Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Five Years

It has been five years since I graduated from college! I can hardly believe it! At the age of twenty-two, I had big dreams for my life: marriage, children, enough money not to worry about it, a house, a great job at a church. Some dreams have been realized, and other dreams I mourn haven't yet come to pass. But I am so thankful for the things I've learned and the people I've met in the past five years! When I think about how I pictured my life being in 2010 and compare it to the reality that is 2010, I'm not sure I'd trade my current life for my dream life. I've learned so much and experienced more than I could have imagined back in 2005. Here are SOME things I am thankful for in these past five years:

- learning about rejection and love and how God must feel when we reject Him
- learned what paralegals are (and studied to be one)
- my awesome small group and extraordinary church
- worked in three amazing churches
- went to Ireland three times
- lived in an interestingly diverse area
- finally learned to water ski
- made this beautiful city my "home"
- kept Mali, the fish, alive for the past three years
- I'm healthy
- have a job at one of my favorite places
- took ice skating lessons
- acquired a small obsession with hockey : )
- got into graduate school
- met awesome people

I am looking forward to the next five years! : )

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Make-up Recipe

I've searched high and low for a lip exfoliant that is similar to the one I used to use from MaryKay with no luck. It would gently remove the dried and peeling skin off my lips and re-smooth them in the dry winter months. Then, I came across this great, more natural recipe. It is simple, easy to make, requires items I normally have around the house, keeps my lips softer than stuff I have bought, and I don't mind if a little gets swallowed (its food rather than unknown chemicals with weird names). Give it a try:

Honey and Sugar Lip Exfoliant
2 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon olive oil (optional)
1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice (optional)
1 Tablespoon honey

Add honey to make it less thick or sugar to make it thicker depending on your preferance.

Place on lips (probably not the whole bowl)
Leave on for a minute or two (put more on if you want)
Gently Scrub in a circular motion for a few seconds
Rinse off
Repeat in a few days if your lips are still flaky
Extra can be saved for a few days or used on feet

Monday, March 15, 2010

Yet More Proof Giving Up Facebook was a Good Idea

You know what's better than Facebook? How about playing board games face to face at the coffee shop with five different people this weekend? : ) Not only did I get to interact with these five wonderful people who amaze me every time I see them, but people from the shop came up and chatted about the game and asked what we were fun!

My co-worker informed me the other day that the year 1975 separates the technology natives from the technology immigrants. This is the year Pong was released for home use. It marks the first time in history humans interacted with technology. A pixel on a screen could now be controlled with the flick of wrist. And now, I can instantly let my 200 friends know where I am with the point of a finger on my touch screen. We interact with screens on a daily, hourly?, basis. People born before this date are the technology immigrants. They did not grown up with this face to screen interaction. Those born after Pong have not known a world without screens (at home, at church, at the bank, at school, in the car, at restaurants, etc). Screens have become almost lifelike to us. People are as comfortable, maybe even more comfortable sometimes, interacting with a screen than real people. A recent article I read talked about how it is easier to say sentimental things online and make a bigger deal of these encripted messages forever stores on a network drive somewhere in outer space than to say them face to face.

My friend, Liz, posted this on her facebook (how ironic):

Toughest college test: No cell phone, no Facebook

It is the same kind of de-sensitizing that I hope to accomplish (and see being accomplished) by my Lenten fast of denying Facebook (though, I'll admit, I've cheated extensively).

Now, I'll admit. Technology is great. Its why you can read my blog and people can share thoughts. Its why I'm even still in touch with Liz (a high school friend I haven't seen face to face in years). But it must be used sparingly and we must remember our main form of interaction (face to face, eye to eye).

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Why I Gave Up Facebook For Lent

I came upon this article today and it hit me, this is why I decided to give up Facebook for Lent:

Police: Couple nurtured virtual child while real baby starved

Now, one could argue that the comparison to this article could be a huge leap. The truth is, there is no real baby behind the virtual infant they were caring for. On facebook, behind the photos and wall posts and status updates, there are real people. So, I have to be careful about drawing too close a comparison between the two. Virtual facebook friends still have bodies, souls, and spirits. I still could meet them in person whereas the couple's avatar baby never has or will exist.

