Friday, December 30, 2005

Thursday, December 29, 2005

An ode to books

inspired by a fellow bloggers comment section...

rhythm is to a familiar tune :)

Books, books
a wordy read
The more you feed
the smarter you'll be.

Ways to entertain yourself on a long drive

1. take pictures of yourself with your camera phone (as soon as I figure out how to get them off my phone, I'll post them). I look like an alien in a couple of them and one has the sun shining from behind right where my eye should be. Totally cool.

2. Talk to a dog. I had my dog Paddington along for the ride. He pretty much went into car coma in the back seat but I could talk to him and he would look at me. That was fun.

3. Cry. Driving for a really long way by yourself gives you lots of time to think, analyze, get psychotic about things you really shouldn't. It's also a perfect time to just cry and yell and scream and get all of those emotions out. I recommend doing this during the dark night portions of your trip so that other drivers aren't scared by your emoting.

4. practice driving with your knee. I find this very practical when you are speeding down the highway at around 80mph and have a real need to eat a sandwich and use both your hands. Props to my dad for teaching me this excellent driving technique.

Any other great tips are welcome!

Our lifetimes were made for these years

On my 12 hour drive back from Florida yesterday, I spent the time listening to all the old tapes I found hidden in my car. One of them was from an ex-boyfriend who made a praise and worship tape for me (of him singing and playing - so thoughtful). Anyway, one of the songs he was singing had the phrase "our lifetimes were made for these years". It really struck me and I just thanked God that my lifetime during these years was indeed intentional. I was not supposed to be born or to live my life during any other time than right now. What motivation to discover what my purpose is then. This is not a lifetime (or years) to waste!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve

So I'm in Florida for Christmas. I drove down on Thursday with my dog Paddington in the the back seat. The entire trip took about 12 hours which wasn't too bad and I had a good time pulling out random tapes (yes tapes) and listening to them. So much fun. Today my dad and I went for a long walk on the beach and on the way to and fro we had to climb through some jungle and sand dunes. I made up the following hook for a song to remember the time by.

This ain't no honky tonk parade of memories
Sand in my pocket, dirt on my shoe, scratch on my arm
All from spending time with you.

I also had the easiest time of Christmas shopping ever. All of three hours yesterday with my friend Teri and I got all the gifts I needed. In fact I didn't even think about Christmas shopping until Monday of this week. Should be a fun Christmas though. My dad and stepmom got back on Wednesday from 3 1/2 weeks in Thailand and other Asian countries. So our Christmas tree is a ficus tree covered in huge red bows, one strand of multicolored lights and about three ornaments hanging from it. I'll take a picture and be sure to post it. I advocated spraying it with pine sol so we could at least have a Christmasy smelling house :)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Some random pictures of me and friends :)

My friend Nancy and Christy (and me) after we crossed the finish line of our first ever triathlon in Summer 2005!
Me during my first triathlon. This is setting up in the transition area.
My friends Justin and Josh.
One of my friends works at the White House. Can you guess the four people in the picture?
A housewarming party at my friend Alceste's house (she's in the white shirt standing up).
This is my friend Jessica and I out speed dating!

Live Nativity

This past weekend my church had its second annual live nativity. I sang in the angel choir and even though it was absolutely freezing outside, I had so much fun. This is a picture of the whole crew of us. There was even free hot chocolate and cookies...yummy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Friends who Challenge

The following was a statement from a friend of mine sent in an email. My response follows. I love friends who challenge us intellectually and this is one of my friends. Here's a shout out to them!

My initial comments:
I finished Angels & Demons and I liked it a lot. I'm a little bit cautious about Dan Brown (mainly over Da Vinci Code) because he takes just enough fact to make his books seem realistic which has been a huge source of controversy especially over the DaVinci Code book (which I haven't read yet, but will). I will have to re-read some parts of it again (Angels and Demons) because the first time through I just wanted to find out what happened, but he does have some very interesting discussions about science and religion. I would like to hear your thoughts on this as well.

A friend says:

I was thinking maybe Novel, by definition is not intentionally to be scientifically provable and correct. Isn't it a kind of art - art of the imagination of the author?

My response:

I wanted to respond right away, because I think you raise an interesting discussion about art and the Novel. I think art is powerful in that it reaches a part of us that we may not have known existed. It highlights emotions and thoughts and patterns of ourselves that we may not recognize in our daily routine so when we are confronted by it, we must stop and think and examine it; to see if there is truth there or not.

I have always loved reading fiction books and have learned many factual pieces of information from them that I may not have learned. So certain genres of fiction must have enough truth or fact in them to make them realistic/plausible enough. I think Dan Brown has researched extensively and then highlighted certain questions that make the book fascinating. Perhaps not scientifically provable but though provoking about real issues and real emotions (which by their nature are not satisfactorily proven through science alone). I don't think that Science can prove or explain everything.

For example, it can describe the chemical processes and brain patterns of love, but does that really explain what love is or the powerful effect it has in our lives. There is an intangible, ephemeral part of love that just is and no amount of science can explain it. Yet we know it exists and we believe that it is there. Religion is like this as well. There is only so much that science (any branch) can explain about community, need for belonging, power of prayer, existence of God. At some point, however, there is an element to faith that cannot be explained by science that must be captured or understood through some other mechanism.

It's like coming to a cliff where everything is tangible and able to be understood and comprehended and then stepping off and still find yourself standing in mid air. That is what faith is like.

Just some thoughts off the top of my head. I haven't really meditated on this so much. I appreciate your insights and questions and thoughts because they challenge me. There is much incomplete in what was said above, but this is something that never ends and the discussion continues forever :)

Monday, November 14, 2005

'Tis the Season...

...for feeling cranky, annoyed, sad, depressed, upset, sick, fat. So maybe that's how you are viewing the holidays. I can't say that I haven't been feeling like this the past couple of weeks already else I would be lying. I've felt this way in an ebb and flow kind of way. Some days are much better than others. There are a variety of reasons I've been feeling this way and maybe others are too. Relationships not working out the way you hope or expect, bad memories associated with the holidays, discontent with your current life or irritation with the commercialization of the holidays.

For me a big event is that six years ago, my mom passed away from cancer three days after Thanksgiving. This time of year just isn't all that great for me. The traditions that I loved and cherished are no longer being carried on instead new ways of celebrating that just don't have much meaning for me are now the norm. So there's not a whole lot to be excited about.

I do however have much to be thankful for and will certainly remember and mention and give thanks to the Lord above for all that He has done in my life, for my life and will do in and through me. Not because of anything I have done or am but all because of who He is and what He has done.

If you're having a rough time and just want January 2 to come faster than a blink of an eye, take heart and have faith that the God in heaven who created you is going to carry you through this time. Look to Him for reassurance and comfort and take joy in the simple pleasures He lets you have each day. It's not all bad, but don't beat yourself up if you're not singing from the rooftops.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


So my recent obsession has been Antarctica. I've been fascinated by the place and have wanted to get down that way for years now. Every once in a while I hear a story on NPR about some random person who gets to be the janitor or dish washer on the base in Antarctica. So last year I found out how to get hired by the company staffing the base. I plan on going to Colorado in the spring of 2006 for a job fair. I will not leave there without a job! Any job will do as long as it gets me on the ice.

A friend at work sent me the blog of a girl that he met through another friend. Anyway, she is currently at the bottom of the world working as the salad bar girl. It's a great blog and I hope to have something similar this time next year.

If I do make it down there (with additional plans to visit New Zealand, Australia, and Papua New Guinea) I will have hit all seven continents.

I want to go so bad I can taste it.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Reading on the Road

One of my favorite biographies is about Oswald Chambers who is most famous for his devotional readings titled "My Utmost for His Highest". Chambers was an army chaplain during World War I and died while in Egypt. His wife eventually put together the devotional from all of the sermons he had preached that she had written down. Anyway, one thing that he did that really struck me was he would read books constantly. But he had a method - he would alternate a christian writer or topic with a book that dealt with science, philosophy, politics, etc. His reasoning was that to be taken seriously as a man (or woman) of faith, it was just as important to develop our intellectual capacity as it was to develop our spiritual one. This dual education could prove useful in interpreting the scripture in a modern world as well as engaging non-believers in conversation and earning their respect through our intellect first and then have the ability to share our faith. I think its also important to read works that you may disagree with to better understand the arguments that you may hear. Nothing like informed disagreement:) I love the idea of dual preparation and know that my pastor seems to feel the same way. You can check out his reading lists on his blog at I thought I would list just a couple of the books currently in my reading lineup. I would love to know what you are reading to develop yourself both spiritually and intellectually.

The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation by Thomas Merton
Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
Famine, Conflict, and Response by Frederick Cuny
Ice Bound: A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole by Dr. Jerri Nielsen
RX for Survival: Why we must rise to the global health challenge by Philip Hilts
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

Monday, October 24, 2005

Metro Musings

When I'm on the metro and looking at the people (perfect strangers) sitting around me, I like to wonder how many degrees of separation there are between us.

