Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This morning we gathered for morning prayer... I decided to read two Mary Oliver poems as prayers. I'd like to share one with you all.

Morning Prayer
by Mary Oliver

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches--
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries with it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead--
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging--

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted--

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.


Part of the complicated thing about having grown up in a specific denomination all my life is that I have been taught what is, and what is not. Prayer is this, prayer is not this. This, as you can imagine, has left we quite confused, especially when God the "great genie in the sky" never did give me everything I asked for.

So for a while I had no idea how to approach a conversation with God.

It was during my time at the Oregon Extension that I found that my encounters with God, those times of communication, almost always were happening while admiring the soaring cedars of the pacific northwest, or when I was transfixed by the intricacies of a bird.

I never thought of those moments as prayer. But now I do. Thankfully so does Mary Oliver, and thankfully she can write beautifully about those moments.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Speaking of growing things...

Oliver, at 3 Months Old

Our little Oliver isn't so little anymo
re! He's got long gangling legs, and big ol' paws! And they're still growing! The first photo was taken within his first few days with us. (He came home with us July 1st!) He's 5 months old now, and becoming quite the handsome pup! So far he's stolen hearts in Estes Park, Co as well as around here at our favorite local parks. He's quite famous. Just the other day someone came up to Mark on his lunch break and asked if he was the owner of a little puppy named Oliver. Crazy! The little cutie is just stealing hearts left and right! As you can see from one of his latest pictures, he's grown quite a bit!

This one was taken on during the camping trip we took for our 1 Year wedding anniversary.

Hazelnut Garden Update

Hello Everyone! I thought is would be nice to give you all an update on the Hazelnut community garden. There are several pictures below, and I think they keep on going into "older posts." So if you want to see them all be sure to click the link at the bottom of the page! Oh! And you can click on any of the pictures to make it bigger.
Posted by Picasa

One tomato plant

Here is a closer picture of one of the dozen plus tomato plants that are producing like crazy right now!
Posted by Picasa

Green tomatoes!

A fraction of the amount of tomatoes coming up in the garden!
Posted by Picasa

Roma Tomato

Shades of yellow, orange, and red are appearing amongst the sea of green!
Posted by Picasa


Check out this gorgeous head of lettuce! I'm thinking this guy is going to end up in a salad real soon! Maybe with some cucumbers and cherry tomatoes from the garden?
Posted by Picasa


The corn is starting to make an apperance! Having come from Lancaster County, PA it feels right to watch the corn grow to the sky!
Posted by Picasa

Baby Pumpkin

The presence of evergrowing pumpkins in the garden reminds us that fall is quickly approaching! This little guy has made quite the journey away from the center of the plant! stretching almost 4 feet away!
Posted by Picasa


This guy is almost twice the size of a softball!
Posted by Picasa


The Zucchini (or Summer Squash) have been the first things to pop up in the garden. They are finally winding down it seems...but have always been good to us!

I hope you enjoyed the pictures of the garden!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 10, 2009

Again, we both apologize for this extended period of silence, especially for those of you who look to this blog to stay posted on our doings here in CO.

We have been in CO now for two and a half months, we just celebrated our first wedding anniversary on August 2nd, and our work situation is just the same as it was back in Pennsylvania.

We have been making significant progress in figuring out what daily life at Hazelnut is going to look like. This "significant" progress only seems significant in light of how many other things are competing for our time. We have decided on several order to distribute the work load of having a massive garden, we have each volunteered to take a day of the week to really focus on the garden. This works out perfectly since there are seven of us. We have also decided to meet every Tuesday morning for morning prayer and to read a chapter from one of the gospels. We now meet every Thursday for dinner and some kind of fun time after. On Wednesday we all gather at a local church for a potluck. Every Tuesday is committed for a community dinner and a meeting after that.

It is only fitting that we are still making baby steps.

There are hundreds of tomatoes in the garden. Hundreds.

I hope to post some more photos some time soon. For those of you on Facebook, check us out there too...we are better at updating photos there :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sitting in a basement of a Church in Denver, Colorado we met to pray with people at a service called The Threshold. Before we entered into contemplation I asked that the others would keep us in pray for patience and guidance. I explained how we have been continually frustrated by the lack of meaningful jobs, etc.

After the service three people came up to us asking for our information. One man gave me his card and asked me to send him my resume. Another said she would forward on any e-mails she received on job postings. Another even said that the IRS was hiring, ha!

Why even bring this up? Because I believe we too often look for G-D to answer our prayers in spectacular ways. I think we need to realize that often we (as in the Church) are the answer to our own prayers. That within the community of believers, who are here with us now, are the people who have a little extra cash to give, who know of somebody or something, who just happened to know where to go, etc.

Maybe G-D is looking to us to stop asking for miracles all the time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tonight we received the news that the brother of one of our community members, Brianna passed away. Many of you already read about Brandon a couple weeks ago when Beth posted a update on him. Prayers and thoughts would be appreciated for Brianna and Sean, and the Berglund family.

The news has served as a healthy dose of humility to both Beth and I. As we continue to search for jobs, and we continue to be frustrated by the lack of progress in this area, we remember how fragile and beautiful life is. We remember that our lives are bigger then our paychecks, our security, and our desires. We look to the Berglunds as they mourn to remember that despite the daily frustrations and set backs, there are people out there who truly love and care for each of us.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Greetings Everyone! There are exciting things happening at Hazelnut. The garden is coming along, and we have been showering our land with prayers from prayer flags. Below is a series of three posts all with some exciting pictures! I hope you enjoy!
Posted by Picasa
Here are some photos of our little sanctuary (hammock, outside table etc.) Also a few pictures of the Herb Mobile, which is producing some Sweet and Spicy Basil!

Posted by Picasa
Below are some pictures of Brittany with some radishes, fresh from the garden (notice the dirt on them?) Also some general pictures of the garden.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Brandon Berglund

Dear friends and family,

Two of the members of our community, Brianna and Sean Friend and her family have received devastating news this morning. Brianna's brother, Brandon, a cancer survivor, was found unconscious in his bed following breakfast and his morning shower last Wednesday. He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, and has remained unconscious since. After numerous tests over the last five days and an MRI this morning, his neurosurgeon informed their family that Brandon has suffered a catastrophic stroke in his mid-brain near the sight of his original tumor and surgeries. Due to the level of injuries, the doctor has informed their family that Brandon will not be capable of coming out of this coma.

Please keep the Berglund family in your thoughts and prayers, especially today as they gather around Brandon in prayer and then tomorrow as they meet with the palliative care doctor to learn about their options around medical care for Brandon from this point forward.

The Berguld family has become very dear to us, and Brandon has been a huge imspiration in his struggle to survive cancer, treatment and mulitple disabilities. In the breif moments we have spent time with him, his joy and love for life and others has shown brighly.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A quick update for everyone. I (Mark) have started working at a Starbucks in Littleton, CO. Things are a little crazy there, but I'm doing my best to adjust. Beth is still searching for a job. We are completely settled into our new apartment, and are doing our best to stay optimistic through all the uncertainties that come with moving to a new place. Keep us in your prayers.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pictures of our room at Hazelnut

Welp, there we have it everyone. Beth and I are excited about our new place...we spent a lot of time putting it all together. We finally have internet we are slowly trying our best to get back into contact with everyone. Please comment or even better send us mail! Let me know if you want our new address!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Well, Beth and I have begun our Westward journey. We left Lancaster yesterday (Thursday) around 8am and arrived in Pittsburgh around 12pm. We are visiting Beth's family and friends for a couple days before leaving officially for Denver on Saturday. Curt (Beth's dad) and I are driving our 22ft moving truck both Saturday and Sunday, hopefully arriving in Denver on Sunday night. Beth and her mom are flying on Saturday.

It was tough saying goodbye. Its interesting how this all worked out...we made a tough decision to hang back in PA for another year, instead of making the initial move last May. At the time, the prospect of living in PA when we could be starting our married lives together in CO was saddening and frustrating. Yet, for some reason, we felt like it was the most responsible decision to make.

Looking back on this year we are proud of the decision we made. We spent this last year preparing for our move, making sure our finances were in order. We also found and formed some of the greatest friendships we have ever had. Despite all of our moral convictions about the corporate world, we looked beyond those convictions to see the people who live and work in that world day in and day out. We quickly found in all of them beauty, joy, support and trust. And so saying goodbye during those last few days was very very difficult.

We are also saying goodbye to family. Moving away from families who have loved and supported us so much throughout our years together is obviously tough. We can only hope that we can be
as present as possible in their lives, even though we are 1700 miles away.

So please check back to stay posted on our journey, I will be posting photos of our new home as soon as I get them!

Oh yea, why not go ahead and plan a trip to Denver? We would love to have you stay over with us!

caption: Mark's family (left to right) sister Aly, brother Brandon, Beth, Mark, brother Dustin, and sister Amanda!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

As you may have guessed, Beth and I are extremely busy getting ready to leave for Denver. We are growing more and more excited as we see our pile of boxes growing. Seeing the pile grow assures us that we are making progress, and continually reminds us of where we are soon going.

