Friday, November 21, 2008

the colonel, denzel, and anita.

about a week or so ago allison and sarah and i had an incredible night. we sat on the stoop talking for an hour about our hearts and souls and there was healing and growth in that time as we all sat bundled in blankets....that moved into the living room for a dance party to noah and the whale that just can't be described as anything but freeing. and from this whole evening came two truths for me to recite every morning as i begin the day. One is that I will see the image of God in everyone I meet today. it's truly transformed how i treat people...and it's not a new idea...but it feels like it.
So with that intention I go to Hillcrest yesterday morning and discover it's Ron's birthday! 61 years! we sang to him and i quickly adapted the content of the activity to revolve around his was a blast. Sadly, Anita's nurse never wakes her up and gets her ready in time for group these days. :( but occasionally i get a glimpse of her in the hallway and we have a short visit before i jet off to i see her today and ask her how she's doing. Now it's important to know that we often go on "camping" trips together where everyone gets to bring one thing and we go in the circle and try to remember every item...and anita ALWAYS brings her man, denzel washington, and somehow someone ALWAYS manages to bring kentucky fried chicken along. ???? i love it.
so anyways, the conversation goes as follows:
me: hey! how you doin anita??
anita: i'm doin good, just got my shower, ready for the day. think i'll go campin (with a sparkle in her eye....her good eye. :))
me: oh yeah??? what are you gonna bring?
anita: denzel of course.
me: how bout a bucket of KFC??
anita: oh you know i'm finger lickin good!

freakin made my day.

take care friends.


Monday, October 20, 2008

last but never least, Taylor

So for the past year and a half the leading man in my life has been one Taylor Andrew Parker. yesterday at church I got a little was as though Pastor Lou had read my journal the night before and was reading it back to me and 700 other people from the pulpit. The sermon was on friendship and more specifically distinct point was that a friend creates a safe place for the other to speak, where you are not trying to fix, change, or make them more like you, and this is where truth can be manifest. rewind to saturday night...I came home at 1am saturday night and sat down to a heart to heart with taylor (one of thousands) and before i went to bed wrote this, "it seems like your truest friends end up being the ones that create an atmosphere of such unconditional love and acceptance...a safe place in your interaction that often times as your speaking you are able to realize truths for the first time as they fall out of your mouth in the form of words. Taylor has been that friend for me so many times, where i realize the true state of my heart in the middle of my conversation with him because i'm not editing and i'm not self consciously worried about whether or not i've processed something...i'm just free to let my heart be exposed and known."
Taylor, as i'm sure most of my friends already know, is a tall lanky man who loves plants and birds. :) his life's work and energy are spent saving natural habitats, and restoring them with native plants so that endangered species will survive and flourish. he loves humans but feels most comfortable with his hands and feet in the mud...and he's been nicknamed mogley in the house, because his white european feet have been stained black.
he's also my date for coffee 3 times a week beginning today on csulb's campus so that i can FINALLY bust out this thesis that's been haunting me.

so there you have it...allison, sarah, taylor, and me. at allison's church last night she was asked to share about what God is doing in her life specifically with respect to her new living situation. it was a great moment of perspective for me...because for the past month i've just been basking in all the things that are good. just been busy being stoked about my roommates and my habitat and home...and she was so focused on a vision. it got me thinking about louise, the elderly landlady that lives above us...what's her story? is she lonely? does she like apple pie and knitting? and the guy who walks all 4 of his rat sized dogs by our house every night...and the churches and parks that meet around us, and the garden we have to share, and the music nights that happen so often and so spontaneously...and how that should be shared and how others have lives to share...

anyways...i'm excited for our housewarming next sunday night (please come!) and the colliding worlds of these 3 wonderful people i'm so grateful to know.

for those of you who live around the long beach area, we'll be hosting prayer at 6am on wednesday mornings for anyone who would like to come pray, and you're more than welcome to come. also in that spirit...please come over and visit anytime. we'll probably be cooking or chatting or playing music or knitting or getting riled up about a presidental election i'm'd be great to have you over.

Monday, October 13, 2008

meet sarah

Meet Sarah.

