Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Observations on 2008


1. The only thing better than road trips to visit one’s precious relatives is having them live three miles away.

2. It is always best to receive one’s actual diploma, rather than just a commencement program with one’s name in it, before one solicits and receives graduation gifts.

3. One should not doubt the power of racquetball to create friends from acquaintances. One should also not doubt its power to make one feel like a complete and total athletic imbecile.

4. Asking God to makes one’s life count is noble; walking out the process by which He chooses to answer that request is like riding The Aftershock at Silverwood. Google it, people, and you’ll get what I mean.

5. Just because one visits Mt. Rainier in July does not mean one can wear tennis shoes to climb the trails. Snow, apparently, does not care what month it may be and will think nothing of making one fall flat on one’s hiney in front of attractive hikers who also happen to know what they are doing.

6. One should not allow visions of Olympic glory to delude one into thinking one can actually execute a Forward Roll Magic Hands. One should especially avoid this delusion whilst video cameras are rolling.

7. Spending a week with high school students and teaching them about the love of God is one of the sweetest ways to invest one’s summer vacation.

8. Turning 30 isn't all that bad, especially when the day includes a 10K, all of Yakima Foursquare singing "Happy Birthday", and an extravagant princess party.

9. Starting a new job is never easy, but can be made easier by being gregarious and having a pocketful of pirate jokes.

10. When spreading peanut butter on a middle schooler’s face so that they can catch mini-marshmallows, better use creamy.

11. Wrapping all the classroom desks in white butcher paper is actually NOT a good way to discourage graffiti. It actually has the opposite effect.

12. When one can congregate with 32 extended family members and thoroughly enjoy each moment, one is truly blessed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What is with me?

Once again an entire month has passed without a post from me. Yowser yibby yanks! What gives? So this evening I am listening to some wonderful Christmas music by Fernando Ortega (thanks, Mike!) and am a little hopped up on sugar (Costco brownie bites), so here's my update!

School is going well. How I love my job and adore my students. Even the annoying ones. :-) The trimester ends tomorrow, so my freshmen are getting their first taste of finals. And I am the nice teacher that gives them all the info included on the test and let's them use their notes. Despite my extravagant efforts, many of them are still not doing so hot. What they don't know is that I am a softy through and through. They could tank the final and still be okay.

Franklin Hill is also going well. I am moving forward with my pastor's license after a slight hiccup in my own personal feelings about it. I really love the work I'm doing at church, from teaching to student ministries. I used to get so nervous about Tuesday night middle school club and now I LOVE IT. The girls are SO FANTASTIC and even the squirrelly boys bring me joy. One young guy has decided to speak to me in a British accent, which of course is FABULOUS! Today we talked about the chasm that our bad attitudes and actions create and how there is no way for us to get ourselves out of it. One kid seemed pretty concerned about his chasm. Pretty cool. I'm excited for him and the conversations that are forthcoming.

Pretty soon we'll be starting our high school ministry, and I'm both excited and nervous about that. I really want it to be good so that the kids will want to keep coming -- I have a list of kids in my mind whom I can't wait to invite. I like them so much and want to hang with them in a fun environment that has no academic expectations. I want to wait until January to get it started, just to give myself some space of prepare internally.

Family stuff -- Rachel Lynn is pregnant!! Hurray!!! The baby is due at the end of May, and the kids are so excited. Bennett asked Rachel a while back if he could take the baby out to play with it and then it could go back inside. Tee hee! How cute are they!! I love having them so close by. Erin invited me over for a sleepover last week and we had a Christmas sleepover... went to bed watching Elf and woke up to watch The Christmas Story. She's even more excited for Christmas than I am! I'm very excited for Thanksgiving as Uncle Chet is coming from Indiana and Lisa Ann is home for the holidays. Sounds great to me.

And that is it from here. I'm soon to work on my 2008 Christmas letter. If any of you blog stalkers want a real-life copy, shoot me your mailing addresses.

signing off -- marah jean

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ch...Ch..Changes

Over a month since my last blog. Dang. That is paltry at best. I so love blog stalking other people; how can I deny others the same pleasure? The inherent problem in this situation is that SO MUCH has happened since September 10. Where do I start?

I'll start with tonight. I am having a random and wonderful evening at home. Wednesdays are soon to be Young Life nights, but this evening laundry was beckoning. Well... actually... laundry doesn't beckon. It sounds the alarm and harangues from the corners of my hobbit house whence it was discarded. In either case, I needed to do laundry because tomorrow I leave for Iowa for my grandmother's memorial. It'll be interesting as the whole fam damily is going -- 10 total -- thus making this trip a far cry from my normal galavants where I sit alone in the food court reading People, listening to my iPod and devouring a second Cinnabon all at once. I think I'm looking forward to it, mostly because B-man, Erin, and Baby Jae are included in the traveling party. I'll probably have some fun pictures to post upon my return.

The other thing that is amusing me tonight is what happens when a person sorts her iTunes library by song title in reverse alphabetical order. The playlist of the last 10 minutes has gone from The Supremes (You Can't Hurry Love) to DC Talk (You Consume ME) to Harry Connick Junior (You Didn't Know Me When) to Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand (You Don't Send me Flowers) and a little Bon Jovi (You Give Love a Bad Name). Now 100 Portraits are reminding me that "You (God) have redeemed my soul from the pit of emptiness." Just strikes me as fun.

So -- the past six weeks -- the biggest news is Franklin Hill Foursquare has officially launched, and we are our own church now! I'm on staff as a volunteer soon-to-be pastor and serve on the teaching, worship, and student teams. Yee haw. I'll be teaching from the front (I don't like to call it preaching) on November 2 if anybody wants to come to visit. :-) The biggest challenge for me is the Tuesday night Middle School Club. We've got a solid group of kids coming and I'm in charge of planning the activities and talks each week. Satan likes to derail me through isolation and doubt. Wicked monkey. I had a major freak out yesterday, but thankfully I chatted with Lisa Jean and she helped me reframe some stuff and put the enemy where he belongs -- under my feet by the power and authority of Christ. I do love those kids and by focusing on them now, we'll have a rockin' high school group in a couple of years. One step at a time, though.

Other random news -- my Lisa Ann (marathon running, warm bev drinking, weight lifting and general joy giving friend from my childhood) moved to Michigan. Talk about rocking my world. I miss her like crazy and can't wait for Christmas even more than what is normal for me because she'll be home and all will be as it should be... on the fourth floor of the Y at any rate.

Let's see... what else... there was a small blip on the man radar for about a week and a half. But that has subsided, mostly through my own decision. Nice guy -- just not enough of fit to be more than friends. Maintain the hope, the dream, though indeed it has gone through most of the stages good ol' Langston described.

Other than that, I'm glad to have my weekly dose of The Office and Survivor. I'm still watching Grey's Anatomy, but the jury is now out on the level of my dedication thereto.

And with that, it's time to fold the now-dry laundry and finish packing. My students are watching Seabiscuit and writing essays in my absence. It'll be interesting. :-)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Turning 30

On August 31, I reached a new decade marker! Despite what the boys at the Y think, I indeed am 30. (They all think I'm 23 or 24... that's why I like them!) I had a most glorious weekend of Marah.

It actually started on Thursday when I went to 80's night with Lisa Ann. She made the evening glorious by rocking a Butt-Rock style mullet wig. Good glory! I about peed my pants when she came sauntering in! We danced and sang along and LAUGHED! Man, it was awesome. The only problem is that -- well -- I'm THIRTY, so it took me the rest of the weekend to get my feet back under me!

But did that stop the weekend of Marah? Absolutely not! Friday night, Janice and Rocky and Justin and Barb all convened at Rachel's house. Joe came up and Johnny and Meghann came over and, again, more laughter and glorious awesomeness. They stayed up really late most of the weekend, but because of my Thursday night extravaganza, I copped out early a couple of nights. :( There is just something fabulous about being with friends who've known you since middle school.

On Saturday, the entire entourage went to my parents' house for swimming and horsie rides.I just watched as they all galavanted in the pool. There was a relay race that made me laugh HARD and just a general joy of being together.

Of course, one of the most amusing aspects was the kids. Bennett, Erin, Jaelynn, Andrew, Katelynn, and Luke make up one solid pack of energy, especially when there is so much to entertain. They picked apples to throw to the goats, begged for rides on the horse and four-wheeler, and were generally fantastic. I could think of no better context in which to celebrate my 30th birthday. And that was all before the 31st!

On the 31st, I started my birthday by participating the The Human Race, Nike's 25-city 10K. Because of my iPod sensor, I ran it on the Greenway at 5:45 am. It was quite the feat, not physically necessarily, but just getting myself out the door because I was SO TIRED from the weekend!!!! But I did it and now I can wear my race shirt with pride! After that, I played the congas and church before heading to Rachel's house for THE PARTY! Rachel and my dear friend Rissa planned and prepped and made me feel CELEBRATED! I had a princess party, complete with pink balloons, tiaras, and a teal Greet-the-Guests frock that I had to wear. Thankfully, Justin stole it part-way through the celebration; he looks better in it than I did. Riss and Rach made a quiz about me, had prizes for participants, and...well... it was just GREAT!!! After that, I headed over to church for a small bit before coming back to Rachel's for pizza and general grand hanging out together.

All in all, the weekend was absolutely wonderful. I couldn't have asked to feel more loved, more celebrated, more ready to be in my 30's. Good times, peeps. Good times.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Collide

Collide -- that was the theme of the week-long senior high camp from which I returned yesterday. Talk about a mountain top experience, both literally as the camp was held at Mt. Schweitzer Ski Resort and figuratively as God totally made Himself real to us during the week. As I sit here in my hobbit house and reflect on the last seven days, I'm thinking I might be unable to truly articulate the glory and challenge and uber-greatness of the week! But for all my blog stalkers out there (welcome to Tiffanie, my newest blog stalker), I'm gonna try!!!!

My Girls
First of all, the time with my girls was fantastic! I had seven girls from Yakima Foursquare in my "cabin" (since we were staying in a hotel, we simply split a suite) and I loved getting to get to know them better. Most of them I've known for years because of Yak4. Two of them I have teenager sat before when the parents were gone, and another two I've known since I showed up at Yak4 seven years ago. This week I got to really get to know them and have some DEEP chats about life and God and beauty and guys. Good stuff.

