28 December 2008

oatmeal, blueberry, orange, coconut?

It's a little strange, I admit. But yummy, too...

20 December 2008

do you remember the Christmas parties from last year?

My mom and I were pulling out nativity scenes and ornaments and I thought of last year. We had the annual junior high Christmas party at our apartment. Lots of thirteen to fifteen-year-olds, hot cider, cookies, silly games, the Christmas story, carols for the neighbors and a craft. Here are pictures of the nativity scene we made. (Who made which pieces? If you know, please tell!)
And then Christina and I hosted a party for all of the people that we would see in our daily routes--neighbors, the fruit guy, the coffee shop workers, the lady at the bread shop, etc. Awkward small talk (to be expected) and way-too-many cookies (to be expected), hot cider (what? no alcohol!? ...oops. guess i'm not slovene!), silly games, a reading of the Christmas story (but it was in slovene, so we assigned parts for them to read. strange since ...huh? Bible? wha-huh??) and the craft (for adults?? hum).

First off, it was clear that Christina and I are quite familiar with planning youth events, not as practiced at planning events for adults. Second, it was painfully obvious that we are not Slovene, but quite sincerely American. And third, even with all the quirky, irky, gawky moments of the evening...I think we all felt happy and Christmas-y and glad to be together. I sure won't forget that evening for a loooong time. Brad and Kindra were with us. I totally wish we had pictures, but I think that would only have increased the awkward feelings. However, some of the figures in the nativity scene were produced that evening. And hey, I gotta say:

Christmas isn't about being comfortable, safe and at home. Mary and Joseph left their home and traveled far that evening. Jesus left his Father, left comfort and came to make his family bigger, right? The shepherds left their mountainsides to worship the baby in a manger. The wise men left their lands to bring him gifts. So, I suppose a little awkwardness, a little uncomfortableness, a little vulnerablity is quite a fitting way to celebrate Christmas.

Glory to God in the highest! Peace on earth, good will to men on whom his favor rests.

15 December 2008

staying cozy

I recently finished the most complex project I've knit. It's amazing how many thoughts and prayers and wishes and worries and experiences went through my mind and heart as this yarn went through my fingers.

I crammed it in a flat-rate envelope and took it to the post office yesterday. Merry Christmas!

09 December 2008

wisdom is besetting

I found my first gray hair.

28 November 2008

what about this?

I'm in.

24 November 2008

life and what's been up

Here are a few of the recent events and activities: I started substitute teaching in Santa Maria. I like junior high best, so I try to take mostly those jobs. I often come home utterly exhasted and bursting with funny/delightful/weirdo stories. I had to get new clothes since I didn't have many professional-ish clothes. So, last week a did some shopping. JC Penny's is going up in my book and Old Navy has been quite underwhelming. I've been in planning to move to Oregon (yipee!) and thinking about job, place to live, church, friends, etc for that transition. I think I'll go right after Christmas. I've been on the on the phone with David. I've been reading like it's going out of style, checking out copious numbers of library books. (And subsequently racking up copious amounts of fines...oops.) And visiting Grandma as much as possible. She's as dear as ever and I have been cherishing this season with her. I've been living with my parents in California, which means that I eat and sleep a lot more regularly than usual. Very nice. I like them a lot. I've been loving being back at Grace Bible Church for awhile. And working hard in a Bible study with some amazing women. What a treasure. I was taking a community art class for awhile, but haven't been able to be part of that lately because of mundanly significant things like jury duty and work. I've been re-learning how to live in America. Sometimes that gets me at strange times, like when the girl at the bank gets super chatty and friendly. I sort of looked at her out of the corner of my eye and grunted. I've been hanging out at Starbucks. And I've been trying to write on a regular basis. I've been knitting, knitting, knitting. Well, there you go! That's what's been going on around here.

30 October 2008

"Doctor charged in death of donor"

"A San Francisco transplant surgeon was criminally charged...with excessively prescribing drugs to a 25-year-old disabled man last year in order to hasten his death and harvest his organs sooner. The felony charges are believed to be the first in the nation against a physician for his role in a transplant." (LA Times, 2007.)

