Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend

It was good. I was SO thankful that my mom made Thanksgiving the Remix on Friday. I love her Thanksgiving cooking! It was delicious. She even gave me some broccoli casserole to take back to my apartment. Thanks, Mom!
The weekend was full of food and family and Christmas decorations and movies. It was nice to be home. I really, really miss living in San Diego. I kept asking myself why I am still in LA after five years. I still plan on moving back eventually. Hopefully after grad school, but we’ll see what happens. I’ll see what God has in store.
Anyway, I am very glad it is officially Christmas time! I love this season. I love the Christmas commercials and the store decorations and the chill in the air and the houses with Christmas lights. I love Christmas movies too, which I watch all year round, but they have more magic at Christmas time. The top two are “White Christmas” (which I watched twice this weekend) and “The Family Stone.” You have to see them both! You will be better for it. Okay, maybe not, but still…
Speaking of TV, as lame as this sounds, I watched the “TRL” Finale show over the weekend (thanks for taping it, Ash!). It was great. I had so many flashbacks to junior high and high school memories of school conversations about bands and music videos and watching TRL after school on days we knew a celebrity would be on. It was very nostalgic and fun. Plus, this weekend I watched the 4th season premier of “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” I love this show! Lame, I know, and kind of embarrassing, but I love it. For everyone who knows I don’t like typical comedy, this show is my version of comedy. It’s great.
My mom and I went to the movies today and saw “Australia” which was really good. It is epic and romantic and suspenseful and involves war scenes and spears. If you still aren’t convinced you should see it, I have two words for you: Hugh Jackman. Trust me; I don’t need to say more. People Magazine was right.
P.S. I have also decided that if I can’t find a job in April I am going to be a cocktail waitress at The Palms in Las Vegas. Both Michael Phelps and George Clooney have dated cocktail waitresses from The Palms and I intend to date a celebrity too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Top 10: Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I can’t believe it is already here! Crazy how time flies… My Grandma is always telling me this and the older I get the more I believe her.
Tomorrow is my first holiday where I won’t be waking up with my family in the morning. It is a very strange feeling. I mean, I have missed birthdays before and random holidays (Halloween, anyone?), but never a REAL holiday. You know, one that matters, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. I will see my family tomorrow and end the evening back home in San Diego, but in the morning I will be in my apartment. If I didn’t believe I was an adult before tomorrow certainly marks an important moment in my adult life. I think even in spite of the craziness and dysfunction that sometimes happens when trying to get out the door on a holiday, I will definitely miss not being home in the morning.
Below is my Top 10 list of what I am thankful for this year, but as I write this a few more things crossed my mind, so before you read the list let's start with the depressing things and then end on a happy note.
The depressing note: I need to say that I am very thankful for national security because I heard about an attack at a YWAM in India toward Christians. Then I heard about the attacks in Mumbai against Westerners. It is very scary to hear about all of this and I am very thankful that I live in America. But it doesn't change that I get nervous about all of this persecution and random violence. I am SO very thankful that my Dad wasn't in Mumbai this week! He was there several weeks ago when I was in New York and I can't imagine (nor do I want to) what we all would have been thinking had this happened then. This is exactly why I need to get a passport finally. In addition to all of this international worry, I continue to hear anti-Obama comments almost daily and sometimes they are comments claiming that he is the anti-Christ. This completely freaks me out for a ton to reasons. But, tonight I watched the Obama's interview with Barbara Walters and every time I watch an interview with Obama and his wife I feel so much more confident about things. They seem to be so in love and family focused and kind. These are the traits I need to remember until I have a real reason not to (like those in India about their leaders).

The happy note: I am thankful for…
1. God’s grace, provision, guidance, and comfort. Without Him none of the above would exist or have happened. It is the Lord who has brought me this far and He will keep me going.
2. My family: Dad, Mom, and Ash (Dad for always providing for me, Mom for always comforting me, and Ash for always supporting me – note: technically, all three of you do all three of these things).
3. Grad school (lately this is the happiest aspect of my life)
4. My roommates (Ilise and Emily…I’ve realized that I never name them on my blog!)
5. Earning my undergrad degree
6. My job – mostly my co-workers and my supervisor
7. Buying my first car
8. North Coast Church
9. My house and apartment – given the fires lately I am very grateful for a safe (and standing) place to live
10. Having been blessed with incredible teachers and mentors growing up – my teaching class has been reminding me how blessed I’ve been in the classroom

Plus, I can’t help adding lame things that make me thankful including…
1. Thanksgiving episodes of “Friends” (the best are the football episode and the one with Richard’s son)
2. Chocolate
3. Ryan Seacrest’s morning show
4. Family dinner with my roommates
5. Cold days (as in 70 degrees or less…I know, some of you live in places where that is considered summer)

To Rocking Chairs

Sorry it has been almost a week since my last update! Sorry to admit, but this will probably be the case next week because of Thanksgiving and all the fun stuff I have planned for the weekend, and then I have class on Monday. I know it’s all a bit crazy…
Anyway, this is my post about one of the most wonderful weddings I have ever been to! My good friend Blake got married last Saturday and it was so beautiful. I am glad I was able to witness it. Above our pictures of Blake and I with our AC group (how we met) and one of them at the wedding. Here are beautiful pictures by Jasmine Star of their wedding and engagement.
The wedding was incredible because they are so in love and so meant to be together. They are a beautiful couple, and it felt so special because I saw them fall in love. I knew Blake as he was falling for Brittany and pursuing Brit and now they are married. I mean, I called Blake the day of his first date with Brittany and heard all about his plan and then the day after (I think) he came over to my apartment and told my roomies and I all about it! He is like my brother and I am so happy for him. Brit is one very lucky girl!
The wedding was very classy and fun. You could tell that the Lord was the center of the whole thing. The Lord, and their family and friends. They actually recorded special messages about each person in their bridal party that they played as each couple walked down the aisle. It was so kind and a great idea. Weddings are supposed to be about everyone, not just a show about the bride and groom, and that recording definitely reminded me of that! The reception was beautiful too and I got to meet Jasmine Star and her husband JD. They were so sweet and genuine! They are even nicer and friendlier then they already seem on her blog! It was great to meet them. Plus, I was able to see some other friends at the wedding, mostly my friends from Alpha, which was great. All in all it was a good time and a beautiful wedding. My prayer for the happy couple is that their wedding day is the saddest day of their lives, because that means everyday together will be even happier than their wedding day (if that is possible).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I could...just admit that this post has no point or purpose!

I want to write tonight, but I don’t know what about. I want to be profound and poetic, but have writers’ block.
I could tell you about my day. I could tell you about my really, really crappy yesterday. I could tell you that I love grad school but hate homework. I could tell you I am nervous about the wedding I am going to on Saturday for a variety of reasons. I could tell you that I hate that it is 90 degrees at the end of November. I could tell you how crazy I think it is that it actually is the end of November and a week away from Thanksgiving.
I could write about how I am watching “Grey’s Anatomy” right now and am glad the show is finally starting to get good, like it used to be. I could mention that McSteamy couldn’t be any cuter than he is in this episode because he is so gentle with the little girl in tonight’s episode. I could mention that I am glad Denny is back even if I don’t understand how or why. I could mention that Izzy is at her best as a character and an actress when Denny is around and she portrays the feeling that one is going crazy in a very believable way. I could also mention that I really like Lexie.
I could tell you about the articles I have read recently and the lovely blog posts. I could tell you about the single woman Thanksgiving article, the funny top 20 choosing a spouse advice article, the great interview about Stephanie Nielson’s house from another blog author I like, the blog post about the sad economy and what someone thinks it means for a person in their 20s and how nervous I am about all of that.
I could also mention that my roommates are amazing, my family supportive, my brain my worst enemy right now, schooling the best part of my week, and boredom the most annoying.
That is all for tonight. Forgive the ramble. Forgive the honesty. Forgive me. But know that I am fine and enjoying the fact that I have a blog where I can rant. :)
(picture/quote from this blog).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Man of my dreams?

Is it weird that two nights ago I dreamed about this man? He is Obama’s newly chosen Chief of Staff. I guess it happened because I have been trying to read all I can about him. Not sure why exactly, except to say that I find him interesting.
I first read about him in Newsweek during the primaries and thought he sounded intimidating and mean, but he was also described as a family man and a loyal friend, so that perked my interest. Then, last week, I read another Newsweek article and a New Yorker article and a piece in the New York Times all about him. He is so well known and distinctive in DC that there was even a character modeled after him in “The West Wing.” In fact, his brother is a Hollywood agent and has a character from “Entourage” based on him. Emmanuel worked in the Clinton administration. He can be angry and persuasive and aggressive. He is known as a man who gets things done in DC. Liberals have been quoted saying they are surprised by Obama’s pick because Emmanuel is very “pro-Israel.” This same statement makes some conservatives a bit relieved about Obama’s politics. Emmanuel also studied ballet and was offered a full ride to do so, plus, he lost half his middle finger in an accident in high school.
I don’t know. I am just so into politics lately, which isn’t really new, but it has been more of my focus lately. And part of that focus has been on reading about Emmanuel, so I am guessing that is why he was in my dream. But it is weird right?
I dreamed about Justin Timberlake once and have to admit, that dream was much more enjoyable!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The value of simplicity

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” ~ Psalm 46:10-11


Sometimes simple is better.
I was reminded of the value of simplicity this afternoon. I had a rough afternoon and needed to calm down and my wise and wonderful mom said, “Come and learn to sew on a button.” Typically, I would roll my eyes and walk away, but I was desperate and emotional, so I nodded and sat down next to her. As I watched her pull the needle and thread back and forth and back and forth and back and forth I thought about how simplicity brings a sense of peace. Simple things bring a sense of calm and comfort and rhythm and routine. Watching my mom I was able to focus on something repetitive and let my mind wrap around that small act. I was able to put aside stressful and anxious thoughts and simply take a deep breath and mellow. It was just what I needed.
On my drive back to my other home (my apartment) I thought about other simple, everyday, taken for granted acts. I thought about the simplicity of cooking. When you cook you are in control and following a recipe step by step, one thing after another, with all energy focused on what is in that pot or bowl or pan. Just like in sewing on a button, all of your energy and concentration is focused on one thing and you are using your hands and your brain, occupying your whole body.
Cooking and sewing are the basics of life and there’s a reason those acts sustain us and make up are days. They are skills that help people survive and stay nourished and clothed, but they are also acts that calm and sustain the human soul. A bit of routine and repetition and the sense of accomplishing something.
Sometimes focusing on the little things – the basics – gets us to the big picture. If we focus on the immediate details the future just sort of works itself out. You get there and realize you took the needed steps and ended up where you needed to be. Simplicity boils things down to the necessities, and there is comfort in that. I am in a state where the future makes me anxious, for a variety of reasons, but being responsible just for today, that helps…a lot. It reminded me of that verse when the Lord says, “be still, and know that I am God.” He meets us in the quiet and calms our heart. We just have to be still and remember how big God is and how present He is at the same time.
Whenever I am overwhelmed my mom asks me, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” And that is what she reminded me of today while sewing on a button. Thanks, Mom. I needed that, almost as much as I need you.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I love country music!

In the past, I sometimes hid this fact because some people don’t consider country music the kind of music that talented and smart musicians are fans of, and, as a singer, I didn’t want to be judged. But I am over that now. This is me publicly and unapologetically admitting that I LOVE COUNTRY MUSIC! Now go watch the CMA’s.
Country musicians are legitimately talented, there is no doubt. It just has a bad reputation for being that “old sounding, whining music about your dead dog, the end of a relationship, drinking, and America.” But it is so much more than that, just as all other kinds of music. If you don’t believe me, watch the opening song of the CMA’s tonight. It was a duet between Brad Paisley and Keith Urban for the song “Start a Band.” They are incredible on the guitar! It was great. Plus, it got me thinking…Brad and Keith have a lot in common because they are both talented “country boys” who married Hollywood beauties who seemed an odd match and out of their league, but so far it seems to have worked out. Too bad Kenny Chesney and Renee Zellweger can’t say the same. The beautiful Reese Witherspoon was also in the audience at the CMA’s, and as much as I like her and Jake Gyllenhaal together, maybe she should get her own “country boy” and join the club. :) I love to match-make celebrities.
If you are watching the CMA’s here are some names to pay attention too:
Brad Paisley
Carrie Underwood
Kenny Chesney
Keith Urban
Martina McBride
Miranda Lambert
Taylor Swift

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Student Stories: Part Two

(This is one of my high school graduation pictures. Please let me know if anyone pictured feels uncomfortable being photographed on my blog. I am still learning the protocol about posting pictures of all kinds, especially of friends and family).
Last night was the first night of my new class. I loved it. Apparently this whole grad school thing really works for me! I highly recommend it, and just for the record, it is SO much better than undergrad! I decided to switch classes at the last minute and am now in class with some of the people I most enjoyed from my Ethics class. This new class is all about teaching adults. It focuses on adult education in the classroom as well as teaching in the workplace. I am sure by the end of this term I will want to be a teacher. It has always been a Plan B option, but after this class it might be Plan A…we’ll see/
Part of last night’s class involved a lengthy discussion about what (and when) determines adulthood. We are going to discuss this more next week and look over some “criteria,” but as of last night it seems many in class, and the professor, believe (as most) that adulthood begins at 18. I see the reasoning for this, but don’t agree. I think adulthood begins at 16. It begins when a person starts their junior year and gets their drivers’ license. Sixteen is the age that books and movies and TV shows are about. In fact, tonight’s “90210” (yes, I watch it…and like it) is about a sweet 16 party. This is the age society highlights and I also think that by bringing attention to it, society inadvertently decides it is the “coming of age” age; it is the start of adulthood. Yes, 16 to 18 year olds are young adults, but adults none-the-less.
In my own life, 16 was the age where everything began to change and move me toward adulthood. I (eventually) got my license, started speaking up for myself (and my religion) in class, decided on my college major (thanks, Mom), was allowed more independence, spent time with five incredible teachers who allowed me to become the woman I am, and other melodramatic-sounding events that don’t need to be added to this already long list. You get the point.
In class I just kept thinking that many of the aspects of adult education should be applied to high school upperclassmen as well. I know from my own education that when you treat high school students with respect and not assumptions, and you (as the teacher) view yourself as more of a facilitator than a teacher, students will learn and engage on a deeper level. Students just need people to believe in them and see them the way they try, in their best moments, to see themselves, which is typically as an adult. High school students are dealing with just as many issues and insecurities as your average freshman and sophomore in college, maybe even as many as a college senior. Age does not have to determine wisdom or experience.
I don’t know, maybe some would argue that college students aren’t even fully adults. I couldn’t really blame them considering that last night I was part of an alumni panel at senior chapel and APU’s senior class thought a person saying “drink it up” about taking in senior year was a chance to laugh about alcohol. But, one could also point out, that some people just never grow up.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Holidays remind me of family

"Live close by, visit often." ~Unknown


Family is something that is very important to me. There is the family you were born into and the one you make for yourself. Both are special and important. Family (either created or given) can makes a person feel safe and loved and missed when away. It makes a person crazy and angry and sad, but also happy and full of laughter and so, so safe. It is a beautiful thing (which helps explain why “The Family Stone” is one of my favorite movies and why “Brothers & Sisters” is one of my favorite TV shows).
I have been thinking about my future lately and what I hope my life looks like someday. I have many pictures in my head of what this may be, but this weekend the vision was of family. It seems funny and very unlike me, but I want a home of safe chaos. The kind that you get when you combine many personality types and busy schedules. It is chaotic because there are so many people and kids everywhere and lots of voices and laughter, but safe because it is a gathering of people who love one another regardless. I want a house full of memories and laughter and love. Full of “family” (whether that is my kids and husband, good friends, my parents, etc.) dinners and sleepovers and weekend adventures of movie marathons or road trips. I want church on the weekends and a home where people come for good conversation, distraction, and a safe place to stay.
Things happened all weekend that reminded me of this one dream of mine. First of all I was home for the weekend with my family and today randomly drove to Seal Beach and Norwalk to see both my Nana and Grandma with my family. I also celebrated my “nephew’s” first birthday. It was so fun and beautiful to see a house full of people who love the Lord and love Matthew. It reminded me that it is a wonderful thing to live near family and close friends. It was a house full of families and it was great. I also bumped into a former teacher of mine and saw a movie with her and my mom and sister. Sitting between Mrs. G. and my mom felt so safe and nostalgic. I was in between two women who shaped so much of whom I am today. It reminded me that moments like that are why I try so hard to keep in touch with old friends, who just so happen to also be my high school teachers. The movie we all saw together was “The Secret Life of Bees,” which was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.
This movie was the biggest inspiration for my “future home dream” this weekend because the family in the movie just adopts everyone who needs a place to be. They nurture people back to life and give them a safe, stable environment to finding who they are supposed to be. It is a big house full of people and stories and memories and love. Just the pink house alone speaks of refuge and love. It was an incredible story. Go see it, and go with the people you consider family. I was also inspired by this blog post because of the description of her family and how dependent they all are on one another and how much love they all share. This blog (which I’ve mentioned before) in general speaks of the love of family, but the post made me smile and begin to dream.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Only the Lord can "change"

Thank you for your prayers and comments (both personally and on this blog) about my tough week. I am still struggling emotionally and mentally and trying to be strong spiritually, but I have faith in the Lord my protector and the lover of my soul. I also have encouragement in the people close to me and a new, bigger, sense of family. Trials remind you that the Lord is strong and forgiving and trials show you who loves you in a very real, God sent, way. For all of this I am thankful, even though I am fighting back tears as I write this.


In other news, it was just announced that Obama is the 44th President. I’m not even sure what to say. There are things that excite me about this and things that make me scared, especially as a Christian. Politics is a dirty and complicated business and I pray that the Lord is the true “change” in DC over the next four years. It will be nice to see two cute little girls grow up in the White House. Obama being the President will also (hopefully) change and improve race relations in this country. Women will also have more rights in the next government, of which I am obviously a big fan. But, Christians and Christian ideals may be more persecuted and innocent babies will be killed in larger and more legal numbers.
The beauty of today is that everyone who voted had something in common. A common right, a common energy, a common purpose. That is a beautiful thing. Today is a day for the history books in a very big way. Despite politics, you ca say that you were alive when a black man became President of the United States. But, I have to ask myself, what happened to the votes of the west? McCain’s speech was less than 30 minutes after CA polls stopped voting. I’d at least like to think that the West’s votes count for something. At least voting in CA was not a complete waste considering the importance of Prop 8 (which ever way you vote). But, the fact that we can vote is a very incredible thing. And, as my pastor, my mom, and my boss have all reminded me, no matter who won, God is still in control. Lord, be with us.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The terrible, horrible, no good very bad...week.

It has been a really, really rough week. I am emotionally empty. My own thoughts are making me crazy. Plus, stress other than my own thoughts participated in a tough week. I worked overtime this week, had a performance review at work, had my last class, rushed through all my homework for my class, celebrated my roommate getting a job and not having to move out, had to deal with money stress, and had to cope with Halloween, because I HATE Halloween, so that alone would have made this week tough. Needless to say, I am praying that this week is better because even today was hard. This week I will be seeing friends and doing some other proactive things to help my emotional (and mental) well-being. But, it is very important to look at one’s blessings when things feel like they are spinning out of control and you can no longer fix it. So, this past week I was blessed because:
~ my family is always there for me, helping me when I need it, no questions asked.
~ Ilise got a job and doesn’t have to move!
~ I have the world’s most incredible supervisor who loves the Lord in such an obvious way and was a great source of prayer and encouragement for me when I lost it in her office on Wednesday.
~ I am starting a new class next week with a few of my favorite people from my last class who I thought I wouldn’t be able to be in class with again.
~ I was vulnerable with my roommates and they were completely there for me.
~ I was reminded that the Lord will never let me go, even when I am scared and far away, and that when I draw near to Him, He draws near to me.
Consider all your blessings when life seems to be running you into the ground. And remember that the Lord can handle ANYTHING you throw at Him.