the family is all together again.

I'm at home with the folks.

Stacey and Dustin are driving in from Missouri.

This weekend we are celebrating my mom's graduation from college. My mother is an inspiring woman!

My car is sick--transmission. I barely made it home tonight, I really thought I was going to be stranded on the side of the highway. I feel sad for my dad. He works so hard to keep all of our cars running and it seems like there's no end.

I laugh at myself trying to describe the car's issues. I'm such a girl! I was trying to make car noises to my dad over the phone, trying to help him understand what might be wrong as if my noises will help him diagnose things. I think he finds it somewhat humorous. Girl's really can't do car noises very well.

I'm thinking a lot about God lately. I wonder what it means to be forgiven. I find myself being stupid, and then being too ashamed to ask God for help. I know that I don't EVER deserve God's help, even when I'm being good. Why is it easier to face him in my better moments then? I would imagine that God's truest beauty is exposed when I am face to face with a holiness that is in such striking contrast to my weakness. But doesn't Paul say something about that? He says "What then? Shall we sin more so that grace can abound more? By no means!" Well, I am human, and always human, no matter how super-human I try to be. I don't have to try very hard to look for God's grace, it's just there...all the time...because I am human.

So how does forgiveness influence my humanity?

If I'm in a good mood and if I remember, I will take some pictures of our graduation celebration bash tomorrow. I hope you all enjoy your long Memorial Day weekend. I sure will!

Love to you.


at home with the homeless

This life is not long enough for all of the things I want to do. I care...I just care so much!

This past week I was caught up in a conversation about the evolution of ethics and morality and how our society reflects the changes we make. It was a riveting discussion. As we were talking I was also thinking about some of the things I want to do with my life. I have a great many dreams and these dreams are very closely tied to my identity.

Then, as if I was just slugged in the gut, I was hit with a very heavy truth; I keep talking about all the things things I want to do in my life to help people and serve people, but what am I doing right here, right now, today? The answer to that question is, well, nothing!

Do I have an excuse?

That very night I was lying in bed with my laptop (like I am right now) stealing a wifi signal (like I am right now) and I googled some local volunteer opportunities. I settled on my truest heart-tugging interest which is homelessness.

Tonight I spent some time at The Guest House here in Milwaukee. I helped with some administrative projects and I was able to take a tour and learn about their programs and services. It was incredible and I want to share my experience with you.

I left work at 4:30 with plans to head straight over to The Guest House. I was dressed all nice in my professional business clothes. It was a long day of work stuff, training the new girl, working on more projects, and taking care of a bazillion needs. I work with some of the wealthiest people around. I pay $85.00/month just to have the privilege of parking my car in the garage every day. The rugs in the lobby by my desk are worth more than a years tuition at my Bible College (which is about $22,000). I left the glamorous world that seems so normal to me and I drove 4 minutes down the road to an area where I had to lock my doors and watch my back. I parked on the street in front of the shelter and I walked up to the door which was bolted shut. There was already a line of worn down rough looking men waiting for a hot shower, a good meal, and a soft place to sleep. I stopped for a second in front of one man who was sitting down smoking his cigarette. I smiled. I said hello. He smiled back.

Inside the building everyone seemed so eager to meet me. It was really cool. They showed me around and explained how everything works. I learned about the beginnings of the shelter nearly 25 years ago. Most importantly I learned of the many different ways I can help!

After a little while I went upstairs and helped in the office doing some administrative projects.

While I was there a Volunteer Group came to deliver dinner. They brought pizzas for the 80 men who were staying the night. They didn't bring enough, so many of the guys had to skip another meal. That made my heart really sad. I was really hungry too, and knowing that a bunch of starving guys downstairs were watching other people dine on warm cheesy pizza slices made me feel a little more able to survive.

I worked for about 4 hours on some huge projects. It was really cool to be there. But I learned something about service. When I think of doing service projects I guess I sort of think of it as being a big deal. I mean, seriously...I'm sacrificing MY time to go and help other people. Why wouldn't that be a big deal? Tonight I realized that I was just one in hundreds of volunteers who continuously flow through this shelter. Anything I did was appreciated, but at the same time it was no more special than a day of work. Shelters survive because of volunteer work. It's not a big deal, I guess it's sort of expected. Of course they are thankful, they were wonderfully thankful...but it was work that needed to be done and I did it. End of story, nothing fancy.

It's really interesting once you think about it. Service is humbling, not just because you end up doing things that are hard or boring or gross. Service is humbling because you realize that it's mundane and normal and somewhat unrecognized. If I stand in a line and hand out toiletries and bed sheets to a bunch of tired guys, I'm just a body doing service. No one will remember me. No one will notice me. I'm just a body. That's all.

Being there tonight was so beautiful. I couldn't help but to smile at those men because they had come to a place where people truly cared. It was an entirely different world than my daily money driven successful law firm environment. It was a wonderful contrast.

Next week I'm going over to a place called The Hope House. I'm anticipating an entirely different experience since it is a Women/Children shelter. Between both places I feel that I can really keep my hands working.

In this moment I keep thinking that my service to the people in the shelters will never come close to the measure of understanding and teaching I will receive from them. We are all people, people who make choices, and people who need love.

Thanks for listening. I encourage you to get involved in your community.


my sister

So...I have been thinking today about how much I love my sister. She's practically the most wonderful girl that I know. She's the girl that supports me even when she doesn't understand. She believes in me when I feel afraid. She lives a life that is to be admired. She reminds me to smile.
These pictures are old, but they are full of awesome memories of two girls wandering the streets of Italy. Two girls filled with gelato and espresso, and two girls fighting off kisses from Italian men, two girls who know how to have a lot of fun. She's a great sister.

