These are just a few scattered ramblings following the recent passing of my precious Grandpa..so I'm not promising much for cohesiveness or grammar.

This morning my dad remarked a moment of enlightenment he had earlier as to why my Grandpa and I were so closely bonded: it's just a granddaughter thing. Anyone who has seen my dad within sight of his little "muffin" (my niece Elina) would hastily agree that she is the light of his life. He could be standing the middle of a hailstorm in only his briefs and she would still bring a smile to his face. He noted that there must have been that same connection between my Grandpa and me - a man and his princess of a granddaughter. My Grandpa always called me 'the apple of his eye' which I took to be a slight hyperbole, but I'm discovering he truly loved me that much.

What might actually bring me even more joy than dwelling on the love that we shared is the fact that over this past week I was able to serve him with everything I have. Though it was undoubtedly the hardest week of my life, I will cherish this time tremendously. Because my grandpa was fairly unresponsive over the last few days, he was unable to object to me sitting by his bed for hours, moistening his lips with a sponge, stroking his head, holding his hand, and generally making him as comfortable as possible despite the unpleasant circumstances. I was privileged with the opportunity to love this man through serving him, which ironically was his most prominent way of showing love to others. Our family rallied together in attempt to reciprocate just a small percentage of the tender care Grandpa extended to us over the years. In doing so, we were able to extend the love and grace of Jesus, which brought restoration, dignity, self-worth, identity, and redemption to his life.

In addition to the sweetness of catering to my Grandpa's needs, this week was filled with unforgettable moments of tenderness. Gentle kisses shared between man and wife of 63 years, family stories unearthed from the heart of Steiling tradition, hands held and tears shed and hugs given, blessings whispered, angelic songs sang, family bonded, and love flourished. A specific moment stands out as one I hold most dear from this time: as I was sitting on his bed in the afternoon, he stirred and became fully coherent. I squeezed his hand and told him I was there sitting with him, and I love him dearly, and asked him to just lay and rest while I sat there. He reached toward my shoulder, and I realized I had my curls up in a bun that day. Apparently that just wouldn't do, so I quickly let down my hair and he reached to run his fingers through it. It turns out that my Grandpa sincerely meant it throughout the years when he talked of how he loved my curls. :) I plan to keep my hair long and let my curls flow for as long as they choose to, in honor of this sweet man.

I loved him, respected him, admired him, cherished him, and held him in highest esteem. Now I choose to thank Jesus for taking him home.



Having made the long drive down I-5 to southern California 3 times within the last 5 months, I have come appreciate much of God's creation that can be seen from the car window along the way. The area I look forward to most is definitely the stretch of rolling hills somewhere over the California border. Being an Oregon native, I have no idea where this area actually is in relation to the rest of the state, but it certainly is hard to miss. Grassy hills span what seems to be many acres of land, extending far beyond what one can see from the road. No matter who my companions are or how deep we may be in conversation, as soon as those hills come into sight my eyes are glued to the window. My imagination runs wild with thoughts of racing, spinning, strolling, and rolling through the hills, with only my Jesus keeping my me company. The further I run into the hills, finding the most obscure crevices to bury myself in, the more my troubles and stresses and agendas of every day life simply melt away. There are no people to confuse me or let me down, no expections forced upon me by society, no responsibilities, no fear of failing others or failing myself.

An escape.

Everytime these wistful thoughts cross my mind while I drool over those hills of freedom and abandonment, I find them to be fleeting and short of satisfaction. Aside from knowing that the escape found in the hills couldn't last for long, since the fields lack many things necessary for survival, there is an additional emptiness to those thoughts of running away. Although I know Jesus loves some quality, un-interrupted Britni time, I also know he desires to use me and put me on this earth that I may bear fruit and further his Kingdom. Running from this world may offer a bit of instant gratification and relief, but it also sufficiently seperates me from those broken people that Jesus wants to use me and my testimony to extend his love.

For lack of knowing how to articulate a conclusion to this simple concept, I'll draw on the Word of Yahweh. He usually knows how to say it best :)

When talking to His Father, Jesus asks that we "not be taken out of the World, but that He protect us from the evil one." (John 17)

Therefore we are to be IN this world, among the people of this world, facing the same struggles, hardships, disappointments, frustrations, temptations and sin that the people of this world are facing. The only difference (a BIG difference at that) is that we are living in this world under the protection of the One who created it. Now, shouldn't we also be offering that saving grace and protection to those we are living with?

Join me in running to the people, not to the hills.


take heart.

I hardly ever cried as a kid. In fact, I actually took pride in the fact that more often than not, I would be the only member of my family not crying in a specific situation. It beats me as to why I found this trait admirable--whether it was because I had adopted a 'tough girl' persona to compliment my identity as an athlete, or it was an effort to counteract the innocent and naive air that my high-pitched voice and childish features...regardless of the reasoning, the sweet release of hot tears down my cheek rarely occurred.

However, with a recent average of about one emotional breakdown per week, this characteristic of the former Britni is long gone. My coping mechanism is shifting from a quiet containment of all emotion to a violent, weeping episode of grief, as God is revealing to me a whole new level of his sensitive heart. Each day that I walk through this world, it becomes more and more blaring and apparent that people are tattered and worn. broken. Any time I choose to willingly open my eyes, hopelessness is staring back into my eyes, harshly holding my gaze. What's more, I have discovered a whole new definition to the word hopeless...the woman who has abused her body through prostitution for years and now finds herself with nothing left to offer a man, yet the only people in her life are men who want more...the man who trudges through life with empty pockets and alcohol bottle in hand, only bothering to sober up for his son's basketball games, but debilitating himself to be a father in any other vicinity...the woman who lost her husband and her home, her family has long since abandoned her, and her frail and elderly body can't support a lifestyle of living alone...the child who was robbed of parents at birth due to a fatal disease, and is left to the chance of charity for survival...hopeless.

While walking to the coffee shop where I am sitting now, I passed a young boy being lifted into an ambulance. I observed those passing by, and noted that every person unashamedly gawked and stared as they walked by. We are fascinated by others in pain, in crisis, in trauma. You start telling a gruesome story of a brutal injury or a startling crime and everyone listening sits with rapt attention. Why? I have to assume it is more than just intrigue and curiosity. Humans were made for community and relation. First and foremost, we were created to commune with our God, and secondly to relate to each other. We crave hearing stories that we can cling to and relate to-we yearn to know others who can share in our pain and our joy, our heartache and our success.

So, brothers and sisters, where is this unity that we were so clearly created for? Why are these people suffering in complete hopelessness left to suffer alone? We are all human beings, from the most evil child molester to the most innocent, sweet old woman. We were all created with purpose in mind, all with the purpose of being made into children of God, all with the need for relationship, community, love.

I challenge you now: arm yourself with the penetrating, transforming love of Christ and stand to meet the fierce gaze of hopelessness. Stare it down to the ground and let growth and grace rise in its place.
Romans 12:9-16 "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited"