Monthly Archives: May 2012

Dirty Thirty

A few weeks ago I went to the orthodontist and when the assistant checked my file, she said, “Oh, looks like someone is about to have a birthday!  Oooh and it’s a big one.  Dirty thirty!”

I hadn’t heard of the expression until just then.  And I still don’t get it.  Why am I dirty now?  Am I supposed to shower less?  Am I expected to make lots of sexual innuendos?  Seriously, if anyone knows why it’s “dirty” thirty, please enlighten me.

After my check up and lying to my ortho about how, “Oh yes, I wear my invisalign 22 hours a day just like I’m supposed to”, the assistant informed me that since it was my birthday month, I got to spin the birthday wheel.  There I was, about to turn 30, still seeing an orthodontist and about to spin the birthday wheel.  I REALLY didn’t feel like an adult in that moment.  Nor did I feel like an adult when a teenage boy, who looked pissed at the world, rolled his eyes as I cheered because I had spun 13 stars on the birthday wheel.  Thirteen!

Post victory-leap, I realized, “Wow, this is NOT what I thought 30 would feel like.”  One of the joys I’ve realized in my week of being 30 is this: no one ever forces you to act your age.  It’s really quite wonderful and has made turning 30 fun rather than frightening.

So just as I put together a list of signs that I was getting older, here is my list of 10 reasons I don’t FEEL like I’m 30. Continue reading


I turned 30 today.  

(Present from a clever friend)

People have been asking me if it’s freaking me out and I keep telling them, “No.  But when I turned 29, I cried because I was one year closer to 30.  So I guess I’ve had a year to prepare for this day and now that it’s here, it’s not that scary after all.” (But if I have puffy red eyes tomorrow, know that I had a small breakdown later tonight. Please don’t ask me about it.)

I freaked out when I turned 29 because 30 had always sounded ancient.  People in their 30’s sounded so responsible and boring and well, old.  Plus, I had always assumed that people in their 30’s had life pretty much figured out.  They had husbands and kids and houses and since I was nowhere near to having any of those things, I flipped out a tiny bit.

Somewhere during my 29th year, however, I realized that turning 30 doesn’t mean you have to turn into a responsible bore.  I’m friends with people in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s who are spritely and silly and wildly inappropriate at times.   They’ve shown me that getting older doesn’t mean life gets dull, nor does it mean you have to have life figured out.  Because it turns out that nobody EVER has life completely figured out.  Forrest was right.  Life really IS like a box of chocolates and you really DON’T ever know what you’re gonna get each year.

I’ve found there are only a few constants in life- God will always be good and farts will always be funny.  Almost cverything else is subject to change, and there really is no way of telling what each year or decade will bring.  Some months you’ll get the milk chocolate truffles or peanut butter filled goodness.  But other months you’ll bite right into that cherry-filled nasties.  Regardless, God is still good and farts are still funny.  Each year will inevitably hold surprises, some good and some disgusting, but that is what makes this journey with God so wonderful.  He already knows what surprises are coming our way and will use them for our good and our growth.

So once I let go of the idiotic notion that turning 30 meant I had to have my life sorted out, I relaxed and happily skipped out of my twenties and into the realm of… dun dun dun… adulthood.

Although today marks the official day of my “departure from early adulthood,” there have been signs of this day approaching for quite some time.  Perhaps you too have experienced a few of these.  Here are my 20 signs that I’m becoming an adult: Continue reading

Zuni Lessons Part Two

This is my last Zuni post of the year, but not forever since I will continue going to this quiet reservation every Spring Break that I can.  Here are the final lessons I learned from this year’s trip.

I learned that you can diffuse a potentially very awkward and embarrassing moment by laughing, giving a thumb’s up, and saying, “You got me good!” when a volleyball is spiked in your face and blood instantly begins to pour out of your nose. (Bryce’s reaction made us fall to the ground with side-splitting laughter.  And yes, a Meet the Parents reference was made.)

I learned that if you accidentally dress like a high schooler, you’ll feel pretty cool.

But then I was reminded of my age and true “un”coolness when I tried to master the ripstick again this year and ended up, not only falling to the ground, but taking out a student with me who had been trying to help balance me. Continue reading

911 Calls and My Jetta

I’ve called 9-1-1 twice in my life.  Both times involved my Jetta.  The first time was 5 years ago when I was babysitting infant Vander.  He was asleep when I heard a loud a crash outside my sister’s house.  When I went outside to investigate, I noticed two things.  1- my car that had been parked in front of the house was gone.  And 2- in place of my car there was an elderly Indian man sitting in a car with exploded airbags and flailing arms.

My first thought was, “This old man is on drugs!”

My second thought was, “Dude, where’s my car?”

I looked down the street and saw that my lil’ Jetta had been pushed three houses down.  Then I looked closer at the man and saw blood and foam coming out of his mouth.  And I panicked.

A couple happened to be walking by right at that moment.  It was five years ago and I can still hear the guy say, “Ohhhh shit.”