Because I was in Slovenia, I missed the media surrounding felony charges brought against Dr. Hootan Roozrokh. However, I just spent the last few weeks traveling back and forth to the court in San Luis, wondering if this my turn to do my noble civic duty. This afternoon the judge and attorneys selected the jury. I'm not one of them. I'm relieved and bummed about that. Since I'm no longer a canidate for the jury, I'm free to read as many articles about it as I want. Organ harvesting, euthanasia, DNR orders, morphine usage, end of life care, defining life--all these issues come to mind. I'm personally moved by the case since my mom is an organ donor and since my dear grandma is very, very old. This a heavy ethical issue.

Praying that the attorneys are clear and truthful. That the judge and jury think clearly and uphold justice.

29 October 2008

celebrating October 27th!

Nina Joy just turned one! Here is a picture from last year...

She's grown so much in one year. She's definitely not a tiny baby anymore. Now she's running around and I can see her personality more every time I visit. This video is from a few days ago...

She's a curious, loud, happy little Stepanian. Pretty soon she'll be a big sister! Sarah's blog has more.

24 October 2008

two Brits, one real

Yesterday I thought I saw Harry Potter at Allan Hancock College. I didn't know why he would be there. But--good grief--that kid looked like him.

Naturally, I called Christina. She loves Harry Potter. (It may appear as though I love him...he has been in THREE of my posts. But I've only ever mentioned him in relation to Christina. I just want to be clear about that.)

I told Christina. In reply, she said she'd seen the Queen. "What queen?" I asked.

"The Queen. The Queen of England."

That's interesting.

13 October 2008

the everyday

This is an essay that I wrote at the beginning of the summer--back when I knew that I was leaving Slovenia, but didn't know when I'd be leaving. It's long and it's true and it's how I really feel. I am rich. If you do take the time to read it (I know it's loooong), I would love to know your thoughts.

I’ve lived in a foreign country, in a strange city, in a far away apartment. Ljubljana, Slovenija. Can you even say that? Yep. Neither can I. My tongue still can’t quite roll out that l-j sound.

In Slovene, the word for ‘foreigner’ is tujec. Translated literally, that means stranger…yes. The day that changed my life has been the everyday of the last four years. I’ve been a stranger for nearly four years. That’ll do something to a person, there’s no question about it. It’s one long day. Since I’m still here and haven’t quite woken up, I don’t know if I can quantify the experience yet. But I’m about to leave and I’m ready to do some reflecting.

I remember the confusion early on. As soon as my curtains were hung and I found the milk in the market, the honeymoon was over. What is a železniška postaja? How come I can’t figure out how to close these windows? Why is this woman lecturing me for my flip-flops? My wet hair? My bad grammar? My ice cream choice? Did I do something wrong? Always.
what a strange
solitary morning
snow shifting sound
lonely feathers drift drift
into white coverlets
that are completely foreign

I don’t understand how
everyone around me

dumb. (12Dec4)
I think symbolically
about every solitary thing
like a clear blue hour
after days of fog
and a pane of glass
separating foreign me
from them
like grace fully crashing down
from a worshipful rest
or missing dinner last Tuesday
more than five Thanksgivings
ordinary bread and oil
and wine
and water
sacred minutes. (20Dec4)

I remember huddling on my bed. Sitting too tall, turning my neck and wedging my head against the sloped roof. A view of the castle didn’t quite comfort me when the water was freezing. Or when Christina’s hair was in the kitchen sink. It didn’t quite comfort me when I broke my ankle on the uneven stairs. Or when the neighbors cut off our power because of a feud with the landlord. Especially when the freezer defrosted, the hall flooded and the meat stunk. That was lame. It didn’t comfort me when my brother got engaged to a girl I hardly knew. It didn’t comfort me when I heard that my grandma was sick. I was too far away.

During lonely seasons, I took lengthy walks, wrote slow poems and fought with my roommate. If we didn’t fight, I was thinking mean thoughts about Christina. Fighting in my head.

You think I’d be glad to get out of here. But it’s a melancholy feeling that I have when I brush through the city. Because, while a stunning view of the castle didn’t help me when my brother and his wife had their beautiful, little Nina Joy, getting that text message as I waited to pay a speeding ticket at the Slovak border was incredibly rich.

Because, while sledding in the Alps wasn’t enough when my grandma went on hospice, hearing prayers in Slovene was a greater treasure than I could ever have asked for. I know they weren’t praying for my benefit. Heck, I could hardly understand ‘em. I knew they were praying for her. Because I love her. And they love me. All I wanted was to be with family; and I was. They are my family.

Because, while I still get mad at people for elbowing in front of me at the post office, I can’t believe that I have a friend who would figure out how to ask our other friends to scrounge money to buy a ticket for a guy-that-I’m-not-quite-yet-dating to come visit. Who has friends like that? She just wants to meet him. She wants him to see our everyday. And secretly, I think she wants to convert him to Ljubljana life.

In the absence of home, I gained home. With the removal of security, I earned a deeper trust. At the cost of familiarity, I grew a sense of presence. I grew this love for life (not just mine) and an ability to—like good old Thoreau said, “live deliberately…live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” To tell the truth, I’m not a big fan of marrow. I’ll gnaw on a bone every now and then (particularly when I’m eating with a waste-conscious Slovene), but I see it.

I see life now. I see it in clearer, more poignant ways. I see that money isn’t most important, and that before too long I get sickened by consumption. I don’t want to get on the train towards a better apartment, a hotter guy, a nicer car or even that green, fitted corduroy jacket. I would rather walk to get groceries, listen to the birds, wonder about the eggplant on the pizza and those drunk boys outside.

I want to see. I see that giving brings greater joy than…almost anything. And I see that even more influential and beautiful than giving, may be (just maybe!) the ability to receive well. To receive with grace and trust. I see that family is commitment; that love is commitment. That a friendship is loyal, it can’t appear/disappear depending on my mood. I see that means I can’t sit around thinking mean thoughts about Christina.

Christina is my friend not because it’s easy, not because we both like The Office, not because she’ll clean out the drain. She’s my friend because we’ve fought about stuff and forgiven each other. She’s my friend because we know each other and we make sure to like each other. She’s my friend because she gave me a big hug before she left for vacation and then handed me her phone bill to pay while she’s gone. She’s my friend because we decided to be friends. We’ve laughed together and we’ve cried together. We just are.

I see that, more than anything, I don’t want to be foreign anymore. And, actually, when I take a deep breath, I believe that I’m not foreign anymore. But sometimes the best way to show up is to be in the wilderness—think Rosa Parks, Jesus, Odysseus or Harry Potter. They came by going. The best way to not be foreign is first to be foreign.

I’ve lived in a foreign country, a strange city, in a far away apartment. But now it is a beautiful country, a familiar city and an apartment that is home. In English, the name Ljubljana is close to our word ‘Beloved’…yes. For four years, I’ve been loved in this city; today I’ve been loved by this city. I’ve learned living and love here. Far away, but more present than I’ve ever been. Present with my God, present with my family, present with myself. I am rich.

21 September 2008

pogrešam te (I meant te in množina...but how do you say that again?)

These are some of my best friends in the whole wide world, some people who are real family to me. I spent a few hours missing them today. And they're not the only ones I've been missing.

15 September 2008

faced steadily

Our soul's history with God is frequently the history of the "passing of the hero." Over and over again God has to remove our friends in order to bring Himself into their place, and that is where we faint and fail and get discouraged. Take it personally: In the year that the one who stood to me for all that God was, died--I gave up everything? I became ill? I got disheartened? Or--I saw the Lord?

It must be God first, God second, and God third, until the life is faced steadily with God ... Keep paying the price.

(Oswald Chambers)

07 September 2008

to remember

At the beginning of last spring, I went to the lake and sat for awhile. In the midst of life, it's easy to lose track and keep moving and go, go, go and then suddenly realize that I've forgotten core, key, lovely, true things. I guess this is a time like that for me. I'm not busy. I'm not bored. I'm not home. But I am home. Huh? I'm in between. In between what?
we'll see...
So, for today, these are some things I'm remembering.

(If you click on the picture, it'll get bigger and you can actually read it.)

