Wednesday, September 7, 2011

hey everyone -

Due to technical difficulties, rest-of-life blog is now at, as opposed to Wordpress.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Vacation and transition.

Well. There are these big moments in your life which the 21st century has now made reduce-able to first sentences of blog posts, ie., my favorite current Russian's "I'm going to Russia tomorrow."

Mine? Mom and Dad are leaving for New York tomorrow.

It's not going to be them standing on the driveway waving goodbye this time.

And so begins a stretch of time back in the DC area. A few more weeks of hot hot days and beautiful summer nights (like tonight!), then a fall of East Coast colors, a winter with who-knows-how-much-snow-this-year, and some cherry blossoms and azaleas hang in my future.

Before I came back to this, though, my time in Omaha ended, and I took a vacation. There is much I could write about my time in Omaha ending. It is still very strange that I do not have staff meeting at 9:00 am tomorrow, and that when I went to church today, I wasn't "on-the-clock."

Perhaps a little more reflection will come later. I just wanted to write a little bit about my vacation.

I really, really struggle with the idea of taking a vacation sometimes. I just think about how much work there is to do in the world and how lucky I am, and why should I take a vacation? I get to sleep in a bed in a safe place with food in my tummy...that's luckier than so much of the world.

But, I hear and tell are like soul treatment. They make us happier, and therefore easier to live and work with.

Just like friends.

The three people here are three of five very special people who have been with me through thick and thin over the past five years. They mean the world to me, and it was so wonderful and affirming to spend a week with them!

It was good to see other very special people as well, to hang out in AT&T park, to spend a day at the beach and boardwalk in Santa Cruz, to enjoy music, food, beverages and Golden Gate Park at Outside Lands, and to walk around Berkeley and San Francisco!

So with that, the transition finishes as Mom and Dad start their adventure and I finish unpacking and figure out an employment situation. I'm moving back to Thank you so much for being with me this year, dear readers, and if you care to switch your following to the new-old blog, I will do my best to keep you entertained and thought-provoked as I move to another chapter and the 10s continue. Enjoy the dog days!


Sunday, July 24, 2011



I haven't blogged as much as I theoretically would have liked to this year. Once a week would have been sweet, I guess, just so I could give you, dear readers, a better idea about what my day-to-day life is like, little ups and downs, ups and downs that felt like a much bigger deal, etc. (Those of you that I talk to on the phone semi-regularly know about the majority of that last one, I think, and maybe it's better that I not write about them in this blog...)

But this morning is Sunday morning of our end-of-year retreat. I got to sleep in the latest I've slept in in a while - by 10:30 I am either still at St. Luke's or just getting to Grace - and feel wonderful about it. And I think part of the reason I feel so good about the general state of things is because of how wonderful this retreat has been.

Two weeks from now will be my last Sunday at work and 1/3 of my community will have left. My community. Now I've struggled saying those words sometimes because of the struggles I've had this year with my community. But this retreat, something is happening that I don't think has happened all year and, honestly, could have happened earlier than this retreat, and not because of any one person - and that something is that I can feel a strong sense of intentional community.

Let me tell you what we've been doing because otherwise this is going to go on making no sense:

-Thursday (being forced to take 2 days off of work as a requirement of my year of service program is something I bet I will miss about LVC) we spent at our City Coordinator-now with a mid-year position name change Regional Director Janelle's house, along with our spiritual growth facilitator Mike. Janelle lives close to Midtown and I like her house a lot - it's beautifully decorated and just the right size for her and her twin boys, who are some pretty mischievously cute redheads. We did a lot of reflecting on our year through guided visualization and solo written reflection questions, ate lunch at a pretty yummy but a little snooty restaurant (I could write a whole blog post about different neighborhoods in Omaha), had some group discussion and watched a movie for our spirituality time called "The Man Who Planted Trees." Then after Austin made a really yummy dinner (all of our food has been great this retreat) I led spirituality time.