When i first moved to long beach i hated it. i wanted to get back to san diego as soon as i was done with school. in those early weeks/months i went to a church up in monrovia and met sarah. we started reading The Irresistible Revolution, by Shane Claiborne together with another girl named heather and a coffee shop at 6am every week. that coffee shop became a favorite spot for me even now and sarah's place of work...and now this wonderful woman sleeps in the room next to mine. Today sarah and i went on a few adventures. Dressed in pj's an apron and cowboyboots, me in ou slippers and a scarf made by my sister, we set out to get groceries and house plants. and along the way shared stories about our high school days, our cars, our love lives, families, passions. it's funny when i realize that i've known sarah more than i've known anyone in Long Beach. i remember days of real sadness. i don't know about depression...but feeling really alone here and driving from 507 E31st street at 6 am through the rain and feeling like this girl was the only person in long beach who really listened and really shared her life and really cared about some of the same things i cared about. so thank you sarah. you are a beloved and admired friend.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Casa Hermosa

Welcome to Casa Hermosa. Home to Taylor, Sarah, Allison and Me. :) After a year and a half in my old place, I'm slowly discovering and appreciating so many things large and small. Like walking barefoot in my house, sitting on a couch in a state of complete relaxation, so many bikes we need a whole room for them, roommates who double as friends, live music all the time, walls filled with books I cannot wait to read (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard was my first recommended choice...thanks allison), records playing, sunlight streaming, candles burning, laughter happily waking me up. I love it. I'm so happy. It is a beautiful house.
Meet Allison (or what I've learned thus far):
Allison was the random newby to my life. Sarah sprung this surprise a week before move in, "I think my friend Allison wants to share a room with me...." God bless you Sarah. A week ago we went on our first adventure just the two of us, a run down 2nd St., two days ago we rode bikes to the pool for a swim early in the morning, last night we played Can't Help Falling In Love With You together on violin and guitar...but i was on guitar and she was on sounded wretched and i almost peed myself with laughter. She is a wonderful woman with a gift for taking small windows of time and turning them into treasured moments of revelation and wonderment. She also has a wonderful deep belly laugh that makes me want to settle down and hang out for hours. She's a world traveler, whether for pleasure or as a bicycling tour guide through Europe. She also grows lots of tiny plants on our porch and plays the banjo. I'm sold.

There was a time in my life when i had reached max capacity as far as close friends go. I just decided I had given all I could give...and recently I've decided, that's lame.

I held a 7 pound bundle of miracle for 2 hours today while talking to a wonderful friend I met just 2 years ago. I'm not sure if my chest was covered in drool or sweat when he finally woke up but I do know that I don't care. I guess I'm just faced with a lot of inconvenient and expensive trials in my life lately, but they're wonderfully sandwiched in between moments of gratitude for roommates who tackle me with love hugs, a boquet of lilies from the farmers market that's been changing blooms for 2 weeks!!!, people who challenge me to be more like Christ, family that prays fiercly for me, and old people who really seem to love to listen to pete n chelle's music time (possible band name "better than ice cream").

God is good. All the time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

the times they are a'changin.

I'm facing a few changes in the next week...and lately i guess in general. and find myself in a place i often find myself in the midst of changes...somewhat of an identity crisis. although this time, compared to the past at least, i don't feel at all in crisis...just reflective and maybe cautious. what do new possessions, new homes/places, new roommates, new people and relationships mean? or more specifically, who am i as a result? questions i'm continuing to ask and hopefully being honest with myself me and know me God...and maybe clue me in if you can.

In other news...on a short cruise down pch tonight with my beloved roommate i was encouraged to continue to challenge what seems normal. i've been frustrated lately that what's become routine has possibly lost significance or its ability to engage and impact me because it's become routine...but not because it's become less. being accessible to those around me (to God around me) is a recently resurrected idea. hmmm, so pete and i play music at hillcrest...and i remember the first time we rehearsed together i was on this crazy felt like the first time in forever that i was free to just jam. i love playing concerto's but somehow there's much less freedom in bach's 3rd than a spontaneous rendition of Hey Jude for me. but after a few months of's become a little normal...and has since lost a bit of it's glamour...until a new patient starts singing along and visibly enjoying it. then i get another hit of satisfaction. WOW....why the hell am i doing this? MY SATISFACTION!? ew that's gross. I HATE MY NARCISISSM!!!!!!! Lord I am so human it's disgusting.

Thank you for loving us. I have no idea how you do, but i'm confident of that truth. Thank you for the times that I am rewarded with a smile or a thank you or a moment of encouragement, but PLEASE open my eyes to my tendency to look for personal satisfaction and fulfillment in the work you've called me to and my selfish manipulation of a good thing. Open my eyes to the corners (or chambers) of my heart that i would rather not see. to broken relationships that i would rather ignore, to decisions that i would rather close my eyes and make quickly, to painstaking truths that i would like to see through rosecolored lenses. thank you for people in my life who very evidently live close to you and earnestly seek truth...and want to bring others to that place.

thank for love that i do not deserve.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

the wilderness

I just got back from a trip with some old college friends to yosemite national park. We spent a few days camping and hiking up to half dome. it was glorious and physically strenuous (which I thrive on) and beautiful and restful (in the sense that we escaped responsibility) and just liberating. I love the outdoors and I love being in them for extended periods of time, especially in good company. A friend on the trip perked up his ears when I mentioned the idea of doing the John Muir trail...he's actually doing the entire Pacific Crest Trail beginning in April and I just might join him. 2650 miles from mexico to canada....about 5 months to finish.

here are my thoughts...on the one hand, heck yes. that sounds amazing and exhilarating and this is probably the last time in my life that i can as far as time and commitments go. I keep feeling the urge to get out of the country or move to a new city or work in an orphanage somewhere...maybe what i need is 5 months in the wild. and it would be a great last adventure before grad school gets for reals again for another 4-5 years.

on the other hand...5 months is a huge chunk of time. there are all sorts of logistical hesitations like $ and storage for all my crap i wish i didn't have but can't just toss/sell. and while it sounds exhilarating it also is something that seems like it'd just be for me. and i don't think i'd be happy doing something just for me. i don't think i need a big break before i start learning how i can best give again, because giving isn't exhausting to me, it's what makes me come alive. so i think i'd feel not just guilty but empty if i was camping for such a long time. i need to be investing in the lives of people who are in need.

sort of in the same way that new years resolutions irritate me. if you want to change something in your life, why do you wait until january 1st to do it. just do it. right now. I think i'm just antsy because i seem to have found a place/church/people/and potential education and career that i really love and am happy with and am experiencing God in...and i don't think I'm supposed to leave any of it. but i feel like after you finish school somewhere you're supposed to move on...but Long Beach feels relatively permanent...for now. :) anyways...maybe the pct...maybe just john muir...either way i love the wilderness and the solitude and perspective it gives me.

God's creation is SO good.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

the girls

i'm sitting in my room. my room that was perfectly clean 24 hours ago. now, i'm surrounded by clothes and beach towels and shoes and suitcases overflowing and the chair i'm sitting on is draped with someone elses jeans...and i love it. The girls are in town. Kristin and Morgan are staying here tonight, tomorrow we'll join chelsea and some other friends from college for a trip up to the top of Half Dome. I was on the beach today with the middle of my scribbling into a journal she asked what I was writing about..."you". I love these girls so much that I'm not at all surprised when plainly asked what I'm writing in a journal and not at all hesitant to answer in detail. When you have friendships like these you just don't have words to describe them, and I have no formula for how to make these kinds of relationships manifest themselves again. but i'm ridiculously grateful.

Friday, August 1, 2008

total strangers.

It's 11:45pm on a friday night, and I just came home from maybe one of the most beautiful human interactions I've had all week. I met Debbie and her children Ari and Hannah yesterday. We hit it off. It's been so long since I've felt so adored. That's the best word I have. Mutual affection...fondness, doesn't seem right...we all four just adored each other almost immediately. They invited me over for dinner and I gladly accepted. 3 hyperactive happy dogs welcomed me the minute I walked in the door with Ari, who had been pacing the lawn waiting for me before I got there. Dinner was beautiful. We celebrated the Sabbath together (they're Jewish), offered blessings (I listened...being that I don't speak Hebrew) and talked and laughed and told stories. Greg and Debbie are a beautiful couple who love each other so evidently. They have an incredible affection for their children...overwhelming hospitality...compelling thoughts about life and love and social justice...and just a wonderful home that put me so at ease. We even painted helicopters (the seed pods from trees that twirl) and kept the kids up way too late playing together. And I just met them yesterday. Not that I need ANY thing else to fill my schedule...but I'm eager to be a part of these people's lives. Babysitting these kids feels like a privilege. It makes me miss my family.

It's so great to know that good people exist in the world and that we have so much to learn from one another and to share in together.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


I know you always hear different versions of "man time flies", but seriously...where in the begeezes did June go?

I have a lot of meandering thoughts in my head...lots of people in my life to appreciate...lots of camping trips to prepare for...lots of musical endeavors...and a kayak to finally take on a maiden voyage tomorrow afternoon. CAN'T WAIT!

I really love my church. We sang this together today...some things just seem to give language to your heart...

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer's ear.
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, and drives away his fear.
It makes the wounded spirit whole and calms his troubled breast;
'tis manna to the hungry soul, and to the weary rest.

Dear name, the Rock on which I build my shield and hiding place;
My never failing treasure filled with boundless stores of grace.
Jesus, my Shepherd, Savior, Friend,
My Prophet, Priest, and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart, and cold my warmest thought.
But when I see you as you are, I'll praise you as I ought.
'til then I will your love proclaim with every fleeting breath,
and may the music of your name refresh my soul in death.


Saturday, May 31, 2008

Lois Ann Johnson is my hero

When we're kids we scream out ridiculous things to each other like "DIBS ON THE BATHROOM!" well guess what, we start to do it again when we're 75 years old. Maybe my favorite person in the world has been here in Long Beach with me since last tuesday and I've already learned so much from her in the past few days, and i'm happy to add it all to the life lessons I have learned in the 24 years that I have been privileged to know my gramma.

1. Let yourself enjoy life.
...Whether that means that a trip to Vons for "bare essentials" includes hershey kisses, or that you just simply SLOW DOWN and take life in. My gramma needs me to walk alongside her now so she doesn't fall, and we walk about half a mile an hour...but it's been a nice change of pace. and while just me and g-ma were at the shark lagoon at the aquarium i watched her eyes wander from the animals to the laughing children screaming for their daddies to "come see!!" and then connect with another mom or grandma with a knowing glance that says something like...yeah, i know...these moments are treasures to be breathed and lived in.

2. You WILL look crazy, and when you're at your prime you won't even care.
...My grandma talks to animals. She does this on a daily basis at home with Tula the shnoodle...and to sea lions out in the open sea on our boat ride, lorakeets at the aquarium, sharks in a tank, or birds joining us at our lunch table at cafe ambrosia. she also waves to strangers driving by on john deer tractors on ocean blvd and fishermen on the docks...and acts SHOCKED when said fishermen don't wave back.

3. no matter how much you come to need people...there is no limit to the love and care you can give.
...for example, as much as she needs help walking or getting in the car or fixing her hair...she still wraps her arms around me and keeps me as warm as she did when i was 3 years old as we feel the wind on our faces out on the big blue pacific.

her life is beautiful...and even though my heart shrinks in pain when she starts to talk crazy about things like exactly how she wants me to grieve her when she's gone, and what little treasures of hers she wants me have when she dies...i'm determined to learn as much as i can from a wonderful wonderful woman of grace and poise and character, who is simultaneously feisty and stubborn and acts just like a little kid.

