Friday, December 26, 2008

a different sort of Christmas...

In Christmases past, I would drive to my parents' home on Christmas Eve and begin the celebration by eating dinner (usually dad's yummy enchiladas) and all of us rushing off to the evening candlelight service. I would sing favorite Christmas hymns and hear the story of our Savior's birth and try not to drip candlewax on the floor. I would sing in harmony with my dad in the glow of the candlelight and greet faces I usually see only once a year. We then would run home, set out the cookies and eggnog and settle in for the opening of the gifts. Dad would wear bows on his head and yell "it's underwear!" when he opened his gifts. We would laugh and share our many thanks for the generous giving. Penny would sigh on the landing or try and sniff our heads through the railing because she, being the obstinate dog, was not allowed in the room where everyone was so merrily getting along. And we would stay up too late, usually one or two in the morning, before our laughter subsided and we all dragged ourselves to bed. Christmas morning found some rising for church and others welcoming the chance to sleep in. We would all gather again midday as other family began to arrive, and the laughter would again return. We would talk for hours and eat a wonderful meal of ham, mashed potatoes, and other nice trimmings. Those were the times of the past, wonderful memories and times to be had.

This year brought a different sort of Christmas. I found myself not able to go down to my parents' home this year, as an on-call phone kept me locked to this county. I was blessed to be invited to join a friend and her family in their Christmas festivities. We drove to her parents' home in time for dinner, and then helped wrap the gifts not yet wrapped. We watched a movie and settled into the trailer outside the house. It was an adventure. I woke somewhere around 5am between a random text from a friend and the rooster telling us it was time to wake up. I felt like the cows did in the commercial that "hit the snooze alarm" by kicking the rooster...but it was too cold to move and do anything about it. I snoozed off and on until about 7:30. The heater stopped working and my friend and I wondered if the power was off. It was pouring outside, a symphony of rain and wind pounding the trailer. Indeed, it had, and we could not awaken to Amy Grant's voice singing Christmas carols...but alas! Her father came out with falsetto and umbrella to rouse us out of bed. We rolled out of the trailer and into the house, where children were smiling and saying "Merry Christmas!" Bacon filled the air with its scent and we all settled around the tree. The lights came back on, and so followed Amy Grant, as we all passed around the gifts. My favorite was watching the excitement of the boys as they received their favorite gifts! Wall-e! Veggietales! Squeals of joy...I wanted to feel that kind of joy again. We finished opening gifts and devouring breakfast, and got ready for the day. We bounded off to the movies and back for a delicious dinner before returning back to home.

I have to admit despite the fun and blessing of sharing this family's Christmas, I missed my own. I quietly wanted to be somewhere else in the slower moments of the day even though I was enjoying myself. It was a feeling of being torn.

Today, the day after Christmas, my dad and little "big" brother drove up with food and presents in tow. I got my dad's enchiladas and leftover ham, and enough cookies to bring a smile to anyone's face. We opened up our gifts in front of our "O Henry tree", as we so lovingly call it. We went downtown for lunch and back to my house for a viewing of Wall-e, as I was so excited to get it! And they had not seen it yet either! I made yummy chili and cornbread for dinner and we enjoyed the day together. It was a different sort of Christmas indeed. I was amazingly blessed, not only by my family and their generosity, but by another family and their love. And in a way, maybe this Christmas is a preparation for the new Christmases I am going to forge as I eventually start my own family with my own traditions.

Here are a few candid shots of my family and I breaking tradition and making our own fun:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2008 update

2008 reflection

So much has happened this year! God has blessed me incredibly with amazing friendships, a new position within my organization, and many many words of life. This year was my year of love and discipline. I know that to some extent this is still being formed in my life, but I know that I am developing a deeper love for the Lord and for those He has placed in my life. And the trials I have faced this year has led to discipline and perseverance at a new level! As I am looking forward to the new year, here is a reflection of the past year and what I have been up to!

In January, I started my cell group! I have two women in my group and a goal to increase that in the new year. There have been many bumps in this process but I have really discovered that I cannot look at the circumstances of situations. I have a lifelong goal to bring the light of Christ to others' lives and as long as I am working toward that goal, I am walking in my purpose. My heart is to see lives changed through Christ, and I am excited to keep walking this out.

In May, I changed positions within my company and began the journey of learning a new language (of sorts) and a whole new job description. One thing I have learned about myself is that if I don't feel confident about something, I hang back and don't take action. Interesting, eh? That is important for all areas of my life...not just in my job. I like my new position and the team of people I get to work with. It is refreshing and a challenge. I like challenges.

In July, I got new roommates! This was exciting because I felt like the house was united. We all are trying to accomplish similar things, and we all go to the same church. Our lives are similar, and so there is a greater understanding and support. I love these girls!

Throughout this year, God has brought some incredible friendships into my life or has deepened them. This has been my year for making healthy friendships with guys! I love the guys in my life! Some of them have helped me in more ways than I can begin to describe here. And they make me laugh! My joy has increased tenfold because of them. I am so grateful for them. Here are a couple of them...

It has been a rich and full year. And I feel like there have been some things that have begun this year that will really unfold in the year to come. I will keep you posted on those. I am looking forward to the continued blessings and fun in the next year!

Some more great snap shots of the year:

Where my girls at?

Murder mystery fun...

Ready to start a revolution for Jesus!


by your side

Tonight I was driving through town and this song came on the radio. I have heard it many times both on the radio and on my iPod. But tonight the words spoke to my heart. The Lord has been speaking to me about this for the past few striving, my independence, my fear. An insightful and wonderful friend asked me the following not long ago, "Why do you feel you need to be strong all the time?" There is a long answer, but I know that God was addressing that in the following lyrics:

Why are you striving these days
Why are you trying to earn grace
Why are you crying
Let me lift up your face
Just don't turn away

Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run

And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight
These hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

I know that God is stripping away all the arguments and even my capabilities so that I can return to the simple place of His love. I am not meant to strive or fight. I am meant to be in His hands, in His presence, in His love.

Monday, December 15, 2008

days go by...

Sometimes I am startled at the rate the days go by, and other times, I am grateful. It has been two years since my mom died, and I feel like I have not slowed down to process it all because time is flying by. It catches up to me, but only when I feel that time stops. In some ways, I am glad that I keep going so I don't have to feel the pain...but inevitably, I know it will overwhelm me at the next chance it gets. Two years ago, I got a phone call and knew I had to fly out that night. I slept poorly, praying I would get to see her one last time before she was gone. I had only seen her three weeks before when we celebrated her 50th birthday and Thanksgiving all in the same day. I had bought her a blue sweater to keep her warm at her appointments. As soon as we could the next morning, we (my brother, me, grandpa, and step-dad) drove out to the hospital she was in. I couldn't tell if she knew if I was there. Over the course of the day, I told her I loved her, that we were going to be okay, and that I was so sorry...

And I prayed that she heard me. My brother and I left only to get coffee and take a walk. We came back quickly and sat by her side. I began to notice a difference in her breathing. When the time came, her eyes got wide and she looked over at me. I spoke to her words of love, and she then looked to the other side of the bed where my brother sat. She knew we were there. She heard what we spoke. And then she was gone.

Two years have gone by in a blink, and I feel like it happened just a few days ago. And at the same time, it feels like a lifetime ago. I am trusting that the Lord will help me to process it all as the years go by at a more rapid pace. But today, I stop and remember her, and love her.

Monday, December 1, 2008

words that make me weep

Today as I was reading in God's word, I felt desperate to hear what He wanted to speak to me. I needed to shut everything else out and hear His voice. He led me to John 14. I read the following, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." As I did, my heart was captured and I knew this was what I needed to hear. And I began to weep. It never ceases to amaze me how powerful His word is, especially when it is rhema, a word for the moment, spoken, bringing His breath of life. They are life changing.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

simple thanks

Today is Thanksgiving. It is one in the morning (yes, I am aware that it is a crazy time to be awake!), but I feel the need to reflect on what today means. There is so much in my life to be thankful for. I know I often overlook them or take them for granted. I have amazing friends, ones I have known for years, ones for only months but feel like they have been a part of my life forever, ones I have lived with, ones I have adventured with, all of whom I love. I get to see my family today, and I am so grateful for their love and support. I look forward to the fun and blessings of our time together. I am especially grateful for my dad. Words cannot express how much the decisions he made and the sacrifices he made impacted who I am today. I am blessed by him. I am grateful for the provision in my life- my job, my car, even down to the extra money I have to spend on a delicious caramel macchiato. I am grateful for beautiful sunsets, for rain puddles, for chilly weather that makes me want to bundle up. I am grateful that God has never given up on me, and that His plans for my life are greater than I could ever ask for or imagine. I am grateful for my future family...a promise that is yet to come into fruition. I am thankful for health and joy and peace...the kind of peace that comes from trusting in God. I am so grateful for salvation, and that everyday I realize what that truly means even more. I am thankful for the little moments. The laughter that produces tears. The inside jokes. The hugs from loved ones, little or not so little. The process of developing friendships. The taste of a delicious dessert. The awkwardness of a moment. I am so grateful. So so grateful. I do not deserve all I have, but I am grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

emotional assault

This time last year, I had a difficult time processing all the emotions I know are sitting under the surface. It had only been a year, yet it was shocking to me that a year had already passed. A year since I cried out so deeply for my mom's healing, only to know that it was her time to go. Most of the time it felt like nothing had happened at all, but then when the emotions did come, they felt like an assault on my entire being. I still find myself at times caught off guard at how painful, even physically, the process of grief is. I have known sadness and loss before, but this strikes deeper. And here I am, another year later, still processing. I have closed myself behind my door because it is what I know how to do best. The pain washes over me like a wave. Part of me is torn. I need to process this, and yet, it seems easier to distract myself so that the pain can go away. It never really lingers and then assaults me when it seems most unwelcome. So, I sit in my room, trying to let the emotions of the moment release. Tomorrow is her birthday. And three weeks from now, it will be two years from the day I watched her go.

A dear friend reminded me of the footprints poem and how it talks about the times the man looked back and only saw one set of footprints. It was during those times that he had suffered the most. Jesus reminded him that it was in those times that he carried the man. It is in moments like these, when I need to be comforted but do not know how to be, that I feel Him lift me off my feet and carry me for a while. And because of that, even though I have no idea what I am doing, I know I will be okay.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

beyond the image

She stares into the mirror
It's the same face she's seen a thousands times before
Beyond her eyes thoughts race
And her emotions begin to spill over
Such a wonder this woman is
All the depth behind the facade
She tries to keep it all together
But knows that one question
Could bring it all crashing down
How can one question God's existence
When someone looks into her eyes?
Each moment tells a different tale
Each day multiplies the memories
Her expressions so rich
When she explodes in laughter
Or crumbles in tears
There's a light in her eyes
That is sometimes overshadowed
But one close look can discover
How it never quite goes out
She wonders how she can look so different
In her own eyes from one day to the next
Yet nothing has really changed at all
And she questions what others can see
When she looks at them and smiles
Such a complicated woman
With a story to tell
She continues to stare in wonder
At what God has made

