Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Very Merry Christmastern

After recounting all of this semesters extraordinary events, it was hard to prepare to leave the home I made over the last three months. There were details to be arranged, gifts to be delivered, laundry to be done, rooms to be cleaned, and flights to be caught. So, naturally, there was no time for sleep to be had.

But returning to Oklahoma for a short visit has been wonderfully refreshing and encouraging. I was able to spend about five days in Norman/OKC with my college friends and cronies. As I mentioned to several people, "I've never been to Oklahoma for a visit - I've always come home to stay." Feeling as though a time limit had been set on all my conversations because of this made me spend the first day feeling rather disjointed (this may have also been due to delirium caused by lack of sleep). But after the first 24 hours were finished I fell right back into the swing of things - being in Norman just feels so natural! It was great to see faces I've missed and to laugh and cry with some of my dearest friends in the world - I, of course, extended about 100 invitations for people to come visit me in Seattle and sweetened the deal by offering my sofabed at no extra charge. :)

Being home in Tulsa has been great. It's great to spend time with my family, and some of our oldest and dearest friends still live in this city. I loved celebrating Christmas with my church home at Redeemer. I'm thankful for sweet friends who have been praying for me and loving me even from afar. I even got to spend time with a few former interns who helped pave the way for my own internship - all three of which are now at seminary with their spouses. Seminary in my future? Feeling more possible every day.

However, being home has also given me time to process this semester and to be thankful for the ways the Lord has blessed me this past year. It has made me anxious and excited to go back to Seattle and to continue the work that the Lord is preparing for me to do there! I am grateful to be feeling rejuvenated but also grateful that I have a job that I love and a God who loves me. Being an intern is unlike anything I've ever done before and the Lord is teaching me and demonstrating his love to me in ways I could have never imagined before now.

Mild, He lays His glory by - born that man no more may die.

The beauty of Christmas is Christ! He is life and light for us.

Monday, December 12, 2011

3 Monthaversary

Today is the three month anniversary of my Seattle 2011 arrival. The time has very literally flown by, and I depart for OK for the holidays on Friday! A recap of my first three months seemed to be in order.

In September
  • I drove 2094 miles across the country with my mother in a Honda Civic full of all of my earthly possessions. This took 2.5 days and we crossed 7 states along our route.
  • I moved into a house with five awesome roommates, only one of which I knew at all.
  • We spent the first week of classes on campus meeting students and prepping for an unpredictable quarter of campus ministry with RUF.
  • We had our first RUF of the quarter and my first RUF with the UW students and our campus minister, Ryan.
  • We had our first social event, a bonfire on the beach at Golden Gardens.
  • I attended my first Husky football game - they won!
In October
  • I came to know and love the OU Sooners Club of Puget Sound - the alumni association chapter of my dear university where I was able to watch the football games all season.
  • Our RUF small groups started meeting
  • I had my first one-on-ones with the women in RUF as I started to form relationships with students
  • Our house received a name - The Burrow - and had a housewarming party.
  • Our house found a free upright piano on craigslist and moved it into our home - where it will stay until the end of its life because it ways no less than 1000 lbs.
  • I attended the quarterly Presbytery meeting of our denominations pastors in our region - met many local pastors and met the new campus minister for the only other RUF in our region - Boise State.
  • I found a church home at Grace Seattle in Capitol Hill.
  • I joined a community group at Grace and began babysitting for the Mom's Bible study group once a week.
  • We launched our second year of RUF Bible Study at Bellevue College on the east side of the lake and I got to know the students in that group as we wrestled with the book of Galatians.
  • I started having students over every Tuesday to help me make cookies for a local homeless ministry.
  • I hosted a Hymn Sing at my house and enjoyed an evening of worship with students in my living room.
  • We had a dinner at Ryan & Amy's house for some of our new students to meet some of our returning students.
  • We had game nights, played frisbee, played soccer, and grew to know one another better through fun activities throughout the week.
  • I travelled to Atlanta for intern training and got to be encouraged in my work and in my heart by the fellow interns and other RUF staff.
  • Saw Bill Gates speak on campus.
  • We took 15 students to a local corn maze for some Halloween Fun!
  • Ryan and I got to see four of our students perform with the UW Gospel Choir at halftime of the Husky football game with the University marching band!
In November
  • I started my most successful endeavor to date, "Thank Goodness It's Thursday(s)" - affectionately referred to as "Donut Day" - which has become a weekly breakfast fellowship on campus and my favorite morning of the week.
  • We played football in the pouring rain on Veterans Day with about 17 hardcore students.
  • We took 16 students to volunteer with a ministry to hand out meals to one of the low-income neighborhoods in Seattle.
  • We had 17 students sign up to be part of our student leadership team.
  • My campus minister and his wife had a beautiful baby girl - Jane Elizabeth, born 11/9/11.
  • I spent my first major holiday away from my family and travelled to Oregon to spend the holiday with a few friends from OK.
  • Relationships with my students continued to grow and we began to delve deeper into the issues of sin, community, grace, and the church as we talked more and more regularly.
  • I was able to attend an evangelism seminar with Jerram Barrs here in Seattle and brought some students along.
  • I ran in the Seattle 5k to raise money for one of my favorite local non-profits, Street Youth Ministries and beat my personal best time!
In December
  • We had three days on campus where students met to sing Christmas carols and hand out hot chocolate to students in Red Square.
  • We had a very successful RUF Christmas party.
  • I went to see three of our students perform with the UW Gospel Choir!
  • We had a beautiful lessons and carols service as our last RUF of the quarter.
  • Two of my dear friends from Oklahoma came to visit me.
  • I hosted a girls night at my house where about 12 of us made DIY Christmas gifts, watched Christmas movies, and drank hot apple cider.
Before I leave I'll be at one more small group, Christmas caroling once more, and hosting all of RUF to my house for Brinner (Breakfast for Dinner) on Wednesday night! I am so very joyful to be in Seattle and to be serving with RUF here at the UW and I am so thankful for the prayers and provisions that the Lord has provided for me through all of YOU! Excited to be home for the holidays but I'm already looking forward to being back in Seattle in January!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Equipping to Serve

RUF's ministry model is based around this idea:

"Reaching students for Christ and equipping them to serve."

This means a couple of things. It means that first and foremost, we are seeking to build relationships with students that glorify and promote Christ in their lives. We do this through large group, small groups, and one-on-ones and it is an aspect of our ministry that is relational and powerful. When I was a student in RUF, this had enormous impact on my life as a growing believer and as a student in a new and unfamiliar environment being away from the lifelong influences that traditionally provided this instruction and support.

But the beautiful thing about what RUF does it that it does not simply seek to convert or encourage students in the faith and then stop there. They are reaching students for a reason - because RUF believes that part of being in Christ means living life in a new way. It means being aware of the needs of people around you - and it means giving and sacrificing our time and energy to serve on our campuses, in our churches, and in our communities. For some, that might mean that they step up to serve in their fraternities or sororities and seek to love the campus and the student body by serving in those leadership roles. For others, it may mean volunteering with a homeless ministry or tutoring kids after school as a way of serving and loving the community. Still others might be led to make greater commitments to serving in their local churches by helping out with the youth group or serving in the music ministry or teaching Sunday School. For me, it meant moving to Seattle to continue the work of RUF and to serve the students at the UW and the city of Seattle! It looks markedly different for each member of the church body - and that's good! It is so important that each person serves in a different capacity because there are so many different but essential needs to be met. The point that RUF seeks to drive home though is that you should be doing something. It encourages students to find the ways in which they can find opportunity to serve in whatever capacity they find opportunity for. College is such a pivotal age for this and it is important to be exposed to a lot of different opportunities for service and to build habits to participate in these ways.

Last week, our RUF participated with a ministry out of a local church (Greenlake) called "Good Friday." This is a once-a-month ministry that Greenlake has that brings warm meals and the Gospel to a part of town along a road called Aurora. Aurora used to be part of the main highway that went through Seattle from North to South before the interstate was built. After I-5 moved to town, much of Aurora's formerly booming business and hotel industry declined and deteriorated. These hotels and motels in North Seattle are now infamous for being a constant center for crime, drug activity, and prostitution. 16 students showed up on a Friday night in the cold to come and prepare and distribute meals to the residents of the motels along Aurora and offer them a friendly conversation and an invitation to church. This is an awesome example of how the Gospel is at work in the lives of our students and their willingness and desire to serve in the city and to try to meet the spiritual and physical needs that exist around them. I'm excited to see the ways that the Lord uses these desires to bring life and love into the hearts of our students and into the communities in which we live and serve!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Analog Groups

I've been in a lot of small group Bible studies over the years and have studied a wide variety of topics and books. A large number of these studies have spent time discussing the epistles of the New Testament - Ephesians and Galatians I've studied countless times and in countless contexts. Some of these studies have been led by others, some of these studies have been led by me. Other groups have looked at the Sermon on the Mount (hollaback to freshman bible study at OU), the Parables of Jesus, or other topics from various authors. However, it's probably been since early high school that I studied the book of Acts in depth (and in a Sunday school class, if I recall correctly).

The book of Acts is in the New Testament and writes largely about the apostles and the early church after the ascension of Jesus. What an essential book to study, right? This quarter, one of our senior students, Tom, has been leading a coed "analog group" on the book of Acts that I've been able to attend. It's been really great to revisit this book and to have an in-depth discussion about the things that were happening in the early church. Tom does a great job of getting our minds working and of also seeking to find ways to think about how to apply this word to our own lives and to the modern church. Here's a nice picture of us, followed by an "awkward" picture, as per OURUF tradition.
They're learning.

At UWRUF, we call our small groups "Analog Groups." This is to differentiate these groups as face-to-face relational groups rather than digital relationship groups. The philosophy is that we spend so much time alone or interacting with our technology that we often forget to spend time with other real people. We see this as essential to building community and we see small groups as essential to building a healthy large group. Hence, our groups are analog. No gadgets, no gizmos. Food, Fellowship, Fun.

The students that have come to this study are wrestling with these things and especially with questions like "How do we, as college students, share the Gospel and love the world through our limited means and limited time and energy?" It's been great to see the way these students are growing and exploring this book and seeking to translate knowledge into wisdom and passivity into action. I'm so glad to be able to spend time with these students once a week and work through these ideas with them.