30 July 2008

i'm in america

strange. wow. hummm...

i sort of want to post some pictures or say something profound about the experience of moving from one continent to another, but ...


i dropped my camera in a lake yesterday, so no photos. and i don't really have deep thoughts at this point. maybe next time.

hi :)

19 July 2008

today is the 19th

i'll leave slovenia in six days. i feel a little disconnected, half like a plastic version of me walking through the days. i wish i wasn't like this, but i sort of feel like i'm watching myself say goodbye. it all feels a little surreal. how do you say goodbye? how do you leave a home? will i be back? what can i dream of?
i've been writing. i've been eating ice cream at the park. i've been listening to music. i've been drinking coffee with dear friends. a lot. i've been looking at photographs and making presents. i've been wishing i could cry. i've been buying plane tickets. i've been taking old clothes to the red cross and buying wine glasses to replace the ones broken. i've been staying awake at night. i've been wishing the days were longer and the time was shorter. this is getting harder all the time.

14 July 2008

camp report

Well, camp was great. That's the short answer :)

Before I left, I wrote posts to automatically appear each day while we were at Bled. When I looked back at what I'd written, I was thrilled to see how God was answering those specific requests at those times! Teaching an English class was a highlight for me. I was with a really cute group of girls.

A few nights ago we had a camp reunion party at the Jackson's house. All the kids from camp (except for three who had left for family vacation) showed up! We played Viking, did the camp dance, played 4-square and passed out awards. So much fun! They are a most peculiar, varied, energetic, sweet group of 13-year-olds.

04 July 2008

day 1

What does it mean to be human? We're all unique. We all desire success and love. We experience failure, but search for perfection. And we want to belong.

That is our theme for the week. We'll meet with 22 junior highers at Kongresni Trg and leave for Lake Bled at 11:00.

Pray for a good start to the relationships that will be built this week.

Here we go!!!

23 June 2008

a man on stilts was walking down my street today.

That was strange. Kinda creepy, actually. I wanted to take a picture, but I got the yeeks and started walking really fast. What in the world was he doing??

This was also a little surprising. We were advertising for camps in Mateja's village. When we got done some kids invited us outside for a little party. Accordian and polka in Kamnik! Yipee!! Click here to see David & Katka's blog for more of the story.

Camp teams come tomorrow!!

22 June 2008

a shorter version of Slovenia Note #45

The vision of Josiah Venture is to see a movement of God among young leaders in Eastern Europe that finds its home in the church and transforms society. Four years ago, I was invited to move to Slovenia because there was not an evangelistic community of young people. The apologeticist Ravi Zacharias has talked about the greatest evangel of the 21st century being a worshiping community. Over the past four years, we’ve experienced that here in Slovenia. For my friend Mateja, one of the most convincing influences was seeing Christians love one another at an English camp.

Our worshiping community has seen an increasing number of new births! As these new believers grow, our group is maturing, developing and beginning to reproduce. These Slovene brothers and sisters are wonderful—and naturally fit for this ministry! :) They understand culture and language and relationships so much better than I ever could over here! And they are obviously gifted by God. It is so fun to watch them!

And so, once again, it has become a time for transition. After a lot of thought, prayer and conversations, I’ve decided that it is time for me to leave the ministry in Slovenia. I don’t have a specific place that I plan to go or a specific task that I’m stepping into. But greater than any of that, I feel a sense of God’s peace as I walk forward into an unknown future.

I plan to stay in Slovenia through English camps and fly back to Portland on July 25th. After that, I really don't know what to expect. That's exciting and scary! Quite an adventure! :)

Here goes!!!

20 June 2008

welcome to the world!!!


Dustin and Natalie have a new baby girl!

Look how happy Skylar is!!

And TA-DAAA!!! This is Kaia Grace Hibbard!

Click this to see more pictures and details on their website.

10 June 2008


I firmly believe that everyone should have a good chicken story.

Just to give a little context before I tell what happened:
This is our living room. It's nice, normal, cute and not a farm house. I live in an apartment. Downtown. There aren't chickens in downtown Ljubljana.Živa and I were deep in conversation. We started hearing chicken noises. (Bawking, bocking, bwaking... How do you spell that?!?) We have unpredictable neighbors. So, I predicted that there was just a little more alcohol and a little more craziness than usual. The people were loud. I shut the window. We kept talking.

