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Friday, December 28, 2007

Busy-bee me!

For "vacation," I sure seem to stay busy. It never ceases to amaze me!

This week at home has flown by, which is both good and bad. I wish I had a little more time here with my family, as the visit is going really well, but at the same time, I am kind of ready to be back in my apartment and move ahead with other things I am looking forward to.

At our annual Christmas Eve dinner with family friends, the Georges, my pal Rachel said something that has stuck with me. She just studied abroad in Costa Rica (that tiny little country that captured me years ago) for three months, and was making some observations to me , a week after she returned. Costa Rica, beautiful La Fortuna and Volcan Arenal.

Rachel said she appreciated the fact that life in Costa Rica is unhurried, which is an understatement, but that more than that, that they live moment to moment, not always thinking ahead to the next thing on their "to-do" list, but rather, enjoying each moment and activity to the fullest.

I thought that was a good rule to try and live by, and Biblical too. So, I have been trying to enjoy my time at home to the fullest, and I think I have appreciated what I have - both in Maryville and in Wake Forest - that much more because of it.

It has been wonderful to spend time with my parents and my brother, and see some of my best friends. I was able to spend the afternoon hiking with one yesterday (4.5 miles! Woo) and shopping for her wedding dress with the other today. Tomorrow the whole high school crew will show up here for a wedding shower I am throwing for another of my friends who is getting married in February. My, we do grow up so quickly. The picture was taken the night before senior year of high school started....The 8 out to dinner.

I have to say, were you to ask me right after high school graduation what my life would look like 5 years down the road, where I would be living, what I would be doing, and which of my friends would be getting married, I know my answers would have been radically different than the way things are shaping up now.

I saw an old crush the other day. It made me think of the Garth Brooks' song that goes, Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. As a friend pointed out, there are no unanswered prayers: God always answers them, sometimes he just answers them 'no.' After seeing this guy, all I can say is, 'Praise God for telling me no.'

There are so many things I have asked the Lord for over the years that his answer has been 'no', apparently, or at least a 'not now.' Job situations, friendships, relationships, Denver, attitude adjustments, etc. I am so thankful for the way the Lord works things out in my life, despite what I ask for, in "all my humanly wisdom." His wisdom is so much greater. Thank you, Lord, for working things out for the good, despite me and my planning.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Home for the holidays

There is something so special and sweet about being home with family at Christmastime. I don't think there will ever be any place so comforting and calming as being home, with my house decorated for Christmas, the fridge full of tasty food, the lights off except for those on the Christmas tree and on the mantle and my family and pets around.

Lucky and Rudy Poody (my parents' dog and cat) are fat and fluffy this time of the year. Neither one of them really welcomes Ben into the house...they're old and set in their ways I guess :) Last night, Lucky stole Ben's bone and started chomping on it. Ben tried to take it back and got growled at, so he stopped and looked at me, confused. Then, the cat started hissing at him and making this eerie high-pitched meow, which is basically his "Come and get it, dog. I'll take your eye out," sound. It's never good to hear that. So anyways, Lucky is growling at Ben, Rudy is hissing at him, and Ben is stuck in the middle, looking very shame-faced and scared about his situation. Ah, it made me laugh.

Church this morning was good too. It's interesting to come home to my church, and see how things have changed, and to compare it to what I have gotten used to now at Bayleaf. In a lot of ways, they're very similar, but there are some differences too. We now have a women pastor on staff; she doesn't preach, but she led the congregation in prayer. I haven't studied that topic enough, but I know it seems weird after getting used to being taught by men....Anyways, I ought to look into that so I can make intelligent comments on it, rather than just rambling!

Hope my faithful readers are having a wonderful Christmas Eve eve!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Within a Yard of Hell

"My message is: Anything that comes your way as a human being, your condition should not lead you to feel you are not important. As long as you are alive, God has a plan for you.

~John Sahr, attacked by rebels in the war-torn country of Sierra Leone in 1991. He was beaten and tortured by 6 teenage boys, who left him to die after plunging his head into boiling water.

Sahr's story was published by the St. Petersburg Times, along with the testimonies of other people who became victims of the civil wars of Sierra Leone and Liberia. Find more about it here. Photographer John Kaplan captured the brutality of the torture methods used, and captured the poignantly beautiful spirit of survival.

If John Sahr, whose head was put into boiling water, recognizes he still has a purpose on this earth, who am I, who has led an infinitely more cushy life than he, to not acknowledge that I have a purpose here, too?

What is God's plan for my life? Where am I being called to? I do not know exactly. I only know my command is to GO. Lord, give me focus and passion to take your Word into the far corners of the Earth, wherever that may be.

"Some wish to live within the sound of church or chapel bell. I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell." ~ C.T. Studd

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bless back and pay it forward....

Bless back. Pay it forward. These two phrases are becoming increasingly common, it seems. Is the concept and the practice becoming more common as well?

A few years ago, Helen Hunt was in a movie called Pay it Forward. Though I didn't see all of it, it was about giving to other people in need, and continuing the tradition of passing on blessings, etc.

Recently I heard about a project a church in Charlotte, Elevation Church, did called the Bless Back Project. Everyone at Elevation Church on a certain Sunday was given some money, I think either $5, $10, $20, $100 or even $1000. They were instructed to use it to bless someone else. The stories were then told of how individuals and families used the money they were given, often combined with their own money, to bless someone else. Some of the stories were really cool, and you can read about them here.

This morning, I was reading AOL News (which, the people who comment on those stories are a riot, btw) and I was reading other stories of people who were given money or other necessities and how it impacted them. These aren't necessarily motivated by the same reasons, but some are interesting too, nonetheless.

Anyways, all this to say that I feel incredibly blessed especially this holiday season, and these stories have inspired me to think up some creative ways to share my blessings with others. It's a challenge for sure, because though I'm not broke, giving up money isn't an easy decision. It's just human nature I think to hoard that which we have, even though we are commanded to give. The Lord even says to "test him in this," allowing him to prove his goodness and blessings. This Christmas season, I am challenged to accept that challenge and to give, not so that I may receive more, but because Christ has already given me everything beyond what I deserve.

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." Malachi 3:10.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New look to my blog....

So, I decided to actually try and create a header for my blog today, rather than just use one of the generic ones in a template. I think it turned out well.

However, it was pointed out to me by my oh-so-loving coworkers, that as I created one using the phrase, "I am the vine, you are the koinonia," I was way off. I was sure I had seen that on a t-shirt at Union for women's small groups - Klemata....Nope. The phrase should read "I am the vine, you are the klemata," which actually makes a lot more sense when you realize the name of the group is klemata and not koinonia.

Klemata: Small off-shoots or branches.
Koinonia: Fellowship.

Maybe I shouldn't pretend to be smart by using Greek words unless I know what I am talking about. Seminary, here I come! :)

Christmas parties galore!

It's been a great weekend and last few days. Being that I am so blessed with friends, I have had lots of activities, aka Christmas parties!

Friday night kicked off party weekend with dessert with the girls at Mimi's Cafe for my birthday. It was a good time to sit and catch up and chill with everyone. I ate bread pudding...yummy. Saturday began the true Christmas celebrations, with Cookie Day and the Bayleaf Christmas party. Sunday was church, lunch at Chili's (some guy gave me my favorite dessert for free! Oh, it was the waiter :) then to the park with Ben and back to church for Yo! Christmas Tree and small group Christmas. We did a White Elephant exchange, and I ended up with the marvelous gift of a Ms. Pac Man game set...Thank you, Adam. I also received a new fondue set from Adam and Shonica to aid in my party-throwing!

We also did a Tacky Christmas Sweater party on Monday, which was a lot of fun. Bryan told me he spent about 3 hours making his sweater (for another party, not this one) and after seeing his sweater, it paid off! It was great, with lit-up snowflakes and a candy-cane filled stocking.

Finally, in the recitation of the parties, we had the office party last night. What a good time. Our "family portrait" gifts went over so well; everyone loved them! I did a puzzle, there was also a mug, a decorative plate and a mousepad, all of which were very popular.

All in all, a wonderful few days, despite feeling a little under the weather...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas cheer

I have less than 2 weeks until Christmas, and not the foggiest idea of what to buy for anyone....Ok, I do have some foggy ideas, but nothing killer. I need to hit the mall and find some presents!

Speaking of presents, my birthday is Sunday and it will be kind of weird I think. It's shaping up to just be a normal ho-hum day....La de da, another year is passing.

I bought Benny some antlers last night so we can do a Christmas photo shoot. He's so cute with them on! I got really tickled taking pictures of him last night, because it's so precious and he is so funny about it! He acts very uncertain about having anything on his head, which makes him stand still and hesitate to move at all!

Some things I am looking forward to:
Birthday dinner with my family when I get home.
A week of free (delicious!) eating and free laundry
Lindsay's wedding shower I am throwing (I need to do the invitations!)
My New Year's Eve "extravaganza" I'll be hosting
Going skiing with the college and singles from Bayleaf
Uuumm....spring/summer and fun outdoor activities

That's about it for now. Off to do some work!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Bleh...That's how I feel right now. All I want to do is go home and sleep. I don't want to walk Ben. I don't want to do my dishes. I don't want to clean. I just want to get in bed and sleep.

I wasn't feeling super earlier, but after Moe's, it's definitely not any better! Anyways.

It's been a while since I posted. Things are going pretty good, but I am feeling a little depressed about a certain situation, so that's no fun. I just don't understand why I can't seem to get over wanting something. I ask the Lord to take away the desires of my heart, and give me the desires of His heart, but I seem stuck. Maybe what I am feeling is His desire for my life, but if that's the case, where is the fulfillment? No where in sight, and when I do think I have found it, it always turns out not to be so...

In an attempt to get my mind onto other things, I turned in an adoption application for Grizzly, the dog I posted about a while back. I decided to keep Ben, as I recognize that I have a commitment to him, and I do love him. He shows signs of settling down, which is good. I am going to take him to obedience classes, for sure, so that will help too. However, I am excited to potentially get another dog. I would love to have a cuddly dog, and I know Ben would love a play-mate. I just hope it works out that I can get him and that he and Ben get along great!

In other news, Thanksgiving with the family went really well, and I am excited about Christmas!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My future....

I have felt very strongly, especially this past month or so, the call of the Lord on my life, particularly to go into full-time missions. Where? I don't know. When? Not for a little while. With who? Jesus for sure, other people maybe.

I was picturing myself in some Middle Eastern country, wearing traditional garb and "hiding" my true reason for being there (To share the Gospel). However, this week, I am feeling like the Lord may be calling me to somewhere else....I don't want to say anything right now, in case it is just my own thoughts/desires, but I will say it would be an urban environment, across the pond, utilizing my skills....

God, please make this call clear to me and make a way for me to share your good news with the world.

Ta-ta for now!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Another Benny blog

I seem to be posting a lot about Ben lately, but it's because he's a big part of my life! I took him to Greensboro Saturday (an hour and a half away) to meet with a couple who might want to adopt him.

On the way, he puked in the car because he was bouncing around so much (his own fault for not staying put!) Thankfully, he hadn't eaten his breakfast, so it wasn't too gross. We met Dan and Leslie at the dog park in Greensboro, where Ben and their dog Timber, played for a while, mostly with other dogs. We then went back to their house (my friend Erin was with me!) to see what kind of environment he would be in, if they adopted him.

All in all, I thought the visit went well. I heard from them last night though, and they don't think Ben and their family would be the best fit.... :( Sad day. Once again I am back at square 1, trying to decide what to do with him. Do I keep trying to find him a new home, get another dog, or learn to live with him? It will be harder and harder to find him a home the older he gets. It will be harder on me too, to give him away after having had him a long time.

I really would like someone to take him and make him their new friend. I would miss him terribly, but at the same time, he would be happier in a situation where he can run and play a lot more...Please pray, again. Thanks :)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Meanderings of my mind

This week began "wind down for the holidays time" at work, it seems. With our conferences over for the semester, and only one more chapel address to cover before the end of the semester, I have not been writing as much as I was. In order to stay productive, I am (mentally at this point) working on a series of stories I could do, with more in-depth interviews of students and professors in different departments.

I would like to expand my writing to stuff that is a bit more in-depth, personal profile, feature type stories, but to effectively do that, it would be good to have a good venue for publishing such things. Our department is working on switching over to a WordPress format for publishing chapel articles, etc., so I'd like to utilize that as well. However, it seems that may be slow in coming, so I have been compiling a list of the Baptist state papers so I can potentially send articles to them.

Anyways....last night I went to the Derek Webb concert at the Lincoln Theatre in downtown Raleigh. It was a cool time. I went with my friends Erin, Matt and Brandon. Derek Webb used to be the lead singer for the old-school Christian band Caedmon's Call, but broke away 6-7 years ago to write his own stuff, and to tour with his wife, Sandra McCracken, who is a very gifted artist in her own right. Her sound reminds me of Sara Groves, whose stuff I love.

Anyways, Derek's music has always been very challenging and very pro-Jesus in a radical way, so I have to say I was a bit surprised to see so many people with beers in hand at the concert. I think I have been in the Baptist realm so much I forget there is a huge segment of Christians who see nothing incompatible between having a drink and being a Christian. However, that's the way I was raised, so it should be no shock to me.

Derek said, "We certainly don't condone drunkenness, but we do condone drinking. So, go support the bar!" There was a lot of cheering to that statement (by the drinkers, I am sure) and someone said they were probably all Presbyterians. It reminded me of something J.D. Greear said at church on Sunday. "Those Presbyterians are free in Jesus all over the place!" Ha.

Anyways, Derek Webb's music continues to be challenging and original. He's a good "lyri-sologist!" I forgot how much I do love going to hear live music. Good times.

Tomorrow I am taking Ben to Greensboro, NC to meet some potential adopters. I am really praying he finds a home soon. He was so sweet this morning, but I know that does not last a long time! He gets hyper and gets to running and going crazy and I can't deal with it, so he goes back out on the deck! Poor thing needs more exercise and play-time, and I just can't do it...Is it bad that I am giving up on him? He's a good boy, he and I just have different views on our "relationship." Oh well.....

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Red tape, regulations and the lack thereof

Today has been an interesting day. I have seen the 2 extremes of how an employee can help someone out and bend the rules a bit, and of how an employee can stick rigidly to rules that may not even exist, in an effort to feed their ego.

This morning consisted of me driving to the DMV in Raleigh to get my license, which I had to have a NC license before I could register my car. So I get there, without a Social Security card or proof of residency, only to find out I need to have those things to get my license. So, I turned around and drove back to Wake Forest, got the necessary documents out of my apartment, and drove back into Raleigh and to the DMV. Once there, I had to take (and nearly failed) the written driving exam. Thankfully, I passed with the lowest score possible. When I went to write my check for my new license, I was informed I couldn't use my check because she hadn't heard of my bank before (AmSouth) so she was sure it wasn't in NC.

"How on earth is a person supposed to do anything here if they've just moved?" I asked her. She told me, "Go find an ATM, sweetheart." Finally, after getting my license, I drove to the License/Registration place in Wake Forest to get my tag for my new car (for the 2nd day in a row; yesterday was when I was told I had to have a NC license to register my car). Once there, I found out I was required to pay my car taxes again, despite the fact she had the receipt showing I paid $419 when I bought the car. Then, she felt the need to charge me another $5 (which once again, no cash) for her signature on a paper...So frustrating. 3 hours later, and I have my new license and my new tag. Oh, BTW- NC law says I have 10 days to have my car inspected...what governmental garbage. I am already sick of all these little govt. workers on a power-trip being unpleasant and unhelpful in every way imaginable. Goodness.

This afternoon, I was prepared to get ticked off again when dealing with Time Warner Cable. I was supposed to be getting a phone call to tell me a technician was on his way to turn on my cable/internet so I could meet him at the apt. The guys told me, "Fat chance. They never call until they leave and they're disgruntled b/c no one is at home."

So, imagine my surprise when I DID get a call, and I did get home to find a TWC technician waiting on me. He was really nice and worked quickly, and then gave me the added bonus of some 60+ cable channels because he didn't carry the filters with him.

It's just such a contrast between people who do things to piss you off because they could not care less about their jobs and making their customers happy and people who are pleasant and try to give you a break when they can. Thank God for chill people. I love 'em.

So tonight, I am going to enjoy a volleyball game (I'm playing; It's our last game), then Beauty and the Geek, and seeing what else is on TV and checking facebook from home! Yippee!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Busy life

Today, Mom and Brian are coming in for a visit! I'm way excited. Brian hasn't been over here yet, so it will be good to have him come and see my place and my new life! I still need to do some laundry, clean the turtle tank and clean my apartment before they get here...yowza.

Tonight, Mom is cooking for me :) Beef tips, baked potatoes and Caesar salad. Delish. Then, I'm going to highlight her hair. Tomorrow, Brian is going to put together my desk and then we may play golf, depending on weather and how we feel. Afterwards, we're eating out and then a little chocolate fountain party at my place! Yummy. I hope lots of fun people come.

I am so blessed to have friends and a family that I love. Furthermore, I am so thankful I have things to do! I was worried about making friends, and the Lord has blessed me so much in that area! Praise God. I don't deserve friends or anything good, but in His goodness, he has given me godly girls and guys to hang out with.

In other exciting news, my tv/cable/internet is getting installed on Tuesday. So exciting! Anyways, hope anyone who reads this has a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Hello, my name is Lauren and I am an addict.

Here are the things I am addicted to:
Moe's (The guys in the office could tell you that)
Dr. Pepper
Blog stalking (Nicaragua anyone??)
Looking at Craigslist pet ads

I know we all have addictions/obsessions, but I somehow feel like mine are weirder than the average person's. However, I did just feed Jason and Jerry's Dancing with the Stars addiction by asking for a recap of last night's show....They are addicted to that show, bad. Haha.

The reason I bring this up is because I have realized I have certain things that get in the way of my life/work, such as having to check Craigslist routinely or having a Dr. Pepper ("only on Mondays"....wait, I'm drinking one and it's Wednesday), or eating at Moe's on Fridays. Furthermore, I also always have to check this one blog to see if I can yet figure out what is going on! People: Please post "About Me's" so I can stop stalking you to find out how you're related to the person you're sharing a bed with!! Anyways....

So, I am a freelancer now! I did an article for BP this morning (if it an be called that. It was only about 4 graphs long...) The catch is that it was an interview done in Spanish....I am SO rusty! I could tell it was going to be bad b/c he didn't understand me ask what the name of the church was! Haha. We'll see what comes out of it, but I told the BP editor to use me again in the future. I am going to start doing some stuff with the Hispanic/ESL ministry at Summit, where I've been going to church. That should help with my skill level and at least get it back to where it ought to be after so many classes!

Update on my Halloween costume: There won't be one :( We're not dressing up anymore, just dinner. Dangit, and I had 2 good ideas!

Happy Halloween/Reformation Day!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween Ideas?

We're going out for dinner for Halloween tomorrow...I want some easy, creative ideas. When I say creative, I'm not talking "black eyed Ps" and stuff like that...I like really interesting things, like dressing as a tornado, God's gift to men, taking balloons and going as a ghost family....stuff like that.

Comment quickly if you have any ideas! Thanks

Monday, October 29, 2007

Glorious weekends....

I love weekends.

I thought I loved them in college, but being in the working world, and not having to do homework on the weekends makes me appreciate them SO much more! I did have to work a bit Saturday morning, going to the tail-end of the CS Lewis Conference. Just as I suspected, I often felt like an idiot there. During dinner on Friday night, I sat with 2 people who presented papers, and they kept up a steady stream of intelligent chatter I understood little of. There were also 2 guys who were grad. students, one of which I knew, so I talked to him and didn't feel totally dumb.

The whole dinner, CS Lewis' theories on ???? were discussed. Way over my head. The two paper-presenters discussed misogyny, Lewis' views on purgatory, his liturgical influences on his faith, and other topics of which I am as equally unversed. Thankfully, the speaker, Walter Hooper (the literary executor of the CS Lewis estate) was fantastic, down-to-earth and a pleasure to listen to. He spoke about what it was like to know, live with, and spend quality time with CS Lewis, "Jack" and how conversing with him was just like his books. I also thoroughly enjoyed my steak dinner. :)

Saturday, after the conference I did some laundry, watched a movie, ate a bagel and checked my Facebook. I took Ben to the dog park for a few minutes before meeting Stacie, the potential adopter. I really liked her, her home, her dogs and her kittens. Ben seemed to thoroughly enjoy it all, as well. I would happily give him to her, but she has to wait until Delta (the foster dog) is adopted before she'll take Ben. He behaved well all weekend, so I am more willing to keep him until the right home becomes available.

Saturday night Lindsay came over and we watched the Breakup, which was good, and I took in a homeless kitty for the night. He promptly used my nice bath rug as a litter box, thus stinking up my bathroom...I couldn't keep him, so he has been taken to a vet's office to be taken care of.

Ben and I went back to the dog park Sunday for a good long while, then I folded my clothes while watching TV. I went grocery shopping and then went to wePod at Bayleaf last night, which I really liked. I love the Sunday services at Summit, and the idea of helping with the ESL/Hispanic ministry excites me, but I do love the wePod at Bayleaf....I'm praying the Lord will make it clear where I should plug in and join!

In exciting news, mom and Brian are coming into town on Friday to spend the weekend with me! Yay! That means golfing and who knows what else? I'm very excited to see them and have B see my place!

That's all the procrastinating I can do for now...I should go write about CS Lewis!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Send up a little prayer....

Ben has a meeting tomorrow with a potential adopter! She sounds great, and exactly the kind of home I'd like to see him in. She has another dog: female, same age, same breed mix. She takes her dog swimming and walking and running alot, and sounds very conscientious about vet stuff - a definite must. There are 2 issues: Another dog she is fostering that she has to find a home for before she can adopt Ben, and 2 kittens. Pray that if this is the right home for Ben, which I think it sounds like it could be, hat it would work out and I would have a peace about it!

Today I am covering the CS Lewis conference on campus. Some very big names, in the Lewis world, are here, and I get to write about them! I only wish I was more familiar with Lewis and his works. I know the basics, but I'd sure like to feel like a smart kid! Haha.

Tonight, after the conference, I am hoping to go meet up with Laura and her friends and go to a blues club. Laura is someone who I met a couple of weeks ago. Her mom and my mom were good friends in college. They met during a Campus Crusade event, and have stayed in touch ever since. Now Laura lives nearby, and we met, and she's a lot of fun! So, hopefully, I'll be able to do meet up with her and her friends tonight to go to the blues place.

It's a dreary weather day here...chilly and slightly raining. "Pelo do gato" or cat hair rain, as they say in CR. Speaking of CR, I am dying to go somewhere and see and experience a new culture and see how the Lord is working in other places!

Everyone here at Southeastern is so culturally experienced. So many of the people I have met are former Journeymen (a 2-year mission program of the IMB) or have been involved in missions and travel in some form or fashion. It makes me travel experiences seem puny! I feel more and more certain the Lord is calling me to the nations, and I am excited to find out in what capacity. Right now, I am just itching to go somewhere, even for 2 weeks! I have my sights set on Zimbabwe in summer of 08....we'll see what pans out!

Anyways, praise God for the rain, and the onset (finally) of fall weather! Also, praise the Lord for the weekend, which is just about here. Remember to pray for an excellent home for my Benny baby!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Home for Ben

I have decided, very tearfully, that it would be best for me to find a new home for Ben, where he can play and run around in a yard. I posted some pictures of him, along with a glowing description of him, on Craigslist, and I've gotten 3 responses thus far. I like the sounds of one of the options, as the lady has another dog who is indoor/outdoor. I am also going to post some things on campus, at a local pet store, and at some vet's offices in hopes of finding him a home.

Continue to pray that he finds one, and that it is a GREAT match for him....It makes me so sad to do this, but I think it would be better for us both in the long run.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I love little surveys

I saw this on someone else's blog, and I figured I'd do it on mine too. Feel free to pass it along.

A) Four Jobs I've had in my life:
1.) Sonic carhop
2.) Olive Garden waitress
3.) PR/marketing associate
4.) News & information specialist at SEBTS

B) Four Movies I Would Watch Over and Over :
1.) Zoolander
2.) Fried Green Tomatoes
3.) Steel Magnolias
4.) Wedding Planner

C) Four Places I have lived:
1.) St. Petersburg, FL (till I was 9)
2.) Maryville, TN (home!)
3.) Jackson, TN (college)
4.) Wake Forest, NC (work at SEBTS)

D) Four TV Shows I watch:
These are about the ONLY 4 shows I watch at all right now, as I have 4 channels
1.) Beauty and the Geek
2.) America's Next Top Model
3.) Gossip Girl
4.) Grey's Anatomy at Erin's

E) Four Places I have been on vacation:
1.) The Baltic countries (England, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden and Denmark)
2.) The "British Isles" including Ireland, N. Ireland, and Scotland
3.) S. America - Argentina, Brazil & Paraguay
4.) Ecuador (not really vacation so much as a study abroad)

F) Four People Who call Me Regularly:
1.) Mom & Dad
2.) Baugh
3.) Lindsay C.
4.) Kristi S.

G) Four of my favorite foods:
1.) Mashed potatoes
2.) cookie dough
3.) salmon
4.) any tasty chicken dishes

H) Four places I would rather be right now:
1.) Home at my apartment
2.) Home home in Maryville
3.) Central or South Africa
4.) Europe

I) Four friends that I think will respond:
1.) Pretty sure no one will

J.) Things I am looking forward to this year:
1.) Continuing to enjoy life on my own
2.) Thanksgiving and Christmas with family
3.) Getting a dog that I can cuddle with
4.) Seeing how the Lord uses me for his ministry

Well, that's how it goes here. Another busy day at the office.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I have found in the past that writing helps me to get my thoughts sorted out, especially when they're all jumbled. Maybe that's why I chose the field I did. Anyways, here goes on my jumbled thoughts.

I have had my dog Ben, since April, and though I love him a lot, I am debating about whether or not to keep him. He will be 8 months old tomorrow, and he is such a handful. I was hoping that after being in the apartment a while, his behavior would begin to change, and it has a bit, but not significantly. He continues to jump and bite (play-biting though, not meanly) and try to destroy stuff around the apartment. To date, he has chewed up several magazines, chewed the wood trim around the patio door, ripped some paint off the wall in the laundry room. However, his destructiveness seems to be abating some in the last week or so.