Monday, November 14, 2011

When it Rains, It Pours

With the advent of winter and sunset by 5pm, I'm slowly having to adjust to living in a northern climate as well as find a way to welcome the gray skies and puddled sidewalks. Since I spent the summer in a drought and didn't see a drop of rain for four consecutive months, the rain is still a welcome friend - which is fortunate since I get to spend the next 6-8 months with rain clouds as a constant companion. From what the natives tell me, their summer came late this year, but fortunately for me, it's meant that fall has been graceful and uncommonly beautiful. This has meant plenty of sunny days to break up the rain and warmer temperatures than they're used to for this time of year. As someone who is learning the ropes in a new place and missing the sunniness of my hometown, these are things that I have been exceedingly thankful for, as the weather seems to be showing me grace by helping me adjust slowly rather than having to quit the sun cold turkey.

On Friday, however, the rains hit in full force. As it was Veterans Day, the schools out here actually had a vacation day - so we had made plans to take full advantage of this day off by playing touch football on campus with students. (We made it touch instead of tackle so the girls would come! Staci, Sydney, Kati and Allison were brave enough to come out and play with the boys!) In corresponding with the date - 11/11/11 - we had kickoff at 11:11:11 a.m. Right about the same time the rain began.

We played for about an hour and a half in the pouring rain. It was absolutely the most fun that I've had in awhile, and reminded me a lot of the snow football nights we had at OU during college. When the raindrops began to fall, we all seemed to make a sort of silent agreement that we were going to play on and resigned ourselves to the fact that we'd be soaked by the end. Usually the rain in Seattle settles for a light drizzle, but about halfway in we were caught in an absolute downpour. With resiliency and lightheartedness at the fact we could hardly throw or catch the ball due to slipperiness, and running in the mud was basically out of the question without biting the dust, we made it through what felt like four quarters before retiring to a warm lunch at Chipotle. Here's a picture of the 17 or so of us that battled it out despite the conditions and had an absolute blast doing it.
This picture doesn't quite do justice to how soaked and muddy we all were, or to how soaked and muddy the field was, but hopefully it gives you the idea.

It's been such a blast getting to know these students and do fun things with them. More stories soon!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Why would You Ever Choose to Be an RUF Intern?

Curious about what the internship is teaching me and my fellow interns? Wondering why we would ever do this by choice? This is a helpful diagnosis of our sickness: http://www.ruf.org/ruf-blog/why-be-an-ruf-intern/


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

On Finding a Routine

Routine is elusive in the RUF intern lifetime. You may have a few consistencies: large group once a week, small groups that meet regularly, or other such activities. But for the most part, your schedule depends upon the schedules of the 20-450 individuals that might make up your RUF community. This means flexibility, fluidity, and thinking on your feet.

As someone who loves to plan, organize, and schedule every detail of my life, this has been a tricky adjustment for me. It means that when no one can show up to my small group that I scheduled on Tuesday nights at my house, it might mean that moving the small group to a different time and place is the best and only alternative, even if you'd rather continue to meet on Tuesday nights at your house.

It means that every day's schedule is different than the day before, which makes it essential that you write down every appointment you make or you'll never remember them all and possibly overbook a single time slot.

It means that sometimes your perfectly scheduled day can rapidly fall apart the moment you get a text from a student who needs to cancel that day's one-on-one just an hour before you're supposed to meet.

For me, this new adventure of never knowing exactly what my day will look like is one that is challenging to my personality but gets me excited and keeps me engaged. Yesterday I hung out at the library for a few hours and texted students that I was there and had four students come by to hang out, study, chat, and offer to buy me orange juice for my sore throat (sweetest part of my day).

Sometimes it means getting home later than a regular work day would require, which causes your roommate who is not a believer to ask what exactly it is that you do and leads to a conversation about your ministry and the Gospel.

So yeah, if you're looking for a routine, the internship is not the way to go. But wow, my job is awesome.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The First Week - brought to you in Color

The first week was full of highs and lows - definitely some moments of exhilaration as well as some moments that were underwhelming. Here are a few of the highlights:

1) It was awesome to be on campus. I'm starting to get a feel for what the campus is like and what the student community in general is like. There are definitely a lot of differences between here and OU, but I'm learning them and hopefully can get in tune with them really quickly. The main adjustment in that regard is going to be getting used to how much people here study. It's all the time. It's instead of fun things. That was definitely not the Oklahoma way. Hahaha. I did get free tickets to a UW Husky game (vs. Cal-Berkeley) and so I think I'm doing my part to work my way into the culture here. (Huskies are 4-1!) I'm wearing a purple Washington shirt in this picture, to make it official.
2) It will take some adjustment of expectations to get used to how much the rain can bum us out. Our first day on campus was supposed to coincide with a HUGE concert in Red Square - the main central gathering point on campus - where RUF was going to join the party with a giant inflatable slide and cotton candy machine. After days of beautiful sunshine before (and now, days of it afterwards) it rained nonstop from morning until night on Monday, and we weren't able to rent the slide. This was a huge bummer because our students were excited about it and it was a fun way for us to engage the campus and meet students during this first week, but we tried to compensate as best we were able - we handed out free hot chocolate to the wet and cold concert-goers and did our best to look cheerful despite our dampened spirits.
3) If there's one thing this RUF seems intent on doing, it's bringing out the athlete in me that's been hibernating since early 2004 when my high school cancelled their sports program. On Tuesday, Ryan and I met students on campus for a pick-up soccer game. These kids are hard core - we played for over 2 1/2 hours before Ryan could convince those guys to break for lunch. We went and got burgers afterwards - something I'm way more familiar with. Between the frisbee game on Friday night, soccer on Tuesday, and football on the beach, I'm becoming more and more athletic by the second. It's a fun way to spend time with students as well, which has been awesome.
4) One thing I'm excited about is working alongside other campus ministries - we got to meet the staff people from Cru, Navigators, Intervarsity, Huskies for Christ, The Lutheran Center, University Christian Fellowship, and several others campus orgs while tabling to meet students on campus. It's encouraging to see these other groups on campus and to have relationships with them rather than falling into a tendency to feel competitive with them. One of the staff people from Cru is from Texas, and so both being from the South, we bonded immediately over barbecue and fried chicken.
5) Wednesday we had the highly anticipated, penultimate FIRST LARGE GROUP, and served dinner beforehand - stir fry that was cooked up by one of our sophomore guys! By this time in the week, I was absolutely exhausted, but it was such a rush to finally see the quarter get kicked-off through this first official event. It was exciting to sing with the students and to hear the word from Ryan - this quarter he's preaching through the parables of Jesus, which I am stoked about. It was neat to start to see the RUF community come together and to get a feel for what that will look like and how I can best serve them. I started by serving them cupcakes.
6) Thursday and Friday were pretty anticlimactic days of tabling on campus - Ryan said that this was the worst year of tabling in his six years here - the students just weren't coming by! One thing that is a challenge for all of the campus orgs right now is that the Student Union here is under construction, so there's no natural meeting place and much of the regular places for catching traffic on campus are closed for that. We did meet a few students and tried to give away our Tim Keller sermon cds and old RUF t-shirts and did our best, but the thing this probably served the most was to meet some of the leadership from the other student orgs and ministries on campus, including the Secular Student Union - who we ironically shared a table with at the religious orgs fair on Friday.
7) Friday night was our grand adventure, we decided to risk the chance of rain and host a beach bonfire at a nearby park - Golden Gardens. It turned out to be an enormous success - we bused over to the park with a bunch of students, played touch football in the sand, roasted hot dogs, toasted marshmallows, played campfire games, sang campfire songs, and enjoyed probably one of the last nights on the beach before the season ends. It is getting colder and rainier in Seattle every week. It was a really awesome and fun night and a cool time to get to spend with the students - every minute of which I am soaking up right now.
There is more planned for the upcoming weeks and lots going on for me as well - church hunting, friend hunting, new running buddy, presbytery this weekend, housewarming party at our place, etc. I appreciate your prayers so much and will do my best to keep you updated with all the exciting news as best I can! In the meantime, since the Huskies have a bye-week and OU is headed to Dallas without me (although I will be watching at kick-off starting at 9am)....


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Meet the Staff

So this week has been the first week of actual on-campus work, which has been so exciting and definitely busy! Being so brand new at this, I'm trying to slowly tip-toe my way through the ins and outs of campus and students and new places and new people - and it's funny because tip-toeing is hard to do when you're running at 90 miles an hour. It's been absolutely nuts since we started out of the gate Monday morning, so there's a lot of learning on my feet and kind of just figuring things out as I go - especially since Ryan, my campus minister, is the only other staff person here at the UW RUF and therefore the only person to watch-and-learn from!

Ryan is a graduate of New Mexico State University and an alumni of the RUF there. His campus minister at NMSU is a pastor named Mike Biggs, who just so happens to be the senior pastor at the church I went to in college in Norman, OK. Small world, check. He and his wife Amy met in elementary school and got married after graduating from NMSU. They have been in Seattle for five years, have a 2 1/2 year old daughter named Ava and a second baby girl due in 5 weeks! Super cute kids, check. Ryan is a competitive cyclist and just went to the something National Cycling Championships something in Oregon last weekend and got 8th in his age range. I don't even know, wow, etc, yeah I think he's really good or something. Here's a picture of Ryan and his family - Amy his wife and Ava his daughter.
Getting to know Ryan has been a cool process and so far we've been working together well and getting along and learning about each other which all seem to be good and positive things. As with all campus ministers I have met in RUF, his love for the Lord and the Gospel and his family and students are super obvious which is a constant encouragement, and he and his wife Amy have already been doing an incredible job of loving and encouraging me. I'm really thankful to be serving at the UW with Ryan and to be able to learn from him and from his knowledge of the students, the campus, the city, and the Gospel. Here's a picture of Ryan and I from our first day on campus (yes, it rained absolutely all day long) with "Dubs," the UW Husky mascot! Dubs was having trouble sitting still, I guess he's shy or something. Look at me looking so convincingly like I like dogs!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Furniture Treasure Hunt & Settling In

I've officially been in Seattle for one week, but I can tell you it feels longer already! My hats go off to all of the interns who moved to campus on the eve of their first large group and the start of classes because I have absolutely no idea how I would have managed to get settled if I had not had this week to do. But now, here we are! And I finally feel like I have a slice of stability in my life to last until the quarter calms down - but it came at a price (the price being not a little bit but a lot of stress).

