Thursday, June 3, 2010

Testimony - Staff Training 2010

The last week or so has been an interesting week spiritually. I am being to (dare I say) trust again. I think I am learning to trust God with the small things and in a weird way it shows me how big He really is. If He has time to hear my small stuff, how much more does he care about the big stuff. Well, big stuff to me anyway.

I came across a verse the other day, looking for a different one. (Apparently I need to re-memorize my Scripture. I’ve forgotten the references to just about everything.) 1 Peter 5:10-11 – It’s only part of 10 that really speaks to me. “ And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” In the grand scheme of things, God has made many more people suffer for much long than I have had to. But the better part of three years seemed like long enough for me. And I am not out of the woods yet, not by a long shot, but its better than it used to be.

So for part of staff training I have to give my testimony tomorrow night…I haven’t done that since the last time I worked at camp…maybe not even then. So I guess I want to write it out so I don’t say something stupid. Just give myself some guides.

My testimony sounds just about like everyone elses here at camp. Born in a Christian home in a small town in Iowa. Dad was a police officer, mom was a teacher. I never felt the need to make trouble. I was baptized when I was in third grade. I went to awanas, youth, triennial, I started coming to camp when I was in third grade, I was on the youth leadership team, I completed evangelism explosion, led see you at the pole for 4 years, if it had anything to do with God, I did it. I started working at camp the summer after my 8th grade year I think, I never went to a high school camp, I just started working here…and that’s been 10 years ago…wow.

5 years ago I moved out to Colorado for massage school. (Massage blurb) I loved, love, love, love, love Colorado. Met my best friends there, just made some major memories there.

But like Ric said in his testimony, there is a difference between knowing God in your head, and knowing God in your heart. I thought I knew God in my heart, because of all that I knew about Him. I am very much my fathers daughter in that I could tell you how something works in theory, but in actuality, I’ve never done it.

About 2.5 years ago, it all started to go wrong. A serious boyfriend broke up with me, lost a well paying job that I hated, had 2 major medical issues with no insurance that created medical bills to rival my yearly income at the time, I lost my house and had to move back home to Iowa…to my home town to my parents house. I have never cried more or been so mad at God as when I was driving out of the Yampa Valley. I had never felt like such a failure in my whole life. At that point, I started comparing. “why doesn’t God bless me like he does that family?” “why is that person bad and they get EVERYTHING?!” Comparison is every bit as toxic as Tom was saying it is the other night. And as I was leaving the valley, I remember telling God I didn’t want anything to do with Him. He’d messed up my life enough. What had I ever done to him?

When I got back to Iowa, I had no friends basically. I was closer to camp, but that was 3.5 hours away and I was broke. I was SO BORED. So I got involved with some negative groups and activities that I had been curious about for awhile. My thought was “well, God isn’t a part of my life anymore, so I don’t have to worry about that judgement and that guilt.” So continued to be apart of that group for …about a year.

When I was in the LaCrosse Barnes and Noble last summer with a bunch of staff, they all gravitated towards the Christian book section and I thought ”…fine…I’ll follow, only because they expect me to.” Low and behold there was a book there called Angry conversations with God. This woman essentially takes God to marriage counseling to figure out whats wrong with their relationship. What sold me on the book, was in the intro (so nicely labeled “just because this is the intro DON’T SKIP IT!) She was talking to her friend Mary saying “I know God is good, Mary, He’s just not good to me.” This woman was speaking my language! I was tired of being angry last summer. I was also tired of being one person around one group, and a different person around another group, trying to remember who I’d told what to, who didn’t know at all, etc. I was tired of being mad. I read that book and re-read it and it made a lot of sense to me, which was what I needed. I needed a jumping off point. So this last year almost, has been rough, I am by no means out of the woods…on anything actually. Im still dealing with things from Colorado, I don’t talk to the group of people was hanging out with anymore…so that’s a step in the right direction. But I will always have those experiences in my head, that baggage for lack of a better word. But as of the last few months, I’ve had closer friendships with people who’ve had a great impact on me. They’ve provided great conversation which is what I crave and definitely being back in the valley here has had a great impact on me. Just a few days ago, I had a God moment, which is what I used to call a coincidence, when I was looking up a Bible verse. I was looking for the one that said ‘His grace is sufficient for me.’ But I picked up another Bible and looked under Grace and it showed me 1 Peter 5:10.