Its not that I'm letting babies die while I play on the computer, but in a similar fashion, I sometimes let face to face friendships wane and real people go unnoticed as I spend hours chatting and reading about "friends" with whom I have little personal contact or never would have crossed paths with again but find their online profiles interesting. I am allowing my real friendships to die off while nurturing my virtual ones, giving them a disproportionate amount of time. Giving up facebook has made the people I see in real life all that more real and encouraged me to foster or re-ignite relationships with people I see or could see frequently. It has allowed me to give them my undivided attention and not be distracted by the draw of the virtual world. It has allowed me more time to play Wii with my neighbor girls, something I've seen pay off as they are now constantly knocking on my door showing me their new passports or asking to come make crafts. It has given me more time and brain power to pray for my upstairs neighbor who came to my party and think of ways to reach out to him. Giving up facebook has been a good move.

So, why is facebook so enticing? It is so much easier to sit in my pjs and chat with multiple people at once, but how much effort it takes to get dressed and out of the house to meet a friend in real life. I would argue that both can be equally fulfilling and the ease of online makes it enticing, but it blinds us to the reality around us.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

An Altar of Dreams

It still seems weird to say "I'm celebrating Lent". Maybe "observing Lent" is a more appropriate phrase, but either way, being a Baptist celebrating Episcopalian Lent while attending Lutheran Lenten services has been quite eye opening. I've learned about the meaning of Lent, about Jesus spending forty days in the wilderness and being tempted by the devil with things like self-sufficiency and power. But most of all, I've learned about giving stuff to God. Lent is understood by most as being a time of giving something up. Even non-practicing Christians will sometimes observe the season. People give up coffee, chocolate, smoking, etc. then after forty days of re-defining and bending the rules (after Easter) they get it back. The concept of Lent reminds me of the story of Abraham in Genesis 22.

Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were old in age. They were in their hundreds! And yet, God told them they would have a child. When this child was miraculously born, they laughed so hard they named him Isaac (which means he laughs). Fast forward many years and God tells Abraham to take his precious son, Isaac, up to an alter and sacrifice him. In those days, people would sacrifice animals as a payment for their sins, but to offer up your son was bizarre. How hard it must have been for Abraham to obey God and offer Him Isaac. Abraham took Issac to the altar. He obeyed God. In the end, God told Abraham not to sacrifice his son. He saw what priority Abraham gave God in his life. Whew! What strikes me about Abraham is his willingness to give up Isaac for God. He put what he valued most on the altar. So often, we say we love God more than anything, but we let other things consume our lives. We let them become idols and, though we would never say it, we let them become more important to us than God. What do I need to put on the altar?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Breaking Lent?

Some friends have commented that I've been on facebook since I've been posting notes. Well, I'm not on facebook, I'm just cheating : ) My blog uploads directly to my facebook and, without facebook, I've been able to process more thoughts I wanted to blog about. Enjoy!

P.S. I don't know what it is about Lenten services on Wednesday nights, but I think they're great! I went to the Lutheran church down the street last year and enjoyed it, so this year, I'm attending again.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lenten Lamentin'

I have food to eat, clothes to wear (most of them still fit), a place to live, a church to go to, a cell phone (with texting), twitter, email, Skype, and a blog, but oh...I miss Facebook! There are people I don't have contact with through any other means and that, I believe, is the hardest thing. I've broken my Lent fast about three times in order to facebook message those whose phone numbers and email addresses I do not have and need to get a hold of (and they have reminded me I am not to be on Facebook now). It seems ridiculous and un-beneficial that I am cutting myself off from "the world" in this way (but maybe they are glad to get a break from me : ) ). I have photos to upload, statuses to read, and witty things to post to my wall. And...I have all this free time... My homework is actually getting done. My Bible is actually getting read (in fact, I emailed my pastor a few in depth theological questions I have wrestled with for quite some time). I have time to watch endless amounts of Olympic ski jumping and ice dancing (grrrr NBC). I helped pack meals for the poor. I feel more focused. I no longer have this urge to check my facebook (just my email). I even played Wii with the neighbor girls! Maybe being off Facebook is not that bad, but I do miss my 243 friends. But I guess if they truly were my friends and not simply statistics, I would hear from them, they would have my number. So, dear, dear, facebook friends, come Easter I will cherish you all the more, and read your status updates and posts all the less!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cousin of Frugality