And with that, I sprang into action.  I remembered my CPR training and raised my hand to announce, “I’ll call 911!”  Luckily, I had memorized Heidi’s address that day because I had had paranoid daydreams about a robber breaking into the house during the night while I huddled with Vander in a closet, calling for help and panicking because I didn’t know my sister’s address.  “Ummm, we’re at a house in Fullerton.  It’s yellow and has a red door.  Come quick!” Continue reading

Zuni Lessons Part One

I go to Zuni each year with the mindset of a sponge.  No, not that of Bob.  (Although I do enjoy hamburgers and kinda wish I had a squirrel friend).  I arrive on the reservation ready and eager to learn, excited to soak up whatever lessons God has for me.  This year much of what I learned had to do with how to serve and I learned loads about service from simply observing the students.  For instance, I learned that

* sometimes the best way to be Christ to someone, is to wrap them in toilet paper…

… or teach them how to dissect a cow eyeball…

… or encourage them as they walk on a tight rope.

* Sometimes the best way to point someone to Jesus is to make balloon spiders with them…

… or teach them about worms…

…. or give them piggyback rides until you’re a sweaty, exhausted mess.

* Sometimes the best way to evangelize is to laugh…

… or sing……. or make snacks and silly faces.

* Sometimes the best way to serve is to listen…

… or mop…

… or swing kids until your arms feel like they’re about to fall off.

* And lastly, sometimes the best place to have “church” is on top of a cliff…

…. or on a playground…

…. or in a Zuni woman’s living room complete with deer heads on the wall.

The next post will about the “church service” we had in this room under the careful gaze of the stuffed deer.  It involved ice cream sundays, a moving story, a rousing game of down-by-the-banks, and a bit of crowd surfing.  It is a service I will never forget.

(photos courtesy of Erica Streelman and her minions)

Apart from the kids, I also learned lessons from two men who have been serving God with their whole lives for quite some time.

Jeff, our leader of the trip and the man in charge of missions at Valley, is one of those people who seems to constantly call forth words of wisdom straight from the lips of Jesus.  He’s one of those rare souls who is quick to listen and slow to speak.  But when he does speak, man oh man, I listen hard.

This year, he spoke about the fact that when we go to “serve,” we are going to meet with Jesus and to build friendships with others.  We don’t go to be their servants; we go to be their friends.  Because if we come with the mindset that we are serving the poor, unfortunate souls in desperate need of what we have, we somehow start to feel superior to them.

We forget that the “needy” we go to serve are rich in ways that we are not.  When we see those whom we serve as the lowly, we place ourselves above them.  We see ourselves as the “blessed” and start to take pride in our acts of service.  We take pride in serving when really we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing all the time, namely loving God and loving others.

Pastor Meekof, who has been living and serving in Zuni for decades, spoke to this same issue when said, “The minute you become ‘religious’, grace goes out the door.”  The minute we start “doing good deeds” to earn God’s favor, we’ve forgotten the monumental truth that God can never love us any more than He already does.  We don’t deserve His love; nor can we earn it.

He explained the importance of checking our motives when we serve and said that thanksgiving should be our driving motivation.  We should serve because that is how we say ‘thank you’ to our creator.  We don’t serve to feel better about ourselves or to make God love us more.

We go to say thanks.

I’ve been chewing on this truth ever since we returned, and I’m trying to learn how to say “thanks” to God with my whole life.

To the cat who has been peeing on my balcony, coming into my room when I’m not home, and eating my cat’s food

I hate you.

And, yes, that was me who rolled down her car window and hissed at you last week.


the girl who now keeps rocks at her desk so she is prepared should you dare to show your ugly face on her balcony again

ps- I still can’t find the spot the where you peed in my room yesterday.


Zuni Benches Part One

I have a thing for benches.  I’m kind of obsessed.  I see an open one and I’m always itching to sit.

It’s weird.  I know.

But for years God has been meeting me on benches.  So benches have become like portals for me- my own wardrobe into Narnia.  Except, instead of stumbling into a winter wonderland with fauns and talking beavers, I sit on splintered wood and am transported into the eye of a storm, the peaceful calm that exists only in God’s midst while the world rages wildly around us.

I can still see myself perched on benches in gardens at Westmont.

I found a special one overlooking the ocean in a Mozambican park.

I napped on an especially peaceful one at the base of the Swiss Alps.

And each Spring break I return to the benches outside Zuni Christian School on the Zuni Reservation.  I’ve talked so much about these particular benches that the students this year asked if they could share my benches.  Sure enough, I’d often be reading my bible with a student sitting on the adjacent bench reading his/her own bible.  I loved that.  These kids are eager to hear from God and I was more than happy to welcome them to a spot where God’s whispers are amplified.

Other days these benches were the spot for jam sessions as seen here:

It’s not that these benches, or any benches for that matter, are magical.  But I’ve found that when I find a quiet place on the planet and a quiet place in my soul and just sit, something magical does seem to happen.  It is in such places that suddenly my vision seems to sharpen and I notice the spiritual realm that is always around us but is so typically ignored.  Suddenly, the cacophony of the world’s lies are muted and I can clearly hear the words of truth and peace that are always being spoken but are so often disregarded.

This year in the moments of quiet, there were two incidences in which God seemed to shout in the stillness.  The first occurred on Easter Sunday. Continue reading