-Friday, we had our photo shoot, the results of which you can see on Facebook. We have many many prints of some of those pictures and we're not quite sure what we're going to do with all of them. (Mom, one is for you.) I led a conversation after lunch about this year's and future work for social justice, an emotionally draining topic that is a very important one to me. We went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant in South O that I suggested, and then did two things we had never done before - play the penny slots at Harrah's casino in Council Bluffs, IA (we won't be going back there any time soon) and indulged in "das Boot" at the one and only Crescent Moon, also in Midtown. the results of that you may not see on Facebook...we'll see...but it was really fun.

Then we built a fort in the Chapel and fell asleep in it.

-Saturday is what I really wanted to write about, I think. Sarah made a deliciously big breakfast and than Jackie led a quiet spirituality time that involved silent meditation and tea and bowing to each other, which I think was very good for our souls.

We had some down time while Sarah and Jackie went and grabbed a few things from the Farmers' Market, during which I decided to check Facebook for the first time since Wednesday, and was rewarded with learning that Patrick has a new job as a Chapter Coordinator (I'm pretty sure?) at Active Minds' national office in DC. ( And here is where the gratitude really starts. Patrick credits me a lot with bringing Active Minds to Oberlin, but the thing is, babe, you did SO MUCH WORK last year to keep the organization going and the mental health conversation open at our school last year, and I just cannot be more thrilled that you got the job. Like, I get more and more thrilled every time I think about it. Not only am I so happy for you and know how great this will be for your professional development (ooh big grown up words) just means so much to me because of how much I care about the mission of Active Minds and how closely we worked together on it and how much you care about it, too.

So that was a nice outside-community-life thing. After lunch, we doodled during Austin's simplicity presentation because he told us to, did some deep cleaning, and had 2 sessions of one-on-one time, which we're going to do 3 more of today. I'm really, really glad we're doing that. This is almost certainly stating the obvious, but I have a unique relationship with each of my housemates, and I am grateful for the time to focus on each relationship with them.

After dinner Sarah led spirituality time, and the first thing we did was check-ins. We do check-ins before many of our conversations, and you'd think we'd get sick of listening to each other talk about how we're feeling - but in intentional community it's important to know how each person is feeling and interesting/good/reaffirming to hear the similarities in how we're feeling.

We're all having a good time basically spending 4 days straight together. We're all anticipating a lot in the next two weeks. And I think we have all grown a lot this year, and are still growing, and I was the not the only one to say something along the lines of  "this has been such a wonderful year".

That's the last time I'll be able to use the word "wonderful" in this post, cause it's time for me to get dressed.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I am reading a wonderful book...

The title pretty much sums it up.

I am so grateful for everyone who has donated for the causes I have asked for money for this year. But if there are just a few more things you all could do for me, they would be to read this book and watch Food, Inc.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Grace July newsletter article.

I dunno...I guess I just feel pretty good about both of them this month.

I 've learned something very important this summer so far. Teamwork, while sometimes frustrating, complicated and hard, leads to results that are much more rewarding than what I can accomplish on my own. You'd think that I would have learned that already, but the examples of teamwork that I have been a part of recently have resulted in exceptional rewards.

With about 15 other Habitat for Humanity volunteers, I lifted up the frame for a wall on a home. With three other youth and Christian education directors, I planned a weeklong summer program that brought together 30 kids (ages 6 – 18) and about seven adult volunteers from three churches that allowed them to make new friends, have fun playing games and singing together, and got them out into the city of Omaha by serving in a different site every morning. By the time we ended the week with a pizza lunch at Table Grace, I was rewarded with an offering of more than $200 to present to Head Chef Matt Weber and many smiles from both kids who had made new friends or grown closer with old ones and had fun, and adults (parents and grandparents) who were so happy with the week their kids had had.

Similarly, it is great to see the Kids at Work kids getting to know each other better and have a good time together as they work. They are doing a super job at the organizations where they have worked; their help has been very much appreciated and their positive attitudes are really great as well. As I write, Vacation Bible School is just a few days away, too, and I know it takes a lot of teamwork to make that happen.

Even though I have always felt wonderfully supported by both congregations this year, at times I have also felt very alone. I know that God is always with me, but when I have to make a tough decision or think about a tough situation and I'm on my own, I get scared. That is why it has been so great for me to see the results of teamwork recently...I've seen God working through other people and am reminded that other people want to work with me through those tough decisions and situations, too. I don't have to do it all on my own.

I think that's a good point to keep in mind for the future of the church – Grace, the Nebraska Synod, the ELCA, everybody. When it comes to being active in ministry, our individual motivation is important, but we do not have to do it all on our own, and we really CAN'T. We need God with us – in our individual spiritual time, and in work with each other. We need to work together to show God in ourselves to each other. Teamwork is sometimes frustrating, complicated and hard – showing up to meetings, figuring out how to deal with discomforts and disagreements, etc. – but being saved by grace is also about doing good works; even good works that aren't always fun. I can't say it enough or more emphatically – the rewards of doing good works together make life meaningful.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Another newsletter article.

This one is for St. Luke's July newsletter.

From Your Community Outreach Associate

I have the word “service” on my brain. Our well-loved sign, which as I write is advertising the garage sale, previously read “9:30 AM SUMMER SERVICE.” I just finished a week of service with Justice, Minna, Sarah and Caleb as part of a summer program called “Lutheran Youth Serve Omaha.” And in about seven weeks, my year of service with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps will be over.

I'm going to go out of order and talk about “Lutheran Youth Serve Omaha” first, because it was so much fun, and I am proud of our youth for their good work and positive attitudes. Whether it was Caleb having a ton of fun digging up rocks in Kountze Memorial Lutheran's community garden with new friends from Kountze and St. Matthew, Sarah's good people skills shown through her conversations with senior citizen residents at deFreese Manor and care for babies at Precious Memories daycare, Minna carefully bagging diapers for young moms at the building where Youth Emergency Services' street outreach program is hosted, or Justice, the one-handed shoveling queen, filling sandbags even though her right arm was in a cast – we can all be extremely proud and pleased with their enthusiasm for service and representation of St. Luke's in the community and with our partner churches.

Check out the banner next to Pastor Patti's office that the kids filled out with their reflections on service each day. (All 30 kids answered three questions on three banners, one of which was sent to each church - “What did you do today?” “How did it make you feel?” and “How will your service affect the lives of others?”) Also, ask our participants about their experience when you see them around church this summer. I am pretty sure they will tell you that they made new friends, learned some things they didn't know about ways to serve, worked pretty hard, and had a good, fun week.

So, what about that first usage of the word “service” that I mentioned? 9:30 AM SUMMER SERVICE means get to church sometime between 8:30 and 9:30 for coffee, donuts and fellowship, then go to worship, sing, hear the Bible and a sermon, pray, say some stuff, sometimes get communion, sing again, then go home. Right?

Hmmm. I love coffee, donuts, and especially fellowship time, and worship does do a body good. (Just ask Pastor Patti.) But there's something more there, I think. At Synod Assembly in Fremont, keynote speaker David Lose said that church has the potential to be like an airport. We can come to church ready to go somewhere, ready to connect to something. Where we will go? Out in our communities to serve, in whatever way we can, to show God's love to everyone. A Sunday service can help us make that travel to wonderful, exciting new matter where we are on our faith and life journeys.

So, turns out “service” is not just a regular occurrence in a church building, or even one special week out of the summer, but a really exciting, life-giving word. I bet Dick Webb didn't know that, when he suggested I put “Summer Service” on the sign since we didn't have enough W's to write “Summer Worship”, he was helping me write my newsletter article.

Anyway, as for that year of service coming to an end thing – I think I'm out of space for this month, so I'll wait until August to tell you about that.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

After ten months in LVC, it is now easier to...

...clean my plate. This has to do with the fact that one of my dear housemates was taught at her camp to use a piece of bread like a sponge to clean up all the extra sauce, etc., but also with the fact that I just really don't like seeing food go to waste anymore. I have been thinking a lot about hunger this year, and really, United States citizens waste a LOT of food. I'm trying my best to take what I feel I can eat (and I think I'm getting better about eye-ing that), knowing that I can always go back for seconds if I am still hungry.