As an intern, you might think that I would be able to live lavishly and be surrounded by every imaginable comfort to aid me in transitioning from one stage of life to the next. RUF does do a great job of taking care of us, but our personal budgets are considered "basic subsistence," which means I live on a pretty inflexible budget. I am trying to learn to manage my finances better for this reason (I spent this morning clipping coupons & reading DIY blogs), which is definitely going to be an awesome thing to learn during this internship, but on a practical level it meant that my budget for acquiring furniture for myself and for my house was going to be a challenging endeavor when there's just not enough cash to go around.

I've experimented with craigslist in the past, even sold a few things on that forum myself, and it is a website that my mother, in particular, has come to swear by and has had great success with. I decided to take a look around to see what I could find.

Luckily for me, my friend and former roommate, Cilla, had provided me with a bed prior to my arrival. So, bed - check. Also, I had been determined to include my two end tables among the small amount of my valuables and essentials that I drove across the country - so nightstand for my room and an end table for the living room - check. At this point, my checklist looked something like this:
I started to look on Craigslist for three major pieces of furniture - a dresser, a desk, and a bookshelf. Of the things I had felt to be of most importance in my life, my clothes and my books were the main things to make the cut and therefore to make the drive from Tulsa. Since I had moved out of my house in Norman on May 14th, I had not had a permanent residence since then and so at this point I had been living out of a suitcase and boxes for four months. To say that I was anxious to get a dresser into my life as soon as possible so that I could unpack my bags would be an enormous understatement.

After about 48 hours and 25 emails to sellers, I was able to land the following gems:
Bookshelf 2
Chair 2
Chair 3
Sleeper Sofa
For a grand total of $100.

To say I was proud of myself, nay, that I was proud to make my mother proud would be insufficient to describe the pure relief that I felt to be able to begin&continue the settling process in my new home.

After renting a UHaul (Nightmare!) and having some helpers assist in the move-in process, we got the bedroom furniture settled upstairs and the sleeper-sofa downstairs to the basement where it will serve as the guest bedroom (for all the Oklahoma visitors I expect will drop by!)
This sleeper sofa was free, by the way.

I also got two chairs like this one for $5 a piece.

The first project was to paint the dresser, desk, bookshelf, and chair. With help and advice from both Mark and Cilla, we eventually decided to try to tie in the furniture with the bedspread. want also to point out how well the bedspread matches the walls of my room - and how the walls were painted that color when I moved in and I've had my bedspread since freshman year of college. It's the little things.
The color of the chair was inspired by the lamp, and was meant to be a sort of extra pop of bright color.

Here are the results of my treasure hunt, and I must say I like the finished product very much (something for the wall above my bed will come in time).
The dresser and bookshelf ended up a light but bright shade of yellow-green called "granny smith," which was very close to the greens of my bedspread.
The bookshelf sits next to the desk and the nightstand.
Under the window is where I decided to put the desk and chair, and on the opposite wall to put bookshelf 2 and the mirror. The desk was an unstained wood and we gave it a coat of a light caramel-brown with the salmon chair for accent.
I've got a beautiful view out of my window from my desk!
This $5 chair was an unstained wood with white seat that I decided needed to live a more exciting life! So now it's pink/orange.
I absolutely loved this antique mirror that I found on craigslist and knew I needed something special for the blue of the walls in my room - I've always had white walls, so working backwards was a first for me!
This bookshelf was left in our house from the previous tenants and no one else wanted it so I found a perfect spot for it and paired it with the mirror!
The corner at the foot of my bed holds some very treasured things - a shadow box of memories from OU, a poster from The Katie Tracy Band's glory days, a wall hanging from my trip with RUF to Peru, and the magic-maker - Mr. Guitar.
This painting was one that I got while still in Norman from Guestroom Records on Main Street with a Groupon that I had and I love the color it brings to that wall.
So glad for the ways the Lord has blessed me this first week already, and I'm SO glad to be feeling settled in my new home!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Amateur Seattleite: On Location

It's unbelievable but after 2.5 days/32 road hours/2093 miles/7 states I AM IN THE RAINY CITY! AND it ISN'T raining! Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me both financially and through prayer because this adventure is finally underway! I cannot express my gratitude enough.

Mom and I left Tulsa on Thursday night and spent the night in Hays, KS before moving on to grace the interstates of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington before arriving in Seattle on Saturday night! Along the way, we were able to have lunch with my dear friend Sam just outside of Denver, which was such a pleasant treat (at this insanely awesome French crepe restaurant)! We also were blessed to be able to stay Friday night with my friend Josh (both of these friends are OU grads/RUF Alum!) at his apartment in Salt Lake City where he was so gracious to host us for the night! It was a long trip and exhausting, but we were so ready to get here and thankful to have a pretty uneventful trip up (in the best way possible!) Mom and I entertained ourselves by 1) listening to sweet music by Stephen Gordon (thanks, Bentern), Indelible Grace, Sigur Ros, Les Miserables, and some other favorite bands from the itunes library, 2) read aloud from "Freakanomics" and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," 3) watched/listened to the movies "Oklahoma!" and "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Notting Hill." We stopped when we needed to but made excellent time and enjoyed our time with one another as well!

