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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

vow14. Romans 8:11

Romans 8:11 (NIV)
11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
The Holy Spirit is God's promise that we as believers will have eternal life with Him in Glory.  The Spirit is now within us by faith, and by faith we are certain to live with Christ forever.  Thank you, Lord, for this gift!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

slippery slopes of vegetable oil

I started blogging almost 11 months ago.  At the time, I had 0 confidence in my ability to compose and keep it up and no idea as to what I would actually write about.  The word 'Blogging' sounded cool to me and I wanted to become a Blogger so that I could, you guessed it, Blog.  My first 'Writer's Block' moment happened not four seconds after creating my url when I had to name the thing.  'Ellen's Blog' ?!  'Thoughts from ellen'? 'Smellin' Ellen'?!  I wanted it to be perfect.  I got so frustrated that I was mid closing my computer when my friend, Caroline [who bragged about how fun blogging was and got me into this mess in the first place], said to me in her 1st Grade teacher voice, 'Now, let's think about this, Ellen.  What are you going to write about?'

'Stuff; you know.  Like...stuff.'

'Ok, so you're going to write about stuff.  That's good; that's a start.  What is it about this stuff that you want to share?'

'Isn't it supposed to be about my life...and stuff like that?'

'It doesn't have to be but yours can, yes.  Ok, so what about this stuff in your life?'

'It's crazy.  All of it.  Craziness, crazies, crazes...it all follows me.  I live a crazy life.'

And thus, the blog 'crazy little thing called life...' was born.  [Caroline graciously let me keep this title even after I realized that I was next to guilty of plagiarism: her blog was titled 'This little thing called life...'.  Check her out!  She is a precious and beautiful friend :)]

That said, I did start this blog to share a little bit about my life and the mayhem always seems to follow me.

Like yesterday.

Yesterday was not a day that I care to relive again.  It wasn't a bad day.  But it wasn't a good day, either.  One where all of the little things that could go wrong, lost, damaged, or forgotten, did.

By the time I make it to work every morning, I have my foundation and one eyelid eye shadowed; shoes, keys, belt [sometimes], hairbrush and a CD in one hand; McDonald's large diet coke, tube of mascara, eyeliner, breakfast bar, and sunglasses in the other; sweater, socks, prescriptions, extra shoes, snacks, phone, and phone charger falling out of my Mary Poppins size purse.  That's on a good day.

But like I said, yesterday was not a good day.

I made it to work yesterday with all but two of those things: prescription and phone.  No biggie.  Yeah, right!  I knew it was going to be a bad day when I realized that I didn't have the medicine to keep my acid reflux under control.  Unlike what is probably the most common form of reflux in adults [heart burn], mine works quite the opposite.  Go figure.  Whereas heart burn reacts to what you did eat, mine reacts to what I don't eat.  Very annoying when trying to diet and lose weight.  Anyways, more on that topic later.  All you need to know for the purpose of this story is this: when I miss a day of medicine you better watch out.  By the time my brain gets the message that I'm hungry it's usually too late and I will be out of commission and remaining stationary until I get food or medicine in me.  It hurts really bad.

Back to yesterday: when I finally gave up searching my purse for the medicine I remembered that I had yet to turn my phone on silent.  I guess you could argue that, yes, it was in fact on silent because I LEFT IT AT THE HOUSE!  Unwilling to accept this fact, I borrowed a coworker's phone and went out to my car to call it and search.  I called it three times, just in case.  Nope, no phone.  Well, it's not the end of the world.

Just before lunch my manager called me and said, 'Ellen, Ricardo just called me to pass a message along: the trunk of your car is open.'  As I said 'Thank you,' and hung up the phone I heard a clap of thunder and the first drops of rain hitting my window.  Aside from a 45 minute sprinkle on Sunday, we have not had rain since Spring Break.  Well, it's raining!?  Good, right?!  Even if my trunk IS open?!

Towards the end of the day, I emailed my mom to let her know that I would not be going straight home; I was going to a friend's house but wouldn't stay too late as I didn't want to be driving the long distance home late at night and without a cell phone.  I left the office at 5:46.  Said friend's apartment is about 16 miles from my office.  On a normal day, in 5:00 traffic, this would take about 24 minutes.  But not yesterday.

I got about 7 minutes into my drive, noticed that the highway was backed up a little bit more than usual but decided against taking the exit to my right.  About 0.03 miles and 27 minutes later I was rethinking that decision.  We were like sitting ducks on the most crowded and tight highway ever built.  And we continued to sit.

And sit.

At this time I would normally pull out my phone, turn on my GPS and see what was going on and what alternate routes there may be.  Oh, wait.   I didn't bring my phone!  We continued to sit.

And sit.

I sang thru my favorite 'Glee' songs 4 times through and tired of singing.  I tended to my cuticles.  I prayed.  A lot.  I journaled for a bit.  I avoided rear-view mirror eye-contact with Whacko Man in front of me who continued to wave, smile, and give me 'the eyes'  with the aid of both his rear- and side-view mirrors for the duration of the flight.

I checked the radio stations, hoping to find someone with answers and thought, 'Man, this must be how my grandparents felt when stuck in traffic...no phone to call and catch up with friends [or let the people you are meeting know you may never get there]; no Aussie Jane to dictate where you need to go.'  Every radio station supplied me with updates: I did not like what I heard.  'The highway has been closed....there has been an accident...they are directing everyone off the highway...all entrance ramps are closed.'  I even thought I heard one reporter say, 'There has been a vegetable oil spill.'

I moved 2.1 miles in the next 2 hours.

Keep in mind the acid reflux issue.  I was very hungry, it had been 7+ hours since I had last eaten, I had not taken my medicine, and I had no way out.  Thankfully I found a Fiber One bar in the gallows of my purse.  If it weren't for that I'm not sure that I would be here tonight.

I pulled into the parking garage at 8:16.

The news reported later that night that there was an accident on the highway at 5:51 p.m. involving an 18-wheeler and a vegetable oil spill.  Well, at least I'm not hearing things.

If in the future I ever find myself playing 'Never Have I Ever' and it comes up that someone has never had their day ruined by vegetable oil, well, I guess I will then lose.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

guilty


I did something yesterday that I have never—and I mean NEVER—done before: I got up at the sound of my FIRST alarm [I set 5-8 alarms every night before going to bed].  My dad even asked me about it during our Walk-and-talk-with-Ellen-from-bottom-of-stairs-to-her-car-and-pick-up-everything-she-drops-or-bowls-over-in-her-wake’ that has become our Friday morning routine since I moved in.  He looked at me like I had something growing out of my head and, in a concerned tone, said, ‘You sure were up early this morning; everything okay?!’  I’m telling you, this was odd.  I have seen 5:00 a.m. many, many times but until today I only knew it at the end of my day, not the beginning.  All I can say is this: I preferred pre grown-up life when 5:00 a.m. meant picking up a Whataburger taquito on my way home to get in bed.

At a loss of what to do with myself during the 1.5 hours I had before needing to leave for work, I decided to have a Quite Time.  I am so glad I did.  Since I usually only have about 1.5 minutes from bed to driver’s seat I have never begun any day with my quiet time.  This morning I chose to use a devotion from our student ministry’s ‘Aftermath’ devotion series.  My goal was to keep up with these devotions after beach retreat but am embarrassed to say that today I had only made it to Week1, Day2.

However, I’m kind of glad that I did get behind as I felt that this particular devotion was very fitting for the week that our country has had.  For the past 33+ days, people all over the nation have watched in disbelief as the horrific details of Casey Anthony’s trial were catapulted and splattered all over every tangible surface of that Florida courtroom.  And 2 days ago, July 6, 2001, Casey Anthony was found ‘Not Guilty’ of murdering her 2-year-old daughter.

At first, I reacted as most people did: angry, disappointed, fearful, saddened.  I thought, ‘How in the world could they NOT convict her?!  Look at her!  She’s obviously so incredibly guilty it’s not even a question…That is so not fair…not a good example…can you imagine how many whacked-out people are now going to think that they, too, can get away with something like this?!...She’ll get what’s coming to her…Why didn’t they dig deeper?...Is the jury really that dumb?!’  

Occasionally those thoughts were interrupted with pity and a genuine sadness for Casey, ‘How is she going to move on with her life?...she’s lost all credibility…everywhere she goes, people will recognize and most likely treat her poorly…she had better watch her back…bringing her family into this…Satan has taken a MAJOR hold of her!’

But after reading the verses and devotion yesterday, my attitude abruptly changed.  I was ashamed at how quick I had been to judge, assume, throw stones, and condemn.  No one will ever know what really happened regarding the death of her precious two-year-old daughter—I don’t even think Casey knows anymore.  There is only One who does and He alone can and will judge her.  In His eyes she is no different—better or worse—than you and me.  No one is exempt from the truth; all have sinned and can never—will never—compare to the glory of God.   Every single one of us is dirty.  Guilty.  Deserving of absolutely nothing.

But...

When accepting Jesus in your life, any and every single guilty charge is dropped.  Our sins are washed completely away and Christ’s purity blankets us so that when we stand before God, all He sees is a heart and soul that have been made new by the blood that his Son bled to cover our sins.  Christ intercedes for us.

That is a beautiful thing!

I hope and pray that someone shares the truth with Casey Anthony.  Could you imagine reaching out to someone like that?  How awesome would that be?!  I pray that she not only hears the truth, but accepts and believes it, too.  In the end, it will not matter two pence if the jury found you guilty or not; it is in that final Courtroom, standing transparent and naked before the throne of God, that you WILL NOT want to hear the words, ‘I never knew you:  GUILTY.’

For, 'Everyone who calls on  the name of the Lord will be saved'
Romans 10:13 

Friday, July 1, 2011

br11: a portrait timeline


Beach Retreat.  A camp like none other.  A land where oreos, doritos, and spaghetti flow.  A place where all means of personal hygiene are thrown to the wind and elevators smell of stinky freshman boys.  A time where television and radios are unplugged.  An experience that cannot be replicated.  An atmosphere that supports sharing with others what God is doing in your life.  Beach Retreat = Awesome. 

Some of the best moments spent with the kids are hanging out with them at the 3-hour free time that happens daily.  It is a time where you can lather up the sunscreen, relax, and get to know them one-on-one.  So many great conversations happen during this time. 


Play time in the sand.  Yvonne and Yvette [the twin, little ones]were in my condo.


Bayli was in my condo last year.  I was so moved when I saw that she requested to be with me again this year!  Bless her heart, though, she was allergic to something in the condo and got her best sleep outside on a pool chair during free time!


The coolest place is definitely in the pool up by the condos.  I think that the week goes by with some of them never realizing there is a beach on the other side of the fence.  [Well, not true; that's where we have Silent Sounds.  Maybe they are just unaware that it is open during free time as well].


This picture is SO pretty!  Pretty girls, pretty colors, pretty [GREEN] grass and trees.  [We haven't seen green grass here at home in many, many moons.  Still waiting…].


The 'tattoo' on my arms seen in some of the pictures are compliments of Tre :)  NO ONE forgot my name.  Ha!


Somewhere in there is one of my sweet girls, Abby.  [Thankfully she was NOT the one buried in the sand.  Gross].


I don't THINK this modern Tower of Babel was taken during my lifeguarding duties!


Dodge ball is HUGE here amongst the students.  A team from our campus won the tournament at dinner that night!


Err, I never saw THAT sign!


Ultimate Frisbee: another campus title that we took home, I think.


Isn't this how one lifeguards?...


….moving out of the way for the perfect action shot?!?!  [CT deserved it, I'm sure!].


There is an average of 7-8 kids per 1 adult leader.  We are very busy as you can imagine.   I have met some of my closest friends on beach retreat.  It was fun to go back this year and be with some of those people again.  Heather and I go all the way back to last year's retreats.  This picture was taken on our 'anniversary' lol. 

Leaders come in all types of shapes, sizes, and demeanors...


Some are too cool for school, donning pink face paint and surf boards…

Some are just thankful to still be alive by day three and recognize the beauty in a little shade and quiet [well, minus the quiet-had this not been as tight of a shot you would see 150+ kids splashing and screaming in the pool]…


Some have black belts, bronze belts, and flaming belts and are not afraid to use them…


 And some just have big guns.


The nurse team is without a doubt the MOST important group at the beach.  Unfortunately they have the LEAST fun job.  Unless you get a thrill in holding 3 barf bags out at once.  This amazing team had their work cut out for them this week-I think there were over 300 reported cases of dehydration, stomach bug, car sickness, and food poisoning throughout the week.  [I fell victim to number 2 bleh]  And that doesn't even begin to cover all the other random and scarce ailments that being around 2000 students contract.




Duties:  So you're not just in charge of your condo's worth of students.  Sometimes you are responsible for the well-being and safety of a rather large number of students.  Like 100.  In a pool.  Or the ocean.  It can be a little stressful to say the least.  On beach retreat you must have a buddy.  Everywhere you go, your buddy goes [this does not apply to personal hygiene routines].  But it most certainly applies when venturing out into the scary waves and currents of the ocean.  Show here is the buddy/student management system.  We want to make sure that we don't ruin the tags so if you're in the water, your tag must be left at 'buddy board'.  I sincerely hope that you know that I am kidding here :) But seriously, if you're in the water, your tag must grace the buddy board so that when the bull horn is blown and you and your buddy hold up your held hands, the number of hand-pairs match the number of tag-pairs.  Supposedly this system works.  I've never been assigned to it, thankfully.   That said, I can only guess what my assignments will be next year.
Thankfully we are not ALWAYS on duty during free time.  If you are caught up with your one-on-one's, don't have duty, or spent the previous night on the bathroom floor worshiping the porcelain god you can sit back and enjoy watching the other leaders work and stress.  Ha!  This picture was taken about 15 minutes after my 1.5 hour recovery nap.  I was not happy that James had his camera out but didn't have the energy or muster to say anything in protest.


Baptism service:  You've read me say it before, I'll write it again: MOST. AWESOME. SERVICE. EVER.  This is a place where all 5 campuses come together, file into the wave pool, and celebrate with their peers as they walk the 'aisle' to be baptized by the pastors waiting in the deep end.


Dr. Young was unable to attend my first beach retreat [is first missed retreat ever!!!].  I was so glad that I got to experience him this year.


Craig Reynolds, Pastor at one of the campuses, baptizing students coming forward making decisions for Christ.


If this doesn’t jerk tears to your eyes you must be incapable of any kind of emotions whatsoever.


I LOVE this picture.  Khris and G helped maneuver this sweet, wheelchair bound girl to the water's edge where she was lifted out and carried to the pastors by the Shbeeb brothers.  Another tear-jerking moment.


This is James.  Don't you think he did an AMAZING job capturing all aspects and emotions of the week's events?!  If you can, you simply must go check out more of the week's moments as well as some of his other work.  Thank you for the beautiful work, James!!!

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