Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Thanksgiving Cliche

I haven’t done anything cliché yet for Thanksgiving, so here I go: I am so thankful for this stage of life. I am in a stage where I get to learn so much, and I get to do it with so many awesome people. I am so thankful for all of the things I get to be learning right now.

I’m learning what it means to supervise and manage people. I’m learning about responsibility, patience and how to have grace.

I’m learning how far my car can go with the gas light on, how to jiggle my blinker light just right in order to get it working again, and how to keep my lead foot under control.

I’m learning about theology; the attributes of God and his creation. I’m learning what gospel friendships look like and how vital gospel and community are.

I’m learning what it means to not give up on people and to pray continuously.

I’m learning that awkwardness is just a part of life that should be addressed and not ignored.

I’m learning that it’s really easy for me to pretend to be someone one I’m not and easy for me to fight for things that I shouldn’t.

I’m learning that asparagus should always be cooked longer than I think it should, that there will always be something spilled on a burner to make it smoke, and that by myself I can never finish a half gallon of milk before it expires.

I’m learning how important it is to have girl friends to come over with pizza, chocolate, and laughter instead of trying to drink my sorrows away.

I’m learning that I will always be in a war against sin and that I need to actively battle against it.

I’m learning that currently, most of my day is spent condensing my thoughts to 160 characters or less.

I’m learning that I actually can live alone, though I’m adopting some bad habits I may need to curb before anyone will want to live with me again.

I’m learning that I don’t do night class well when it’s redundant and I have a job I love. I don’t handle constantly perky professors well either.

I’m learning how important and awesome it is to surround myself with awesome women older and younger, who are passionate about life, learning, and Jesus.

I’m learning about Minneapolis, the history, the culture, and the fascinating people here.

I’m learning that people don’t expect or need me to have all the answers, they just like having someone to listen.

I’m learning how much I love my wacky awesome family.

I’m learning to stop waiting around for Prince Charming to ride up on his motorcycle and instead just live my life.

I’m learning that I can easily pass for much older than I am, I love talking to strangers, and it is easy for me to see how people are connected.

I’m learning that someone is going to have a problem, complaint or criticism against anything I do, so I should stop living my life trying to please other people.

I’m learning that I’m not in alone in feeling like, “Normally I'm a mess. I over think everything emotionally. I'm all over the place. Like, watch out! Cause one minute I'm laughing and the next minute I'm crying for no apparent reason but it's probably just because I'm really tired. **giggle giggle cry** See? I don't know. Look at me! I'm just so tired."- Kate (Ben and Kate)

I’m learning I will probably always be tired and always appreciate a really great cup of coffee or a really good beer with a friend.

I am super loving this life. It’s sometimes challenging. It’s sometimes really easy. Overall it’s pretty beautiful. In the words of my friend T-Swift, “We’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time. It’s miserable and magical, oh yeah.”

Loving life. Thanks for being a part of it. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Greyhound Ragamuffins (Again)

This weekend is Baylor's homecoming. Last year, I traveled down to Texas for homecoming by myself on a greyhound bus. It was such a good experience for me. Here is the blog post I wrote right after: 


Traveling for over 24 hours on a greyhound is not for the faint of heart. One must be able to tolerate uncomfortable seats, very little leg room, and brakes so squeaky they wake you up from whatever short uncomfortable rest you got. One must not get upset over witnessing bad cellphone ettiqutte and bad parenting. One must not be bothered by gassy old men, the smell of weed, or talk of the best prostitutes in any given city. One must be okay with frequenting gas stations and sketchy bus stops with locks on the doors and bars on the windows where at any moment a fight may (and did!) break out.
For many single, 22 year old, white, Midwestern girls, traveling alone, this trip would probably make them super uncomfortable.


I could write about all the crazy stories I now have, but instead, I’ll let you know my main take away. Have you heard of the book The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning? So far, I’ve only read the first couple chapters, but I know the book is about God’s grace, and how it is for those who are lost, dirty, and messed up---otherwise for us all. It’s not only for the very hygienic, the church goers, those with the same values as I. It’s for the unshowered, the pot smokers, those who just got out of prison. God’s grace is for people. For all people. In the same way that He wants me to know the depth and power of His love; he wants everyone else to know that too.

“If you look down on anyone on the planet, you don’t understand the Gospel.”-Steve Treichler

On my ride, I met those who were dirty, drug dealers, pot smokers, nomads, migrants, homeless, young, old, veterans, and a few men recently released from prison. People who God wants to know His power, His character, His love. My goal at the beginning of this week was to talk to strangers more. We are called to love people, and how can we do that unless we talk to them first? On this trip, he gave me to opportunity to have great conversations multiple people. I got to learn about their life stories and how they ended up on a Greyhound. From that I got to ask about their dreams, their hopes in life, and their view of God and validity of the Bible. Mainly, I got to listen to people who needed someone to talk to; someone to care about them. I got to be that person, and I love being that person. I may never see any of them ever again, but I hope they will remember our conversations as I will. I hope I impacted them as much as they have impacted me.

And from this point on, I hope to start talking to strangers more. On the bus, on the street, in class, everywhere. I also hope to finish reading The Ragamuffin Gospel, but I’ll need to borrow someone’s copy. I had the opportunity to give it to a man who just got out of prison. He had asked me what I was reading and seemed very interested in the topic. Pray that he reads it and pray that I don’t forget what I learned and keep talking to strangers.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Unconditional Love

I have often heard that becoming a parent helps people to get a better understanding of how God feels about us. I remember thinking that when my niece was born. Even though she wasn’t my own child, the first time I saw her I knew I loved her and I would do anything for her. She did nothing to deserve my love , she didn’t even ask for it, but I loved her anyways. Evie gave me a good picture of unconditional love, but this morning I was reminded of another picture of unconditional love.

I work for a group home whose core values statement says the following:

It is our core belief that all human life is intrinsically valuable. The value of life is not diminished because a person is disabled, unborn or near the end of life. Value is not determined by whether the person is independent or totally dependent on others. It is not based on productivity or on physical or intellectual potential or accomplishments. Value is not dependent on whether a person has family relationships or friendships. It is not contingent on being wanted, loved or admired. Human life is intrinsically valuable and worthy of dignity and respect simply because it exists.

That statement gives me chills every time I read it.

There are two different types of houses in the company that I work for: medically fragile and behavioral. I work in a behavioral house. One of my ladies is mostly non-verbal and can get physically aggressive in the form of hitting, scratching, biting, and kicking. She doesn’t have the words to communicate what she wants, so that is her natural go to when something is bugging her. (If I were to be honest, I think that would be my natural go-to as well, if I didn’t have the reasoning or social constructs that keep me from kicking people when they frustrate me. Trust me. I often would like to.)

But anyways, these types of behaviors are what we deal with often. Not every day, but often enough. My staff bear the physical scars from this job. They bear the emotional scars that come along with it too. How many people stick with a job where they are in physical danger every day?  Well, a lot actually. (Firemen, policemen, soilders, etc.) How many twenty-something-year-old girls are in a job that they are in physical danger every day? Not many.

But you know what’s awesome about our staff? THEY’VE STUCK WITH IT.

Why? Why would they do that?

Unconditional love.

They get it. Only one of our staff is a parent. The other fourteen of us  have our ladies to teach us about such things. It doesn’t matter what our residents do, we still love them unconditionally. We still take care of them, still are involved in their lives, still do the best we can to make their lives as happy and healthy as possible. Partly because it is in our job description, partly because we know them so well and care about them so much that it is no longer in our nature to give them less than our best. Even if they are physically violent, or keep saying the same thing over and over and driving us up the wall, we still love them.

And we do so knowing that our love can never be reciprocated in the same way. But we are not perfect in our unconditional love.

God’s love for me is perfectly unconditional. It is not contingent on whether I do what I think he wants me to do, or behave how I think I should. It’s not contingent on whether I go to church every Sunday or help those less fortunate than I. It’s not contingent on whether I kick people when I’m mad at them or just curse them out in my head. It’s not contingent on whether I have my theology 100% correct or read my bible every day. It’s not contingent on whether I do my job to the best of my abilities and get straight As in school. It’s not contingent if I drink too much and make poor choices. It’s not contingent on what I do at all. There is nothing I can do to make God love me more or love me less. He just does.

Just like a parent loves their baby who does nothing for them but keep them up during the night and make them bend to her every need.

Like a staff whose quality of care isn’t dependant on a residents behavior.

I need to stop living like I can earn God’s love and start living out of God’s love. I need to stop trying to prove that I’m worthy of it, and instead live life knowing that I am unworthy of it but God lavishly pours out his love on me anyways, and now I am to pour that love onto others.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”- 1 John 4:7-12

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Gosh, so today I went to all-training at our main office. This is something that happens bi-monthly, where all of the residential supervisors (me), program directors (my boss), and RNs  (the lady who makes up for my medical knowledge deficiency) get together to be updated on all of changes in company policies, given new information, and are given new checklists to keep our houses running smoothly.

Today I was reminded of how young I really am.

I sat through a seminar about 401ks, or saving for retirement.

Then I ate lunch with a bunch of married women and they regaled tales of when their kids started biting people and how their food tastes changed after pregnancy.

Then I sat in a meeting where we talked about professional communication, how to manage staff, and the new protocols for monthly call-ins with the head honchos of the company.

Often I think, "I'm not old enough for this" or "I'm not qualified enough for this" or "I don't know enough about this" and I feel really really young.

But then I remember.

I AM young. I'm not SUPPOSED to know how to do all this yet. This is my first time being exposed to this stuff, so OF COURSE I'm going to feel unqualified!

But how exciting is that? I'm at a stage in my life where I get to constantly learn new things and grow and develop as a person.

Take finances. I know nothing about 401ks. Roth IRAs. Stocks. Bonds. Even just budgeting. I'm terrible at it. I'm just excited that I'm at a point in my life that my bank account no longer dips below $20 on a regular basis. I'm actually earning a decent income now, but with loans, tuition, fixing my car, etc, I'm also at a stage of life where I could have one bill that completely wipes out my bank accounts. So anyways, I feel incompetent when it comes to finance, BUT NOW'S THE TIME TO LEARN!

Not just about budgeting, but now is the time to learn to use my crock-pot more and my take-out menu less. Now is the time to learn how to clean up after myself as I go, instead of waiting until my apartment looks like a tornado went through it. Now is the time to learn that I'm not in college anymore, so I shouldn't stay up into all hours of the night, just because I sometimes can. Now is the time to not just know exercise is good for me, but actually do it.

Now is the time of life to figure out who I am and become who I want to be. Currently, I'm young. I'm selfish. I'm naive. My internal organs are probably dying from lack of exercise and an excess of potato oles.

But I'm learning, and I think that's a pretty okay place to be.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Moving and Staying Put

From birth until age 18, I lived in the same house (excluding running away to camp for a majority of a few summers.) I moved rooms once, only because there wasn't a wall in between my brothers and my room and he was driving me bonkers. My living situation was about as stable as you can get.

And then college happened.

In five years I moved nine times. NINE TIMES. From dorms, to back home, from Texas, to Minneapolis, relocating with the changing of each school year or summer. I lived in a building with 300 freshman girls (and their awesome CLs) and a dorm with boys right down the hall from me. I've lived in apartments and houses. I've had 11 different roommates/apartmentmates/housemates. And now? After all that?

I have a two bedroom apartment all to myself.

Wait, what?! Even at camp when I wasn't sharing a cabin with 12 jr campers, I was sharing a room with at least 5 other girls. Even when I was the only kid living at home I still shared everything but my bedroom with my parents!

Granted, technically I don't have the house to myself. You could consider my place a duplex. I am the supervisor of a group home. Upstairs is where the program floor is. The ladies live up there and staff and myself work up there. When I am done with work, I make the long commute down the stairs to my apartment.

But down here, I live alone. Weird, eh? It's come to my attention that very few people have lived alone. Most people have roommates until they get married. Usually financially it just makes sense. I don't pay rent. (Job perks!) But I also can't have a roommate unless I'm married. So, I get to be one of the few people my age to live by myself.

There are definite perks (i.e. decorating however I want, I'm allowed to be a little messy, pants free zones, etc.) but there are also disappointments (i.e. no one doing the dishes when I leave for the weekend, instead of a little messy I actually become a complete slob, spending the night in watching TV feels a lot lamer without roommates joining in, etc.)

Anyways, not only do I live alone, but I've committed to living her for the next two years. (For those of you who know about my commitment issues, this is a big step for me!) TWO YEARS (maybe even more). IN ONE PLACE! That kind of gets me excited. I can actually unpack ALL of my boxes. I can organize. I can decorate. It actually seems worth it since I will be here longer than a few months.

Staying stationary for at least two years will probably teach me a lot. Living alone for two years will probably also teach me a lot, so stay tuned.

I'm excited. I'm nervous. I have a lot of space, so feel free to come over. I'm attempting to acquire cooking skills, but always keep a pizza in my freezer, just in case ;)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Becoming Stickerless

Have you ever read a book that just rocks your world? Currently I'm reading The Search for Significance by  Robert S. McGee. (Well not currently. Currently I'm watching 90s movies about high school and eating oreos, but that's beside the point.)

(Cheesy looking, yes. But that's also besides the point)

Basically it's about how we choose to let our performance and other people's opinions define us. The book breaks it down into four false beliefs: 

  • The Performance Trap: I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself.
  • Approval Addict: I must be approved by certain others to feel good about myself
  • The Blame Game: Those who fail (including myself) are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished
  • Shame: I am what I am. I cannot change. I am hopeless. 
None of the above are true statements, but I've been made aware that I hold these beliefs so deeply that they come out in my behavior every single day without me even realizing it. 

When I was up at camp, I realized that the book above is basically the same as one of my favorite (or favourite, depending on what country you're in) children's books. One has a lot more words and goes deeper into theology and the other has better pictures and is more effective at entertaining a cabin full of little girls: 

You Are Special by Max Lucado is set in a village of Wemmicks. Wemmicks are wooden people made by the wood carver, Eli. Every day they go around giving each other stickers, either gold stars or grey dots. They try to do as much as they can to earn gold stars and try to do whatever they can to avoid grey dots. Punchinello is the main character and he has a lot of grey dots. One day he meets Lucia who has become my new hero. She had no stickers. 

"It wasn't that people didn't try to give her stickers;
it's just that the stickers didn't stick. 
Some of the Wemmicks admired Lucia for having no dots, 
so they would run up and give her a star. 
But it would fall off.
Others would look down on her for having no stars, 
so they would give her a dot.
But it wouldn't stay either." 

When Punch asks, she says it's because she goes to see Eli every day and she advises him to do the same. He does. He asks Eli,
"Why don't the stickers stay on her?"

The maker spoke softly, 
"Because she has decided that what I think is more important than what 
they think. The stickers only stick if you let them." 


"The stickers only stick if they matter to you. 
The more you trust my love, the less you care about their stickers."

"I'm not sure I understand." 

I agree with Punch. I definitely don't understand. But I'm starting to. People are just people. They are not "higher" or "lower" than me. Letting them determine my self-worth is exhausting and futile. One minute I may be feeling super great, but after one critical comment I might be thinking I'm the WORST. What a silly way to live! But I'm learning how to combat those false beliefs with truth.

Hopefully someday I can get to the point where the stickers just don't stick, where others opinions don't matter to me and I don't have to constantly compare myself to others. 

Eli said as the Wemmick walked out the door,
"you are special because I made you. And I don't make mistakes."

Punchinello didn't stop, but in his heart he thought,
I think he really means it.

And when he did, a dot fell to the ground. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What a year

It was my birthday at the beginning of this month. Birthdays more than anything else give me cause to look over the past year. This past year was definitely a big one! In the past year (and 28 days) I:

  • Got a new car
  • Drove to Canada with a stranger and spent a week as a camp counselor in my favorite place in the world with some of my favorite people in the world. 
  • Moved to Northeast Minneapolis with some of the coolest roommates on the planet

  • Started grad school at the U of M for special education 
  • Started interning with ACR Homes
  • Stopped working at Bobby and Steve's 
  • Rode a greyhound bus over 24 hours down to TX to share homecoming with my Baylor friends (Good story:
  • Started Redemption groups with Hope Community Church (life changer fo sho) 
  • Read the Hunger Games (loved them.) 
  • Got my first grown up job as a residential supervisor with ACR Homes
  • Moved (again) into Walnut where I am living by myself for the first time
  • Cooked my first (and only) meal in a crockpot
  • Had the healthiest dating experience of my life
  • Went to Colorado and saw mountains for the first time
  • Brought my MN girls with me to TX. Explored Austin and got to see my first college friend get married.

  • Started paying back college loans (woo hoo!) 
  • Attended my five year class reunion 
  • Took my first summer class
  • Ran away with my Mom back to Canada to help out at Camp of the Woods once again 
I've learned a lot over the last year (and 28 days.) 
  • Strangers are interesting to talk to. Everyone has a story to share.
  • It's hard to care about school when working full time at a job I love. 
  • The motivation behind most sins is a lie that I believe about myself or God. 
  • There really is a point in life where guys and girls can't really just be good friends.
  • I love sweatpants, milk stouts and coffee benders, Chinese take out, Jesus, and wedding dances
  • Even though I'm getting older, I'm really still just a 12 year old girl in my head. 
I wonder what this next year will bring? 

Why The Penguin on My Fridge?


You may be wondering, "Why name a blog The Penguin On My Fridge?" Answer: because I couldn't come up with anything better. Everything I tried previously ended up sounding like the corniest thing in the world or that I was trying too hard.

Rejected Titles:

Coffee and Jesus
Growing Tenacity
Snarky Ramblings
The Purple Teapot
Just a Girl

Honestly, I'm often an outward processor. I've had a lot of things that I've wanted to blog about, but I was spending so much time trying to find the perfect name for a blog that I just haven't gotten any farther. I was stuck. Today I decided to just name it something I like and then get on with life.

I like the penguin on my fridge. I actually painted the penguin on my fridge. I was taking a college class about using art in elementary classrooms, and my teacher told me to paint something dream like. This is what I came up with:

I could make a metaphor about how I'm like the penguin, traveling down the yellow brick road to an unknown magical destination and this blog is a way to track my journey, but I'll spare you. 

This blog is not about penguins. It's about my thoughts on life, God, and becoming an adult. Expect a fair amount of snarkiness and incorrect usages of punctuation. 

Oh! And if you're curious about my previous blog, here it is:

Also, feel free to help me name or give a story to the penguin on my fridge. Below is evidence that he is, in fact, on my fridge:

Happy Reading!