Also, he is incredibly hyper. I take him for at least one good walk a day, and usually one other one where I let him off-leash for a bit to run, but his hyper-ness remains. Furthermore, if I am in the room with him, he has to be playing or trying to get my attention. While endearing at times, it also gets exhausting. The only way I have found to subdue him is to give him a bone, but once it's done, he's ready to play again. He also is not even close to a guard-dog, unless you come to the door with a dog yourself or as a giant green trash can.

I cannot decide if all of this is simply a puppy-phase he will grow out of, or not. He doesn't seem to have an overwhelming desire to please, unless it means something good for him.

However, I have seen small improvements over the last week and a half or so. He is more willing to come inside and lay down and watch me cook dinner than he used to be. He also has not been getting in his really feisty biting moods lately, as long as I am willing to devote a specific bit of "Benny time" to him. He has shown a propensity for catching his squeaky toy, which makes him quite delighted to do. Furthermore, he is almost calm on the weekends after taking him to the dog park.

Then, there are the financial considerations, which shouldn't be a concern, but they are. He is all paid for already, including obedience classes which are scheduled to begin next week. However, if I decide to rehome him, I will get the $110 refund on the classes, which I will use to get an older, calmer dog. Also, I need to know if I will have to repay the pet fee at the apartment if I get a different dog...I have found one named Grizzly on Petfinder, who is a calm, companion dog. He is a Newfie mix, who is 100% housetrained, also said to be "the perfect guard-dog." I have a feeling he would require less walks and specific play attention, be more of a cuddler and trustworthy inside, than Ben.

*sigh* I don't think this has made anything any clearer, except that maybe I want two dogs. I don't want to have to give up Ben, but I also want a dog who can sleep in my room through the night, who I feel like would protect me, who is a cuddler, and who I can trust alone in the house, so he's not relegated to the deck or the laundry room unless I am home.

One other consideration, if I do decide to find a new home for Ben. I would love him to go to our friends Pete and Hilly's house. They have about 4 fenced acres, with about 6 other dogs. I think Ben would love it. That, then, presents a new set of logistics to work around if that was the case.

All I can do is pray about the situation, and pray the Lord makes it clear one way or another to me. I want to know what to do. I'm going to end this novel by putting up a picture of my little rascal, as well as a picture of the dog Grizzly (who would have his name changed...)

If anyone reads this, please tell me your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Thoughts on things in WF

The Lord is speaking loud and clear to me lately: Missions. Do it.

I am feeling the call to the mission field more and more lately, and I have to admit, it excites and terrifies me. I have no idea when, where or how, but I know He wants me to go. That thrills me. What doesn't thrill me is that I bought a new car on Saturday, a beautiful white (of course, all of my cars have been white) XTerra. Her name is Lily. But I have committed making payments for the next five years...Who knows about that stuff.

I have had this verse in my head lately: "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" I know the Lord will provide for me, and make his way clear to me. I also know, however, that I have been planted here at SEBTS for a time, and that period is only just beginning.

In other news, pray for me about a situation with my dog, Ben. I need that to become clear to me....

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The devil is trying to get me down

It has been an interesting couple of weeks. Here are the details of what has gone wrong:

1) The hate letter about Ben and the joke played that made me cry (Not terrible, but not fun either)
2) Dealing with issues about Dad's car. I was about to drive it to Raleigh to get a "thumping" noise fixed when the spark plugs and wires went out, meaning I was driving on 2 cylinders, meaning I didn't really drive at all. $500+
3) Figuring out what was wrong with my car (in Maryville since before I moved). It needs two new catalytic converters, new tires, and maybe something else. $700+ for the converters, and who knows how much more for the rest.
4) Realizing I was going to have to get a new car because mine was not financially-smart to try and fix.
5)Hitting (and killing) a baby deer while driving Dad's car home from church. $700 worth of repairs.
6) Frustration over my dog's bad behavior, thus enrolling him in obedience classes $100
7) Getting bit or stung by something unknown, causing a "fever" in my arm and a lot of uncomfortableness

I figure all this bad luck must be the devil trying to get me down, because I totally feel like I am here for a purpose and to learn something and do something great. I am trying to keep a positive attitude about everything, but it is getting a bit difficult...

In other news, I am excited about the church I have been visiting, and how I will be able to plug in there. I'm looking forward to getting involved in a small group with other young professionals and possibly helping lead some ESL classes through the Hispanic ministry!

Pray for my arm, that it would stop swelling and looking funky, and a safe trip home tomorrow (yay!!) to Maryville to look for a NEW CAR! Praise God for all I am learning about him, and for the way he is challenging me so I might have a stronger faith.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Having lived here in Wake Forest for 3+ weeks now, I felt it was time to update and let my "faithful readers" (ha, yeah right) in on what is going on in my life.

I moved here on Labor Day weekend, and promptly moved into a dorm on campus, where I had my own bedroom (not roommate, thankfully) but shared a bathroom with 2 girls. Though I was really wary of living in a dorm, even temporarily, it ended up being a blessing because I was able to meet some girls who weren't married, unlike all of my other friends here. I went to the beach with 5 of them that first weekend, to Kristi's parents' condo. It was a great weekend, and a great chance to hang out with them.

Last weekend, my parents, along with Ben, Splash and Scooter made their way to Wake Forest, and we moved into my new apartment. I love the apartment itself, though I'll admit I do get a bit lonely. If I had friends living in the same complex, that I could walk over (like I am used to doing in a dorm situation) I think it would be less lonely.

However, I do know that I have neighbors, because one of them felt such an overwhelming sense of concern for my dog, Ben, that they left me a hateful letter on my door, threatening to call Animal Patrol if I didn't stop putting him on the porch. The guys in the office oh-so-kindly took my story to heart and called me, pretending to be animal control, questioning me about it, and thus inducing me to tears for a solid 15 minutes before I was let in on the joke. What punks.

Life and work at Southeastern is really good though. I enjoy my job in that fact that I get the opportunity to listen to a variety of excellent speakers who challenge me, my faith, and my actions in a world that is hurting and dying to see the true love of Christ in His disciples. Recently, I have heard two messages preached on the the parable of the prodigal sons. I say sonS, plural, because it has come to my attention lately that this is not just a story about one wayward son, it is the tale of two children who care nothing for the Father, and only for their own agendas.

Whether or not I act like the younger son or the older son, and whether or not I outrightly deny my Father or pretend to be good and obedient to get around Him, I have sinned against Him either way. I am no better, being the "good older son" who stays and acts good, than the younger sons who don't pretend and just run. I am no better of a Christian than any other believer, and in fact both pastors compared the older sons to the Pharisees, who were too caught up in their self-righteousness and religiousness to love the Father fully, and rejoice with Him over the lost who are now found.

If I am to call myself a Christian, a little Christ, then why should I not rejoice with God and the angels over EVERY person who accepts the gift of salvation? Rejoicing over finding what was once lost is a mandate that translates into a passion for the Great Commission.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

End of summer, beginning of a new chapter

Well, summer has drawn to a close, my friends are back at school and starting classes, and I am packing up to move. I landed a job at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, which I am very excited about!

I move on Monday to Wake Forest, NC and start work as the News and Information Specialist on Tuesday. I found an apartment, and I think I'm going to love it! The thrill of being on my own, decorating my own place, caring for my space, and cooking for myself is very real right now. That might all change after a couple weeks on my own, but we'll see.

My apartment won't be ready until almost 2 weeks after I move to Wake Forest, so that means I'll be living on campus in the girl's dorm. Though I'm thankful for such a cost-efficient solution (believe me, saving money is definitely something I am into right now) I am not excited about going back to dorm life, even if for 2 weeks. I think it will be an awkward transition. Mom thinks it's a great way to focus solely on my job for the first two weeks. The other benefit I see is maybe meeting some girls to become friends with who AREN'T married, like all of my contacts over there are!

I am just excited to get into my new place and start to put together everything I have bought to decorate it! Mom said I should do a blog about "How to Furnish and Decorate an Apartment for $1,000" which is what I have done. The Lord has blessed me so much in my hunt for good bargains on nice furniture, etc. Maybe more to come on that subject later (with pictures!).

Tomorrow I am driving to Jackson to see some of my college friends one last time before I move. It will be really good to see them and hang out, but also bittersweet to say goodbye. My new home in Wake Forest/Raleigh is 10 1/2 hours from Jackson, so I don't see myself going back in the near future once I start the job.

Please pray for my transition, both into the new job and apartment, but also into life by myself. I think it will be really good for me to live alone, and I just hope I can hack it!

Monday, May 21, 2007

I'm a graduate!

Saturday I graduated from Union University, after 4 wonderful years. I had a great weekend with my parents and Brian, and my aunt and uncle. It was beautiful weather all weekend, so it made the outside-hanging out much more enjoyable!

Since Saturday night, when I walked across the stage and received my diploma, I have been feeling like everything is a little surreal and reminiscent of this time 4 years ago. Once again, I stand on the edge. I know and love what is behind me, but I can't go back. I don't know what lies ahead, but I am ready to jump into it!

I have been trying to unpack and get settled back into Maryville (aka, SLOW) life since I got home last night. It's been a good day, but I need to face reality tomorrow. That means, sending out job applications, resumes, clips, etc. in hopes of landing a "career" type job. Also, I need to be calling River Rat to see if they'll take me back for a few weeks this summer :) That'd be dandy, so I'd have some income!

I'm still looking at Denver, DC and Nashville. I am so torn about Nashville. On one hand, I don't want to move there, because I feel like it is so safe and not a challenge for me. Denver seems so exciting and like such an amazing growing experience. However, my family is in Maryville, and I don't know that I want to move 20 hours away. Also, I probably have the best chance of getting a Nashville job over anything else. So....we shall see I guess. If you read this, I ask for your prayers. I need discernment over where the Lord wants me to be, and what I ought to be doing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Less than a week....

It's Monday night, and I graduate (Lord willing) on Saturday. I cannot believe it is this close. I have had a wonderful couple of days of "finals week" as i have not been studying much, but rather playing, laying out, hanging out with Ben and friends, and enjoying my last days at Union.

I am growing increasingly sad to leave this place. It has been my home, my domain, my stomping grounds, whatever for four years, and after Saturday, I don't know if I will ever come back.

The devil has been working hard to make me angry and ready to get out, so that I will forget to cherish all of the great memories I made here. Last week, my computer crashed before I had 3 papers due, and I lost part of a magaine article I had written 5 minutes before it was due. So, I panicked, but the Lord sustained me, made everything OK, and gave me peace.

Now I am on a bittersweet journey through these last few days of my life here. I cried in church on Sunday when we sang "You are God alone. Before time began, you were on your throne. You are God alone" because I know those words are true, but I am finding it hard to always trust His plan and rest in His sovereignity. I know He will bring about good things for me, but its so hard to live that, when I know I am leaving one of the best times of my life.

I am excited about the next phase though, whatever that may be. A move to Denver perhaps, a new job, a new apartment, quality time with Ben, and meeting new people! I am looking forward to seeing my family on Friday and getting home to rest and enjoy the simple pleasures of life at home in Maryville for a few weeks. Aftet that, who knows where I'll be or what I'll be doing? I sure don't!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Two weeks till graduation

It's amazing how much can change in a week. Really, it's amazing how much can change in a day. On Monday, after posting my last entry, I had a talk with my roommate.

Jenn was the one I was supposed to be living with in Nashville after graduation. We had both been job hunting there, and had gone to look at apartments together. I was not really any more excited to move to Nashville after looking at apartments than I was after Spring Break, when I first realized I don't really want to be living in Nashville right now. Actually, Nashville isn't terrible, nor is it completely crossed off, but it definately hasn't been my first choice in a while.

More than anything, I have been feeling reluctant about Nashville, but tied to Jenn, because I would be a crummy friend if I bailed now, and I knew she didn't want to move there alone.

Anyways, we talked Monday, and she told me she did not have a peace about Nashville, and she was moving home instead. The Lord used her reluctance to free me from a commitment I no longer wanted to keep! Praise the Lord. I was free to do what I wanted!

Since Monday, I have checked out jobs in Denver (choice #1) as well as D.C. (choice #2, but the cost of living is SO high). I will begin sending out my resume as soon as possible, and see what doors the Lord opens up.

I am trusting Him to provide a job, an apartment, and a roomie-even though I don't know a soul in either city! He is faithful, and He will provide, if I will only wait on Him!

"...See I set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him." ~Deuteronomy 30:19-20.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Three weeks till graduation

I am graduating from college in 3 weeks. In my mind, I am graduating and leaving behind that which I know and am exceedingly comfortable in. This perceieved comfort level might be the reason I want the next phase to push me, and cause me to grow, but unfortunately, I don't know what exactly that next phase will be.

I want to be pushed out of my comfort zone. I want to be excited about my job, and my life. I want to do something now, while I am young and without anything major tying me down, that I will probably never do later in life. Does this mean moving to a huge city (DC, Chicago), moving to another country (in Latin America or Italy), or merely moving to Nashville, and trusting the Lord to make it exciting enough for me.....I wish I knew.

If you read this, please pray for guidance and direction, and that I stay in the Lord's will for my life, and not my own. I am having trouble distinguishing His desires from my own.

Lord, give me a discerning heart.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

In Quito

My exam Tuesday went OK. I passed, which is what matters I guess. In normal terms I made a 79%, which is not good for me, but oh well. It´s over.

I made it to Quito last night, and spent a good night in the hotel. I am back there at that hotel now, which was great about letting me keep my stuff there all day while I explored! It´s a cute and cozy place, and I´m glad the school recommended it to me!

Today I went to Mitad del Mundo, the center of the Earth, aka the Ecuator, which was cool. There was a good museum. It only took me 2 hours to figure out the buses up there, a grand total of 20K. Haha. Oh well, I made it. Then, more bus frustration and direction problems trying to get to the Mercadi Mariscal, but again I made it. I had some time, so I went to the Plaza Grande, which was really pretty. There was a group of Hare Krishna in the plaza singing and talking about saving nature, but they made for an interesting atmosphere. I walked around the historic district for a bit, and enjoyed the city, then went to a really good restaurant my book recommended, and now I am about to head to the airport!!

I was actually really sad to leave Cuenca yesterday. i felt like I was leaving home again. But at the same time, I am SO excited to get HOME HOME Friday! Love and see you soon.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Last day in Cuenca=Stress

Oh my goodness, I have a TON of homework tonight. A TON. I cant get over it. Plus, I have my exam this afternoon to show how much I have learned.....I am stressed about that, because I don´t know that I will do good on it, and I don´t feel prepared! please pray today!

It´s really weird that this is my last full day in Cuenca and tomorrow I start the long journey home! It has flown and crawled by....

I hope everyone is happy to be back at Union! I miss you guys. See you Monday!

Facebook gave me a link to let people not on it look at my photos. I hope it works for you! First photo album Second photo album

Fun/Funny time at Jambeli

This was actually written Sunday night, but as blogger has not be letting me post, it´s a bit dated!

Well, I just got back from the beach at Jambeli, and it was a good weekend! We left Friday at 1¨:30 from school, and caught the 2 o´clock bus to Machala, the big city near the island. From there, we took a cab to Puerto Bolivar, which is the banana export capital of Ecuador (banana are commmonly known here as oro verde, green gold). From Puerto Bolivar, we took a dinky little boat out to Jambeli, which is a dinky little island. On on side its all mangrove trees and looks like the Everglades, and on the other side is the beach and some little restauarants.

So we get there Friday evening, and not havign a hotel booked, we set off down the street looking for one. Mind you, there are 2 street on the island (streets, but not cars). We found one hotel recommended b Lonely Planet and booked 4 rooms. They were crap. Haha. Really hot, one sheet on the beds, no toilet seat cover or toilet seat, no shower head, just a hose out of the wall, and definately no shower curtain. But hey, it was $5 a night, so I didnt expect much better.

After we dropped off our stuff, we went for dinner, where I ordered ceviche, a local specialty. Its kind of like a cold coup with conch meat or shrimp or fish in it. I had it in Guatemala and liked it was disgusting. So I ended up eating someone else meal that she didnt like, and all was well. The rest of the weekend was spent hanging out, eating, laying in the sun, talking, playing volleyball, etc. It was fun.

The island had a very different feel than any beach I´ve ever been to, more liek Jamaica or something. But it definately had a personality all its own!The people in Machala and Jambeli are a lot more lecherous and crude than the Cuencanos. In Cuenca, I normally only get 6 or 7 rude whistles and noises in a 15 minute walk. On the island, I got about 15 crude whistles every 5 minutes. Yuck. Also, the water in the Pacific is a lot saltier than the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico! The Spanish on the island is harder to understand. It´s almost like what I imagine Spain spanish to be like, where they drop their ¨s¨ from their words and slur everything. Maybe its because everone on the island seemed drunk. Ha. Anyways, just a few differences I noticed.

I´m not as tan as I´d like, but oh well. It was still fun! I talked to my parents tonight when I got back, and I am looking forward to Friday, when I get home. I have 2 intense days of classes, followed by an exam, and one more random day of class, then a flight to Quito, a trip to the Ecuator, a trip to a big market, and then my trip home! Hooray!! I´d love to come back here when I don´t have the pressure of learning spanish for credit hanging over me, and when I have a friend too. I miss you guys :(

One week from tonight I´ll be back at Union! Cant wait to see everyone! Love to you all.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Off to the beach!

I am off to the little island of Jambeli!! There is a group of 8 of us that is going to spend the weekend laying in the sun at the beach, and just enjoying (for me, my last) weekend here!!

Yesterday I was sick sick sick. I left classes early to go home and sleep, where I slept an extra 7 hours, in addition to going to bed at 10. Haha. I dont know what had me, but something did!!

This morning we went to the panama hat factory, which ironically enough, are actually originally from Ecuador, not Panama. Who would have thought?? I learned a lot about the process though, and took some photos. Maybe I'll pu some up on Monday if I have time. I have to make up 2 classes (one on one) and start studying for my credit test I have to take!! So, if I have time, I will post some new pics after the weekend.

Hope everyone has a great weekend off from classes, or a great last week before classes begin again! I'll be thinking of you all as I lay in the sun!! haha. Love!

Thanks....a bit better

Thanks to those of you who continue to encourage me while I am here, both with your words to me and to our Lord! I appreciate both so much.Today has been a bit better. I havent been as down in the dumps, and I havent cried at all! Yes! haha.

I just got done with my last dance class (sad....) and am getting ready to go to a fondue restaurant with denise, raban and jamie. Fun times.

This weekend is the beach at Jambeli, a small fishing village and bird-watching beach. I am just excited to get a tan before I go home :) HaWell, off to eat (something new and different!!) Love to all

Estoy frustrada!

Today has been tough. I am just feeling like I dont know nearly enough of what I need to know, and that my time here has not been that productive, and I hate this feeling. I am just frustrated in general, and we all know I cry and eat a lot when I get frustrated, so you can imagine how my day has gone.....So tomorrow is Wednesday, and that means I leave Cuenca in exactly a week. Crazy. The time here has crawled by and flown by at the same time. Necesito habler solomente in español para el resto de mi tiempo dificil. Please pray for me, friends! I am depending on your prayers. And let me know whats going on at home, too, so I can be in prayer for yáll as well. Thanks, and much love.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A lot on my mind....

Hello friends: Hope you all are enjoying the pictures! They took forever to upload, so I may not do another installment until I am back in the states.

Today was Ingapirca, the Inca ruins in a nearby town. They were really cool, with a lot of history and strategy behind them. Our guide was in Spanish, and though he told me a bit more in English when I asked, I feel like there is more that I didnt learn because I didnt understand. However, I did get most of it, so thats good. We stopped at a market on the way there, and also at this church built into a rock, which was really neat.

The church got me thinking (oh boy, deep stuff) about how easy it is to be superficial in our faith. The way the church was set up: it sits high up on a hill, for everyone to see and think that its nice and pretty, but I dont think very many people visit it. If you do go, its a bit of a climb to get into the main sanctuary, which is dedicated to Mary, or Ave Maria, La Virgen del Rocio. This sanctuary was like something out of Vegas, with a ton of decorations and the name written in neon lights. Like the sanctuary, you can get some of the faith (Mary) with a whole lot of fluff and polish for not a lot of work. Then, 14 stories higher up the hill, there is a summit with a small, humble building dedicated to Jesus, with a crucifix and some flowers inside. Not nearly as showy, but a much harder level to reach. The view from up there was incredible.

So maybe there are 3 basic levels of faith, the view from the road that is nice but not that enticing, the view inside the sanctuary which is all show and very little substance, and the view from the top, where jesus is. Its a LOT harder to reach, but totally worth the climb when you get there! Anyways.....I am going to try even harder to not settle for the bottom two levels.

Another thing today that got me thinking. During our tour of Ingapirca, there were a bazillion plants that had names carved into them. Think a cactus but softer, with peoples names and thoughts carved into the leaves. I started carving my initials in one leaf, and the Prof from the US started chastising me for ´´hurting that poor plant that never did anything to you.´´ I dont know what bothered my more, the fact that she embaressed me, or the fact that she stuck up for a plant when 20 minutes earlier she had been making fun of one of the ladies in our group. It just seems like a twisted set of ideals, if you ask me. I think she is a big hippie though (from other things she has said and done), so it shouldnt surprise me that she got upset about the plant. I am encountering SO many people here with other ideals and faiths, and thats hard. Its hard because the are so blase about it, and seem to not care at all......Most of the time I hear,´I dont believe in God, its just a waste of time´and I want to ask them if that gets exhausting? I would think it would be so tiring thinkin all your world is about you, and that there is nothing bigger than you to fall back on! Anyways....

But speaking of hipocrisy (of the teacher), I want to apologize. I feel like I am doing the very thing here that I have often chastised people about at school, with going to places like clubs and dancing, even fi there is no drinking involved! Im sorry for doing the same thing here, after I told you not to. Forgive me, please!

Anyways. Today has been a weird day mentally. I have had a lot on my mind, and I am feeling fairly melancholy and homesick. I cant wait to get back and see all your faces! Apparently, East TN is gearing up for a winter storm, which means it has hit Jackson, maybe. Hope you all are safe! Love-Lauren

Friday, January 19, 2007

The weekend

Really nothing exciting to report here. I went to a parilla for dinner after cooking class last night. Both the tamales in class and the steak at the restaurant were delicious! So much for cutting down my appetite while I am here! haha

Tonight Im going out with the regulars, because its the Swiss girls last official night in Cuenca. Tomorrow, I plan on sleeping and relaxing and HOPEFULLY finding a place to upload my photos! Start praying now, because I am ready for you all to see whats going on!

I think I am going to the beach next weekend. My prof told me the bus schedule and good directions, and it would be CHEAP to get there. I want some people to go too, but dont know if that will happen. I want to tavel at least a little bit outside of Cuenca while I am here.

Anyways......yeah. Nothing spectacular but I am grateful to be here having this adventure, even though I am missing home and Union! Soon enough though, Ill be back. Today is the halfway mark. Exactly 2 weeks ago today I arrived in Cuenca, and exactly 2 weeks from today Ill arrive home. Cant believe its gone that fast! Anyways. Love to all! Have a good weekend!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

So tired!

Last night was exhausting, but fun. The dance class was fun, and I had an interesting time at La Mesa, the salsa place. I danced with one of the guys who is a friend fo a friend, and a salsa teacher. It was a good time, but not really my scene.

However, I LOVED the indiginous ballet! It was AMAZING! Seriously, I can´t tell you how great it was. I know. How can a ballet be that great? It wasnt normal ballet, but instead, an exhibition of traditional Ecuadorean songs and dances from the various people groups around Ecuador. They all did a traditional dance from their region, and they were so cool! Seriously, if I can get my pictures to work, I´ll let you all see some! Maybe even some videos too!

The soccer game today was fun. It wasn´t quite as exciting as I think Argentinian games must have been for my brother, people were relatively calm, especially compared to the crazy Swiss people I was with! They cheered for Switzerland and Sweden (the opposing team) and Ecuador in a various languages. They´re a bunch of fun.

This weekend I am maybe going to go off on an adevnture by myself, I haven´t decided. Part of me wants to go to some little town and stay in a hostel on Friday/Saturday, but we´ll see. All the girls from Swrizerland are leaving saturday, so I want to be here for their last night. Sunday, I am going to Ingapirca, some of the best preserved Incan ruins in the region. Very cool. I am excited, but maybe that is the nerdy side of me that enjoys history! I had the choice to go to Ingapirca with people from school, or to Cajas Natl. Park with some of the guys from England and Swtzerland. I decided not to go with the boys to the natl. park. I thought I could maybe make a better decision. Anyways.

Last night at La Mesa was weird, because being here, I am constantly reminded of things. Some things I forget, like how it feels to be the only Christian/non-drinker/non-smoker in a room full of people who are not. Being here also reminds me of other trips I´ve taken, and other great people I´ve met......sad that those rarely work out and that I´ve lost touch with some of them.

Anyways, I´m rambling and spilling my thoughts in a random way. I´m going home to change out of my jersey for cooking class tonight. We´re learning how to make tamales con yuca. :) Hope everyone has a good night! -Lauren

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Busy day....

I am exhausted, and my night has not even started! After class today, five of us went to the market (actually my second time today, because we went with our converstion class.) Its cool, mostly clothing, trinkets, and fruits and veggies. I bought some fruit this morning (zapote, not so tasty) and then bought some sunglasses and a t-shirt this afternoon.The t-shirt is an ecuador jersey for the futbol game tomorrow!! Haha. We all bought them to wear to the game against Sweden tomorrow. I am really excited about the game. After all my brothers stories about Argentinian and other futbol games, this should be fun. I asked my teacher about chants, but she didnt know any :( Ill learn tomorrow!

Here in about 30 minutes, I have dance class. Tonight, we learn the meringue (mer-ain-gay). After that, I am going with a group the the indiginous ballet, should be interesting, and then to La Mesa, a salsa discoteque that is apparently a Wednesday nigh tradition for Sampere students. Well see how long I last! Haha.

Guess thats it......nothing major to report. I found out why the guys cross-dres here for the holiday 6 de Enero, which is supposed to commemorate the magi bringing gifts t Jesus. They do that, because they think the mothers dressed their sons up as girls to avoid having them killed by King Herod in Jesus time.So, that explains the cross dressing.....haha.Hope yall have a good day! Love-Lauren

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Spending way too much money!

Haha. This mentality I had the first week that I wasnt speanding hardly any money is suddenly out the window! I am spending $$ like theres no tomorrow, and thats not good. At least all the money I am spending is on good food and good times!

