hmm… it’s saturday. ♥

good saturday night, my dear friends. it’s a cold one here in sweden. in case you are dying for a weather update (and even if you’re not, you’re gonna get one. hehe)… there is a little bit of snow mixed in with rain tonight, so i’m not exactly happy about that. on the other hand, i’m home alone since my love is working & it’s good that there’s not a snowstorm going on since she has to drive and be outside a lot. there’s still hope, though, for the next few days.

anyway, tonight i’m having my cozy christmas evening with myself: watching a movie, drinking julmust (this traditional swedish soda, i guess you would call it, only available now & at easter. crazy, huh?), enjoying tons of candles all around me, and getting ready to do some christmas present wrapping! yes, m’am, it’s a cozy night indeed.

the past few days have been busy with work, as usual, but with a few fun things thrown into the mix as well. first off, i have been re-hired at the church where i work (my job was a project from september to december), so i will keep right on working there. aaaaaand, they have upped my hours (and therefore my salary!), which feels amazing! my internship is going strong as well… i’m there at least until the end of april. so with both of those things going on, looks like i’ll be working a total of 100%/ full-time… beginning in 2012 (at least for a while). how did that happen?!

speaking of my internship, we had our staff christmas party/dinner thursday night. a few of us met at a pub for a few drinks beforehand, and then headed over for a really good dinner. in between the courses, there was a a little 3 act play which led to a murder, and we had to guess who the murderer was. it actually was quite fun! a good evening & a good chance to enjoy each other’s company, and of course drink some good wine!

on the way home after the dinner, we walked through the city. in one of the squares, surrounded by a fence, were christmas  trees… just waiting for someone to find them, take them home, decorate them, & love them. we decided it was about time to get ours!

today, lina & i couldn’t stand it any longer… we went to get out christmas tree! and it is just beautiful!! there is nothing like the soft lights on a tree to light up a room. now, i’ve got to get busy wrapping so we can get some presents under it!

hope y’all have a wonderful weekend! can you believe it’s just one week until christmas eve?!

peace out.

like a true hippie.

 ‎1.5 million served. 30,000 wounded. 4,500 lost lives – american lives & iraqi lives.  thousands of iraqis displaced, refugees in other countries now. many of whom i have met here in in sweden. and finally, after tons of money, years of violence, and a country turned upside-down… almost 9 years later, the war in iraq is over. the question is, what do we do now? will we continue to turn to war in order to solve our problems or spread our beliefs/philosophies (we americans said that we wanted iraq to be democratic. did we ask them? did we consider their history & their culture?) or will we dig down deep, swallow our pride, think of others, and seek the way of peace instead? it’s up to us. only we can choose.

war is over. if we want it to be.

in december 1971 john lennon released a song, inspired by another war. the viet nam war. a time when many people gathered together to protest violence & to spread a message of peace instead. yes. i am a true hippie. i really do believe in peace. i love john lennon, mother theresa, martin luther king, jr., bono, and ghandi. i like rainbows & music & flowers. i think that people can live in harmony with one another. i hope for acceptance, diversity, & respect. i admire the weird, eclectic people in the world who not afraid to be unique & different. i like to dance in a drum circle. i hug trees. i shop fair trade when i can. i am thankful & in awe of the beautiful world, which i believe we are called to take care of.  and i will protest & share a message of peace anytime & anywhere i can. yep. i believe that it is possible… a world of love.

please listen (click on the song title) & think about how to spread love, not hate. not only at christmas, but every day of the year: happy christmas (war is over)

peace. and i mean it. for real.

st. lucia day.

it’s st. lucia’s day in sweden! and just in time. you see, this week… from today till the 21st (next week) it’s the darkest week of the year. the days are the shortest. the nights seem to go on forever, with darkness swallowing up the sky. but, in sweden we have today as a reminder that there is light even in the dark. that the light always returns and overcomes the darkness.

lucia was an italian christian martyr, who is now remembered every december 13, for her gift of light, faith, & hope to everyone she met. her name actually means light. so, today, we in sweden celebrated light even in the midst of all the dark. we celebrated today, because next week, light begins to return… the days begin to get longer literally bringing more light every day to our lives.

so this morning, and all throughout the day, girls were dressed as st. lucia with a wreath of candles on their head, and joined with others in singing about the light that comes in the darkest time of year. the light that comes with the christmas season.

to celebrate st.  lucia, last night lina & i attended the lucia/christmas concert here in the city. there was a young woman from norrkoping who was st. lucia and a young woman from odense (our sister city in denmark, and ironically the city where lina & i lived!) who was the danish st. lucia. they led a large choir in singing traditional lucia songs about light coming back to the world. there were also 4 young adults who had won scholarships for their musical abilities performing during the evening. 2 girls from odense and 2 guys from norrkoping. this year, 1 of the guys that won is lina’s cousin! it was so awesome to see him perform! he is amazing!

well, night has come again here in sweden, and i must face one more week of darkness before the light begins to creep back into our days. just one more week to hang on, and then (at least psychologically) it feels as if hope becomes reality. we turn a corner & begin our journey toward the light. ahhh… yes.

the lucia concert. cozy with candles & beautiful voices.

the 2 lucias with the candles on their head.

 the danish girls who won scholarships. pretty cool classical music.

 the guys who won. the one with the bass… that’s lina’s cousin. unbelievable jazz music!!!

 cute violinists from age 4 – 15/16. so adorable.

 a song that we all sang. about light coming into the world, of course. hehe.

hang on, my friends. light is on it’s way. the darkness of the world is all around us, but the light… well, the light, always returns. light, love, hope. these are the things that win.


my (american christmas movie marathon) day off.

