Friday, February 28, 2014

February 2014 Recap

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The teensy-weensy month of February that is a great divide for the cold winter months and the hope of spring has come and gone.

Acting as a transitional month for many areas of life, not just the weather, February found itself sandwiched between January, a month of no traveling, to March which will include on-the-road-every-day traveling. Fort Dodge welcomed me for a quick overnight trip to their local college fair where I met the sweetest of girls who is already passionate about Northwestern and serving God's kingdom.

Work kept all of us busy with a multitude of campus visitors, financial aid training, and my dream come true of cookies in our office for prospective students and their families. My cubicle has finally become more comfortable and welcoming with addition of decorations and dressing it up.

Love abounded this month with the celebration of giving love and being loved not just on Valentine's Day but everyday. There is something so special and satisfying in celebrating and acknowledging a love that is not our own. Something that isn't as lovely is our engagement ring crisis I shared with you! Luckily we have found a few potential answers and everything is coming together.

Great peace has been found in praying through the Psalms as my dear friend Peggy went to be with the Lord this month after a long battle with Cancer. God is good and will remain faithful even through grieving her loss and presence here among us.

In my continual pursuit to find beauty in everyday places, God revealed himself in the intricate details of life. The stillness of long, slender icicles, the contrast of bright red berries and stark white snow, the creativity of local store owners, the moment of it being fifty degrees and feeling like you are on top of the world.

As February draws to an end I am especially thankful for what Jesus is teaching me about justice, advocating for those without a voice, and sharing grace with my neighbors in pursuit of daily life. Like I shared yesterday, today we are off on a new adventure to incorporate these beautiful truths in Lindale, Texas. Here we come March!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Lindale, Texas SSP

Tomorrow marks the start of a new adventure. Sixteen students and two staff advisers, myself included, will be pulling out of Northwest Iowa to begin our journey to Lindale, Texas for a spring service project.

I shared earlier this week how much I love my college and the amount of emphasis placed on social justice. Not only is this a concept that is talked much about but it is put into practice.

Every spring break Northwestern sends out 10 domestic and 3 abroad service projects to be the hands and feet of Jesus and partner with a variety of ministries. The trips range in purpose and activity but all center around loving God and loving our neighbors.

In the midst of my youth ministry I have no idea what I believe about God and the world phase, I had a lot of doubt in the good of short term mission trips. While I am still cautious on many levels I am excited to see the Lord working at Calvary Commission in Lindale, Texas.

Everyday at our ministry location will be different and much is still up in the air. Our team has adopted the idea of being flexible and going with the flow somewhat as a life statement for these next ten days. Our focus however is going to a local prison, hearing stories, and coming alongside both prisoners and ex-convicts.

Please join us in prayer for courage, patience, and safety. I have no doubt there will be many stories upon our arrival back but as of tomorrow afternoon we are Bon Voyage!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Our Friend Peggy

Our friend Peggy is now experiencing the fullness of eternal life, praise Jesus! Jessica and I were immensely blessed by the opportunity care for Peggy this past summer and share life together.

While sorrow and grieving is definitely present we are so thankful for the memories we had together and the complete healing and restoration she is now experiencing. Her knowledge of crime shows was impeccable, love for her thunder-storm hating dog was incomparable, and witty personality was unwavering.

Jessica and I would at times dread the door bell noise that rang in the middle of the night causing us to get up however we were always greeted with a funny moment or situation that is cherished to this day. In some of the most challenging times, Peggy's humor brought joy and peace just where it was needed.

It sometimes seems unreal to think back on the tiny loft with no doors Jessica and I shared, gossiping with Peggy over her love of tall and strong black men, the times we cuddled Jazz (the dog) in the midst of thunder storms, when we listened to Peggy talk yell on the phone with her almost deaf mother, watching movies that I either guessed the ending to or creeped us out to no end, the many times Peggy or her aids would inquire about our daily runs, the unending supply of sweets on hand (sometimes hidden per Peggy's request from her teenage son), and the many other beautiful moments that are now distant memories.

We loved our friend Peggy and always will.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Jesus & Justice

The college I attended and now work for is thee coolest place. I don't just say that because they are my Alma mater and I was told to always remain faithful or because it is now my job to bring others to the school (even though both of those are true), but because Northwestern actively lives of faith in the world and encourages students to do the same.

Once a year Northwestern has a Day of Learning in which students, staff, and faculty along with community members who choose to participate, engage in dialogue, learning, and discussion over relevant issues and topics in the world today. It is a day to essentially process and digest all that has been thrown at you by professors and put it in the context of being a faithful witness to God.

A few weeks ago our community dove into the topic of Jesus & Justice.
Although justice has turned into somewhat of a buzzword these days, it truly is a heart beat of Christianity. Justice translated words are used almost 3,000 times in the Bible, which is twice as many as love and heaven and seven times as many as hell.

Throughout the day we explored the idea of loving God and others not only with our hearts but also as intelligently and effectively as possible, the idea of stewardship.

You see when I was a younger Christian I was afraid of loving God with my mind. I thought thinking things through meant doubting and doubting was definitely frowned upon. To have faith was to accept who he was in a blissfully happy and innocent relationship with Jesus.

How freeing it is to know and trust that thinking deeply about my Lord and sometimes going through seasons of doubt is not only okay but makes my faith stronger because I know what I believe and why. All this to say, exploring topics of Jesus & Justice like systemic poverty, war and peace, short term missions, immigration, money, and racial segregation that don't have easy answers births freedom to think about, process, and empower one's faith.

My friends, if we talk about grace and giving second chances as people of faith yet we live by corrupt systems, what is this saying about our view of justice? If we are not called to care passionately about people who are not us, then we are not the church.

This challenge has been permeating my heart as of lately. Brothers and sisters, how can we love better, live wiser, and accept more freely? Let's truly engage in being the justice-acting Body of Christ rather than simply going to church that only speaks of justice and does not act. We are the Church!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thrift Store Thursday: Comfortable Work Attire

All throughout high school and college my friends joked about how much I dressed up on a daily basis. Never once would you catch me wearing sweatpants to class or rolling out of bed without a decently nice outfit on. Some may classify that as high maintenance but I can assure you it simply is not true.

I feel most like myself and comfortable when I wear skirts, dresses, and cardigans. No I'm not out there stopping the show with high heels and parkas, but looking nice and feeling good is something I value. This made the transition from student to work relatively simple as some of my previous everyday outfits also became versatile for the working world.

Behind this thrifting gem of an outfit comes versatile pieces that work for both work and play. Olive green is by far my favorite color and the chambray look is totally in right now. All thrifted my friends! You can do it too.

Chambray Shirt- $5 at Turnstyle (Lakeville, MN)
White Cardigan- $8 off Target clearance rack (Eagan, MN)
Green & Blue Patterned Scarf- $1.50 off Target clearance rack (Holland, MI)
Olive Green Bow Skirt- $10 at Target Thrift Store (Minneapolis, MN)

How are you feeling about Thrift Store Thursdays? Have you been inspired in your thrifting endeavors? How does your style stay the same or different from work to play?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Relevant Reading

On a semi-frequent basis I have been known to post about what I am currently reading whether it be books, articles, blog posts, you name it. One place I frequent for wholesome reading and thought provoking articles is Relevant Magazine.
This is likely no shocker for those in Christian circles as articles are passed on here and there in the Facebook world and get quite a few amens stirred from the bench of the faithful. While I am not a huge fan of things gone viral, I do think there is beauty, creativity, and uniqueness in the articles Relevant publishes.

Below are some of my latest favorites. If you've read them or decide to read them I would love to start a conversation and discussion about them. Reading is a great thing but oh how much greater it is when it's followed up by further dialogue.

The Promise You Can't Keep: Why happiness is the result, not the reason for a good marriage

Why Your Relationship With God Shouldn't Just Be Personal: Our faith is about more than just us

84-Year-Old Nun Sent to Prison for Defacing Nuclear Weapons Facility

What Gossip Actually Does: 5 ways critical talk has more to say about the talker than the target

12 Essential Bonhoeffer Quotes: The famed theologian's birthday would have been this week, so here's some of his timeless wisdom

What are your initial thoughts? How does reading influence your view of the world? What conversations are you currently having over articles or books? Share your thoughts, let's talk!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dressing Up the Cubicle

Holy moly it is hard to believe I have been at my job as an admissions counselor for over seven months now. Parts of the year seem like they blurred on by and others seem like I've been doing this forever, depends on the day I suppose.

For majority of the fall I was traveling to high schools, college fairs, and one on ones with students from across the country. My office space looked more like my cell phone charging on my car battery in between appointments responding to random emails and finding a hotel for the night.

While I do miss the random adventures and seeing new places I can't complain about a for real desk, spending time with my coworkers in the office (yes, even you Ross), and having a more consistent schedule. Over these slow winter months my cubicle has slowly but surely become more Laura-like. Who doesn't love some decorating to make the 8-5s more valuable?
How do you make your cubicle a friendly place? What does your daily work look like? What decorations are special to you? Why is your workplace meaningful to you?

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