Sunday, December 18, 2011

P.S. A Fun Snippet

P.S. My dear friends in Coeur d’Alene are two sisters that I met at Whitworth, one my age and the other two years older. I’ve gotten to know their delightful family over the years and had the privilege of spending the day with them yesterday. In the evening, we went to the restaurant at the Coeur d’Alene resort called Dockside, which is famous for its gigantic ice cream Sundaes called Gooeys. We ordered three for seven people—Reese’s Peanut Butter cup, Huckleberry, and 25th Anniversary. My one friend decided to leave a comment about the service and food on the comment card and it popped into my head that we should leave the waitress a limerick. Here’s the limerick I came up with in about three minutes’ time:

The Gooeys at Dockside are great
You won’t believe how much we all ate
We’re double the size
as when we arrived
you’ll have to wheel us out in a crate.

Thoughts on Advent

This is the first chance I’ve had this week to sit down and write. The past week was full of good things. But does anyone else thrive with a full day of nothing in particular to do except maybe laundry or making a meal or doing some yard work? Since I have to be out of the house by 7:05 on Monday through Thursday mornings, 8:20 on Friday, and 7:55 on Sunday, Saturday is a cherished day. Saturday morning is my lazy morning.

In this case, lazy really means slow. I love eating breakfast while reading a book or magazine or cookbook or my Bible and wrestling with ideas as the early morning light streams in through the window. I typically have a cooking project on the weekends and a lazy Saturday lends itself to yeast breads and slow-cooking soups. I can spend time planning my menu for the week, running small errands, and attending to the daily-ness of life at my own pace.

Two Saturdays ago, my housemate and I went for a long walk. Across Mill Road is a neighborhood that has a trail to and along the little Spokane River. As we neared the river, we walked on a trail covered with sodden leaves, and that wonderful smell of winter—wet, fresh, crisp—was all around. I love the winter landscape with no snow. It’s bare and sere and quiet and waiting. Perhaps that’s why Advent falls during winter; Advent is a season of anticipation and stillness before the glory of the angels over Bethlehem or the exotic visit of the Three Kings. Advent is the bare-of-snow winter landscape to the lush glory of new-fallen-snow Christmas.

I just love Advent. It might be my favorite time of the Church Year. I love the songs, the Scriptures full of Isaiah and Zechariah and Elizabeth and Mary, the anticipation, and the longing. I love how the Church Year gives voice to the range of human emotions—longing and waiting in Advent, wonder and joy at Christmas, mourning and sadness at Lent, glory and grandeur at Easter, excitement and exhortation at Pentecost, and daily-ness in Ordinary Time.

Yesterday, I climbed a mountain. I was with friends in Coeur d’Alene, and we climbed Canfield Mountain, which is approximately 4,500 feet high. We were mostly quiet as we hiked, which gave my mind the freedom to roam the vast plains of spiritual metaphor as we made our climb. The day was gloriously sunny and the vista from the top was breath-taking. I couldn’t help but think that God sometimes grants us mountain-top experiences in our faith, beautiful vistas where we see with startling clarity the grandeur of God’s plan and our place in it. And yet, as glorious as the mountain top proved to be, it was the climb to the top that I cherished in hindsight. It was the hike up where I noticed the elk prints in the snow. The line of trees reflected in the water of the lake below. The snow clinging to evergreen boughs. The knobbly branches of the tamarack. The small things. The daily ways in which God’s grand plan of salvation and redemption plays out in ordinary human life.

Leaf mold. Winter air. Walking. Spending time with loved ones. A lazy Saturday.

I don’t know when God will give me another mountain-top experience, the Christmas or Easter or Pentecost. But in the meantime, I’m living with the climb, with the steady pace of day-to-day. Ordinary time. And yet, hidden in each day, is a kernel of longing. Advent. Longing for the world to be as God intended. For justice and righteousness to rule. For grace and mercy to abound. For love to bind up the broken-hearted. For Christ to come again.  

Friday, December 9, 2011

Part One: I know, I know...