However, I just got jipped (gipped) out of $10 because I asked for a tarjeta instead of a chip for my now I have prepaid phone card when what i wanted was to be able to use my cell phone here by buying a new sim card.....Hm.
In other news. I went to Baños last night, to the hotsprings, which was fun. A group of 6 of us went and spent the evening in the hot springs and turkish baths (aka steam rooms) just chilling and relaxing. Good times.

Tonight I'm watching a movie about the invisible people of Bolivia, maybe somethign like the invisible children? We'll see! But now I am hungry and want to get something to eat before the movie, and I dont know that I have enough $$ to pay for internet, eat, and get home later tonight....haha. I should definately not have bought that phone card!

Tomorrow, I'm going to the biggest market in Cuenca to buy some sunglasses, because (sad day) I lost mine yesterday here in the internet cafe. It was seriosly a matter of about 7 minutes between when I left my computer (and glasses) and came back for them. Someone else liked them too! But I am sad, because I loved those glasses, and they have been with me to Ecuador (now), Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, and Guatemala. They're my favs. Oh well. Life goes on, I suppose.

Everyone surviving in the frigid storms of the US? Its been a beautiful sunny day of about 78 here :) Haha. This weekend, I am either going to the national park with some of the guys to go hiking and spend the night, or go to the ingapirca ruins with the school. I want to do both, but its not possible.....Hmm. Decisions decisions!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A wonderful weekend!

This has been a great weekend here in Cuenca.Wonderful weather, good times with friends (praise the Lord) fun in the sun, and church this morning!

Friday night, I met up with a group from the school, what Im now calling the regulars, (Jamie and Peter from England, myself,and Iris, Raban, and Tonja from Switzrland.) We all went to Cafe Tranquilo for a late dinner around 9,30 (sorry, this computers keys are really funny!) then hung out there until the live salsa band came on at 11,30. Us girls got up and danced in the aisles and had a blast. Then we all left there around 1,30 or so, and I headed home while the rest went to a discoteque.

Yesterday we went to the desert, which was surprisingly,a lot of fun. After driving around a while and looking at some sites and lookout points, we went hiking. We hiked up the mountain (desert mountain) then down into the canyon, then back up, then down into the river basin, where we swam and ate lunch for a couple hours. Then we headed back, and last night, we ate dinner at an Italian place, and went to a house party. There is a group of hippie teachers that Peter from our group knows, mostly from the States and Europe, and they had a bunch of students, and us, over. I went home about 11,30 because I was exhausted!

This morning was church with the missionaries. It was really different from my home church(es) but it was good. We sang, and listened to personal testimonies of how God was working in the peoples lives, and then had a message about obediance and disobediance in relation to our faith. This afternoon then, I hung out with Jamie in the park down by the river. I did my homework and we talked and listened to music, then went and got some pizza. I got to listen to his whole life story, haha. Fun times.

Now, Im going to head home and finish my homework. Tomorrow starts a new week at school, so maybe new students. I am going to make a concentrated effort to talk to more people in Spanish this week! English has been the language of the weekend! Haha.

The Lord is really answering my and your prayers this weekend. I have been very blessed with stuff to do and people to hang out with. Even though I dont have a Christian friend here, I have been able to have conversations with both Jamie and Iris about my faith, and Iris is wanting to go to church together next Sunday! The Lord is good, and moving in wonderful ways! So thanks for your prayers, and keep them coming! Continue to pray for my safety and health, still having a bit of an issue with foods. Also, pray that I will get more opportunities o share my faith here!

Thank you friends! Love to all, and I hope everyone is doing well! -Lauren

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Today has been a little weird. I didnt feel so hot earlier, a little fevery, but after my nap I think I am doing a bit better!

I found out my professor talked to the director, and I am being pushed ahead a book. So, adios to my two classmates from Switzerland, and hello 5 girls from the US. She said she thinks I can push myself and learn, so we will see! Hope it goes OK.

Salsa was fun last night. I have learned a lot from a friend of mine named Jose from Costa Rica, who is an incredible dancer, so it was more of a refresher course for me. I guess now I need to practice at the discotoque! Haha.

I had a true Ecuadorean experience today. We had cuy for lunch. For those of you who dont know what cuy is, it is guinea pig. For those of you who dont know this about me, I used to have 2 guinea pigs whom I loved very much. RIP Furball and Mr. Piggy! The cuy was not a bad flavor, but I couldnt stomach it, thinking about my beloved pets! Ahhh... They seemed to not understand why I didnt love it (especially the skin, which is supposedly ¨muy riquisimo!¨) until I explained about my pets....then they gave me some chicken. The two little ladies who cooked it, friends of Suca´s, were the cutest little things ever. Neither one of them could have been over 4´8´´ and they were just like you´d expect a Latina grandma to be!

Walking over here a little bit ago, I had a water balloon thrown at my by a group of teenagers. In all my stealthiness, I was able to dodge it before it hit me. However, my stealthiness must have left, because when I got to the internet cafe, I tried to sit in my bar-stool chair, about 3 1/2 feet off the ground, and somehow managed to knock it backwards and land on my butt on the ground....Just call me Grace.

Now, off to get a little dinner at Cafe Wunderbar, a popular hangout for us students in the same building as the school, then to a cooking class. I have no idea what we´re making, but I know its not cuy!! :)

Love to all!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A bit tougher.....

Class was not so great today. I not anywhere close to where I need to be to get credit for my grammar and conversation class at the school here, and I need to get that credit to help me get credit at Union. Please pray for my fluency level! I have to test out of the class I am in now to move up to start learning what I need to know for the higher level.....complicated. So that was discouraging, and the prof. is getting on my nerves. I tend to either have great relationships with teachers or bad ones, and I dont see this one being that great...I should work on my attitude!
In other news, there is a group from the US coming tonight from some university. I dont know where, but that will be interesting. On one hand, its new people to hang out with, and more people to speak English with, and on the other hand, its more people to speak english with, which is bad. I need to speak only in Spanish.

Pray for me, as I think I am hitting the second phase of culture shock ¨dejection.¨I am ready to come home, or at least have this fly by. I am trying to remind myself that very few people are able to take a month or more out of their lives to live in another country with a family and to learn English. I think, honestly, it would be more fun for me if I didnt have to recieve credit for these classes, and I could just enjoy learning the language to expand my mind! Haha.

I was reading in Romans 10 the other day, and was reminded that there is a higher purpose behind me being here. I felt called into the ministry in hs, and I believe that this is my chance to attain those skills necessary to what I feel the Lord wants me to do. And like it says, (paraphrasing, b/c I dont have my Bible in front me) ¨How can they believe in one they have not heard of? And how can they hear of one if they are not told?¨Thats gonna be part of my job, I think. At least I am trying to look at it that way.

Tonight starts dance classes, salsa y merengue, and tomorrow is cooking. Saturday I am going to the desert to go hiking and swimming. Sounds weird, huh? Most deserts are completely flat with no water....this one apparently has mountainous terrain and a river running along the bottom. I forgot a lot at home, like shorts, bug spray, and sunscreen, and which are necessary for the trip, so I have to buy these things. I bought the shorts, a lovely pair of black ones that cost $2 and give me, what most people lovingly refer to, as a mom-butt. They come up way past my bellybutton! Haha.

Well, I think thats all for now. Everyone have a lovely evening/afternoon! Love-lauren

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Cuenca in general

Classes went well today. They start at 7:45, and I get done about 1:45, so its a long day. My group for class is the hippie girl from California (who apparently is participating in No Shave Armpits in 2007....gross. More to come on her later), a girl/woman from Switzerland who is really funny and speaks English (as well as probably 4 other languages) and a guy from Switzerland about my age named Raban. He speaks 4 languages. I am amazed at these Europeans!!

Anyways, in classes today, two funny stories: We were talking about the lottery in our state or country, and the prof. ask hippie girl (erika) about a lottery in California. Erika launches into a spiel (in spanish) about how she only uses cash, so the government cant watch her. Its very corrupt since 9-11 and they like to keep tabs on everyone, so she refuses to leave a trail for them! Hahaha. Also, she is a secretary at a place where they make organic foods like Nutbutter......

During culture class the director spoke to us about the fauna and animals of the Andes and I couldnt help but get distracted. He has a large gap in his bottom two front teeth. I dont think he is missing teeth, I think it is a large gap. Everytime he says a certain consanent, his tongue pokes through and looks like a snake....random, I know. I just didnt learn as much as I should have since I kept getting distracted!

Ok, a little about Cuenca. Its a very interesting town. The area was originally settled by the Inca hundreds of years ago as a northern capital of their empire. It was called Riobamba. With the coming of Cortez to Mexico, and the eventual colonization of all of South America by Spain and Portugal, this area was settled by the Spanish, who tore down many of in Incan structures and began to build on top of them. There are churches here that still have the incan blocks at the bottom that you can see, with white stucco and blocks on top of that when they built the new churches. When the Spanish came in and settled Cuenca, they carefully planned the city structure to be the ¨perfect city¨and it is very planned-looking. There are 4 rivers, and the city lies in between 3 of them, forming its boundaries. The southern river, Riobamba, was originally the southern boundary, and it remained this way for a couple of hundred years. It wasnt until the 1950s that the Cuencanos spilled over this limit and began settlign the area on the south side of the river, outside of the original plan. However, it is still very evident, as the öld city¨and the ¨new city¨have markedly different structures.

To get to school each day, I walk about four blocks north through the new city, and cross a park, also in the new city, then cross the river into the old city. There are about 5 sets of steps up into the old city, and the school is situated near the top of the steps. Its a nice walk, once I get into the park. Otherwise, its nothing grand.

Anyways, theres your history lesson for today!! I need to go though, because I am watching a movie at school in about an hour, and I need to eat before then! -Lauren

Monday, January 8, 2007

Saturday night, & first day of classes

Well, didn´t get to update yesterday because it was Sunday and the Internet place was closed. BTW-Let me just say sorry for any grammatical errors or spelling errors I make. I know it doesn´t generally bother the general public, but it bothers me! I am on a spanish computer and it is a bit different!
Anyways. Saturday night, el seis de enero, is an odd mixture of holidays (in my opinion). Imagine Halloween for adults (think skanky costumes, bad makeup, and scary masks) mixed with the 4th of July (fireworks, a parade, parties, street vendors), mixed with something like Dancing in the District or Knoxville´s big bash downtown. There were a ton of people crunched into about 2 blocks around a park. There were street vendors selling yummy-smelling but weird looking food and the usual trinkets. A stage was set up with a band, either called reggaeton or playing reggaeton, playing music with people dancing. A parade with men on stilts and firebreathers, etc. Oh yeah, and a LOT of cross-dressing!! haha. The guys were kind of funny, because they all put on the catholic school skirts and did their hair in about 20 different little spikes. I didnt actually see anyone asking for alcohol, or selling alcohol, but I am sure it was present....
I spent most of the time in the house, watching the family play cards (Suca´s cousin and sister and her son) and watching them eat. I say watching because I had a bad migraine, so I was not feeling up to participating. We went outside a couple of times to watch the festivities, where I was repeatedly asked by little children to move because they couldn´t see around my tall self :) Haha
Yesterday was again, a whole lot of nothing. I think the only notable thing I did was have a good convo with Suca about shopping and watch a lot of Spanish TV to try and pick up new vocabulary.
TODAY! The first day of classes. I was so excited last night, I couldn´t sleep. Weird, huh? I can usually sleep very easily! We met at 8 this morning and took a written exam to test our level, and I think I am level 6 out of 10? If my understanding is correct. Afterwards, the group of us took a tour around the city center, with the director pointing out all the notable sites and telling us some history. When we went back to the school, we were given our schedules and our groups, and we had a ¨culture class¨which was listening to an older gentleman tell us about the Mongolians coming to the Americas with the wooly mammoth (Mam-MOOTH) and the eventual colonization of South and Central America by the Spanish with Cortez. Interesting, and I understood a decent bit of it, which I supplemented with my previou Latin American culture class (Thank you, Dr. Thomas!)
Then, I had my first REAL class, a one-on-one with a professor named Ruth. For an hour and a half, she drilled me on the different form of the commandments, like ¨pick this up¨in the informal singular, formal singular, informal to a group, and formal to a group.
My brain is fried, and the rest of the day, I will have two classes more than I had today! And everything will be in Spanish! I spoke for a while with a guy from britain named Jamie that is about my age. He is here for 3 weeks, and he knows hardly a lick of Spanish, so it was all in English (I´m bad, I know) I need to stick with Spanish, but it was SO nice to be able to talk in English for a while with someone!
Anyways, tomorrow is another day much like today, and Wednesday, I think starts dance and cooking classes :) Watch out men of the US! I am going to be a Latin terror in the kitchen and on the dance floor! Haha
Thanks for everyone´s encouragement, and if you have ANY helpful tips regarding learning Spanish (I am looking for the ¨por¨song) please give them to me!! Thanks, and love and hugs to all!

Saturday, January 6, 2007

What to do with myself??

Oh boy, for the second time today, I have written a novel and had it deleted by this computer! Frustrating. And for the second time today, I will be shortening what i wrote the secodn time around.

Today is my first full day in Cuenca, and I dont know what to do with myself. After sleeping in, I wandered around the house a lot, read a lot, ate lunch, did the dishes, and have now ventured out by myself. I am looking forward to classes starting on Monday to give me something to do, and to help with the language barrier. In addition to language classes, I will also be taking classes in cooking and dancing. Bailé! Haha.

Didn't sleep so well last night. After going to bed at 9:30 (for lack of anything else to do) I tossed and turned until 11 when I fell asleep. Was woken up repeatedly by fireworks, which are apparently very popular here. Despit their apparent appeal, I thought someone was shooting a cannon into my room about 3 am this morning....haha

Tonight should be interesting. Today is Jan. 6, which means it is the day on which they celebrate the Magi bringing gifts to baby jesus. However, to celebrate this, the adults apparently dress up in costumes and go to friends houses asking for liquor....interesante, no? Will write more when I find out what this is all about. Piedad told me we were going somewhere tonight to watch it or something....

Hope everyone at school is enjoying being back, and I hope everyone still at home is enjoying being at home! Love you all, and I miss all your faces! Thanks again for praying for me, and keep it up! -Lauren

Here in Cuenca

I am here in Cuenca, and all went well once I woke up this morning. I slept in a bit, then went downstairs and took a taxi to the airport. There was apparently a bit of confusion about where to drop me off at the airport, because I wasn´t quite at the airport. I went to the office the taxi driver dropped me off at(there are several outside offices around the airport) and he sent me to the carrier I needed across the street, who sent me back across the street to their office, who then sent me into the airport. I had no idea where the airport was, but I followed two guys in uniform who looked like pilots. Lucky me, I found it.

Once in Cuenca, Piedad, the mother, picked me up, and took me around the city just a bit, then back to the house. It is really nice. I have my own bedroom and bathroom. When they said her daughter lives close with her two children, they weren´t joking. You walk out onto the patio and turn left, and there is the door to her daughter´s house. She is nice, and apparently speaks english. Cuenca itself is very beautiful, with a river right along one of the main roads wheer it looks like a lot people hang out.

Anyways, today is a much better day. I am feeling a bit more confident and settled, and looking forward to classes starting on Monday. Thanks to everyone for your prayers and words of encouragement! I love yáll and am so thankful for you!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

I`m here.....

Hello friends- Thanks for your prayers. I made both of my flights today, and I have my arrangements for the morning flight to get me to my city. Today went OK with getting on the flights, a few moments of panic at the Knoxville airport when i thought I might not make it on (remember, standby) but I did, and I got bumped to first class on the atlanta-quito flight.

Once I got into Quito though, I realized I put way too much in my one big bag, and it is dang hard to put on by myself! After struggling with that for about 10 minutes, along with my new sweater that is shedding everywhere, I was ready to get out of the airport. Lo and behold, to my surprise, no one was there waiting for me, as I had been told there would be....not good. I caught a taxi to my hotel, which is very nice, and now I am contemplating a bubblebath, bedtime, and a good cry.

It`s stressful being alone and not speaking the language well. I attempted to have a convo with the concierge at the hotel about how I need to learn spanish, and he rattled off something that I didn`t catch a lick of.

Today´s prayers requests: 1) Make it to Cuenca and meet my family and hope that they`re really cool so I can be comfortable. 2) Start relearning spanish!3) That the Lord would give me comfort and strength right now! I know I must rely on him!!

Sorry to sound so down. I am just a little freaked out! But I love and miss everyone, and can't wait to share some stories when I get back!

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Gearing up for my trip

As most all of you know, I will be traveling tomorrow (Thursday, January 4) to Ecuador for a month to take classes and learn about the culture and practice my Spanish! I'm pretty sure I'll be able to access the internet once there and at school, so I'm going to write about what's going on with me on here, and on facebook. Feel free to stop in and see what I'm up to!
(This is a picture of Cuenca. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so it should be pretty cool!)

Right now, I'm asking for prayers from y'all! Many of you have asked how to pray for me while I'm gone, so here are a couple of things:

1-Pray for safe travels. I fly Thursday from Knoxville-Atlanta-Quito, Ecuador. On Friday, I get on a flight to Cuenca, Ecuador, where I will be staying for a month. Once there, continue praying for my safety!
2-Pray that I make all the flights I need to (I'm flying standby the whole way) and it could screw things up if I don't make a flight!
3-Pray for a friend for me. I am worried about not having anyone who I can hang out with while there. Preferably, pray for a Christian around my age who doesn't speak English, so I can't cheat with them :)
4-Pray for my health. Two big concerns are altitude sickness (7,000 ft. above sea level) and general stomach concerns, from new water and foods....

Thank you friends, and I will be sure to keep you all posted! Love-Lauren