Sunday, December 26, 2010

A strange Christmas

This has got to be the strangest Christmas of my life. It was my second Christmas without my mom. Last year my dad and I went to Uganda for Christmas to be with my sister, so it was a huge distraction to celebrating the holiday without my mom. I'm sure you can imagine—the vaccinations, the travel, the excitement of going to a new country, of seeing my nephews—it was such a unique Christmas, it was easy to mask the fact that we were missing my mother.

This year Christmas snuck up on me. I didn't think it would be hard, but it was. I didn't realize that not only is my mom gone, but this was my first Christmas ever without my sister. It made for a pretty strange Christmas this year. It was just me and my dad. It wasn’t bad, just different. It was quiet and it felt empty in a lot of ways.

Yeah, Christmas is about kids and family. But I’m glad that is not what it’s really about. Because when the kids are in Africa, and family is scarce, there is still reason to celebrate. God, the Creator of the universe humbled Himself and became a man. He was born as a baby in a manager, in a humble stable. That is the God I serve. And I’m so thankful.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Song of the Day

Last Christmas

I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special

Once bitten and twice shy
I keep my distance
But you still catch my eye
Tell me baby, do you recognize me?

Well it's been a year
It doesn't surprise me
I wrapped it up and sent it
With a note saying "I love you"
I meant it, now I know what a fool I've been
But if you kissed me now
I know you'd fool me again

[Chorus]

A crowded room
Friends with tired eyes
I'm hiding from you And your soul of ice
My god I thought you were
Someone to rely on
Me? I guess I was a shoulder to cry on

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart
A man under cover but you tore me apart
Now I've found a real love you'll never fool me again

[Chorus 2x]

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart
A man under cover buy you tore him apart
Maybe next year I'll give it to someone
I'll give it to someone special.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Isn't it Ironic?

Once upon a time I had something good and didn't realize just how good it was until it was gone. Instead, I wanted something else, something slightly different. I didn't mean to, and didn't realize it, but I tried to change that good thing and ended up losing it. Now after all this time, I have what I wanted before. But I don't want that anymore. I want what I had. So I gave up what I don't want, but I still don't have what I do want. Isn't it ironic?

They say what goes around comes around. I really believe this is true, and right now I am getting a taste of my own medicine...exactly what I deserve.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving

Five years ago if you explained what my life would look like today, I wouldn't have believed you! Life (so far) has turned out very differently than I ever expected. But at the same time, I am so thankful.

I was thinking about all the things I have to be thankful for. I really am so blessed. I serve a great God who is kinder to me than I deserve. Why am I often so ungrateful? Why do I complain and grumble about my situation when I should be shouting out praises for his goodness toward me.

I'm glad for Thanksgiving, the small reminder of me to reflect on all I have to be thankful for. Hopefully the memory of turkey and pumpkin pie will tide me over until next year.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bucca and random thoughts...

I went out to dinner with some friends the other night and we had an interesting conversation on the way home. We were talking about what to look for in a guy. I've been thinking a lot about what really matters to me. I think my perspective is changing a little bit the older I get. Because I see how hard it is to find a guy who genuinely treats a woman the way a woman should be treated.

I never thought of this before, but a godly woman should be treated like a gem, because she is. There are so many wonderful women and the guys are not treating them with the huge amount of respect they deserve. How a guy treats a girl is much more important than I ever thought.

Something is seriously wrong with the way that Christian men and Christian women interact these days, and I pray God will give me the wisdom and discernment to find a man who is a real man. It's not as easy it seems.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reconnecting

I had dinner with an old friend last night. There are some people you can go without seeing for ten years and still feel like nothing has changed. There's comfort in those friendships, like an old blanket or a worn sweater.

When life gets confusing, friends who have known you for a long time can help give you perspective. They will be honest with you, like no one else. You may not always like what they have to say, but deep down, you know they're probablly right.

Everyone should have friends like that.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Overwhelmed

Have you ever felt like God was heaping blessings on you? That's how I feel. I feel extremely overwhelmed at how kind and generous my God is. I feel like things are going too well, like I am just holding my breath waiting for another trial to come, waiting for something bad to happen. But for the moment I am going to try to enjoy the torrent of good things the Lord seems to be giving me. And I am going to purposefully remember to be thankful and to constantly tell God how grateful I am to Him. And I will seek to be dependent on Him in the easy times as I am in the rough times.

I am so unworthy of the grace God bestows on me everyday. And each good thing He gives me is a reminder of how God uses the unworthy, the low, the weak--that is me!

Sure, I have my moments, things are still hard. But I serve a good God.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good News

Last night at high school Bible study we talked about the gospel, the good news. As Christians we throw that word around a lot, but what does it really mean? Do we really understand the gospel? Are we able to clearly articulate it to others?

Then in small group I got some really exciting news. One of my girls accepted Christ as Savior on Monday night, just three days ago! I can't even tell you how encouraging that news is. This girl was fooling herself and lying to herself as well as to other people and on Monday night the Lord opened her eyes. I am rejoicing and Scripture says the angels are rejoicing too!

I am so thankful for the good news, the gospel of Christ. I am in desperate need of the gospel everyday--it's not just for the unsaved.

"I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation." Romans 1:16

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Change, Scary and Exciting

I'm not good with change--it freaks me out and sometimes even the thought of it cripples me. I'll even sometimes avoid making decisions because I know the inevitable consequence is change.

I don't know why I'm such a creature of habit. But I'm learning that change can be good. Change can give the Lord room to work in my life in ways that wouldn't be possible if I held on to the status quo. If I get out of my comfort zone I'm forced to recognize my dependence on the Lord and to trust Him and lean on His sovereignty. Change puts legs on my faith.

"Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness."
-Psalm 107:8-9

An addition: After I wrote this post I had Panda Express for lunch and my fortune cookie said, "You will make a change for the better." HA! HA!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Go Fishing, Look at the Stars, Get a Massage, Finish My Book

On Saturday my pops took me "deep sea fishing." We took a boat from Long Beach with a group of about 20 other people. It was kind of chilly and don't ask me why, but I wore flips-flops. Flips-flops do not bode well in a slippery boat and it doesn't feel too good to have your feet in a puddle of cold water for 4 hours. My dad took home 2 scopin fish and had to throw back 5 that were not quite long enough to meet the cut. For those of you mathematicians out there, that makes a total of 7 catches for my dad. And my grand total? None, zip, zero, zilch, nada, however you say it, it all means the same thing--I CAUGHT NOTHING! But I still had a blast out there with my dad, taking in the fresh air.



Another one of my birthday resolutions was to sit in the back of my car and look at the stars. Now, for all of you astronomers out there, Northridge is not the best place to look at stars. In fact, I sat in the back of my car, truck, SUV, tank, whatever you want to call it, and I looked at a hazy sky. I did see one star. It was a beautiful star. It twinkled. I wished on it, since it was the brightest star in the sky. It was the only star in the sky. I'm convinced it still counts.

Getting a massage had to be my favorite resolution. It was an easy one to keep. I found a little hole-in-the-wall massage place near my house and my friend joined me for a massage. She opted for a 30 minute one and I got an hour. The lady was so nice, she gave me a little extra time and even showed me some exercises I can do. It was fabulous. Everyone should do it.

This last resolution is the one I am most proud of. I finished my book! It is called Annabel West. It's about a girl with a twin brother who lives in New England. Her father suddenly decides to head west to find gold and drags the family with him to fulfill his dream. The story takes place during the gold rush and is about their adventures getting to and living in the west! Who knows? Maybe someday I'll get published.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. BIRTHDAY LIST, DONE!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fix the Curtains, Eat Dinner Alone, Run 10 Miles

Check. Check. Check. I am really racing to finish my list before my birthday comes! In the last week I've done several of my birthday resolutions.

First, I fixed the curtains in the living room. Last year I put up some blinds, but didn't realize they were unfinished on the other side, so from the outside of the house it looked like we had white sheets hanging in the window. FINALLY I found some sheers to put up behind the blinds to solve the problem.



There is this tiny Mexican food restaurant right on the corner by my house and after my entire life of living here, I have never eaten there. One of my resolutions was to eat dinner at a sit-down restaurant alone--since I've never done that before and wanted to see what it was like. The meal was yummy. And it was fun to eat alone.

The most I've ever run at one time is 8 miles. I wanted to challenge myself, so I decided to make the goal of running 10 miles. On Saturday morning I woke up at 5:30am and set out to run 10 miles. It was going pretty well, but after mile 6, my hips started to hurt and my legs were hurting too. But I pushed it through and made it to the end. My hips were a little sore the rest of the day, but I feel good today. I think I'm ready for a 1/2 marathon!

My Adventure to Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle is nearly 4 hours from where I live, so I thought it would be fun to make a road trip of it and go with some friends. Since my birthday is so soon, today was my only free day to accomplish this task. It just so happens that all of my friends were busy today and no one could go with me. Something in me dreaded the thought of going alone, so I almost didn’t go. But something even stronger in me told me that I had go—even if it meant going alone. I wanted to have this experience, I wanted to have this adventure. I couldn’t let my singleness keep me from it.

So I went. I enjoyed the beautiful drive down the coast and I had a wonderful time touring the castle and learning the fascinating facts about Mr. Hearst and his party abode. It was a gorgeous day. The sun was shining, but not too hot, and a slight wind cooled the air without being too gusty. The scenic view from the top of the castle was astonishing and made me imagine what Hearst’s guests must have felt like as they drove up the long, winding, road in their limousine. And I met a few really nice people who were on the tour as well--2 girls and a guy about my age. They were very friendly.

The nice girl at the snack shop gave me a free croissant and later a guy working there gave me a 1/2 price coffee. Don't ask me why...I guess they are just nice people.

Before I headed home I went on a brief walk on the beach and let the freezing air blow through my hair until I couldn't take anymore and got back into the car and headed on my trip home.

I had the best day I’ve had in a long time. Yes, at times I did feel lonely and wish I had a friend or better yet, someone special, to share the experience with, but I didn’t. And that’s okay. I feel more empowered and confident because of today.



Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oxnard or Bust

Have you ever been “at a loss for words?” In the last week I’ve experienced that feeling in ways I’ve never known before.

I spent the week in a chilly but beautiful beach-town called Oxnard. Hundreds of missionaries from around the world sent out from my church gathered together for a time of refreshment, encouragement, and challenging seminars and sermons. The theme? Marriage.

I was part of a team of about 25 people who helped watch all of the missionary children so the parents could take part in the conference without distractions. I was assigned to the 3-5 year old group. And as you can imagine, our room was busting at the seams with an intense energy and vivacity. I love how some of the boys were all boy! They just had to run and jump and wrestle and hit and pull. It was a task calming them down. And it was fun to cuddle and comfort the shy crying girls who missed their mommies.

A peek into our classroom might reveal a puppet show, or singing time, coloring, or story time, Bible time, potty break, or perhaps snack time. Or you might find us at the pool, doing craft time, or watching a video. We had a blast—and I think the children enjoyed themselves too. I was also able to spend a significant amount of time with a precious disabled missionary child named Hannah. Hannah needed some special attention, so I was able to stay close to her for most of the week to attend to her needs. Hannah had her 14th birthday in the middle of the week—the same day as our zoo field trip, so I was able to take Hannah to the zoo and do my best to make her birthday a special one.

Now that this exhausting but incredible week is over, I am truly at a loss for words. I learned so much this week about myself—my selfishness, my hunger for personal comfort, my flirtation with materialism, and so much more. I was challenged and inspired simply by being in the presence of devoted, faithful, missionaries who willingly and sacrificially devote themselves to ministry.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Go horseback riding

I fulfilled another birthday resolution while I was at camp the other week! One of my resolutions was to go horseback riding. I had the opportunity to go horseback riding with Deja (who I mentioned a couple of posts ago). We had a lot of fun. It was so beautiful and serene, and I felt like I had to be quiet the entire time and just take in the beauty. The sun was shining and warmed my cheeks and the sky was blue and unblemished by clouds. I could smell nature--the freshness, the dirt, the trees, the flowers, the moisture all combined to give off an amazing fragrance. Of course it helped that we were out of the state in Glorieta, New Mexico.

As I sat on the back of a strong, powerful horse named Garry, I thought about how quickly this year passed. I can't believe how soon my birthday is! I'd better jump on these last resolutions before my time is up. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Home Again, Home Again

Hey everyone! I'm back from summer camp. I'm tan, I'm sore, and I'm tired. :)

We had an 18 1/2 hour bus ride to Glorieta, New Mexico and then 5 days of intense preaching, small group, and the craziest games you can imagine, then a 17 hours bus ride back home. But not before eating breakfast at Cracker Barrel! It was a blast. My favorite part was talking to the kids who were on the sidelines, not into the games--those are always my favorite students--and we had some great conversations. I praise God for the opportunities I had to talk to students about the gospel and to tell them about how God saved me. I'm so glad I was able to go this year.

I was the official camp blogger, so if you want to read more about camp, check out www.regenblog.com.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Regeneration

Hi, friends. I'm off to Glorietta, New Mexico for HS summer camp in just a few minutes. We'll get back home on Saturday afternoon, so I'll be gone for a week. If you think about it, please pray for me. Some friends of mine invited their neighbor to be part of camp. Her name is Deja. She'll be in my small group and I'll be rooming with her. She wasn't raised in the church--in fact I think her first time at church was last week when she came to visit. I'm really excited about this ministry opportunity, but pray that Deja will feel comfortable with me and that I'll have opportunities to share the gospel with her and live it before her in the coming week. Pray for Deja's salvation!

Thanks, everyone. See you in a week!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Beauty For Ashes

I just saw this song on a blog I've been following and I think the words are beautiful. The particular verse below stood out to me:
Beauty from Pain
My whole world is the pain inside me
The best I can do is just get through the day
When life before is only a memory
I'll wonder why God lets me walk through this place
And though I can't understand why this happened
I know that I will when I look back someday
And see how you've brought beauty from ashes
And made me as gold purified through these flames

-Superchic

That reminds me of a song my mom used to sing:
Beauty For Ashes
He gives beauty for ashes,
Strength for fear,
Gladness for mourning,
Peace for dispair.


So encouraging and so true. He makes all things beautiful IN HIS TIME. When I feel like the words of the first song are true in my life, which I often do, I rest in this truth!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Examiner.com

If you take the time to read my blog, you'll be interested to know I've become the LA Relationship Angst Examiner for Examiner.com. So far I have three articles complete.

Check it out here.

Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Toe Ring

I figured I'd better start concentrating on my birthday list again if I want to finish everything before my birthday! Next on the list:
Wear a toe ring.

I've never worn a toe ring before. But you have to understand some history to know why I wrote this as one of my resolutions. My dear friend and X-roommate Sandi had a toe ring that she never took off. NEVER. NEVER. I'm not kidding. NEVER. She has worn this toe ring for 12 years now? Is that right, Sandi? So, several years ago when Sandi got married I begged her to take off the toe ring for the sake of her husband. But guess what? SHE DIDN'T! If I'm not mistaken, Sandi is still wearing the toe ring to this day!

So, I had to find out what is the big deal about toe rings. Hence my birthday resolution to buy a toe ring and wear it. And you know what? I do kind of like it. :) I won't tease you anymore, Sandi. But when or if I get married, please make sure I take it off! :)



Saturday, July 03, 2010

Another Quirk of Mine

I might sound psycho, but cleaning gives me a strange sense of fulfillment. When I see the fruit of my labor--when I clean something that was filthy and it looks shiny and nice, it gives me this great pleasure. After I clean I feel a sense of accomplishment. Ahh...it's been a good day.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Scatter-Brained

I never thought of myself as a scatter-brained person. Until now. I keep forgetting and misplacing important things, and there is no excuse for it. I need to get my act together. :) This mindless trend is not good to have when you're taking a trip out of state for a wedding. (Bite lip here.)

So this weekend my friend Holly got married! I was a bridesmaid in the wedding and had the blessing of going to Denver, Colorado to be part of Holly's special day. Holly has some amazing friends that I was privileged to meet. It was a great bridal party and I'm thankful to know that Holly is surrounded by so many wonderful friends. And I look forward to visiting again!

So maybe I had a few mishaps along the way, but God is gracious and everything worked out well. And I did learn some important lessons:

1. You can't always trust GPS.

2. Don't karaoke after 10 p.m.

3. People in Denver actually return things to the lost-and-found.

4. You can nap comfortably in a rental car.

5. Never iron a wedding dress with an old iron.

6. Never challenge Erin Robles to a game of checkers.

7. You don't know when or where you'll meet interesting people.

8. You don't have to pay $25 to check a garment bag on an airplane.

9. If your plane gets into LAX at 7:30 a.m., you can get your luggage and still get to work in Valencia by 8:44 a.m.!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Holy Spirit

It's interesting...a pastor at my church preached a message almost 2 weeks ago about the Trinity. It was a clarifying sermon for me and reminded me that the Trinity is perfectly unified. We can't place more emphasis on any one aspect of the Trinity over the others without getting into trouble. Augustine said something to the effect of, "Try to understand the Trinity and lose your mind, deny the Trinity and lose your soul." I think he said it right.

This summer we are doing a study on the Holy Spirit. I'm really excited to do study this topic more because I don't think I have a good enough grasp yet on the importance of the Holy Spirit and how it relates to the Trinity.

I'm so thankful to the Father for His headship, and I'm thankful to the Son for His submission unto death, and I'm thankful for the Helper, the Holy Spirit.

Praise God from whom all blessing flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Orange Chicken, Lakers, and Car Hunting

I love my dad. And I don't spend enough time with my dad. So tonight I made orange chicken and salad and actually sat down at the table with my dad for dinner and we shared a meal together--that hardly ever happens!

I've also been car hunting. I think it's time for me to buy a new car and my dad and I have been doing a lot of discussing about what car I should buy. My little CRV has served me well, but Chole is starting to wear out, I'm afraid. Looking for a car is such a confusing process and a big investment and I want to make a wise decision, so I'm glad I have my dad to give me his two cents or more accurately his too sense. :)

And right now as I type this, my dad and I are watching the Lakers game together like we used to do when I was little. I remember I would sit and watch sports with him and he would pay me a dollar to give him a back rub. HA! HA! Well, no back rub tonight, but I am enjoying just relaxing and enjoying a game with my papa. I'm glad my next resolution is to go fishing with my dad.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Shout Out to My Family on the Other Side of the World

I've been missing my sister A LOT lately. And I asked her to send me more pictures of my adorable nephews because I haven't seen them in so long. My sweet sister obliged Auntie Nea and sent along a couple of pictures to hold me over.

I am blessed to have a brother-in-law and sister who love the Lord and serve Him to the point of great sacrifice, and who raise my nephews to fear and love Jesus Christ. I've been praying often for Nico and Nate, that they will grow to be godly, mature Christian men who cherish God's Word and who deeply love their Savior and that some day they will gently, lovingly lead their wives and families. I know it sounds crazy, but yes, I have been praying for my nephews' future wives.

When I look at this family picture, all I see is God's love, His power, His providence, and His grace. And it makes me worship Him all the more deeply.



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Visit Cornerstone (Hear Francis Chan)

For several years now, I've been meaning to go to Cornerstone and hear Francis Chan preach. I've tried a couple of times in the past to go to his church and hear him, but as it were, it never panned out. The one time I went, there was a guest speaker and another time he was sick or gone on vacation. So a few weeks ago, I heard an announcement that surprised me, along with many other people. Francis announced that he was moving on from his pastoral position at Cornerstone. He has been the pastor there for about 15 years. He said he thinks God is calling him elsewhere. He doesn't know if that means to start another church in the LA area, or if it means the mission field. But it was certain his time of pastoring Cornerstone was up.

After getting that news, I realized I'd better go to Cornerstone and hear him preach, quick, before he was gone. Hearing him was one of the tasks on my birthday resolution list. So the very next Sunday, I met up with my friend Stephanie and went to a service at Cornerstone. Francis preached on the parable of the soils and explained that many will hear and not be saved, but we are just to faithfully spread the seed until the very end.

It was a good message, and I went away encouraged by what God is doing in the lives of other churches. I'll be praying for this transition time for these dear people in the weeks and months ahead.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Paint a Picture


I am privileged to know an amazing woman named Belinda Del Pesco. She is an incredible artist and an intriguing person. When she heard about my birthday resolutions she was generous enough to agree to help me "paint a picture." Belinda went above and beyond anything I expected. She made me an incredible dinner and gave me an art lesson. I picked up so many tips and learned so much from her just in one night. I was amazed at the thought she put into the evening to help me out and to teach me about the art of making art. I'm so thankful for Belinda's friendship and hope to have other paint dates in the future.

Here is what I created! Take note of what is in the corner of the pictures of me painting. Belinda said that two key ingredients to a good painting are chocolate and tea. THANKS again, Belinda!


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

God's Economy

So often I think of the highest good as my comfort and my happiness. But in God's economy that couldn't be further from the truth! God wants my holiness and if that means me being uncomfortable and going through trials, then so be it. The end result is worth it.

The question is, do I REALLY believe that God has my best in mind? Do I REALLY believe God's promise that He does not withhold any good thing from His children? Do I REALLY believe God loves me? Do I REALLY believe He hears me when I cry out to Him? Yes, yes I do with my whole heart! But so often I live in my economy and think I deserve good and I'm selfish and stubborn like a child when I don't get my own way. But I'm learning to trust. I'm learning to let go of my desires and to submit my will to His. I'm learning to be thankful and to rest in His sovereign control over all the circumstances of my life.

I'm not there yet, but I'm learning. And that's progress, that's sanctification.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Go To A Monster Truck Rally

Can I just say this was way more fun than I ever expected! It was so awesome--the atmosphere was tingling with excitement. I know how people get hooked on this. My adrenaline was going big time as I felt the vibrations and throbbing of the cars zooming by. I can't imagine the thrill that the drivers get. My hearing was gone and my head ached for about an hour afterwards, but it was well worth it. It was a great way to spend my cousin's first day in CA.

Friday, April 16, 2010

BATTLE

I'm reading Perelandra by C.S. Lewis. The bulk of the book is basically a spiritual battle for the soul of mankind. Like when Satan tries to tempt the woman in the garden to disobey God. So Weston tries to tempt the woman to disobey Maleldil while Rasom is the voice of reason trying to convince the woman that her highest good is obedience to Maleldil.

Right now in some ways I feel like I have Ransom and Weston on both sides of me vying for my attention. And I need to be reminded what is my highest good. My highest good is to obey my Creator. No matter what twisted logic the world tries to throw at me, I know that the outcome for my good is when I obey, even if I don't understand the purpose of the command. I must obey out of love for my Creator.

"I think He made one law of that kind in order that there might be obedience. In all these other matters what you call obeying Him is but doing what seems good in your own eyes also. Is love content with that? You do them, indeed because they are His will. Where can you taste the joy of obeying unless He bids you do something for which His bidding is the only reason?" -Ransom

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Eat Something Exotic/Wear a Hat to Church on Easter

Exotic
I planned my friend Jen's bachelorette party. It was over a month ago. Jen is now happily married. (She's been married 3 weeks now). But I did fulfill one of my birthday resolutions at the place we went for her party. It was a great little tea house in Pasadena called The Scarlet Tea Room. For an appetizer we ordered something very exotic--tempura squash blossoms stuffed with manchego, ricotta, almonds, and romesco. I can't even tell you what that is, but the waitress said it tastes out of this world, like it's from a different planet. So we took her word for it. And it was YUMMY.

Easter
So I knew I'd get teased if I wore a hat to church on Easter. And I was right. I got comment after comment about my "Easter bonnet" which was nothing close to a bonnet. But I don't care. You see, when I was little, my mom used to have me wear hats to church all the time, especially on Easter. So it was fun to do it again...it's been a LONG time and it felt like a little tribute to my mom.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Golden Weekend And a Lesson on a Plane

Birthday Resolution: Visit my friend Holly

Holly lives in Denver so it was an adventure to go visit her. I met Holly's fiancé, Marty, which was great. Marty is a real, funny, down to earth, nice guy. I'm excited to see God working in his life and for him to marry my friend!
It was a quick weekend. Holly and I did some wedding stuff. We went shopping, walked in the park, and visited a little town called Golden. Golden is the famous home of the Coors beer factory, but since I don't drink we passed on the Coors tour and free beer and opted for Starbucks, a nice walk along the main street, and some fun photo ops. Holly asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, so I'll be going back to Denver in June!

A situation on the plane ride home got me thinking. I sat on the aisle seat next to a guy about my age and in the window seat was a pretty gal about my age too. The two of them were talking—I wouldn't say flirting—but talking. The girl was definitely a sweet, friendly girl. When we landed and the lights came on, I could see things more clearly. The girl in the window seat had a huge rock on her ring finger on her left hand! Yes, she was either engaged or married. And I wondered, would that girl's fiancĂ© or husband be happy if he was an observer of his woman's conduct on her plane trip? No she didn't technically do anything wrong—she could argue that she wasn't flirting.

But I began to think—aisle lady's conduct was on the edge, toying with the line of too friendly—too friendly for the status of engaged or married. And not to impose something spiritual on a simple story, but I thought to myself, I have a status as well. I am engaged, betrothed, to the King of the universe. Does my conduct demonstrate that status? Or am I flirting with the line of being too familiar, too friendly, with the world? Is God cringing at my conversation with the guy next to me on my proverbial "plane?"

I want to walk in a manner worthy of which I am called. I want to cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving. I'm ashamed of myself for being discontent and for grumbling and complaining in my heart at where God has me. I want to DELIGHT in what the Lord has placed before me, not just endure it.

Psalm 37:23-24
"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholds him with His hand."

Monday, March 22, 2010

PBR



Another birthday resolution--watch a bull ride.

I did a google search to find out when the next professional bull ride (PBR) would be close enough for me to actually go. And I found a bull ride in Fresno. So I went ahead and bought two tickets. Yes, Fresno is 3 hours away, but I thought it would be a fun road trip and part of the whole adventure. Jen, my great friend who I've known since high school, agreed to go with me. I think I was much more excited than her, but she still enjoyed herself!

I can't even explain how much fun this was. We chatted the entire car ride there, which actually seemed to go pretty fast. And then we stuffed our faces at The Old Spaghetti Factory before heading to the gigantic Save Mart Center arena.

The bull ride was INTENSE. Every ride carried with it the looming possibility of someone getting trampled or horned by an angry bull. There were several close calls and some scary moments, but thankfully everyone walked away. I loved the atmosphere! I totally felt in my element--country music, polite, masculine gentleman holding doors open for me, calling me ma'am, and tipping their hats. It was great! I was shocked that the MC even began the event with a prayer...and not just a generic prayer but, "Jesus, please forgive our sins." Then he asked for protection and blessing over the animals and the athletes and that the men would stay safe. WOW. It was pretty cool if I do say so myself!

Anyone want to go to the PBR finals in Vegas, let me know...I'm totally up for it! :)

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Laugh Til I Cry

There is one birthday resolution that I wasn't sure I would accomplish. Laugh til I cry. I've never laughed that hard before, at least not that I can remember, so I wasn't sure if this year would be the year. And it's not a resolution that I can cause to happen by any planning or will of my own. It just had to happen, naturally.

I owe it all to my coworker, Bridget. She has the most contagious laugh of anyone I've ever met. It's a cross between a cackle and someone laughing so hard they are gasping for air. Just seeing Bridget laugh, makes me laugh.

The other day was a very strange day at work. It seemed that everyone was punchy. Everyone was joking around and just having a fun day. I spent part of the day helping Bridget with a project and we were both getting a little punch happy. I made a joke that I didn't really intend to be a joke, but it came out the wrong way and Bridget started laughing hysterically. That got me going. And neither of us could stop. The harder Bridget laughed the harder it made me laugh. And then it happened...tears started to roll down my cheeks!

Laugh til I cry. CHECK.

Finish Reading Narnia and Harry Potter













I realized that I wasn't reading enough so one of my birthday resolutions was to finish reading the Harry Potter and the Narnia series. (Two different resolutions, but I'm grouping them together since they are similar.)

First I finished the 7 Harry Potter books. While some were better than others and more enjoyable to read, Harry's story was brilliantly told. As much as many Christians have against the series, I enjoyed the magical world of Hogwarts and I'm glad I read the books. I wouldn't recommend that a younger child read them, but a discerning young person or teenager would do well with some discussion and guidance. I love how J.K. Rowling tells back story and recaps information without being boring or redundant. She's brilliant at it and I want to implement that into my own writing.

Then I finished up the last 3 of the 7 books in the Narnia series. I had read the first 4 with my mom, but we never got around to finishing them. All of the books were amazing, of course. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was my least favorite, and my favorite was was The Silver Chair. I could barely breathe at the end of The Last Battle as C.S. Lewis used his imagination and biblical knowledge to describe what heaven will be like. I teared up reading it. Lewis had an insight into heaven like no one I've ever met. Even though the Narnia books are fiction/fantasy, I really think God gave Lewis a special gift--these books--that have encouraged and given insight to believers for years.

Right now I'm reading "The Chosen" (on recommendation by a coworker) and after that I'll start the Lord of the Rings series...no I haven't read that yet either.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Start a Band

"Just get you a guitar and learn how to play, cut up some jeans, come up with a name. When you’re living in a world that you don't understand, find a few good buddies, start a band, start a band. Start a band." -Brad Paisley

A dear friend and I are singing in a wedding in less than 2 weeks. So, the other night we got together to practice. We were enjoying ourselves, having a wonderful time. After a great rehearsal our singing morphed into an improv jam session. The guitarist was picking away with some cool sounding tunes and we simply opened up a Bible to the book of Psalm and started singing Scripture to the tune. IT WAS SO FUN!

In fact, we enjoyed ourselves so much, we decided to start a band. We are going to get our act together and start playing at coffee shops.

If you have any suggestions for a band name, feel free to share!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Dead Rat

A few days ago while on my morning jog, I saw a huge rat in the middle of the street. It was lying on it's side twitching, jumping, convulsing--I wondered if it had been hit by a car. I know it's a RAT but my heart felt compassion towards this little creature and I wished there was something I could do to put it out of it's misery. I didn't know what to do, so I did nothing, just simply finished my run. But not without this little experience leaving an impression on me.

Watching that creature die reminded me how imminent death is! And strangely, watching it writhe in pain reminded me of my mom's suffering. And I wondered--couldn't everyone just die peacefully, painlessly in their sleep? Why the suffering? And to be honest, I'm not sure I have a great answer. But I do know one thing, the pain, suffering, and fallenness of this world make me long for heaven with more zeal, passion, and urgency than I ever have before. Maybe that's the point.

If God knows when a bird or a sparrow falls, He certainly knows when a rat does too. Nothing is beyond His knowledge and control, and nothing is out of His loving hands. I needn't fear the future. One day I will be face-to-face with death like that rat...it will be my moment. God knows that exact moment and has ordained it. His ways are higher than mine and beyond my understanding. Proverbs says for a lesson in life to look to the ant. I looked to a rat. It's just like God to use a rat to speak to me!

"A god who does not rule all things absolutely is no God at all--but only a weak, frustrated, defeated idol, carved from one of the trees in the dark forest of man’s depraved imagination!" -Don Fortner

I know that the LORD is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. The LORD does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths! -Psalm 135:5-6

All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have You done?" -Daniel 4:35

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pay For A Stranger's Starbucks

The other day I ordered from a drive-through Starbucks. The perfect opportunity to anonymously pay for the person behind me! So I ceased the opportunity to accomplish another birthday resolution.

At the window I asked the cashier, "Can I please pay for the car behind me?" She said, "Sure, do you know them?" And I answered her honestly and said, "No, I don't know them." She looked kind of surprised and said, "What should I tell them?" And I said, "You can tell them that I serve a generous God and so I wanted to do something generous for someone."

The lady smiled and said, "Maybe they will pay it forward." I said, "Maybe." And I smiled back, paid for the strangers grande mocha caramel frappaccino, and drove away.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Year Later

Yesterday was exactly one year since my mom passed away, went to heaven, died...however you want to say it. The point is, she's gone.

I'll never see her smile again, or the twinkle in her bright blue eyes. I'll never again sit at the dinner table with her or ask her to do me a favor. I'll never go to another play with her or bake another batch of apricot cookies with her. We'll never watch another episode of Dancing With the Stars together or critique the American Idol contestants together. I'll never again call her to chat on the way home from work, ask her for advice, or sing a song with her. No one will ever be as honest with me when I ask for criticism, no one will be as hard on me when I need to be pushed, and no one will love me like my mom did.

But I do know this...

My mom is happier than she has ever been. My mom is at total peace and total rest. My mom is with her Savior. My mom is whole and complete. She is without sin. My mom would not come back if she could. And I wouldn't want her to.

I know this...
One day I will see my mom again and I will sing with her again. But this time no sin and no flesh will get in the way of singing praises to God. And I know that God is good and everything He does is good, and is for my good. Those aren't just words...it's TRUTH.

I told my friend the other day, cancer did not take my mom's life. God, in His infinite love, wisdom, and mercy, called my mom home on February 10, 2009. God is the giver and sustainer of life. He gives and He takes away. And I will bless His name.

My very talented friend wrote a poem many years ago after her father died and she shared it with me yesterday. Here's a short piece of it that really resonated with me and encouraged my heart:

"Having given, the Father,
Having been given, the Son,
Being now given, the Spirit,
Triune know, oh they know, and
Are one in comfort,
And as our tears flow,
So theirs;
They know.
They know.
They more than know.
The Lord does not just provide;
He is our provision; and there is nothing lacking.
Yes, tears still come, bewilderment and sorrow recur;
He doesn’t just say, stiffen that upper lip;
He says “Come to Me. . . and I will give you rest.”
And He does, oh yes, He does."

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Contact My Long Lost Uncle

I haven't spoken to my uncle in probably 20 years! He's been estranged from the family I guess you could say. I decided--now that I'm an adult I should try to reach out to him. I was nervous and felt stupid, but I swallowed my fear and sent my uncle a letter and a CD of my mom's memorial service along with my contact information.

I was surprised to receive a brief by very nice email in response right away! WOW. So I emailed my uncle a picture of our family and more details about our lives these days. I don't know where this communication will lead but I'm thankful the Lord opened this door. And I want to be faithful wherever it may go from here.

"Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and take big risks for the glory of God." -Tim Pickard (my first HS staff Bible study shepherd)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Birthday Resolution- HOLD BABY LUCIANO

Baby Jakob was too comfy in his mama's tummy, so he took a little while longer than expected before he decided to come into the world. But finally after an extra week of hanging out with mom, he was born! I am so excited for Sandi and Allan and I know they are going to be wonderful parents. God is so good!

I was able to go to their house last night and meet baby Jakob and hold him for a while until it was time for him to eat. He's got dark hair like his papa, dark blue eyes (which will most likely change color) and I'm convinced he has his Aunt T's chin. He's a cutie! I'm thakful yet another birthday resolution is done...especially this one because I didn't have to do anything...my friend did all the work! :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Newest Member of the Brown Family

BIRTHDAY RESOLUTION: GET A PET OF SOME SORT

I wanted to get a turtle, but it turns out that the aquarium equipment needed for a turtle is $180. Or else I could buy a tortoise for $100. And lizards, snakes, frogs...all need heating lights and their habitat also cost $180. Wasn't planning to spend that much money.

Please welcome the newest member of the Brown family:
RAY

Ray the fish loves to change color, he loves to stare, he loves clean water, and he does not play well with others (other beta fish, that is).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

God's Promises

The most amazing I've ever seen...right out my window at work yesterday. Made me meditate on and rejoice in God's faithfulness to His promises. The picture was taken with my cell phone and does not do it justice at all. But enjoy it all the same!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pet

I'm going to get a pet to fulfill another birthday resolution. I need your help. What should I get?
1. Fish
2. Hampster
3. Rabbit
4. Bird
5. Turtle
6. Gerbil
7. Guinea pig
8. Lizard
9. Snake
10. ROCK

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

See My Nephew(s) In Person


When I made my birthday resolutions, on my list was "see my nephew in person." Well, in the few months that have passed since then, my nephew turned into nephews (plural) when my sister and brother-in-law received a phone call that there was a little boy in need of a home. The day after Thanksgiving, my sister brought home Nathaniel James Karabo Mitchell. What a gift! In fact in, my sister had been praying for specific details about another child and God kindly answered YES to all of those prayers...like Nathaniel was a special gift all wrapped for her! And how fitting that Nathaniel means gift as does Karabo (chair.ah.bow.) his African name.

So my mission was to see my NEPHEWS in person--mission accomplished!

Two days before Christmas I headed out with my dad for Uganda. Everything went smoothly and after a ten hour flight, and a lovely, but very fast tour of London (I was the tour guide), we spent the night and headed out the next morning for a seven hour flight into Entebe (Uganda).

It was such a joy to see my sister and Caleb and the boys, despite an allergic reaction I had. I was rashy, itchy, and swollen-eyed, but I was one happy girl. We celebrated Christmas late and Nico opened up his gifts. I got to see how my sister lives. We got to meet friends, ministry partners, and "family" members. We jumped up and down and danced as we worshipped at church. We ate "Matokey" with G-Nut sauce which is boiled bananas with peanut sauce, a savory, traditional Ugandan dish. The bananas taste more like potatoes.

We spent New Years with my sister's good friends and had an AMAZING meal--two different kinds of beef/roast with veggies, yummy rolls, popovers, and cookies, potato donuts, and tea for dessert.

We went to the source of the Nile where we saw the spot that Lake Victoria feeds into the Nile (you can see ripples where the salt and fresh water are "mixing"). We also went on a hike in a rain forest where we got bit by fire ants and saw a few monkeys. Our guide told us, "Don't eat that tree, it will kill you." And then two trees over, he said, "Eat this tree, it will help diarrhea." HA! HA! HA! Call me unadventurous, but I didn't eat any trees.

I even got the whole market and craft fair experience. I bought fabric and a very nice Ugandan auntie is making a tradition African shetange for me. I will have it in a few days. There is no hot or even warm water, often the power unpredictably goes out and can be out for days. We boil the milk, boil water for warm baths, the clothes are washed and hung to dry and ironed to kill the eggs the mango flies leave behind. You don't want them to burrow and hatch a worm beneath your skin. We slept under mosquito nets as a defense against malaria. And overall had a grand ol' time.

We had a little family celebration for Nico's 2nd birthday. He turns two years old on Jan. 17th. It was fun to watch him open gifts. It was amazing how much his coordination developed in just two weeks. He had a hard time opening Christmas gifts, but did just great for his birthday. Maybe he learned that we weren't just asking him to rip paper, but there was something in it for him under that paper. :)

Nate and Nico took their first bath together where they played and splashed and had fun as brothers should. I took lots of pictures. I'm back in one piece, my luggage was only a couple days behind me, and I'm recovering well from jet lag, so I can't complain. Thanks everyone for your prayers. God is good. I am so thankful for this experience!