Our last day of work is May 31st, we have a few days to finish packing and to see friends and family, then we pick up the moving truck on June 3rd. Depending on how quickly the truck is packed, we may or may not leave on the 3rd to head out to Pittsburgh. We will spend two days in Pittsburgh, saying hi and goodbye to Beth's friends and family. On June 6th Beth and her mom fly from Pittsburgh to Denver, while Beth's dad and I start driving our huge truck to Denver.

Wow. Its here everybody. Our time in PA is coming to a close.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It seems like as our departure draws near we have had the opportunity to tell more and more people about what we are doing in Denver. Just last week, at a high school friend's wedding, both Beth and I had the opportunity to share our plans for Denver with dozens of people. Each time that we tell people about it, we realize how hard it is to explain.

I (mark) spent some time thinking about why it is so difficult to explain. I came up with two reasons. Firstly, what we want to do, and what needs to be done are two totally different things. I can easily tell people what we want to do, but those things are loosely based upon the needs of the community we are moving into. Our knowledge of the needs of the community is limited as long as we are separated from it. We are doing our best to avoid the temptation to have our own plans and expectations, which may be irrelevant, even harmful to the community in which we are serving.

Secondly, my words are limiting. Mother Teresa hardly gave explanations for what she was doing in Calcutta. If you wanted to know about her ministry, she told you to, "come and see." Explaining her ministry did nothing for it, it was the seeing of the sick and poor, and the sight of the touch of those who helped them, which explained it all. We can tell you about sharing financial resources, about eating meals together, and about our urban gardens, but that limits everything to memories or former experiences with such things. We want you to come and see.

I wish it would be fine to say, "We are trusting that G-D is leading us to Denver for some reason," but in our controlling culture, it never seems to be good enough. So for now I guess we will do our best to explain, but would hope that all of you would come and see someday.

With love.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

As I waltzed out of a local business this afternoon I looked down to see a familiar face looking back up at me. His hand extended out as if gesturing for me to stop, I did. This familiar face was Shane Claiborne, and it was plastered all over the front page of the Citypaper of Philadelphia. Inside is a beautifully written article by Isaiah Thompson. You can read the article here Believe It or Not *

For those of you who are still looking for clarity about Christian Intentional Community, and what it will look like for Beth and I in Denver, this article will help. Although every Christian community is different, central things that the article highlights about intentional community stand true for us. Things like "They would share...valuing one another and their community over wealth. They would stand against injustice...they would live in the hood, with the poor...They would live, in a nutshell (haha Hazelnuts!) the way they thought Jesus wanted them to live."

It has been almost four years now since Beth and I first read Shane's book An Irresistible Revolution. It was during that time that we realized we were not alone in our confusion about what it means to be a follower of Christ. It was during that time that we realized there were people who found a way to live out the life of Christ in the most real and authentic way we could imagine. It was during that time that we found others our age, and at our school who felt all these same feelings. We found in this radical way of living hope and excitement, and we wanted that too.

Four years later we have changed a lot, but reading this article reminds us that nothing has really changed in regards to our excitement and anticipation for this lifestyle. Onward!

* Thompson, Isaiah. "Believe it or Not Meet the Reluctant face of Kensington's Radical Christian Movement". March 11, 2009. March 17, 2009.

Photo credit: Regan, Michael T. Believe it or Not. March 11, 2009/

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

We're coming at you from all sides. For those of you who have facebook accounts, you can become a member of the Hazelnut Community Group. Here is the link:

Awesome. I'm not too sure what form and function this will take on, but for now you can see pictures of all of us and stay up to date with what is going on. One picture in particular is important, Greg and Marilyn who are technically our landlords, but way more then that. They are pictured in the gallery posted on the page. Check it out. Feel free to ask questions either here or there.


Right now Beth and I are working like crazy. Strangely (and thankfully) our places of employment seem largely unaffected by the "economic crisis."

There is talk about plans for moving, like U-Hauls and airplanes. We've waited a long time just to feel the closeness of this move, and its here. As we slowly lean into this we know that before long we will be rushing around, how exciting.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sorry for the lack of blogging regularity...the moments that both Beth and I have to slowdown and to write are few. As many of you know already, I (mark) had a little stint in the hospital from February 19-22. What started as a stomach ache, turned into a trip to the ER to have my appendix removed. Everything went smoothly and I am already back to work.

It was interesting to see how each of us found our way into being husband and wife, especially when the time comes to care for one another in a hospital. The surgery was intense, as was the recovery process, which meant I needed a lot of help for a few days following the operation. Sitting up far enough to eat was difficult, as was the process of getting out of the bed to travel the five feet to the bathroom. Beth was there to help me, and I consistently caught images of a strong old women helping her weak old man out of bed, likely images of our distant future.

But for now we are two 23 year old adults, only months into marriage facing the kinds of struggles usually reserved for those who have celebrated their 10-15 year anniversaries. I'm sure I speak for Beth as I speak for myself, such things have only made this love relationship stronger.

We are wrapping up our lives here in PA. Colorado is approaching quickly, and with it a lot of changes, hopes, dreams, challenges, and opportunities. It was a difficult process to share the news of our plans for Denver with family. Yet it seems like a sense of understanding has settled in with both sides. Maybe not a sense of understanding about specifics and details of what it means to live in intentional Christian community, but an understanding that God is doing something in our lives and that we are simply responding to a call.

We are on the lookout for a puppy, so stay tuned for any news of that!

love you all!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Things are coming together for us with Denver. We have a name for the community, "The Hazelnut Community." Although we have known this for quite some time, we have yet to tell most people. The name fell into place beautifully. The name of the street where the community homes are located is Hazel Court...this got us thinking...

What role has a hazelnut had in the Christian church?

Julian of Norwich had a series of 15 visions at the end of a week long medical ordeal which lead her to contemplate the Passion of Christ. In one of these visions a hazelnut appeared in her hand, she writes of this vision:

"And with this insight he also showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand. It seemed to me as round as a ball. I gazed at it and thought, ‘What can this be?’ The answer came thus, ‘It is everything that is made.’ I marveled how this could be, for it was so small it seemed it might fall suddenly into nothingness. Then I heard the answer, ‘It lasts, and ever shall last, because God loves it. All things have their being in this way by the grace of God.’"

As we prepare for life together, which has been quite difficult as of late, we hold on to the idea that "it"--being our small community-- will last because God loves it. We know that only by the grace of God can this idea of community exist.

So Hazelnut it is...stay posted!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


There are memories that dwell within us. It only takes a glance at photo to resurrect the feelings of pure happiness and nostalgia at the same time. Its hard to believe that we have done some of the things we have, namely road tripping up and down the northern California/southern Oregon coast. Stopping to enjoy a burrito a few hours north of San Francisco, then continuing the journey for another six hours. The fog and mist that hangs over the northwestern pacific pines and redwoods. Those massive trees that stand so tall and strong all the way up to the waters edge. They seem to hold onto that grayness, that pine/cedar saturated air so well until of course you sink below it, and your rented vehicle rounds the corner to the sun setting over the great Pacific.

Tents, of course, are harder to set up in the dark. Tent stakes, of course, are harder to pound into the hard ground without a hammer. Keeping warm, of course, is always easier in a two person tent with a loved one, especially when your hearts are warm with your honeymoon doubling as a homecoming.

There are places in the world where blackberries grow plump, and juicy. It just so happens that those places have no restrictions when it comes to using your God given hands to pick as many as your stomach desires. go figure. Welp, we found em' and we ate that whole dang bag full until our fingers turned purple and our stomachs begged for mercy. ha!

There are places in the world where trees grow so big that you have to wonder how them loggers didn't realize that they were so special that they were gosh darn sacred! Welp, some godly folks realized their sacredness and decided that they should at least save one or two groves. Luckily they still stand, and welp we found them too! And we hugged and gazed until our hearts couldn't take it anymore. ha!

There are places in the world that are dreamlands. Sometimes we spend more then a few days there. Luckily for us, we spent a few months in ours. It just so happens that our dreamland is our home, and we came back home for a few days. The great thing about places of your dreams is when you revisit they are exactly the same. ha!

And so we spent many days reading and wondering why trees don't grow like that back East. And at night, with our window cracked, the northwest wind would bring in its own dusty, juniper air and it would blow right past the freshly picked lavender. Have you ever smelled such a thing?

It is possible and sometimes necessary to leave your dreamland, even if it hurts you more then anything at the time. And so we did. We left Lincoln, OR, we left the great silence and solitude of the Cascade mountains, and entered back into the city. This transisition is only possible if of course you are heading to the greatest city in the whole united states, San Francisco. Yep.

There are places in this world (namely San Francisco) where you can walk around all day and feel like you've seen a representation of almost everybody in this whole wide world! San Francisco has a grit to it. Its intrigue and strangeness attract wondering souls. I guess that's why we love it too. We like to be there with all the others who are trying to figure this all out. And this all seemed like a necessary transition back into what others have called "the real world."

But of course we had to finish it where it all started. Burritos. (Namely from the Mission District)
Have you every tasted such a thing?