Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Student Stories: Part Three

Can I just say that I love grad school? I know, I sound like a broken record, but I do! I fell asleep last night heavy hearted with many things, but what brought a smile to my face was class. I had class last night and just totally realized last night while getting ready for bed that class is the highlight of my week in a way that is impossible to ignore. I feel alive in class and loved and smart and challenged and inspired and like a little sponge soaking up all the learning! I learn from my peers, not just the professor and his outline. I think that is the best part. The people in my classes, especially the ones I’ve been through many classes with, are just so incredible and I learn so much about life and who I want to be from them. In class I find part of my identity that I’ve missed for quite a while. I feel listened to and respected and noticed when I am late or gone. It feels like home. It feels stable. I’ve been craving stability so badly for quite a while now, which is a confession for another blog on another day, but class is one thing that helps keep me stable and sane. It is a nice break from the rest of my life.
In case I haven’t specifically mentioned what I am in grad school for, I am pursuing a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership. I am often asked, “What is that exactly and what are you going to do with it?” and luckily, as a former English major, I am pro in answering that question because I got it a ton as an undergrad! J Organizational Leadership is sort of the humanistic, softer side of an MBA. My program focuses on how people interact and work within a given organization. We discuss topics such as conflict management, team building (getting the right people on the right team for the right job), and how to be an effective leader of integrity, effectiveness, and encouragement. I decided to join the program for many reasons, but professionally, I believed that my BA in English would pair well with a degree in Organizational Leadership when applying for any position in the corporate world, and after a year in the program, I definitely think that is true.I can’t believe I am nearly done with my first year of grad school, but more than that, I can’t believe how much it has helped my quality of life this year by giving me roots, a home, new ideas, and an awesome support group of peers and friends.

Monday, May 25, 2009

TV addiction: Jon and Kate plus 8

This weekend I became obsessed with the TLC realty show “Jon and Kate plus 8.” There was a marathon on all weekend and I ate it up! The show is so fascinating! There are just so many kids I can’t even fathom how Jon and Kate do it. Their life is absolutely crazy and I love watching every minute of it…well, not every minute…I hate how Kate berates Jon. She is very mean to him and short tempered and patronizing. It is pretty intense, but it is very clear (after watching it for a weekend) that they are committed to their kids and their life together.
That said, I am dying for cable at my apartment tonight because I want to see what happens when Jon and Kate face each other on camera after all the tabloid rumors have been swirling! I really hope they can work it out and stay together for the kids. I feel very sad for them! Regardless, the show is fascinating and I totally recommend watching an episode! The kids are a handful but adorable, and it is clear they are very loved by their parents (as well as all their family-friend babysitters). It made for a fun weekend at home!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wonderful weekends!

It has been a whirlwind of fun activity! My weekends have been pretty non-stop, which is exactly how I like it when every activity and plan involves loved ones! It keeps me energized throughout the craziness.
Rachel was here in Cali visiting and stayed at our place for a bit. Life is always better when Rach is here. My room feels more like “my room” when she is in it (probably because that is the way we began in this apartment). I picked Rach up two weeks ago and we spent the weekend together. We went to Montana’s and the undergrad graduation (yay class of 2009). I saw my last bunch of undergrad friends graduate; most of my friends are from my second Alpha year AC group. Over graduation weekend I was also able to see my friend, Alex (from my AC group), which was really nice and needed. Sunday of that weekend I spent Mother’s Day with my Dad’s side of the family and saw my mom’s happiness over her new Kindle.
In between weekends work keeps me busy and going to class keeps me happy (because of the people, not the homework). My roommates and I also decided to move and signed a new lease for June 13th to a new apartment in La Verne, only a few blocks away from where we live now. It is a 3 bedroom, which will be nice for all of us. But, it has been a bit stressful in the process. I will just be glad to get the move over with! We are looking forward to our new place.
This past Sunday I went to a Mother’s Day tea my sister planned for my mom, her three close friends, and their daughters. It was nice to see everyone together since the last time it happened I think we were all under ten (the kids that is). Then I went to a friend’s “Gilmore Girl”-themed party, which was fun. That is when the earthquake happened, as well (boo earthquakes).
Rach also came back to stay this last weekend. We spent most of Saturday at her mom’s house hanging with her family and watching “The Real Housewives” on Bravo (my favorite). Friday night we went to Montana’s again, which was a ton of fun (for a variety of reasons).
The rest of this week has been busy with work staff development days, class, and group meetings. Plus, I spent the day at home yesterday for my mom’s birthday. It was SO WONDERFUL! I am beyond glad I went home for it. It was perfect and lovely and a great memory. My family is so special and important to me, so it was wonderful to spend a happy day together. Yay for Mom having a birthday! I’m glad she enjoyed her day. I know I did!
Whew, it has been quite a couple of weeks. Now I am on to a 3 day Memorial Day weekend!

My AC group

(Blake, me, Casey, Sarah, Brittany, Amy, Corrie, and Alex - Kim is not pictured in this set)
This is my AC group from my 2006 year in Alpha. Alpha is the freshman orientation group at APU and when we are leaders we are all put in Alpha Counselor groups to help us train how to relate and teach our incoming freshmen groups. Alpha was an incredible program for me. It is the only real reason I ever stayed at APU. In 2006, during my junior year, I met this wonderful AC group. They made me laugh until it hurt and loved me when I was vulnerable and stayed intentional about spending time together when Alpha was over for our year. The majority of this group (minus Amy, Brittany, Alex, and I) graduated last weekend. I am so proud of them, so I wanted to give them a little blog shout-out because they were so instrumental in my life at APU and in forming/encouraging the woman I am today. God truly put them in my life for a reason, and even if it turns out that our time together is done, I am positive that it was enough for the season we needed. They were truly my family at APU and I loved every minute of our time together!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

So true (again)

Yet more profound words from the blogosphere...This one is found here on this blog.

Dear Self,
You’re going to be fine.
Sure you’re a little moody, and a little crazy, and a little unsure of everything you want. (Being honest, who isn’t?) But you’re fine.
The answers will come. You will understand what you’re supposed to be doing. You’ll find someone to love. And you’ll figure it out eventually.
You will, and you know it.
In the meantime, keep smiling.
Love, Self

Love grows best in small houses (or so my mom used to say).

Lately I’ve been thinking about big houses and big families and lots of loved ones around constantly.
about white picket fences and yards full of grass with blankets and children and a porch swing.
about holding babies and raising kids and commitment.
about family dinners and church services and towels strewn all over the bathroom.
about puppies and spilled orange juice and wedding photos framed on the mantel.
about one year old birthday parties and 50th wedding anniversaries and holding hands on the front porch swing.
about marriage and babies and cozy houses.
about the Kingdom of God and family as a Christian witness and that staying put is a completely legitimate way to serve God.
Lately I’ve been thinking about plans and love and dreams for the future.
And lately, it has made me feel happy and hopeful and healed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

So true

I love how profound Rosie's haiku's are sometimes:
blogging is a full time job
confession as narrative
self indulge dot com
very tiring

Miss USA

Who knew we would ever pay so much attention to a beauty pageant? A competition built around objectifying beautiful women as we judge them in their gowns and except them to say they want “world peace.” Finally some depth and controversy and honesty are brought in and America freaks out. It is ridiculous. Beauty pageants are ridiculous and continue to further the myth that women are only skin deep, that our outside is all we are and can offer.
I am proud of Miss California. I am proud of her for two things and one is for being honest enough to share her own views in public and not just what would get her elected to a title. Who cares what she said politically, at least she said it. At least she brought some opinions to a competition that is so pre-rehearsed it makes women look dumb and is embarrassing to us real women. She took a risk and spoke out for what she feels is right, which should be what those questions are about, not about pre-rehearsed answers spoken from a perfect mouth on a perfect face on a perfect body. Miss USA should be re-vamped. If we can’t get rid of it completely we need to re-model it (pun intended). We need to have a competition for women about brains more than beauty, about education and charity work, and inner self-esteem. We need to show girls who they can be, not what they can be.
Miss California answered a question they way she wanted to. Perez Hilton asked “why or why not” not “why,” therefore, “not” was an allowable answer. Then, after the show, he had the audacity to say that as Miss California, she needs to represent the views of her state, well, considering Prop 8 passed, I’d say she did express the views of her state. 51% is a majority – a close one, but a passing one none-the-less.
Now everyone wants her de-crowned, which the fact that a crown is even in that sentence is what is wrong with this society and the way women are viewed, but had her answer been different and more pleasing to the media, no one would care that she took partially nude photos before she was 18. No one would care that she signed a paper stating she had never posed, mostly because she was a minor when it happened and never took them professionally to be leaked. No one would care if she “ignored her duties” by speaking out for other causes. If she had never said a controversial answer (which more than half the audience rooted for – not booed for, thank you Perez Hilton) and instead “ignored” her duties by showing up for an AIDS walk or an education conference or an environmental cause, but no, it involves gay marriage and suddenly everyone cares about a shallow beauty competition.
Good job Miss California. Good job Donald Trump, which I never thought I would say. And, good job for resigning Shanna Moakler (who, by the way, is the woman who married Travis Barker and then let the cameras into their life on MTV’s “Meet the Barkers”), because maybe now we can figure out how to change the Miss USA competition to improve the way women are portrayed in society, rather than be lusted at on the cover of Playboy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A peak at my old fiction...

I never... (written for class in Feb 2007).

I never told him. Never in the car every Sunday before church, never in the car every Sunday after church. Never after school or on the rainy days he would give me a ride home. Never when we went to baseball games or birthday parties or youth group. Never the day when I bumped into him at the grocery store. Never on the road trip to his house one spring break. Never at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Never told him on the phone or when he surprised me at my apartment or when he was sick during the Super Bowl. Never told him in his car or his bedroom. Never told him at his house or when we went to visit our friend in the hospital. Never told him in San Francisco. Never even told him when he looked at me with those brown eyes and practically begged me to say what I was thinking.
I never told him I was thankful for him. Never told him I loved his smile. Never told him I thought he was brave and kind and funny. Never told him I admired him for standing up for me. Never told him I hated those ugly green shorts. Never told him I wrote him a letter one day explaining why I did what I did and how I felt after he said what he said and didn’t say what I wanted to hear. Never told him I lied that Sunday afternoon he asked if I was okay with his decision to leave. Never told him I was jealous every time he was in the car with some other girl. I never told him I loved meeting his mom and hanging out with his best friend. I never told him he was my best friend. Never told him I wanted to see him the day he left. Never told him I cried the day he told me he loved me. Never told him I was in love with him. I never told him I prayed we would get married one day.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Top Ten: Mother’s Day Version

In honor of mother’s day, here is a top ten list of why I love my mom. Obviously, I love her for more than ten reasons, but here are only ten.
1. She always supports me, no matter what decision (or mistake) I make.
2. She has great wisdom and advice.
3. She is a great listener, which is an admirable quality considering how much I can talk!
4. We have the same sense of humor.
5. She is a mother who loves to be a mom, including letting us cuddle with her in her bed (she was never one of those moms who believe kids shouldn’t be allowed in Mom and Dad’s room), letting us come first, and always telling us her life is fuller because of us (for proof, read her blog from today).
6. She loves to read and helped me decide to be an English major as an undergrad.
7. We both love music and writing.
8. She is always honest about her feelings, thoughts, mistakes, and all other opinions.
9. She gives great hugs.
10. She is one of the best Christians I know and constantly inspires me with her own walk with God everyday.
I love you, Mom.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Jiggle the doorknob and step in faith

Oh there is so much to say about this week – actually there is so much to say about just today! It is all crazy. The back story is that about a month ago a professor-friend, who is also the associate director of my grad program – invited me into her office and told me about a job opening she had heard about from one of my peers. She mentioned that she didn’t know what my temp job situation was and had originally told my peer she didn’t know of anyone who needed a job, but a couple days later she prayed for me on the way to work and remembered that my job is up in the air. So, she told me about it. At the time I said thank you and half-heartedly said I would “look into it.” Later that day, my boss called me into her office and announced that HR had been mistaken and had a miscommunication, resulting in the news that although my position had been extended until the end of October, my benefits would only last through May 31st. Needless to say, this was very bad news and I immediately went back to my professor and told her that God put me in her mind because of the news I had just heard and that I now needed a job. I applied that night.
Weeks have gone by and my boss and her boss and his boss have all been working on getting me continued full health benefits. I had also forgotten about the job I applied for in the last few weeks, deciding that I would stay at APU and possibly take out a loan for grad school and get health insurance as a part-time student. However, yesterday morning I asked about my benefits again and we still had not heard any final word back from HR. After work yesterday I had a voicemail from the applied to job and they asked me for an interview. Well, that interview is tomorrow afternoon – but that is not all. Once I agreed to the interview (which will be with my peer) and told my boss and close co-workers about it (as difficult as that was), I then got a call from HR stating that it had just officially been decided my health benefits would be extended as long as my position until the end of Oct! Craziness. I found myself in a situation where I had an even tougher decision to make – assuming I am even offered the job I am interviewing for tomorrow. Regardless, it is a lot to think about (in addition to the fact that my roommates have decided to move and we are looking for places and have to decide and be out by June 15th…side note, a peer called today and gave me two names of real estate agents…another provision from God).
Anyway, this whole job thing reminds me of a truth about God I have come to know well in the past two years. God calls me to take a risk, a risk that I do not want to take and am scared and resistant to take and cry about and avoid at all costs, but finally, I take the risk. As soon as I step forward in faith and take the risk to do the thing that Lord is asking me to do, He pulls through and gives me exactly what I was trying so desperately to hold on to before the risk. It is as if He wants to make sure you will take that risk and trust in Him and have some faith, and once you do – once you prove to the Lord that you really do trust Him, no matter the outcome – He gives you what you (or at least what I) wanted.
Obviously, it does not always work like this, but I have plenty of similar stories of the Lord telling me to trust Him and when I do He simply says, “thank you, just making sure you trust me and are willing to follow despite your lack of understanding and want to, and now, I will provide as your loving Father.” As confusing and sort of annoying as these moments are, I need them constantly. I love these moments. These God-moments remind me that He exists, that He is real and He is alive and well and working presently. It reminds me He loves me and is in control. Moments like this make me wonder how anyone could not believe in God.
It is these moments when I have to step out in uncertain faith that I am reminded of when the Israelites crossed the Jordan. Joshua 3 describes when the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had to go ahead of the people and begin crossing the Jordan. I always remember that these priests had to actually step into the water before the water stopped flowing and they crossed on dry ground. It is so incredible to think about these people just whole-heartedly believing that the Lord could be trusted to save them from drowning. They had so much faith that they faced the water – head on – and walked into it, not quite positive it wouldn’t kill them, but taking the risk to follow God all the same. They had to have enough faith to step into the water before it actually dried. They had to step before knowing the outcome; the big picture. Before being saved by God. This is what happened today. I had to step forward in faith. Step into that running water even though I didn’t want to and I was scared and wanted to run away, but I did it, and He brought me out without a scratch, just as I prayed He would and – ultimately – trusted He would. Now I just have to see what happens next.
Also, my professor-friend told me a great analogy about trust (much like the Joshua passage) today. She told me to just “jiggle the door handle” and go to the interview tomorrow. She said we all see massive closed doors in front of us. We are afraid to open them because we don’t know what is on the other side or if it will open or if we can come back out of it. But, all God needs us to do is jiggle the handle and He will show us if it will open or not. That’s it. Just jiggle the doorknob. Tomorrow, that is what I will do, and then let God lead me some more, because He not only leads by opening doors, but by closing them as well.

Joshua 3:13-16
And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord – the Lord of all the earth – set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap. So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing.