Monday, March 30, 2009

Everything works out for Karen

This photo taken by my friend Nicole.
That is my friend and former professor’s motto for her life and the best part is that it’s true! Life always seems to work out for Karen, even with all the tough stuff she has been through she comes out on the other side with a bigger smile, more confidence, and wisdom gained. Her motto has never been more apparent than on Saturday when she got married to her perfect guy. Dave and Karen are so well suited for one another. They both love God so much and seek to keep Him the center of their own lives and their relationship together. Both are incredibly intelligence, independent, and intentional. They seem to make a great team, and I know from seeing Karen over the last year, that Dave really does bring out the best side of her. I’ve never seen her so steady and content before – and I’ve known her for nearly five years.
Their wedding was incredible and such a treat for their family and friends. They got married at the Nixon Library, which was beautiful! They had an outdoor ceremony and it was cozy with only 130 people. Karen’s nieces and nephews were a huge part of the ceremony, which was so sweet and special. She is such a great aunt. The groomsmen, especially the best man, couldn’t seem to stop smiling through the whole ceremony. That is the best sign to tell that Dave and Karen are great together and that everybody close to them thinks so! There was a definite political theme to the evening with the Nixon library, the grand – White House ballroom-like reception room, and even political buttons saying “I voted Lang in ‘09” or “Karen for bride.” It was very cute. I also got to see my old Clause friends! It was great to celebrate Karen’s wedding day together since all of us went through many long days together with Karen (or because of Karen). It was nice to catch up. Plus, I got to see my favorite former professor, Dr. Kern and meet her new 2 month old son! She is wonderful.
That was the most meaningful part of the wedding for me, getting to spend time and be in the company of two incredible professors (Karen and Dr. Kern). Both of them affected so much of who I became in college and what I believed I could attain both while I was a student and in life. I spent countless hours discussing life plans and fears and hopes with each of them. They both showed me what a confident, God-fearing woman looks like and helped me feel very comfortable in my single-ness (Dr. Kern got married after 30 and Karen is 30 this year…I think). They were both examples that God can work in non-married women’s lives just as much and that His plan is not just about marriage and what you “do in the meantime,” but rather that God has a plan for you and that plan will introduce you to many incredible self-discoveries, adventures, and maybe even your perfect partner. (All of this seems so obvious to most, but at APU and in the Christian community with all the young married couple left and right, it gets difficult to remember that). To see both of them with their husbands is to know that God’s timing and plan is perfect and that if you wait long enough – and maybe date enough – He will bring your husband along. But, they showed it is okay too if that doesn’t happen. They also showed me what a feminist looks like, especially one who puts God first and roots her feminist beliefs in biblical truth. Karen and Dr. Kern essentially kept me at APU and introduced me to a part of my life I hadn’t truly been proud of or comfortable with until meeting them. And, because this is my blog and I get to brag, my favorite memory of Karen and Dr. Kern is receiving a paper back from Karen in class and at the top of the paper Karen had written “I am with Dr. Kern right now and we are both talking about how much we love you!” If that kind of encouragement can’t keep you in school I don’t know what can!
Finally, having gone to two weddings in the month of March, I have really come to realize how important the wedding ceremony is to a bride and groom’s loved ones. Sure, it is nice of a couple to have a reception for their guests and celebrate with them that way, but the essence of having a reception is to continue the celebratory joy that began at the wedding. Weddings are way more important and beautiful than any reception because you get to be a part of a couple’s commitment to one another. You are invited to witness this ceremony for a reason, to support and enjoy this new marriage. A wedding is not only about the bride and groom, it is about the people who keep them afloat, brought them together, and who they turn to for laugh and a shoulder to cry on. It means the world to be invited to take part in a wedding and witness this life changing ceremony. Weddings really are about the guests, because they are the ones that ultimately got you to that altar in the first place and in the grand scheme of your life. So never underestimate the power of a wedding invite and having a “big” wedding. It means so much to the people who are cheering for you as you walk back down the aisle.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

God Bless Texas

Hello dear blog! How I have missed you!!! Things since just before leaving for Texas have been crazy! From class to home to Texas to coming back from Texas and hearing that Grandma was having emergency hip replacement surgery to spending two nights visiting her in the hospital to school to work to the hanging with friends to going dancing at Montana’s to homework to work to class, and now, I am back. Whew! Feels good to let that all out. So, now to why you’re really here…my trip to Texas.
Texas was wonderful. It was so great to see everyone! It was great to catch up with my Aunt Karen and meet two of cousin’s husbands for pretty much the first time and to go to my cousin’s wedding and stay at the beautiful bed and breakfast Inn and spend time with Aunt Sue and Uncle Keith and to see the always interesting, hilarious, and loving dynamics between the H-side of the family (my Uncle’s side of the family). The H-side of the family is always so kind and loving to the I-side of the family. They treat us like their own and give their love freely even to us. It is always so touching to see the love the four siblings share. They are so supportive of one another, yet so human as well. I just love to catch up with them, as well as sit back and take them all in. That was the best part of the trip; just sitting back surrounded by laughter and conversations of the H and I families for four days. About 25 people at one time all in a living room/kitchen. It was the epitome of loving chaos.
BUT, the BEST part of the ENTIRE trip was my adorable, perfect, and beautiful BABY COUSIN, AINSLEY!!!!! Actually, she is my second cousin (my cousin’s baby girl), but it is easier to call her my baby cousin. She is the most beautiful and well behaved baby I have ever met. I love her. The best time of the weekend was holding her in my arms, which thankfully, I got to do a lot. It made the whole trip worth it. There is nothing more perfect, relaxing, loving, and right in the world than holding a baby in your arms. It was perfection. She was perfection. I can’t even explain the feelings I get when I am folding her – or even looking at her! I just adore her.
While I was there I had a very strange thought. I thought about having an adventure. I thought about moving to Texas and in with my Aunt and Uncle for six months. I would find a job and rent a room and live down the street from my cousin and Ainsley. I love being with them and my Aunt Sue is so much like my mom (they are sister’s after all) that maybe it wouldn’t be too hard to be away from my own family for six months. I thought I could move there from June to November (I’d move back home at Thanksgiving). Six months would be short enough to survive and long enough to work a decent amount of time at a job there and really experience Texas life and get to know my cousins better. However, six months would also give me the freedom to move at the end, as a sort of trial period. My mom even found a job listing at one of the local colleges for a job that is essentially the same as I am doing now. I don’t know…it is a tough and big decision, but an option and adventure none-the-less.
Anyway, Texas was great and it was so nice to go with my whole family as a sort of mini family vacation for the four of us. I do love them so.

Note: Pictures coming in Friday or Saturday.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Work, friends, and planes

Busy, busy, busy! That is how the last week has been! I am super busy at work doing my job and training with a new data system. It keeps me more than occupied. At night I’ve been busy with friends too! Last night I had a nice little dinner party at my apartment with my roomies and two of our friends. It was wonderful and we all laughed a ton and had a great time.
Speaking of a great time, I spent most of the weekend with my dear friend, Amy!!! She was visiting from Chicago and it was wonderful to catch up. We really needed it and I feel very refreshed by our time together. We had some very cathartic conversations about good and difficult stuff and I was reminded that the Lord always brings us people we need to help us get through tough stuff in life, and Amy and I are definitely feeling some of the same things right now. I am so grateful and blessed by her honesty and her openness in listening to my own honesty. I love that we have been friends for so long (since kindergarten) and that we can be completely vulnerable with one another. We also enjoyed traveling down memory lane, which as you’ve probably learned by now, is one of my favorite things to do!
Tonight I am packing (and ignoring some reading for homework) for Texas. The family and I leave on Thursday and head to Denton, TX for my cousin’s wedding. Please pray for traveling mercies and a VERY safe flight! I HATE to fly. I mean HATE it. Just HATE it. So, I would really appreciate your prayers. I am looking forward to the wedding, meeting my new baby second cousin (who is so adorable in pictures!), and giving Aunt Sue and Uncle Keith a hug hello! I’m also looking forward to seeing all the family who will be arriving there for the wedding. It will be a big love fest reunion. Anytime spent with the Texas side of the family is always wonderfully chaotic and full of life and laughter. It is the type of environment that moves so fast that when it is over and I get back on the plane for home I will ask myself, “what just happened?” I love watching the entire family gather and interact – and there will be a LOT of us! It should be a good time. Whatever happens, it will be great to go with my whole family (parents and sister), the only one missing will be my adorable dog, Lucy.
So, that craziness begins on Thursday, meaning you probably won’t get another blog from me for about a week!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Roots (an unconventional poem)

Here is a “poem” we were told how to write in class last night (about where you come from, meaning your childhood). Here is how:
My roots are…(familiar sights and sounds).
My roots are…(familiar food, especially at holidays).
My roots are…(familiar phrases).
My roots are…(names of family and relatives).

Thought it would be fun to elaborate and post here.

My roots are…
playing on the front porch with my sister until Dad called for dinner,
watching TV in Mom and Dad’s bed as Mom got ready for work,
kicking the soccer ball in the backyard,
Barbie city early on Saturday mornings,
a wall full of cupboards hiding our toys,
a huge bunny sitting in the black rocking chair,
listening to country music on the way to school,
waiting rooms in doctors’ offices,
neighbor boys playing football in the street,
96.5 in the orthodontist office.

My roots are…
tuna noodle casserole,
Sizzler on Thursdays with Dad,
Mom’s lemon bars,
Dad’s chocolate chip cookies,
turkey on holidays,
left over turkey sandwiches,
Mom’s creamed eggs and ham,
See’s bridge mix,
diet coke,
frozen bananas at Grandma’s,
tomato soup and grilled cheese,
chicken nuggets,
pink lemonade in the summertime.

My roots are…
“everything worth doing is worth doing right.”
“Say please and thank you.”
“Don’t say ‘butt’ or ‘shut up.”
“Who’s the mommy, you or me?”
"Stop bossing your sister around."
“What’s the code word?”
Bootie Baby.”
“Carrie, oh Carrie, sweet little Carrie mine…”
Jesus loves me (the song).
“Place your angels all around me and give me lots of courage.”

My roots are…
Peggy and Russ (who I never got to meet, but who loved me all the same).
Diana and Connie (I was “little Connie”).
Gretchen and Jim.
Karen and Sue.
Great Grandma Agnes and Grandma Del.
Dan and Jan.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

23rd birthday weekend

Today is my birthday. I generally don’t try to bring attention to this fact, but this post will be about my birthday, so let’s just admit that my birthday is today and move on. J
I am 23. I like the way this age sounds. It sounds grown up and it begins the “mid-twenties,” which I also really like the sound of! Weird or lame, I know. It is just nice to away from any age related to high school or college. I think it will be a good year, especially if this weekend is any indication!
So, about the weekend… First, my sister came to spend the night at my apartment on Friday night. We had a good time and a nice long talk. I love when she comes to stay. We always have a nice time and it is great to hang out with her at my place, it feels more home-like to have her here. It was wonderful, thanks Ash! On Saturday, my roommates, Ilise and Emily, and I went to Orange County for an overnight get away. One of my favorite things to do is get away and stay in a hotel. I just love it and I always have. Most of my best birthdays involve hotel stays! We stayed at the Marriott in Huntington Beach Fountain Valley thanks to my sister’s boyfriend and his friends and family Marriott discount (thanks so much Chris!!!). Ilise went out and stocked up for our weekend with beer, mimosa supplies, and a huge chocolate cake from Costco. The first thing we did was lie on the beds and enjoyed cable TV (you have no idea how wonderful cable TV is until you haven’t had cable in five years except at your parents’ house). We also toasted to a fun birthday weekend over chocolate cake (think of it as happy hour appetizers before dinner).
Then we went to dinner, which took a while to find, but was totally worth the drive! We ohh-ed and ahh-ed at the setting sun over the sparkling ocean and drove with the windows down to smell the beach and feel the breeze while blasting good music (I was lucky enough to DJ the whole trip). We ate at the Crab Cooker in Newport and it was delicious! Very popular place, as well. The food is amazing and the fun thing is you eat on paper plates with plastic utensils, and drink from paper cups – that’s my kind of place! It was so chill and laid back, I loved it. Plus, I love seafood, so that was a nice treat! After dinner we went to a Mexican restaurant down the street and got yummy margaritas and sat and talked and people-watched. On the way back to our car we even got a sort of invitation to join two guys for dinner as one of them knocked on the window when we walked by headed toward Ilise’s van. Too funny. When we got back we went to the spa, where – honestly – there was a “nudity ok” and “clothing optional” sign. We have never seen that before and thought it was super funny. Later we had girl talk and watched some more TV, as well as ate more cake and had birthday mimosas before falling asleep in comfy beds.
This morning we slept in thanks to amazing black out curtains! Those things could make you sleep in until 2 in the afternoon! But we were up by 10.
I spent the quietness of the morning shower praying for my year and thanking the Lord for another birthday. I prayed about some goals and plans for my year. One of those goals is to grow in faith no matter how difficult of a time I am having with faith some days, and the best part is that God already began answering that prayer and bringing comfort because when I got out of the shower Ilise and Em were watching a Sunday preacher on TV who was interviewing our favorite speaker Nick Vujicic! He spoke about God’s provision and control and love and reminded me to have faith even when we can’t see Him or His affects (and reminded me of my life verse Hebrews 11:1). It was nice treat and really special to hear as it was my birthday and given the prayer I had just prayed and because my roomies and I love Nick and have heard him speak several times (Em and I have even met him). Anyway, enough preaching….after we all got ready and ate more cake and what not, we checked out and drove down to Laguna Beach because I love it down there (thanks Rach!). We ate at White House where I had a delicious seafood pasta. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the boardwalk taking in the sparkling ocean, volleyball players, and busy beach bodies.

We also played Frisbee down by the water for almost an hour, which was super fun and I laughed a lot and only hit one person with the Frisbee, which is pretty good considering I’ve never really played before (despite how many times Ilise has asked me too). Then we got yummy gelato and drove home on the coast until we hit the 73. We came home smelling like the beach with sand all over the place and wind blown hair. It was great. I had the best birthday weekend with the best roommates and friends a girl could ask for!
(Em, me, and Ilise on the boardwalk.)
Plus, another fun God-moment for my day... I read a devotional book ( "Laugh Yourself to Sleep" by Rachel St. John-Gilbert) tonight and the entry was about the importance of getting away with good friends from the craziness of day-to-day life and it completely registered with my weekend and how rested and energized we all feel after getting away this weekend even though we are so busy! One of the most true moments of the passage was when she stated that one of the best parts about girlfriend weekends are "Free to be me' chats - talking as only longtime friends can about anything and everything. Not having to weigh our thoughts, but letting them spill freely, knowing they are heard by an accepting, compassionate listener... We needed that weekend oasis in the 'desert of daily drudgery' no matter how fleeting. And what mattered more is that we reconnected with the fun-loving, fascinating interiors that lie just beneath our harried hausfrau exteriors...We can't give to others if we have nothing left inside. Sometimes we just need a break. Other times we need an escape. Best wishes as you seek to stabilize your own internal equilibrium." And that is what the three of us did. We "stabilized our own internal equilibrium" and now we are ready for our work week! The verse that went along with this devo was Ecclesiastes 3:11-12 "He has made everything beautiful in its time...I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live."

Top Ten: 23

23 things I am thankful for and good memories over the past 23 years…

1. God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and freedom even though I daily struggle to remember, comprehend, and enjoy those qualities about Him.
2. The fact that God has sent plenty of people who have been “Jesus with hands” to me to prove who He is and to teach me more about Him and His love.
3. My parents, who I love more than life, who always support and love me and have raised me in a faith-based home. Mom, for always being someone I can talk to about anything and whenever. And Dad, for always looking out for me and helping me solve my problems.
4. My wonderful sister who I also love more than life and who cracks me up more than anyone else I know. And, for being so intentional about coming to visit me at my apartment.
5. My roommates, Ilise and Emily, and how they just let me be me.
6. Rachel, for being my first best friend in college and continuing to be one today.
7. Living in the mods sophomore year with four other incredible and fun roommates.
8. Jamie and our freshman year together (as well as all of our times together)
9. My AC groups in Alpha… especially my second year AC group. And even more specifically Giovanna and Alex.
11. Spending two terrifying and powerful weeks in the Tenderloin in San Fran. That was an incredible experience and I still can’t believe I did it twice!
10. Phil Shahbaz, Karen Sorensen, and Dr. Kern.
11. Grad school.
12. SIATech.
13. Guajome.
14. North Coast.
15. Singing on the worship team in eighth grade and senior year.
16. Leading a small group with Diane and Cindy.
17. My 18th weekend birthday trip with my best friends: Amy, Sara, Nikki, and Sidney.
18. The summer after graduating high school.
19. Papa John’s at 2am and sleepovers.
20. Ms. Kanawi, Mrs. Kawano, Ms. Le, Mrs. Gerent, and Mr. Canaletti.
21. The year Grandma gave my family Disneyland passes. That was the best! Definitely one of my favorite childhood memories.
22. Family vacations in Palm Desert.
23. Childhood bedtime ritual: songs, books, “what’d you like best today?”, and prayer (especially “please place your angels all around me and give me lots of courage”).