Monday, April 28, 2008


I've been at hillcrest almost a year now...and strangely, it's mostly been a positive experience. what i mean by that is that despite inner battles to find pure motivation, to understand guilt when i'm lazy or frustration when i'm out of ideas or feelings of ineptitude in general...i've received nothing but joy and have only grown as a person because i've been invited to share in these people's lives.
along with that i have been frustrated together with ron when he's trying to talk and i can't get it, and i've been angry when a wheelchair is broken and left unrepaired for over a month, and i've wrestled with the realization that these people are forced to live in a hospital where they're told where and when and what to eat...among other losses...i've been sad, but today my heart broke.
Anita is a beautiful woman. Ever since i've known her she's been unable to use her hands for most tasks, so someone has to feed her and light her cigarettes for her...but her personality shines through her physical incapacities. she's sarcastic and witty and bossy (in a loving way) and full of life and totally mentally present. Today she didn't come to group, but afterwards I stopped in the hallway to talk to her. all these wonderful things were gone from her. I wiped the drool from her face and placed my hand on her shoulder and looked into empty eyes. one has always been lazy, which is just another thing that contributes a bit to her characteristic craziness that i love so much....
my first reaction was to try to cheer her i joked about her boyfriend (denzel washington) and fumbled through meaningless words all the while aching to see some life come back to her. it was so bad that i asked the nurse later if she was on heavy meds or something. it took me 3 full minutes to understand the single word "patio". we went outside together and it slowly sunk in deep that these people have a fatal disease. they're not getting better...her life is slipping away and i can't do a damn thing to stop it.
i came home a few hours later. my extremely perceptive and loving roommate pulled the story out of me...he offered very pragmatic approaches to help me understand and cope with it all...but im not concerned about me right now. and i'm not feeling pragmatic...i'm feeling helpless.
so i let his loving words soak in to my heart...welcomed a hug that i could rest in if only for a moment...and finally felt some peace when he pointed to the flower on the table, "look". a big beautiful white native flower with several buds beginning to burst open.

we live and we die...and we don't need to understand, and it's complicated, and we barely make it...but along the way there are small miracles...and if my eyes are open, life really is beautiful, right there along with all of the pain and disease and violence and suffering and theft and evil...there are wildflowers and symphonies and hugs and birthday parties and friends....

i'm not sure what to do with this habit of mine to take raw lament and shaking fists into the reaction i think i'm supposed to saying "God is good" "He is faithful" seems as cliche as saying "don't worry, be happy".

Lord be with Anita. Bring peace and joy somehow. Show her that her life is beautiful. Have mercy on us all.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

a city on a hill is made up of more than me.

as i've ruminated on all of this stuff (see previous post) i've become a little insecure, hoping i haven't offended the people around me, wishing i had the guts to not be insecure...but also genuinely desiring to accurately represent them...and i'm not sure i've done them justice when i assume things like what they mean when they ask me about personal ethics and i peg it as a bipolarization of Christian ethics and rest of my life ethics...and i've been afraid (as always) of coming off as arrogant and prideful because i think i've figured it out. i am so far from it. i am a helpless, weak, emotionally swayed ragamuffin who needs grace. that said....

today's sermon was on the next few verses in matthew, "you are the salt of the are the light of the world....a city on a hill". alongside the wonderful realization that these are descriptive statements about our identity and not commandments to go and do, i was taken by surprise at the context of community that is used.
after last week's sermon and my subsequent whirlwind of thoughts i started feeling like the only way i could really live out this radical call is to leave my current location and go work in an orphanage in some foreign country, or join the peace corps, or just get stronger in my own personal convictions. Today i heard over and over again that on our own strength, with our own resources and vision and commitment, we will not last. we need each other, and this life that God describes as the natural manifestation of a life lived in God's kingdom is not meant to be lived, cannot be lived, alone. Someone in our group made the statement that they were relieved to hear that they are intended to participate in God's work alongside others who have the same heart, who are like-minded. I was taken back because i had had the opposite reaction: How in the world am I (crazy vegan, eco-concerned, homeless loving, hillcrest dwelling me) going to find people who desire such an unattractive (by this world's standards of beauty and materialism and individualism) life??? (i've been filling in for the activities director at hillcrest the past week or two, and as i was talking and joking with Anita the other day she looked me dead in the eye and told me I needed to get a life.) (i really like parenthetical clauses today by the way) and as i type this i'm hit with the conviction that the people around me do have the same passions and vision and desire to bear witness to the kingdom. and while my bent may be the environment, christa's lovin like crazy on inner city kids at west athens, and mary's taking care of pediatric patients for 12 hours at a time, and esther's behind the scenes planning huge church events, and the list goes on...

so i'm not so much relieved at the thought of a community as i am challenged. excited and ready for the challenge, to be sharpened by iron, and hopefully to be an agent of new thought and re-imaging of God, together with my brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

being more like jesus, to each other, as disciples, in love...not to be more christian, but more fully human...ragamuffins that we are.

yep, i'm trying to hold all those ideas...together.

Last sunday the sermon was from matthew and the beattitudes. But the 'main point' that I took hit me hard. If we are truly like Christ, if we really do what the gospel commands, if we take it literally, then we will be "different". I think different is a pretty softened way to say that we will look like crazy people. On a retreat recently we were discussing business ethics and personal ethics (as I understand it, when this question was posed to me it was intended for "personal" to mean my Christian ethics). Basically, I was asked, can they exist together? and my problem is, why are there two separate sets of ethics?? and if we have two end goals (one being participation in the restorative work of God's kingdom, and the other being survival and even success in a dog eat dog world), how can we expect our "business" and "personal" ethics to jive???? Where in the gospel does it command us to make lots of money and a secure existence for ourselves...or our loved ones??? unless you hate your father and mother. yeah i know it sounds harsh. deal with it. but God forbid you try to rationalize or soften it.

I miss the voice of certain idealists in my life. I feel like with age (I know I'm still a young 23...but even in the last 2 years), I've heard a whole lot of good, sound, practical advice. and some days I really don't like the person I'm becoming as a result. sure I want to learn to be wise, but not at the expense of my vocation to love the Lord my God with all my heart and my neighbor as myself. I don't want to tame and twist the gospel so that it fits into the demands and duties and laws of this world. I want to see God's kingdom.

Just before graduating from loma my pastor took me on a walk around the block before church. He told me I was going to be looked at funny as I went away from this place, that the world would think I was weird (specifically in my interactions with people who are homeless)...I didn't like the conversation at the time. it felt like he was complimenting me for something I don't think merits praise....but that's not what he was doing at all. He was simply trying to tell me what Jesus' life displayed, what Lou was saying last sunday...Jesus was ridiculed and ostracized and eventually murdered, because he lived a quietly outrageous life. He didn't do as he was told or what he was expected. "if you go against the grain you'll get splinters". splinters?? we're afraid of splinters?? not prison, not poverty or homelessness or death....just a little social rub? the thought makes me sick, and yet, i'm guilty. i even try to think myself out of guilt by saying things like, "well, maybe it's more impacting for others to see quiet acts of love than for me to have a debate with them"...and i think this might be true, but when given the chance for a conversation, this thought is not a reason to dodge my responsibility to represent God's love.

last saturday i met a few new people and invited them to an art show my friend was in. it was in la in a place i'd never been. it was a late event and the way there was through dark alley ways and barely marked roads. So these guys i'd barely met actually made it and as we were talking the jokes started...about the gross hobos and bums and how they had to lock their doors and there was some homeless shelter or something right around the corner and what a crappy area we were in...and the general response was laughter between these 4 guys. I think they were pretty confused at my response. I just walked away. and in my head and heart i was infuriated and repulsed by them. and the posture of my heart toward them probably looked quite similar at the time to the way they felt about homeless people. and for that I am sorry.

I spent the next 2 days wrestling with what I should have done. On the way to church the next day i had a conversation out loud with them in my car and said all the things I should have said, about how homelessness can be and often is all the things that they said, gross and disgusting and smelly and scary...and therefore, it is absolutely not a point of comedy, but instead should cause our hearts to break and our lives to reach out. I wish i would have at least have had the courage to introduce another way of thinking than the one i'm sure they've been handed down their whole lives....instead of avoiding the social friction that might have caused a few splinters...for me or for them.

if you know me, you've probably noticed that i'm a pretty opinionated person. and i'm not sure when that happened. I hold strong positions on lots of issues....but I try to be respectful and understanding of the fact that those are not universal beliefs. sunday during second hour we talked about the abrasive Christian that has basically forgotten how to love because the point has become resistance instead of the point being love and Christ-likeness, which will often result in opposition, but should still come forth from love. I don't want a vegan bumper sticker. I don't want to scream at a group of guys about how wrong they are to dehumanize beautiful people who happen to live on the street, and no matter how many times i gently suggest an alternate shopping location, my family can get groceries from walmart if they really want to. BUT, am I too gentle??? did i miss an opportunity to help change what i believe to be absolutely false (but most likely ignorant) ideas about homelessness?

i want splinters. i don't want money. i want to value others' lives. i don't want comfort. i don't want prestige. i don't want to be socially polite. i want Jesus.

