Ode To Il Bacio

Ok, so this post is unashamedly completely devoted to my last year roommates. So if they are the only ones who read it, I won't be offended. But I have a feeling it will be amusing to more than just the girls I know as Coco, C-Dubs, and Nif. The four of us lived together last year at UVa in an apartment we like to call, “Il Bacio.” It means Kiss in Italian…Haha, but more importantly, it’s the name of the best candy in the world. (Where do you think Hershey got the idea of “kisses”?)

We were all 4 Kappa Deltas.
We were all 4 bestest friends.
And we were all 4 CRAZY. Especially when were were all 4 together.

To document this, we kept quote boards on a wall in our kitchen; one for each of us and one for friends or “Amici.” I was looking at them today (yes I kept them) and felt the need to share some of my favorites. Note: they are all out of context and all out of CONTROL. I am excluding some of the best ones to protect the innocent. Hope they make you smile. And to you 3…I hope they bring back sweet memories.

“I love dashes-I love semi-colons…I LOVE ellipses!!” 
“You left your mojito here a month-and-a-freaking-half ago. It died.” 
“We are fighting to be Satan’s child.” 
"Cream cheese on the COUCH and I would eat it."
“ I AM always a sucker for a lace overlay.”

“This is the best way…cause it’s the way I do it”
“I kill a lot of quail…”
“Good for you. You won, but you’re the devil.”
“Watch the track people. Their butts are machines.”
And a personal favorite, “In other facebook stalking…”

“If I could change one thing about my body, it would definitely be my bladder.”
“Rainy days aren’t sunny days, that’s for sure.”
Elise: “Did she ever go abroad?” Coco: “Yep, Hawaii.”
“Can we process some walnuts later?!”
“I love him…in a very creepy way.”

Lee Lee (That's me):
“I have a wedgie and WET nails!!”
“Are these from Anthropologie, or Africa?”
“Elves don’t eat toast!”
“I’m going to give away a secret: I was wrong so I covered it up.”
“I’m a flake connoisseur.”

Amici (Friends/Visitors):
“How do you know her?”, “Oh, just from meeting her.” 
“I hope I marry a man whose last name is Mush.”
“It was just like a big teddy bear…except it was bleeding from the side. And had big fangs.” 
“I didn’t curse until I went paintballing.” 
“There’s a SNAKE in the kitchen and it has four legs!” 
“I just want to lie down on a sled and have someone push me home.”

I love you three. There was never a dull day in our home. See you at homecoming!


Blessed and Made Holy

In the past few years God has really convicted me about the importance of Sabbath. [Note: The past few years I have been an over-involved, over achieving , college student…not exactly the time in life where you take days “off.”] But nonetheless, He has brought it up over and over.
Growing up, our family “Sabbathed” well. And this weekend, while I was enjoying a surprise visit home for Adam’s birthday, I was reminded of the gift that Sabbath is. God gave us the Sabbath as a gift. And every gift God gives is perfect. He wants us to rest.
“And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.” (Genesis 2:3.) Before God pronounced any created object or place holy, he pronounced a time holy. The seventh day; the Sabbath. And He asked us to keep it that way--to keep it holy. As I began graduate school, I made the decision, to receive the gift of Sabbath that God gave me . This seems comical seeing as how school could consume every hour of every day if I let it. But the amazing thing is, when I view Sabbath correctly, I don’t feel lazy or guilty about not working for a day. Rather, I feel freedom in experiencing a gift that God intended me to enjoy; commands me to enjoy. And it makes me strive to be productive and work diligently the other six days, just as God also intended us to do.
Here are some snap shots of what Sabbath has and does mean to me. What does it mean to you? What are some of your snap shots of Sabbath.
  • Church—
FIRST, Harbor Covenant Church—Growing up there, Sunday school, kids choir, friends. Greeting and being greeted by old friends every time I’m home. The Hagen children coming all the way across the sanctuary to give me hugs every time I’m there, brightening my day.
THEN, Portico church—the people, the kids, the band, the teaching, the family. MY church.
NOW, the Summit church in Durham with my brother followed by our weekly sister-brother Sunday brunch. A new favorite tradition.
  • Napping
  • Playing tennis
  • Pleasure Reading
  • The one day a week the Jordan family was allowed to buy potato chips. Tim’s Cascades with Sunday lunch.
  • Theology over dinner
  • Going to the movies
  • Small group
  • AIA meetings at UVA
  • Lunch with Ash, Steph, the Porters…after Portico. Usually Bodos.
  • Sunday night ACC basketball
  • Skype dates from school with family and friends
  • This past Sunday, Home in Gig Harbor:
8:30—Church at HCC
11:00—Brunch at the Tides Tavern with Mamma and Dad.
1:00-4:00—Lazy afternoon of football watching with my parents, fire going in the fireplace, all cuddled up in our own spots of the family room. Dozing on and off. Dad, you’re snoring. I think I’m drooling on Adam’s shoulder while I’m sleeping…
5:00—Adam and I, sitting on the floor of the travel aisle at Borders. Practicing my Italian and planning when we will go together, and what we will eat when we do.
7:00—Grilling burgers with baked beans, sweet potatoes and Tim’s Cascade’s for old times (yes we had two forms of potatoes. It’s the sabbath. We can eat what we want to)
9:00—Ending the night with the Prossers stopping by for dessert and wine.
  • No epidemiology. No STATA. No work. No stress. No worries.
Thank you God for a day of rest. Grant me the discipline to receive it and enjoy it.


It's A Party! With Cake.

Um, Meet one of my best friends. And.....it's their birthday!! Everyone should celebrate. Seriously, goooooo to Whole Foods and celebrate. Mine is having a party. I bet yours is too.

If you are in Durham, here is the ad.

"WFM 30th Birthday Party - Bull City Style (Durham=Bull City)
12:00 - 4:00 Free Admission. Sunday, September 19, 2010
We're so excited to work for a company in it's 30th year of awesomeness! Join us for music, cake, kids activities, food (of course!!) and, what may be the most exciting part: 11 Local Beer Vendors setting up a mini-beer festival just for you! There will be $2 microbrews available for purchase while you hang out and enjoy the festivities."
That's all.


Happys and Sads

I started this blog when I arrived at graduate school. And I've yet to share anything about life as a Duke grad student.
Name:Elise Leighann Jordan
Year: 1
Weeks Completed: 3
Program: Masters of Science in Global Health
Focus: Water and Sanitation, probably in Nepal

Here are the HAPPYS and SADS of grad school life thus far:

-Making New Friends.
-Getting to Know Durham.
-The Raleigh Farmer's Market (see photos).

-Being in a state where there is family within a 2 hour radius no matter what direction I drive ("Well, isn't this a geographical oddity? 2 hours from everywhere!" Anyone?)


-Whole Foods being the closest grocery store to my apartment.
-Being at school with brotherkind.
-Taking to sisterkind on the way to the bus each morning (Because she lives in Ammmeeerica!!)
-Getting to hear JD Greer preach on Sundays.
-Eating lots of beans and yogurt because I'm broke and livin off of loans.
-My little old lady neighbor, Luna Brown, and her love of Bojangles. Mmmm mmm.
-My roommate’s alarm clock: For the first week we were here I was so excited in the morning because I thought that Durham had a redeeming characteristic: really beautiful song birds that woke me up every morning. Then I discovered it was Jeannie’s alarm clock. Minus one point for Durham, but Bonus point for Roommate.

-Um, DUKE BASKETBALL!!!!! (Back to back like the 90s?? Please!!)

-Free Printing.
-Free Coffee.
-The Duke Gardens.
-Getting to study what I'm passionate about day in and day out with people who are waaaaaay way smarter than me.

-Using STATA. It is a weekly defeat.
-Never ending amounts of work.
-Missing Charlottesville.
-Eating lots of beans and yogurt because I'm broke and livin off of loans.
-Parking at Duke.
-The lack of cell service in my apartment.
-The dog downstairs that whines 24-7.
-Never ending amounts of work.

-Durham is not Charlottesville.

Clearly the highs way out weigh the lows. I feel so blessed to be here studying with the best of them! God is good. So good.


C Is For Camp

In my last post I:
1. Told you that I’d most likely be writing at least one more post about the retreat I was a leader on this weekend.
2. Introduced you to the spiritual autobiography that I had to write as an undergrad. (Remember my Q??)
In this blog, I am going to share another letter from my autobiography that God reminded me of this weekend on retreat; My “C” happened to be camp:
C is for Camp, and the power it has to draw one to God. Virtually every year of my life I have attended some kind of camp or retreat. From sleep-away horse camp in elementary school to High School camp in California with my church youth group, my weeks spent at camp always reflected a similar theme. They were always a reminder to me of the importance of getting away with God and the power of meditation. Even as second graders we were required to spend time called DOS—Discipline of Silence—on the last night of camp. Taking time to meditate on your heart’s deepest desires and unashamedly asking God your most earnest questions, generates very powerful moments. The atmosphere that camp offers—away from the normal daily grind, usually in some beautiful part of nature—is often what it takes to spend time patiently listening for God’s whisper. My most vivid memories of camp are those moments in which God met me in my meditation and whispered truths into my life that I desperately needed to hear. C is for Camp, where God never failed to draw me closer to Him."
Isn’t there something awesome about retreating from life and meditating on God? Anyone? God is always with us. He is always present. But I think We become MORE present to Him when we get away and become LESS present to everything else in our lives. I think everyone should go on at least one retreat a year (maybe five). Even if it is a self initiated retreat. Go to the mountains, beach, or even a farm somewhere people!! Spend some time focusing on God and tell me if He doesn’t meet you there.
Here are some pictures from our retreat:
Welcome to Watermarks camp folks.

Meet Mocha, the camp puppy who I almost brought home with me.

Yes, she survived this. And she claimed the title of highest blob of the weekend.

Let the obstacle course begin.

Portico's best.


20 Questions, Or More.

I spent this past weekend being a leader on the youth retreat with my Charlottesville church, Portico. I could (and very well may) write several blog posts about the things we did (like shooting rifles and 9mm pistols, zip-lining, blobbing…), ways we experienced God (awesome worship, preaching and fellowship), and things we ate (is there sugar in it?…than YES!). But, because I know that once a blog post gets too long people won’t read it, I’m just going to share one thing for now.
I made lots of awesome new friends being a cabin leader. There was one girl in my cabin who had never been to church. She had very little knowledge about what Christians believed. The first night she pulled me aside and asked me to give her the “Low down” on all this “Stuff.” (This is where my heart started pounding...)This was the first of about 200 questions she asked me over the course of the weekend…
Both nights we spent time together sitting on her bunk, walking through what it meant to be a Christian and what we believe. Before I could even get one answer out she would be spitting out several more questions. I could not keep up. As flustered as it got trying to answer question after question (and can we pause for a second and note that these questions included topics like: abortion, homosexuality, heaven and hell, doing good works, why people cry when they pray, whether or not God existed before or after dinosaurs…basically she hit me with her best shots. Ok. Resume.) I was so amazed by her willingness to question everything in order to get the whole picture. She was totally unwilling to take anything at face value. It got me really thinking about the value of questioning things. Through her, God brought me back this weekend to an excerpt from a spiritual autobiography I had to write in undergrad. I structured it as an alphabet, and this was my Q:
"Q is for questions and questioning everything! It took me a long time to understand the importance of questioning the things I believe. But my questions transform my faith into something much more real and authentic. Every question leads to a search for answers and that search makes my faith more honest. In the past year or two, a lot of certainties in my faith have slowly begun to unwind as a result of letting my questioning heart spill open. It is the first time in my life I have let this happen. It is difficult, but the vulnerability of the situation makes me more certain that my faith is real, despite my doubt. Questioning is good because it often implies open-mindedness. And “open-mindedness” is an attractive concept in today’s culture. However, the danger behind both open-mindedness as well as questioning is that minds should only be open with the intent of eventually closing on something solid. Questioning should not be an endless state, but rather a path toward answers. I will not find the answers to all my questions, but I am always questioning with the hope of finding answers. That is why I am comfortable with my questioning spirit. I simply want to understand the heart of God better. Q is for questions and for finding God in the answers."
You may agree or disagree with this view of things, but my new friend had the courage to ask every hard question in the book. She wanted to understand who God was for herself. In order to get there, she needed honest answers to her honest questions. But, my prayer is that her open-mindedness will eventually lead her to something she can firmly believe in. My prayer is that she continues to ask questions and finds God in the answers.


Superfluous Superlatives

I'm not sure if this is something I have to find myself reasoning with, or something I'm passionate about, probably both. But, anyone that knows me, knows that I am probably the world’s biggest abuser of superlatives. Honestly, I use them to describe EVERYTHING.
When I’m telling someone about Gig Harbor, it is the most amazing place to live. Truly, it’s my favorite. When I’m telling someone about, Charlottesville is the most amazing place to live. Seriously, nowhere beats it. But of course, Italy is actually the best place on earth, unless I am in Rwanda, Whistler, the Outer Banks of North Carolina…get my point?
There are probably twenty artists that I would describe as my favorite artist. A small handful of people that I would refer to as my best friend. And if you mention any kind of food that starts with a letter A-Z, yep “It’s my BIGGEST weakness,” [especially sweet potato fries…and dark chocolate…and mango sorbet!]
Friends have called me out on this many times, because after awhile they start to question whether I really do think things are the best, worst, coolest, funniest, lamest, nicest, meanest, craziest, most absurd, etc…or whether I just say that everything is the best, worst, coolest, funniest, etc.
People, I’m fessing up!! It’s true, I do do it. I can’t stop speaking in superlatives I’m the girl who cried “BEST”!
Unlike me, God uses superlatives purposefully…not superfluously.
So, unlike with me, when the Bible uses superlatives, they are usually proclaiming truths worthy of these kinds of “ultimate” adjectives. Some of the most powerful statements in the Bible make use of them. I just want to share some that I find particularly potent:
  • “But who is able to build a temple for Him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him?” 2 Chronicles 2:6
  • (This one will really get you): “You must present as the LORD's portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.” (Yep, He said it) Numbers 18:29
  • “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name." Philippians 2:9
  • "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" Matthew 21:9
  • If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139: 7-10
  • (When the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest) (really?): "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest." Luke 9:48
  • “So the last will be first, and the first will be last” Matthew 20:16
  • “My grace is sufficient for you. My power works best in weakness.” (Humbling huh?) 2 Corinthians 12:9
  • "Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment." Matthew 22:37-38
  • “You created my inmost being” Psalm 139:13
  • “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:13
  • "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." I Corinthians 13:13

These are just a few, but they kinda get the point across.
So from now on, I'm going to try my very best to take superlatives more seriously. Mostly because, well, God does.


Among the Hills

Many significant events take place among the hills.

The hills are a place where God often meets us. Think about Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai. Or Jesus giving His sermon on the Mount. They are also a place of sacrifice; Abraham of Isaac, and Jesus of His life on the cross. To me, hills and mountains symbolize the presence of God. And some of our most poignant interactions with Him.

My whole life, I’ve found, takes place among the hills. Sometimes I’m at the top of one. Sometimes I’m at the very bottom. But mostly I’m just on the hillside, making my way somewhere, experiencing the journey, anticipating the vistas ahead. But always in God's presence.

Kahlil Gibran once wrote, about the interplay between reason and passion in life. He offered that they are like the sails and the rudder of a ship. Both necessary, neither sufficient. But save one, and you can’t move. Save one, and the other is made futile. He said when you sit “Among the hills” there will be times of peace and serenity, and that these times should offer a picture of resting in reason. And when there are mighty winds and majestic thunder, it should be a picture of moving in passion.

This interplay is a reality in my life, and this blog is a place to share the things I am forced to reason with; and hopefully find people who will reason through them with me. A place to share the things I am passionate about; and hopefully find people who will join me in those passions.

So here begins an account of ways in which life requires me to rest in reason, and move in passion…as I live Among the Hills.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Here are a few of my favorite hills...
Skyline Drive near Charlottesville, my home in my heart. The Blue Ridge Mountains.

Mt. Rainier. My real home, Washington's, gem. Summited it with my dad after graduating high school. My happy place.

The Land of a thousand hills, Rwanda. Where my sister lived, loved, found a husband, and brought to us an amazing extended family. And where I spent a summer helping get sustainable water to children in schools.

Ahhh, last but CERTAINLY not least. Perugia, the hilltop town where I lived in Italy. Home of some of the most amazing Italians I'll ever know, some of the best chocolate I've ever eaten, and some of the most beautiful vistas of the italian countryside I've ever woken up to, everyday.

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