Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bookstores and Caramel Brownies

Today, we (Mim, Abby, Hannah, Daniel, and I) went on a small road trip to Hearts and Minds Bookstore in Dallastown, PA. Never heard of it? Look it up online! It is fabulous in all respects (minus the green Santa). In other events, we nearly hit a mattress on 83. No joke. A mattress appeared out of nowhere and we nearly hit it. We also listened to Patty Griffin, The Wailin Jennys, and Sara Groves. At sandwiches, pretzels, and fudge while riding in the car. Spent 1.5 hours in the bookstore wandering. Christened a gps system "Toto" which had a propensity to desire a clear, unobstructed view of the sky. I killed it. We also stopped at One Good Woman for tea. The day ended with a long nap and Return of the King.

Perfect. Beautiful day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve For Certain

"There's only one more sleep till Christmas Day!"
"Merry Christmas!'

Currently Reading:
The many children's books we have floating around from years past
A City in Winter by Mark Helprin
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (or at least parts of it)
A Christmas Carol by Dickens (or at least parts of it)

Currently Listening To:
Gretchen and Jen on the piano
Amy Grant Christmas
The Nutcracker
Sara Groves Christmas
Wrapping paper be all twisted out of shape and decorated for the morrow
Gretchen and Isaac discussing the play

Currently Watching:
A White Christmas
Muppet Christmas Carol
Veggie Tales
Our Christmas tree have its lights stay on all the time
The rain come down and freeze on the trees

Currently Drinking:
Raspberry Earl Grey Tea

I am so blessed to be here right now. I love home.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I cannot find a better way to say what I feel than this song:


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Gyst Book: An RA Vignette

Each morning during the week days, I am required to go to the Redifer Commons office and sign the "Gyst" book (Get-Your-Stuff-Together) to let them know that I'm alive and checked my mail and all of that. Each morning I go fairly early to get it done before my first class and wish a cheerful "Good Morning!" to the administrative staff. They are truly lovely people and I almost look forward to getting up and seeing them everyday. Today, it is the Tuesday of finals week. I did not have an early class so I slept in to an appalling hour, got up, studied for my French final, wrote my paper, ate a late lunch and showered, only venturing down the hill to Redifer at 12:15, a good four hours after my normal appearance. I was greeted with "You're late this morning!" I laughed and said, "Well, it is finals week!" And I was told that Tim, an RA from another building, has been trying to show up before me each morning to beat me to the gyst book. So far, he has not succeeded even though I was unaware of the challenge to my early morning domination. Until this week. He's come at 8:15 everyday this week and I lazily slept until 9 or 10 in the morning before starting my day. Amazing. So I've been challenged and they are expecting me at 8am tomorrow to hold my own as the first in the office each day.

So good. I haven't stopped laughing yet!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A lovely picture

This is my favorite from Thanksgiving Break. Truly elegant. I have a lovely family.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Unexpected Joy

This has been an unexpected beginning to the final two weeks of school and finals and Christmas. The world can change unalterably in a few moments, a few words.

I did not compose a Thanksgiving post perse though my last one comes very close to what I would have communicated. I am thankful that Thanksgiving is how we begin Advent and I am thankful that my reading has been dominated by the final chapters of Mark, Hebrews, Psalms, and "The Gospel for Real Life" by Jerry Bridges. Maryn had study at her place last night and we watched The Passion. I was moved. I have more questions than I can ever understand answers to. Am I seeking answers though? A weak pursuit. No. I pursue my Savior, before whose face "all questions fade away" as Orual declares.

The time in Georgia with the family was extraordinarily lovely. "We are rather an opinionated family," my mother declared. Emma snorted, "Well, YEAH!" (grins) I love us.

The work has been tolerable so far. No great fear of failure setting in yet, primarily because of English class which remains my constant educational delight. I will sincerely miss "Mack", as my prof likes to be called, next semester.

I was also reminded while at home how much I actually miss it. It was lovely to see the crew from highschool, to run into them in the hallways at church, to finally hold Sarah's baby for a few moments, to eat chocolate cake in our kitchen and bum around in the room with Hannah. Christmas is going to be lovely. I have a lot of catching up to do with many. "Something to hold onto".

It doesn't quite feel like Christmas though Allen St is all that is lovely. Soon though.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Painting Pictures

We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death. -T.S. Eliot

I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt
Leaving out what it lacked
The future seems so hard
And I want to go back
But the places that used to fit me
Cannot hold the things I"ve learned
And those roads closed off to me
While my back was turned -Sara Groves

"The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."
And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at least they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before." -C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle

People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had the opportunity return. Hebrews 11:14

There is a time. Ecclesiastes 3

It was a day of joy. A day of waiting, and a day of surprise and fulfillment. A day of feeling like my heart had gathered itself, mostly, into that place in my chest it is supposed to reside. I could feel life out of my whole being. I felt alive. Not that I don't other times, but there is something of joy and laughter and good company that is incomparable to any other pleasures of this earth. Is is a joy that will last forever. But for now, it leaves a sadness when the dear ones are no longer there. The former ways of communicating just aren't the same. While the former missing has grown quiet, a new one is wakened. But it is good. Yes, it is good.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Don't Know by Jen Ray

This is a post by the Lovely Jen:

First, I don't know what to say. Secondly, I hope that someday I will beat me brother at spoons. Thirdly, I hope that I can make a special medicine so that allergies will become extinct! Finally, I believe that thinking books are stupid is completely retarded!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

" If men were Angels No Government Would Be Necessary".

I Love That Quote!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Today,I was up early herding exhausted college students out of their rooms and into cars while I gathered a few final things and waited for Dad to arrive. He did. I loaded my things into the car and we were gone. We inched out way out of Happy Valley, glad to get away, glad to know that I'll be back soon. There is a story of a curse on our valley that condemns each soul who ever resides there to long to return to it throughout their lives. Perhaps I am coming under the curse.

But I was with family. Dad and I talked about books and ministry on the way home and vaguely hinted at next years plans. And then I was with the family, being attacked by Isaac and hugged by Jen and ignored by Gretchen until she could get rid of her final homework assignment, then a lovely chat while she baked cookies. I got to hear Jen sing in a concert and talk with Mim and Mr. Burlew.

I'm tired but looking forward to this week. I'm looking forward to time away from Penn State and away from the weight of responsibility. I am looking forward to not thinking of assignments and success and approval. I am looking forward to reading the (.:counts:.) six books I deemed necessary to bring with me. I am looking forward to girl nights with Hannah, Emma, Gretchen, Katie, and Jen. I'm looking forward to seeing all of our family together in one place, to be frustrated and delighted by our oddness and familiarity. I am looking forward for the countdown to reach "zero", to see my camp family with my waking eyes (I see them often enough in my dreams).

I am looking forward. I am hoping.

Monday, November 17, 2008

First Snows

Yesterday we had our first real snow. It didn't last long but it obscured vision from here to the mountain while it lasted, especially as the sun got all caught in it, making it seem like it was showering gold onto the earth. I walked around in it and climbed a small tree. It was rather impulsive. Then I discovered that I had left my ID in the room and could not get back in the building. Oh silliness!

This past week has been alternatively lovely and insane, relaxing and intense, leisurely and frantic. The shift is usually in the space of a few hours and is always entirely unexpected. RA life is slow, thank goodness! Had some lovely times with my Bible study this past week and some other girls from Navs that I look forward to getting to know better. I've also spent a great deal of time pouring over an essay on Till We Have Faces. "This is your chance to write the essay you've always wanted to." Why is that assurance making the process doubly hard? I just need to let go of expectations and write the thing. It wouldn't be hard if I just stopped expecting so much from it or me. Just say what I'm going to say and it'll be okay in the end.

I found an article in The Collegian this morning that one of the Willard preaches threatened students with a knife. Some say it wasn't a bit deal. It makes me angry. The students make me angry. And my french classmate standing up for the guy has me in awe. I really don't know what to make of the whole situation. Some days I'm near tears walking past Willard because I'm so angry and upset at the two of them. Other times I see people really listening and I second guess that judgement. And things like this happen and I'm angry all over again. No one in the Christian community has taken a stance on it, we're all just watching to see how it plays out. Is there something we're supposed to do? I wish I knew.