...give away clothes. Maybe it's because my dresser drawers are kind of small, maybe it's cause I, probably like a fair amount of my friends, have a fair amount of clothes, maybe it's because I see more people now on a daily or weekly basis that I know need clothes more than I do. But for whatever reason, it's been getting easier to get rid of things.

...use pennies. Yesterday I made change with a twenty in exchange for three 5s, four 1s, a quarter, a nickel, 5 dimes, and twenty pennies.  When I buy a drink from the store, a pack of gum, or whatever in the next few days, I plan on using pennies. They're coins, too, and it sure makes me feel thrifty and like a better spender when I use them instead of breaking bills all the time.

...write...? Blogging has always felt pretty natural and easy to me, which is why I'm doing it now, instead of writing the second of three articles that I have the privilege of contributing to the summer issue of Your Nebraska Lutheran (click the link to take you to the synod page and my articles from the spring issue will appear eventually on the banner in the middle), re-writing my resume, or writing a personal essay about why I want the internship I would love to get this fall. However, I'll probably spend a few more minutes on one of those things before I head for bed. I may find blogging the easiest, but getting one article out today was a lot easier than I thought it would be, and I can handle the other stuff, too.

Speaking of which - I'll be blogging this weekend for the Nebraska Synod Assembly -  check out to see those entries if you're so inclined.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I may be a little tired, but my whole house did not get destroyed and no one in my town has been killed by a tornado.

We're about six hours away from Joplin, MO, so the news about the storm is just hitting closer to home more than it might have if I was still in Maryland or Ohio. Pastor Patti is feeling very called to go do tornado relief work with her husband, and the way the schedule is at church right now she won't be able to go for a few weeks, but I think after Pentecost and Confirmation she will be out of here for awhile.

Sorry there hasn't been much blogging lately - I have a few thoughts I've been wanting to share and will probably be able to get to posting them within a week.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

City feel.

Today, as I was walking through downtown Omaha on my way to and fro Table Grace Cafe, I was first reminded of downtown Silver Spring-or-Bethesda, MD, as I walked out of the parking garage, and then of Chicago when I was walking down a street under a bridge between two big buildings and the wind hit me a certain way. And THEN, I had "Neww Yorrrrk" from Alicia Keys/Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" stuck in my head.

I guess some of my readers might not know that song, and it's great, and makes me remember how much I love NYC specifically but also cities in general - so, happy listening.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Responsibility does not have to be a scary thing

Today I felt responsible. I mean, yeah, I did my laundry and drank two glasses of milk. But I felt responsible for the well-being of the kids who come to my after-school program, for caring for church property, for doing my part working with other youth group leaders to make a great summer youth program happen...etc.

And it feels good.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Getting out of bed.

I will probably remember the months of March and April 2011 (blips though they may end up being on the radar of my life) as packed full of events and emotions. I'll just go ahead and give you the brief run-down of major events:

March 10 - 14: LVC "North Central" (Omaha and Twin Cities) Mid-Year Retreat, as has already been discussed.

March 18 - 20: Dan and Joy Ernst venture out to Omaha for the first time and find it very much to their liking, to the relief and great pleasure of their daughter. (Along the way, they encounter Iowa, large statues of laborers and pioneers, urban sprawl, plenty of good food, and some churches, and a good time is had by all...)

March 30: State Radio rocks the roof off the Waiting Room as a big SR fan shakes the stress away with new SR fans from Over-The-Hillstrom House.

April 1: Five out of 6 new Omahans attend their first ever Omaha Fish Fry at Holy Name Catholic Church (it was the second for the 6th, I believe).

April 6 - 9: Heading back to school to receive the 2011 Oberlin Heritage Center Community Historian Award for my work on Oberlin's jazz history (accompanied by the one and only Jeffrey Sanders, one particularly wonderful friend) and attend a certain organist's senior recital, among other lovely things.

April 16 - 18: The lovely Caitlin Duke will venture out to Omaha for the second time! (And the first doesn't really count cause she just drove through in the middle of the night or something.)

So that's events. Lots of Omaha-bound visitors as we begin to be able to walk outside again without coats.

A lot can happen when one gets out of bed; often, a lot of good. Unfortunately, a symptom of generalized anxiety disorder is that sometimes one has a hard time believing that, and doesn't want to do anything for fear that they will mess up or do the wrong thing.

For some reason, the week after Mom and Dad left (not because of anything they did or didn't do, don't worry guys), mornings were a little rough. I felt stuck thinking about how I should spend my time at work, my future, etc.  And then I started taking better care of myself. I stayed in pretty much all weekend last weekend, watched some really good movies (Persepolis and Milk, both of which were very inspiring in their own ways), and was ready to go for the beginning of the week - out the door with enough time to breathe. That started getting a little tougher at the end of this week, but our first truly spring-feeling weekend allowed for some Vitamin D absorption time outside in the sun today, so that definitely helped.

"Check yourself before you wreck yourself" is one of my favorite sayings, and I think I'm getting better at doing that this year. 

Also, most of us (my housemates and I) are going to take some sort of vacation away from each other this month, and I am hopeful that that rest time will renew us for the time we have left of this year of service. Intentional community has been a struggle for me lately, especially in the past week or so...probably for all of us. I'm not really feeling up for going into the details, but I'm thinking some of it has been brought on by thoughts of our future, and even though we had retreat away from work, we haven't really taken a lot of time as individuals to rest from work and the conflicting emotions that surface around the subject of our community (how much time we spend together, what we do together, when we do what we do together, when we invite other people besides the 6 of us, etc., etc).

Finally, mainly unrelated to LVC now...the award that I am going to receive on Wednesday, plus the fact that I get to go to Oberlin and receive it, feels like an honor that I'm not sure I can describe in words. The award is for "an individual who has contributed to knowledge of the Oberlin community by researching, writing, and/or educating others." Being recognized for something that I knew I wanted to do when I was finishing up my Musical Studies major proposal on the plane to Madrid two and a half years ago feels pretty good, to put it mildly.

I think another part of the reason these months feel so packed is that there have been many days where I truly cannot believe my life. Though my job and mornings can sometimes feel pretty tough, when I am healthy I love going to work every day, I am in a beautiful Midwest city with lots of space and time to breathe, I'm looking forward to my future (which at this point probably involves DC by September but I'll write more when I'm certain), and I have the most supportive, wonderful family and friends that I could ever ask for. $525 a month may not be much, but I feel pretty freaking wealthy when I count my heavenly treasures. 

(Dad, I think you're really gonna like this video.)

Monday, March 14, 2011


We were on retreat this weekend at Riverside Lutheran Bible Camp in Story City, IA (about 15 minutes outside of Ames, IA), from Thursday afternoon to mid-day today (Monday). I'll post a few pictures at some point.

It was wonderful, so much fun, and rather exhausting in a great way (I took an intense nap earlier this evening), and I can feel now that I was very much in need of a break from work. I feel very ready and re-energized to get some good work going and face the challenges I was struggling with before I left.

Bring it on, tomorrow! I can handle you.

PS. I'll write more at some point in the next week and a half - things are feeling slightly less crazier than they were in February so I'm looking at having a little more "me" time which will be good for things like reflection.

Monday, February 28, 2011


En route to a meeting at another church today, I saw a sign in the front yard of a house that faces the park separating that house's neighborhood of bigger, wealthier-looking homes from the neighborhood where Grace is located with smaller, not-as-wealthy looking homes. The sign said something like "Pray to end Abortion."

Soon, Wednesday evening meals at St. Luke's will begin being cooked by the different church groups that will cook for Lent. One of the leaders of a women's circle has agreed to start the meal at 5:30 instead of 6 like it has been in the past, but she has said she will not provide food for more than 50 people.

These two incidents have made me want to explain what I believe and why I'm doing what I'm doing. (For example, not wanting the government to cut federal funding from Planned Parenthood because those people already breathing air, walking on the ground, and capable of reasoning decisions about their lives need to be supported, and organizing a group effort to provide food and hospitality to neighbors in need, and seriously, I think we all benefit from hospitality).

They also make me want to hear why the man I saw standing on the porch of that house wants me to pray to end abortion - does his religion teach him that abortion is evil? - and why the woman has said she will limit the amount of food she provides.

