Tag Archives: travel

Catching Up


It has been a crazy season of my life.  Then again . . . when isn’t it crazy in my life?  I like to spin the Merry-Go-Round out of control fast and just keep riding.  For those of you following my fostering journey, I’ve completed all the home visits for my home study.  They were nothing at all like what I expected.  I imagined a hundred different scenarios, tried to practice answers as if I was prepping for an interview.  None of my predictions were anywhere close to what actually happened.  My home study  consisted of two visits, each one about two hours long.  We sat at my kitchen table, had coffee, and the home finder asked me a list of questions.  A list which just so happened to coincide almost identically with the questions I answered in writing on the biography section of my application.  I went through my job history again, where I’ve lived, my family relationships, etc.  Then he wrote down my answers.  I wanted to go print off a copy of the biography section I’d typed up to save him (and me) from all that extra time, but I thought it might come off as rude.  One of my friends who works in the system said it’s to make sure I’m telling the truth.  At the end of my first visit he spent no more than 90 seconds walking through my home.  He wasn’t checking to see if anything was or wasn’t there.  No looking for CO2 detectors, food in the pantry, or medicines laying out.  He just made a diagram of the layout of my house for his files.  Most of that diagram was drawn at my kitchen table.  The second visit was much the same as the first, only no walk through.  If only I’d known how this was going to work I could have saved myself hours of time scrubbing windowsills and base boards.  At the end of the second visit he did ask a few questions that hadn’t been covered elsewhere and got a more specific list of what challenging behaviors and/or special needs I’d be wiling to take.  Then he told me we were done.  The next step was for him to type up his notes, send out my references (inside I was groaning realizing he still hadn’t done it), wait for them to come back, and have his supervisor sign off on approval.  Then he will come back and I will sign off on the home study report.  He told me I could expect to be approved by mid-January.  That was December 16.  I haven’t heard anything yet, but I do know several of my references didn’t receive a reference letter in the mail until last week.  Hopefully I’ll be approved soon.  This process is such a long one!

In other news, I thought I’d try to catch up on the blog challenge I started months and months ago.  It was supposed to take 31 days.  It may take me a year.  Anywho, the next challenge was to write about my dream job.  This is a hard one for me, because in many ways I feel like I have my dream job.  I love what I do, I love the people I work with.  It’s great.  But I guess if I were going to describe my dream job, I might have to take into account that there are a lot of things I love doing, that I don’t get to do very often.  So perhaps I need a job-rotation.  Like preschool centers where you get to go from one area to another and then back again.  No one has ever described me as ADD before, but writing this makes me wonder.  Anyway, if I could go back and forth between all my favorite types of jobs, here’s what they would be:

My current job as a children’s pastor.  I love getting to impact kids lives and help grow stronger families.  I also love that in my current job I get to be more than just “the kids person.”  I get to preach, teach, lead outreaches, and be a part of the team.  Did I mention how great my job is?

Working with the church in the Middle East.  I did this for a year and absolutely loved it.  I fell in love with the people, the culture, and the awesome food.  When I did this I taught a college course, worked with child sponsorship programs, taught English, led kids programs, and trained people to work with kids.  All of it was amazing.

Acting.  I miss this a lot.  There’s not too many opportunities for me to do this anymore.  I get to direct kids a lot, but I miss being on stage.  I’m dying to play Jane Eyre–anyone wanna resurrect that musical and cast me?  I look young for my age, I promise.

Wedding Planning.  I’ve always teased that if I quit my day job this is probably what I’ll end up doing.  I love the beauty and celebration of weddings, and I love planning events.

Author.  Writing is a life-long passion of mine.  I’ve actually written a lot, but just can’t seem to find the energy and do the work it takes to get published.

Teacher.  I love teaching.  I love being able to challenge people, open their minds to new ways of thinking, and help them grow.

Traveler I’m not sure what kind of job would let me travel all the time, but I am IN LOVE with traveling to other places–whether a new place in the US I haven’t been to or somewhere across the globe.

So that’s it.  What would your dream job include?


Blog Challenge: Day 11 (Many days late . . .)


So . . . . I’m a bit behind on my blog challenge.  13 days in fact.  “Holy crap, how did that happen?” you ask.  Don’t I have anything to say for myself?

Well . . . first there was Mess Fest.  Where I led kids in 3 hours of crazy, messy, wacky games.  And then I let them torture my by pouring 12 Bags of Doom on my head.  Bags which contained . . . 12 raw eggs, 11 packets of oatmeal, 10 cups of gold fish, 9 cups of popcorn, 8 cans vegetables, 7 cans of applesauce, 6 boxes of cornmeal, 5 bottles of chocolate syrup, 4 bottles of mayonnaise, 3 cans of whipped cream, 2 bottles of vegetable oil, and 1 bag of feathers.