Three tests, one essay, one dinner, one paper, three duty nights and then, oh then, Thanksgiving break begins.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Elements of Bizarre

In English, I think she taught us the wrong information regarding Kierrkegaard. But what do I know? I can't even spell his name.

I tried to see Dad and failed.

Jehovah's Witness called my room. And I was a jerk, pretty much.

Overheard "Santa" screaming in front of the Willard Building that Obama was sent by God to destroy us. It made me want to cry.

This day is just crazy.

But (isn't it wonderful that God has "but" in His vocabulary, to give us a bit of grace?): I have a Thanksgiving Tree in my hallway and Bailee shared with me Psalm 13 today and it was so encouraging!

1 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him,"
lest my foes rejoice because I am(I) shaken.

5But [oh look! There it is again!] I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Friday, November 07, 2008

"Best Set Up" as voted by Simmons Supergroup

Pictures soon of the room in all its glory. Mom, Jen, and Isaac came and visited me today, breaking my intense longing for home this week with their much longed for presence! They also brought my futon which finally has a home under my bunk. The whole effect was judged lovely by K and Ed. Yanni refused comment since he feels it now downstages his own set up. :-)

(My studly brother, now at the current age of nine. I know ladies, just be patient!)

(We found a fire truck!)

(My GORGEOUS sister Jen!)

(Us at Penn State's Berkey Creamery)

I love them so much. I miss them so much. I can't wait for a more than three hours with them. Come Thanksgiving, come!

On two others notes:
1) I am IRATE that my camera malfunctioned and will not download my video of "Totally Like Whatever" as performed by me tonight. I'm really angry. But the performance wasn't that brilliant because it seems I needed to explain to my audience that their feedback was much wanted. I was assured that their stony silence was because they did not want to interrupt me. (makes a baffled face)

Never mind. I got it to work.

2) Thanksgiving plans are confirmed, ladies and gents. We are down in Athens and the WVA camp staff is descending upon us Tuesday evening through Wednesday. I cannot wait.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Fall Summer

Frisbee tonight was so much fun. I haven't played since the midnight game at the retreat. I wasn't any good but it was still fun to run around and occasionally make a catch and not be so excited that I threw it to the people who weren't there. Unfortunately, that was my usual tactic.

I also visited the library and got several books too many but am trying as well as I can. I just need to read more. And write more. I talk about writing so much and yet I so rarely ever get anything truly accomplished! It is quite shameful.

Oh I just want to the family to come up soon! I miss them so much.

In other news, I have an essay frightfully soon and no draft so call anything close to a "first version". Really frustrating. I know that I'm going to love the essay when it is done... its something I've wanted to write for ages and now I get a chance to and I get stuck. The fickle good thoughts are coming for a time and deserting one right when they are needed most!

"And the voice I read it in was strange to my ears. There was given to me a certainty that this, at last, was my real voice." -Orual

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


After three and a half months, the chronicle of my summer is now completed. There are no more stories to tell. I have remembered all that there were to remember and they are written in a series of four word documents resting on my desktop. Three and a half months of occasional writing and documentation, reliving, laying to rest.

It is now fully at rest. It has been in many ways for a long time. But now the physical remembering can now be laid to rest.

The volume of words astonishes me. I had no idea that I could find that much to say about anything in single spaced pages. I am grateful to have done so though I wonder now why I felt that I had to. 48 pages of remembering. What will I find there in the years to come? I have practiced story telling in those pages. I have practiced describing characters and situations. Even those pages have been very weak representations of the personalities, quirks, jokes, laughter, of those on my team. This it the first time I have ever tried to do something like this... perhaps, someday, the characters will live in other words, in other stories, other than the ones they made themselves. Maybe someday, I'll write a story about the real people who lived with me over nine weeks, even the four I was not there. Because I was in some ways.

But. It is closed

Election Day

I just got back to my room from voting. The HUB was packed and it took 45 minutes of waiting to get to the front of the line and that was only because they told all the M-Z names to move forward. I stood and read St. Augustine's Confessions while waiting. And I voted.

It has distinct irony to the whole experience. The College Democrats were the only ones who volunteered to help organize the student voting. Of course they have an agenda. But it was still strange.

"There'll never be a savior up on capitol hill..." -derek webb

Saturday, November 01, 2008

All Hallows Eve

Here is a properly gloomy and creepy poem by Poe, the master of all things gloomy and creepy and masterfully crafted. This is NOT the Raven (which is far too often read) but is his work The Bells (not read often enough). To be read aloud.

Hear the sledges with the bells-
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

Hear the mellow wedding bells,
Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
From the molten-golden notes,
And an in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
How it swells!
How it dwells
On the Future! how it tells
Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

Hear the loud alarum bells-
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor,
Now–now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear it fully knows,
By the twanging,
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows:
Yet the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling,
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells-
Of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!

Hear the tolling of the bells-
Iron Bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people–ah, the people-
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All Alone
And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone-
They are neither man nor woman-
They are neither brute nor human-
They are Ghouls:
And their king it is who tolls;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
A paean from the bells!
And his merry bosom swells
With the paean of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the paean of the bells-
Of the bells:
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells-
To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells:
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells-
Bells, bells, bells-
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I am in awe. Angelique Kidjo is my new favorite artist. It was Lebanon and swing dancing and a celebration that delighted us all and astonished and frightened the security guards at Eisenhower Auditorium. It was brilliant. I'm all alight now. I wish I had had a friend with me to share the moment with, to dance with. I danced by myself. She's so... alive. Vibrant. I've never encountered anyone like her in my life.


Listen. You will not be disappointed.

There are things to rejoice over. Why do I not rejoice over them?

A snow fall one day, reading Ecclesiastes in the downpour, aloud in a southern accent. The words came that way.

Sun the next, sitting by the fountain, journaling and catching up with Sharpie.

A beautiful concert.

Good days, non?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Basic Life Skills

There are some basic skills one should have acquired through life and most especially when entering the medical field. But perhaps some of these were missed along the way.

It turns out that while emts are good and keeping people from dying, they are helpless before a girl throwing up. Psh. Their ratings just went way down. They have no idea of how to be a mother.

(later this evening)

I owe you a greater explanation. My resident had to be taken to the hospital this morning with internal bleeding, passing out, and other such symptoms. Rather scary. But we survived and now I'm exhausted with a lesser view of the EMT profession or at least this one EMT who was a complete jerk. (makes glaring faces at him)

But this weekend was lovely. I was home Friday night and then drove to Philadelphia Biblical University to visit Tim, a WVA staffer, and my cousin Brittany. We had some crazy fun times as well as some excellent fellowship and conversation. Brittany and I chilled in her apartment, drinking earl grey tea and eating pumpkin bread. Tim and Kristina (his sister, my camper!), and I ran around in the rain playing frisbee. We had some excellent memories made and wondrous laughter.

Laughter is a hard beauty to come by.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Seek Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly

There are stories here. More than you can imagine. I watched one for forty minutes this evening, a Dateline Program, on sex trafficking in Cambodia. Five year olds. Sixteen year olds. Faces, lives, names.

Silence. When was the last time you heard about prostitution and slavery from your church pulpit?

Their face is mine. My little sister's. My little brother's. Yours. Ours.

Worldwide, there are nearly two million children in the commercial sex trade.

According to the United Nations Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, an estimated 20 million people were held in bonded slavery as of 1999. Almost ten years ago.

Approximately two-thirds of today’s slaves are in South Asia. Human Rights Watch estimates that in India alone there are as many as 15 million children in bonded slavery.

And these people are used in an exchange of cash. Would you put a price on the life of your mother? Father? Best friend? Niece? Nephew? Brother? Sister?

What would you do if this was you?

This is you. This is your family.

"Then they cried out to the Lord in their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper. the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm and he guided them to their desired haven." Psalm 105:29

I once wrote a story about these statistics, about this conviction I have that these people are somehow apart of my life, that I am called to be a part of their lives, of these stories. I wrote a story about a girl and I was that girl. But there was something I left out of the ending: I left out hope.

