Monthly Archives: July 2008

Fun Stuff!

I was all prepared to write an interesting blog…but then I decided there were more exciting things happening than my thoughts so…here’s what was happening in Willmar last night while CTI was shoved into the basement of the church.

Tornado in Willmar

For all you California folk…It’s a tornado!

Careful…there’s a moment of cussing in there…sorry about that. Wasn’t anyone I know.


Posted by on July 12, 2008 in Uncategorized


Do Titles really matter?

It’s one of those things that you see in a movie and it seems so real, but then when it happens in real life it feels like a movie.

That’s all I could think as I sat next to my sisters in a crowded sanctuary, watching the Chief hand my mother the perfectly folded flag and tell her how much my father would be missed. The thought of her sobbing, and my 9 year old sister sitting beside her rubbing her arm, whispering to her that it would be alright, is almost unbearable even as I write nearly a year later.
Being the oldest of us 5 girls, I figured I’d be the strong one. I thought that I would be the one that would go and comfort my family and take care of the things that needed to be done so that my mom didn’t need to think about it. But when the time came… when I actually got there, I realized that I was useless. I had no idea what to do, no idea what to say, and no power to do anything to relieve anyone of their pain… or confusion… or even their responsibilities.
You know who was the strong one…Abbie. She was only NINE then! I watched her every moment, sit beside my mom and rub her back as she cried, hold her close while she tried to wrap her mind around what had just happened, and sleep next to her so she wasn’t alone. The more I saw Abbie and her caring heart, the more ashamed I felt because all I wanted to do was go hide in a corner and be alone. I just wanted to be somewhere else. Somewhere I didn’t have to watch the people I love the most suffering.
I…I hated it.

Why am I writing this right now? I don’t really know. I think maybe this is part of how I process grief. But also, my father’s death has made me so acutely aware of how wonderful life is…and how short all at the same time. I find that I’m seeing things in light of love; seeing the beauty in ashes if you will. I want to take it all in…because if I don’t I just might miss everything.

It amazes me how the Lord uses people in my life to show me how weak I am…so that I can also see where He intends to make me strong, and to inspire me to be better than I actually am. Abbie is not the only one who has ever been used like that to humble me.

Take my mom for example. She never once uttered a word about losing her husband being unfair. She lost the love of her life and yet I saw her set her own heartache aside in order to attend to the brokenness of her daughters. That’s amazing!

Aside from that situation though, there are countless people who have caused me to stand in awe of the Lord simply because of who they are.

My friend Rachel Gonzales. She is a prayer warrior, let me tell you. If I ask her to pray for something, she will…unitl there’s an answer. She prays for me in areas that I forget to pray for myself!

And Dave Gonzales…he really is a man after God’s own heart. I love worshiping through music with him. I tend to get caught up in how the “crowd” is reacting to our song choice, or how we’re sounding, or whether or not people are “getting into it”. But Dave is a lead worshiper. He goes to the throne of God with full abandon, unashamed. And we cannot help but follow suit.

Then there’s April Strahan. April would do absolutely anything for her friends. One time I was in the hospital about to have a procedure done that I have never had before, and I was talking to her on the phone about how nervous I was (to be completely honest…I was crying because I was afraid to go through it alone). “I’m coming down there!” she said. And then she drove 6 hours to be there with me. I want to be a friend like that.

Sometimes, it’s not even the big things that people do that astound me, it’s the little things they do every day.

Lucas Harger…I think he’s the most passionate person I know. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing; he doesn’t hold anything back. He doesn’t even serve coffee dispassionately!

Oh…Marcia Roorda and Sandy Landergien! They are both mothers who have severely handicapped children (along with several other children) and all I ever see in them is patience, grace, and prayer.

Miranda and Kegan Fregeau…their first born son died in Kegan’s arms at only 2 months old…their reaction blew me out of the water and straight to the feet of Jesus: “You alone are good! I will praise You even still”.
Oh that I would have an unshakable faith like theirs!

Eliot To…he sees a spiritual application in everything. Whenever I talk to him, I walk away with a new perspective on something. I wouldn’t be surprised if he perceived some sort of spiritual application in the Rubick’s cube!

And my dear John and Vickie Poust: they opened their home to me and welcomed me into their family without really knowing me at all. I lived there for 3 years before they would receive any money for rent, or food, or gas. All because they wanted me to be able to go to school and do missions, and because that’s how they chose to serve the body of Christ; by giving everything they had.

So why am I saying all of this? Where is all of this coming from?
Well, for one thing, I want people to know that they have made an impact on my life.

The last “deep” conversation I had with my dad was in his garage, and he told me he has always been proud of me. About a month later, while I was in Mexico with CTI, my family sent me a letter, and on the envelope my mom had written, “Your dad says he loves you and that he’s in Awe of you!”
I will never forget that! The feeling of knowing that I contributed something to his life is…priceless.

Now I know that some girl writing a blog, saying that you have enhanced her life, is vastly different from your father telling you the same thing. But, none the less…please know that you have greatly impacted me and my faith, and have caused me to chase after Christ with passion and full abandon.

The other reason I say all this…and the reason for which I mention those people by name, is not to put them on a pedestal, or make other people feel like they aren’t good enough for my little Hall of Faith here. Rather, I mention them so that the next time you see them, (or meet them) you might see the same things in them, and be as encouraged as I am. Perhaps the LORD will use them in that moment, as He has in my life so many times, to fan the flame of your heart…and to show you all the areas in which He desires to build you up…from weakness to strength.

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work -Ephesians 4:16


Posted by on July 3, 2008 in Uncategorized


Biking Brutalities

Ok, I don’t know what the deal is here…but something is not right in the world when a girl can’t bike around town without the fear of something terrible happening.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about my running in with Killer Geese. Well, that was nothing compared to what happened this past week. At least in the case of the Killer Geese, I was alone…and no one saw anything that happened; so there was no embarrassment in running from birds. But the things I am about to tell you were in front of what felt like the whole world.

Incident #1
: Sometimes I’m riding home from work and the wind is blowing harder than I can ride, so to anyone who is driving by it looks like I’m sitting on my bike, completely still, and pedaling as hard as I can…but not going ANYWHERE.

Incident #2: Friday Eliot and I decided to ride across town to have lunch at Northern Grounds. Since I had to get back to work, we were kinda bookin’ it on the way back; and because Eliot doesn’t like to obey traffic laws (mainly stop signs) it can be a dangerous ride. Somehow, he always gets away with it….but I do not. So we were riding on the sidewalk and having really good luck with light-traffic. But we got to an intersection where we needed to cross traffic and Eliot didn’t even stop. He just zipped right on by; missing the cars that were quickly approaching. I was about to go right behind him…after I assessed that there was plenty of time, but then this car… I think it was driven by an old guy (no offense to old people) but he totally didn’t see that I was in the middle of the road…and he was goin’ for it! So I had to stop very quickly. And do you know what happens when you stop very quickly when you’re biking at a whopping 10 miles an hour? Yeah, you get thrown from your bike.

I didn’t get thrown from my bike, but I did get jerked from the seat…to the center bar. If I were a guy, I would be unable to have children…EVER.

Incident #3: This incident actually took place a couple days before, but it’s worth noting anyway. This day was a day that I had been biking in the morning and now I was home and my host parents were going to go for a ride. When they are biking, they are gone for at least an hour…sometimes 2. So I figured, I had the house to myself for a little while. Perhaps I could invite some friends over and have a short Keger!
(I’m kidding about that whole Keger business).
Anyway…I settled down on the couch with a book…and my laptop to get in some good reading/writing time, and all of the sudden I hear this very high pitched beeping sound.
So I’m searching around trying to figure out where this wretched noise is coming from, and I found it…in the kitchen. It was the fire alarm going off because my host mother had left a pan of bread crumbs in the oven and had forgotten to turn it off. Actually, I think she intended to turn it off but had turned it all the way up instead of all the way down!
So I did what any girl my height would do…I jumped up and down waving my arms in front of the alarm, trying to get it to stop beeping.
Then I realized, “that’s not really going to help Gretch, unless you turn off the oven so the smoke stops!”
All my flailing around wasn’t doing anyone any good, so I decided I needed something to stand on so I could actually reach the alarm to try and turn it off the correct way. I found a little step stool ladder thing that just happened to be close by. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to turn off a fire alarm; the button I kept pressing (thinking it was the “on/off” button) was really the “test” button, so that was frustrating. It ended up that I had to stand on the ladder with placemats in my hands, waving them around like a mad woman trying to get the thing to shut up.
Meanwhile, I’m thinking to myself, “Oh great, the Bruin’s are out gallivanting around town, expecting that I’m gonna hold down the fort while they’re away….probably hoping for some homemade croutons when they get home…and all they’re gonna get is a burned down kitchen!”
It took a lot out of me. So much for my relaxing time alone ‘eh.

Incident #4: Now this is the whopper. This is the one that just pushed me over the edge and forced me to write about it.

Ok, so it started out as a great morning. I got up feeling as though I’d slept extremely well…probably had some good chat time on Facebook the night before…had some good dreams? I don’t know, but whatever it was, I was in a great mood.
I took the bike out of the garage, noticed the temperature was quite lovely (though there was a hint of rain possibly in a few hours) so I shoved my hoodie into my backpack, put in my headphones, and headed on my merry way. I cruse down the road, over a few blocks, and across the train tracks. I feel a bit of rain fall on my leg and I start to hope that it will hold off until I get to work. I go a ways further until I get to the first stop light, where I usually have to wait a while for traffic. As I’m waiting, I rest my hand on my leg and balance the bike. I felt like my hand was damp when I put it down on my leg and think, “wow, maybe I went through a puddle or something? Maybe it’s really starting to rain and I just didn’t notice because I was riding like the wind?….” And then I am distracted by a lady across the street, yelling at me, asking if I knew how to get to the new License Plate store. “No, sorry, I don’t know where that is!” I shout, just as I’m jumping back on the bike to cross the intersection.
The moment my hand touched the handlebar I remembered my ponderings about the rain and my damp shorts, because I noticed that there was still something on my hand.
I glanced down quickly, and what I saw totally shattered my good mood.
What was it you ask? Consider my history with geese and take a wild guess!

A HUGE smattering of BROWN Bird POOP!!!!!!!!!! Yeup, all over my shorts…AND all over my hand, and now all over my handlebar as well!

Yeah, you laugh now…I certainly was not laughing then.

All I could think was, “I’m glad I wore a helmet.

This morning Joe VA came into work with a very long face on, and declared somberly, “Guys…I think I just killed a goose. I ran over it with my bike”.

My reaction: What a biking shame!


Posted by on July 2, 2008 in Uncategorized