Monday, February 25, 2008

sodoku take two

i got to hillcrest about 4 minutes late today...walked into a room full of anxiously awaiting smiles. it was the best feeling. i hear a million thank you's, and we laugh and have a good time...but it was such a tangible reminder to me that it matters to them. we played sodoku for reals...and i'm excited for a new series of games--movie trivia crosswords starting on friday. favorite movies in the group include grease, rain man, forest gump (oh geeze), and i spy. p.s. if anyone out in internet land has great ideas for fun games that somehow use memory throw a comment out.

sometimes i think i exhaust myself by trying to be profound. life is just beautiful. i ran at sunset tonight. i played a softball game with friends (we won). i'm going to drink hot chocolate as i walk to the video store. i had a hilarious conversation with my roommate about how he's practicing spanish by watching thunder cats in spanish (gatos de cosmos!!...imagine this being sung/yelled by a 6'4" giant man in plaid). I wished my grandma a happy birthday and talked about the beautiful weather with a friendly clerk at trader joes. Nothin fancy...nothing profound at first glance...just beautiful life.

Thanks God.

Friday, February 22, 2008

sodoku gone wrong.

awesome day today. I've been doing new things lately, but we came back to sodoku today for Ron's sake. it's one of the games he really loves...i put it all up on the wall and had my markers ready...and soon realized i'd forgotten to write down some of the #s we needed to start with...which means there's really no way to solve it apart from guessing or sheer genius. I am not a genius, so after a long but fun 40 minutes of playing seriously we moved to a speed sodoku round of guessing and yelling and scribbled letters and laughing. i was exhausted after 4 minutes...and we didn't guess i just collapsed on the ground laughing at our failed mess of blue and green numbers and lines on the wall...and it was great.

I've been overwhelmed with gratitude lately. and flooded with a sense of abundance in my life in relationships, joy, beauty, and daily provision. at hillcrest, work, home, church, and in solitude.

the Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

known, and loved.

i wrote this email to a friend a while ago and never sent it...but i came across it today and it's still true...

have you ever sat in someone's office for 2 hours, talked back and forth about everything important in your life and theirs without any fear or censorship...and just let your wandering mind spill out of your mouth knowing that you were understood and loved? and felt so absolutely welcomed, appreciated, known and cared for...known for who you were as an immature, apathetic freshmen 5 and a half years ago; an obsessive compulsive, perfectionistic, competitive stress case 4 years ago; a frustrated, confused mess of questions about the world and God 3 years ago; an impassioned, driven senior in wonderment and in love with life; a lost, scared, homeless post graduate who isn't sure how to be happy or loving but just knows she's in need of love; and now as someone who's slowly figuring out life and finally seeing some congruency between thought and heart and action if only in small windows of life and seeing some beauty in the whole mess of it all...???? to sit in this man's office, surrounded by the presence of someone who has known your heart through so much pain, joy, struggle, triumph, fear, confusion, and peace is i think a very very microscopic piece of what it is to be known by my father in heaven. which is nuts! because it feels so tangibly real...and the whole world i live in today can be contained in the hole that remains when a single blade of grass is plucked out of the ground in heaven... As much as long beach really is becoming home...i haven't felt more at home in a quite a while than i did yesterday in an office filled from floor to ceiling (literally) with old books and the presence of a wonderful servant of God. to be have hard questions asked of look into someone's eyes and know the question that's being asked without it actually ever being have someone I have a respect for that I attempt but fail to explain, take such care with the things he says to preface the truth that he's about to speak with "i don't feel the privilege to speak to very many people in this manner...." he considers it a privilege??? and to be trusted with his life...his family...his thoughts and wisdom! i want to learn to love like this man.

anyway...that's one story from my life lately...the rest involve a suspended bridge, stopping traffic, long talks with an old roomate as i drift to sleep, colors and music and dancing and a happy marriage for two friends...the beauty of the earth, rain that soaks your clothes, and baskets made by some villagers in oaxaca, mexico. ya know...the usual.

everyday i wake up is beautiful in a new way lately...not always happy or secure or really understandable...but beautiful (even if it takes me a few days going by to appreciate it).

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

simple wonders.

with a million things on my heart lately and rising levels of anxiety about the future, my family, school....i retreated to a park by the water Sunday afternoon. I don't know how 5 hours went by. i never dozed off or anything...but it wasn't until the sun started to set and the air became cold that I thought, maybe i should walk those 2 miles back to my car now...
Amidst my questions and fears I saw God. In a little girl playing chase and laughing with her mom, bees moving from flower to flower at my eye level as I lay in the grass, the sound of the water against the rocks, the warm sun on my skin, the couple speaking to each other in German not far from me, the words I read in a book that seemed to give language to my own heart, the voice of my sister on the phone: "where are you?" "a park" "alone?" "yeah", "what's up?..." that's love. that's being able to respond, hearing what's never said, and desiring to be there with someone in their distress. I'm so grateful to have someone in my life who gets me like that...who knows what only someone who grew up alongside you could know.
:) i was struck the other day with a childhood memory. this is the typical series of events that would transpire whenever we would be sent to our rooms as punishment for fighting with each other: a maximum of about 5 minutes would pass before one of us would hear a tiny voice rising from the air vent in the floor. the other one would crawl over to the corner of her room, remove the metal box and through the shaft that connected our rooms we would tell each other we were sorry and we loved each other...I'm so grateful for my sister. she's been through what i've been through. she sees what i sometimes can't, we have seasons (some last years, some days) of trading off in our roles as nurturer, receiver, learner, teacher, voice of reason, and voice of idealism. and as different as we are...our souls are very much connected.

I saw God in the fact that time continues to move forward and all things always seem to rest in the hands of someone bigger than me. and as I let that time pass by me, I sat in wonder.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

and then?????

why are we always worried about the future??
couple of thoughts...a while ago i was in the office of one of the most influential people in my life. he was my pastor when I was 4 years old, my professor and pastor again during college, and now a dear friend. He's known my family's situation and has listened with love and patience as I shake my fists at God, find peace in some new bit of wisdom, and (recently) planted new seeds of direction to think about. with only that requirement, that I think about it. I live 1700 miles away from my family. and i'm the only one at Christmas who doesn't live within a 20 mile radius of my mom and gramma's, dad, and gramma's house. ahhhhhh. my gramma's been a nurse all of her life....and now she's my dad's care-taker...and it's visibly wearing on her. my mom works overtime just about every week of her life. my dad watches baseball and keeps life interesting for everyone else. and this past christmas home had my mind reeling with the question, why am I in california?
I'm so happy here. i love my life....and when I go "home" to oklahoma, i don't feel like myself. I'm loved and accepted and appreciated...and i love my family. but I often can't talk about the issues i'm passionate about without eyes glazing one wants to go for a run through a park...there isn't a population of need like the one i love to serve out here. I can't ride my bike to school and work....i can't get anywhere really without getting in a car...that's just due to distance...forget the crazy oklahoma weather. i'm a different person there...oddly enough home is no longer home...
the idea's in my head...and even if i don't really like it, I'll go where God leads. i've got a few years to let that one sink in i think...

i just spent a few hours searching for full time jobs. on you pick categories of interest....i think my problem is i'm too interested. isn't there one category for homelessness/women's issues/children/education/green living/and mental health???? i graduate in now I'm tossing back and forth weights on the grad school scale again. private school: integrated theology and psychology programs like rosemead and fuller that i would love to be in, but more time, more money, maybe closer to home so i wouldn't need to move again... public: less time, less money, ability to see the real world outside of my christian bubble....but i don't really think i've lived in a christian bubble since loma at all....hmmmmm.

for now, i'm a shrimp shack waitress. i live in a green house. i love the people i serve in my city. i'm trying to learn about empathy and compassion and share what i find with the world. i have beautiful friends who teach me how to love better everyday by the way that they love. home is a pretty relative concept at this point.

i'm at peace.