Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Reverse Errands

I usually hate errands! It's a bunch of driving, parking, running inside, doing something (that usually takes time and costs money), driving somewhere else, running inside, doing something else that costs money... Grr... no wonder I hate errands--they take up two of my limited commodities: time and money.

Well, yesterday was a reverse-errand day. I ran errands (with my 3-year-old nephew in tow--I have no clue how all you mom's do this every day. Buckling and unbuckling alone added an extra half-hour to the errands!), but aside from the gas station and lunch, instead of spending money, I gained it! Here's a low-down on my errands:

1.) Turn in church keys and pick up final reimbursement check.
2.) Return dress to ROSS and receive $12 gift card.
3.) Go to bank to deposit reimbursement check and security deposit from my apartment, plus some birthday funds (deposits are so nice!).
4.) Return gifts to Fred Meyer and receive a $45 gift card.
5.) Drop by bookstore to see if they will buy any of my used books I'm getting rid of--I made $76 on the spot!

While erranding drains me, reverse-erranding infused me with energy yesterday. Money is so weird. Or maybe I'm so weird about money. I don't like about myself that money has the power to make me feel secure or uncertain, cheerful or woebegone. Money is just a tool, a necessary part of our lives, useful for converting labor and love and concern into a place to stay, a mode of transportation, clothes to wear and food to eat. History has taught us that it is an unreliable tool, though, so I would be foolish to place my security in it. In my wise moments I recognize that my true security does not rest in my savings account, but in the wise, benevolent God who has a plan for my life that includes what is best for me--even if it isn't what is most comfortable for me!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Mofasida Kristi

One awesome aspect of being unemployed is that I get to do basically whatever I want! At our extended family Christmas celebration, my cousin Sheila mentioned that I should come visit her and her husband and son in Missouri and I thought, "sounds great!" A few days later I booked tickets for a spectacular deal and ended up flying back on their same flight. My cousin Sheila, Paul and their adorable son Nathan are studying at a Missionary Training Center preparing to go to Indonesia to share the good news of forgiveness with people who have never heard about the One True God or the love he showed us by coming as a man and paying the punishment for our sin.
I spent the week on their 300-acre campus basking in the beauty of God's creation, sitting in on their classes, cuddling Nathan, and spending hours discussing truth and life and God's will. It was such a refreshing time!
One of the classes I sat in on was teaching us how to use kinship diagrams (think family trees) as a way to learn about family relationships and terms in a new culture. We learned that most all relatives can be described by using any of eight basic relationships: Father, Mother, Brother, Sister, Husband, Wife, Son or Daughter. When written these eight terms can be abbreviated by the first two letters in each word. Thus my maternal grandmother would be my momo (mother's mother). This terminology made it possible for us to settle a long debate: who am I to Nathan? He is my first cousin once removed...but what is the reciprocal of that? His once-added first cousin? No, using the abbreviations we can aptly describe me as Nathan's Mofasida--his mother's father's sister's daughter!
Mofasida Kristi was delighted to get to spend a week with the Gunderson family. It was a treat to get to be there for Nathan's first taste of solid food, and I still have a mental picture of the rising sun peeking through the trees, casting long shadows along the shore of the lake! I'm so thankful that God granted me this wonderful week with my Mobrda, Mobrdahu and Mobrdaso!

If you're interested in seeing more pictures from my trip, check out my Missouri Trip album at my photo site

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Encouragement From Unexpected Sources

There's nothing that gets me down faster than several days of seemingly fruitless job-hunting!

First, I looked for available ministry positions--but the few that seemed like they could be a good fit were all out of state. I'd really like to stay nearby at least for the next six months or so in order to be here for my friend's wedding and the birth of my nephew. Next I looked for available office positions in the Portland area. There are many--but not so many that pay enough to cover rent and car insurance. Those that pay better often require specialties that I don't have: speaking Laotian, for example, or being proficient in various softwares that I've never been introduced to (but I'm sure I could pick up on quickly). So, I'd found a few leads, but nothing that jumped out at me as great and I was starting to feel discouraged.

That coupled with the fact that I've stayed at home pretty much the past two days working from the computer made me start to feel like a mega-loser. I'm only one video game console away from being a lazy mooch!

But today was much better. For one thing, I woke up earlier because I used a sleeping aid last night and fell asleep at a decent hour. It's amazing how much less loserish I feel when I'm up early. Then I had a mid-morning meeting with a friend and was encouraged by him and by a possibility for a future ministry position that he presented. It's not for sure, and I'm not sure yet whether or not I'd be the best one for the job, but just dreaming about it all day made me excited again about the prospect having a goal and a purpose--challenging work ministering to people God made and loves! As I said, it is in no way certain and wouldn't come about for some months, but the possibility itself was very encouraging to me.

When I got back home, I had two emails waiting for me. One was from a local youth pastor about the possibility of referring my past students to his program. From his description it sounds like a good program that challenges the students to grow in their relationship with God. I'm taking three students with me tonight to check it out. The second email was from a high-school friend who read my blog on myspace and wrote out of the blue to tell me that my writing had been an encouragement to her. Well that was certainly an encouragement to me!

So today has been a good day. Just when I was starting to feel underwhelmed by the lack of direction in my life, God sent me a few small affirmations and encouragements to show me once again (why do I always need to be reminded of these lessons?) that he is leading me and that he will use me whenever, wherever, and however he desires.

Monday, January 7, 2008

There's Nothing Worse Than...

...waking up with a spider bite on your face! Okay, I know that isn't true, but still it is one of my least favorite ways to wake up, for the obvious reasons. It means A SPIDER HAS CRAWLED ACROSS MY FACE--and who knows where else! And I can't help but wonder, where did it go after it feasted on my face?

Was it one of the seven spiders a year that experts say I swallow in my sleep (the only statistic that ever made me want to sleep with my mouth taped shut)? Or perhaps it crawled to the back of my head and is currently nesting in my hair? (You straight-haired people probably don't have to worry about this quite as much; you'd be able to tell if there were a spider in your hair!) Don't worry, I reassure myself, maybe it is not inside you or on you anymore. Maybe it just crawled down into your bed and is currently hiding between your sheets. I think I'll sleep on the couch tonight. Even if the monster managed to crawl back to it's home in the wall, what is to keep it from coming back out and crawling all over me again tonight? I'm reminded of the time my friend Jessica and I went to the beach cabin and someone had left the bathroom window open for over a month and there were hundreds of spiders all over the house. We hunted down as many as we could and then we pulled our bed out from the wall and sprayed a perimeter of Raid on the floor around the bed to try to make ourselves feel safer. But what will keep it from lowering itself onto me from the ceiling? Oh the horrors!

Plus, there's still the actual bite. On my FACE.

I can't disguise it. It's a big white bump surrounded by a giant red circle. It would take miracle makeup to camouflage this puppy! If it were on my arm I'd consider lancing it and trying to squeeze out the poison, but I've decided to let this one die of natural causes. (Of course, my paranoid mind is imagining my sad fate should it turn out to be a brown recluse spider bite and my flesh rots and they have to remove half my face. That would be sad. Although if movies and musicals have taught us anything, it is that half-faced people actually fare pretty well. They generally end up either ridiculously talented musicians, or at least rich misers with giant mansions. Well if my goal in life were to be ridiculously wealthy or astoundingly musical...maybe that wouldn't be so bad. But if I want to talk to people about Jesus, then it would be helpful not to frighten people away with my face.

I was going to write a short paragraph about the spider bite. How did this get so long? I'm stopping now. It's just a stupid spider bite. You'd never guess I once spent the night in a jungle hut that was infested with red ants. Well, I'd write more, but the spider bite is swelling so huge that there's no more room for my tongue in my cheek! ;-) I'm stopping now for real.