Oh yah! I almost forgot: my cousin is famous! She has an amazing blog: Check it out! : )

Winter Fun

This past weekend, my parents and I went up north for a day simply to get away. My dad has now snowmobiled with all of his children, which he is pretty happy about. And my mom got me to cross country ski with her while we both wore ski shoes three sizes too large. Our neighbor's dog tagged along with us. Meanwhile, we cleared off our unmaintaned rink and I took a little skate.


So, last week, we were Stamped as I wrote about experiencing the World Vision Experience: AIDS exhibit. This week at church, we had Ash Wednesday. As far as I know, it is a made-up holiday. But underneath the stories of the ashes poofing upon impact due to carpet static and pastors using printer toner in place of ashes, the holiday has significant meaning. It is meant as an extended time to prepare oneself for Good Friday and the Easter celebration that follows. Since our church is normally loud, enthusiastic, and video few every weekend, it is nice to have a few times a year we come together as our campus and quietly observe holidays. We do this twice a year: Thanksgiving Eve and Ash Wednesday. The services are an extended time of worship, a short time of teaching and reflection, communion, and (for Ash Wednesday) the ashes. What a powerful time.

For Lent, I gave up facebook. It as been interesting because I don't miss it. Even though I did dream about reading status updates last night and throughout the day my thoughts revolve around "Bethany is...". I miss chatting with friends, but I don't miss the endless, often unimportant statuses, links, updates, and posts to read. I also do not miss how easy it is to compare my life to others, well, what they put on facebook. So, for me, I've learned, in a small way, it is about giving up something you think you cannot live without and realizing, in even a small way, God truly is all you need.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Our church is doing a series call the 6:8 Project, focusing on Micah 6:8. One experience this week involves eating like the world's poor: rice, beans, oats, tap water, that's it. Next week, we will be packing food to send overseas as Feed My Starving Children will be setting up a packing line at our church. But this evening, a girl from my small group and I went to the Experience:AIDS World Vision had set up at our church.

Upon entering the gym, I was given an audio device to walk me through the tour. I got Kombo's story, which you can see here. It is a story of a small boy growing up in Kenya. His father is gone and his mother dies of AIDS. During part of the experience, I, as Kombo, walked into a "clinic" to be tested for AIDS. When the audio prompted me, I went up to a station and got my hand stamped. I got a red X, I had AIDS. My heart sank. "Snap out of it! Its just an audio tour! Its just a stupid stamp!" I thought as my heart sank. And then the reality hit...for some people, for Kombo (a real child), this was a real experience. They can't turn off the audio tour, they don't hand their headphones back at the end, they can't wash off the stamp. However unfair it may be, they have AIDS. What a heart wrenching experience! To experience my heart sink upon receiving that stamp and then the reality of experiencing it 1,000 times worse, was wrenching.

Upon exiting the exhibit, I read through the other stories and realized that the audio tour I was given was the only Kenyan child. It touched me closely because the child I sponsor, Desma, is in Kenya. Similar to Kombo, she has no memory of her father and during the time I've sponsored her, her mother has died of AIDS. It is hard to comprehend that these are real people, real lives, real situations. They happen every day, thousands of miles away. I need to 1) write to Desma more and 2) pray for her more. It is easier to remember to pray for the people I influence and see on a daily basis, but hard to remember Desma whom I've never met and lives miles away.

It was a touching experience. A quiet, relaxed, moving experience.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A.D.D. Church

Have you noticed that church these days is loud? Its flashy. Its fast beat. Its visually stimulating. Its on time. The audio/visual effects rival some of the most recent Hollywood movies! Some of this is great! It is convenient for our busy, western schedules. But sometimes I miss the quiet moments of church. I miss the awe felt when watching the sun dance through stained glass. I miss the songs going a little long simply because we felt like singing the chorus one more time. I miss acknowledging the "church calendar" (Easter, Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Epiphany, etc). I miss being able to clearly hear God through the noise. I miss it. Perhaps I'm a traditionalist or its my introversion coming out. But mostly I think it is my discomfort with the church looking more and more like the world. Yes, we want to do things well, we want to give our best, but as we are doing and being the best to impress the world and draw them in, what are we drawing them into? Is God Himself not impressive and enticing enough? Shouldn't the church be a quiet shelter from the pressures and noise of the world; a place of peace?

Don't get me wrong, I love my church! I think their ministry philosophy of loud music and edgy light shows both for kids and adults is fantastic and draws people who would otherwise not show interest in church. The lights, noise, etc are great tools used to bring people to God! There are screens EVERYWHERE, but used for information and out of necessity to see words and people. The excitement that fills the buildings and the people is from the joy we feel from God's great forgiveness. It is genuine and real, but it is loud.

Yes,sometimes, I miss the quiet. Shhh....

Monday, February 1, 2010


Food goal
So, I've not been keeping up, but I've been doing well and have been surprised how far my low-cost Aldi trips have gone! I have only spent 25% of my month's grocery budget and the month is 1/2 over! I'm excited about that!

There is a challenge coming up this next week that I would like to take on. This has to do with my church and our focus on the poor in our next series. We are being encouraged to eat like the poor (rice, oats, etc). You can learn more about that here: Join in!

Hmm...I am not doing well at this at all! I have been ice skating each week and that is good exercise, but not enough. My family bought me Just Dance for the Wii for Valentine's and that is quite a work out, so I try to do that.

Three people were added to our small group, so those will be new friends. Also, I am hosting a party this weekend for my apartment neighbors, so I hope to get to know them a little more. I feel I have been doing well on this goal.

God's Guidance
Oh it is so easy to think I have my life all together and not need God's guidance, but I need it even more! I do need to stay diligent on this task!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Last Week in January

Food goal
L: tortellini soup, pear
D: pancakes

L: sandwich
D: macaroni

L: macaroni
D: Cosetta's downtown with my bro

L: chicken stuffing
D: McDonalds before class

L: chicken stuffing
D: spaghetti

Well, I ended up spending all but $8 of my budget. $50 of that went to a family, but it is still closer than I'd like to be and I did not do a great job accounting for all the cash I sent. $5 here and there adds up and I'm afraid I lost track of some of it. Tomorrow is a new month and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to work on tracking spending more closely.

I am doing horrible at this one! I skated at an outdoor rink today and the ice was horrible. So I went for a walk instead, but it wasn't very long. I am thinking of joining a club, but it is so much money, I'm not sure.

I'm not sure I made any new friends this month, but I did get to know some people I volunteer with at church much better, so I consider that success.

God's Guidance
I did really good at this in the first few weeks of the month, but have let busyness and laziness take over. I need to get back on track. I did realize, I like problem solving and would like a job that involves more of that.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Yet Again, Another Week

Food Goal
I am doing BAD on this goal, I lost track of what I ate in the first half of the week and spending only cash is not always convenient (which is kind of the point). Sometimes I get excited about using cash so use my food money on other things! Bad bad bad!!! I am 83% through my budget and 80% of the way through the month, so over my budget and my budget is much higher than I'd like it anyways! It is amazing how much the little things add up.

L: coffee and cinnamon roll
D: french toast (I was going to have dinner at church and looking forward to it, cash in hand, but instead they were giving 100% of the offering to Haiti, so I figured I could give the cash and have dinner at home instead) I'm not bragging, just keeping accountable to my money

L: Baja Sol with co-workers
D: McDonalds before class

L: my coworker brought chili
D: Pizza at the bowling alley ($6 for bowling and pizza)

Exercise Goal
I am doing horrible on this goal. I have been doing a lot of yoga stretches and started doing sit ups. So, I guess its alright. We went bowling on Friday and walked around downtown Sunday, so I'm not a couch potato.

Friends Goal
I went bowling with some friends on Friday night. These were friends I don't normally hang out with, so that was fun! Saturday for dinner I went out with a lady from church I don't know well and found out we went to the same high school. We had a great conversation and it was really fun! So, I think I did good at this goal this week!!!

Spiritual Goal
This one is going very well and, I feel, it is the most important one. I had two opportunities to get back into Children's ministry part time, which I would love, but ended up turning them down. I simply don't have the time right now and am just not ready to go back into it professionally now. I still volunteer as a Team Lead at my church every week and I feel that is a good opportunity right now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Another Week

Thanks for checking in!

Food goal
Lunch: Tortellini soup and garlic bread, both of which I made this weekend
Dinner: Roast beef and cheese sandwich on homemade bread, cookie from my coworker, grapes

Lunch: Roast beef and cheese sandwich again, grapes, yogurt
Dinner: Went out to eat with my small group and kids (they eat free!!!) I had an omelet

Lunch: McD's (I was on the go after using my lunch hour to meet with a church about some great opportunities to get back into children's ministry part time)
Dinner: left over omelet from dinner last night! Yum!

Lunch: Roast beef and cheese sandwich, grapes
Dinner: Baja Sol before class

Brunch: Egg and cheese bagel from shop, coffee from shop
Dinner: chips and salsa

Well, it is a little over half way through the month and I have spent a little over half my food budget. I am kicking myself because I am missing $18 of my cash! I have no clue where I spent it! Since I am in the swing of paying in cash, I wonder if I spent it on something non-food. Or I spent it on coffee, but I doubt I spent that much and was that negligent in recording it. I am finding that people are not too happy when you pay in cash, that means they have to make change and they rarely give receipts (and I forget to ask). That's the benefit of a credit card. However, the good side is I have been spending less on this cash system! Even though I spent half of my budget, some of that went to buying a food gift card for a co-worker in need, so I feel pretty good about that. Also, there are no late fees with cash. I just discovered I forgot to submit payment for my credit card the last month! This is incredibly frustrating to me! I think I get hung up on the confirmation page and forget to press approve. It is an expensive mistake. : ( I am going to be more diligent about that and hopefully it will be less anyways since I am using cash. I did eat out quite a bit this week which I am not too happy about, but I was also on the go a lot this week, so this is a rare occurrance.

I forgot to mention that last week I did get my two exercises in. I did them both on Sunday. In the morning I went on my 3 mile walk. That afternoon I took three little girls ice skating. It was fun and since there were three of them, they could ammuse each other while I did laps and practiced my spins (which I must admit, I am getting better at!). I also walked today, which I am happy about.

Well? We had game night last night and my co-worker brought his roommate...he's a new person in my life, but I'm not sure I'll ever see him again. I also interviewed with a church about some opportunities and shadowed some special education teachers. I'm not making close friends per se, but I am not lacking a social life, that's for sure! I think this is the goal I need more strategy around.

God's Guidance
I have talked to God for 5 minutes almost every night about His plans for my life today and how to prepare for the future. I missed one because I got too tired and decided I could pray from my bed and then fell asleep. Overall, though, I think I am doing well. I also have two people who I commited to pray for (one for the term of her church council position and another for the year 2010) and I have been doing good thinking of them and praying specific prayers for them.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

This week

Lunch: Pasta with broccoli and tomatoes
Dinner: French toast
Grocery shopping today with cash for the first time...not bad!

Lunch: Pulled pork sandwich (Thanks, Kari!) and left-over pasta
Dinner: Left over french toast
I forgot to put the milk away this morning and it sat out all day. Boo!! :(

Lunch: Lemon pepper chicken
Dinner: Tortilla soup (which was WAY too spicy) so I ate an egg and cheese omelet

Lunch: with my co-workers at Green Mill
Dinner: Scone, banana, french fries from my classmate (not the best dinner, but I was still rather full from lunch)

Lunch: left over sandwich from Green Mill
Dinner: snacks at Caribou (game night with friends)
I spend some of my food money today for a grocery gift card to give a co-worker who is going through a financially difficult time. Worth it.

I can't really remember what I ate. Since I was mostly home, I probably just grazed.

Today I went grocery shopping. I went to Aldi and the discounts were great! But the store I normally go to is on the other end of town. Since I was at Aldi, I went to a closer grocery store but I did not like it. It is more expensive than the one I normally go to and the produce comes in odd servings and is very limited. So, I think I will stick to my normal grocery store. My cousin frequently goes to multiple stores to get great deals, but I simply do not have the time to drive all over town so will stick to one store.

I made tortellini soup and bread today. Yum!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Grocery Shopping

Today was my first day working on my 2010 goal of grocery shopping with cash and, at the end of the month, donating the left over cash to a charity! Thank you to my cousin for the inspiration! I'm very excited about this!

I went to the bank and got some of the grocery cash. I have an envelop for it and an envelop at home for receipts.

Today I went shopping for a few items I needed (um...wanted). Here's what I got:
-coffee syrup (so I can make lattes at home)
-frappuchinos (for days I am out of milk or in a rush)
-bananas (yum!)
-eggs (every recipe I looked at last night required these)
-cinnamon bread (for french toast which I could eat every night if need be)

I know coffee syrup and Frappuchios are not necessary and could be a huge way to save money, but it is better than the $4 I usually (embarrassingly) spend on one drink, so this is my little way to save for now and I think it will pay off in a huge way.

French toast for dinner may seem odd, but I am excited about this. It is an inexpensive meal. Also, the majority of my free time is in the evenings so I can spend this time to cook a quick meal and make a meaty meal to re-heat for lunch the next day. It is easier to re-heat chicken for lunch than to make some soggy french toast, plus the protein from the meat will give me more energy and focus for the rest of the day (which will probably make my co-workers happy). : )

So day 1, not too bad...I have room to improve, but I'm relatively happy with my progress.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's Goals

I've lived a relatively goal-less life and I think it shows. I never liked making goals, but when I did, this is how it went: make goals, lots of goals, feel overwhelmed, don't reach any of them, feel like a failure. So this year, I am making some goals.

My people goal is to make 12 new friends this year. Not just aquaintances, but friends. I fully expect to fail at this goal, and with this realistic view of life, I think it will be just fine. Mostly it will put this introvert in the mindset to be open to and excited about meeting new people.

Money and Food
Inspired by my super woman cousin, I have decided to join her in her cash-based, charity benefiting endevour of creating a food budget for the month, getting that amount in cash, and giving the left overs to a charity. I am excited about this goal! Not only will it be fun to save money and give to charity, but it will also encourage some rather creative cooking (which I LOVE to do) instead of running out for a meal. This one I think I can, and need to, do! I am completely embarrased by how much I spend on food and how much I waste and it needs to stop!

My family surprised me with a Wii for Christmas!!! I didn't even ask or hint or anything, but it is so much fun! I would really like to get a Wii Fit so I can work out in the cold Minnesota winters (my sister in law says it works for her). But it is rather pricey, so I am waiting for a sale. Otherwise, my normal walks will do, though they get much tougher in the winter with the snowy and icy ground and it takes longer to bundle up. I also go to open skate quite a bit to get a good workout, but that costs a few dollars (and adds up). So, in general, exercise two times a week in the winter (in the summer it is no problem to work out every day).

I want to spend more time with God specifically focusing on which direction my life should take. We'll start with 5 minutes a day...I know that is pathetic, but this is in addition to my devo time.

So there you have it, my four goals for this year: 12 friends, save food and money, exercise two times a week, and time with God.