I don't want to hear their whys because I want to prove them wrong. I want to listen and hear their feelings.

I want to offer a prayer for calm, reasonable thinking and peaceful discussion and action in the events that are coming in the days ahead, including the hearing of the proposed Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act in the State Capitol of Nebraska, the determining of Libya's future, and the discussion of the national budget.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Yay, this has been a time coming.

Power = ...

...contacting your elected officials.

On Thursday, January 29th, I went to the State Capitol of Nebraska in Lincoln to rally against LB 48, the Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act, as proposed by State Senator Janssen of Fremont.

The bill would make it illegal to "harbor" undocumented immigrants (so, for example, the ESL class at one of my churches would be breaking the law if they were working with undocumented immigrants), would make police have to check the immigration status of the people they pull over or arrest, and the last section of the bill reads, I kid you not, that if the Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act is found to be unconstitutional (which it is, immigration is a federal issue), "the Legislature hereby declares that it would have passed the IIEA...irrespective of the fact...that (the IIEA) would be declared unconstitutional."

I am really working on this reconciliation thing a lot right now. But I am struggling so hard to understand why the Republican Party felt that it was so necessary to re-read the Constitution on the first day of Congress in DC, and in Nebraska and other states, the same party is disregarding it. I don't even like partisan politics. I wonder how I would be as a politician.

ANYWAY. One of my pastors heard that it takes just five phone calls for state senators to decide that they need to pay attention to an issue. And I don't really know how much email petitions do, but they probably do something more than nothing.

I started drafting this entry almost a month ago, and in that time, the world has seen what happens when people use their voices. Sometimes, it is really, really scary to speak. But we just gotta keep pushing ourselves to do it as much as we can.

Here's some help...thanks, P.L. - age demographic (approximately 18-30).
I believe there is some "waiting on the world to change" that I gotta do. (See Mayer, John.) A wonderful quote that an Oberlin '09 - LVC '09-'10 friend shared with me about two years ago now helps me put that in perspective as well:

"We can not do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

But as the youngest person on staff at my workplaces, I can do stuff on the computer, and more importantly, my opinion is sought out and taken seriously, because people want to know what people my age are going to do. There has been some discussion in my house about the importance of finding a faith community of people our own age. And I definitely value that. But I have been so wonderfully affected by getting to know many people this year who are 60 and better...and I have been told that they have benefited from my presence as well.

Young people of the United States of America and the world, we are the future now, yo. We are coming into our own, and we can do some real good. Let's do it! Let's BE it.

...your identity.

Two of my dear friends are thinking transgenderly - one MTF, one FTM. I could not be prouder and happier for them for recognizing and acknowledging their thoughts and feelings and being out in the open about them. I love both of you very much and you know who you are!

A part II to this may be coming, or maybe something completely different. Thanks for reading the stuff I'd been wanting to blog about for a month.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I feel like I'm living in a dream.

Maybe it was all the fog driving home on the freeway tonight. Maybe it's the fact that I can see little signs that the social justice and advocacy work I have done, especially over the past two years, is changing people's lives.

I do want to remind myself of the quote on the back of the LVC T-shirt that keeps me going through moments of cynicism, doubt and fear:

"If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." - attributed to Lila Watson

longer blogging later, I got some other writing to do!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

got a bit of time to sit and write on this Sunday afternoon

It snowed from 3 pm fairly well into the night last night, and I am proud of myself for weathering my first morning of -1 degrees, at least 5 inches of snow, and making it to church by 8 am. (Don't worry, East Coast-ers, the roads were fine, especially by the time I left church and it had warmed up to 16 degrees AND the sun was out.) After church I got home and it seemed like everyone was doing their chores, so I got one of the bathrooms clean and did some serious shoveling. This is after not leaving the house/sleeping a lot yesterday, so my arms and back are a wee bit tired at the moment.

Before I go any further, it must be known that this song is a crucial part of life at Hillstrom House, and I want to share it because it is awesome, and the video is cool too. ***Courtesey notice...the F-word bomb is vehemently, effectively dropped.****

So, besides listening to this band's CD on repeat and my housemates getting this song stuck in their heads, what else is going on, you ask? Well, plenty...

- the South Sudan referendum for independence or not was January 9th - 15th. Many Sudanese refugees live in Omaha, which was one of eight centers in the U.S. for refugees to come and vote, so here, people came from Des Moines and the Twin Cities. One of my churches, Grace Lutheran, hosts a Sudanese congregation that worships after Grace's congregation - I've had lots of good conversation with one of their leaders and I know he's been very busy organizing registration and go-vote stuff, so now it is all over...and here is the latest news from the New York Times.

Continued hopes and prayers for Sudan from this heart.

- Weekly Wednesday Evening Community Meals at St. Luke's start this Wednesday at 5:30 pm and I am SOOO excited. I think we're going to have enough food AND enough volunteers, and I've been doing my best to get the word out and may do a little more before Wednesday, but I'm thinking we'll have a decent turn out. And we are going to go weekly through the end of Lent, I think, so whoever doesn't hear about it this time will hear about it eventually.

Awesome, awesome things have been happening around planning for the meal. I announced it at a non-profit meeting held at St. Luke's yesterday, and someone who probably has a very busy schedule and is not at all affiliated with the congregation came up to me and volunteered to come help! And I know there are some at St. Luke's who are pretty excited about serving too.

-After-school at Grace has it's good days and bad days. The girls' most recent game is Fashion Show because we have these cool spotlights on the stage in the basement, and I wish I had had my camera available to take pictures of some of the outfits they made. We were off all week last week because of two snow days and a sick day for me, but they made it back last Tuesday and Thursday.

-Last Monday, I got to go to a Martin Luther King, Jr. day luncheon at the Qwest Center, Omaha's big downtown indoor sports/big concert/rodeo/whatever arena. It was hosted by the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, a group made up of mostly (but not all) black North Omaha pastors, and was held in one of the smaller ballrooms. Elected officials were there, including our mayor who is facing a wasteoftime recall election this Tuesday. (The Omaha World-Herald voter's guide headlines give you a decent idea of what is going on.) There was much spoken in support of him - I wasn't even expecting quite that much - most of the cry for recall has come from outside of the inner city.

One cool thing that the mayor announced that was really good news is that an Atlanta-based African-American owned company is going to come to come to a new building in North Omaha, where a lot of the black population lives, which means JOBS. Talking with Pastor Damon about this afterwards, I started thinking about anti-racism training again (it's never really far from my mind) - Pastor mentioned that at a workshop he had gone to over the weekend, the point had been raised that not only do many white people feel scared to come to North O, many people of color feel scared to go west of 72nd street because of racist attitudes and actions there. (ie., being watched in a store. I remember this example being brought up by the black man - think about that now - in my anti-racism training group at LVC orientation.)

Phew, this is getting long, so I'll call it done soon, but it must also not go unmentioned that I had a WONDERFUL time visiting the St. Paul house of volunteers, Beth Shalom, last weekend. It was kind of a big trip for the weekend, but I'm so glad I went, and so glad my housemates encouraged me to go! Pictures will be up on Facebook relatively soon-ish.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The soil is very good, but the plants still need a lot of water and sunlight.

Sometimes I forget to celebrate the good things. So,

-I'm alive, if a bit congestedly so today, and in a warm house on a night with negative degree windchills. Amen.
-I turned 23 ten days ago.
-I will never forget the excitement in my after-school program girls' eyes as they came running into the basement to hug me on the first day of the program in 2011. 
-Congregation members signed up to volunteer for the Wednesday evening community meal, some are very excited about it, and no one has voiced any strong objections to it.
-Last night, I went to the ordination of an African-American woman in a church that fifty years ago had congregation members who were opposed to interracial conversation and worship, as documented in A Time For Burning. The pastor who preached was black, and afterwards I was so happy to see the signs proclaiming Augustana Lutheran as a Reconciling in Christ congregation.

Really, a lot of good things are happening. I feel the presence of concerned people who want people of all skin colors and immigration histories to be welcome in Nebraska and the USA.

Still got work to do.