Getting to Teach
One of the cool things for me was getting to teach an elective. Normally at camp, there's morning chapel and evening chapel, and each has its own speaker. This year, instead of having a morning speaker, David (camp director from LifeCenter in Spokane) had four people teach on different topics. Mine was on the Holy Spirit. Last year at camp, there were a few evening sessions where the Holy Spirit was referenced but there hadn't been any teaching about He/She/It (what pronoun does one use when referencing the Holy Spirit? Hmmm?). So I planned a talk that had some participative parts and some history and some application, but I hadn't figured out how to fit it all in half an hour. Thankfully, I had a chance to chat with another cabin leader (Hurray for Eric Olsen!) on our prep day and in that conversation, I realized I should do a series! So I had a three-part dealy.

Monday I was gonna talk about how God talks with us. For some reason, though, I felt completely OFF!!!! Like I was driving a manual car without using the clutch. ICK!! It completely threw me for an emotional loop. I felt incompetent and yucky. I was reminded by Eric that it's the Holy Spirit's job to make connections in people's hearts; ironic that I should get so caught up in my own assessment of my performance. What tripped me further up was the idea that I had two more sessions to teach. Yikes! So I decided to call my dad. I figured that he is still my spiritual cover since I'm not married and I'd be able to talk through this stuff with him. So I called him Tuesday morning and am SO GLAD I did! Not only did I get to talk through and pray about stuff with him, but I was reminded that my Heavenly Father loves me even more than my Papa Bear and that my "performance" isn't what is important to Him.

Then Tuesday came and the number of kids who chose my breakout doubled. The information was primarily about the difference between the Holy Spirit's role in the Old Testament and New Testament. It felt so much more fluid, like I was making sense and the kids were engaged! SWEET!!!!! I didn't present on Wednesday (that was the day we went to Silverwood Theme Park -- more on that later...), but on Wednesday night, the evening speaker taught about the Holy Spirit! It was so cool because I felt like the kids who were in my session on Tuesday had a good foundation to build on! But I started to wonder if I should change what I was going to talk about on Thursday. I felt led to go with what I had planned, which was a conversation about the gifts of the Holy Spirit as discussed in 1 Corinthians 12-14. That talk also went well! Several cabin leaders commented on how it continued the conversation that the previous evening had started and gave them a foundation from which they could build with their students! I even had some girls seek me out to talk about about what I shared. SO GREAT!!!!!!!!!

Me and Jesus
I went into the week with the focus on serving the girls in my cabin and speaking to them from God's heart. And while I did that, I also got my socks blessed off by Jesus. I had never been to Schweitzer before, so when we arrived on Saturday and I was looking around, I thought it would be so cool to see the sun rise over the mountains at some point, but I didn't actually plan to get up. On Wednesday morning, though, my body woke up at 5:20am. I kept thinking, "Go to sleep, Marah Jean!" But I couldn't! And then I remembered the sunrise thing, so I got dressed and went outside. It was pretty chilly and breezy, so I went to the lookout spot and admired the view. The sun hadn't crested over the hills yet, so I walked around and took in some different vistas. Then I came back to the lookout and decided I didn't actually want to wait, that is was cold and I was tired and wanted to go back to bed. But then I felt compelled to wait, so I got a chair from a nearby table and sat to watch and wait. After a few minutes, I thought "come on! Let's go! Hurry up!" And I felt God say to me, "You can't rush the dawn. It'll happen at the appointed time." That gave me pause. Then I heard Him say "Enjoy the beauty of the process," so I took note of how the light shifted over the valley and how the colors were morphing from hazy purple to blue to pink. Then all of these worship songs about morning started to come to mind, so I sang some. And then I heard God say "There is beauty that I'm bringing into your life, and just like this sunrise, you can't rush it -- it'll happen at my appointed time -- but you can enjoy the beauty of the process." DANG!!!!!!! How sweet is that!!?!?!?!?!? I felt like there was specific application to the whole husband issue (couldn't get through a blog without bringing that up) and it was very cool to hear that during this specific week.

So that was Wednesday morning. Wednesday night was another sweet deal. David taught on the Holy Spirit and called the cabin leaders up to pray for our students. What was so cool was that, not only did five of my girls come up, but God was giving me specific prayers and pictures and all sorts of good stuff. SWEET!!!! I found out afterward from them that I was speaking DIRECTLY to specific issues that were going on for them! Hurray for following the leading of the Holy Spirit!!! So that went on for some time. When all my girls were done, I moved toward the back of the room to sing and was just completely overwhelmed. At first it was the good kind of overwhelmed coming from how good God is and what an HONOR it is to get to be led by Him and work with Him. And then, somehow, it shifted into the bad kind of overwhelmed. I started thinking about Franklin Hill and how scared I have been and still can get about planting the church and being a youth pastor. I was sitting on the floor by Mark Grange (the Yak4 youth pastor), so I just leaned into him and CRIED. I felt like, as cool as it was to speak God's words to my girls, I really needed to hear some words from Him about my own situation. And then the words came: "Marah, everything you prayed over those girls, my Spirit prays over you." WHOA!!!!!! I started to think about what I prayed for the girls -- that God is equipping them to do what He's asked of them, that their beauty doesn't need to hide, that they aren't doing this faith thing wrong and they don't need to strive to get it right but simply respond to God -- and I was overwhelmed again but in the good way!! How sweet to get that kind of confirmation at this time.

Then I thought about rollercoaster I had gone on that day -- the Aftershock. This thing was NUTS, and it provided a good picture for how I'm feeling right now about the church plant: at the start of the ride, you strap in with a chest harness and your feet are free. Then, the ride ratchets back until you're perpendicular to the ground and just hanging there with all of your weight pressing into the shoulder harness. Then you PLUNGE forward and race around the thing. It's phenomenal and SCARY!!! But once you get going, talk about EXHILARATION! Then I realized this is how I feel right now -- I'm strapped into this Franklin Hill thing, I'm not going to get off the ride, but we haven't started yet! We're just getting ratcheted back and I feel like we're just hanging in the air! SO SCARY -- but once we are released, it is going to be WOOOOOOO HOOOOOOO good!

New Friends
And if all of this weren't cool enough, I had a chance to reconnect with some of the folks I met last year at camp and meet a whole crew of new people! I met Tiffanie and James on the first day and felt a Three Amigos type of camaraderie! They both go to Moody, so we have the Bible college thing in common, and that just opened up all sorts of cool similarities!! Then there were the gals from Clarkston -- Shawna and Jordan -- and I got to have some great volleyball with Jordan and some great chats with Shawna! Then I had my bus buddy Brice, who kept me thoroughly engaged and entertained on the various bus rides. There is just such a sweet connection that happens when people gather around a common purpose, specifically when that purpose is serving others.

And, believe it or not, that is just the tip of the iceberg! So many other fun and sweet and meaningful things happened this last week. I'm thanking Jesus for the encouragement and refreshment. Hurray for summer camp!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

July 31

I had the somewhat startling thought today that July is over. Tomorrow is August. Deep breaths. Wow! August is going to have some great stuff (senior high camp, family trip to the beach, Josh's wedding, starting my new job at Davis, and my 30th birthday), but July wasn't too bad either.

Looking back at the calendar, I think I spent most of my month at the YMCA! Ha! That's kinda funny. Lisa Kloster and I have a standing daily Y date during the week and have had the utmost pleasure in meeting and conversing with the wide assortment of interesting folks who also happen to be on the 4th floor between the hours of 10 and 1. (Don't be too impressed with the three hour time bracket -- a great deal of that is spent chatting.) Just today we met Alex, a short Hispanic guy with the most perfect teeth I have ever seen. And get this -- all three of his kids have braces. It amuses me to no end that I know that -- who has these kinds of conversations at the gym?!?! Well... I do!!

In the realm of activity, July has also seen the reappearance of yogging on the workout plan. I'm up to 4 miles now, which seems so long and yet I remember when a 5-miler was my short run. I'm training for The Human Race -- Nike's 10K that is being held in 25 different cities and, for me, in Yakima thanks to my Nike+ iPod sensor. It is on August 31 -- yep! I'm celebrating my 30th year by running 6.some odd miles. Bring it on. What makes it even more enjoyable for me is that I used the video converter from church to upload onto my computer the audio tracks from my favorite movies (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Mickey's Christmas Carol, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, Peter Pan, Robin Hood, and Annie) so now my runs are very diverting. I'm glad I don't have an audience when I run because I sometime have to perform choreography or play the jingle bells. Heh heh heh.

July also brought a great day at Mt. Rainier with my friend Susie. The trails were quite snowy and I was unprepared (as isn't very surprising) so my feet were SOAKED by the time we came down from the mountain. But it was gorgeous and she is such a fabulous friend.

July has also given lots of time to spend with the little people. Erin is quite the swimmer and Bennett took soccer and golf lessons this summer. They just make my heart bubble with affection!! I LOVE BEING AN AUNT!!! Even when they're being stinky. :-)

And that is the report for the month. Hard to believe that in one month more, so much will be different. Ch...Ch..Changes! Let us enjoy the rest of the summer!!

sunshine and smiles -- marah jean

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A reminder from Wayne

On Monday, I attended an afternoon leadership seminar at Life Center Church in Spokane that featured Wayne Cordeiro from New Hope Church in Honolulu, HI. I've heard this pastor speak before at the Leadership Summit Simulcast that Willow Creek Church broadcasts each summer. I'm so glad that I went -- totally worth the seven hours in the car that day. Not only did I get to see a few of my friends that I made at senior high camp last summer, but I was challenged and encouraged in a few fundamentals that will be invaluable as I move through the summer and into this next season of my life.

Before I left for Spokane, I had been reading Uprising by Erwin McManus as we are in the middle of a sermon series based on that book, and I'm preaching this Sunday. In it, he uses the Parable of the Talents as evidence that we must be faithful in the small things if we want to hear God say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." As we are faithful and as we persevere through the pressure cooker of life, we will gain wisdom. The strongest message I received from the afternoon in Spokane resonated with that same idea.

Pastor C. shared this idea:

85% of what I do could be done by anybody.
10% of what I do could be done by anybody who has had some training.
5% of what I do can be done ONLY by ME.

Yet our lives are so often taken up with the 85% and the 5% gets neglected. When we do that, though, we are not fulfilling God's best for our lives. And God is not going to hold us accountable for what we do; He's going to hold us accountable for what He's asked us to do that we've done. When Pastor C. said that, I had one of those spiritual whiplash moments. Yeah -- God's asked me to do some specific things, and when I don't do those, it doesn't matter how good of a racquetball player I am or how many movie lines I can quote.