there is only one thing on my mind today… cheesy, american christmas movies sent to me from my dad in the states! these are the movies i remember watching with my family growing up. and it is just not christmas for this little american girl living in sweden without watching them. so, today, i’m hanging out in the corner of my sofa, under a blanket, with the sounds and sights of sweet, hopeful, cheesy christmas movies all around me (complete with real american commercials from about 10 years ago – my dad recorded these movies from tv then. hehe.). gonna be a cozy, cozy day. the almost perfect day off. just wish my love was home with me. but, i’ll make it a cozy, christmas-y evening with her tonight. just need to see some snow falling outside. but, it’s coming. one day soon, i hope!

pics from the 1986 movie, “the christmas gift” with john denver. a small colorado town, christmas legends, letters to santa, snow, music, a christmas pageant, nature, sledding, unexpected miracles… so american. so cheesy & so perfectly indulging. love it!

happy tuesday! peace.

work weekend.

oh my gosh. what a weekend. it was that obligatory “cram as many christmas-y things into one weekend as you can” weekend. and i am exhausted. i cannot wait until i have a few days off in a row. make that 4 days in a row. only 11 days left until my long 4 day weekend! i’m pumped.

but, before i move on to this new week that has now begun, i wanna share a few things from the hectic, but really successful/wonderful weekend.

i began my weekend a little backwards. lina & i had the day off on friday (she was off this weekend) and we went to the movies for an afternoon matinee. aren’t those the best? oh my gosh how i love to sit in a dark, cozy theater, eat popcorn & candy, and watch something beautiful & inspiring. and friday’s movie experience did not disappoint (see my previous blog post).

 getting candy before the movie! yes. swedes have candy stores that are crazy big. hehe.

after the movie i went to work at the church. youth group meeting time! the last one of the semester…

then, it was up fairly early on saturday morning & off to watch a very swedish christmas tradition… the lucia train. it’s not a real train, but rather, it’s young girls & boys walking in a line, singing christmas songs (traditional swedish ones, of course). the first one in the “train” is always a girl – st. lucia. this year, our niece was st. lucia. it’s a lovely & cozy tradition. actually, tonight we are going with our niece to the city’s big st. lucia concert in the concert hall. always amazing and christmas-y!

 st. lucia train.

after the lucia train, we went to a cafe for fika & some quiet time away from all the hurried, stressed-out people rushing about on a saturday 2 weeks before christmas. an hour or so after a muffin & some coffee, lina & i parted ways. she went to celebrate her grandmother’s 92nd birthday & i went to the church (again) to work…

i was at the church for a total of 10ish hours on saturday. deep breath. it was a looooong day, and i was quite worried about everything, but it turned out to be fantastic! here in sweden, saturday was the big nobel prize dinner & ceremony in stockholm. all of the nobel prize winners for 2011 gathered for a fancy dinner & ball, so what did i do with the youth at church? we had a nobel dinner of our own! something they had done before, but i had no idea what to really expect or plan.  hence, the stress & worry. but, i bought food, cooked & prepared it (with some amazing help from some parents), and figured out how i could link the nobel dinner celebration with a youth group seeking to grow in their faith. it was a really, really good night! my little legs took me home at about 10 pm where i spent a few hours catching up on the day with my love before crashing into my bed. sleepy, but satisfied.

 the youth group at the nobel dinner.

i slept forever on sunday morning, and then finally got up & made french toast for us for brunch. yummy!! we cleaned the apartment, baked gingerbread cookies, and then got ready to head to the church once again.

sunday night we had the english christmas service and guess who was the worship leader?! ME! oh, it had been soooo long since i had the amazing pleasure of welcoming people, inviting them to listen to & sing christmas carols, lead people in prayer, read text, and dismiss everyone with a blessing. it had been so so so long. and i have missed it so much. but, standing in front of a group of people, speaking to them about love & peace & hope… aaahhh. there i feel at home.

you know, there are many rules that exist to keep me from doing precisely what i did last night. the rules try to keep my voice (and many other voices) silent based on the fact that i love a woman, that i am married and committed to a woman. but, who i am married to and who i spend my life with has nothing to do with my ability to speak words of hope & love to all people, anywhere. and this amazing church that i work for recognizes that. there is no rule there saying that i cannot stand in front of others & share a message of peace.

i’m not speaking about my life or my personal beliefs when i stand in front of others. i do not try to convince people to agree with me or try to “turn” anyone into anything they are not. when i stand up in front of people, i look at all of their eyes and accept them as they are… whether i know them or not, whether i like them or not. i stand and look at the faces of others, and i know that it is an amazing honor to be able to be in that place. i stand and speak only because, first i have been called to share love in this way (this is who i am) and second, to share a message of hope, respect, acceptance, & peace in the middle of a painful & dark world. i stand to remind people that hope is alive, that life means something, and to challenge all of us to find our special niche – and then to live life to the absolute fullest, sharing love in every place that we can! i stand to proclaim that it is possible to follow your bliss, and that as we discover the bliss in our lives, we take it with us & spread a little of it wherever we go.

i am so unbelievably humbled, overwhelmed, and thankful that i had an opportunity, after 3 and a half years away, to stand up and lead people in a time of praise, joy, & hope. i am so thankful that, although my denomination (united methodist) has said that i cannot stand and be ordained as a minister in a church, the fellowship of people who have hired me as a youth minister refuses to close the door in my face. instead, they open their doors to all people, from all places. and i am once again amazed by the journey that i have been on; and i can only continue to live life as the carefree, risk-taking, optimistic, dreamer that i am…. i can’t even imagine what lies around the corner in 2012.

last night we lit the 3rd candle on our table at home for the 3rd sunday in advent.

hope you had a good weekend! now, it’s off to begin this new week & all it has to bring. (and soon… soon… there will be a few days off!)