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Year of Family

I am declaring 2005 is the year of the family. Or more specifically, my family. Some of you may know this and some of you may be surprised to find this out but I am adopted. It is actually a pretty amazing tale of God in His infinite wisdom providing for me a life incomparable. Almost 30 years ago, my parents (Ken and Barbara) were in Greece. One day my dad was coming home from his professors house and on the bus an American woman about seven months pregnant came up to him and asked if he was an American. This is pretty funny, because my father is 6'5" tall with blond hair and blue eyes, very different from the Greeks!

He said he was and the woman introduced herself and after talking for a little bit, my father invited her home to meet his wife. They spent some time together and one day, the woman approached my parents and asked/told them that she would like for them to adopt the child she was carrying. My parents had been wanting children. This seemed like a perfect opportunity. A few months later, my parents drove my biological mother to the hospital and my mom was in the room during the delivery. Four days later they took me home from the hospital as their child and a year and a half later, the adoption was finalized at the American Embassy in Greece. In fact the picture of my mom and dad holding me outside the hospital is when I consider my life began.

Fast forward 23 years to the summer of 1999. I had always known I was adopted although I never felt that way or felt any kind of loss or longing or any of the typical feelings that most adoptees seem to experience. I don't even like to really label myself as adopted because the associations in other peoples minds are so different from my reality. Anyway, I was home alone for the week while my parents went away for some R&R (my mother was dealing with leukemia at the time). I went to the mailbox and behold the proverbial letter from my biological mother. To say the least I was stunned and surprised and kind of weirded out, not knowing what I should do or what I was expected to do. We corresponded for a couple of years and then I moved to Washington, DC to pursue my graduate degree. I found out after I decided to move that my biological aunt and grandmother were also in DC.

December of 2003 found me meeting my biological mother, aunt, grandmother, and step-grandfather for the first time. Talk about overwhelming. At the same time I decided to conduct an Internet search for my biological father (I had learned the name from one of the letters). In 20 minutes I located him and discovered to my amazement that he also lived in the Washington DC area. Talk about crazy! I wrote him a letter, not really expecting a reply but a few days later got a phone call. He was pretty excited and wanted to meet me. So a week later, I had dinner with him and his two sons (my half-brothers). Since then, I have had sporadic contact with both sides of the biological family tree. I'm still not sure what it all means or how this fits into God's plan for my life, but I do know that it is no accident that I am in the same city as both sides of my biological family. So far in 2006 I have had dinner with both sides of the family, met one of my cousins from my adoptive mom's family for the first time, spent time with uncles on both sides of my adoptive family and still have 2.5 months left. Never before have I seen family so much as I have this year and now the numbers are even greater than I ever imagined.

In spite of the craziness this all entails, the emotions that are involved, the uncertaintys and the questions, I do know that God is in control and sees exactly how this looks in the grand scheme of my life and those of my extended families (both biological and adopted). Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Debrief: Operation Ethiopia 2005

A Month Of Miracles

Finally, it’s here. My Ethiopia update. I apologize for the long delay but hope that you will be blessed even now as you read what awesome things God has done in me (and hopefully through me) over the past months.

May was my month of miracles and it culminated in my trip to Ethiopia. In the beginning of May, my landlord/roommate told me that he was being transferred with his job and was selling the house. We all needed to be out of the house by the end of the month. This automatically created some challenges for me since I had exactly three weeks to find a new place to live, move and leave for Ethiopia. Challenging to say the least. This might not have been so difficult if I didn’t have Paddington, my dog, to find a place for as well. Not only a new house to live in that would accept a dog, but feeling comfortable enough to leave him for my ten days while I was in Ethiopia.

As always, God is incredibly faithful and by the end of the week I had interviewed with a potential living situation. As it turned out this was exactly the place God had prepared for me. I found the house on the Internet through a church website. There are three Christian women living there and they fell in love with Paddington when he accompanied me for the interview.

At the same time, one of my current roommates offered to take care of Paddington for me while I was in Ethiopia and until I could get settled in my new house. This took such a burden off of me especially since she really cared about Paddington and he liked her as well.

I was now two weeks away from leaving on my trip and I still needed about half of the funds ($1,200). I had a back up plan that would have been difficult for me financially, but I was still trusting the Lord that I was supposed to go on this trip and that all of my needs would be taken care of. With a week and a half to go, I received a financial update from the church and to my surprise, an anonymous donor had contributed $800. I was so overwhelmed at God’s goodness that I almost cried. I told a friend at work that this put me $200 short of my goal. She immediately wrote out a check totaling the $200. I was so blessed by her generosity. Two days later I received another update from the church and the same anonymous donor had given an additional $400. I was stunned. When God provides, He does so in amazing and unexpected ways. I still have no idea who the donor was but I pray God’s blessings upon them mightily. If they are reading this, know that God has used you to bless and encourage me immensely and confirm once again that He is our Jehovah Jireh (God our Provider)!

By the time I arrived at the airport to meet my team on May 23, I felt like I had already seen God’s hand touch my life and I felt that the trip to Ethiopia wasn’t the destination but simply the capstone of a month of incredible insight into the character of our Heavenly Father.


Our first full day in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, was spent touring the different ministry sites of Pastor Uncle Betta and Pastor Zeb Mengistu. Pastor Uncle Betta was dear friends with my pastor’s father and the two families grew up together. The Mengistu’s are Ethiopian and spent many years in Kenya establishing an Assemblies of God church there. In recent years, they felt called to expand the church into Ethiopia and now have somewhere around 40 locations around the country with thousands of people attending the church. Ethiopia has a strong Ethiopian Orthodox tradition and the evangelical movement is regarded with suspicion. About half of the country is Muslim as well.

Nonetheless, the church is thriving and there are plans to build a huge sanctuary capable of holding ten thousand people right in the middle of Addis. It will be the largest evangelical church besides the mosques and Orthodox churches. We went onto the piece of property and gathered around Pastor Uncle Betta and we prayed for the Spirit of God to impact the nation. I felt as though I was standing on holy ground and wanted to take my shoes off and weep before the Lord. It was one of the most intense spiritual moments of my life. I saw this church and this property as a sanctuary for the lost and hurting people of Ethiopia, much as God established cities of refuge in the Old Testament when the land was being developed for the nation of Israel. This was the prayer I prayed and I am excited about seeing the reality established. We also visited the new location of the International Church that Uncle Betta’s son Zeb is establishing. There are so many miracles associated with this ministry that I don’t have the room or time to tell of all of them except to say that God is working in Ethiopia and it was awesome to see how strong His Spirit is in the land. Ethiopia is the third poorest country in the world which makes the physical needs overwhelming, but the spiritual needs are just as essential. Throughout our visit we spent much time in prayer with and for the ministry of Pastor Zeb and Uncle Betta. The blessings of heaven just poured out!

The Mercy Center

The Mercy Center is the tangible way the church is ministering to the needs of the people. Pastor Uncle Betta’s wife is in charge of the Center where women are brought in from the streets and taught practical skills such as cooking and sewing. In fact, they catered all of our meals while were there and let me tell you, I haven’t eaten such delicious food in a long time. They are incredible! Pastor Zeb’s wife Yami told me that the Ethiopians are like the Italians when it comes to food – they LOVE to eat good food. The Center also has programs for kids on Saturday, tutoring programs throughout the week, and a nursery school for the younger children. Child sponsorship is the primary means of financial support. The Center is a community where the sewing classes sew the uniforms for the children who are being tutored and the cooks provide the food for the children. The women earn a living while using their skills to improve the lives of the children. It’s a win/win for everyone and has had quite an impact on those involved. We were able to put on a program for the kids and had so much fun with the puppets, singing songs, and performing skits. Of course they loved getting the candy the best!

We also put together a program for the teenagers and myself and another teammate shared our testimonies. Many of the kids are orphans or have lost a parent from AIDS. I shared about the fact that God never leaves us or forsakes us and with the help of a translator, shared about the loss I suffered when my mom died. I shared the loneliness, sadness, depression, anxiety I had felt and how God revealed himself to me so that no matter what happened in the physical world, I knew that He was always by my side and that He would always provide for me. It was so great to feel that connection and to be able to offer that promise of a brighter tomorrow because of Jesus Christ.

Our last day in Ethiopia was spent at the nursery school playing games with the children in the courtyard, giving them gifts of pencils, paints, notebooks, and little bags and praying over each of these precious little ones. The children are beautiful and it was hard not to stuff a couple of them in my suitcase.

An African Safari

We were so lucky to be able to have an African Safari experience while in Ethiopia. Talk about struggling missionaries. Addis Ababa is situated about 8,000 feet above sea level so the weather was very mild with no humidity. At night we had to wear long sleeves! When we headed out of the city a couple hundred kilometers to the lowlands and Awash National Park, the temperatures dramatically increased and we felt like we were truly in Africa. Pastor Zeb had arranged for a tour company to take care of the arrangements and when Teddy and his crew showed up in old Land Rovers and dusty trucks, we knew we were going to have a blast. On our way to the park we stopped along the side of the road for a picnic lunch and happened upon a nomadic tribesman herding his cows. He leaned against a tree with his staff dressed in a white toga like outfit and watched us. There were no problems until my two pastors decided to pretend they were on the Discovery Channel and began filming the “vicious cows”. Then the head of the tribe ran up to us wielding a machine gun and demanding payment for the pictures. Teddy paid him off with a couple birr (around a quarter or fifty cents) and we were on our way. It wasn’t very serious, but that story grew until it became our first brush with death experience.

We headed to camp which was all set up with tents and a long table set up under the acacia trees. There were baboons running wild through the camp and we had an armed guard to protect us over night from the wild life. We jumped on top of the jeeps and headed through the bush to see what we could see. We saw camels, wild boars, lots of antelope and many different kinds of birds. We saw a huge river running through a canyon all green and lush. It reminded us of the Grand Canyon and the verse where it talks about streams of living water. Pretty awesome Creator! That night around the campfire we could hear lions roaring in the distance. The next day we drove up to some hot springs heated by underground volcanic activity and enjoyed (or endured) a swim in the hot waters.

Habitat for Humanity: Ethiopia Style

Back in the city, it was time for some hard labor and we spent a day helping to build two homes for some needy women that had been identified by the local church and the Mercy Center. In Ethiopia, the majority of homes are made from mud and straw mixed together. When it dries it is as hard as a rock and provides a decent shelter even when it rains. The houses we built consisted of one room with four walls, a tin roof, wooden door, and a dirt floor. No running water, no electricity, no carpet. Pretty extreme housing. The walls are made with wooden poles in the four corners and then cross beams tied with rope and secured by one nail. Then wooden slats are roped together vertically to form the walls themselves. Meanwhile the mud and straw need to be mixed together and the only way to do that is to get dirty. So off came the shoes and squish, squish, squish we stomped our way to some building material. It made the story of the Israelites in Egypt mixing straw and mud together for bricks so much more real. It was a hard job but we had fun. Once the mud was finished, you literally throw it onto the walls which are simply the wooden slats and twine. It sticks and you smooth it down. That’s all there is to building a house in Ethiopia.

As Americans, we wanted to get the job done so we really pushed the Ethiopian workers quickly. We almost finished one entire house and the Ethiopians were really amazed because they never get a house done in one day. We were able to pray with the owners and bless them and hear how their hearts were blessed by our work. We praise God for the chance to show His love and kindness. One of my teammates and I spent some time where we were working to play with the kids that had gathered around us to watch. We sang songs and did silly dances causing much laughter all around. One little boy is called Horror by the other kids (even though that is not his real name) because they think he is ugly. We prayed over him from a distance and called out that his name should be Isaac, or laughter, because he should bring joy in the hearts of those around and in God’s heart. It was great to spread the love of God.

The End?

There were so many other stories and moments that happened over the course of the trip but I wanted to share some of the highlights and give you some insight into what happened in Ethiopia and in my heart. The trip didn’t provide the incredible rush I was expecting from traveling and being on a mission trip. But the memories I have and the people that I met and the knowledge I have of this beautiful country remind me of God’s faithfulness and love for all generations and all people. I’m not sure if I will ever go back to Ethiopia, but I am grateful for the chance I had to go and learn and bless and be blessed.

Perhaps the biggest blessing I received was during a team meeting. During the course of the trip, each night several team members would briefly share their testimony and then we would gather around and pray for them. When it was my turn, one of the girls had a picture in her mind that she spoke out. It was of a calico cat in a sailboat just sailing along perfectly content with the sun by day and the stars guiding by night. She felt silly telling me this because she thought it was really strange. During my sharing, I hadn’t mentioned anything about sailing being a part of my life, so I knew this was of God. Her interpretation of the picture was just sailing along, content. Since graduating from grad school and simply working, I have been wondering, praying, and seeking God about what is next. Am I in the right place doing the right thing? I took this word as confirmation that right now I just need to sail along, content in the knowledge that I am in the right place at the right time doing the right thing and God is guiding me by day and by night. Pretty awesome for me and I have been trying to walk in that knowledge the past few months.

Thank you for being part of my life and for your support, encouragement, and interest in me and my life. I pray that I will be an example of God’s faithfulness and grace. You, my friends and family are a huge part of ensuring that seek Him first and foremost above all else. My love to you all.

Monday, August 29, 2005

A Road To Remember

I wanted a title for my blog that would reflect what I hope this site will accomplish. That my life and the journey that I am on will create a road to be remembered and walked upon and examined. As I live my life, the road is being laid down behind me either to be followed or to be forgotten and eventually decayed. My hope and prayer is that the road being created is one that will be remembered. That will have years of use. That the discoveries I am making and leaving behind as a permanent reminder of God's grace will be a testimony of who God is and how He works in our lives.