So here are some things in my 5%:
~maintaining a vibrant and growing relationship with Christ: nobody else can spend time with or obey God for me
~being Auntie Marah to Bennett, Erin, and Jae; sister to Rachel, Carrie, and Joe; middle daughter to Marlyn and Jaurene: this is my family; to ignore them is to neglect the health of my foundation
~Getting and staying physically in shape: if I'm gonna live the life I've been called to, I need to have the energy to do so.
~Enjoying life and beauty with family and friends: nobody else can do that for me.

Part of me says, "Well, duh, Marah. That idea isn't rocket science." But it is easy to gloss over because 95% is a big number, but how I take care of the 5% will determine the kind of life I end up having.

The reminder is also good because it lines up with sermon stuff for Sunday! Hurray!! I'm really excited about this Sunday. Sometimes when I preach, I just dread it. I get all nervous and second guess myself. Not this time. I'm jazzed for it. I just don't want to overplan and try to fit 3 sermons into one. That's not good either.

And those are my thoughts this morning. much love to all my faithful readers... (which is maybe Jayme and Colin... love you two!!!)

Friday, June 27, 2008

My week on the road

I can hear the rumblings of the traffic on I-90 as I sit here by my hotel window in Spokane. I've spent the last five days traveling around the state making presentations at various Summer Institutes, and on the whole it was been very good. The presentations have gone well with the participants smiling and laughing and getting to know each other. I've been able to get Boomerang Project's name "out there" a little more as I tie what I have done with them to what the participants are experiencing. Excellent.

And made some great contacts that may open up further opportunities to do this sort of thing in the future. First I finally met the guy who hired me to do all these presentations; he was at the site in Montesano (which is about an hour west of Olympia) and was very impressed. That's good news if I want to do this again next summer. Then (and this one is more exciting for me) there was a participant at yesterday's site in Wenatchee that trains teachers on how to use various low ropes elements in their classrooms. I didn't know this until after I was done and he asked if I'd like to do lunch. Now, I'll be honest, at first I was saying, "Boo Yeah! Cute guy wants to have lunch with me!" And while that was true, his motives were sans romance. Instead he invited me to come watch him and his buddy present at the OSPI conference at the end of July, and if I'm interested, start presenting and facilitating with them! SWEETNESS!!!

AND -- if the week weren't good enough because of these things, I also found out on Tuesday that I am gonna be a Pirate!! Ahoy!!!!!! I will be teaching ninth and eleventh grade English
at Davis High School! I'm really excited! Next week, I'll go in a fill out all my paperwork and get on the school mailing list and all that good stuff. I'm sure my nerves will kick in pretty soon, but for right now, I'm very glad to have a job! NO MORE SUBBING!!!

I find it difficult to believe that it is almost July. Wowsers. Except for a few small day trips, I don't have anything to do in July. Well, that's not true. Franklin Hill stuff will certainly take center stage over the next weeks. And I fully intend to enjoy some serious pool time with Bennett and Erin and Jaelynn. And I will continue my love affair with Twitch, Joshua, and Will on So You Think You Can Dance. And who knows what else the summer will hold!! Allow me to modify Mr. Magorium -- one summer, well used, is a lifetime.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

When the dog bites... when the bee stings...

While the last two weeks have been very challenging, there have been some wonderful things as well. And so I am happy to report on these happy things:

1) Michael and Tricia Swalm -- along with their two beautiful girls -- came to visit their grandparents, so I got to spend an evening with them. So wonderful. We reminisced about Bethel and choir and Greek; discussed being a pastor, being married, being single; and we ate lots of El Porton chips and salsa. Good times. I'm hoping to go see them this fall as their third little one should arrive in October.

2) Bennett Matthew turned five last weekend, and the entire Wood clan (who also happen to be my closest high-school-time friends from camp) came for the festivities. The kids just get cuter and Auntie Marah gets to read and play and paint toes and all manner of lovely things.

3) Davis High School posted an English position, and I applied the very next day. While I haven't received a call for an interview yet, I'm simply glad that I didn't have to wait until July to find out whether or not a job would even be available at Davis. So I'll keep you all posted on how that goes.

4) I designed and facilitated a Mid-level leadership conference. So it was me and 150 middle school ASB kids. I was wigging out (as usual) but it went very well. Hurray!!

5) And I've got nine days of school left. Fabulous. I haven't found a summer job yet, but I'm not overly concerned. My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches and glory. That's a good promise, right there.

lots of love -- marah jean

The Shadow of Death

Don't be overly alarmed by the subject... I and my immediate family are alive and well. But in the past ten days, I and many of my good friends have been plunged into unexpected grief and bewilderment. Our friend Michael Arreola decided last Tuesday to end his own life. He is one of the people who is deeply woven into the fabric that is Wapato -- he is from an extensive family, married into a prominent family, and is thus in-lawed to another extensive family. More specifically, his sister-in-law is Johnny Gomez's wife, and Johnny is my brother's closest childhood friend.

The memorial service was last Saturday, and it was such a dichotomous and emotionally draining affair. There was lots of laughter as Mike was a regular card, but it was other-wordly to be laughing and to be happy to see people I haven't seen in years only to be hit by a wave of shock and soul-wrenching ache to think of why we had all gathered -- all 1500 of us... the church was PACKED.

The hardest thing for me in this has been walking beside people who were much closer to him... my students especially. I am very thankful for my small group who has been praying for me and for his widow, whom I saw yesterday and got to chat with a bit.

Then I got a call yesterday from Lisa Jean, who told me that our friend Kyle, who has been battling brain cancer for several years, is in his last days and so I should give his wife a call so that I can go out to their house (he's been on hospice) to say goodbye. My gut reaction is to flee... to Cold Stone. But that won't actually help.

So while I was hoping for a better weekend this week, it seems that this one will have its own set of emotional challenges.

My sincerest thanks to those of you who've encouraged and prayed for me these past weeks.

love -- marah jean

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Hiccups in the Final Round

Well, I've been reticent about one HUGE thing that has been going on these past two months because, well, it's embarrassing. But today, it took on a grand irony that is just too funny, so I must share.

In mid-March, I was in the process of applying for jobs at the local community college and trying to figure out how much I will get paid for the long-term sub jobs that I was (and am) doing in Wapato. I hadn't heard back from the district office, so I called over there to check on things. I was told that my recently arrived transcript from Gonzaga did not have the "Degree Completed" dealy. I figured that was a mistake at the university, so I called to get things straightened out.

When I spoke with a person, they transfered me to "Degree Evaluation." Hmmmm.... ominous. And it turned out that I was NOT done with my degree in December as I thought I was. No, apparently one needs more than a commencement program and gifts from friends to actually graduate. I needed one more elective. When I was researching the program at GU, it was 33 credits. When I enrolled that fall, it had increased to 36, but I never got the memo. And apparently I was sent a letter informing me of this delinquency in January, but again, I didn't get the memo.

So, thankfully, the folks over there quickly got me enrolled in Transformative Leadership, which had started the previous week. I got all my books and got to work one more time. I even plotted out the various due dates for all the papers and have been quite excited these last few days as MY LAST PAPER is due on Tuesday. I was glad to have caught this because normally the papers have been due on Saturday.

Last night, I was quite impressed with myself as I wrote most of this paper before heading over to Rachel's for dinner. But this morning, as I was checking out the website, I caught an odd thing: the description for the last paper that is due on Tuesday was not about the same thing that I thought the "last paper" was supposed to be about. Huh.... curious.

Yeah -- upon further research, the paper I wrote last night and finished this morning was actually due YESTERDAY, and my REAL last paper -- that I haven't started and didn't realize was necessary -- is due Tuesday.

Apparently, I have issues with reading the "final requirements." It's just funny at this point.

And now, though I am off to write the REALLY I MEAN IT THIS TIME LAST paper

much love -- marah jean

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Faith and marathons

Well things have been an emotional whirlwind these last weeks. While I've been moving forward with what it means to operate as a pastor with Franklin Hill, my emotions and spirit have been BOMBARDED with discouragement and doubt about ever getting married. It so bugs me that THIS is the button that gets pushed when I start moving forward in other areas of my life. But I guess I shouldn't really be surprised since this is the one area where I am really just holding on to hope.

Fittingly, we're in the middle a church-wide fast and the readings that go along with it the stories from Hebrews 11. Lots of reminders that faith is moving forward based on God's promises, not on our understanding of things. And today's reading for me posed a difficult question: will I still move forward knowing that I -- like many faithful people before me -- may not see the fulfillment of what I hope for. God promised Abraham he would be the father of many nations, but he never actually saw that.

I had another thought today as I was reading, brought on by a little side study in my Bible. It asks, "Why do people punish their bodies to run a grueling marathon race? Most runners name two reasons: the sense of personal reward they get and the physical benefits of exercise." I would add to that the camaraderie of training with somebody. I looked forward to the runs I got to do last spring with Lisa. We talked about everything, solved the problems of the world, and spurred each other forward. How thankful am I for my small group and the FHF family that is serving a similar purpose as I am hitting a sort of wall in this area of my life. But what happens when you hit the wall is what you have decided will happen when you hit the wall. And I'm gonna keep moving forward.

The article went on to say, "The same two rewards apply in the spiritual realm: great prizes await those who persevere, and the very process of living by faith builds strong character. In this race, no one loses. If you finish, you get the reward."

That lines up with the encouragement I received from my friend Steve last night. As I shared the process of the last week, he said, "This may seem like poor consolation, but you are storing up for yourself treasures in heaven. There will be a reward for following Jesus." Yes. That is good for me to remember.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Happiness


My dear friend Josh called today to share some fantastic news. He and Sarah are engaged!!!

And, I gotta say, that as a woman, I was UBER proud of him and all the thought he put into how he proposed. Walk on the beach -- fantastic. But even better was that he facilitated a surprise dinner with both of their entire families (folks arriving in Seattle from Montana and California). DANG!!!!

Congratulations, you two fabulous folks. I'm so happy for you!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Specific Direction....

It's actually April 21, but for the sake of calendar accuracy, I'm backdating this blog. :-)

Rissa and I had a great prayer time Wednesday, most of which focused around the question of whether or not I should be a pastor at Franklin Hill Foursquare. The direction was pretty cool. The first two thoughts I had after we cleared the space for God to speak were "I knit you together" (Psalm 139) and "good works created ahead of time for you to do" (Ephesians 2:10). Then came the campfire image from months back when Riss and I were praying about job and career stuff. At that time, I saw a picture of me hanging out with young adults around a campfire and had the distinct impression that it wasn't Link Crew or school related. Finally a thought about my "unique soul" from the Parker Palmer book I'm reading came to mind, along with the thought that God's direction and calling aren't always through trumpets, but that we as humans co-create reality.

