Pictures of me...6 months pregnant!!!
I don't feel soooo big in this photo.
I feel huge in this photo!  This one was taken in the baby's room.

I'm Pregnant!

Well, it has been a very long time since my last post!  And lots has changed!  Quick update...outside of the title info....--I completed my term as a missionary in NYC and moved back to OH--I started, and completed my first semester of Seminary at Methodist Theological School in Ohio--I am pregnant!That is about the gist of it...ok, so some details on the final point...
On February 7th I found out I was pregnant.  As most you know, the chances, medically, of this happening were VERY unlikely--ok, like none--so needless to say, I was VERY shocked.  Even the staff of the doctor's office, including the docs, were highly shocked.  So after laughing through the shock, excitement set in.  Shermaine (My boyfriend of the last 4.5 years) and I are excited and preparing to be parents.  I have had fun buying furniture for the baby's room, cute clothes, and taking the wonderful "hand-me-downs" given to me by wonderful friends.  We have registered at Babies R Us (where I am now working part time!), so if you want to check it out and give me any suggestions, just look it up under my name.
I will take the fall semester off of school, and then after I will probably finish this second master's degree a class or two at a time.  Let's face it, I don't need another degree, but I would still really like the knowledge, and it will be a great connection for my work with The UMC.  I am living with my parents in Akron, and will remain here for now.  My mom will be a great help when the baby comes, and considering how excited she is, I am not sure I will be doing much outside of feeding this baby!  
I am now six months along (25 weeks tomorrow to be exact), and feeling much, much better. The first 22 weeks were a bit rough, but I feel great now.  We have had a mid-term ultrasound and all is well--baby is on target with weight and growth, YEAH!!  The baby is very active, and likes to keep mom up at night, but I love every moment! Before you ask, we are not finding out the baby's gender and we are not sharing any names we have picked out (and yes those are finalized!)  
I am going to try and do my best to use this blog to keep everyone up to date on baby progress, so as soon as blogger will let me (technical difficulties tonight), I will post some current pictures of "us".  Just as a note, to me the pictures make me look much bigger than I really am, or maybe that is just how I was feeling in them!  Thank you in advance for your support and love and prayers.  Each of you have touched my life, and I look forward to the ways you will touch this baby!
Peace and blessings,


The Pact

I just got done reading the book, The Pact. It is about three doctors who came from inner-city Newark, NJ and while in high school they made a pact to go to college and then medical school together. They were able to do this through an affirmative action program at Seaton Hall College--proof that affirmative action is necessary until our society will educate all equally. As I am reading the book, all I can think about is all of my friends who were raised in similar or worse situations. Why is it that some young people are able to avoid the suduction of the streets, and others sucome to it? The smartest man I have ever met never graduated from high school and was dead by the age of 22--and you must remember that I have a graduate degree and hang out with people with PhDs. I am a firm believer that nurture (or environment) can overide nature. But I also know, and have witnessed, that positive influences can make all the difference. This book shows how important it is in the life of a child that they be challenged academically, praised for the positive, and provided with positive people to show that negative behavior is not necessary to be successful--give a positive view of what success is. I know I am where I am because I had a dream...to be a social worker (not to mention the stable family and excellent education). It is not always important for the dream to be a vocation, but a young person has to be allowed to dream, and dream big. When the time comes that a kid does not think there is anything to dream of or for, that is when the negative will take over. Unfortunately, if a kid is poor, of color, or lives in a certain neighborhood, society does not give them a chance to dream. Programs like the one the doctors particpated in provided something to dream of. Take a moment and encourage a kid to dream...remind them they can do anything! And then read this book to give you some more inspiration to share with them. Peace and blessings, Lauren


Well, I have made the big step, jumped off the cliff, altered my life forever...or at least for the next 3 years. I have sent in my deposit to Methodist Theological School in Ohio. I am offically a Divinity Student! This is exciting, but still a bit scary. Not sure how the bills will get paid, I will buy a car, or how I will tolerate 3 more years of school (I say that like I do not like school), but I am learning to trust more and more that God will provide. Keep me in your prayers as I continue on this journey... Peace and blessings, Lauren


Long Time No Type

Well, once again, it has been a while...and more has happen then you have time to read about. I am going to do my best to give you a wonderful update, and in true Lauren style it will be chronological. Here goes...
9/21/2006--Late in the evening I received a call from my mother that my Uncle Mike, her brother, had been in a motorcycle accident. Unfortunately, he did not survive. I returned home to Ohio the next day to be with my family. I can honestly say this has been the hardest death for myself since my father died more than 10 years ago. However, this time in Ohio with my family confirmed for me that I needed to return to Ohio when my term in NYC is complete--so I will be home the end of July. Through this time, I was blessed with being able to spend time with my extended family--to support them and mourn with them--and many friends of my Uncle's. I have attended too many funerals in my short 28+ years, but this was the most moving I have ever been too. There were more than 1,000 persons who came to the calling hours, including a bus load (literally) from my Uncle's work that came from 1 hour away. Almost 50 bikes blocked the entire highway during the processional to the grave site which was over 20 miles away--it was one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen. It has been a hard 6 months, but a time of growth for me. Here are some pictures...
This is a picture of the line of bikes that processed to the grave site
This picture and a mat were set out at the calling hours for individuals to sign--this particular mat has signatures from the club my family are members at. The picture now hangs on the wall of the club as a tribute to my Uncle Mike.
10/2006--I had the opportunity to attend a Deaconess Discernment event and the bi-annual Convocation for the Deaconess, Home Missioner, and Home Missionary community. For those of you who have not had the chance to hear me go on and on about the Deaconess relationship with the United Methodist Church, here is the information. This is a lifetime lay relationship with the Church (very different from Ordained Deacon) for individuals to be connected to areas of love, justice and service within the denomination. I had been thinking about pursuing this relationship, but through this event it was confirmed that this is where God was calling me. I have completed my application and will hopefully be a certified candidate in the next few months. I am excited about this lifetime connection to the UMC, as well as the connection to a wonderful community with a 120 year history of fighting for justice.
11/2006--It has been a VERY long time since I had seen much of my step-mother, Pat's, family, but in November, I was able to visit and attend my cousin, Jennifer's, baby shower. I flew to Rochester where all of the family lives (at least in the area), and where Pat and her husband, Mike, recently moved to. It was wonderful to see everyone again. Everyone but my step-mother I had not seen in at least 10 years, and many of them I had not seen in 15 years! I plan to go and visit more often, especially now that Pat and Mike are in the area. Again, here are some pics...

Pat, her sister Marcy, and Jennifer and Heather, Marcy's daughters

12/2006--The holidays were very nice and it was good to be home with family for a positive reason. While there, Dana, Stephanie (my sister's) and I went out. There has never been a time when just the three of us went out in Ohio. It was great to just relax and chat. Here is a picture from of them from our fun:

Also in December, the epiphany of what I am going to do next came to me...Seminary! I know this sounds either really crazy or the next logical step. Some days I sit on both sides of this fence. But, after lots of prayer, discussion and even a visit to the Methodist Theological School in Ohio (located near Columbus, OH so Iwill commute there for only a few days per week), I do believe this is where God is calling me next. I need to complete 5 seminary courses for my Deaconess commitment, so in addition to obtaining another Master's degree (of Divinity), I will be able to complete these classes. Though a bit apprehensive--am I ever going to get a "real" job??--this next step feels good, peaceful.

1/2007--I got to have lots more fun with my sister! Dana came out to visit me for her birthday. We had lots of fun shopping, dancing, and even playing in the snow! We went to see the musical, RENT on Broadway (thanks Shermaine!). As usual...here are some pictures...

Dana and I waiting to go into the theatre.
Dana and I out painting the town!
Dana making a snow angel on the sidewalk of my street--she is so silly!

2/2007--On the road again for me...I traveled to California for a week to visit two US-2 missionaries I work with. I flew into San Francisco, spent a day and a half being a tourist, and then traveled two hours north to spend a day with my US-2. As usual, it was great to see where she is working and what she is doing. I then returned to San Francisco for an evening before leaving the next morning to drive down the coast (Route 1/Pacific Coast Highway) to the LA area. The drive was AMAZING! I spent the entire time in awe of the magnificent power of God...it was very difficult to comprehend the ocean and mountain right next to each other. I was able to stop in Santa Barbara and see where my Aunt and Cousin spent so much of their lives. I then went on to Ventura to visit with a good friend, and spend the night with her. The next day I finished my drive down the coast through Malibu and went East to spend a few days with the other US-2 I traveled to see. Again, great to see what my missionary was doing and spend some time with her. Pictures continue to be the way I document my world, so here I will share more...

Lombard Street--the crookedest street in the world

Views of the Pacific Ocean and the Mountains

Present--I am now in the middle of preparing to interview, hire, make placement matches, and finally train our new classes of Young Adult Missionaries at work...so needless to say, my brain is a bit too full right now. My life is pretty much consumed by work! But, Austin and Kylee will be coming to visit me for 5 days in early April so I am very excited about this. I do not have much time left here in NYC, and since most of it is completely planed, it seems even shorter. I am looking forward to being back in Ohio and being able to settle near family. Keep me in your prayers as all of these transitions come up, and I will try to post more often so you can keep up with my crazy life a bit better. Thank you for being a wonderful support!

Peace and blessings, Lauren


Important To Me Series #1--Annie Mae Green

Well, I have been inspired by fellow bloggers to start a series in my blogging world. Just to share a bit more about me with my captivated audience, I have decide to do a few posts about those in my life who are important to me--my family and friends. So, I will start with the one closest to me--in proximity that is--my cat, Annie May Green.

Annie was born February 29, 1996. Yes, she and her siblings were leap year kittens. In reality she is only 2.5 years old. As you can see from her beautiful picture, she is gray with long hair. We believe she hails from the Mane Coon species of cats, though I also believe she has some squirrel and lion mixed in. When she lays down, you see a wonderful mane (that she keeps very clean), and when she walks down the stairs you want to sing the song "gray squirrel, gray squirrel, swish you bushy tail". So, hence the other DNA contributors I belief exist within my pretty kitty. She was born to the cat of friends of ours. After her birth we went and picked her out--well actually my parents picked her, I just agreed. Before leaving her mother, and while exploring the world around her in our friends home, she began to attempt to eat flowers in their home called "Sweet Annie's". Our friend began to call her Sweet Annie, and it stuck...sort of. I later tacked on the Mae really just because I liked the way it sounded. The "Sweet" part of her name did not last too long--not because it is just hard to say, but her attitude changed after a certain surgery. Annie became a very special cat...in other words she will attempt to eat you if you do something she does not like (i.e. pet her more than three strokes, not feed her on time, etc.). I really do have the scars to prove this negative behavior. In reality she is a very nice cat...she sleeps with me every night, comforts me when I am sad, greets me at the door when I arrive home. She is just very finicky...she wants what she wants when she wants it, nothing more, nothing less. If you do not do it her way, she will seek blood and find it. The funniest thing is that she is really only snippy with those she knows...never strangers. She also snores when she lays in certain positions...I have no explanation for this trait. Enough negative...she really is a beautiful cat who loves me. Though I am not here all the time and probably do spend too much time away from her, I love to come home and have her greet me. Even when she wakes me up in the middle of the night, I love to know she is there. I know not everyone in this world is a cat lover, but I really do believe in the connection between pet and human. For all of the drama, my cat loves me and I love her. Peace and blessings, Lauren

I Did It!

Well...I did it! Ok, so not as far as I said before...I cut off the phone (well it will be on the 9th), cut the cable down to just basic (which for everyone not in NYC--that means chanels normal cities get with bunny ears), but I kept the internet. After lots of calls, I finally spoke to someone who, I think, really knew what she was talking about. As I am talking to the representative, she tells me she will take care of everything, silence ensues, and then the next thing I know, no more Charmed! AHAAHAHAHAA!!! This is a very sad day, but at the same time a good day. I plan to read more...maybe my mind will grow...learn something! It feels very liberating! I realized last night that I really do need the internet. I pay all my bills online, upload pictures, download music. This is all stuff I will need to keep up with (especially the bills, but that is the least fun part), so I have down graded the internet but will still have access at home. Well, now that my life is altered forever without my daily dose of Charmed and 90210, I will manage. I did go for my two years as a US-2 without cable...I will do it again! Most important in all of this...I can still watch my General Hosptial! Peace and blessings, Lauren


Just rambling...

Well, I thought that since it had been so long since I had posted I should make up for lost time and post twice in one day. I really do not have much to say, just thought I would give an update of what was new with me. I spent the first two weeks of August in Ohio, visiting family, friends and Shermaine. I got to go to a Roots concert, swimming with Dana, Austin, and Mommy, played lots of games, got to spend time with my Aunt Nancy and Gary, and even got to see my Great Aunts who I do not see often enough. Though I love being in Ohio, it is really hard to come back to NYC. It reminds me how much I miss Ohio and even though there are days when I love NYC, I am beginning to think God is calling back to Ohio when my term here in NYC is complete. Ohio really does just feel like home. I do not know if that is just because that is where I have spent the majority of my life and know the most people, or if that is God's way of making me realize that is where I should be (or is that just me wanting it to be God telling me this...). I am sure my mind will change 1,000 more times before next summer, and I keep asking God to strike me with lightning to tell me what will be next in my life, but as you can see, it has not happen yet. I am not so sure I am so good at this listening to God thing....any suggestions....Ok, so I maybe I am jumping the gun a bit with thinking a year a head of time...I will try to chill out. Beyond me stressing about the years to come, I have had the chance to catch up at work, spend some time with friends, and just relax. I have made the decision to give up my cable, DSL internet, and phone in an effort to save money...not so sure how this will work, but we will see. I am planning on spending more time reading, so I have invested in some books--I guess this kind of defeats the purpose of saving money. Me and the library will be friends soon, but that will limit my book options because I like to write in the books I read...guess I will have to stick to the fiction selection at the library. Speaking of books...You must read Anderson Cooper's book, Dispatches From the Edge. It is amazing! He has a wonderful way of holding systems accountable yet give you the personal side of a story. I have been watching him since I was in middle school when he was on Channel 1, and I still think he is one of the most amazing journalists around....Check it out! I promise to stop rambling now and post something significant soon...though my life is not really settling down anytime soon, I do hope to be more diligent about posting...we will see! Thanks for listening (or should I say reading!) Peace and blessings, Lauren

Pretty pictures from out West!

View of Rockies from the plane to LA
Sunrise over Mountains in Anchorage, AK
Me in front of the Kodak Theatre--home of the Oscars!
Utah Red Rock canyon--view from plane to LA

Clouds sitting on top of the mountains in Albuquerque, New Mexico


Been Awhile...

Ok, so I know is has been a long time...Sorry...I really have been thinking of everyone, but life has gotten away from me. Since my last posting I have had many guests to NYC, hired 8 new US-2 missionaries for the UMC, traveled to Los Angeles, Nome, Alaska, Denver, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Ohio, and Michigan, tranistioned the 2004 class of US-2 missionaries out of their time of service, facilitated a seminar for 20 women, and am now training the new US-2 I hired. So, I am now helping this new class set up blogs for themselves, so I thought I better add a post myself. All of my adventures listed above were wonderful. I had a great time, saw beutiful views, visited family, and have had a wonderful time being with all of the US-2s. It was in May that all of the travel occured. In Los Angeles, I attended the Women's Assembly of the UMC where 7000 women from around the world came together for 3 days. The pagentry and connectionalism was wonderful. After this conference, I went to Nome, Denver and Albuquerque to visit US-2s. Nome is beautiful and I completely understand why people move there and stay (granted it was not 30 below when I was there--but it did snow!). The organization the US-2 in Denver works at is amazing! And in Albuquerque I saw the clouds sit on top of the mountains. Ok so it really is the small things in life that make me smile. I attended another conference at the end of May in Michigan where I was able to make some other wonderful connections and present about the work I do. In the midst of all of these adventures there have been some challenges. One of my supervisors, Mark Masters, passed away. His wife Kathleen is my other supervisor. Mark was a UMC missionary and currently serving in NYC at the General Board of Global Ministries. He was traveling in Southeast Asia when he had a cardiac aneurysm. This has been a great loss for his family and for our office. Most recently, one of my missionaries was serving in Lebanon when the violence broke out. He has now arrived safely back in NYC (today) but it has been a long, hard journey. I will rant later about my feelings regaring Isreal and the US... Well now all that is said...I will try my best to update more often. I will post some picutres of my trip so enjoy the pretty views! Peace and blessings, Lauren


The Same Jesus

I listened to one of my best friends give a "talk" last night at our church's Lenten Service. She talked about how she had sat in the same church, in the same pew, with a friend, and how they had come away with what seems to be a very different understanding of Jesus. She asked how they could hear the same words and hear a very different message--a very different Jesus. This idea of the "same Jesus" is amazing to me. I have attended a United Methodist Church my entire life--the same one from the time I was 8 to 22. I learned about the parables Jesus told, of his birth and resurrection. I learned that Jesus healed the sick, fed the hungry--all of those "charity" acts that we as "good Christians" are now suppose to emulate. What was missing was Jesus's commitment to justice--not just charity. Though Jesus did not come to liberate "his people" through becoming a governmental figure, he did come to liberate ALL through the power of love, peace, and justice. How did I sit in Sunday school and church all of those years and miss the most important message of all--Jesus's call for us to live a life of justice? I am not blaming my Sunday school teachers or pastors, I think the church (the body of Christ as a whole--not just one denomination or congregation) has lost this most important message. Many times we do a good job at feeding the poor, but when was the last time we as the body of Christ stood together and advocated for change so that we did not need to feed any of God's children any more? Don't get me wrong, I am not saying this is never done in the church--my own job in the UMC is a great example, but why are some living out this image of the Justice Jesus, and others have missed it all together--are we learning about the "same Jesus"? My best friend stated that she was led to this point in her life because she knows the church has to be held accountable to live out all aspects of Jesus's life--without justice there is no peace or love. I agree with this "calling" and believe we are all here to hold each other accountable to make sure all of God's children, including the least of these, are able to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God. I do not know if you have learned about the same Jesus as I believe in. I can only hope that by living as a child of God, you will see that Jesus in me--the one who walked with the poor, gave of his limited resources to feed thousands, healed the sick on the wrong day of the week, and gave the best example of living a life of love, peace, and justice. Peace and blessings, Lauren