So this is my rebuild time. I have suffered, God brought me through a desert, a dark time, I’ve gone thru things no one should have to go thru, let alone at 22-23. I’m hopeful for the first time in a long time. I’m excited to see God work. And now that I’ve been all this crap, it gives bible verses new meaning. 5 years ago that verse meant next to nothing. A hard time was a bad afternoon in the kitchen at camp, or a family fight….I know now, what suffering is. I know what its like to cry out to God for a break, only to see the next wave rolling in. So now, I’m looking for God in the small things…like please God, let the chicken get done in time for lunch. And if God can take care of my small stuff, how much more should I rely on Him for the big stuff? I can’t even make a comparison from how I was 5 years ago to now. This time around its going to be different and I’m really excited about that.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Taking a cue from a great friends Blog I have decided to make a list of things I think are attractive in guys.
PS - Check out my friend Trinettes Blog at
I love her! She is an honest, powerful, creative, passionate God loving whirlwind and I love when I get to hang out with her!

My list is as follows :

Love Handles
nerdy non-obscene t-shirt collections
Scottish, Irish, British or Australian accents...ok, most accents
the ability to discuss without arguing
having man-skills ie: hunting, cars, etc
Zach Braff, Seth Rogan, Tyson Ritter, Adam Lambert (...yes, I know!!), Jeffery Dean Morgan
curly hair, baldies or red heads
a great laugh and sense of humor
laying in the grass under a tree and talking
Hockey games
loves animals
- except for cats
facial hair and stubble
big thighs
good kisses
appreciates art, music - culture, etc
an open mind and soft heart
showing emotion
being able to be in each others company but not HAVE to fill every silence
Great, easy smile and gives good hugs

For years I have had the description of the Lover in Song of Songs 5:10-16 bookmarked in my Bible because 1) the description appeals to me :) 2) I believe if I am supposed to be with someone, and God knows the desires of my heart, my man will bear a striking (although non-coincidental) resemblance to this description. Call me crazy, but I've thought that for years.

So, whilst I enjoy my season of singleness, I will be wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin' for my Song of Songs man :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Coffee for One

So lately I’ve been saying how happy I am. But now, today, I don’t know. I’ve been so happy because I am dating someone. I was happy single. But it’s been nice to have someone want me. I haven’t had that for a long, long time. I’ve been thinking just today, “do I want this?” “Is this person the best there is for me?” If it is, quite honestly that makes me very sad. He’s a nice person, I for the most part enjoy his company. I love that he wants to touch me. I like cooking for someone who enjoys my cooking. And the look on people’s faces when I say I am dating someone…that makes me sad too. Like they are happy I’m with someone no matter who it is. So much importance is placed on a persons ability to attract a mate. And if you are alone, “Well, you must be deficient in some way.” “Why doesn’t anyone want to be with you?” You are too fat, too independent, too loud and outspoken, too intelligent or too intellectual. A life of chosen singlehood is relatively unheard of outside of the church. And while I have told more people than I should have about this relationship, because I wanted them to know I was dating, I wish I wouldn’t have. I was happy for all the reasons listed above, but I doubt it’s a forever thing. And I don’t know that I want to marry him. He is a good man, a decent and caring man. But I don’t know that he’s my forever man. I don’t know. I voiced this concern to my friend Jayne tonight (4/24) for the first time and it felt good to say it outloud.

I could be single for the rest of my life and be happy as long as I am surrounded by friends and company and friends. In fact, if this man and I break up, I probably will be single for the rest of my life. It doesn’t scare me. In fact I kind of like it. It doesn’t make you a lonely person. Believe me there is nothing more lonely than being the only person involved in a two person relationship. As a wise woman once said “It would take one hell of a man to be better than no man.”

(Post Script : as of 5/11 I currently am single. I’m feeling great about it. Balanced and at peace, etc. I’m looking forward to making the most of what is shaping up to be a GREAT summer!)

I think I may be built to be single. I don't think I know how to be in a relationship. Which is fine with me. I kind of like to come and go as I please, make my own plans, do my own thing. Are there benefits to being in a relationship - I'm sure there are. But for right now, I'm looking forward to a season of singleness!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dirty and Smiling

The problem with a blog - unbeknowst to me at the time of creating it - is that you can't REALLY personally vent.  You can only allude to the situation or the person in question and thats just passive aggressive and I can't stand that.  Even though I know my list of readers is relatively small, it's just one of those social things I should probably just avoid because I will regret it later.  I think if I removed the link from my Facebook page I would feel a little more free to write what I want.  But I also feel like thats cheating.  I don't know why.  
So as far as the title of the  blog goes, is derived from the Ani DiFranco song 'Not A Pretty Girl'  and the chunk of lyric it comes from is this - 
I am not an angry girl
but it seems like I've got everyone fooled
every time I say something they find hard to hear
they chalk it up to my anger
and never to their own fear
and imagine you're a girl
just trying to finally come clean
knowing full well they'd prefer you
were dirty and smiling

I would love to come clean.  Tell people I'm pissed but I am the universal peacemaker (read - Universal Pacifier....not like a binky but like in calming the situation).  Saying things like "No, really, I'm ok!", or "Thats great, that'll work too.", "sure, I didn't see it from that way."  Since when have I been afraid to say what need.  And if I actually told people "Hey that hurt when you did that.", "It made me feel like crap when this happened." man, things would come undone.  "What happened to the 'Happy Mandy'?"  "When did you become such a bitch?"  I'm afraid my first act of coming clean will be painful.  A separation and distinction which has needed to happen for some time now but I was afraid of the pain. Now I am not sure which would cause more pain - maintaining this friendship or losing it. 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I was here - Written whilst sitting in the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver, CO

I was here –

 A great song by Lady Antebellum and everytime I hear it I wonder “What mark have I made? Who will remember me? How will they remember me?”  This song is like a call to DO SOMETHING with my life!  Everytime I hear it I am inspired and defeated at the same time.  But I imagine those two emotions go hand in hand for many people.  On the one hand I am totally jazzed to get out there and do – What?!  And then the defeat kicks in.  How?  Who can I reach?  Who would listen to me?  What am I even trying to say?  I don’t have the literary background to write the ideas and questions that are in my brain.  Most of them aren’t of cultural importance anyway.  Just every thought every mid-twenties individual has – who am I?  How did I get here in life?  How do I move past here to a place personal peace and contentment?  What does actually make me tick? 

            I love doing massage.  I am happy I went to massage school.  The school and the state of Colorado changed my life.  How do I translate my transformation into something meaningful to others?  What if massage doesn’t always do it for me for the rest of my life?  I want to go back to school for History.  Then I get into the physical roadblocks to my happiness.  Namely – money.  But I digress J

 (If I haven’t said it before, I have a hard time staying focused and on topic.  One of the many reasons I will never be a writer J)

 I was inspired this year by a former teacher and currently close friend.  While I was in high school, she was my speech coach.  The woman has had more of an impact on me than all the other women in my life combined.  I am grateful for her continuous wisdom and knowledge, her amazing warped sense of humor, boundless charity, and so many other positive qualities – so many so that I am running out of words to describe the greatness I see in her.  So like I was saying, I was inspired by her this year.  I volunteered to help her coach speech.  I enjoyed competeing in speech in high school and thought “If I affect one student in even the smallest way like she made an impact on me, it was worth it.”  I don’t know if I did, but I got to work with some incredibly talented, passionate and thoughtful kids and it was so worth it.  They were my daily dose of laughter in a life that had been so drab.  

Moses and Psalms 23 - Written in March and finally posted

Things have been good.  Really good.  Really, really good.  Have I convinced you yet?  And as I am writing this, the commercial for the Star Wars Symphony is on….coincidence?  Definitely.  But it still makes me happy. 

And the reason for my recent happiness, you ask?  Well, I will be getting out of Eldora at least for the summer.  I will be working in the kitchen at Village Creek Bible Camp. For those of you who don’t know me well, I spent most of my growing up summers here as well as every summer in High School.  It saved me from the boredom and debauchery that is Eldora in the summer.  I met some of my best, lifelong friends here and made amazing, totally inexplicable memories here.  So needless to say, I am excited to return to VCBC.  I realize that being 5-10 years older than the last time I worked on staff at camp puts me in a different space and gives me a different perspective.  I was discussing this job with a friend and I said I was excited about the spiritual concentration I usually have at camp.  And she made the comment that camp always feels like Moses being called into the wilderness to tend is father in laws sheep before he was given the directive to go to back to Egypt.  This comment excited me for two reasons. 1) I am excited about the prospect of God calling me to camp to reveal something to me.  2) When I was at the Quaker church a few weeks ago, the sermon was on Moses and the burning bush – what is God telling you?  I am excited to hear what God has to tell me. Ok, so maybe that is basically the same thing but it was two different experiences.

 And yesterday I just bought my plane ticket to go out to Colorado to see friends.  Things are good!!

 And Psalms 23.  The camp theme this summer is my favorite Christian book of all time.  Traveling Light by Max Lucado.  When I read that book when I was 16, it totally changed my relationship with God.  I am excited by the ‘coincidence’ of this.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


So the last few weeks have been filled with things I'd love to blog/vent about.
But 1) my laptop is in the shop. A $16 cable crapped out and its going to cost $220 to fix. I like to write my blogs on Word, in my own time, on my own computer and then copy/paste them on here while I'm online at mom and dads (FYI - I don't have TV or internet at my casa. Stone age, right? I know!! I love it!) Anyway. So thats been 'cramping my style' for lack of a better term.
And 2) there have been so many many things that I have come to mind that I'd like to share, but I don't get to write them down. Case in point - apparently sometime last week I went to write about 'Things I hate #1'. That was the title of the blog draft when I logged in. No words or prompts as to what I was upset about....But clearly I was agitated enough to attempt to blog about it. ( Common sense says "Start a journal". Realistic sense says "yeah, right. Like I'd ever follow thru on that one." ) Can I remember it today? Nope. Gone-dy. (Like Ghandi, but like gone....heard that today and it cracked me up...I was tired enough apparently)
So to conclude - My goal is to write at least once a month. It will probably be more than that, I just don't want to set myself up for failure.

And P.S. District Individual Speech was today. So many great kids. Someday I will write a blog about them and how I see them, but I don't have the time or the energy right now. But they did so well!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Spider webbing and Sunday school answers

There is nothing I detest more than writing a cover letter.  I don’t know if it’s the actual cover letter or the fact that it still feels like its homework from high school.  Or even worse, a pen pal letter from Elementary school.  You know, one of those Hi-my-name-is-Mandy. What-is-your-name? I-am-fine. How-are-you? – kind of letters.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved my pen pals.  But these cover letters…I wish you could just get a job without greasing the wheels with a talk-me-up cover letter.  I feel like my resume` speaks for itself. 

I think another difficult part is putting myself out there, knowing that for the most part, I probably won’t hear back from these employers at all.  I’ve expressed this frustration to various friends before.  And I know most of you out there can identify with it. 

While I was living up in Phippsburg, after I was fired (I still cringe at saying or thinking this) from Subway, I think I applied for close to 70 jobs in 3 months.  But that was just at the start of the economy starting to nose dive, so each job would have 30+ people applying, regardless of skills or degrees.  They just needed a job!  It’s hard to compete with someone who has a Masters but is applying for a teller job. 

The difficulty of the job market in the Steamboat Springs area is what drove me back to Iowa, to the ‘loving’ arms of my hometown.  Tell you what, leaving Phippsburg the morning of October 11, 2008 was by far one of the hardest things I have ever, ever done.  Saying good-bye to my friends who had become closer than most of my family was beyond hard.  The painful irony of the situation was driving back to Iowa (after spending a few days in Denver with a great friend) and walking into three different job opportunities.  Not going to lie, I resented God for that.  I should have been thankful for an income after three months of nothing.  But I was so mad at Him for forcing me back to a town I hated and giving me jobs there, but I couldn’t have one in Steamboat Springs, where I loved to be. 

In all honesty, I’m still trying to re-figure out my relationship with God.  I know there to be truths about Him, I know He doesn’t change and He is constant.  But I know these in the way of Sunday school answers.  The way a precocious child wobbles his head when he sarcastically answers the question.  I know the answers to the God questions.  But it’s hard for me to like them because they haven’t worked in my life like I think they should.  And it’s hard for me to switch my perspective on that.  Not just viewing my losses as God’s wins sometimes, but seeing God act differently in other people lives than He does in mine. {{Just because God is constant does it mean He is uniform?  If two different people go through the same experience, pray the same prayer, does that mean God will answer them the same?  In my mind because God is constant, that means He should answer both prayers the same way.  I feel like they should be.  Both people are asking the same thing of God…The part in me that would love to hear that God isn’t actually good all the time and there’s a reason to be mad at him really wants to say that because God is not constant, the answer will not be the same and one person i.e.=me is unhappy and doesn’t get the desired answer from God. But I guess in this situation I am making humans the control and God the variable and any Christian ANYWHERE will tell me that is not the case.  (Mostly I was just working some of my own thought out here; so don’t worry if you didn’t really follow my spider-webbing thought process.) }}


One of my favorite books is “Angry Conversations with God” by Susan Isaacs.  I bought it in La Crosse this summer while in Barnes & Noble with VCBC staff.  (Everyone gravitated to the Christian section while I picked up a book on tombstone symbolism…) I was looking for a book on how not to be angry with God.  I do want to love God. And I know God loves me – blah-blah- Sunday school answer.  But I had some serious rage at God issues and I didn’t want a nice Christian book that would tell me to persevere and would paint nice pictures of a loving God and puppies and cotton candy. (Here’s where my anger and sarcasm come out.)  So low and behold I see this book with ‘anger’ and ‘God’ in the same title.  Ah-ha this book is for me!  The central idea of the book is she takes God to marriage counseling to figure out where their relationship has gone wrong.  But what really sold me on the book aside from the highly visual writing, sarcasm, and candor, was this sentence in the introduction.  “I know God is good, He’s just not good to me.”  THIS WOMAN IS SPEAKING MY LANGUAGE!  Finally someone willing to admit she is ANGRY with God.  Why can’t I have a God like this family gets?  Why can’t I get God to bless me like that person?  Why do some people’s hardships turn into blessings and why do my hardships turn into …more hardships?  I was (and sometimes currently am) mad at the concept of perseverance.  Sometimes, its like “No, you know what God…no.  I’m so TIRED of persevering…I want something more than just barely making it by.”  I didn’t go to my home church in Steamboat Rock for over a year (partially because there is NO ONE there my age to fellowship with) and partially because I knew I couldn’t do it with an open spirit of wanting to learn.  My first Sunday back, the first Sunday of Advent this year, Pastor was preaching thru the Bible in a year.  I got in on James…you guessed it…James 1:1-3.  Which used to be my favorite verse when I was on staff as Village Creek (no joking, the thought of that verse used to get me through some tough times in the valley.)  I was in totally disbelief that my first Sunday back in church willingly this is the verse that reared its head. 

            So this is where I’m at: God and I are on speaking terms again.  He’s brought some great Christian friends back into my life who don’t judge me for asking questions and doubting my faith.  I’m trying to take things in stride, but my faith definitely isn’t there.  Or isn’t anywhere near where it used to be.  I enjoy reading the Bible for the history and the obscurity of it sometimes.  But I still have a really hard time with most of the New Testament (oh and Jeremiah 28:11).  I have a hard time seeing the good God in these stories, the caring, protecting God.  I am totally aware of how selfish that sounds, how negative and pitiful as well.  I know God has spared me and my life could be worse, but I have the ‘great’ ability to see past the bad He has saved me from and look at the bad he as let me go through and be horribly angry at that. 

            I say this because I want you to know where I am in my God thought process.  So when I talk about Him you aren’t surprised at my...negativity sometimes.  I’m capable of giving the canned answer…any toddler in a church can tell you ‘Jesus loves me, this I know.  For the Bible tells me so.’  But in the midst of financial ruin, my closest support group of friends being hours away, the mental wear and tear of losing a job and living with your parents at 24 – I’m not as sure as I was when I was 3.  My song sounds more like ‘Jesus loves me?  I don’t know…’

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I love how the beginning of every year is filled with optimism....No, not really. Truth be told - I'm a pessimist and a realist at heart. I'm sarcastic, self-deprecating and I look at my glass as half empty more than half the time. But I am looking forward to writing this blog - just to see what comes out.