writing from the heart

I feel like there is a lot going on in my heart right now, and often some of my best writing comes when I write from my heart. Yet sometimes what is going on is inexpressable or perhaps needs to wait. I feel like much of what is going on inside of me right now has an appointed time for expression, and because I am still processing, that time is not now. I am learning to fall in love with the process. The process of life. The process of love. The process of growth. The process. I usually am so busy running around trying to get from point A to point B that I miss how I got there. Or I am so eager for the end result that I lose the right focus and miss some amazing steps. I don't remember the quote exactly, but I heard on the radio once something to the effect of "If the devil can't keep you from salvation, he'll try and keep you distracted." I have been distracted...for most of my life. I believed that there was always something better than what I had, so I constantly looked for what I thought I was missing. I also got caught up in the day to day, believing that whatever was going on in the moment was more important than the bigger picture. God has recently put me in a few situations that have "forced" me to slow down a bit. And what I am finding is peace. His word over me right now is TRUST. I can't tell you how it will all unfold, but I can tell you that I am enjoying each step. And that I know God has the best intentions for each situation.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

random utterances

Ever have those moments where you have thoughts swirling in your head, and you have no idea how to get them out? Or emotions or experiences you cannot put words to? This weekend was filled with these moments, and yet, I want to write. I may take you on an adventure that has little connection or lots, but bear with me, it is just one of those moments.

There is a cat meowing repeatedly outside. A soft meow, yet persistent. I think of the widow who cried out for justice...the judge eventually gave in. I am hoping the owners of the cat give in soon and let her in. She continues meowing on until she gets what she wants. I feel like I have been the same way, my heart crying out for a deep change...and I feel like the door has been opened to let me in.

I wrote about letting go not long ago, and I have been fighting myself...fighting to really WANT to let go. It has been hard. I have felt dry, and my heart has been crying out. God met me this weekend, and showed me what it meant. I can't begin to describe it, but I am refreshed. I am letting go and falling into grace. And I am not so afraid anymore. It is a beautiful place to be, though I have no idea where I will land. Or even what the end result will look like. But I let go. I am trusting in areas I have not ever trusted in. And it is freeing.

I learned that I am choleric and melancholic. Ha ha. This means basically I am a go-getter who has a hard time relaxing and that I carry others' burdens, often prone to a spirit of heaviness. I care deeply about others and I am a leader. A bit of an interesting mix. And God is redeeming my sanguine side. I am hoping to see more of this side of me as I let go. My joyful side is actually my favorite place to be, but I have let fear of man smother it so many times. I have decided that my husband is going to need to be a bit phlegmatic and sanguine, to help me balance the not-so-pretty sides of being who I am. What that equates to is having a husband who can help me relax and laugh. I need both. Some of my closest friends have those qualities. And I love them all the more for it.

I still hear the cat, and I still have a hard time describing all the tears I shed this weekend in God's presence. He is healer. He is friend. He is LOVE. And I am grateful.

I want to wake up tomorrow different than today. I want to wake up with a new nature, one that God has begun to develop in me this weekend. I will share a vivid picture God gave me for this weekend. It was me, laying down as a living sacrifice. I died, and as I was cut open, I emerged covered in white robes, clean and new. I am excited to see how this will unfold in my life as I continue this journey.

I am about to watch the movie "Ever After". I am greatly desiring the kind of romance that looks past all of the blemishes of the past and simply loves me for who I am. This starts with God, and I am excited for it. But I am also anticipating the unfolding of my relationship with my future husband. I can't wait to meet him.

The cat still meows, even more fervent now, as though it were her last chance to be let in. A desperate cry. An open door. Silence. Victory for the cat. Victory for my ears. And a reminder of a victorious promise that my persistent cries, too, will be heard.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

ah! how time flies!

I was chatting with my roommate this morning as I was getting ready to fly out the door and start my day at work when a piece of mail caught my eye. I stopped dead in my tracks and picked up the postcard sized "High School Reunion Announcement". 10 YEARS. I remembered that I had to leave, and heard myself say to my roommate "Oh my gosh, I am getting old!" Bless her heart, she yelled back "No you're not!" I had an hour drive to where I had to be for work, so the thoughts began to unwrap themselves. Honestly, I began to assess where I am at and what I have accomplished vs. where I thought I'd be. Milestones such as these tend to tempt us to do this. I had always figured that I'd show up to my 10 year reunion married and pregnant...perhaps on baby number two. I am nowhere close to this! Ha ha. If God so desires, I may get the chance of being in a somewhat serious relationship that is headed toward marriage by the time next June rolls around. God would have to start me on that path soon if that will be so. Is this a bad thing? just reflects the fact that we may have our own ideas about how our lives should go, but God, being the author of our stories, usually overrides those for better ones. I know that God has the right timing for meeting the man I am going to marry and for starting the family I have always dreamed of. And there is no shame in not being at the place where I expected to be. Disappointment is a trap that the enemy uses to lock us into shame, and prevents us from seeing the blessings that God intends for us. I do not intend to allow this to enter into my mind simply because I am crossing a milestone. I am right where God wants me to be, and ultimately, I know that that is the best place I can be. So, ten year reunion, here I come! Wow, how time flies...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

one of the guys?

One of my close guy friends made a statement to me today that made me think... "you are one of the guys"... Unintentionally this friend's statement, in a way, was an insult. As a woman, it is hard to reconcile the thought of being "one of the guys". It was meant as a compliment, to say that I fit in well with the guys and that they feel comfortable around me. And I love that. But the idea that ALL guys see me as such is not a thought I want to entertain, yet such a statement makes it difficult not to. I grew up with the dad and brother. My mom stopped playing an active role in my life around age 9, a critical time for a young girl. And so I became comfortable with being around guys and relating to them. To this day, that has not changed. However, as I heard this statement and tried to disregard its many meanings, it lingered. I am a woman. One who wants one of the guys to eventually recognize me as such. To find me beautiful and captivating. That is every woman's desire. And therefore, really, it is not ideal to be thought of as one of the guys, because those two are not congruent. It does not matter that this particular friend is just a is the idea that no guy will be able to see me as anything but "one of the guys" that strikes at my heart so deep. So, while I recognize the blessing that comes in the heart of that statement, I also recognize the arguments, and advocate that perhaps rather than using that phrase, I could simply be told that I am a wonderful friend. :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

almost fall!

It is almost fall time! Pumpkin lattes, lollipops, candles and yummy desserts are making their way into my heart as the sun sets sooner and the nights get colder. I am glancing over at my scarf and beanie wondering how soon I will joyously wear them. Soon I will smell fireplaces burning and see the trees triumphantly change colors as we progressively move through fall into winter. Explosions of orange will color the sides of the road as pumpkin patches abound. Glorious fall. A romantic season. A beautiful season, as things die to become new again. And I am just soaking it in. Cuddling and coziness, warmth and wonder, here comes the bountiful fall!

I love the fall season, as you can kicks off as a fun-filled summer ends! I will leave you with a refresher on all the excitement that encompassed this last summer as I look forward to fall :)

Graduation for Carol, Aimee and Michelle! Yay!

New roommates! :)

Celebrating Emily, my favorite latina ever...

4th of July fabulousness/move in party for Estevan and the guys!


Spirit West Coast- best K-Life crew ever :) /my birthday

love and marriage (awww......)

and last but not least.....

Giant slip n' slide for grown ups! (sort of...)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

fun childhood memories

I spent the first few years of my life growing up in Burbank. It is where my dad grew up and where grandma and grandpa's house was. We lived on Verdugo St. which was right around the corner from the "jet" park- George Izay Park. I loved that park! It has a huge jet in the front of it, and I remember it had some sort of fountain pools and real wood playgrounds. They changed the park later to the plastic Anyway, my dad, brother and I would always yell "JET!!!!" at the top of our lungs when we drove by. Such sweet memories there.

And then there was the Jelly Bean Store. My dad loves jelly beans. I don't specifically remember ever going into that store, but just as enthusiastically as we yelled "jet", we would yell "JELLY BEANS!!!" when we would drive by. The picture below, I believe, is the same store with a new sign. For some reason, we were particularly excited about these two things and would yell them out in excitement.

We also made late night stops to 7-11 to get snacks for the trip home after visiting family once we moved to Oxnard. I usually chose a drumstick or funyuns and a soda (Pepsi). On those road trips, my dad would listen to some sports comedy talk show that would play sound clips of pig noises that would get my brother and I giggling!

I just thought it would be fun to take a brief walk down memory lane...good times!

Friday, August 29, 2008

passing moments

My heart was seized this afternoon
by a woman at the gas station
She smiled gently as she got in her truck
Her dog glanced up from its comfy blankets in the back
She had a look in her eyes that told many stories
and a familiarity that shook me to the core
Short in stature, with short blond hair,
she reminded me of the very woman
who gave me life
Her presence flooded memories and
thoughts into my mind,
causing me to wish she were a different person
smiling back at me
And I wept
I was overcome in one moment,
A moment that would not pass by
like so many often do
It tugged on my heart and
heavily sat as I drove off
Not many nights ago
I dreamed that I was watching her sleep
and now a complete stranger has
brought me to tears
So powerful this moment was

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

beautiful bride and her lovely lemon bars

I had the privilege and honor to be in my friend Aimee's wedding last weekend. The day was so joyful and full of peace; the Holy Spirit was leading the way. She radiated in beauty and everything went off without a hitch. She is married now, beginning a wonderful new chapter in her life. I am inspired by her relationship with her now husband, how they let God bring them together. I am encouraged that God will do the same for me. And I am excited for their future and all the blessings that are just now starting to multiply as a result of their union!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

song bits to describe me as i am now...

"A war is already waged for my destiny
But You've already won the battle
And You've got great plans for me
Though I can't always see

I got a couple dents in my fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to put the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
And on my own I'm so clumsy
But on Your shoulders I can see
I'm free to be me

When I was just a girl
I thought I had it figured out
See my life will turn out right
And I'll make it here somehow
But things don't always come that easy
And sometimes I would doubt, 'cause...

I got a couple dents in my fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to put the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
And on my own I'm so clumsy
But on Your shoulders I can see
I'm free to be me

And you're free to be you

Sometimes I believe
That I can do anything
Yet other times I think
I've got nothing good to bring

But You look at my heart and tell me
That I've got all You seek
And it's easy to believe, even though...
I got a couple dents in my fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to put the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
And on my own I'm so clumsy
But on Your shoulders I can see
I'm free to be me

And you're free to be you"
-Francesca Battistelli, Free to be me

"Standing on the battle line
I fight for my mind aching to be free
This war that I face as I long to embrace
And be with my King

And this fire in my soul, desire to be whole
Is deep within my bones
And I long to be near as I cast away my fear
Running for your throne"
-Shawn McDonald, Clarity

"I wont run when it looks like love
I won’t hide beneath the fear
Of how my past has come undone

I wont run when it looks like love
I can’t spend another night alone
Regretting what I’ve done
So, I won’t run"
Needtobreathe, Looks like love

A battle in my heart and mind, to let go of all shame and the weight of the live in love. God is love, and in His love, I am free. From His love, I can in turn, love the way He has created me to love. A battle to believe every part of His word is for my life, for me. I am in a fight, and I am grateful to know who has already won on my behalf.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Princess Diaries syndrome

I have always secretly loved Disney's Princess Diaries, and I could not put my finger on why. Could it have been me reflecting on my inner child? Or perhaps just the sweetness of the story? The basic premise of the story is about a young teen who finds out that she is the heir to a throne in Genovia, thereby making her a princess. She has lived her life quite contentedly behind the scenes, so much so that she is often sat on. But there is something inside her that has always had her longing for more. She gets that chance and freaks out. She goes on a journey to discover what it means to be a princess, and then has to make a decision whether or not to accept it as her role. It is a tough decision, as she has been so used to a lifestyle quite opposite from royalty. In the end, she chooses to push through her fear of the unknown and take her place as princess.

Last night as I was praying, God vividly brought this story to mind. He spoke to my heart about who I am and who He is calling me to be. My story is not unlike this young teen who only believed that she could be one type of person, but was destined for greater. I have lived my life as an ordinary girl, blending in, doing what I could to make the best out of what I have. And yet, God has called me His Princess. I have a choice before me, to believe and enter into His identity or to sit back and continue to live in the comfort of what I know. I know that living as God's princess is where I am meant to live, and I am learning to believe. And now I understand why I love that movie so much...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

pretty much the coolest dad on the planet

Today was a fun-filled day! My papa drove up to see me for the annual birthday visit. We went out to lunch, adventured around town, went shopping, laughed, and dressed up like pirates and ninjas. Yep, my dad dressed up like a ninja and hung out with my friends because he loves me that much. And he is super cool. My friends all agree. So, here is some evidence of our fun, and THANK YOU papa for everything! I love you!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

falling deeper

The word that God keeps speaking to my heart is one of letting go of control and logic and reason and arguments...and falling into His precious and safe arms. The following song lyrics have been catching my ears every time I hear them...

"Light up the night's last regret
Burn your only safety net
Step to the edge it's such a long way down"

So true...such a long way down. Is that what prevents me from doing it? Or is it simply the idea of change? Letting go and doing things in a way completely different than my stubborn independent way has been so frightening that I have yet to truly do it. I have had a safety net, an exit in case something went wrong or did not live up to the expectation. Now is the time to let go...freefall into the arms of Jesus. Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies...

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Why is it that when you are about to take a vacation you find yourself working extra hard so that you can go on vacation? It makes no sense! But we do it all the time! I find myself with a pile of paperwork to do before I go on a vacation for a week and a half...yuck. I always do. So I am taking a mental break to ponder this very issue. We feel like we cannot go and relax unless everything is done...or else we fear coming back to the pile. Vacations are meant to refresh us, so we work really hard...and then need the refreshing. I have 240 hours of vacation. Do you know how many days that is? 30!!! I could be off for a month and be completely fine. Wow. I am at the max. So, it is official. I am taking a vacation. What am I going to do? Well, relax, for one. And do some small but tedious projects that keep being put off. And I am going to Spirit West Coast at the end of it. Nothing too big. But I will be taking a whole 8 days...barely a dent in my stockpile of hours. Oh well, at least I am trying. Yay vacation!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

this summer

It is summertime! It is July!!! weekends are filling up rapidly as I am diving into summer. So far, it overall has been a lot of fun- BBQs, hot tubs, karaoke, lots of hanging out, fresh fruit at farmer's market, beach time, etc. On the table ahead is garage sale, camping, bridal shower, birthday party, music festival, vacation!!!, and a wedding. I think I will blink and it all will pass. I hope not. I hope to enjoy it all. But there is an element of time flying and me holding on...

Ha. Today started my birthday month. The reason I say this is because we "celebrated" it at work. So, I wholeheartedly embrace my birthday month. Secretly, I am selfishly wanting to be celebrated by myself and not have to share my birthday with others...I am feeling the sibling syndrome where the kids who have siblings with birthdays near theirs get frustrated because they have to share their birthday with others. I know like ten people with birthdays surrounding mine. I think it is because last year I did not really feel like my birthday was anything special. And so this year I want to make up for that. I don't usually feel this way. There is just something about this year. And yes, I agree that it is totally selfish. I love my friends, and I know it is insane to do ten birthdays in fifteen We will see. It would be amazing to be pampered! Pedicure, massage, get my hair done...

How did my blog about this summer get to be about my birthday? Just in the flow of thought, I guess. :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

sometimes you need a little encouragement

Today was a bit of a tough day. Work was fine, but tonight when I was preparing to have my cell group, there was a hiccup. And it boiled down to one of the girls in my cell having a difficult time and including me in it. Fortunately I was met with encouraging words along the way, starting from a friend who I babysit for. God was letting me know He was with me no matter what the circumstances looked like. The best encouragement to me, however, came from an old kids song from a play I was in when I was around ten years old. It goes:

"Draw me nearer, this very hour,
Fill me up, with your power,
Grant me boldness to spread the good news,
Draw me nearer, this very hour"

Of course, it being a kids song, it goes more like "draw me nearer-er, this very hour-er", etc. But it came to me tonight, a blast from the past, but with a very clear purpose. To remind me that what I am doing is right. And that I need God's help to do it. I need to be filled up with His power. That He grants the boldness I need, and that most of all, I need to draw near to my Jesus. So simple, and yet so powerful.

Monday, June 23, 2008

preparation for revelation

On Friday evening (on the hottest day on the planet...okay, not really, but it was way too hot for me, and that is a subject for another day...), I drove down south to visit my dad to take him out to dinner. I love going to see him, and unfortunately it does not happen often enough. It was not a very long trip, but it served as a preparation for what God wanted to speak to me later in the weekend. It is funny, I bought my dad dinner for his birthday/father's day; yet, he ended up taking me out to breakfast the next morning and sending me home with a little gas money. I am learning how to receive blessing, even when it doesn't make sense. I am confident that if my dad could, he would have sent me home with much more than that. That is the heart of a father. On Sunday night, my pastor was talking about the very same subject. He was talking about how God, our Father, wants to bless us. All we have to do is go spend time with Him. Pastor Terry shared that when his children come spend time with him, everything is free. And that will not change. He loves to bless them. He compared that to God's heart. God longs for us to spend time with Him so He can lavish us with His love and blessing. We began to pray, and God reminded me of how much my earthly dad loved me enough to send me off with a small blessing. He then spoke to my heart about how much MORE He wanted to give me. That it starts by taking the time to be in His presence. I have been struggling financially and I have such a desire to give. I strongly dislike the feeling of not being able to be generous because of what my bank account dictates to me. God is in charge of my finances, and I am beginning to learn to trust Him fully in this area of my life. I am not in control, and should not be. I've tried. It doesn't work. But I know God has brought financial miracles to my life as well as many others' lives. So, I am learning what it means to really spend time with my Father and how to receive the blessing He is waiting to pour out over me.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

you know you are an adult when...

I was recently thinking about this because I realized that I listen to talk radio in my car now. I used to despise talk radio! It was sooooo boring and all I wanted to listen to was music. Now, I enjoy listening to various talk shows, especially those on what is going on in today's world. Even a year ago, I never would have thought to do this, yet here I am. I am also having some weird issue with turning 27. It is as though I am realizing I am an adult. And there is a collision of where I am and where I thought I'd be, and they do not match up. But there it is. So, here are some funny ways that you know you are an adult when... (I added the last one...)

  • Driving a car doesn't always sound like fun.
  • You have friends who have kids.
  • Saturday mornings are for sleeping.
  • You are taller than the slide at the McDonald's playland. (oh wait, that'll never happen for me...hahahaha)
  • Your parents' jokes are now funny.
  • You have once said, "Whutch-you talkin' 'bout Willis?"
  • Naps are good.
  • When things go wrong, you can't just yell, "Do-over!"
  • The only thing in your cereal box is ... cereal.
  • You actually buy scarves, gloves, and sunscreen.
  • You leave concerts and ballgames early to beat the crowd.
  • You WANT clothes for Christmas.
  • You don't want a Camaro because of the insurance premiums.
  • You listen to talk radio!!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

blink! there it goes...

I looked at my blog tonight and realized that I have not written for about a month. Seriously, time has flown by. Here it is, June. About three days ago, I realized this and had the thought "oh no! My dad's birthday is coming and it totally snuck up on me!!!" By the way, happy birthday Papa! So, with that, June is here, and things show NO signs of slowing down. I am excited by all that I am involved with as of late...job change (I am official- Vocational Services Manager...although I am only now really learning what that means. Ha ha.), reaching out to people who don't know Jesus (everyone should!), singing, teaching in kids church, and the list goes on and on. I have also started babysitting again! So fun!

Anyway, that is a mini update. It has been an interesting week so far, but God is good! Hopefully, I will have more thoughts to unleash in the coming weeks :)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mother's Day Tribute

My life is different than most people in several ways...
Not only did I mostly grow up without a mom in my life, I went through the
process of losing her twice. The first time to divorce and a move to
Nevada. The second time to Pancreatic Cancer in December 2006.

This is my second Mother's Day without her, and this year, I wanted to honor her life. This is my mom. She was beautiful, and I look a lot like her. I think these
photos of her on her wedding day to my dad reflect a time of dreams
just beginning...

I believe that my mom's greatest joy was becoming a mother. The picture
above is of her pregnant with me. She was so full of life and

She loved being in the water! We would go swimming all the time.
Being out in the sun and water took up many hours for us...she
would call my brother and I "fish" because we swam so much.

This was on a Girl Scout trip we took in the snow. She became a Girl Scout leader so she could spend more time with me. Some of those times are my favorite memories...dressing up like Barbie or Christmas boxes for parades, going camping...

After she moved to Nevada, my mom would send me letters. The end of this one expressed how much she loved and missed us. I would always look forward to these letters, especially during the early days of her being gone. I cherish these now.

I love this picture because we were all laughing. We took these during one of our visits over the holidays. She always wanted to have lots of pictures of us.