Our God is a God who saves.

www.ijm.org to learn, to listen, to hear words spoken in the silence of our deaf world. See. Understand. Let your heart break. Get angry. I got an email from one of my camp girls today. They raised $3000 over the summer in her youth group, from the student's initiative, to give to this cause, to her brothers and sisters. If a bunch of middle and high school students can do this what can we do? What about us, the apathetic, the uncaring wise ones who see limitations rather than the voice of one who calms the storms with a whisper?

Know that God is a God of justice and He is moving. He will not be stopped.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thy Mercy My God: Fall Retreat 08

I'm the little one, second from the left. The entire weekend was one long moment of sitting and pondering and being quietly awed and settled into by the nature of fall. By the nature of God. It was beautiful. It was quiet and still. It was full and brimming. It felt like no such thing at the time.

And it was good.

We found an abandoned gas station on the road trip there. And old trains but those pictures didn't work.

This was the view when I had my quiet time Saturday afternoon.

We were making trees with our shadows.

The mist the final morning.

I totally caught that frisbee.

Me, Sarah (my roommate last year), and Melanie

The trees right as we went to breakfast.

Quiet. Alone. Community.

"... the joy of my heart and the boast of my tongue. Thy free grace alone from the first to the last, hath won my attention and bound my soul fast."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

"Just Can't Find the Words"

Since the Art Music Justice concert last Saturday, I have been listening to "Springtime Indiana" by Sandra McCracken again and again and again. She sings like a lullaby but I understand her meaning. It works like The Wailin' Jennys for me. It sings the song of every moment.

These days have been astonishing culminating in a delightful dinner with Maryn and then an even better Bible study over large mugs of tea and the cranberry bread we had made. There is something far more delightful in eating food I've helped prepare myself than in anything else. Food is so separated from me now that I eat daily in a dining commons. I said over our alfredo/pesto creation that it somehow feels dehumanizing to be made to eat off of a tray from a line of pre-prepared food everyday. She laughed at me and said it must be strange to live in my head.

Everything seems tied in these days to the gospel, redemption, being able to do nothing and Him being able to do everything. Knowing I am a sinner and lost and knowing that I stand as Christ, perfect and Holy, in His presence. Humbling. Glory. Wonder. This is such a good place to be standing. I am in Christ. Does the world get more glorious than this?

Leaning patience. Learning to wait. Learning to give up every thought to Christ.

This weekend I go with the Navs to Wellsboro, PA, Camp of a Thousand Hills, and soak in this season. These colors. These smells. These skies. I get to be with my dear friends and I get to be with friends who are not quite friends yet. Yet. I look back at where I was a year ago and I am surprised. It feels like much longer than that weekend. Sara and I were laughing about it at study tonight. I'm not who I was. I am. But I'm not. That's a good thing.

It is late now. Sleep well, friends and family.

Friday, October 03, 2008


Today is a day of quiet, rain, and rest. I'm listening to Fernando Ortega's album, "Storm".

I'm resting and writing.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Tree Inferno

The trees are catching on fire and I wore my scarf and gloves and blue fleece to class today.


Today I was made irresponsibly happy by the face of a complete stranger. He was riding a skateboard down Pollock Road and just looked kind. Not exactly happy or cheerful. Just kind and good natured. He looked a lot like Ben Winslow.


Today I entered the English Major officially and definitely. I went to office hours at 8 am this morning and while we were talking about classes and schedules and ideas, I filled out a paper declaring my major. Finally. I'm not sure why that moment felt so solid, good, as opposed to my expressed intention of doing so for the past two years. They treated me as if it was a done deal. I've seen Tracy every semester since the beginning to work things out. And now, I'm in.

There was a satisfaction in my work today. I went to "What is Literature" to discuss Dante with a brain that was sleepy and dysfunctional. I read aloud today in class. I love to read aloud. I should get a job doing that because it makes me so happy. I read loud from Dante's Inferno and was able to comment extensively with some thoughts that ranged from The Princess Bride (the book) to catching what I think is the clincher in making The Inferno an essentially Christian story as opposed to one of complete transgressing as my professor would have us read it. I mentioned it a little and I was told I should write a paper on it. I'm sensing perhaps, a theme to draw from Till We Have Faces as well to bring into the conversation. I love those hours.


Language: I am no expert, and I claim no overarching importance, but I think that language is a key issue that no one talks about in this election. From watching the presidential debate, I am inclined to feel that the difference between the two candidates rests just as much in their "superficial" handling of situations through language. For example, Senator McCain always refers to his opponent as "Senator Obama" and did not ever directly look at him and address him. Senator Obama consistently refers to him directly as "John". I was fascinated by the variance in this handling. While ignorant of protocol for debates, I feel that McCain sticks closely to rules and understanding of what is and is not acceptable in official interactions. Obama has a since of familiarity and comfortableness, dare I say casual? The last word I say hesitantly because he does not seem a "casual" person but merely in his way of addressing in language situations and people. This could be viewed as flippant by a more traditional crowd, such as those attracted to voting McCain into the presidency. Those attracted to this familiar and laid back tone of Obama, would (dare I say) be more likely to come from my own generation where to appear formal is to appear false, and where a boldness to be forward and audacious is valued above what is expected or acceptable. McCain would therefore appear an old man and fake, without passion, and uncaring to what drives the younger crowd. All of this from a difference in a few words that has very little to do with their capabilities in office but rather to their attractiveness factor.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Something to Hold Onto

- A letter from Emma Witwer
- An encouraging word from Jenny, another RA
- Pat buying each of us flowers and leaving them outside our doors
- Daniel reminding me of how much bigger God is through an IM conversation
- Talking to Justin for five minutes
- Sitting around the fire at Katie's house and encouraging her
- Dad coming home early
- Watching the Presidential debate and the Cosby Show with my family
- Sleeping twelve hours in my own bed, in my own room
- Drinking chai tea on my front porch in a rain storm

"Something to hold onto, and a reason to stay"

Friday, September 26, 2008

Long, Long Night

And not in a good way.

I went to bed at midnight after celebrating Katie Fisher's birthday. She sent me home with extraordinary cupcakes to share with Sharon and I was in bed so fast. I'm tired. Two AM found me up trying to figure out who kept slamming their door shut but to no avail. I then found that I was incapable of sleep. I tossed and turned and prayed and finally gave up when there were sounds of loud talking in the hallway. At 4:30. I go and tell this girl to take herself and her boys somewhere else and they make a nasty comment to me as I return to me room. She then starts to sob how much she hates me to these boys. I just slump into my computer chair and let her go. She's drunk. She probably won't hate me as much in the morning. Maybe she'll be embarrassed. I don't know. I've never been drunk to know.

We are creeping toward sunrise now. The quiet shifted in the building and it is quiet for the first time, really, tonight, but the quiet that comes right before we all get up and have work to do. It's cold. It's lonely.

I'm going home tomorrow night. I need a mental health break. I'm going insane.

This last evening, the evening that belonged to yesterday and not to this morning of 4:30, I went to a poetry reading at the Nittany Lion Inn. The room was full as we listened to a poet read his work. I'm beginning to feel that poetry itself is more alive when shared in a communal setting such as that. It is a drama and a song, performance and word craft. It was lovely in intangible ways that can't be recreated even with an example of a poem he read. Some of the beauty was in his pausing and gentle speaking. I then sat outside the inn and called family. J-Redd answers and he's on his way to speak at Awana. It was so good to hear his voice and to think about everyone we miss.

Katie's house is a welcoming place. We gathered around a smokey fire in the yard and ate from a feast she and her mother had made for us all. Conversation came easily and we remembered the past year and where it has brought us. Erica Reitz was also there for a few moments and brought so much to the laughter and delight of the evening. I miss her being "Erica Young" but I'm sure Craig is delighted about the last name change. :-)

Ah yes, but why not end with the lyrics to a song by The Wailin' Jennys? I sing this song a great deal. It gently sings itself to every mood I feel. Perhaps I should point you to the music instead of the words... the very first lines at least are exactly where I sit in this small, cage like room at Penn State.

Don't know what time it is, I've been up for way too long
and I'm too tired to sleep
I call my mother on the phone, she wasn't home,
and now I'm wondering the street
I've been a fool, I've been cruel to myself
I've been hanging onto nothing
when nothing could be worse than hanging on
And something tells me there must be
something better than all this

I've fallen many times in love and every time
it's been with the wrong man
Still I'm out there living one day at a time
and doing the best I can
Cuz we've all made mistakes
that seem to lead us astray
But every time they helped to get us where we are today
And that's a good a place as any
and it's probably where we're best off anyway

It's a long and rugged road
and we don't now where it's headed
But we know it's going to get us where we're going
And when we find what we're looking for
we'll drop these bags and search no more
'Cuz it's going to feel like heaven when we're home
It's going to feel like heaven when we're home

There's no such thing as perfect,
and if there is we'll fnd it when we're good and dead
Trust me I've been looking
bu tonight I think I'll go and take a bath instead
And then maybe I'll walk a while
and feel the earth beneath me
They say if you stop looking
it doesn't matter if you find it
And whose to say that even if I did
it's what I'm really looking for

It's a long and rugged road
and we don't now where it's headed
But we know it's going to get us where we're going
And when we find what we're looking for
we'll drop these bags and search no more
'Cuz it's going to feel like heaven when we're home
It's going to feel like heaven when we

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It is my personal opinion that smoking should be a stationary and not a mobile activity. If I die someday from the second hand smoke exposure I receive from walking around campus behind people intent on committing suicide by killing their lungs, I am going to sue the world for all its worth. Mostly PSU for not banning it themselves.

I also went around today to take pictures of my favorite places on campus. They consist mostly of shots of the sky through the tops of trees. I love trees. I love Penn State trees. I love the way this day felt and tasted and how akin to the coming fall it was. It is fall. I keep forgetting that it was official two days ago.

But so happy to be here. Now. Because I am.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday Night Live

I was with friends last Saturday evening eating cake after the Nav's Barn Dance. A few had gathered to continue the fun of the evening. I was firmly settled in the couch's corner seat with my injured ankle and so had no way to not see what was about to happen. Someone turned on Saturday Night Live, an American staple that I had never been privy to. Michael Phelps was on but that was inconsequential to the event that causes me to write this post.

There was a "sketch" as they call them, of random, well known trivia between a team of "highschoolers" and "homeschoolers". These were the definitions given. The highschoolers looked like spacey teenagers. The homeschoolers were dressed in some cross between traditional menonite attire and an impersonation of a red neck. They proceeded to put these two teams at odds with the questions. The homeschoolers always rung in. And they were always wrong. They innocence with which they proudly stated answers such as "gremlins" being responsible for oxygen being carried to the heart was astonishing. That was nothing compared to their portrayal of a homeschool mother as a brain washing maniac.

I sat and gaped. I was homeschooled all twelve years of my traditional education before coming to Penn State where I am majoring in English and doing quite well, thank you. The actual schooling I received is never mentioned unless I volunteer it of my own free will in a conversation pertaining to our high school experiences.

Being homeschooled, I know that we are far from perfect and we are far from being outside the realm of mockery. We have our quirks. We have our foibles. And we laugh at them all the time. The one thing we never mock is our anti-intellectualism. That is not something that has ever been something so prevelant that it was common fodder for our self-laughter. The last thing home schooling is anti-intellectual. If we are anything it is the opposite extreme, desperate to have the best education possible and to have all the right answers. So to be made fun of for something we aren't even close to being on national television was in a word:


I went home to my dorm more than a little irate. This was a show that is played for hundreds of thousands and a show that I know that very few homeschoolers would actually see so that they would understand how they are being portrayed nationally. This went a great deal deeper than a simple self-mockery. This was someone else from a system that does not understand our reasoning for what we do at all, laughing at our inability to understand or appreciate modern science, or technology, or the arts, or anything that comprises a well rounded education. I would challenge them to find anyone with a more well rounded education than those students I grew up with.

I also took issue with their portrayal of a homeschool mother as one who chooses to teach her children at home to keep them just that: children always in need of her knowledge. To brain wash them with myths that she herself fanatically believes. A homeschool mother is one who gives up so much time and energy and love to teach us the best way possible. If that doesn't happen to conform to the government's or Saturday Night Live's idea of a perfect education, well then so be it. I would wager we are much happier in our intellectual pursuits. You have to doubt the legitimacy of a program that doesn't even do enough research to know what to make fun of us for.

Of course, looking at what is happening in California with homeschooling on the verge of being outlawed, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.

The last moment was the one that sent shivers down my spine: the moderator told the homeschool students to stay put because the social services was at the door.

Where, oh where, did we receive this image?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I admire, more than anyone or anything at this moment, the girl who stood in front of Willard this morning, and read The Great Gatsby to the unlistening world. I stopped.


Today is the first day in a long time that has felt....


It started yesterday as I finished another long day of work that felt as if it meant nothing to me. I was tired. And a friend IMed me and wished me a stupendous evening of encouragement. Then there was Bible study which begins to feel like a home for the first time. We take apart scripture together and ask hard questions and learn from Paige and Maryn and from each other. We sit on the beds for a long time after finishing time to catch up and hear about each other's lives. It was in a quiet but still somehow not complete. I was too late to walk to Aequitas so I went alone to the HUB lawn and lay under a clear sky in the wet grass. I stared at the stars and couldn't quite see them as the abyss I could fall towards but eventually as the sky that I could reach out and touch as it stood in front of me, not above. They were so clear and I saw a strange coordinated flight of balloons. I think I must be going mad or dreaming except Leah was talking to me on the phone at that time. I called friends. Hannah and I talked. Leah and I talked and prayed. Daniel and I talked. It was late when I went to bed, so happy, so content.

"All that is gold does not glitter
Not all who wander are lost
The old that is strong does not whither
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire has woken
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be the blade that was broken
The crownless again shall be king."

I spent today away from my room to be with friends and in the sunlight. I talked with Elizabeth Jenkins about plans and to gather ideas about the next few semesters and years. I did the same with Maryn and with Erica. I ate lunch and listened to music in the Edge house. I grow restful when I can express the passion and the nervousness I feel about the coming years. I love the uncertainty now that I have said how afraid I am of it. I have direction now that I have said that I have none. Friends are beautiful things. (as are advisors who care and want to help and encourage you to keep visiting random people in the department and get to know them well. An invitation to friendships is a beautiful thing).

I want to stand and read Lord of the Rings to the world on Willard Steps. What a beautiful thing...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Dana is listening to The Wailin's Jennys cd 40 Days.


This makes it the most listened to cd she has ever owned.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Emergency Calls

I called 911 for the first time in my life today. All those years in training as a little one have come into use! Those three numbers...

It was just a resident who cut her finger and passed out a few times but was concsious by the time I got to her. I definitely was freaking out, mainly because I had to call 911 and I could hear the sirens coming even if it was a minor incident. I couldn't get a hold of the coordinator on duty but the cops called him and he came. I called Aaron who was the first number in my phone for help but he was too far away so he called Yanni but by the time he called me it was all taken care of. Phew. I'm quite shaken.

"She cut her finger and we thought she was going to die." Oh camp for happy quotes in dire moments!

That is all I have to say.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Every Minute by Sara Groves

My dear friend Chelsea Cooper played this song for me yesterday when we spent a few hours together. If you can hear it, it is lovelier but notice the words I've put emphasis on. I feel this way about the worlds I live in, family, school, camp. I miss you and I miss never having you all at once.

I am long on staying
I am slow to leave
Especially when it comes to you my friend
You have taught me to slow down
And to prop up my feet
It's the fine art of being who I am

And I can't figure out
Why you want me around
I'm not the smartest person I have ever met
But somehow that doesn't matter
No it never really mattered to you at all

And at the risk of wearing out my welcome
At the risk of self-discovery
I'll take every moment
And every minute that you'll give me

And I can think of time when families all lived together
Four generations in one house
And the table was full of good food
And friends and neighbors
That's not how we like it now

Cause if you sit at home you're a loser
Couldn't you find anything better to do
Well no I couldn't think of one thing
I would rather waste my time on than sitting here with you

And at the risk of wearing out my welcome
At the risk of self-discovery
I'll take every moment
And every minute that you'll give me

And I wish all the people I love the most
Could gather in one place
And know each other and love each other well
And I wish we could all go camping
And lay beneath the stars
And have nothing to do and stories to tell
We'd sit around the campfire
And we'd make each other laugh remembering when
You're the first one I'm inviting
Always know that you're invited, my friend

And at the risk of wearing out my welcome
At the risk of self-discovery
I'll take every moment
And every minute that you'll give me
Every moment and every minute that you'll give me
Every moment and every minute that you'll give me
Every minute

Saturday, August 30, 2008

We are Penn State

Today was my very first football game as a spectator. I almost went alone or sold my ticket until Benglish called and I went with some friends from Navs instead. It was a stellar game. Sort of. We played a small team so it gave us little prestige to win but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

This was the reason I ever went to UGA football games:

It was as good as I remembered.

So perhaps I don't go to watch football but the band. Can I help it if they are the best band ever?

Thanks for the memories, friends! I really appreciated being able to go today.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Some Points of Interest

My grandfather commented to me at lunch Sunday, "You want to marry an archeologist. The older you get the more interested he is in you."

I played ultimate with a group of students (mostly guys) Sunday evening for an hour. It is a very different experience from camp where I did not have to prove one thing to be considered an asset to the team. It made me miss them.

Talked to Arden and I will soon be the possessor of a stunning tshirt with an evil black weasel and lyrics on it. I'm psyched. Follow your heart friends... AND DIE.

I was able to spend time with my dear friend Brittany Stoner today and showed her the glories of Websters and the public library. I feel as if I have done a beautiful thing. ;-) AND I saw Allie, and Eric, and Olivia, and Meg, and Betsy, and Scott, and Tommy, all in the space of fifteen minutes. And I saw Zach Jones at lunch. This is Penn State. (Friday night cannot come too soon)

I got into Small Group Communication or Cas 250. I'm so excited!

And I need more rest than I can possibly get right now.

That was a ridiculous post. My apologies.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Simmon's Baby

The above is what my supergroup (mostly Yani) have decided to adopt me as being both the youngest and least experienced of our group of 13. They say it in all kindness and help me out a great deal and teach me to laugh at my mistakes for which I am incredibly grateful. Residents moved in on Wednesday and life as I know it has increased in responsibility but even more in enjoyment. I love this job. I love having first years all over the place who need me as a touch stone for confidence and I love watching them run around together. I love introducing myself to parents and helping them find things. I love times like last night where we had a mob of students playing Apples to Apples and Twister all at once and then leading them in a creepy game of Mofia. I love hanging out with some English Majors and teaching them the egg-chicken-monster-princess game to get them loosened up and a little less awkward. It has been a blessing to be here as well as a challenge that is stretching me. It isn't the time or place to explain what my supergroup is teaching me but I will say that I enjoy their company as well as our Atherton Brethren who make me laugh with their absurdities and good natured playing. A few very specific blessings are these: my roommate moved in yesterday with no trouble whatsoever but a kind and earnest expression on her part of thankfulness to be rooming with me as the RA who can answer her questions. Now that I write that here I am blown away by God's goodness in that. Her things even fit perfectly into the space that was left in the room and now we are quite snug, with me at least very excited about getting to know her better. Another blessing was the two hour free space yesterday afternoon where I was able to spend some quality time with Sarah Hedrick. It was an intense half hour but there couldn't be a better way to start off the relationships with my Navs sisters as we start to process how each of us has changed over the summer. Also, I just found out in an email that my french prof from the spring (who I enjoyed a great deal) will also be teaching me this fall! I was sincerely hoping that this would happen but I had to choose my class based on time not prof but it has worked out perfectly! I also ran into Alex Cadmus, the cousin of my NY cousins who was ecstatic to see me though we had some awkwardness where I had no idea who he was or why he was so happy to see me. It was in a crowd of 300 of us so I haven't had a chance to chat at all but this was wonderful to find anyway.

In a word: This year is awesome already.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fallen In Among Friends

The past few days have been rather hectic and filled with the presence of God. I am bone weary with it all and sleepiness holds me up for far past what I ought to go to bed with. There has been encouragement on all sides from those that I least thought to look for it from: the conversation with Mrs. Saxton at church, Jenny and Karen down the hall, making my fellow RAs smile with my questions and silliness. I've been adopted by them as "the Simmons Baby" since I am the youngest of the lot and new at the position to boot. It covers a multitude of failures to have them laugh at me like that. I also was walking today toward Atherton after lunch at Sunset Park and fell into walking with two guy RAs from there. They were talking math and aerospace engineering but gladly altered their nerdiness for mine and we talked books and literature and epic themes the rest of the way and throughout the afternoon. I found another Jasper Fforde and Douglas Adams fan and a classics lover in the other, but of the rather more philosophical sort. I'd venture to hazard a guess on the life beliefs of the later since he kept insisting that he disliked one book or another because it portrayed society and not the individual as the perpetrator of evil in the world. Worldview talk from everywhere I go!

So I am tired but peaceful. Keep praying for the paperwork and the details of this job. Serving in the details for more than four weeks-an entire school year to come. Stay Tuned.

With Love,

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008


In this day I have:

-Returned four armloads of books and movies to the library
-Received the list containing the names of my 61 residents
-Worked on door tags
-Watched two policemen enter Cocoa Perk, talk with the owners and all the employees, and chase away a man making threats
-Watched a film of USA beating France in the swimming relay. Wow!
-Held the flashlight while Dad shot a skunk.
-Tired my arm with slicing paper
-Sang through 7 Sweet Lies
-Written 10 letters
-Made a fruit salad (I threw in berries and pronounced it "salad" and so it was)
-Had chai tea
-Posted for you

I feel accomplished even if I must continue much of this tomorrow to finish before school comes. Saturday I'll be back at PSU moving into Simmons Hall.

323 Simmons Hall
University Park, PA 16802

Write me. Because I will love mail.

Also call me (particularly if you have verizon) because I grow in appreciation for the cellphone. Never in all my life have I been so attached to it as in these weeks following camp. It has been vital in connecting me with the staffers and talking for hours through a strange, extended time of debrief. During each of these conversations, I stumble across yet something more that I am learning from my four weeks there, even if it is something as small as how to fold a tshirt so that it is fit to be placed back on the merchandise table (Thanks Alysia!). I take my phone after 9pm and go to the front porch, rocking back and forth as the night grows cooler and the thunder storms roll in over the moon, phone to my ear, as I find those that I miss so badly. I've said this before and I still believe it to be true: life is often just a lesson in learning to love so that we spend our lives missing those who aren't there. At least cellphones help remind me that they are still alive. Not dead, just living out God's plans elsewhere.

A full day and now time to rest and sleep. Goodnight!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Waiting Some More

School is coming with the speed of a bullet train. I happen to be standing in the tracks looking blankly at this sheet of silver metal racing toward me to squish me into the ground like the pennies we laid on the tracks at Stone Mountain.

Leah knows what I'm talking about!

I'm compiling ideas and emails for my job as an RA. I have most of the books I need for classes. I have a roommate that I don't know. And I'm so excited for school that I can't even express it. Most of it ties into seeing the dear faces of those friends I haven't seen in months. And another part of it is being able to watch the freshmen, and be able to help them out in those first few months.

In other news, I have become a cellphone conversationist. Some of the highlights from my week are talking to my fellow staffers scattered across The States (as Kate, my Canadian student calls us). I'm so grateful for this technology!

Also, HANNAH IS HOME! I missed her so much these past six weeks and now we get to step on each other's feet while she unpacks and I try to pack for school. I have books everywhere like leaves blowing about in fall. Except our feet are the winds that blow the books about. I just can't seem to not step on them on my way to the door! She is so tired and has a nasty cold but hopefully she'll be able to rest quite a bit before life gets crazy for her as well.

"Take my hand! We'll make it, I swear! ooooOH! Living on a Prayer!"

Saturday, August 02, 2008

"Why is that girl wearing an acorn hat?"

There just wasn't going to be a name for this one.

I have been home for seven days and I have spent the time in various ways, primarily wandering the borders of the house like a ghost, occassionally venturing out to the library for books and other needs. I have listened to music, the soundtrack of the summer, and I have looked at pictures more than could have been healthy for my eyes, in need of new specs as they are. I have not walked, I have not carried luggage, and I have not dressed like a want-to-be Beattle. I have spent hours on the phone after 9pm to reduce the phone bill with some friends, remembering. I have "wallowed" with Gretchen in the kitchen. We were wallowing in self-pity for various things but it was pathetic none the less, however entertaining we found it. I have had trouble seeing people clearly and I have found myself struggling to listen to those I care about the most. It was a quiet week and one that I sincerely think of as a time of bizarre mourning for the living, mourning that something had to come to an end.

But there is a time for mourning and that has come to an end. My heart is turning to rejoicing and I have begun to journal the summer, something that needed to be done and was coming with great difficulty. After a phone conversation with Leah that involved dancing to the same song, five states apart, and watching the sun set over a corn field, I found that I have my words back or perhaps they were just stuck. I am writing like a mad woman before the racing stops and I hope to share some of that with you here.

I won't tell you about Spamley, 7 Sweet Lies, between the trees, or my back hand frisbee throw. It doesn't make sense and it is simply the language of something else that I can explain much better to you in other words and with other stories. The pith of my story is this:

God is so good. And somehow, He loves us on top of His being good and us not being good.

And that, my friends, is the most humbling thing I have ever heard in my life.

(me and Julie)

The final days of camp were amazing. I had an intern this last week, named Julie, who was the sweetest, most confident and passionate intern I could have asked for. She saw what needed to be done and she was going to do it! She loved our girls right from the start and led right along with me as if she had been doing it all summer. By Monday, I knew that she could have led the group on her own but she didn't. She was right in there with me, doing all the silly things I had in my head to do, and she expanded them as if we had sat down and discussed them for weeks before pulling out the madness in all its glory right on the spot. I loved watching her do this and quite depended upon her for a great deal that needed to be done. We led the girls in frantic games of duck-duck-goose, crazy ninjas, Sneaking, and "word dropping" or using a word as many times as possible in a day. We had such amazing times that I won't forget. You simply can't erase the memory of jumping out at Jeff and Mark as they made their way back to the dorm after lights out or sliding down bannisters or eating gooey cookies while painting nails right before a rough and tumble frisbee game. The girls were so passionate about learning this week, about worship and about their quiet times. We just followed their conversations and stood a bit in awe of what they brought to the table to discuss.

(Bekah, me, Kaylee, picture by Daniel Stephens)

These girls had a lot of maturity and I learned a lot from them all.

(Greer and I in the last moments before I boarded my plane)

I would also like to sum up a bit about what I learned this summer. It is going to be short and to the point but here it goes, all that English training down the drain in favor of an outline:

- That I am absolutely incapable of doing anything good on my own. If it is good, then Christ did it, not me.
- There is so much that needs loving. And I am called to "stand in that gap" even if, in all truth, I'm not needed.
- The Bible is so incredibly rich as a text, a story, a calling, everything. I have to read it like it is John Donne on a final exam!
- I don't deserve anything at all.
- And that when I look in someone's eyes and I see Christ, that is the most beautiful blessing in the whole world.

An odd family, friends who did not choose each other but were placed together. Brothers and sisters. Some crazy thing they call the Body of Christ. Two months and a living of a lifetime.

Pegors (every Thursday night): "Why don't we just do this again in say... 10,000 years?"
Arden:"Well, I was thinking of around a 100 years. Who wants to wait that long to start an eternal party?"
Miles:"Just without the camp part of the campfire. I couldn't handle this much stress in heaven!"

Oh, peaces and fives, my friends. Peaces and fives.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Further Up, Further In!

"Go Farther!" Miles yelled.
"Okey," I replied.

Soon after the yogurt spill on my boarding pass, sorting out weight issues on the curb of an airport, convincing Solveigh one last time to keep her princess shoes on, and having my best friends in the world rush the line of Burger King to get me (my first) Big Mac to eat on the plane, I handed my boarding pass to some person and walked out of sight as they waved.

Crying in a line to get on a plane is not cool. I couldn't stop though and everytime I took a bit of that hamburger I cried some more. Then I fell asleep and didn't move until I landed in Baltimore and was rushed into the hugs of my parents, who love me and missed me and who I'm having trouble explaining exactly what the summer was. Because these four weeks were my summer. And now the pain of leaving is waning and overwhelmed by the happiness and the laughter of looking at pictures and telling stories and yelling "Peaces and Fives!" in the library. It is lonely to yell "Peaces and Fives" and be left hanging.

But so all things must come to an end. And my time with Worldview Academy in the summer of 08 is ended.

But in a way, stories just keep going, don't they?

I'll be constructing thoughts and stories and pictures on these four weeks in more detail in the days to come. Be praying for me as I learn from not being in the thick of things and...


In His Great Love,

Saturday, July 19, 2008

So I'll Stand

Another week is over and it was... it just was. I found it to be the most demanding of the weeks I've had and I leave it again with the thoughts that flit in and out "Could I have done a better job?" The answer is always, "yes". It is true that I am learning more each day about myself, about the people around me, about how to handle tough situations and gage exactly what needs to be done every situation. But as Cara so wisely pointed out: it isn't even about me learning that I'm here. I'm here because I have to serve and if I'm missing that and "learning a lot" then there isn't a point. I could be here and "not learn anything" and still be used by God. It isn't about me, even in that sense.

I would like to share some pictures from the week and from yesterday as part of the team walked around downtown Seattle.

These are my girls at small group time on Tuesday playing SNIP SNAP SNORT SNOREM.

This was something we found in a back stairwell of Pike's Place. We can't decide if Megan is shocked because the door opens or because they bothered to tell us that it does.

A fancy picture of my in the reflection of the first Starbucks ever.

The Baldwin family. Miriam may remember how big a fan I was of their kids at camp in 03. I'm still a big fan and was thrilled that we got a chance to go to Coldstone Creamery togther!

There are other moments of course that I will continue to share or at least share in person when I come home. So many stories to tell and so many people to introduce you to!

With Love, Dana

Saturday, July 12, 2008


The word that makes this title is what my mind feels like right now. I am in my room at a Hampton outside of Portland with Megan and Bailee. It was a while before anyone said anything when Megan pointed out how quiet it was. How long had it been since that perfect stillness of rest without responsibility? It is a gift.

This week went fast, far faster than the one before. I was racing at all times and had a lot to try to accomplish. In the end, was it a running hampster wheel? No. God doesn't give us meaningless work, but it feels like a week where I had little idea of where my girls were at or how they were doing. Perhaps that is simply my own personality that demands verbal communication and private confidence to somehow create "depth" in a relationship. And that wasn't what I was called to do either. Am I out there with these girls to get a feeling of depth and purpose? God keeps bringing me back to 1 Corinthians 13. I know. The "Love" chapter. But it was on my mind the days before camp started and Brandon spoke about it last week in our church time. Love is not an emotion but a will to an action. Feelings lie like it's there job. There are some crazy specific things we need to do to love people, to serve them, and I am seeing very clearly how these things play out in the details: in how I respond to them accidentally being up late or locking us out or forgetting their bag or allowing them freedom or or or...

Parenting must be a crazy hard job.

I am also learning some things about family, community, and hospitality. Tonight, our team went to Janice Medina's apartment in Portland (she was a staffer last year) and had the amazing meal she prepared for us. Mexican food, the real thing, lots of it, everywhere, the best thing I have ever eaten in my whole life. None of us could stop and we opened up under its influence, telling stories, being crazy, singing, appreciating being alive. The later also involved several people falling asleep on the couch whenever they could. Then we celebrated birthdays and told more stories and remembered. I was so grateful for that food. It was an incredible act of love for her to make it for us and to have such an amazing break from dorm food. I wasn't even in Arizona for their poisonous stuff called "food" to have an accurate comparison, and I know that heaven will taste a bit like Janise Medina's cooking. But the same hospitality applies when getting cookies in the mail. We open our packages and pass around the several day old and crumbly cookies and be reassured that someone is thinking of us and loves us and that in itself makes them far more "divine" as someone put it, than any other cookie could be.

Tonight, I was also reminded how I am not alone in my work here at camp this summer. This is a part of me that wants to imagine that I am making a name for myself in the annals of Worldview Academy history but hearing the stories of Janise, Cookie, and Holly tonight reminded me that that could not be farther from the truth. When I do anything right, I am walking in the level paths of the hundreds of staffers that have gone before me, living out of their love and their failures even as I think I am figuring it all out myself for the first time. We think our skits our funny? Where would we be without their plans and time and even their own investment in our lives? There are FIVE guy staffers this year who were under Jacob Douvier at some point as campers. FIVE. And I am being reminded more and more of my own leaders as I consciously and uncousciously imitate them. The crazy walking, the hand game, the letters to themselves, their bearing as a leader, the way they tell stories, the way they pray for students. It wasn't until Wednesday that I was able to put into words, for the first time, why it was that Lauren had been a significant leader to me. Being on this end changes everything. And I stand before a great cloud of witnesses, humbled and in awe, knowing there is grace for the weary and encouragement on every side.

I long for prayers and I long for news. Please email me or write!

Student Name
Worldview Academy
C/O Conference Services
Seattle Pacific University
3307 Third Ave. W. Suite 312
Seattle, WA 98119-1957

-Continued energy for me. God has been so good in giving me energy that is not my own. Praise for that!
-My girls, that they would continue to grow in crazy amazing ways.
-That I would "see the unseen" in my interactions with them and be able to respond with wisdom
-The staff. This is really more of a thanks than anything else. Pray that God would bless them in His abundance!
-The faculty. They are tired but don't let on. Some have little kids and that adds to their fatigue.
-Wisdom. I need it more everyday.

I will be at this address for the next two weeks and then I will be home.

PS. It is awesome having friends who love books and aren't like you at all. We went to Powells in Portland today. I bought fairy tales. Other selections from our ravid team included: The Silmarrillion, Frank Perreti novels, The Washington Secret War, The Ordinary Princess, philosophy titles I can't remember, math books I can't remember, history, the emergent church, and on and on and on. Oh, and the nalgene with philosophy charts. We were all a little paper and ink happy today.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Morning by Morning

Hello from a Hampton Inn almost on the border of Oregon and California! We drove for four hours today from my first camp at Menlo College in Atherton, California. Next week I'll be at Linfield College

My Name
Worldview Academy
C/O Linfield College-Conference Planning
900 SE Baker St.
McMinnville, OR 97128

Email me at narnia50@gmail.com (will read on weekends) or at studentmailwest@worldview.org with my name in the subject title. Also see worldview.org for pictures of camp!

(Me and one of my girls, Natalie, posted on the worldview.org website. Picture taken by Ben Winslow)

This is all very "end of post" material but my brain is a little fuzzy so let me back up and tell you about this week. It was an incredible honor and blessing to be back with some of the greatest people I have ever met! I arrived at campus after my flight to the hugs of these dear friends, rushing me around so I could be ready for the start of camp. And let me tell you, there is nothing that is like the start of a Worldview Academy leadership camp. There was jumping up and down, hand shaking, name learning, silliness and craziness to welcome the students. The week flew by as I got to know and love six girls ages 12-14. They were quiet but I soon found that they were each making strong decisions for Christ that I respected a great deal. As my first week, it was thankfully, a relatively smooth one by the grace of God. My daily failures, indiscretions, forgetfulness, were all covered by God's grace. I was so psyched to see them become excited about the work of God in their lives! Please continue to pray for them as they go home to all its troubles and hardships, that God's faithfulness would be evident in those times.

As for me, I would love to have prayer for continued energy. I know that the strength that I had this week was not even close to being my own. Praise God! I also need prayer that my wisdom would deepen so that I would always be able to perceive what servanthood needs to look like in every situation. I also need prayer that my creativity for fun games and excitement would continue to broaden. Lord willing, I will take a page or two from my mother's book. ;-)

I also want to know how everyone else is doing! Please keep me posted on your lives!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Glimmerin' Gates

This post is in honor of Matt Tingle, the second of the cousins and grandkids, to have a wedding and get hitched. Pretty awesome, if you ask me. His wife to be is Amanda, someone who already feels like family for all the events she's been at during our visits south! We all love them and are so excited for this day! Matt is a pretty amazing person himself on top of marrying Amanda. He was always an great cousin, from letting us chase attack him until we fell over from fatigue at Lake Burton to talks about books and all those long emails when I had my "choosing a college" crisis. He's always been incredibly considerate and loving to everyone around him and I simply cannot believe that I am missing his wedding!

Matt, I'm more sad about that than I can possibly say! I know the day will be amazing, that crazy fun memories will be made, and that at the end of the day... you'll be married whether I'm there or not, a detail I'm sure Amanda appreciates. I love ya'll and can't wait to be down there at Thanksgiving to see you!

With Love,
The little cousin

P.S. I am bringing a total of zero fun books with me to WVA. I feel as if I am violating the core of my personage committing such an unavoidable atrocity.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In the course of history

there are moments where posting is absolutely necessary.

I am leaving for Worldview this Sunday and I am shaking in my shoes in great fear. Thank you God for fear! I rushed in panic to 1 Corinthians 13 and prayer, resting there for over an hour, literally shaking with the realization that I am all set up for failure. I also went to the house of Hannah, Annie, and Ellie, dear friends who I am blessed to know and to have been allowed into their lives. I was able to spend the evening and have dinner and play bocce and chat with Beth and Becky their older sisters. It is a family of WVA students and we pulled out old camp pictures and found that I had been at camp at the same time as their brother when I was 15. We remembered some same faces and names and shared old stories. We watched them in the musical Annie and talked about their school and stories. These girls are the most welcoming and accepting girls I have ever been with! Who could not help but feel somehow capable of loving perfect strangers when the strangers of before are become these friends?

It is strange to have the house entirely to myself. I clean and do laundry and listen to music and read bucket loads. To think that I will not see my family for five-six weeks. I come home and they leave! Matt and Amanda are getting married (hurrah!) and they are gone to the celebration and ceremony. I wish I could be there but... I will be with the wva so soon. Just so few days to go! The first week you will be able to contact me here:

Dana Ray
Worldview Academy
C/O Menlo College
Conference Services, 1000 El Camino Real
Atherton, CA 94027

With Love, Your Very Lame Poster

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


I will not continue posting on here throughout the summer. Or most likely not. I'm working through June at the Hershey Medical Center and then traveling with Worldview Academy (worldview.org) through July on their West Coast Team. Here is a letter explaining what that will look like:

Dear Friends and Family,
Five years ago I attended a camp for five days that had an incredible influence on how I understood the Christian faith and how I engaged with it, heart, soul, and mind. This was Worldview Academy, a nondenominational leadership camp that seeks to train l students in a Biblical worldview through teaching in leadership, apologetics, and cultural studies. I grew in significant ways that week and returned for a second year the following summer, a time that grew me even more. Particularly in this second summer, I began to understand exactly why I was so attached to this organization and wanted to go back year after year. The key was the college staff that had looked after me and helped me unpack what I had been learning (“Drinking from a fire hydrant” as they say). I had not known older students who had loved me and cared for me as sincerely as these people did. I absolutely adored my small group leader and cried when camp was over and I had to go home. If they had not been there to love me as they did, the teaching I had received would have meant nothing in my life. If they had not been there to model the kind of living and loving that I needed to be, all the knowledge that I came away with would have meant nothing.
So why am I telling you this? Because this summer, I will be going on staff with Worldview Academy in the same role of the college students that spoke into my life in early highschool. The past two summers I have interned for weeklong periods and this summer I will be traveling for the month of July with the West Coast team from Menlo College in Northern California to Seattle-Pacific University in Washington State. I am incredibly excited and honored by this chance to be a part of a team of students like the one that influenced me. Each week I will have anywhere from 6-11 girls ranging in ages from 13-18 years, and will keep track of them, herd them in the right directions, and help build a community with them for those five days. The position of college staff member is vital to Worldview Academy’s mission of training and raising up leaders. Without someone to personally help oversee the growth of the students, nothing would happen!
I am therefore, asking for your constant prayers as I work this July throughout the Northwest. God has big plans and I can only pray that I will help be a part of them! There are a few things that I would love prayer for:

• Energy!
• My other team mates
• My constant and undivided attention to be in the here and now
• My girls! God is going ahead of me and preparing hearts! I can't wait to see what this looks like!