She's also really great at taking terrible terrible disgusting photos of me when I'm not expecting it. I came across a few tonight so I thought I'd share them with you. Let me just say that train rides can get long and boring at times. Stacey had no problem entertaining herself though!

(a girl can't even sleep in peace. nope, the big sister has to be a pest!)

(oh, now here's a dandy one. i don't know what in the world i was doing with my face.)

(do not be deceived. just because i am looking at the camera does NOT mean i was aware that she was taking the picture.)


the donut story

Yesterday I had a major craving for a donut. It was the middle of the afternoon, I was in need of a mid-day energy booster and I had this gloriously rich donut pictured in my mind. Yum....

So I went upstairs to the Catering Department because they always have a display which we call "the bakery". They had 5 donuts left in the box and they were all the same kind...the kind that I DON'T like. They were the frosting filled kind. I hate the frosting filled ones because they give me a toothache. I like the custard kind, but not the frosting ones. But I REALLY REALLY wanted a donut. What a dilemma.

I decided to go with it. I figured I could just eat the edges and the topping. The topping had peanuts and glaze. So good. I took the donut and brought it down to my desk and prepared myself to eat it.

And then I was sort of annoyed again. I mean...I knew that I didn't like the frosting kind, and it really is lame to eat something (especially something so rich and fattening) when you don't even really like it. I thought about just throwing it away and settling with the jar of Peanut M&M's on my desk. I thought about it... and then I changed my mind again and took a bite.

And you know what?

It wasn't frosting filled. It had a lovely cinnamon swirl inside of it. What a treat! It was so delightful!

The moral of the story is...


happy mother's day!

I have the coolest mom in the whole world.


On a more thought provoking note...

On a more thought provoking note, the past few weeks I feel as if this same message has been hitting me from many different directions. Different situations, but the same message.

The message is: You shouldn't necessarily disown something just because you've had a bad experience with it.

Now, this message isn't an absolute or any sort of science. But it's very easy to avoid things that make you frustrated, angry, hurt, or just leave a bad taste in your mouth. You might avoid a certain person because (as my mother says) "They could annoy the warts off of a toad". You might avoid a restaurant because the service was really crappy. You might avoid church because you've seen/experienced a horrible representation of Jesus Christ. You might avoid certain aspects of Christianity because you don't quite understand them. You might avoid marriage because you are depressed by the horrible picture of marriage that is in our culture. You might avoid dating because it is complicating and awkward.

These are all little snapshots of my world. These are all some of the things that urk me, and make me run away. But over the past few weeks I have had to face some of these things and I've been dealing with some major self/soul improvement. We human beings are pretty good at messing things up once in a while. We are pretty good at abusing privileges, misinterpreting things, and acting in ways that are contrary to our ideals.
When we are confronted by our frustration, no matter what it is, it is usually a lot easier to just walk way. Isn't it?

For me, I get frustrated with the church. I believe in a church that is bigger and better than what we see in the world around us today. I believe that there is a church that really does care for people, that really does take care of the sick and the poor, and that really does involve itself in the world. I believe that there is a church that doesn't shove religious ideals down anyone's throat, but instead gets on hands and knees and humbly serves ALL people regardless of religious standards. I believe in a church that is aware of their world rather than blinded to current politics and events. I believe in a church of grace and creativity.
Where is this church? Well, I'm trying to find it. But I can't (or shouldn't) walk way from the church of today just because I'm frustrated or offended by it. Why shouldn't I walk away? Because I can't base my opinion from a false truth. I can't base my opinion of the church on the sick-mutations that I see.

This concept came up in my weekly discussion group as well. We were talking about marriage. It is amazing how many people avoid the idea of marriage because of the disfunctional marriages they have experienced in their world. It IS depressing! I myself have often wondered if I really want to get myself involved in a marriage when all around me I hear women crabbing about their husbands, divorces happening daily, fighting, disrespect, and boredom. But I can't blind myself to the many many healthy marriages around me. I can't avoid the opportunity to learn from people who are displaying the healthy version of marriage. There's a lot to learn.

Yes...there is a lot to learn. Ultimately, when we walk away, we are not only avoiding that thing, but we are avoiding the opportunity to learn. We are avoiding a person that might need our love, or might be able to teach us something. We are refusing to figure things out. We are allowing ourselves to believe that the misrepresentations are true.
We have a sense of discernment for a reason...we should be responsible to follow through with it.

i'm finally feeling rested

This past weekend I moved into a new apartment. Somehow I convinced myself that this time it was going to be easier and less stressful. What was I thinking?! It takes a lot of energy and creativity to move all of your stuff into a new place! I'm still trying to make things functional.
Although I am exhausted, it was a smooth move thanks to the GENEROUS help of Mom, Dad, and Nick. I'm glad I have big strong men in my life and a mother who knows how to get things done!

Soon, probably after the weekend I will post some pictures of the new place. It's starting to look great and hopefully soon it will start to look cute.
I LOVE having a roommate. Katie is wonderful. I couldn't ask for it to be better. It is so nice to have good company and good conversation.


the real mouse, mouse.

From time to time, people share things with me that are very blog-worthy. Today I'm sharing something that comes from my sister. The Real Mouse, Mouse.

Enjoy taxidermy? Yeah, me too. This project is the sick, sick work of Instructables member canida and company. It is a real mouse, gutted and fitted with parts from one of those small laptop mice. PETA members may want to look away, or go jump off a bridge, but I'm sure the mouse died from natural causes.