Check this out

You should read this.

It's a post by Ragamuffin Diva [Claudia Mair-Francis Burney] about Ash Wednesday and Lent. It struck a chord with me.

Jesus loves the dirty kids

I always get this dread when it comes to Ash Wednesday. I love the service, love what it stands for, but I have this weird OCD thing about dirt that comes into play with getting ashes on my forehead. I really don't like to be dirty. I was the kid who sat on the sidelines while everyone else rolled in mud. Growing up, I made sure that I would never be called "the dirty kid." Dirt is just not my thing. So it wigs me out when Ash Wednesday rolls around and people deliberately put dirt on their foreheads. My skin crawls just thinking about it, about how after Ash Wednesday services, you walk around with dirt on your forehead and everyone looks at you like your the dirty kid.

Last night during the service, I kept thinking about that, about how we as humans have a hard time admitting there's dirt in our lives. We want people to see us as clean and perfect, but beneath that shell, 9 times out of 10 it's a different story. We don't want to be judged by others, we don't want to be ostracized, we don't want to be whispered about, so we hide our "dirt" and blend in with the crowd. Last night, we admitted to being dirty. We admitted that our lives are ugly without Jesus, and we were marked. We were transparent. It was humbling. I wonder how different things would be if we lived our lives that way- transparent and honest about all the dirt. I wonder if the world would really be forgiving. We're a world that likes to act like we have it all together, but do we really? no.

During Lent, my goal is to try to remember that we are all marked people, no matter how well we hide it, and not only are we marked by the dirt of sin, we're also marked by the blood of Christ. He loves us, in spite of our dirt. It doesn't get any better than that.


News in threes

I've always been a firm believer that bad things come in threes. Maybe it's because I'm part Gypsy :) Either way, in the last week, I got hit by the three.

1. a kid I was in marching band with at ECHS was killed in a motorcycle accident in California over Valentine's weekend.
2. another kid I knew from ECHS [we had a lot of mutual friends and a few classes together] was burned pretty bad the other day on his face and hands.
3. my mom called tonight, and my grandma is in the hospital in Fort Wayne. she's never sick, and Sunday was her birthday :( she hasn't been eating, and when she does, she can't keep it down, so she's pretty dehydrated/weak. They're running some tests tomorrow, so I'll be heading over there to spend some time with her [and get some updates for my mom].

i did get some good news today: I'm getting a lot of money back from taxes... none of which i was planning on. Last year, I got $25. My dad told me not to spend it all in one place, because he thinks he's funny. This year, I'm getting around $1000, which is VERY unexpected. We knew something was up when our accountant called my dad to double check my account number for direct deposit. I'm thrilled :) I wish good news came in threes!

if you are the praying type, please keep my three in your prayers. I'd appreciate it a lot :)

Office Wars

Paul, Jean, and Julie are all at a district worship event today, so I think that makes me in charge :) Thus, I have decided we will spend our day as follows:

ha, they'd put a stapler in charge before they'd put me in charge, and this is exactly why! [and I wouldn't limit it to the office- we'd go church-wide baby!]

have a great day everyone!


Wear love.

Regardless of what you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. -Colossians 3:14 [MSG]


ha, it seems like it's been a decade.

the weekend that was: Friday I went to the grocery store. Saturday was supposed to be my Grandma's birthday party, but the weather put a kabosh on that, so I spent the afternoon at the laundromat, thinking of all the ways to make a better laundry experience [i HATE laundromats]. Saturday night was Baker's Birthday Bonanza, which was awesome. Then I spent yesterday at church. Youth group went well- 4 new kids, a really great game, some birthday cake [Tisha's birthday] and a message in our sex series about focusing on wanting God's best rather than "I can't have sex." Scripture was Phil. 3:12-16 in the Message:
I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back. So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it.

on my to-do list this week: call parents about confirmation, since only one student has signed up; get Winter Jam stuff figured out; work on volunteer stuff.

procrastinating about: having a talk with someone. I know I need to, but it's one of those talks that you put off and you put off, and you know you'll feel better afterwards, but you still try to avoid it. bleh, NOT FUN.

book i’m in the midst of: hahaha well... still Wicked. I need to get that done soon. I'm also reading through Ephesians in the Pidgin Bible.

music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: Motown stuff and Britney Spears' new album, Circus. polar opposites, right?

how i’m feeling about this week: so-so. I'm excited for Ash Wednesday. that's a weird thing to get excited about, but I like Lent and Holy Week- that whole time in the church. I don't really know why.


SNL Sunday

maybe i will just make this a weekend thing, since i always forget on Saturdays :)

Here it is! Another favorite SNL clip: Sir Mix-a-lot's Photo Shop


25 Things I Hate about FB

he nails it.


Star Wars Video... on my blog.

Some guy had his friend explain the Star Wars trilogy plot, even though she had never seen it. She pieced together what she knew, and he recorded the story, then animated it.

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo.

i thought she did a good job. she knows more about it than i do.
[i never thought my blog would have something on it that was Star Wars-related. today is monumental.]


Use your voice.

In the last year, I've noticed a trend in America that's really interesting, and actually kind of cool. It's been going on longer than a year, but it's really caught some steam in the past year. With the use of social networking, blogs, and twitter, the average person finally has a voice, and people are listening.

There's been an uproar on Facebook in the last two weeks which emphasizes what I've been seeing. Facebook recently changed their Terms of Service [which, as a user, I don't remember being notified about, other than "CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?!"]. In a nutshell, the new terms basically stated that even if you closed your account, Facebook still owned everything you put online- pictures, interests, conversations. By posting it online, you gave them license over everything you submitted. This made a LOT of people angry- it's been all over my Facebook news feed since February 4th when the terms switched. People started groups, people posted things on their walls, and some even went as far as putting a legal statement on their profile to ban Facebook from using the content [I don't know if those were legit or not]. Anyway, The Facebook Team listened, and this morning, they returned to their old Terms of Service. Ordinary people were heard.

Then there's all of this bailout mess, where more often than not, companies were irresponsible with spending. GM is asking for more money today. Citigroup wanted to use their bailout money to buy a new private luxury jet [Obama told them to "fix it"]. Thousands of jobs are lost every day because of poor decisions from "leaders" [I realize that there is more to the economic crisis than this, but it is irrelevant for this post]. Every day people are being negatively affected as a result of greed, and they started speaking out. They voted for a President who heard their concerns, and they have a President who is still hearing their concerns. Ordinary people were heard.

It's not just limited to these situations. Twitpic crashed the day the plane landed in the Hudson River because someone on the ferry uploaded a picture. Celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton gets millions of hits a day on his blog and has the power to make or break a celebrity's reputation by what he reports. Tim Stevens, from GCC, posted a quote from Senior Pastor Mark Beeson on Twitter, and in 18 minutes, 11 people had re-tweeted [quoted him] and 5,545 people heard what he said. Ordinary people have an incredible sphere of influence now, thanks to things like blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.

So now that we're being heard, what do we have to say? How can we use this realm of influence to impact our world, to bring light into the darkest places, to make a dent for the Kingdom? People are listening, so what are you going to say?


Quote of the day

[setting: i burned my finger on friday, and my dad wanted an update]
kara: it kind of looks like Africa.
dad: Africa?
kara: yeah, Northern Africa is suffering the worst. They're really hurting. The cape's not too bad, though.
dad: It's the Cape of Good Hope, that's why... How's the Democratic Republic of Congo?
kara: they're struggling.
dad: now is it Africa with a c or with a k?
kara: alright Dad... game over.
dad: ...you should get it tattooed.
kara: [sigh]

US Citizen's Test

Randomly today, I decided to take the US Citizen's test. I wanted to see how well I would do, and let's just say this: thank goodness I was born here! I scored a 75%. You need 80% to pass. I guess that means Canada would take me? haha :)

see how you would do here.



I haven't done an update in a long time, so this one will be scattered and to the point.

1. Saw Friday the 13th remake last night- hid under my coat for most of the movie. Good enough to buy.
2. Sparkling Elderflower juice from World Market surprisingly does not taste like potpourri.
3. I love my mom. She has confidence in me when I forget.
4. Dark green nail polish stains your nails.
5. I'm frustrated that it's hard to find a funny opener video for my students that doesn't drop the f-bomb or talk about anatomy.
6. i bought gold flip flops yesterday.
7. today it snowed.
8. i'm pretty sure my mom reads this and doesn't comment because a) she's trying to be sneaky, or b) she has no clue how. acutally, it's probably c) all of the above.
9. I WILL FINISH READING WICKED BY SUMMER. i only have 100 pages to go, but you know how i get.
10. THE CALL OUT STARTS TOMORROW AT CHURCH. Our students are going to start calling people out who do an awesome job representing Jesus. It's our volunteer call out, and I tried to get really creative with it. I'm excited to see how it turns out.

and, one to grow on: Dogzilla Cleo has been sleeping quietly in my bed since 7:30. i feel like a parent, enjoying all this quiet time without the crazies running around! [Dogzilla is her crazy alter-ego]

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! I hope someone showed you love today!

SNL Saturday

here it is! The Lawrence Welk Show skit.

I'm starting to think you guys might be questioning my sense of humor since the three SNL skits I've posted have been extremely awkward... I love awkward situations [ask my friend Jeff]. For some reason, I can't help but laugh.

And, this is my 200th post @ blogger! Next time you eat cake, pretend it's in honor of this post :)

Why I'm not a morning person

Whoever blesses his friend early in the morning with a loud voice— his blessing is considered a curse. -Proverbs 27:14
hahaha :)

happy valentine's day, kids!



ha, not actual buckets.
deena started talking about bucket lists [things you want to do before you die] over on her blog, and in response to her question "what would yours look like?" i typed the following list:

- get a large tattoo
- record an album
- put fun colors in my hair, like pink/purple/teal
- swim with sharks
- go deep sea fishing [i don't know why]
- roadtrip in a winnebago

here are some other things i think would be fun to do before i died. most are irrational, some are poigniant [just because i wanted to use the word], all would be good for my soul:

- hold a snake [by myself]
- read through the Bible without getting A.D.D after Numbers
- paint a room in my house red
- sell a painting
- live minimally
- go swinging at Venice Beach
- volunteer at a youth center teaching art classes
- be part of a house church
- be a regular in a coffee shop
- work in an artsy boutique
- be on a game show
- write a book
- show people they are loved, no matter who they are or what they do
- learn to appreciate EVERYTHING in life- not just the good stuff
- go to Sundance
- go to SXSW
- go to Coachella
- watch a taping of Saturday Night Live
- camp on a beach
- draw with sidewalk chalk in a major city
- get season tickets to a major league sport [preferably hockey or baseball]
- work with a foundation that builds self-esteem in young girls
- go back to Reynosa, MX
- be the hands and feet of Jesus
- be rooted in the heart of Jesus
- change the world for one person
- meet an astronaut
- dig for dinosaur bones

Link Love

interesting website directed at teens in response to "sexting" and harassment through social networking sites: www.thatsnotcool.com

saw it advertised on the top banner on myspace today. they have e-cards you can send to people who are on either end [sender/receiver], and a place to talk about what's going on [a chat room/message board kind of deal]. There's also a "need help?" section.

this is a good resource for teens, especially since the idea of "sexting" is becoming more mainstream in teen culture.


Feminism, Sexism, and Video Games

I've been rooting around on Ypulse.com this morning [a youth ministry must-read], and I came across this article: Girl Gamers and the 'Pink Plague.'

The whole concept behind the article is that creating pink frou frou video game consoles/controllers/etc is demeaning towards girls who should be treated as equals in the video gaming world.
then the industry goes and come out with something like a girly Guitar Hero and you just want to throw up your hands in exasperation. Presumably, the heart shape and pink color are simply an uncreative marketing ploy to get tween girls into Guitar Hero, but it's just… wrong. It turns an inclusive gender-neutral experience into one that's exclusively male by implying that the regular version of the game somehow isn't feminine.
While I'm big on gender equality, I kind of feel like this is picking a fight for the sake of picking a fight. Girls aren't forced to buy the more feminine controllers; it's just an option. Some girls like that kind of stuff. It's like making a "Slash" guitar controller, and then saying "OH SO METAL KIDS CAN'T LIKE GUITAR HERO?!"
British moms complained that the huge influx of toys designated for girls by color aka "the pink plague" was not only reinforcing gender stereotypes and widening the gap between boys and girls, but also effectively brainwashing their daughters.
To wrap this up, I had a TON of pink glittery frou frou toys growing up, and pink is still my favorite color at age 24. Maybe it's because I'm brainwashed, but most likely it's because it's a fun, happy color. It didn't damage my soul to like pink, and I don't feel like less of a person in society because I had pink toys. And maybe I'm insensitive and this is a big deal, but I just feel like it's someone looking for something to be offended about.