Then Riss shifted to the specific question of whether or not I should accept the offered youth pastor position, being the female counterpart to the already selected male youth pastor. No red flags, but rather further confirmation: the first thought was "authority has been given you" and the second... "you're set apart... I have set you apart for this." WOW!!!

I feel that this is in specific reference to marriage (or lack thereof). God was guiding me HERE! SWEET!!! Rissa's next two thoughts were "move forward" and a verse that didn't quite fit: Proverbs 16:25. We actually landed on Proverbs 16:9 (In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.) as we were looking for the other verse, and I was encouraged by God determining the steps of my heart's course. It's like I have in my heart this picture of the life God has for me and God tells me where to step next. Very cool.

Then we found the verse we were originally looking for: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." While this didn't make sense to Riss, I knew immediately that it was referencing my stint as a traveling presenter. Eighteen months ago, I was all about traveling and being a speaker and all of that, but I see know that path did not lead me to life and health.

As we prayed about moving forward in this direction, I was having all sorts of hesitation, like jumping off a cliff. Then a Mary Poppins thing came to mind (who says God can't use WHATEVER He wants to communicate with us!). I thought of the part of the movie when they all jump into the chalk pavement picture. Bert makes up all these prerequisites to getting into the picture, and Mary says, "Why do you always complicate things that are really quite simple?" Then "Hold my hand please, Michael. Don't slouch." And of they went.

Rissa heard, "rest in me and obey" -- SO IMPORTANT as I tend to freak out about such things. Then, as we were praying to close, I thought of the beginning of the aforementioned movie scene when Jane sees the picture and says, "Oh that's lovely. If you please, I'd much rather go there." What an accurate metaphor for these last months a years. I felt like I have seen a picture of who I really am and how it really should manifest in the world, and I came up with all sorts of ways to get there, and God says, "Don't overcomplicate, please. Hold my hand. Stand up straight. Jump."

WOW. Whew... And yikes, right? Off I go anyway!

marah jean

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The power of theme music

I am very proud of myself because this morning, after MONTHS of procrastinating, I finally accomplished a very important task --- disposing of my Christmas tree. Yes I realize March is half over and I probably should have ridded myself of it two months ago, but I didn't. A month or so ago, I finally moved it from beside the steps to the yard waste can in the alley, but the yard waste guys wouldn't take it. Apparently the lid has to be closed, and I'm sorry, but a 6-foot pine tree doesn't allow for dumpster closage.

So I thought to myself, "Bill, we could take it to our old church building and put it in the uber-sized dumpster... hmmmm... not entirely on the up and up, but better than nothing." However, I knew I needed to accomplish this fell mission under the cloak of darkness. One can't just go chucking dried up Christmas trees in dumpsters at high noon with the whole world watching.

So, this morning after cup-o-coffee-number-one, I thought, "Bill, we should just do it now... but we need some encouragement." And so I began humming the theme from Mission: Impossible. And wouldn't you know it, that's what did it! Apparently all I need is a soundtrack and I can overcome any amount of procrastination build-up!

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Day of Leaping

As I sit here on this Friday morning with Leap Year on the brain (thanks, Jayme), I'm pondering the fact that it is also a year of leaps for me. I have decided to join three of my closest friends from church in a church planting endeavor this fall. We started staff meetings about six weeks ago with just the four of us, discussing the vision and values for Franklin Hill Foursquare and building community with each other. No sooner had we started than the travel season kicked in for me and I was off to Portland for Boomerang, then home a week, then gone a week, then home a week, then -- you guessed it -- gone again.

Last Thursday, before this last cycle of gone again which landed me in Missouri (I didn't take any pictures because unlike all the other places, The Elms in Excelsior Springs just ain't that grand), Cesar and I sat down for lunch and chatting. (I'm still learning how to converse with Cesar when it is one-on-one. Normally I'm with him and his wife and family or other people. It's an intriguing process.) At any rate, I was challenged to assess the patterns in how I spend my time and the internal consequences thereof.

I realized that, outside of worship and teaching teams (which have taken a backseat to Boomerang and family stuff these past years), my time is spent on me. I may have sporadic times of service to other people, but there is no one place where I have been proactive in turning my heart away from meeting my own needs. And while the work I do is good work in the world, I am still compensated for it either monetarily or relationally.

Furthermore, I started thinking about the cost of being gone so much. When I travel for a Boomerang conference, I usually miss church, small group, and FHF Staff. If that weren't enough, I also just miss being in people's lives here. When I got back from MO, Cesar and Lisa had shifted around all their furniture AND decided to home school their kids next year. HELLO!!!! I didn't even know that was in the crock pot.

There is more to this, but one of the decisions that I've made as a result of all this pondering is to back out of the Boomerang Conferences I was scheduled to work in April. I'm going this week to Colorado, but after that, I won't be BoomBooming until the last conference of the season in Mid-May. While typing that makes me sad and makes me want to say "well, maybe I can work the Washington conference", I recognize that as me not wanting to leap with both feet into the next season of life. Part of my reluctance stems from my lack of knowledge about the next season, most specifically where I'll work, but I do know where I'll be as far as community, and I want to be here.

The other leap that happens today is applying for the YVCC Dean of Students job. It closes today and I'm squeaking in at the last second. I'll keep y'all posted on that one.

much love -- marah jean

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Interesting title here....

Okay -- I officially extend myself blogging grace. I didn't realize it has been almost a month since my last blog, and a part of me wants to lock myself in the closet and give myself a flogging for the lack of blogging. But since I'm not a character in a Hawthorne novel nor a member of some Puritan colony, I just say "GRACE!!!" And since I am subbing today at an elementary school, I have lots of time this morning to get my dedicated readers (Colin, Heidi, and Jayme!) and anybody else out there caught up on my life!

Boomerang: I'm officially in travel season now and have worked at two conferences thus far: Skamania (near Portland, OR) and Lakeway (near Austin, TX). At both conferences, I worked in the WEB room, which means that I taught the middle school curriculum to middle school teachers. Let me just say that, as a crew, middle school teachers are hilarious! I suppose they have to be considering what they do every day, but I never understood how "serious" we high school teachers are. After all, we have CONTENT people! :-)
In keeping with one of my new year's resolutions, I did take some more pictures. The Portland pictures actually aren't from the conference, but from my trip to Goonie Rock with Colin and Mary. What an exquisite joy to have the opportunity to spend extra time with these life surprises. My second trip to Austin was just last week, and the weather was definitely a perk. It was hovering around 70 when I got off the plane. Oh yeah baby! And the scenery was just breathtaking, which was a complete surprise. I thought Texas was entirely FLAT, but I was wrong! Apparently, there's a huge lake in
Austin... and HILLS!!!! This picture was the view from my hotel room.
I was in the WEB room again and had a fantastic group of teachers. I always feel that way, but it was particularly true this time around. What is funny to me is that, other than my six week stint as a 6th grade reading teacher, I haven't worked in a middle school, but this season is shaping up to be the middle school season. I found out yesterday that I'm scheduled to be the one and only WEB coach next week in Missouri. That should be interesting, but I'm up for it! I know from experience, though, that Excelsior Springs isn't as picturesque as Austin. But I'll take pictures anyway!

Family: How glorious is it to have my family here. The kids are adjusting SO WELL! Bennett really enjoys his preschool and no longer wigs out about going to class at church. It still boggles my mind at times that they are HERE. Last week, I had a day off in the middle of the week and went to Costco and just ran into Rachel and Erin. And last night I went to Wapato for my Chubby Lady Support Group, and Rachel and the kids were at mom and dad's with dinner waiting! Seriously! It's just too great. Something I didn't expect, though, was the shift in my involvement with my dear sister when we go to conferences and whatnot. After I got back from Austin, Rachel and I went to a ladies' retreat with the gals from Living Faith in Philomath. It was fun, but the weird thing was that I didn't really have anybody to hang with. Normally at these things, I'm focused on getting as much Rachel-time as possible since it would be months before I saw her again, but now... well, that is how she is with her Philomath friends. So I took naps, read a book, went jogging. All good things, but just different. One of the most amusing parts of the weekend, though, was the lip sync/dance show. My group got a bag of hats, ties, jean shorts, and a CD with a little New Kids on the Block action. Great glory. It was good times.

Other stuff: I guess the biggest thing to keep y'all up-to-date on is work. I'm applying for the Dean of Student Services job at Yakima Valley Community College. This is by far the LONGEST SHOT I've ever attempted since, on paper, I am quite unqualified. I mean, hello! I have NO collegiate administrative experience! But I do play a MEAN people, tigers, and traps, and can create very positive work and learning environments. So I'll write my letter of interest this week, get letters from a few of my important people, and see what happens. I'm trying not to think too much about it, but I do pray that, if THAT is where I'm supposed to be, the doors would swing WIDE OPEN and confirmation would flow from on high! :-)

And that is it from this corner of the globe. love and sunshine -- marah jean

Monday, January 21, 2008

Finishing January


I realize it is only the 21st, so there are still 10 whole days left in this first month of 2008, but for me, it feels like I'm finishing it this week. I have three days left with the sixth graders that I have come to love, and then I'm off to Portland for 6 days of Link Crew: 1 day with Colin and Mary who are flying out early, two days of coaches training with the whole staff, then three days of facilitating WEB training, which I have never done before. By the time I get back to Yakima, it will be January 31.

The month has been full to say the least and has flown by. I'm sure the rest of the spring will follow suite. In the weeks since my last post, my sister and her family have moved to Yakima and now live just 3 miles away from me. How great is it that I could just bust over there right now if I wanted! Sweet!! It is hard to see the kids struggle with new places and people. They came to church yesterday and wouldn't go to class and then just wanted to go home. Rachel was quite sad. They have only been here a week, so it is not surprising, just makes my aunties heart ache a bit.

And that is really it from here. As I travel about the country this spring, I'm determined to take more pictures. I didn't take but a few last year and I may never be to those places again. This year, I shall document!!!

The most noteworthy picture of this month is the result of a bet my 5th period class had. They bet me I wouldn't wear my hair in a mohawk. Apparently they know me not!