If you would like to contact me, my addresses will be posted on the website www.worldview.org or you can reach me by email at staffwest@worldview.org or by phone on the weekends at (717) 514-8793. Thank you!

With love in the Savior,

Dana Ray

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ready or Not

I was considering posting a review of Prince Caspian. Since this has so aptly been done by decentfilms.com and Jeffery Overstreet, I will refrain.

Instead, I have spent some time running around the county post vacation to get ready for tomorrow morning. I am not ready, not physically anyway. I have so many things I have to round up and fit in a suitcase. This is just for the week but I keep forgetting that. The real challenge will be at the end of June when I go away for the month. But this next week will be wonderful, I feel that and know that. I am nervous though as I am before any wva event.

I can't wait. But for the first time, this will also be a sacrifice.I am missing things I long to be at to be at training next week. I am missing Matt's wedding for it in June. And I want to be there. I've wanted to be there since my second year at WVA and the year I couldn't go but cried when we picked up Hannah late because we missed Jeff's end of the week talk. It's where my heart was and I knew that. I suppose committing to anything just gets harder as time goes. Please pray that it all goes remarkably well. Flying seems to rattle my nerves but I am armed with Interred With Their Bones so it can't be all bad.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


This morning, I turned 19. Or I passed the mark that marks my living on earth nineteen years.

I forgot and spent my journaling time this morning writing frantic ideas for RA programing instead of contemplating on "19 years." Then Hannah sang with her harmonica and I laughed. The 40+ facebook comments wishing me happy and whole were also quite enjoyable to read and laugh over. The creation and function of facebook still surprises and delights me as with a new toy. People I have not seen or heard from in years left comments on my "wall" and gave me a door to pester them with questions of "how are you?" in various forms. Perhaps I complained about it this morning but I confess, I enjoyed it a lot.

The beach wind blows the sand like a desert, the salt of the water and wind coating everything. At night, when the nearly full moon rises, the low tide beach looks like the surface of Venus in a satellite picture. Another world. Perelandra in a fallen world.

I listened to the ocean sing while I read Watership Down and Pilgrim At Tinker Creek. The later has been at my side for a few months and I've found as I've gone that it has been a journey accompanied by another reader, one with a black pen held by an unsteady hand, underlining things most particularly pertaining to comments about science. I tended to underline things where she waxed eloquent and I saw things clearly and perfectly. It was interesting to contrast. I don't know the name of the previous owner, or at least, if the other name inscribed in the cover belongs to the black pen underliner. I wish I could have had the person beside me to actually ask questions of and talk about the process of reading it. It is slow going, rich and beautiful, not something to really take in on the first try. So often I feel as if I'm reading poetry instead of a piece of prose. I underline things in a bright blue pen when I can, steady and sure, marking whole paragraphs at times. I do not understand this type of writing and I love it to be quite honest.

19 doesn't really feel any different.

But I watch Tarzan just the same. Traditions are made to be kept.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Vacation (slow on the uptake)

Location: A beach, near Charlestown, SC, also near Hilton Head

I take a while to slow down and understand VACATION.

So Hannah and I both brought probably... 15 books between the two of us and were trying to read all of them before the end of the week. This is a bit of a stretch but a noble ambition. If we get anywhere near half way through then I will update you with names.

I love oceans and long beaches and walks in the dark that make it feel like another planet.

I had a long IM conversation with an old friend and it opened a floodgate of memories from the life in Athens, GA. Waiting for the train and imaging jumping on it, something with cardboard boxes, running around Awana and trying to talk to people and using Hannah has a spokesperson, the smell of soap in the summertime... I need to write these down! I sorted through a "keep-sake" that Mom started for me as a baby and it was crazy to remember some of the things. I think I'm a very visually and physically tied my memories, items and pictures unlock memories far more than even my journals have done. I found a yellow Awana bandana and remembered the time I bought it at the Olympics, not because it was our color (we were red), but because I liked it. I searched for it for the summer and camp.

Perhaps the thing is this... I have no idea how to make it through June looking at wva pictures. I can't wait to be with them all!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fire In The (Oven)

I was home less than twenty four hours when I encountered... me. Myself, my stupidity, in all its mortal glory. I cooked lunch (stuck Tesquitos into the oven for the kids) and when they came out smelling smokey I decided that it was time to send the oven through the cleaning cycle to get rid of the gunk that had built up on the oven floor. It had been doing its thing for about thirty minutes; I was at the computer, facebooking or some such worthless pursuit, when the kids started yelling. Since this isn't entirely unusual I didn't look up until it sounded more earnest and included words like "fire." I lept up and raced into the kitchen to find that there was a small fire/ large flame in the left corner of the oven, seen through the window on the door,smoke pouring out of the vent. I turned on the fan, turned off the cleaning function, and grabbed the fire extinguisher from under the sink (which Jen was clever enough to remember). Having never used it, I super powered ripped the pin out of its plastic binding, aimed, and told Gretchen to throw open the oven door.

And it wouldn't open.

So I stand their awkwardly looking at this flame and now realizing that I can't reach it to put it out. Since it wasn't getting out of control I called Mom before the fire department and had her assurance that it probably would just go out on its own so just keep an eye on it. Sure enough, five minutes later through the cooling cycle it had calmed down and gone out.

We laughed for quite a while though!


It was strange to be at church today. Pastor Dave was quite good so I was glad to listen to him and I was a little bit in awe of the group prayer we said. I found it beautiful and wish I had a copy. But I found myself lingering in the Sanctuary before making my way toward the auditorium. I saw friends and recognized that many faces were missing. It was just... strange. I went down by the creek to be by myself for a while and thought about church that was just starting at Calvary Baptist.

We gave Mom presents in the afternoon and promptly started watching them (the BBC and Masterpiece Theatre Sense and Sensibility) but took a break to go take naps. Then we went to Houllihans which was a lot of fun, amazing food, good times across the street. In all the years (almost 11) that I've lived in Hershey, I had never crossed the street in Downtown Hershey. A first for everything.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I choose salads in a very particular way. This way means that I do not envision the end, the great culmination of all flavors into a delicious aroma of vegetable and seasoning. I see each in their individual whole, their individual merit. I thought nothing of it the other night to say that I wanted parmesan cheese only to find that it was going to be placed over fried shrimp on a bed of iceburg lettuce. Why I then chose to put croutons and raisons on this concoction I have yet to figure out. But everything seemed good on its own.

This is why I like restaurants. They know how to make salads.


I visited Annie today during office hours. Since I came prepared I was declared "her favorite for the day." Since I was the first one there, I said that I was quite flattered. She has a globe. She brings her dog to her office and lets it run around with a dog gate put across the door. She keeps tests and scantrons in the cabinent with the face and bearing of a great grandfather clock. There were movies and books everywhere. It reminded me of the house of Merlin in The Once and Future King. The ceiling was high and she would not turn on an electric light.

I want an office with a clock for a cabinet.


I was on Old Main Lawn from 3pm to 6:20 with my Navs Bible Study, remembering the year and sharing our hearts and our stories, laughter and fear of the evil black catepillars. I would relive the afternoon all over again if I could. There couldn't be a better way of ending the semester and starting off next years friendships than what we did this afternoon. I walked back to my room on clouds.

I will miss them. All of them.

But probably my roommate, Sarah, most of all.


How do you load a truck full of furniture in the rain without going mad?


Looking forward to the summer, to Tea Times, to putting my water boiler to use, to color teams, to the best staff in the country, to students and conversations, to being way out of my depth and fully weak and watching what He decides to do next.

I final stroke of Promise.