Updates from Denver!

Good news all: I have successfully survived my first four days in Denver! My adventure started out on Saturday when I flew to the Mile High City with two huge suitcases (by some miracle weighing exactly 50.0 pounds and 49.5 pounds), a guitar, and one over-stuffed backpack. After almost losing my boarding pass in the Sioux Falls airport (Is anyone shocked?) and then getting only mildly lost in the Denver airport, I found my way to the familiar faces of two fellow Cobbers and wonderful friends who graciously agreed to let me crash their apartment, feed me, help haul my luggage up and down a million staircases, and drive me around the entire city. (Thanks again, Caitlin and David! :))  One day later, I moved into the third floor of the 100+ year old mansion in the heart of Denver that will be my home for the next year.

Shortly afterwards I met my seven housemates and the rest of the 2014-2015 Urban Servant Corps volunteers—fifteen of us in total. We share much in common: We all hail from the Midwest, we all share a passion for service and social justice, and we will all be working as full-time volunteers at a variety of social justice-based non-profits in Denver. Many of us graduated from Lutheran colleges, and thankfully, I am not alone my lack of previous urban experiences. Sentences like “I just don’t know how to ride a bike in the city,” “There are so many tall buildings!” and “There are more things to do in this town than anywhere I’ve ever lived in my entire life” are fairly common. However, we also have our differences. We fall all across the personality spectrum; we come from a variety of familial backgrounds and stages of life (most of us are recent college grads, but we vary in age from 21-50), and we are relatively diverse in our passions, interests, and career goals (also, thankfully I am not the only one desperately seeking direction in this area!).

I’m not sure exactly how this year will unfold or what to expect. Honestly, I’m still processing all of the newness in the midst of a fairly radical transition. (Trust me—Hurley to Denver is not exactly a minor change.) But there is something about the concept of a group of strangers coming together to form an intentional Christian community, to live simply, to purposefully explore faith and life, to serve each other and the Denver community, and in the process to allow ourselves to be served in return that holds a remarkable amount of promise.  It will be a year of living fully, investing deeply in each other, challenging ourselves to be present in the moment, loving radically, and pushing ourselves (and each other) out of our comfort zones. Already we’ve had a few adventures almost getting struck by lightning while navigating our way through Denver in a thunderstorm, sharing our best injury stories, exploring all of the crazy nooks and crannies of the Ogden house as well as the random treasures that have accumulated here over the years (trombones, plastic swords, and creepy masks anyone?) and discovering that we just ate Spanish rice that expired in 2006.

I already know that this year will be challenging in a number of ways. Coming off of four over-committed, over-involved college years (and a few similarly over-committed high school years), I need to re-learn how to simply be. I need to figure out how to allow myself to live in the moment, to simply be content enjoying the company of those around me. I want to remember to walk slowly, to eat slowly, and to freely trust and to open myself up to others. I’m both excited and terrified to learn how to navigate a city literally 1500x the size of my hometown. I’m both eager and overwhelmed at the thought of taking time for personal discernment—to figure out where God may be calling me to next.  And I’m ready to learn what it means to live simply and to live in intentional community with each other. Like any journey, some of our steps as both as a community and individuals will be clumsy, some will be graceful, and sometimes we may wander off the beaten path (and hopefully we’ll find some hidden treasures in the process.) However, in spite of the uncertainties and the obstacles that lie ahead, I am completely at peace here in Denver. I am confident that whatever is unfolding is something incredibly sacred, and I am eager to continue to explore, to learn, and to love.

 

Updates from Denver!

Good news all: I have successfully survived my first four days in Denver! My adventure started out on Saturday when I flew to the Mile High City with two huge suitcases (by some miracle weighing exactly 50.0 pounds and 49.5 pounds), a guitar, and one over-stuffed backpack. After almost losing my boarding pass in the Sioux Falls airport (Is anyone shocked?) and then getting only mildly lost in the Denver airport, I found my way to the familiar faces of two fellow Cobbers and wonderful friends who graciously agreed to let me crash their apartment, feed me, help haul my luggage up and down a million staircases, and drive me around the entire city. (Thanks again, Caitlin and David! :))  One day later, I moved into the third floor of the 100+ year old mansion in the heart of Denver that will be my home for the next year.

Shortly afterwards I met my seven housemates and the rest of the 2014-2015 Urban Servant Corps volunteers—fifteen of us in total. We share much in common: We all hail from the Midwest, we all share a passion for service and social justice, and we will all be working as full-time volunteers at a variety of social justice-based non-profits in Denver. Many of us graduated from Lutheran colleges, and thankfully, I am not alone my lack of previous urban experiences. Sentences like “I just don’t know how to ride a bike in the city,” “There are so many tall buildings!” and “There are more things to do in this town than anywhere I’ve ever lived in my entire life” are fairly common. However, we also have our differences. We fall all across the personality spectrum; we come from a variety of familial backgrounds and stages of life (most of us are recent college grads, but we vary in age from 21-50), and we are relatively diverse in our passions, interests, and career goals (also, thankfully I am not the only one desperately seeking direction in this area!).

I’m not sure exactly how this year will unfold or what to expect. Honestly, I’m still processing all of the newness in the midst of a fairly radical transition. (Trust me—Hurley to Denver is not exactly a minor change.) But there is something about the concept of a group of strangers coming together to form an intentional Christian community, to live simply, to purposefully explore faith and life, to serve each other and the Denver community, and in the process to allow ourselves to be served in return that holds a remarkable amount of promise.  It will be a year of living fully, investing deeply in each other, challenging ourselves to be present in the moment, loving radically, and pushing ourselves (and each other) out of our comfort zones. Already we’ve had a few adventures almost getting struck by lightning while navigating our way through Denver in a thunderstorm, sharing our best injury stories, exploring all of the crazy nooks and crannies of the Ogden house as well as the random treasures that have accumulated here over the years (trombones, plastic swords, and creepy masks anyone?) and discovering that we just ate Spanish rice that expired in 2006.

I already know that this year will be challenging in a number of ways. Coming off of four over-committed, over-involved college years (and a few similarly over-committed high school years), I need to re-learn how to simply be. I need to figure out how to allow myself to live in the moment, to simply be content enjoying the company of those around me. I want to remember to walk slowly, to eat slowly, and to freely trust and to open myself up to others. I’m both excited and terrified to learn how to navigate a city literally 1500x the size of my hometown. I’m both eager and overwhelmed at the thought of taking time for personal discernment—to figure out where God may be calling me to next.  And I’m ready to learn what it means to live simply and to live in intentional community with each other. Like any journey, some of our steps as both as a community and individuals will be clumsy, some will be graceful, and sometimes we may wander off the beaten path (and hopefully we’ll find some hidden treasures in the process.) However, in spite of the uncertainties and the obstacles that lie ahead, I am completely at peace here in Denver. I am confident that whatever is unfolding is something incredibly sacred, and I am eager to continue to explore, to learn, and to love.

 

30 Lessons I’ve Learned from Camp

After completing my fourth summer on staff at Shetek Lutheran Ministries,  I am left feeling incredibly humbled and grateful for the countless camp experiences that have shaped my life in such profound ways. Camp is a place where I met some of my best friends (really, they’re more like family.) It is a place where I’ve learned valuable lessons about leadership and about living together in Christian community. It is a place where I discovered a love for working with youth. It is a place where my faith has been challenged, nurtured, and shared with others. It is a place where I’ve felt completely accepted for who  I am and where I have gained a remarkable amount of self-confidence. I can’t point to a single experience that has taught me the most, and I Staff 2014don’t think I could ever sum up the value of camp in my life with a single anecdote or life lesson. So, instead, I decided to briefly share thirty little nuggets of wisdom I am taking away from my time at SLM. Enjoy!

30 Lessons I’ve Learned from Camp 

1. At some point, you just have to accept the fact that you’re not really in control. Sometimes activities (both at camp and in “normal life”) go exactly as planned. Most of the time they don’t. That’s okay.
2. Despite what your out-of-control perfectionist side tells you, it’s okay to be vulnerable. Let yourself be supported by the community around you.
3. Self-care is crucial.
4. As hard as you try to maintain composure, sometimes you just have to cry. Especially on the last day of camp. Or on a random Tuesday.
5. Sometimes kids puke. Or try to run away. Or tell you they’re allergic to peanuts when they’re actually not.
6. Jesus knew what he was talking about when he challenged his followers to have faith like children. Not because kids blindly believe anything you tell them—but because they aren’t afraid to ask the frank, honest, sometimes painful questions. And they also possess a refreshing sense of wonder, amazement, and unquenchable joy at life’s most simple pleasures.
7. It’s okay to act like a complete idiot sometimes. Just make sure to do it with confidence.
8. Never trust a camp vehicle.
9. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
10. Negative attitudes spread like wildfire. But, on the plus side, so does genuine positivity.
11. Jesus never fails to show up among the “least of these”: The contagious smile of camper with Down’s Syndrome. The most insecure junior high girl who by the end of the week finds her voice and learns to trust. The bright-eyed hyperactive first grader belting out “Peace Like a River” with abandon.
12. It is in fact possible to survive an entire summer of Day Camp without singing the Sheep Song once. 🙂
13. Actions truly do speak louder than words.
14. Listen before you speak.
15. But also you sometimes just have to speak up.
16. Minnesotans are very confusing. They refer to “Duck, Duck, Goose” as “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck.”
17. It’s okay not to have all the answers.
18. It’s also okay to ask for help sometimes.
19. There will be days when you fall in the lake. Just shake it off (dry it off?), and keep power walking with confidence.
20. At some point, you’re just going to have to embrace the awkward.
21. The best food fights begin with cherry crisp.
22. While on day camp, don’t lock the keys in your host family’s house.
23. If anyone ever asks you to buy a duck, just say “No.”
24. It’s the raisins that make the Raisin Bran so great.
25. Sometimes we just have to step back, and let God do God’s thing. It usually works out better that way anyway.
26. “We are all part of the Body.” But seriously. The dysfunctional yet somehow perfect ways in which the distribution of gifts, the variety of personalities, and the varying theological perspectives of each summer’s staff end up woven together is absolutely amazing.
27. Most disputes can be solved with a single round of “Rock, Paper, Scissors.”
28. You can never own too much tie-dye.
29. Faith is messy. Community is messy. Camp-life is messy… Really, life is just messy. But in the best possible way.
30. And at the expense of using an old camp cliché…God is good. All the time.