A family from Greenlake PCA here in Seattle hosted mom and I while she was in town since I'm not exactly settled yet (!) which we were so thankful for! On Sunday morning, we went to church at Greenlake PCA which is where my campus minister, Ryan Hughs, and his family attend church and several RUF students go as well. My friend Mark leads the music there as well, so it was a treat to see him that first morning. As the senior pastor got up to begin to speak my mother unexpectedly said to me, "That's Mike Kelly!" I was confused as to how she would know this and looked at her quizzically - she explained that she and my dad had been at seminary at the same time as Mike in St. Louis at Covenant over 20 years ago! It's been incredible and eery to see the connections that continue to appear between my life and the people here in Seattle, and this was just one more link! We talked with Mike after church and the service was very encouraging and I'm excited to get involved in the community here! I will probably visit a few other churches in town before I decide, but Greenlake would certainly be a wonderful and healthy place to be.

Mom had never been to Seattle, so in the afternoon we did a bit of sightseeing around the city! We came and saw the house I will be living at (!) and then saw the sights around town: Gasworks park, the view from Kerry Park, the Fremont Troll, saw my roommate from last summer (Cilla!) and Eli, then went downtown to Pike Place market and took the ferry across to Bainbridge island to see the city at sunset from the ferry, before ending our evening with Compline at St. Mark's cathedral on Capitol Hill. Mom got to see a lot of the city and we had a beautiful day to enjoy it!

Today mom and I got to go down to the U District and see the campus and Mom was able to meet the staff from SYM that I worked with last summer! (For all of last summer's musings, feel free to visit: www.hellosleepyseattle.blogspot.com) This afternoon I took mama to the airport after we had some awesome Thai food for lunch, and took my first official step into adulthood: I am now a college graduate who has moved away from home, and my mother is no longer with me. Although she did buy me six sweaters today, so maybe I'm not such a grown-up after all.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hymn Singin' CD

Over the years I've cut a few rough recordings of some hymns and songs (some with the help of sister Anna Tracy) and I've finally gotten around to deciding that you can get a copy of these if you'd like it. $10 will get you 10 tracks (chances are I'll throw in an extra or two) and I'll even mail it to your house. If you'd like to avoid shipping charges, talk to me and we can make that transaction happen. The Google Checkout button in the right column should get you where you need to know, let me know if you have questions or problems. Thanks so much, feel free to spread the word to anyone you know who might like to have a copy of some sweet music, courtesy of Katie Tracy formerly of the Katie Tracy Band.


The Latest

The move date is set! Mom and I will be departing Tulsa the evening of September the 8th and venture the 2000+ miles to the city of sleeplessness. We're hoping to make it up with a good amount of sleep on our side by Saturday evening. I'm excited to spend some QT with my mom and WAY excited for her to get a chance to see Seattle for the weekend! I know that it seems late to be moving, and that's because it is. Little known fact: The UW is on a quarter system rather than semesters, so their school schedule is off from most of the rest of the country for most of the year. Instead of two 16 week semesters, they will have three 10 week quarters in the same amount of time. Also, for reasons that I think are more weather related, they run their school year from September - June rather than August - May. So, even though I am moving after Labor Day, I will still be arriving in Seattle about two weeks before classes start!

PTL that I have finally found a place to live! While details are still coming together slowly, it's nice to have something a little more solid than...well, nothing. I'll be about a fifteen minute walk from campus in a house with some sweet girls - a couple of nursing students and a couple of girls outside of RUF. I'm getting more and more excited to get up there and start meeting students and getting ready for the year!

In the meantime, I'm spending time with students at OU and helping out the new campus minister, Justin Westmoreland, get the lay of the land as the semester kicks off in Norman. OURUF went on a first-of-the-year float trip in Tahlequah with the RUFs from TU and Arkansas, and so I, of course, came along for the ride. I'm getting antsy to get to campus in Seattle the more than I see RUF kick off down here in Norman and especially as the other interns move to their campuses and begin having large group and meeting up with students. It's a waiting game for me at this point, but I'm trying to make the most of it and spend time doing as many of my favorite things as possible - which mostly means having coffee with dear friends and squeezing as much fun out of every moment as possible.

Continue to be in prayer for the interns who are still working to get the rest of their support together, and that my Seattle housing plan would get finalized in the next couple of days. Thank you all for your prayers and support! I'm so excited to be at this point and can't wait to get started on this journey!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I received the official GREEN LIGHT approval to move from the Atlanta office on Friday! This is such an incredible blessing and I am so thankful to all of my supporters who helped make this possible! The Lord has been so gracious to me, and through your generous help I will be able to start making arrangements to move and live in Seattle! THANK YOU!

Classes do not start until the end of September, and so in order to be there about two weeks before school starts, I'll roll out of town on September the 9th - my goal move date. Please be in prayer for my mother (!) and I, who will be trekking the 2000+ miles over 32 hours to drive up to Seattle in a few short weeks! I still have some money that I have to raise in order to be fully funded, but I am so very appreciative of each and every one of your prayers and the financial support that you have so generously given! Continue to check back for updates and pray as I work to find a place to live and roommates to live with!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Rain Outside Reminds Me that Our God is a God who Provides

Hallelujah, Grace like rain...

It's been a hot summer in Oklahoma. The hottest in history, in fact. The hottest in the history of the country, to be more specific. Yes, it's official. Oklahoma is a hot, hot place.

Contrary to the norm: the average high temperature for the month of July being 103 degrees, we've been having a few thunderstorms the last few nights but most of them have happened during the night while I slept. Waking up this morning with the clouds pouring rain down on our thirsty state nearly brought me to tears -- of the deepest weather-related joy possible. I walked outside to my car and back to the house with no umbrella, because somehow when the rain is so welcome the raindrops are not so troublesome as usual. It's beautiful to see the way the Lord has provided the rain that we so desperately need, and his blessings are new every morning!

This summer I have continued to work at my position in Norman as an Americorps member at the Center for Children and Families in addition to my support raising and preparation efforts with RUF. This has made for a busy summer and very little down time, but I have been amazed time and again to see the ways the Lord has provided rest and solace for me. Last night we had our last "Girl Power" event (a monthly event with our female staff and middle school girls) that I will participate in, and it was an incredible way to end my time of direct service with CCFI. My contract is finished at the end of August, at which time I will have served over 1000 hours over the last year. It's been an awesome experience and an incredible preparation for future work in social service and relational ministry, including the work that I will begin on campus this fall.

This week has been exciting in the intern world as many of my intern friends have received the "green light" to move to campus! This is exciting for all of us as we are able to rejoice with one another and share one another's excitement as we transition to each of the campuses where we will serve. There are 43 interns in my intern class going all over the country! I love these people and am so excited to serve alongside these incredible men and women of God. Please continue to be in prayer for me and the others who are still working to meet their support goals.

The Lord has continued to pour down his grace on me as I grow closer and closer to my fundraising goal! Right now my greatest need is for one time gifts - of any size! I have reached my 85% goal (Praise the Lord!) with the help of many monthly pledges, but must have $10,000 of this be actual money in my account in order to be officially cleared to move. I have about $8500 of this money already, so every little bit helps so much! You can donate online at www.ruf.org/donate or mail gifts by check with my name and 79753 in the memo to: Reformed University Fellowship, 1700 North Brown Road, Suite 104, Lawrenceville, GA 30043.

Thank you for your love and support. Counting down the days to Seattle 2011!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Postcard Updates!

These were sent out in the mail this week, so hopefully you received one if you are on the mailing list! If you want to be on the mailing list and don't think you are, shoot me an email at katie.tracy@ruf.org and I'll make sure you get on it!

This just is a way for me to keep people updated on the latest with me! I have been so encouraged by the support I have received and the encouragement that you have provided! Thank you!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

July Update: The Latest News

This month has been a roller coaster, to say the least. Support raising has continued to be both challenging and encouraging, but the Lord has been faithful to provide and to encourage. I've continued work this summer in Norman at the Center for Children and Families where I have worked for the last year, and so in addition to support raising and the intern study program, have been working full-time for the last six weeks in our CCFI Summer Program with low-income elementary and middle school students. This has been wonderful work but has been exhausting as well. I have learned so much from my work with CCFI and am thankful for that experience and for all the knowledge I gained and the relationships that developed between me and my students.

Support raising has continued in full swing in Dallas, Fort Worth, Tulsa and Oklahoma City this month, and I continue to be encouraged by the time I have been able to spend talking about the ministry of RUF with those I've been able to meet with. Right now I have about 75% of the total support that I need for this year, and still need about $3500 in order to move and about $8500 to be fully funded for the year. This total includes both monthly pledges and one-time gifts. I have been so thankful for the support that I have received and am so excited to be able to "get the green light" and move to campus. My goal move date is September 9th, but I need to have my 85% by September 4th in order to be employed by RUF. Thank for your prayers and encouragement throughout this process, they have meant more to me than I can express!

I would love to talk to your Bible study or community group if any of you are involved in a group who would be willing to allow me to come and share about RUF and my work with them. This would be true for anyone in the Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Norman or Dallas/Fort Worth areas. If you know any alumni of the University of Washington, I would love to talk to them about this ministry! Please continue to pray that my support would come in, that I would be able to move to campus, and also, that I would be able to find a place to live! I am looking for roommates and an affordable residence close to campus and would love to hear about any possibilities you might know of.

This last week was spent in Atlanta for RUF staff training, which included all of the campus ministers as well as the first, second, and third year interns and staff. It was an incredibly encouraging week and I was reminded of the Gospel in so many ways as we talked about the RUF Philosophy of Ministry, evangelism, and the importance of Scripture, Justification, and Sanctification as the pillars of our ministry. I am so honored to be able to work for a ministry that keeps the Gospel at the center of everything they do, and was encouraged to spend more time with my intern class and to grow those relationships that will become such an essential part of my spiritual and emotional support base once I move to campus.

Thank you for your support and your prayers, and if you're on my mailing list, be looking for a postcard from me for your refrigerator to come in the mail this week!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

June Update: Where are we?

My official start date with RUF was June 1st - it's never been more real than now! The first week of June was spent in Atlanta, GA with 43 other first-year interns for our new staff orientation. John Stone (Intern Coordinator), Emily Larsgaard (Intern Administrator) and Emily Craft (Intern Administrator Assistant) helped us understand what our job would entail and what kinds of expectations would be realistic. It was incredible to meet the rest of my intern class and to begin building relationships with these co-laborers. They're truly amazing men and women of God and I am so excited to serve alongside them over the next two years.

