Tuesday, December 8, 2009

a heart of gratitude.

You'd think after all the research i've done on virtue theory and moral emotions that i'd be a pro by now...
The other day I took the time to read the past few months of journal entries and saw a trend of general pessimism and negativity. I saw daily stress and unexpected, expensive events as legitimate reasons to feel completely defeated and helpless. And i remember praying several times to God to give me a true spirit of gratitude. I knew that I could muster up a list of reasons to be thankful...but I longed to feel truley, naturally grateful for life.
I wish I could say that I arrived at this state even in the midst of all my trials. Of course, it came later as I was relieved of some financial burdens, as I drove the car purchased to replace my wrecked one, and as I sat in a warm, loving home that has recently been opened up to me...and after my landlord decided he was going to help us clean our apartment to rentable condition so we could get back our deposit, and then proceeded to wash our cars for us (who is this guy???). But regardless of how I came to this peaceful and grateful state, I was recently asked by a friend who sat next to me in church, "how's life?" and I paused and sincerely answered, "really really good". he was suprised at my enthusiasm, and so was I.

God is so good to us, even when we are so untrusting and humanly afraid of the world.

Friday, August 21, 2009

count 'em...10

meet the bridesmaids! i forgot to take pictures of them before i dressed them up...but you shouldn't want to see them in their underpants anyways!!! :)
Susie, Hanna, Chelsea, Morgan, Kristin

Christi, Christa, Sarah, Kamian, and Allison

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

One Big Update

It's been just a little while, so I thought I'd catch some people up...
First and most exciting...Tim and I are engaged!!  He proposed on top of Mt. Zion near Pasadena on August 1st.  It was the first place we'd ever hiked together last November.  We were conveniently alone on that first hike, but still just friends then.  This time there was a surprise waiting for me at the top...you can read the full story soon on our webpage that is yet to be created.  :)  For now we're enjoying all the fun things that come with being engaged and waiting patiently for April to come.  we currently make bets on a weekly basis with the stakes being how we will be announced on the wedding day.  When I win, we will be introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Chelle Stephens.  or Tim and Chelle Neilsen in the unlikely event that he wins.  I've lost twice so far...

In other news...I'm still working for ACES and feel very confident and happy there.  I'll probably be there for a few years while Tim finishes up school for Media Productions.  He's shot some really beautiful weddings lately and created a promotional documentary of the Colorado Lagoon's Art Walk a few months ago.  I've watched each video multiple times and continue to be shocked and impressed at his talent and creativity!

We recently went home to Oklahoma for the weekend and saw all kinds of fun farm animals, listened to old records with Dad, rock climbed at my favorite spot, and spent some great time with family and friends.  and found out that I'm going to be an auntie soon!!!!  I'm still working on Christi to let me dress up baby Earley and stroll it down the isle in a wagon. :)  Mom and Gramma are beaming and dusting off their rocking chair that they restored years ago in anticipation. :)

Life is very very good, and I'm so grateful for so much.  I'm also reading a wonderful book, To Heal a Broken World by Rabbi Sacks.  It's inspiring and challenging.  and that is what I crave in life.  you should read it.  you'll become a better person for it. :)

that's about it...more pictures are on Tim's facebook if you want to see our seattle trip or a picture of an Oklahoman buffalo. :)

take care friends.

Monday, April 20, 2009

unlikely surroundings.

i realized about a week ago that my first case in the mornings is just a short jaunt off the LA river bike trail. and so I head out for about 10mi each way on my morning commute. It was a glorious ride today. I saw bunnies, lizards, native flowers, terns, cranes, horses, egrets, glistening waters....all off of the LA river bed. who knew? this is one corner of my world that keeps me sane lately...the beauty of the earth.

grace and peace be with you friends.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

it's been a while...

So i've obviously been busy lately...leaving little time to the interwebs. and i love it. if you're still reading out there, i'm amazed. :)
life is really good. i have much to be grateful for...as always. Tim and I are on day 16 of a 21 day daniel fast. i want coffee...he wants beer. but it's been good to practice discipline and sacrifice these past 2 weeks. my character feels stronger. :) I've also been getting more hours with aces, which has given me a lot to think about/experience...and then try to integrate into my real life. It's funny how we do this...i've always been perplexed at the varying levels of sharing we all do regarding work. In fact I was asking a friend a little about work last night and the more i probed into details the more closed up he got...not because it was confidential or rude, but just out of the ordinary for anyone to car about the mundane details. On the flip side...when I desire to share about my work day I often censor or summarize myself into a trite little statement about whether it was generally a good or bad day. I think I've been taught that this is polite...when people ask about your day, they may or may not want a real answer, and so the art of conversation (i've gathered) is to decide how much they really meant to ask that question. I usually opt for an easy out for them so they don't feel weird. But the problem with this is, my work is intense and it gets inside of me and messes me up a little. on good days it gets inside of me and makes me rejoice for these kids who are learning how to make contact with their world. But I can't communicate that, 1)because my story telling is too detailed and lenghtly to ever stay on the safe side of social politeness, and 2) it's illegal for me to say too much...confidentiality and all....wa wa waaa.
anyhow, as i reconcile this my prayer is to really care about these kids and their lives. to figure out how to be a professional teacher to them, but also a loving person in their lives who longs to see them talk and laugh and play freely from the restraints of thier disability as they would in a new creation.
that's about it for me these days. this song was sung at church on easter and I have loved it for a very long time. it makes my soul groan with the groanings of the earth to be restored.

