October 19, 2011


Things have been quite… seasonal… lately. I’ve never been a huge fan of Halloween, but something has apparently inspired me to embrace the novelty of October (and then November and December, of course).

My name is Malinda, and I have celebrated the fall season in the following ways:

- I pulled out Kelly’s Halloween decorations, and now you can find a big fuzzy spider on the entertainment center, a sparkly ghost on the coffee table, my pumpkin teddy bear on the radiator, a fake-but-lit jack o’lantern on top of the dryer, and orange Christmas lights (Halloween lights?) hanging from the ceiling.

- For editing homework, I chose to watch and evaluate a scene from The Nightmare Before Christmas. It can also be noted that Kelly has a coordinating blanket on the couch.

- Also, we turned off the lights last night, popped some popcorn (on the stove with coconut oil! woot!), and watched Paranormal Activity 2.

- We are burning festive candles and the wax melty things frequently. Not only does this make the house smell all warm and cozy, but it makes me worry less about puppy odors.

- Apple cider has been enjoyed, both chilled and warm in mugs.

- Halloween costume pieces are currently being assembled, and will premiere at a party Sunday evening and again on Halloween night.

- Two pumpkins are sitting on the counter. The plan is to carve them in the next week or so. Though, if they remain uncarved, they can carry over into November, since they’re still all harvest-y and stuff.

- There has been talk of a caramel apple from Rocky Mountain Chocolate…. must increase exercise in preparation.

So while I still delight in every summer-y day we receive (thank you, October in southern California!), I shall also revel in the stuff that only comes once a year(ish). We may not have much in the way of color-changing or brown crunchy leaves, but our plants won’t die from frost, either. So as I sit all cozy in my hoodie and fuzzy socks on a chilly evening, I bid you happy autumn.

October 12, 2011

my dog, the devil

“Job” opened! That was the big happening of the weekend. On one hand, tech week and the run of a show are inherently busy- travel to and from the theater, long rehearsals, performances, and after-show meals at Denny’s….

Then there was the added element of opening a show that is completely original and unlike our typical musicals. I was a little bit nervous, but people seem to be liking it. While it is an intense show, the response is encouraging. We have one more weekend of performances, and I really hope that word-of-mouth will continue to bring audiences.

Meanwhile, the world doesn’t stop for a show and regularly scheduled busyness continues. We’ve entered holiday season at workchurch: harvest fest –> Thanksgiving –> Christmas –> prep for next year. It doesn’t sound exciting in writing, but it consumes a good deal of thought/time/energy. There are some really good things happening with our kids though as we’re integrating them into church life as a whole. :)

Yoshi had to get a couple of baby teeth pulled yesterday…. It would’ve been awesome if she lost them naturally like all the others, instead of the $400 way….

Speaking of Yoshi- an interesting thing happened the other morning. It was breakfast time for the dogs, and each of them had food in their own bowls. Yoshi decided that she would rather have Tootsie’s meal, so she growled, threatened, and bullied her way into her bowl. Tootsie just stood by, watching and looking helpless as the puppy  took kibble that was rightfully hers. Nevermind that Tootsie is much bigger and stronger than Yoshi. In fact, if the two ever really fought, Yoshi would be wiped out before she knew what hit her. So why in the world would Tootsie allow her to steal food?

yoshi 007She looks innocent here, but don’t be fooled.

tootsie 011The sweet but mighty boston terrier. 

I know I have Job and accompanying spiritual warfare on the brain. But isn’t that how we react to Satan sometimes? We have God on our side and the Holy Spirit in our hearts. We learn and recite, “Greater is He that is in you”.  And contrary to popular belief, Satan is not the opposite of God. They are not even close to equal. The devil started out as an angel- one of many created beings. You know, the created beings that we’ll be above once we make our way to heaven. Satan’s got an attitude problem and a mean streak that gain attention, but he’s really small potatoes compared to the Almighty Creator who just so happens to a)love us, b)fight for us, and c)fill us with His spirit to pack an even more powerful punch to a pesky devil.

That’s right. God’s got our back. Bring it.



So why do we freak out when temptation and trouble come our way? Why are we intimidated by a devil who growls, barks, and makes noise, but we are more than capable to fight? Has he really convinced our sweet, trusting selves that he can bully his way into our food bowl and take what he wants?

It’s not that easy…. or is it? I know I’ve certainly cowered at Satan’s threats and lies. Perhaps it’s time to remember the proper perspective, regain our rightful place, and reclaim our stolen breakfast.

October 03, 2011

weekend away, now something to say

Our church is building a youth group. As  a congregation of young families, this is the first time there have been students old enough for youth, so we have the opportunity and challenge to start a program from scratch. Exciting! In the spirit of beginning with a solid foundation and creating good things, I was sent to the National Youth Workers Convention in San Diego this weekend.

It was fun, as youth workers like doing all the things kids like to do, whether those kids are present or not. So yes, there was Mario Kart and ping pong and a rock wall and a good deal of free stuff (yay free stuff!). Of course there were the standard sit-here-and-learn-stuff seminars, but the big group sessions were a mix of music and worship and dynamic, varied speakers (yes, i said dynamic. and yes, it’s cliche. but it’s also true so go with it), comedy acts, videos, and those shark balloons that look like they’re swimming as they fly through the air (side note: i have been dying to see one of these things in action the minute i saw them on youtube).

Yes, I learned a lot of valuable info that will hopefully be implemented into our program- even beyond the youth room. Also, so many resources were collected that I’m ready to dive into- like curriculum and local service ideas. So my mission was accomplished.

What I wasn’t expecting was the personal stuff that God had planned. As the conference began, I quickly began to suspect I was the only person who attended solo. Anticipating awkwardness and hoping to meet and hang out with new people, I walked into the large main room with strategically designed stage, lighting, and a dj establishing atmosphere. Yeah, pretty much what I expected. Then there was the singing and praise and worship and- that was when God mentioned one tiny little fact-

“You haven’t been worshipping Me.”

me: “Of course I have, silly God. I worship during church every Sunday morning! Ok, so my mind is also on children’s sermons, lesson plans, and meetings, etc… but I also make sure to do some worship and praying in the car on my way there to prepare and make sure I cover my ‘worship quota’.”

God: “Yeah, try focusing right now withOUT those distractions and see what I mean.”

And what do you know- the Almighty God was absolutely correct. And I was glad I was alone while I broke down in tears in actual worship (because we know that if I was with a friend or church person, I would resist vulnerability like a kid rejects broccoli). Then God decided to address a few other issues.

You know when there’s a problem and someone pulls you aside to discuss it away from everyone else? That’s what this felt like. In the solitary confinement of my (quite comfy) hotel room, God talked me through reading, journaling, praying, listening, and addressing the big issues of the past year. It wasn’t instant complete healing- that process with continue to take time- but He demolished a big chunk of the wall I’ve been diligently building around my heart.

me: “So now what, God? We’ve established that I’m quite broken. Doesn’t that make me too defective to properly shepherd the precious young lives at church?”

And so we processed that one together the next day. A couple different speakers referenced the story of the woman at the well, and pointed out that she ministered to her entire town without being completely put together and without understanding all the answers. Furthermore, my experience with the dark struggles of bipolar disorder equips me to handle issues that many youth workers don’t understand or even fear. There’s no  way I could relate to someone who’s stranded at rock bottom if I didn’t reside there myself. But I have to get through to the other side in order for this to happen.

So I was feeling pretty good about things, and caught myself actually thinking (adventurously expectant, even) about the future- something I had previously given up. I felt ready for the evening’s speaker, Jamie Tworkowski from To Write Love On Her Arms. I knew that the subject matter would hit close to home (for the story behind TWLOHA, click here and scroll down). When Jamie said, “I don’t have the answers”, I wanted to say, “But you do!” The common thread between his story, my story, and even the stories of other people is this: when someone is in trouble, it takes a team of support LIVING active love to change or save a flailing life. He and his friends surrounded a girl in need, and took every possible practical step to walk with her to recovery. When I got lost this spring, my family of dear friends held onto hope for me when I couldn’t grasp it. They walked through every practical task, holding my hand to pull me up.

In “Christianese” we call this “being the hands and feet of Christ”. In straight-up English this means love in real-life action. We MUST do this- in ministry and outside the church walls- it’s not an option or going the extra mile. It is a requirement for people to live.

Holy cow, this is longer than intended. If I could, I’d give you a cookie for sticking with me and reading this far. But I had to tell you where I went this weekend. I’m the woman who went to a well for one purpose (youth ministry training), and left with unexpected living water. The only logical thing to do next is share with everyone who will listen.

Oh, and on the last day, I finally met a group of fantastic guys from West Virginia. So I even got to hang out with fun new people. It was worth the drive to San Diego, don’t you think?