This month has consisted primarily of getting the word out about what I am doing with RUF and starting to work on raising the financial support that I need. This has been an incredible learning experience that has been challenging, rewarding, and humbling. I have been so blessed to see the outpouring of prayers and support and encouragement that I have received since I sent out my letters and have been so thankful for the responses that I have gotten. As of now, I have raised about $9830 in one-time gifts and pledges! This is about 30% of the total support that I need! Praise the Lord! Thank you to those of you who have been able to support me financially already. It is so encouraging to see the ways that the Lord is providing for me with your generous help. It has also been encouraging to me to be able to sit down with many of you and talk to you about the ministry and work that I am so excited about! Thank you to those of you who have made time for me to be able to share with you about this work.

I'm excited to see the ways the Lord will continue to amaze me with his provision as this process continues! I appreciate your prayers so much, for endurance and perseverance through this challenging time.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

RUF: Study Program

This month has also been the first month that I am working on my intern study program. The study program consists of reading assignments in different books each month, as well as reading through the Bible over the next two years. We'll do some reading in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Westminster Sorter Catechism as well. At the end of each month, we submit reports to our campus minister and to our area coordinator that try to draw out some of the more helpful truths from the books that we have read and the ways that we can apply our reading to our ministry and to our conversations with students.

This month we read a book called "Asking" by Jerry Panas and a book called "Trusting God" by Jerry Bridges and read through the Gospel of Mark.

Here's an excerpt from my report about "Trusting God" -

"While it may go without saying based on the title, this book is essentially trying to encourage the reader to believe that God should be trusted and that we are called to trust him. However, it seems to also be an exhortation to those who struggle to trust God completely because it addresses many of the questions and concerns that believers and nonbelievers alike encounter when considering the question of whether or not God can be trusted. Bridges empathizes with those who may find it difficult to trust a God who allows sin to continue or who permits “bad things” to happen to those who love him. I think that Bridges does a great job with many of the questions that seem to be most common in discussions about the goodness of God, such as How does sovereignty work exactly and What will God’s Love look like when manifested in my life. I think that Bridges provides some much-needed perspective and helps to make expectations realistic and to really help readers get a grasp of the larger picture of God’s glory and how His ultimate plan combines His desire for His glory with His desire for our good. "

We have a lot of really incredible books coming up in the program and I'm excited to see the things that I am able to learn and apply through the program.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

RUF: Ways You Can Be Involved

The work of RUF is made possible through the faithful and generous support of the larger body of Christ. The work that I will do with RUF at the University of Washington will not be possible without your support in two essential areas:

Prayerful Support and Encouragement

Please be in prayer that my time spent with students will be fruitful and beneficial, that I will be able to communicate the love of Christ and the richness of his grace to them, and that the Lord will use me to be an encouragement and a support to them. Please pray that the Lord will grant me strength and endurance to maintain a busy and demanding schedule, and that I will be challenged but will also find rest in the Lord’s faithful provision.

Financial support

All of my expenses as well as my salary will come entirely through financial contributions and gifts from individuals and churches. Please prayerfully consider financially supporting my work with RUF for this next year. I will need to raise $34,500 for the year, but will need to have 85% of this raised before being able to move to campus in September. This will only be possible through contributions and monthly pledges from family, friends, community, church members, and RUF alumni. All contributions are tax deductible and the enclosed envelope outlines several ways you can support my work with RUF including monthly support, quarterly support, and one-time gifts. You can also give directly online at www.ruf.org/donate.

Personal Expenses: This covers my personal salary. Intern salary is determined by a standard base pay, cost of living, and student loans.

Benefits: Benefits include health insurance, dental insurance, workers compensation, life insurance and FICA. FICA is the employer’s portion of federal and state tax.

General Administration: This covers accounting, legal, receipting, and other general administration expenses.

Ministry Expenses: This includes all expenses related to my personal ministry. It covers student conferences, development, study program, moving, orientation, training, phone, and miscellaneous expenses.

Thank you for your support and encouragement and for being willing to partner with me and pray for me. I am excited to see the ways the Lord will be working in my life and through the work of RUF at the University of Washington over the next year. Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions about my work with RUF.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

RUF: What's the story?

Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) is a campus ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) whose mission is to reach students for Christ and equip them to serve in their churches, campuses, and communities. RUF has been instrumental in preparing and supporting me to serve in these ways. The importance of the Gospel and the freedom of its message is powerfully communicated through the preaching of scripture and through opportunities for fellowship, discipleship, and service in both the local and global communities. RUF’s primary purpose is to teach and demonstrate the love and grace of Jesus to college students from all walks of life: whether convinced or unconvinced, cynical or spiritual.

Starting in September, I will be moving to Seattle to serve as the RUF intern at theUniversity of Washington. My job will be to work alongside the campus minister to coordinate large group meetings, meet with students, plan RUF events, lead Bible studies, and be present at conferences. I am so excited to have the opportunity to serve RUF and the students of the University of Washington and the city of Seattle. Seattle is among the most unchurched cities in the U.S. and the city’s need for hope and healing from brokenness through the Gospel is an undeniable necessity.

I'd love to talk to you more about this or answer any other questions you might have. You can find out more about RUF at www.ruf.org or you can call or email me! I'm so excited about the work that the Lord has called me to and to partner with the existing ministry at the University of Washington.

Katie's Contact: