Friday, September 26, 2008


The following are some slightly modified lyrics (to flow a little better for the reader) to a song by Casting Crowns called "Somewhere in the Middle". As many sleepless nights have found me asking the big questions about life and fighting between what is easy and what is right, this song sort of pegs me exactly. I'm not who I used to be or who i want to be and should there even be a middle ground? Anyway, I wanted to post the lyrics here. They are pretty thoughtful, and full of the dichotomies I seem to be currently struggling against.

Somewhere between the hot and the cold, between the new and the old, between who I am and who I used to be...

Somewhere between the wrong and the right, between the darkness and the light, between who I was and who You're making me, somewhere in the middle you'll find me.

Just how close can I get, Lord, to surrendering, without losing all control?

Fearless warriors in a picket fence, reckless abandon wrapped in common sense, deep water faith in the shallow end and we are caught in the middle.
With eyes wide open to the differences between the God we want and the God who is: will we trade our dreams for His or are we caught in the middle?

Somewhere between my heart and my hands, between my faith and my plans, between the safety of the boat and the crashing waves...

Somewhere between a whisper and a roar, between the altar and the door, between contented peace and always wanting more, somewhere in the middle You'll find me.

Just how close can I get, Lord, to surrendering, without losing all control?

Lord, I feel You in this place and I know You're by my side, loving me even on these nights when I'm caught in the middle.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A long hiatus...

I have no idea who still will even read this, after such a long break from posting, but as I think and pray about the next steps in my life, I decided blogging might be a fun way to keep people updated and simultaneously think "aloud" and process.

So, a little catch up. A month ago (tomorrow) I officially ended all commitments with Youth Encounter, after a year of traveling. After we left the Philippines, we went onto Taiwan and spent three very involved weeks working with schools and churches in and around the city of Chiayi. I will include some of the most meaningful pix at the end of this post so that you can see a little taste of where we were. After our 3 weeks in Taiwan, we were on a plane back to the States. The time went so fast, yet I was somewhat surprisingly ready to be home and excited to see family. Saying goodbye to the Philippines was harder than saying goodbye to Southeast Asia in general.

Our summer was spent working at a camp called "Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp, Inc." in Amery, Wisconsin (a small farming community). It was stretching and difficult and amazing all at the same time to be at camp. I missed my New Dawn teammates and the closeness we'd shared over the previous 8 months as we were thrust into a much larger community. On the other hand, I embraced the new friends and immensely enjoyed my role as a "team leader" of college-aged counselors at the camp. Investing in people was my main focus, and I found my niche. I loved it, as hard as the transition was being back in the States and trying to re-adjust to life here.

We had a brief final visit to Hong Kong in the middle of July to put on an English Bible Camp for 70 youth in partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hong Kong (ELCHK). It was a wonderful experience to travel back to Asia and meet up with friends, as well as to be have concentrated time with New Dawn for those precious days. What a cool opportunity to be a counselor in a cabin with high-school aged youth from Hong Kong - I learned so much from them about their culture, and what its like to grow up in a predominantly non-Christian environment. I appreciated their perspective, and wished we could have stayed longer.

So, that pretty much brings me to the end of the summer. My family came out for the homecoming concert, and I bawled as my team and I sang together for the last time, realizing that making music together was one of the most precious and unique opportunities we'd had, that I so often took for granted. I will never forget the joy of getting to sing and play with Luke, Carly, Dave and Joshua.

Now, I'm back on the West Coast, and trying to tread carefully, intentionally. I don't want to do anything because its easy or safe anymore. I want to live with integrity as the person I have become through all my experiences, especially those the last year brought to me. While accounting is something I can easily and successfully do, I have little assurance that that is the vocation God is calling me to in order to best love His world with my gifts. This blog, from here on out, will be even more appropriately about my "new dawn" as I start from ground zero once again, trying to discern where I am called, and what I want my life to be about.

Here are some pix from my remaining time overseas. They are some of my favorites, and only a very, very small sampling of the thousands I have filed away to remind me of this fascinating dream year.

Me trying to be cool with some friends in Batangas.

Mt. Pulag congregation group photo!

Living statues in Taiwan outside a Masul temple we visited.

My cabin in Hong Kong this summer - what amazing girls!

Chatting with the Chiayi girls

Spending a day holding babies in a Manila orphanage. Close to heaven.

One of our young Filipino friends trying his hand at the djembe.

Two darling girls in San Roque, Mindanao

Singing our hearts out in a Chiayi classroom.

We hiked to the top of the Philippines' 2nd tallest mountain: Mt. Pulag. That's a new dawn behind us, which we awoke at 2:30 in the morning to catch. Incredible.