Saturday, April 27, 2013

Oddities of Life

Family photos last fall. Can you guess why this one didn't appear in our Christmas Card?
God is amazing, and truly works all things together for the good of those who love him.  But sometimes, there are just strange, hilarious, or flat out odd things that happen.  A few things struck me lately as very out of the ordinary, so I thought I would share them with you.  I don't plan to turn this into a regular thing, but if more things like these start happening, well, you never know.

#1: My little guy in my AWANA group comes up to me, very excited, "Guess what, teacher!  My brother dropped my toothbrush in the toilet by accident but my grandma is going to buy me a new one!"

#2: In one of my classes at my community college there is a biker dude who out of all the seats in class, chooses to sit with the three conservative Christian homeschooled Running Start students.  And after hearing that I had fallen down the stairs at school (yeah, I know) he offered to push down the stairs anyone who laughed at me.  Yeah, no, that won't be necessary.

#3: You've probably seen them. The young Mormon guys in dress suits riding around on their bicycles to spread the word about Mormonism.  But how many times have you seen two such Mormon guys in suits on bicycles racing a little girl on a pink Barbie motor scooter? I saw this in my neighborhood.  Just crazy.

Sometimes I think that God lets these situations happen to bring a little laughter to our lives, and other times I think he does it to remind us that he is really in control, and that the norm may not be his plan, but something far greater (or perhaps more hilarious).

Friday, April 26, 2013

Partying — God Style

Last Saturday, my mom, my sisters and I headed off to Seattle for a day. We had a college fair in the morning, shopped in the afternoon, and then attended the Chris Tomlin Concert at the Key Arena.

It was an amazing experience.  I had only ever been to two concerts before this, and they just can't compare. The last time I went to a concert was about a year ago.  It was fun, but I was also coming right off a media fast at a Christian camp, so screaming and jumping, even to Christian songs, just didn't feel right to me.  This concert, however, was totally different. It was truly a night of worship.  How many times do you go to a concert and the artist would rather be quiet and let the crowd sing?  That was something I had never seen before.

I love worship at my church, but there is something awe-inspiring about singing praises to GOd with ten thousand people.  Even Chris Tomlin himself was amazed by the power and beauty of it. So many times during the night, he stepped back and gazed around the room at the thousands of people singing God's praises with one clear voice.

And on top of that, we got to hear Louie Giglio speak!  Ever since I saw his talk from the How Great is Our God tour, I have loved his teaching. (Go here to see the video. It does take awhile, but the time spent watching that video will be time invested in understanding a little how great our God truly is.) In this video he even talks about laminin, which.... never mind I can't explain it as well as he can. You'll just have to watch the video to find out. But wow, God is so amazing.

Anyway, Louie Giglio spoke on how our God is a God of celebration and rejoicing.  He retold and spoke on the three stories about lost things in Luke 15.  They are: the story of the lost coin, the story of the lost sheep, and the story of the lost son.  What he pointed out was that all three stories are not truly about the lost things, but about the finder of all lost things.  He focused on an interesting point. Every single story spoke about celebration, about a party.  It says in Luke 15:10, "...there is rejoicing in the presence of angels over one sinner who repents." If our God loves to celebrate and rejoice when sinners turn to him, so should we.  Several people there accepted Christ into their lives, and we all had the biggest party on earth for them, but I'm sure the angel's party was far, far greater.

The way I described that night was that it was probably the closest thing you can find on earth to the party the angels have up in heaven.

In the words of a counselor from a camp last year, "Party 'cause of Jesus, party 'cause of Jesus, party 'cause of Jesus and the party don't stop!"

Friday, April 19, 2013

Hungry Horse!

... or, in other words, Great West Invitational 2013!

... or, as it has been called, "Canada," which it wasn't this year, but anyway.

For all you Bible Quizzers out there, here is the long-awaited Great West post, complete with a list of the funniest quotes from the trip.  Please forgive my apparent lack of documentation of one of the best weekends ever.  Someone (I'm not sure who) replaced my lovely 4 gig camera card with my little brother's cheap, barely-lets-you-take-anything card.  So, after taking about 20 photos, my camera quit on me and informed me that my memory card was full. So anything you see here is a combination of my few photos, the couple I took on my ipod, and my dad's photo skills on his iphone.

Note: the pictures may likely have nothing whatsoever to do with the text around them, aside from the fact that the photos all came from the same trip.

The "senior" guys (even though they graduated last year)
... See what I mean?

For those of you who didn't experience the wonders of Hungry Horse with us, I will explain a little about our trip.

So... every year our Bible Quizzing district takes the top 20 individuals to Canada for an invitational meet where we compete with the top quizzers from 2 Canadian districts. Until this year.  Yes, this year, PNW at last hosted Great West, in a lovely camp up in the mountains of Montana.  It was an AMAZING camp. But if you've heard much about my experiences with Great West facilities, you'd know how little can make me happy. (In past years, we've had plywood walls, concrete floors, quizzing in front of a huge hot water heater, you get the picture.) Not that I'm complaining about the other years, but in comparison, this camp was really nice. It's two top qualities were:

a. We had bathrooms in the same building as our rooms! Hallelujah!  No more walking through the snow in pajamas just to brush your teeth.  This was a big one.

b. We got ice cream at just about every meal.  Yep, the camp had a soft serve machine, and they won us over by serving ice cream with lunch, dinner, and a snack after dinner.  Both days. My brother is already planning his trip to that camp.

The cafeteria area

In the morning on the first day we were at the camp, we went to go on a "hike" at a park nearby. Now, I won't deny that it was beautiful. It was really a gorgeous day.

Yeah, they thought it would be fun to put all of us kids on one side of the dock and watch it sink into the water.  (It really did start to sink)

But the term hike seems a little well, inadequate, since in my experience, a hike assumes you have a trail to hike on.  About half way through the hike, we were informed that it was too difficult to go along by the coast of the lake as we had been, and that inland the way would be easier. Sure...pushing through trees and undergrowth, not to mention sticker bushes, is easier. But hey, we made some fun memories and some awesome quotes, as you will see below.

In addition, I felt like we were actually able to get to know the Canadians this year.  In past years, we've driven a really long way, so we always arrive late and leave early. But since we were hosting, we got to be the first ones there and the last ones to leave. We also got to participate in games and a bonfire with the other quizzers.  I think the last two items brought us together more than anything.

For our game, we played zorks.  No, I hadn't heard of it either.  The way it works is that all the quizzers are on a gigantic scavenger hunt to find a key (also known as a spatula). Meanwhile, all the adults were aliens (zorks) who were trying to capture us and send us to jail. I'm not going to lie, some of them were pretty scary. ( Like the guy who wore boxers on his face as a mask. Uhh... still makes me shudder.) The best part about the game though, was that it made all of us work together. Automatically, anyone who wasn't an adult was your new best friend.  There were some people I met and worked with during the game, and then got to talk to them in the morning.

And what's better than worship songs, camp songs, and showtunes around a bonfire in the snow?  Really, how does it get any better than that?

Okay, I promised it was coming.  Drum roll please.....

Here is my quote book from GWI 2013.  I did my best to capture all the moments I was there for, along with the ones I heard about second hand from eyewitnesses.  To those who weren't on the trip, I apologize in advance if these don't make any sense to you, because if I spend a whole paragraph trying to explain, they just wouldn't be funny anymore.

For privacy reasons, I will refer to all people by their first names, including chaperones. 
If anyone sees this and would like their name removed, just let me know.

Random Quotes

"You don't look like Jon, you just look like a big red blob." — Molly, while trying on Emma's glasses

"Look, that girl is wearing minecraft pajamas!"—Claire
"No, that's an army uniform." — Daniel

"They were running and giggling and I wanted to come along." — Jon

"This is my new phone. It used to be my grandma's. All my contacts are relatives, except for one teriyaki place." — Bryce

"Look at this gorgeous scenery!" — Melodee
"Whoa, look at that huge power plant!" — Joe

"Scott, you look like a cow." — Anna

In the all PNW quiz, 
"We're all brethren here." —Jeremy
"So that means Canadians aren't brethren?" — Jon
"Don't quote me out of context." — Jeremy

"... And then the underwear-face guy jumped out and got me!" — Claire, describing her Zorks experience

Ryan, in reference to his shorts: "I don't have any pants longer than these."
Scott: "Then you don't have pants."

"Everyone focus on Scott's beautiful mouth." — Emma

"Ew! Was that your nose?" —Anna
"We've been over this, Anna. I promise it's clean." —Bryce

Bonus points if you can find the two people photo bombing this picture
When Bryce was pretending to force choke Anna (you know, like Darth Vader), a very confused CMD quizzer said,
"Are you trying to propose to her or something?"

"Shamus, we need you to come tackle Anna!" — Bryce

"Yes, I like you Bryce, especially when you wear deodorant." — Tim

"So in the top ten we had 6 PNW quizzers, 2 West Can, and 2 Canadian Mounties." — Bryce

"Bryce, stop drinking your french fries!" —Anna

Need a hint? Here they are. 

Quotes from our "hike" where many of us got lost in the woods

 "Marco!" — Lawrence

"We have to get to the end!" — Rick
"You do know this is a circle, right?" — Kim

Cutty, trying to help Lawrence: "I'm behind the big tree!"
"Which big tree? We're in the woods!" — Lawrence

Quotes that happened during Catch Phrase

Jamie: "What bullies take from you." 
Most of the van: "Lunch money." 
Bryce: "Your pants!"

Bryce: "31 days make up a..."
Anna: "Calendar!"

Hannah: "It's an orange vegetable."
Jamie: "Asparagus!"

The guys at the "short table" in the mall

And last, but not least...

If you've ever seen this video, you will understand this reference.
"Oh my goodness, Abby, look at that snowfall. It is so pretty. It looks like one of those Narnian landscapes. Who can survive those Narnian landscapes anyway?" — Bryce, Josh, and Hannah

Oh, I guess I should mention the actual quizzing.  PNW was simply stellar.  We had 4 out of our 5 teams in top nine! We composed almost half the semifinal competition!  My team even made it to finals, and got third after barely being edged out on question 20! 

 6 out of the top 10 quizzers were from PNW. 

All in all, it was an amazing weekend. 

PS. In case you were wondering, Bryce wins the award for being a part of the most quotes, coming in at a grand total of 9! 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Kindred Spirits Retreat at CRC

 I got to go back! I don't know if I explained about my amazing experience at the Christian Renewal Center last summer at one of their family camps.  It is a beautiful little camp tucked up in the mountains of Oregon.  Through the staff, setting, and overall mission of the center, I have found it so easy to get close to God while I'm there. Quite honestly, it feels like He lives there.

This is what it looks like in the summer

Anyway, this last weekend I went back to CRC for a mother/daughter retreat run by a dear family friend, Hollylu Coon. The idea of the retreat was to tell the story of Ruth and Naomi and compare their relationship to Anne and Marilla's relationship in Anne of Green Gables. Hence, "Kindred Spirits." Between Mrs. Coon and her daughter and my mom, my sisters, and I, we worked on the various things that needed to happen for the retreat.

It was so much fun! The retreat grew me in so many ways and I got to spend time with godly mothers and daughters for a whole weekend.

We had worship...

...and little girls helping practice for worship.

We played games...

...and completed a major art project illustrating the story of Ruth.
Here it is partially complete
We met Anne...

...and the "Bethlehem Gossip Girl."

We made silly faces...

...and watched Anne of Green Gables of course!

But one of my favorite parts was the tea in "Cordelia's Tea Room" for the mothers and daughters.

Test shots before the official photos...

My mom took pictures of all the mothers and daughters, but I have to say that the pair we had the most fun taking pictures of was Anne and Marilla.

Unfortunately, we do not have pictures of my favorite part of the weekend. After all the sessions were finished, we prayed for all the moms and daughters.  It was so precious.  It is in those moments that I see God really work, when the words coming from my mouth are not my words, but His.

As Anne once said,

"Kindred Spirits are not so scare as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there are so many of them."