Saturday, June 24, 2006


Well, I am back from a week of camp and I must say that it was a far better, sweeter week than I anticipated. Based on my previous two experiences at camp, I was expecting a lot of emotional struggles and inexplicable bouts of crying, to the point of feeling ineffective and even incapacitated in terms of ministry. I contemplated not going this year. What happened instead was a week of being sustained by the sufficiency of God's grace; the irrational, strong emotions I struggled with last summer and last January were simply not an issue. I am so grateful that God was gracious enough to actually remove the things that were troubling me; I was surprised by joy. :-) I am also really thankful for friends who prayed for me before I went.

Good, deep conversations with campers happened several times throughout the week, and God gave me some things to say when the time came, as His word promises. One of the conversations in particular was really Tough; I felt like the girl I talked to was bleeding to death and I had only a band-aid's worth of wisdom or help to offer her. But I prayed with her and I cried with her a bit and I let her know that I care about her pain, and much more importantly, God cares. When I talk to the kids and try to comfort them from the things that hurt them, I actually become greatful (I don't know how to spell that word. I alternate spellings) for some of the painful experiences I've had because I'm able to share how God has taken care of me and seen me through them. God's power is amazing and I love to see kids amazed by it.

One of the things I love about camp is that in some ways we can strive to make it a place that is special in that it is free from the hurtfulness and teasing and sarcasm and strife that fills most of our environments the other 51 weeks a year. I want camp to feel like a Safe place, a place where we are free to love one another as brothers and sisters in the best kind of way. Playful teasing and edgy humor have their place, but there is a kind of sweetness that can only be found in the honest, loving, and caring relationship of Christian community. C.S. Lewis summed it up well when he wrote, "This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously." I notice that kids are hungry for this kind of environment, that when I talk to the kids in my cabin or on my sports team in ways that support this vision, they respond to it really well. Occasionally I do hear crossing-the-line teasing or petty conflicts at camp, and when I do I want to speak up and say to those people, "Don't you realize the opportunity we have here? The chance to love each other the way Christ wants us to?" Maybe I should actually speak up and say that sometime. ;-) For the most part though, the kids have really good attitudes and it's awesome to hear at the end of the week the things they've learned and the ways they've grown.

Physically I had a pretty tough week, in that I had a lot of trouble sleeping the first few nights and came down with a sore throat/cough by the middle of the week. Wednesday I walked about like a zombie all day but still couldn't fall asleep when I attempted a nap. So I took Benadryl (sp?) and got awesome sleep Wed. and Thurs. nights which helped a lot. I slept a good 11 hours last night but I still feel kind of iffy today so I'm going to take it easy. On Wednesday I'm heading to Creation to enjoy some good concerts and quality time with my little brother and sister :-).

Shout out to all my camp friends: Kristen and Laura and Katilyn (sp? I'm a bad speller today) and my friends at camp: the Humberds and Hodges and Paul and my awesome sister-in-law Adrienne. Your encouragement throughout the week was priceless. I love you all! "Serve one another in love." -Galatians 5:13

I can't wait till next year (which I hope I will be able to attend...) Laura, I already have ideas for next year's Pi skit, which will feature TWO HUNDRED digits of that illustrious digit. ;-)

Peace and love to all. :-)

Friday, June 16, 2006

A courtesy warning

Hey y'all, I'll be at camp from Sat. to Fri., so don't bother checking for updates. Okay?

:-) love, Neb

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My life, it is so exciting!!

In a sentence:

I have been exercising (=hour-long walks), doing laundry, reorganizing some things in our bedroom, reading (math books and CS Lewis, which usually makes me weepy in a very Happy kind of way), changing my name in different places, drinking coffee, eating cinnamon toast, not listening to music nearly as much as I used to (I wonder why not?? I think I got a little burned out on the Celtic/international scene), debating various theological questions, reading a commentary on Hebrews, preparing for and leading girls' Bible study (last night I asked if there were any questions at the end and got "Where do babies come from?"), sleeping, cleaning the kitchen, occasionally watching random bits of TV, paying bills, RSVPing to weddings, returning phone calls, etc etc etc.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

More pictures from our trip to New Hope

Hot sauce, anyone? This was a whole store devoted to that illustrious condiment.

Nate enjoyed the exciting handcrafted $1200 toy.

I liked the shiny hanging... um... thingie, not the sign advertising acupuncture.

Monday, June 05, 2006

My NEW name (has a silent "B")

Just in case there was ANY DOUBT WHATSOEVER remaining that our federal beauracracy is not so swift:

1) This morning I called the national SSA office to ask about changing my name. After successfully navigating the automated menu and a pleasant few minutes on hold, I reached A! Real! Person!!! (Because I have Mad Skillz like that.) "Does it make any difference that I've waited five years after marriage to change my name?" I ask. Nice lady on the other end: "I don't think it will be a problem." "Next question- my name is currently (first) Nancy (middle) Elizabeth (last) Bush but because I go by Nancy Elizabeth, I'd like to make my first name Nancy Elizabeth, middle name Bush, last name Wentzel. Is that possible without going through a big hassle?" Nice lady: "Oh, I really have no idea about that. You'd have to ask the local social security office."

Um... yeah. See, I TRIED to research this online ahead of time, but did not find any guidelines about federal laws for names on the ssa website or anywhere else, for that matter. I have heard that courts do not allow people's official legal names to contain numbers or symbols or anything, which I can understand, but I was unable to find any guidelines about anything else- like, what about hyphenating your last name? If you're willing to go to court and pay some amount of money I'm pretty sure you can change your name to anything you like (except as noted above) , and I think that's what couples do who want to change both of their last names to something else entirely when they get married. But why doesn't the SSA website explain the changes we can make for free, based on marriage? ie We all know we can take our spouse's last name as our new last name, but what about other options (like what I wanted to do?) If they explained it on their website they would save a lot of time answering phone calls!

And why is it left up to the LOCAL office, anyway? SSA is a national program. It should have national guidelines.

2) Documentation in hand, I headed off to our local SSA office in Allentown. Before going I rather idealistically pictured a small bureaucratic office where a couple of people drop by every day to change their names after getting married. I kind of forgot about one of the marvels of our modern society: a little phenomenon known as SSI. Lots of people in Allentown are on SSI- and they come to this office to, I don't know, I guess STAY on SSI. And apparently the paper pushing that must take place to stay on SSI takes rather a LONG TIME. Anyway I was handed ticket number 135 and kind of freaked out when I heard number 48 called, but it turned out there were 4 different numbering tracks- still it took about an hour and a half for my number to be called. You can imagine my concern when the Very Nice and Competent Lady up front said "we need an ID document with your new name on it."
Me: "But I thought nothing else would let me change my name until I got my new social security card!!"
VNaCL: "It's because [your marriage document] is five years old. It has to be recent."
Me: "Yeah, I saw something about "recent" on the website. But it didn't DEFINE 'recent.'"
VNaCL: "Yeah, they aren't specific about it so I asked. 'Recent' means two years."
Me: "It would be nice if the website actually said that! Also, the lady I talked to this morning said she thought it wouldn't be a problem!"
VNaCL: "I tell you what, I'll go ahead and put it through for you. Let's keep our voices down so no one will hear."
Me: "Okay....."
VNaCL: "Oh, I see that you want to make Nancy Elizabeth your first name. Unfortunately, we can't do that. I can legally change your middle name but I can't change your first name or your last name (except to make it the last name of your spouse.)"
Me: "Okay... that seems a little odd..."
VNaCL: "Yeah, it's pretty weird. I can make 'Elizabeth Bush' your middle name if you want."
Me: "Okay, that will work."

So now I am Nancy Elizabeth Bush Wentzel. When asked to write my name for day-to-day purposes I will write Nancy Elizabeth Wentzel (when I remember) and I guess my checks will say Nancy Elizabeth B. Wentzel...?

Now I just have to change my DL and checking account and two savings accounts and 6 credit cards and my school records and car registration and... hmmm...