The city is rebuilding. Five years later, people are still returning. The population is reaching pre-Katrina levels in all areas of the city expect for the Lower 9th (but I wouldn't want to live in an area without a police substation or nearby hospital either). Tourists are coming back in greater numbers each year. New Orleans now has a better education system, a better levee system, and a Superbowl trophy won by a team that was as down-and-out as the city they call home.

The pictures that have been playing on the news are not New Orleans anymore. They are important reminders that help those who lived through Katrina grieve and remember. But that was the past. It's time for the future. There is still rebuilding to be done, and the people still have that so-what-we're-not-perfect attitude, but there is an abundance of hope.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

And Life Keeps Happening

I want to say that I'm surprised that I haven't written anything since my birthday, but I'm not. I can say with honesty that my long absence has been for a good reason: I've been busy. I took three online summer classes in June and July, which took the majority of my writing energy with them. This semester will be more about reading and interacting, so there is a good chance I'll get to write more about things I'm passionate about. I hope I do. There are ideas in my head that I don't always feel safe (would that be the right word?) expressing at school but still want to put out there for discussion. Nothing against my school, but they are who they are. I knew that going in.
I have five classes this semester. My first class of the week is a college ministry class having to do with discipleship. I know. I know. I got the correct sequence messed up: take college ministry classes then become a college minister, but I've always done things my own way. Less than a week into the semester and I've already read an entire book for the class, I Once Was Lost by Don Everts and Doug Schaupp. I'll probably write a lengthier book review of it later, but for now I'll say that it wasn't a bad read and had many good things to say about leading young adults in their faith pilgrimages.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have two classes: Personal Evangelism and Ethics. I can already tell that I'm going to like Ethics. I never took an ethics or philosophy class in college (I don't know how I got around that) so that will be relatively new territory. I'm going to be honest and say that I'm not as excited about my other class. I have a deep-seated tension about the methods we are going to be taught and sent out to do in the city. Jesus is not a vacuum cleaner and I'm not a very good cold-call salesman. It doesn't help either that my very knowledgeable and Christ-loving professor sounds like a guy straight off of TBN. His words are helpful but his style of speech makes my cringe. On the up side, I think I'm going to be on an evangelism team with others from my church, so it won't be as bad as I've been imagining in my head all summer.
My other two classes are Old Testament and Community Ministries. My OT class is a hybrid which means that most of it is online but we meet in the classroom once a month. It's good for my work flexibility and not having information we read simply repeated by a professor twice a week. In my community ministries class, I got roped into a group project having to do with campground ministries. When I saw our list of choices, my first thought was "anything but campground ministries please" but that's what everyone else was excited about. After the others agreed on the topic, they decided to ask me what I thought. My words might have been "I'm down" but my face probably clearly expressed "I want to knock you down." Yet another way that God reminds me that life is not all about me and what I want.
So, there's what's been going on. Hope all is well with you.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Celebrating Another Year

If you read yesterday's post or if you are my mother, then you already know that today was my 25th birthday. I'm no expert on 25th birthdays, but I would say that I had a pretty good one. I slept in until 8:30 (you know you're getting older when...) and didn't actually make it out of bed until 11:00. After finally getting up, discovering that a mosquito bit me on the side of the face last night, and getting ready, I went to the student center to eat lunch and study for my summer classes. Luckily, a few of my friends were at the student center so we got to eat lunch together. I finished lunch, made plans for this evening, and read more history than even I can stand before heading back to my room to watch some mindless TV.

Around 7, I went to the first summer community group meeting for my church. We talked about Paul's take on slavery and the current social injustices of today's culture. There was a new girl in my group whose job is to help people tell their stories. I'm sure I'll talk more about it in a future post because I think what she is going is really cool. Anyway, after community group, my friends picked me up and we went to Juan's Fly Burrito for supper (a.k.a. dinner, for all my northern friends). I have a semi-secret love affair with THE flying burrito which has beef, chicken, and shrimp mixed with utter goodness. On our way out the door, a couple of my friends saw Blake Lively at one of the tables. After much debate and advice, a couple of my friends went back and got a picture with her. She was totally cool with it and that makes her go up in my book a little bit.

After Juan's, we went to Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter. I parked really far away because I hate trying to avoid drunk people late at night, so we had to walk quite a distance to get beignets. It was totally hot and muggy outside, but it was totally worth it in the end.

To finish the night, my friends dropped me off at my car which broken down at work last night. One of my amazing friends had left work early and fixed it for me this afternoon. Stella is once again a working machine. Maybe not for too much longer, but at least for now.

So, that was my birthday. My phone has been beeping and dinging off the hook all day because of all the emails and texts that I got. Rather than being annoying, it just reminds me that I'm loved and that I'm not all alone in this world.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Most likely, the majority of people will find this blog while searching for information about the last season of '24'. Sorry, you can navigate away now and save yourself some time. This post is about my 24th year of life, which will become my 25th year in just a few hours. I've reached the quarter-century mark. That's amazing to me since I still feel like a teenager most of the time.

I took some time to remember my 24th year today. Here's the highlights reel:

1. I finished my first real adult job as a campus minister at the University of Washington.
2. I moved across the country...again. This time I took a different route (I-90) and saw some interesting sights such as the spot of Custer's last stand, hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts heading to Sturgis, SD for the annual motorcycle rally, Wall Drug Store, and the exit for Mount Rushmore.
3. I moved to New Orleans.
4. I started my first year of grad school at a school I never thought I would actually go to.
5. I met new friends who will continue to be an important part of my life for years to come.
6. I learned to make a latte (and many other drinks) when I got a job as a barista.
7. I experienced my first transmission failure while visiting Knoxville for Fall Break.
8. I got my first B in my higher education career. It was in Hermeneutics. I joke that I can be trusted to interpret the Bible correctly only up to 90% of the time.
9. I got my first real sense of 'life goes on without me' when I visited my former ministry in Seattle during Christmas Break.
10. I found a church, which I will become a member of in the next few months.
11. I got to show off my new city to my family.
12. I saw 'Wicked' when it came through New Orleans. I hate musicals. I absolutely loved this one.
13. I wrote my first philosophy of ministry, full confession of faith, and many other firsts in the world of paper writing.
14. I ran/walked my first 5k, a goal I've had since college.
15. I became friends with a tarot card reader, helped bail a voodoo priest out of jail, visited an establishment on Bourbon Street, and got class credit for all of it :)
16. I finished my first year of grad school.

Many other things happened during my 24th year of life, but those are the non-boring bits that I could remember off the top of my head. Thanks to all those who made 24, even the very routine parts, both possible and meaningful.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Class in the Digital Age

Today was my first day of online classes through my seminary. Even though online classes are (sadly and unfortunately) more expensive, I figured it would be worth it if I could get done with school faster. The three classes I'm taking are Early and Medieval Christian History, Reformation and Modern Christian History, and Introduction to Pastoral Counseling.

After the first day of class, I have to say that I think online classes were created for people like me and that I'm going to enjoy them. Sure, I'm going to miss having constant contact with the professors, especially since history professors have a knack for telling great stories. For me, though, the different discussion format is a positive thing. As an introvert who likes to think through my words before speaking, posting and responding to others on a discussion board is both meaningful and less frustrating than conventional classes.

Online classes make me think back to my freshman year of college. I got into the honors English class so that I could read and talk about books instead of learning how to write a five paragraph essay for the hundredth time. My professor was Dr. Miller. He was a younger guy who had some interesting teaching techniques which used technology. Instead of meeting in a normal classroom, our class would meet in the computer lab of the university. Although most of our time was spent discussing out loud about the current book or working on essays, about once a week, he would tell us to enter the class' online chat room. It may sound ridiculous, but it worked. Those of us who didn't talk much were leaders in online discussions. This teaching technique gave the whole class a chance to display their strengths and gain confidence in the world of literary critique.

Should every class use this teaching method? Probably not. Should more classes use online methods? Probably so.

Friday, April 30, 2010

My First 5K

On Sunday morning, I ran in my first 5K race. It's been my goal for many years to be in one, but I never had the discipline or time to train. I guess that's still kinda true because I stopped training in March when school started to get tough. So, I guess in all truthfulness, I ran/walked my first 5K race on Sunday. Here are some pictures:

The race was officially named the "Run Forrest Run 5K" because it is sponsored by the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. It's one of the few races that happen in the French Quarter annually. The entry fees go to benefit Children's Hospital in New Orleans.

I rode down to the French Quarter with my friends Beth, Sarah, and David (who took the picture). We were planning on walking the entire thing, but the avid joggers in the crowd were so pushy we ended up running a little bit.

This is the race route that we took. I was able to run the first mile without stopping. I jogged/walked the next two miles on and off with a friend (pictured below).
Funny story: I was jogging along, noticing the abundance of pretty flowers were along the race route. My exact thoughts in were: "Oh, look at the pretty flowers. They smell so good. Wait. Lots of flowers means lots of pollen. I'm allergic to pollen. *insert your own four letter word here*" Although the pollen didn't affect my race very much, I had problems the next couple days.

This is Deb and me after the race. I trained with Deb the first month we were preparing for this, before I became a loser and stopped. We ended up finishing the race together, though. Go team!

Monday, March 1, 2010


Hello world. I'm back again. Sorry for the long absence. Grad school has been eating my lunch lately, so I've been concentrating on that. Here's what new:

1. Another semester of school has started. I'm taking 14 hours, which in grad school terms means I have no free time and no life. My classes: Baptist Heritage (surprisingly better than I expected), Pastoral Ministry (even though I'm a *gasp* girl), Encountering the Biblical World, Introduction to Urban Missions, Exegeting the City for Ministry (my group is concentrating on the women that work in the French Quarter), Spiritual Formation II.

2. I survived Carnival Season in New Orleans. For those that don't know, Mardi Gras is a two to three week affair in the Big Easy complete with parades that close off major streets and crazy tourists that don't know how to drive. Winning the Super Bowl just made Carnival that much crazier.

3. As mentioned earlier, the Saints won the Super Bowl. This normally wouldn't count as a major event in my normal life, but living in New Orleans makes a difference. For one night, I cheered against Peyton and joined the party after they won. I was also one of the 800,000 people that went to the Saints Parade. (This number is amazing because current estimates say there are only 330,000 people who live in the New Orleans city limits and the metro area is a little more than 1 million people.)

4. My best friend had a baby! It's hard to sufficiently express my joy from a thousand miles away, but I've been beaming with pride for days.

5. I've gone vegetarian for Lent. I'm doing surprisingly well do far. Okay, so there was that one night that I ate catfish. But it was free and the restaurant they took me to doesn't know the meaning of vegetarian. I'm pretty sure Jesus still loves me :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Seattle: Day 4 & 5

I made it back from Seattle on Tuesday and have been running all over the place since getting ready for school to start back. Here are some memories from my last couple days in Seattle:

Sunday afternoon we had a bread making party at the house. The girl in the pink made french bread while Talia and I made wheat bread. After making bread, I met with my church north of Seattle. I really enjoyed being around them again and felt like I was home again in some way.

Monday night we went to Blue C Sushi at University Village. It's the only place that I've ever had sushi so I can't compare it to other restaurants, but I think the food is good.

One of my favorite items is the spicy tuna rolls.

After sushi, we went to Trophy Cupcake so I could get my red velvet cupcake fix for the trip. Also, on Monday night I went to see Avatar in 3D IMAX with part of the house's staff. The movie didn't start until 11pm so we got out at almost 2am on Tuesday. Needless to say, I didn't sleep that night since I had to leave for the airport at 4am.

I've been thinking about my week in Seattle for a couple of days. In a lot of ways, it felt very natural for me to be there. I told a couple of people that it felt like I had been on a very long vacation and that I finally made it back home. I actually slept better there than I do many nights in New Orleans even though I was on the only-slightly-comfortable pullout couch. I forgot how much I missed talking to students and hanging out on the university campus.
It leaves me wondering if New Orleans could ever become that sort of place for me. Will I ever look back fondly on my experiences here and wish that I was back again?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Seattle: Day 2 & 3

My computer's wireless has been on the fritz for the last couple days, which is really frustrating in Seattle where everything relies on wireless connections. Other than that setback, Seattle has continued to be great.

On Friday, I thought I would go to REI since they are having their January clearance sale right now. Thinking that I remembered all my bus routes, I got on the 70. Once we turned onto Fairview instead of Eastlake, I realized that I had gotten on the wrong bus and I was really going downtown. So, instead of going shopping, I went to Pike Place Market.

I visited one of my favorite bookstores in Seattle, Left Bank Books. They have a very unique collection of new and used books including the only section I've seen devoted to books on anarchy. Usually, I find really good history books there.

After battling the cold and rain outside, I stayed in for a while and made cookies. Snickerdoodles are my specialty and were requested at the family meal the night before. I ended up making three batches (about 75 cookies). They lasted less than 24 hours.

On Saturday morning, I annoyed Talia out of bed so that we could go to the University Farmers Market. I used to buy milk there every week and even saw my old milkman there yesterday. Talia bought some cheese that was on sale because it was misshapen. It tasted good though.

A friend that lives a little further north drove down to Seattle before lunch so we could hang out. First, we took a walk around Greenlake. It's about a 2.5 mile walk. The sun and not-so-cold weather made the walk very enjoyable.

When we were almost done with the walk, we started looking for a restaurant to eat lunch at. We ended up at Greenlake Bar & Grill. I had sockeye salmon and a Caesar salad. It was really good.

After lunch, we went to the Seattle public library to explore a little bit. In the parking lot, we found what is probably the only McCain/Palin sticker in Seattle.

Last night, I met up with a good friend from my church in Seattle. We ate at Mongolian Grill and talked a lot. It was encouraging to catch up and bounce ideas off of her.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Seattle: Day 1

For those that don't know, I'm in Seattle for a week visiting friends and having a relaxing vacation before school starts again. I flew into Seattle Wednesday night. I was about 45 minutes late because Denver decided to have a snow storm when we landed for our layover. The good thing is I didn't have to change planes and Denver is pretty good about clearing runways. Also, the weather in Seattle is warmer than NOLA this week so I definitely hit the weather jackpot this time.

On Thursday, I got phad thai from Thai Tom's (the best Thai restaurant in Seattle as far as I'm concerned). It was my first Seattle meal because I crave this stuff when I'm not here. I discovered that one of my former students that still lives at the PD never had Thai Tom's before. Therefore, I had to document the experience.

Last night, before the PD family meal, a couple friends and I went to have bubble tea. The kind of bubble tea I buy is more like a fruit smoothie with bubbles inside. Bubble tea kind of freaks some people out because of the texture of the tapioca balls, but I think it's like sucking a gummy bear up through a straw. Fun and tasty.

This is what happens when you drink your bubble tea too fast. I think I had the longest brain freeze of my life last night.

Talia and Rachel decided to analyze the scarf that Rach made for me a couple years ago. I think they were trying to figure out how she made a certain line in the scarf. By the way, Rach, I get more compliments on that scarf than anything else I wear.

Thursday night at the PD is family meal/teach-in night. Since it's the first week of the quarter, the staff made pasta for everyone.

After the teach-in, which I'll probably write about later because it was so amazing, I got to hang out with the PD peeps. I definitely miss being able to be around these awesome college students all the time.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It's Not Easy Being Green

Preface: I started thinking about this after an Intro to Christian Missions class where we talked about the challenges of cross-cultural missions. Even though I have always lived in the United States, I have definitely lived a cross-cultural lifestyle. It has caused deep shifts in me that I am just now starting to fully understand and come to terms with. This is my attempt to explain this to others and try to comprehend it myself. The concept of "living green" is not my original creation, but it's a helpful tool at times.

I was born in the Land of Yellow. I grew up thinking yellow, talking yellow, and acting yellow. I filtered my life experiences from the perspective of yellow. Even my religious experiences fit into the mold of yellow. For the most part, I was really quite comfortable living in the Land of Yellow.

Then, one day, I moved to the Land of Blue. Because everyone else around me was blue, I learned to think blue, talk blue, and act blue. I got really good at living in the Land of Blue. In fact, it became comfortable to me and I actually kind of liked it. Besides having a yellow accent, I was accepted and thrived in the Land of Blue.

Then, I did something that people told me would be difficult, but I didn't really listen. I moved back to the Land of Yellow. I thought "I was born in the Land of Yellow, I'll be fine. Sure, it'll be weird at first, but then it will all be okay."

Upon returning, I began to notice that I wasn't yellow anymore, but I wasn't completely blue either. Instead, I am green. Now I think green, talk green, and act green. When I try to express myself to the yellow people around me, they don't seem to understand or they don't want my green opinion. Also, in the Land of Yellow, it's hard to find places where I can express the parts of my green-ness that are still closer to blue. This all adds up to me sitting frustrated on a log with Kermit the Frog saying "It's not easy being green."

Friday, January 1, 2010


Happy New Year! I brought in the new year with a couple of friends by the Riverfront in New Orleans. I hear rumor that they drop a baby (like what's inside a king cake) instead of a ball, but I didn't see that. We did see some pretty awesome fireworks shot from barges on the Mississippi River, though.

I'm not a believer in setting new year's resolutions. Really, who keeps them? I make monthly resolutions that are easier to obtain and let me out of something after a month if I don't like it. Still, it's good to have goals. Here are mine.

1. Bible intake. I realized recently that I read an alarmingly small amount of the Bible during the week and that I haven't consciously memorized a portion of it in quite a while. I'm not going to say that I'm going to read the Bible entirely through this year (because I say that every year and it never happens), but I want to read a good chunk of it.

2. Prayer. I'm a selfish pray-er. This year I want to concentrate more on genuinely praying for others.

3. Books. This one's simple. I want to read more of them. I started compiling a book list for 2010 a couple weeks ago. Right now there are about thirty books on the list. Most of the books are theological in nature with a couple of history books and a one or two novels.

4. Jogging. Seeing my sister get into jogging recently made me remember when I used to jog on occasion. I want to get back in the habit for both health and stress-relieving reasons. My sister suggested that I have a goal in mind when I start back so I looked up 5k races in New Orleans. Right now I have my sights set on the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company's "Run Forrest Run" in April. That will give me enough time to get back into shape and have some miles under my shoes.

5. Healthy eating. Since moving to New Orleans, I've gotten back into the "student diet" of whatever happens to be closest to my hand at the time I get hungry. This has got to stop! I want to concentrate on buying healthier food from more local places.

6. Ministry. One of my main frustrations since moving to the Big Easy has been my lack of intentional ministry. Between seminary (ironic) and work, it's been tough to find a place that I can commit myself for an extended amount of time. This isn't good for my soul. This year I will either join or start a ministry that puts me in contact with the people of New Orleans.

7. Pictures. It's been harder to take pictures in New Orleans. Partly, I think this is a psychological thing, but also my scope of options has been limited. Maybe in the pursuit of taking some quality pictures, I will get out more and do things I wouldn't otherwise do. I want my nieces and nephews (if my sister is reading this, notice that I speak in the plural) to see that their aunt lives a pretty amazing life, even if I don't always appreciate what God has put right in front of me.