I see the King of Glory, coming on the clouds with fire;
The whole earth shakes, the whole earth shakes.
People of every nation kneeling to confess your name;
The people sing, the people sing.

Hosanna, hosanna,
Hosanna int he highest!
Hosanna, hosanna,
Hosanna in the highest!

Until you come in glory we are called to spread your name
By bringing truth, by bringing hope,
Bringing your restoration, bringing life where death prevails.
And all will say, and all will say;

You will finish all you have begun
When Christ returns in glory and your kingdom comes,
So help me live a life that points the way to your throne.
Living for the day when you restore the world.

take care and live well friends.

Monday, March 2, 2009

these days

these days im working about 7 days a week between 3 jobs...still waiting on job 4...the autism gig to kick in once the dept. of justice determines that i am in fact not a threat to small children. in the midst of lots of hard work though i am so grateful. for fun dates, an ice cream cone at rite aid, warm weather, silly valentines from my sister, bike rides, life groups, wonderful roommates, and time to be productive.

Friday, January 30, 2009

a big kid job.

that's right. i'm growing up. I start training next week to be a behavioral interventionist for kids with autism. wooohooo. thanks for all the prayers and help from friends and family. i'm excited for a new adventure in adulthood. that's it for now. my feet and body are tired from a day of shrimpin'.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

a shadow mission

So sunday Lou talked about our mission, how our mission is tied to our identity and spent some time in Ephesians 1 showing this. and then he read a quote that described what happens when we fail to follow our mission...we default to a shadow mission. It's often not 180 degrees in the wrong direction..but five or ten....and over time, we end up very far from the place or mission we're intended to be on. and along the way "we betray our deepest values while the world goes to hell."

I sell shrimp. This is my existence. sure i do other things...and for a while i found a great deal of meaning and purpose in my time at different non-profits and hospitals, in my community and my church...in being a vegan who is a vegan for humanitarian and religious reasons of care and compassion...i value much and for a long long time have been sustained by the belief that these things matter enough to keep me going.

these days i'm depressed. i feel like with each day i'm further and further from where i'm really supposed to be. bubba gump shrimp company for 2 and a half years??? are you kidding me??? sure it pays bills...sometimes. and of all the places to exist in survival mode, it's as good as any i suppose....but what the hell??? this goes well beyond monotany or burn out on a single thing for too long. it's not what i'm intended to do. it's not what i want my existence to be. I feel like running away and joining the peace corps again. but this time it's not to escape unrequited love or awkward friendships or sheer boredom...its because i NEED to be helping people. i don't feel inspired. i don't feel pushed. i've said this privately to people who are close enough to me to see past what seems to be arrogance, but here goes public internet people...i'm sick of being admired, i want to be challenged. i don't want to convice myself that life here is good and purposeful for me based on the evidence of x y and z. i want to run whole-heartedly to the corners of the world where God's people are in real need. i care very little these days for a traditional life of marriage and family and financial security and success and prestige. i just want Jesus. I don't care what city i'm in or what country i'm in or what degree i have or how big my house is or how much human love i'm even surrounded by.

my people pleasing tendencies re-read this post with a sensitivity to my close friends who are my support and community and inspiration...and because they're my closest friends i trust that they'll recieve these words with grace and understanding....so i won't edit or apologize.

where are you Jesus!!!!!? why is anita back in the hospital?? why do the hungry still wander the streets? why do i exist??? why have i experienced pain?? why am i a narcissist???????? why do you hide your face from your people? why does this world value money and fame? why does pain and suffering spread like a disease???

Lord, have mercy on your children.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

today i am more healed and whole than i was yesterday.

the last 12 hours of my life have been filled to the brim with kindness and tender care and concern and overwhelming love for and from the people closest to me. A wonderful talk with a wonderful man last night slipped into deep slumber which was awakened by a roommate's gentle hand on my shoulder waking me up for prayer. We didn't want to stop praying. Man God meets us in those morning hours. It's crazy beautiful. My soul yearns for it. We picked another roommate up on the way to viento where i was reminded for the thousandth time that i live with and around some incredible people. who love whole-heartedly and actively work to become better people...not for pride's sake or prestige or admiration...but because love is our goal. love and not fear. love and not pain. love and not apathy, not greed, not complaint, just love. love that heals and grows and stretches and forgives and asks and receives and offers and nurtures and creates. Thanks God. I'm grateful beyond what words can express.