Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Winds of Change

Home for the holidays! Most of the time the expression is used for the Christmas season but since the term "holidays" seems to be used so loosely as of late I find it fitting for the Easter season as well. This is the second time I have been home all year. College keeps me busy as I have had weekends booked with fieldwork, evenings with classes and homework and the day to day activities of a college student.
Coming home things were a lot different. To start with the town of Worthington has much changed. I noticed a new stoplight by subway, an entire new street reaching from Shopko to Hy-Vee,  Hy-Vee which is also new along with their gas station. The dentist office by the hospital is gone, a new thrift store exists downtown and the skyline to my house that used to be open now boasts 134 new wind turbines.

So it may not be "NEW" but it is new to me. Upon arriving home several changes were occurring within the Kuhl's house as well. We finally upgraded our television from the old 1999 television that was very heavy, big and deep to a flat screen television. that takes up a quarter of the space. Mindy is getting her 37 year old orange shaggy carpet replaced by new carpet. The last room of the house to "upgrade" 

Check out that awesome orange shag!

The process was dusty, dirty and took a little sister-teamwork but we were able to get the old carpet out. After removing the carpet the padding revealed a beautiful hardwood floor. 

Kayli really wanted to keep the hardwood floor but dad informed us that the upkeep of the wood floor is more difficult than carpet, not to mention the 100 year old house has cold winter drafts as is and wood floor would only add to the problem. The carpenter is to arrive on Monday and I will be back at college but the next time I arrive home I am sure to find a modern, non-'70s, made-over, "Mindy's Bedroom". 

There is lots of change going on both in and out of my home and in my life. Today my family (all 6 of us) got together for what will be the last time until probably my wedding. So with that we have the lovely photos our the family. If I had photo shop I would crop out the awkward vents in the background but seriously we don't have any wall that is really "blank" for a good background. So we also attempted outdoor photos. It was kinda bright even with the overcast but it works well enough for the memory.

In a month two weeks I will be in Alaska. In two months Kayli will be in Crailsheim Germany to begin her year long journey as the Worthington/Crailsheim sister city exchange program and in two months Mindy will be in Mexico for her study abroad program. It is amazing how physically scattered our family is becoming yet miles does not separate our love for each other. With the winds of change comes new challenges but faith, and family remain the same. I am so excited for the change and know that God will go with me just as he has thus far in life.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows. (James 1:17).
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Internship: ALASKA!!

Chugiak Alaska! Did I hear/read that correctly? I sure did!

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I will be serving as an intern at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Chugiak, Alaska! Chugiak is 20 minutes north of downtown Anchorage, AK. It is beautiful so I'm told. Located at the base of the Chugach Mountains. Average daytime summer temperatures range from approximately 55-78°F; average daytime winter tmperatures are about 5-30°F. In the backyard (literally) of my congregation is the beginning of the Chugach State Forest home to moose, Kodiak and Grizzly bear, and Alaskan wolves. 

The congregation has a smaller youth group of around 9, but they partner with nearby churches. Since Alaska does not have an exceedingly dominant denomination Our Redeemer Lutheran Church partners with congregations in neighboring Anchorage including the all Alaskan Lutheran Youth Gathering which draws from LCMS and ELCA congregations around the state. The congregation has many exciting ministries that I have been reading about and heard from phone conversations from their pastor, pastor Steve Heinsen. 

Some of the ministries include fishing ministry which the congregation goes fishing in the inlet surrounded by all the local marine life including whales, sea lions, and walrus. A Northern Lights trip which is an overnight camping opportunity that admires the beauty of the Northern Lights and God's surrounding creation, as well as day to day activities of leading youth group, confirmation, and family ministry. To find out more about my congregation you can visit their website at 

It will be a big climate (and daylight) change for me check it out...
This chart shows the average amount of daylight (in hours) for Anchorage, which is 20 minutes south of Chugiak but my daylight hours will follow this general trend. I am looking forward to the outdoors. Having served as a trip leader for Boundary Waters canoe trips the past two summers I am excited to be in the outdoors near God's splendor and creation. 

Alaska has the third highest percentage of "unchurched" people in the United States, making it a huge mission field and opportunity. I am so excited to be a part of this ministry and I know it will be a journey to mold me into who God has called me to be. I am excited and anxious at the same time. I will be far from my family, friends and fiancĂ©e Adam. Adam and I have knocked off one year of long distance, as he is finishing his DCE internship in Marquette, MI, and now we have one more year. I am confident that we can and will get through anything after two years apart. I appreciate the support from my home congregation, field work church, as well as friends, family, and staff back at Concordia. I hope that through this blog I will be able to keep the countless people I hold dear to me up to speed with my life as an intern.


Run the Race

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

Who would have ever thought I would run a 10K? It's something I've always wanted to do but never had done. I'm not a runner for sport but I do enjoy jogging as I find it relieves stress. Back in February I decided to sign up for Golden Valley's "Run the Valley" race. With the support of my good friend Emily Stanzyk we trained. Emily is way more intense than I and actually is running in the Boston Marathon which is just 8 days away (Monday April 18). Emily and I trained together running inside and outside at Concordia. She would run full throttle while I enjoyed a more relaxed pace. Two months later and the day had arrived. 
"Runners please make your way to the starting line" I heard the announcer say.
My heart pounding, was I really about to do this?
Then the sound of the air horn and we were off! The first part of the race, a hill. I hear Emily's encouragement as she ran alongside me. 
"When we get to the top of the hill don't slow down push through and keep running" 
How is she so optimistic?
"Pump your arms" she reminded me.
The first mile was easy as we passed the marker of 2 miles I was really starting to feel my muscles scream at me. 
"Why did I sign up for this?" I said out loud
"It's fun, you'd regret it if you didn't and when it's all over you are going to feel so great!" Emily encouraged.
We continued to run and some people passed us. I was feeling discouraged and tired.
"You got this" Emily praised, "You see those trees up ahead run to those trees, run hard and when we get to them we will pull back a little"
We continued running and made it to the trees. 
"You see that stop sign, keep running to the stop sign" 
I now understood what Emily was doing, she was breaking down the race into smaller sections.


Sometimes life seems to be too much for one to handle. You need to break it down into smaller tasks so as not to feel overwhelmed. Day by day, hour by hour, one assignment at a time, one meeting at a time, one class at a time, one moment at a time. Hebrews 12 says "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith." Sometimes life seems to be out of control, words let unsaid, dishes not done, sleep not had, but then you realized, does it really matter? In the grand scheme of things will it matter in 20 minutes if the dishes are still dirty? Salvation does not depend on dishes, grades, or a race. Christ is the true prize and if we fix our eyes on Him, he will run with us and be there to encourage and push through to what's ahead, the trees on the horizon, the stop sign, faith stepping stones to mark our accomplishments. It's not about the race its about the process. 

Mile marker 6! 
"Come on Kristi .2 mile left" Emily yelled
As we came close to the end I could see and hear all the people, people I never had met cheering us on, and then I crossed the finish line! 
I was not last, which was my biggest fear, and in fact I did way better than I thought I would finishing in the top 2/3...okay so it's maybe not that good but for me I couldn't be more content.
I can't believe I did that and I have to say Emily was right, I did feel great. I swore during the race I'd never do it again, but looking back I'm crazy enough to go again.