My mom had always wanted to go to Hawaii. She finally got to go in 2003. She took me as an early graduation gift (from Cal Poly). It was just me and her, out in the sun and water, just like the old days. But this time, we were in a new, beautiful place. We did every tourist-y thing imaginable! A luau, riding in a submarine (below 100 feet!), the island tour, plantation tours, Polynesian Culture Center, snorkeling, laying on the beach, eating out, shows, Pearl Harbor, a cruise dinner on the name it! We had a great time, and for her, it was a dream come true.

me and my brother

My mom also loved animals. She had four dogs and three cats when she passed
away. They kept her many of the years passed without her being able to spend much time with us. I don't think she really knew what moving away to Nevada was going to do to her relationships with her children when she initially moved. She later told me that she wished she could move back to California.
She never did.

I would not be the person I am today if not for my mom. I am a reflection of her life...
and a representation of her dreams.

Happy Mother's Day, Mama. I miss you so.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

gloomy day

I am sitting here looking out my window and all I see is fog. It is cold outside...not much like yesterday. Yesterday, I was at the beach in a sun dress enjoying the beautiful weather with friends. Today, it is not like that at all. I am contemplating a nap, but instead, I am here at my laptop, unloading my thoughts. I feel a bit like what is reflected outside. Truthfully, it is a week away from Mother's Day and there are moments that are starting to catch up to me again...moments that come when I feel most dry or alone. They flood in and I end up crying in the middle of my kitchen. I try to hide it and then God sends people like my friend Jeff to ask me blunt questions like "Have you been crying? Are you okay?" And of course, I cannot lie when asked that kind of question, so I unravel a bit and am no longer able to hide. Ha ha. Most of the time, I either don't slow down enough to let the moment impact me or I move on quickly to the next convenient distraction so I don't have to cry. But I do. I have to cry. I have to let the fact that I miss my mom come out when it needs to and it has to be okay. I often argue with myself that I just need to be strong and keep going because I have too much to do and I have to be strong so I can lead others, so I can give something away to those who need it more than I do. The truth is that if I don't allow myself to receive from God or let out what is bottled up inside...what I end up giving away is brokenness or I give all that I have left and run out of strength. God has been speaking to me about His Presence and staying there. I am finding more and more that I don't get far without it. My strength only lasts so long. My abilities only go so far...and then I let go of hope when things don't pan out the way I hoped that they would. But God calls me to hope. His hope does not disappoint. So, even in these moments, even when I feel so stretched I might break, God is my strength. And I can be weak in His arms. I am safe there. I don't have to put up a front and pretend to be okay. He knows. The truth always comes out, and if I hope in Him, He will provide. This day may feel gloomy in many, many ways, but there is a ray of hope beyond the fog and clouds. There is a ray of hope beyond the heaviness of this moment.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


"Man finds it hard to get what he wants, because he does not want the best; God finds it hard to give, because He would give the best, and man will not take it." -George MacDonald

I was teaching at my cell group last night about breaking free from and eradicating sin, and one of my points (out of Romans 6) was that once we let go of our sin, we need to walk in new life. What does that mean? New life means that there was an old life...and that old life was a life of sin, not focused on God. The old life brought curses, and the new life cancels the curse in order to bring blessing. So, to walk in new life means not only walking according to God's will BUT also receiving the blessings He gives us as a result of that walk!

I went to prayer morning this morning and the one thing I walked away hearing in my heart was that once we have come to God and laid our sin at the cross, we can and need to receive His love and blessing. It is a false humility to not receive the grace that Jesus died for us to receive. This is one area in my life that I wrestle with...and the quote above truly describes the reality of my situation. People (I am preaching to myself here...) tend to hold onto this idea that they don't deserve good things and will often settle for second best or even less than that. This can be due to guilt/shame or having a poverty mindset. Either way, this is NOT how we are meant to live! Christ died not just for us to be set free from sin, but to be set free from bondage, sickness, poverty, and death! And Christ is the way into the relationship with the Father where we can receive His gifts. I am trying to give up my right to say what I do or don't deserve, and am praying for God's help so I can receive.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

the ransom

So, two entries ago, I told you about the demand we placed on the guys in return for the "booty" aka weaponry, which was a shrubbery (which we didn't actually want, nor receive) and a meal. It took awhile to plan a night for dinner, but last Friday night, we got our ransom. We did not get just any meal...we got an experience. We were served real Italian cuisine- rabbit cacciatore over polenta, bruschetta, potatoes, asparagus with pancetta, and red wine, all served by a gracious host and cook. We ate, laughed, and talked, like how I imagine a real Italian family would. Then we had pre-dessert- pear and Gorgonzola cheese. To top it all off, we finished with coffee and pie. We were up late enjoying each other's company and I can truly say I was impressed. It was one of the best homecooked meals I have ever experienced. I am inspired to learn how to cook some Italian food! :)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


This morning (and tomorrow) I volunteered at K-Life to answer calls for donations, as it is a listener supported radio station. I am excited to see them reach their goals for fundraising because they are a beacon of light in California, from the Central Coast to Ventura County. The music they play is fun and God-focused, and they fill the rest of the time with Godly messages. If you listen tomorrow from 6-9am, you may hear my voice! But if you have the ability, you should also donate! They are a blessing and need our call in or go online to :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

childish adventure

The booty :)

Last night, three of my friends and I decided to be childish and funny and steal the sword collection of some of our most cherished guy friends. They have swords by the door, above the television, in the hall...they are really not that sharp, and really cool to play we got the idea to go pillaging. We, the fair maidens, would seek out the weaponry and replace them with mock versions made of aluminum foil. We would also leave a ransom note that stated something like the following "If ye hot-tubbing gentlemen (they were hot-tubbing at the time) wish to see your weaponry again, you must bring the fair maidens a shrubbery (that's right, we threw in a Monty Python reference). And cook for them. Text thine answer."

So, with the knowledge that they were hot-tubbing and that they leave their door unlocked, we set off on our adventure. We even had an excuse for being there should we be caught in the act...we came bearing taquitos. And by the way, we were. Caught, that is. Jon, one of the two unsuspecting gents, came back up to his place to get a key while we were ransacking the place for weaponry! But he trusted us so much when we simply stated we were dropping off taquitos, he even told us to make ourselves at home. I giggled nervously as he walked around the house, and I tried to make the fact that I was holding the sword "Excalibur" (as I dubbed it) less weird. He went on his merry way back to the steamy land of tubbing and we quickly finished our pillage and RAN!!! It must have been quite a sight watching four women running with swords and sai in hand as we fled the scene.

Victory was ours as we received the text stating "we accept your terms". We took pictures and are currently enjoying the benefits of having weaponry in our midst. What that means, I don't know. But it is pretty cool to say that I have a sword. Ha ha ha. The excitement of the adventure, and the laughter that came as a result, was worth it all. Childish? Yes. Does that matter? No. No harm, no foul, and I hope to get a tasty free meal out of the deal. :) And the gentlemen still love the fair maidens. It's too bad we'll have to give the booty back.

The fair maidens...

Friday, March 21, 2008


Sunny days are breaking through
The storms have passed
Though they are never gone
Not so locked into the whirlwinds of life
I look forward to the days ahead
I am seeking new adventure
And I find it just around the corner
Am I prepared?
I will soon find out…

I hope that the adventure spills over
Into all the areas of my life
New chapters turning
New passions burning
Excitement creeping back into my heart
We’ll see how it all plays out
I am not the author, you see

Whispers of promise float by
As I learn to get a hold of them
I am learning to believe what
Has been spoken over me
I am beginning to see through
A different pair of eyes
My heart smiles at the future
Just wait and see


The following links are to one of my favorite movie shorts called Dust. I'll let it do the talking. May it impact your heart like it did mine. :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I had a series of random thoughts today while driving to get some coffee from Starbucks about the English language and how funny it is. Take the word "interested". You can use that in a variety of contexts. It is one word but can be used differently depending on what words you pair with it.
-I am interested in language.
-I am interested in Joe Shmoe.
-We are interested in having you interview for the position.
-I am interested in Joe Shmoe.

The word "love" is also used so much that its meaning is often lost or greatly exaggerated. What is love? "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." People flippantly (including myself) use the word "love" to say that they love tv shows or food or people...but love means so much more than the way it is being used.

I appreciate language. I am trying to learn the Spanish language better than I currently do. I have the privilege of singing worship songs in Spanish, some of which I know better than the English translation! It is a beautiful language..."Suspiro hoy dentro de mi, cada minuto cuento para verte, ven a mi, ven a mi" means roughly "With every breath inside of me, I'm counting every moment til I see you, come to me, come to me".

I don't really have much more to share right now on this subject, but I may re-visit it in the future. Until then, think about what you say and how many times we use the same words to describe completely different situations! It can be very amusing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

change is good...

So, last week I applied for a new position at my work. I have been a QMRP for over three years now and this last year has been particularly tough on me for a variety of reasons. I have been realizing that if I really wanted to keep working for the company I have been working for, something was going to have to change soon. My spark, as my boss told me, was gone. She said it returned when I interviewed for the new position. Today I found out that I got the position! This brings a mixture of feelings- relief, excitement, nervousness, and sadness. I had to tell the people I have been working with that I was moving to a whole new department...trying to help them understand that it had nothing to do with them. That was hard. Starting next month, I am moving from working with residential programs (something I know very well) to vocational services (something I know very little about...). I am stepping into a fairly nebulous position and will be trying to add some structure. Wow. I have a big challenge in front of me. And yet, I know that this is going to give me something to be excited about. And that is what is important to me, being excited about going to work and not just going through the motions. I love what I do, but I am the kind of person who likes to learn new things and try new challenges. So, here I go!

My job is not the only new adventure I have embarked on this year...and I know it won't be the last! I started my cell group and I am learning how to reach out to people through it. I am back on the worship team, which I love. Change is good. God is using it to stretch me and show me that He wants to use me to do amazing things. It is a blessing to lead people to Jesus and watch Him transform their lives. It is a delight to serve God and a challenge to let go of all that I have been holding on to. It is worth it. I am learning to lean harder on the one who I should depend on the most. And He is meeting me, even as I stumble through the learning process. He is so full of grace and mercy. And I am seeing it is not about me. It is about Him using me to fulfill His dreams on earth. And I am enjoying all that he is teaching me. Thanks be to God for all He is doing!!! Yes, change is good. :)

Monday, March 17, 2008


Who knew that the game of Monopoly could be so fun? I spent last night with a group of close friends and the board game...and a variety of music playing in the background. We spent two quality hours playing and talking and laughing. I realized how much I enjoy spending time with people. If I didn't have to go to work and get up early, I could have stayed longer, just enjoying the people I love.

And two nights before that, we ate spaghetti and sat at a table. No movies or computers or cell phones to distract us. Just time and company. I loved every minute of it.

More and more I want to slow down and enjoy those around me...I have spent too much time running around crazy and stressed. I look forward to more of these moments. :)