…it’s been forever since I wrote. I promise I have a good excuse. I have a job! Praise God! Truthfully, I have not been as thankful for this job as I should be. I confess this shamefully. So let this blog be one of praise to God as I tell you a little about the job and how it came about. I realize there’s a lot to tell, so I’m going to break it into two posts. This post will be a little bit more about the history of how I got the job and the next about what the job actually entails.
I work 25 hours at Olive Tree Bible Software, which leases its building from Partners. I was actually first connected to Olive Tree at a lunch hosted by Partners for its tenants. Ironic. From there I had two interviews for two different positions over the course of a month and a half. I received a call from the business administrator offering me a job on the morning of October 28, as I sat in the Spokane airport waiting for a flight to Mt. Hermon Christian Conference Center outside of San Jose, California, for a Partners conference.**
I was a little taken aback by the call at first because Olive Tree had taken a couple weeks to get back to me after the second interview. Also, the company has doubled in the past couple years, so the position they wanted me to fill had just been created. I knew I had a job, but I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing. There still isn’t a job description, but I’m figuring it out. :o)

I was traveling down to California with four older women from Partners, and their joy and delight in hearing about my job surpassed my uncertainty. To have Partners people surround me that weekend with enthusiasm about this new job was a great help! God has been so good to me to heal my heart of any hard feelings towards Partners for letting me go. In fact, as I’ve been next door to Partners this past month, I’ve been over for lunch most days to maintain these relationships that God has given to me as a gift of grace.

The other neat thing was that we had a long layover in Portland. My mom and I had already arranged that she and I would meet at PDX for lunch. It was great to talk with her in person about the details of the job and to eat the delicious lunch she prepared. Thanks, Mom!  After a lovely weekend, I started my new job as Project Coordinator at 9 a.m. sharp on Monday.

**Quick note about the conference. It was hosted by Partners for current and previous staff and long-time donors and it was a wonderfully celebratory weekend with many staff members from overseas (Senegal, India, Indonesia, etc), who gave presentations on Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday morning about God’s work in the different areas around the world where Partners works. It was a delightful time of fellowship with Partners staff, past and present. I had several wonderful conversations over meals with older men and women who remembered a particularly influential Partners’ president named Allen Finley. His wife, Ruth Finley, was at the conference.

One particularly delightful time was on Saturday night. A number of Partners’ staff members were chosen to wear beautiful outfits that Ruth Finley has collected from all over the world in a Parade of Nations. I wore a costume from the Philippines with HUGE gold earrings. So fun! Here’s a picture:

Part Two: The Daily Duties

Now to what I actually do from day to day. Oh boy. It’s complicated. People ask me what I do and sometimes I honestly don’t know what to say. I’ll start by explaining what Olive Tree Bible Software does. Olive Tree has several applications that run on mobile devices like the iPad, iPhone, and Android, Mac desktop, and will soon run on PC desktop. When you purchase and download the app, which is called BibleReader, you can read the Bible, commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and many other Christian books and use the special features that the app contains. It’s a cool resource!

I work right under the company’s president. Because it’s a small company, the president has direct input into most of the details of the company, which currently has six-ish departments. The basic tenor of my job is to manage projects that involve individuals from more than one department, but I’ve also been helping with customer support, submitting in-app purchases to iTunes, typing up Christmas carols for our Christmas party, making a chart of coming projects, sitting in on interviews, etc…
As you can tell, the job varies from day to day, which is actually quite fun. Every day is different. I have learned SO much in the past month and a half. I’m finally to the place where I’ve been managing simpler projects on my own. Next week, I’ll be managing my first bigger project. I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m slowly getting to know my co-workers better. We had our office Christmas Party on Wednesday night at a gorgeous place called Beacon Hill that overlooks Spokane. It was a great chance to get to know my co-workers and their spouses. I had several enjoyable conversations. And the food was great! It helped me feel more like I belonged at Olive Tree.
I have still been baby-sitting two kids from 7:15 to 8:45 a.m. Monday through Thursday. The money helps pay for my student loans, and I’ve gotten to know the kids. I like them, though they certainly have their ups and downs. Last Thursday, the ten-year-old girl and I were making eggs-in-a-nest (a piece of bread cooked with an egg in the middle) for breakfast, and I cracked my egg over the hole in the bread. It felt different than normal because it was hardboiled. She and I thought that was so funny. We just cracked up!
(Pun intended.)
One last highlight, I went to a 80s dance party fundraiser for clean water last Saturday. My housemates got really into my hair crimping and make-up, so I looked pretty awesome. I’ll include a picture here. I love to dance! I may or may not have been dancing around my kitchen to Christmas music this week. :o)

As you can see, God has been so good to me with this job. It uses many of my gifts and talents, though in unexpected ways, and it’s a great work environment. We have lots of laughs and jokes, and there’s always a tempting basket of chocolate in the break room. :o) For the record, I plan to start writing on my blog at least once a week. If I’m going to go to the trouble of having a blog, I might as well write! Check back soon!
May God bless you this Advent day to look forward to Christmas with joyful anticipation!