This is what I looked like when I was finished . . .

Mess Fest



Needless to say, I was exhausted the next day.  Like, could barely keep my eyes open.  Then on Saturday I had to be at work early to lead a training, so it was an 8am-8pm kind of day.  Sunday I had four services to teach, run a few errands, head home to pack, drive to Buffalo, and then wake up at 3am on Monday morning.  3 A.M. All that so I could catch a flight to California.  I spent all last week in Anaheim for a conference, which was great, but pretty non-stop.  In between our 12 hour days I was working on writing a sermon.  I got back into town late Friday night and then preached four times this weekend. So Monday I slept a lot, went to dance class, and then got a ridiculous migraine.  So . . . crazy couple of weeks.

Anyway, the Day 11 blog challenge is your Top 5 Bucket List Items.  Yikes, I have no idea.  I don’t want to be held accountable for these as my Top 5, because I haven’t put a lot of thought into it.  But, these are five things I definitely want to do before I die (in no particular order):

1.  Learn to play the guitar.  I started once, but then I got the opportunity to move to the Middle East and so I stopped.  Can’t wait to start again, just need to get a guitar first.

2. Play the role of Jane Eyre, in the musical version.  I’m pretty sure I was born for that role.

3. Travel to places I haven’t yet been: Italy, India, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, England, Mexico, Canada, South America, and so many more.

4. Learn to sew.  I’ve just always wanted to be able to do this.  I’m convinced I could make the cutest crafts, and it would be super handy for Musical Theatre Camp!

5. Return to the Middle East.  I’ve been twice, and lived there for a year.  I love it there!

6.  (I know I’m not supposed to have 6.  Sue me.)  Become a foster momma.  ;o)

What are your bucket list items?

Check out my friends Karla and Liz as they are taking on the blog challenge too.  (And doing a much better job of keeping up!)


Blog Challenge: Day 10


Today is a much more fun challenge to write about–what I would do if I won the lottery. Wow, that is such a wonderful thing to dream of. Sigh. Probably will never happen. Especially since I don’t play the lottery. But let’s say I won a ton of money somehow –like more than I can imagine. Here’s what I would do.

First, I’d give to my church. I believe that our world can be changed through local churches, and I want to be a part of that. Plus, I believe it’s a way that I honor and obey God. So, I’d give there first.

Next, I’d get out of debt. Most of my debt can be summed up in two words: STUDENT LOANS. Seriously — I have about $60,000 of student loans left to pay off. And I’ve been paying for ten years. I do have a few other debts, but they pale in comparison. (My combined credit cards have a balance of less than $1,000.)

Third, I’d put some money into savings. I’m not very good at savings. And by not very good, I mean I suck. My retirement fund is almost non-existent. I would put some money aside in savings that I couldn’t touch for years. Lock it up man.

Fourth, I’d splurge a bit. All those things that I’ve been missing, but saying no too. A pedicure and a massage . . . ah, it’s been over a year since I’ve had either of those. A nice camera. A day of shopping. My dream dining table. Dining out. Going to NYC and seeing tons of Broadway shows.

Fifth, I’d splurge on the ones I love. My niece would know a whole new level of spoiled. My foster kiddos would be living large. My family would get some amazing tokens of my affection. My friends would enjoy some pretty sweet gifts, as payback for putting up with me and the bad habits I talked about here. I’d take a huge trip somewhere exciting and bring along as many of the aforementioned people as possible. We’d party in Fiji or Ireland or somewhere amazing.

Sixth, I’d buy a home. One big enough for me, my future foster kiddos, any family that wanted to live with me, and guest rooms for my friends and family. I would also have to set aside money for all the things I’d never be able to do (or want to do) in that home–like shovel snow, mow grass, fix broken pipes, replace leaky roofs, etc.

Seventh, I’d travel. I LOVE to travel. All over the world. And take as many people with me as I could.

Assuming I made enough money that I no longer had to work (and hey, if we’re dreaming, let’s dream big), I would still like to do my job, but do it for free, so that my church could use the money for other things. (Like creating the best kids ministry budget ever!)

Finally, I’d like to research charities and donate to ones that are near and dear to my heart–things like finding a cure for cancer, ending domestic violence, helping kids, building bridges of understanding between people in the Middle East and the Western World, and helping women and children in third world countries.

That’s my dream. What’s yours?

And check out what Karla would do if she won the lottery!


Nine Months Old


Here’s a poem I wrote a couple years ago while living in the Middle East.  It was in the midst of the Israel-Gaza Conflict of 2008-2009.  Living in the Middle East as an American made that conflict the topic of conversation everywhere I went.

I’m nine months old here
With the vocabulary of a two year old
So when I listen to your voices on the radio
I can only pick out a handful of your words
But I don’t need a translator to decipher the emotion caught in your throat
Don’t need an explanation for why you keep repeating
“Gaza,” “Israel,” “Philistines,” “Hamas”
Don’t need a tutor to help me conjugate the pain carried across the airwaves
Silent tears fall in the back of some rusty taxi
And guilt follows me around like some dark shadow
Refusing to disappear like Peter Pan’s clever one
Instead I carry around this crate of remorse
For being born in a country with too many ties to this violence
Too few answers to offer in return
And I trudge through this night with shackles
Linking me to your mother’s cries
And I can’t be free of them
And perhaps
I never should be free of them

Poetry Friday: Wandering Gypsy


I wrote this poem during a fantastic vacation to the Smoky Mountains.  I loved how just miles from the touristy Gatlinburg you could lose yourself in the solitude of the mountains.  Sometimes you just need to get away from all the noise.

Wandering Gypsy

i am the only human
in this corner of the planet
miles away from
flashing brake lights
smoking exhaust pipes
blinking LCD screens
rotating billboards
“stop and see us”
“thirty dollars for a great show”
“dinner included for an extra fifteen”

but I have pushed my little maroon PT Cruiser rental to its limits,
demanding it deliver me to the mountains
ordering it up steep inclines and sharp turns
before abandoning it like a used lover
on the side of the road
to trek out on my own
i rush across wooden bridges,
suspended by screws and chains
and hurriedly leap over giant smooth stones—
sleeping dinosaurs in this tumbling foam of flowing water
perched on a large egg of a rock
i am cradled by its speckled curves
if i can pry myself from the sweet coolness
and the siren song of the waterfalls
i could hurry back over these abandoned behemoths
and climb the slopes to the chimney tops
of a forgotten hideaway
i could forge for berries
and bathe in the river
and build a shelter from fallen branches
and i could hideaway here
run away from all the screaming
lights and pipes and screens and billboards
live like a wandering gypsy of the chimney tops
and forget all the day-to-day bustle i left behind

I Vant To Suck Your Blood


Our culture has an obsession with vampires.  Brooding ones, sparkly ones, dangerous ones, ones with a soul.  One of the old vampire legends is that they can change form–usually from their more human-like form into a bat or bird.  Which has got to be a pretty neat trick when you’re trying to escape werewolves or lovestruck teenage girls.  I don’t have any personal experience vampires, but I have battled with my own set of bloodsucking creatures.  And apparently my blood was exactly their personal brand of heroin.

It all happened just north of Romania’s own Transylvania in the country of Ukraine.  A coincidence?  I think not.  I had just arrived with a team of approximately 25 people.  We were there to serve in an special non-profit home that rescues homeless kids from the streets and provides them with a loving and warm family environment.  It’s an amazing program where the kids are welcomed into a family and not just crammed into an orphanage.  (You should check them out at http://www.house-of-james.org.  You can even make a donation or sponsor a child.)

Anyway, we had just arrived in Kiev and were going to spend the night there before heading out to the home.  We were spending the night in a  large church.  The women were all sleeping on the third floor and there was a pile of comfy foam mattresses that were our beds.  It was a gorgeous night out and so one of my teammates and I decided we were going to sleep outside on the porch.  We drug our mattresses outside and settled into our sleeping bags.  The night sky was beautiful–lit up with a million stars that seemed close enough to reach out and touch.  Fireflies were dancing around the trees and birds were softly chirping a lullaby.  Soon we were both sound asleep, cocooned in our sleeping bags.

The next morning I stretched myself awake and climbed out of my cozy bed.  I smiled at my teammate and wished her a good morning.  (An impressive feat since I hadn’t even had my coffee.)  She looked great, stunning actually.  Far more beautiful than any woman has a right to look that early in the morning when climbing out of bed.  Smooth hair, perfect skin. Just beautiful.  I slumped my way to the bathroom to begin brushing my teeth and pulling the knots out of my hair.

To say I’m not a morning person is a gross understatement.  So I wasn’t really paying that much attention.  It wasn’t until I straightened up after brushing my teeth that I actually looked in the mirror.  What I saw was not pretty.  I had been attacked by bloodsuckers. No, there wasn’t a set of fang marks in my neck or blood trickling down my throat.  But it was a vicious attack.  Apparently a scourge of mosquitoes had decided to attack in the night, and I’d been completely clueless.  I sleep on my side, with my hands tucked under my chin, and you could clearly tell by the placement of the mosquito bites.  Although I do change sides in the middle of the night, I spend the majority of the night on one side, and you could see that one half of my face had twice as many bright red welts as the other.  The bites continued on my neck, arms, and hands.  There were literally hundreds of bites–I looked worse than when I had the chicken pox.  I stared at my reflection for the longest time.  Baffled.

Then I opened my door and went in search of my teammate.  The one who woke up looking so stunning.  The one who also slept outside under the stars.  Where were her mosquito bites?  Apparently nowhere.  She didn’t have a single mosquito bite–not one!  And I had hundreds!  Apparently there really is something to that “personal brand of heroin” crap–and here I thought it was just some romanticized nonsense invented to sway the hearts of the juvenile lit crowd.

I spent the next week trying to avoid scratching my face to a pock-marked mess.  Those vile creatures had done quite a number on me–sucked my blood and left me miserable.  Which leaves me wondering . . . maybe instead of just turning into bats and ravens, maybe vampires have perfected the art of turning into mosquitoes.  It’s a brilliant plan, really.  They can just attack us in our sleep and we’re none the wise . . . I’m just sayin’.


My Legs Are On Fire!


Don’t you just love vacation — the relaxation, the fun times, the friends, the new adventures, the memories made.  I love vacations.  Coming home from vacation, not so much.  And not just because coming home means returning to the daily grind.  Returning from vacation has proven to be a very dangerous thing for me.  (Remember that time I got lost, missed my plane, got sick, broke my toe, and on and on?)  Perhaps I should just stay on vacation. Sounds good to me.

A few years ago I was flying home from vacation and was seated in a window seat next to an old man who had an oxygen tank and breathing tubes.  I had a sore throat, so when the flight attendant began serving beverages I requested hot tea.  In case you didn’t know, hot tea can cure any ailment.  It can also set your legs on fire.  I’m not sure what happened–maybe the flight attendant didn’t set the drink down properly, maybe I bumped the drink, maybe a puckish fairy snuck in and pushed it over.  Whatever it was, my cup of scalding hot tea went from the flight attendant’s hands to rest briefly on the tray before making a tragic turn into my lap.  My legs were on fire!  The water had just been boiled, and the heat was searing through my pants.  I was in agony.  It was so painful that I couldn’t speak or even scream.  My mouth was gaping open, but there was no sound coming out.  I looked like a crazy fish.  My first instinct was to pull the fabric of my pants (which was soaked in hot tea) away from my skin.  But I couldn’t move–I was strapped in with a seat belt and held in place with the lowered tray table.  Beyond that, I was blocked into the row by a man with an oxygen tank who couldn’t move.

I couldn’t make a sound, much less call the flight attendant back, and I began bucking in the seat, trying to get the tea off.  Eventually the person in front of me turned around to figure out what the heck I was doing.  Apparently she didn’t like me pulling and pushing her seat all over the place.  When she realized what was going on she immediately called for the flight attendant.  The woman assessed the situation, then helped the poor old man out of his seat before helping me climb out of my seat and walk to the bathroom.  By the time I closed the door on the tiny washroom and was able to peel off my pants, my skin was covered in blisters.  The flight attended brought me an ice pack–which is a fancy way of saying “she grabbed a large trash bag, filled it with ice, and shoved it through the door.”  I was in so much pain I didn’t want to move again, but unfortunately, the plane was now making its descent.  It had taken so long to get me out of the seat, and now the flight crew was insisting that I get back in it.

I begged the attendant to let me just stay in the bathroom, but she wasn’t having it.  So, I attempted (with a moderate measure of success) to position the giant trash bag full of ice onto both of my legs and still fasten my pants.  An interesting look, I can assure you.  Then I had to waddle out of the bathroom and back to my row, where they helped the old man out of his seat, I gingerly crawled in, sat on a wet cushion, and buckled up for landing.

As we touched down, the head flight attendant’s voice came over the loud speaker.  She warned everyone that there was a passenger who needed medical treatment, and everyone was to stay seated until that passenger could be evacuated from the airplane.  After we arrived at the gate, two flight attendants came back to our row and helped the old man stand up again.  (The poor guy probably was scarred forever after flying next to me.)  Everyone else in the plane assumed he was the one who needed the paramedics–he had an oxygen tank after all.  But no, I was the fragile passenger who had to be seen by medics.  I climbed out and the two attendants helped me walk to the front of the plane, where I was put in a wheelchair and rolled by paramedics to the nearest bathroom.  (Apparently that is the preferred place of doing a medical exam in an airport.)

Once we arrived in the bathroom they found a cleaning lady and sent her in to clear out the bathroom, since both paramedics were male.  Then they rolled me in and proceed to examine my injuries.  They determined that I had second degree burns all over both of my legs, and that I should probably go to the hospital.  Then they rolled me back out of the bathroom.  A helpful airline staff member brought my luggage over and placed it in my lap.  (IN MY LAP!  I had burns all over my thighs!  Was she insane?)  I tried to move the suitcase off of my legs, as she proceeded to push me in the wheelchair to the airport exit.  Then she left me outside, sitting in the wheelchair, to wait for my ride.

Ahh . . . if only I’d stayed on vacation.