And then, there was flapping, clucking and a chicken outside of my window! Yikes!!!!
I didn't believe that there was an actual chicken in our building until I saw that animal. But that rooster was very real. The only way the neighbor boy could get his chicken was to climb through our window, out onto the roof, snatch the chicken, jump back in through the window onto the couch. Then he shoved the rooster in my face to scare me. Oh my...

The next morning, I woke up to a good, early crow. Haven't heard that in awhile. I felt right at home. The rooster lived on their balcony for a few days.

Then I ran into my neighbor in the hall. He said his dad had butchered it. It was tasty.


08 June 2008

summer's here!

Živa, Naja, Christina and I went to Piran for the day. We almost died on the way there when a car near us lost control. After we recovered from the scare, we had a great time--resting, laughing, eating, playing and taking funny pictures.

29 May 2008

27 May 2008

a feast and a friend

Summer has come to Ljubljana and the city is gorgeous. I just want to be outside all the time. Awhile ago, I made dinner and Christina and I sat on a bench across the street to eat it. We balanced our plates, utensils and glasses of milk on our knees.

Just as we settled in, Liliana sauntered down the street. She's a friend that I met last year. It's never planned, but we run into each other pretty frequently. Every time we're both just delighted to spend time together. Liliana makes me laugh a lot, teaches me Slovene and challenges me by her generosity and genuine concern for the world.

Christina ran upstairs and got another dish of food for Liliana. We got to share our little feast with her. It was lovely, eating with Christina and Liliana.

yep. that's a good salad.

Apple & Broccoli Salad

1 T oil
2 T sugar
2 T Dijon mustard
6 T apple cider vinegar
salt & pepper

one head broccoli
one crisp apple, diced
handful chopped onions

Whisk dressing. Pour over salad. Can be made ahead of time. Serves four.

This salad is one of my favorites. Perfect for the summer. It's modified from a recipe that I found in CookingLight.

13 May 2008

the clock here is 9 hours ahead of the clock in california

CA 7am = SLO 4pm
CA 10am = SLO 7pm
CA 1pm = SLO 10pm

In summary, if you live on the west coast, the best hours to call are between 7am and 1pm (your time). Or late at night--anytime after 10pm.

CA 10pm = SLO 7am

05 May 2008

akiko game night & cozy hof; important days

I am so proud of the JVKids.Jacob, Noah, Nate, Zachary, Claire, me & Laurel.Most of last week, I was up in Czech for Josiah Venture's annual Spring Conference. We got home late last night and I was asleep within fifteen minutes. Exhausted! Eating meals with dear friends, significant times of prayer and solid Bible teaching. It was a week that I will remember for a long time and I look forward to telling many of you about it.The Holy Spirit has reminded me of Isaiah 30:21 often lately. It says, Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, This is the way; walk in it.

17 April 2008

i LOVE this picture

How many years have we known each other? How did we become friends? He he!

You are beautiful. Thanks for being such a dear friend to me. I love you, Natalie.

14 April 2008

to America and back

I've been back in Slovenia for three whole days! It's finally time to post some pictures from the last few months.
I'm having a little trouble sleeping and eating at appropriate times, but it's getting better. This morning was our weekly staff meeting. It was good to get back into the trenches with some of my favorite people. Right now we're reading and discussing a book called Organic Church. Who is good soil? What is good seed? What's my part in all this? All this is super applicable and important for us to be thinking about.

After the meeting, Christina and I stopped to get produce from the fruit guy. It was a bummer to realize that I could withdraw significantly less from the ATM than I could before I left. The exchange rate is bad.
What was equal to $20, is now $21.50. Whew...

And once I wrote about 600€ being worth $825. Now 600€ is $950. Wow!

Here we go!

08 April 2008


Ligaya, Amanda, Amanda, me, Alison

We just got back from a girls' weekend in Seattle. This is what Alison said about it:

There is nothing like being with dear friends who know you so well. We laughed, we got pedicures, we cried (I mean, come on, we're girls), we ate, we prayed, we shopped, we drank coffee. We shared stories, struggles, and our c-section scars. Most of all though, we just got to be ourselves. I think that's what made it so great.

Yes. It was great.

15 March 2008

missions conference

This week is missions conference at Grace Bible Church in Arroyo Grande, CA. This is where I grew up and it's a little strange to be back here as a "visiting missionary." I remember meeting Dale & Arvalee Palmer, Joanne Shetler and other heros during missions conferences when I was younger. Spending time with them, looking at their maps and pictures and hearing their stories had a significant impact on my interest in bringing the gospel to the whole world.

It's been a busy, encouraging, fun and tiring week. One of the highlights was getting to share at the Coffee Break Women's Brunch with Natalie. :) She's another of my other missionary heros--as well as my very dear friend and sister--and we got to speak together!

So, Natalie, tell us about Bano Boy...

Ha! It was wonderful!

01 March 2008

02 February 2008

america, here i come!

I'll be in California:
February 11 -- March 31
And I'll be in Portland and Seattle:
March 31 -- April 10

Now, if we're friends and if you live in America, can we hang out? Will you tell me when? Drop me an email and we'll put it on the calendar. Don't be shy!*

*Alison Gentry

27 January 2008

a cow head, a horse head, a bull head

What am I doing? If only I knew....

19 January 2008


We had a GREAT time. I have stories I'd love to tell. Just ask :)

16 January 2008

the bad guy, the good guy.

I just saw a movie and now I can't go to bed. I'm scared. When I got home I checked all the hiding places in our house for bad guys. There aren't any here...but I'm still scared. It shook me up. It shook me up because it was about a good kid. His family thought he was good. His friends thought he was good: "They shouldn't send heros to places like Iraq." He probably thought he was good, too. Then, there was the crisis--stop and put all his buddies in danger or run over a small child. He was good and then he killed a child, on purpose.

He cried about it. And after that it wasn't the same. He couldn't be normal. All his buddies faced similar situations. They "dealt with it." Because "it's normal."

But it wasn't normal at all. All these people ended up dying, killing themselves and each other, sorta on accident. Is that normal? Maybe, I guess so. Survival of the fittest, huh? Life is like that. It's not as blatant usually. But it's like that--at school, in line at the post office, with my family, wherever. Maybe you started off heroic. But we're in places like Iraq--all of us. All the time.

"Sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you." That's danger. And you get caught in some situation. You didn't know sin was crouching next to you. And you do something bad, almost on accident. Kinda. And then you get stuck, you've got to deal with it. And then it's not someone else that's the enemy, it's you. Like your body turns against you or something. Suddenly you've turned on yourself. That's why I'm scared coming home. That's why I got shook up, because I wondered if I was looking for myself. Talk about the creeps.

Ahhh. But that's not the end
. Because, finally, Jesus died. And I know that. Good thing. Now, my competing can end. The cycle can stop. And then Jesus came back to life. Death, sin, stuckness has been conquered. There is hope.
Sin can be mastered.
(I wish I knew this all the time.)

And now, I can go to bed.

11 January 2008

i'm going skiing

...and i get to take lessons with the 3-year-olds!!!

Looking forward to lots of bathroom breaks, getting tangled in skis, and miška, slon, miška, slon.... (In English that means mouse, elephant, mouse, elephant. I hear it's a crucial part of the learning-to-ski process. I'm not yet sure WHAT part.)

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday I'll be in Mariborsko Pohorje with Mana's family. I cannot wait! If you're a friend of mine who prays for me, will you pray for peace and strength and safety?

05 January 2008

my true blue friend

me and kindra

03 January 2008

january 3

it was a fun day.
i fiiiiiiiiinally got my Christmas packages from my dad and mom. they were tragically STUCK in the post office over the holiday. we had an opening-presents-party over the phone. here's a picture of me in a new apron, on the phone, waving a new whisk. lovely, huh?

the hakalas and i went out to Joe Peña's (Mexican) for dinner. then we sat and talked til 10:55pm. it was wonderful.

i got home and parked my cute, red car. i think i'm a pretty good parallel parker.

sometimes i get in this big artistic/photographer mood when it's late. i really don't like using the flash, so it doesn't always work out so well. whatever.

also, it snowed, i bought a shirt for 2€, i got to pray with kindra and i drank tea in the morning. that's cool.

now good