For Mark

that is all.


SNL Saturday [on Monday]


My God is mighty to save.

this is something i've learned in the last 24 hours: there is no gray area with God. Things are black and white- either follow God or go against him. When it gets gray and confusing, it's not God. God never said "follow me, except for this time and that time, and you can kind of follow me when this happens."

Its like that thing when everyone's worshiping Baal in the Bible- if God is your god, then follow Him. If He's not, if you're following something else or letting something else take control and be god, then you can't call God "God." no man can serve two masters. it is a SUCKY lesson, but it's also really comforting to know that God is bigger than all the gray areas and all the crap we get ourselves into.

there's hope in tomorrow. there's hope that God's love rolls on, that time passes, that wounds heal, and lessons are learned. and there's a reason for everything. when life happens, use it to glorify God. point it back to God. when you do that, when you say "Look what God did in the midst of my humanity," He wins. Good things happen. Lives are saved.

God is good all the time.


Two things:

1. President Obama [I love saying that!] is headed to Elkhart on Monday to talk about the economic crisis, since Elkhart has an unemployment rate of 17% right now. The town is in a frenzy. It'll be the third time Barack has come to town in the last year, but his first as President. Yeah, Elkhart's on a first name basis with him, but it's cool to see that he actually cares to make that connection with the little guy.

2. Since we're in Elkhart right now, Cleo and I are headed to the vet to see Dr. Conrad. She's getting a few shots and a basic check up... and she thought the bath I gave her would be the most stressful part of her day! She's loves people though, and she loves the squeeze cheese they spray all over even more, so we should be okay. I warned everyone to get their earplugs out though- Cleo has this ear-piercing squeal that she does when she's excited. They told me she'd grow out of it, but I'm starting to think they're liars. Anyway, it should be an eventful trip.

that's all :) I haven't really been in a mass updating mood like i was before christmas. sorry!


Bill Gates Releases Mosquitos on Audience

this is all from josh griffin's blog, but it's cool and worth reposting [you should be following him if you don't already. he gets an A+ when it comes to blogging about youth ministry]

This might be one of the most creative things I’ve ever seen a speaker do - Bill Gates released a jar full of live mosquitoes into the audience yesterday during his TED lecture to make a point about malaria. “I brought some. Here I’ll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected.” Talk about making a point stick - wow.


Lessons in YMin #2: Be Open to Being Taught

Another lesson I've learned in my short time in professional youth ministry is to be open to being taught. That's one of the reasons Jesus was big on community- it allowed people to share their knowledge and also learn from each other. Coming out of college, you can feel like you know a lot because you've spent 4-5 years in classes, and you're ready to pour that knowledge into your students. But, just like a pitcher of water, you've got to be filled to be able to keep pouring. See everything as a learning experience, see everything as a lesson. Carve time in your schedule for someone else to pour into you. Not only will you learn more about the body of Christ and Christ himself, you'll also be able to keep on going without a chance of running on empty. Some of my favorite moments in the last year and a half have been moments where I've sat down with other staff members or friends and just picked their brains. It's benefited me as a believer and as a teacher.


Watch out, Carmel!

You've got a raptor problem out by Keystone.

[my love for dinosaurs makes this WAY better than Texas's "Zombies Ahead" sign. I'm really hoping this is a pattern and more signs are on their way!]

World News

This is a cool website my dad sent me that gives you in real time the front page of newspapers all over the globe. I even checked Elkhart's just to see, and sure enough, Feb. 2, 2009 showed up. Very cool to see what makes the headline in different parts of the world.