Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wherever You Go, You Take Yourself

Skype is amazing. Truly, a gift from God.

I told Surrogate/Adopted Dad last night that it was the only thing that kept me sane toward the end of living in Papua New Guinea. There is a powerful difference between reading someone's typewritten, standard font words on a screen and their unique, personal sound waves as they resonate over their vocal chords into your attentive ears. Oh, to hear my sister's unsuspecting voice on the other end of the phone was a moment I will not easily forget. I think I might have wept tears of simple pleasure and joy.

Aside from the occasional chat with my sister (who is frequently on Skype in the midst of her long-distance engagement), Skype has been nearly eradicated in my life. Until this week. Dear friend Heather has called me not once, but twice! And the second time, dear friend Aimee was with her! It was like a 2-for-1 deal. Two friends, one video chat conversation. So many emotions, giggles, updates, prayer requests, teasing remarks, and fleeting moments of life were shared over the great thing called video chat. 

One strand of commonality the three of us have shared since our initial friendship is college is that of a desire to see foreign people know the Lord. We have all had a desire to serve outside our own American culture, and Heather and Aimee are there right now. They're living the life that I envy even though I know that it's mostly romanticized in my mind. We were revisiting my discontentment with current said life during our 17 minutes of video chat bliss this morning. They are on one side of the experience, me on the other. Heather said something that struck a chord in me, particularly meaningful coming from the other side of reality in real-time life. "Wherever you go, you still take yourself." You still take your sin. You still take your discontentment. You still take your "woe is me"'s. You still take your pet peeves and "the grass is always greener" attitudes. We talked about 100 reasons to be discontent in America versus 100 reasons to be discontent in Africa. They're different reasons, but the reality is that "wherever you go, you still take yourself."

The point is, though our circumstances change around us, our contentment lies not in those circumstances. Our contentment lies in our own self-pleasure with the Lord. Speaking on contentment, Alistair Begg says, "the key is in distinguishing between external circumstances and an internal relationship with God." Alistair reminds us, in light of Psalm 139, that our changing circumstances are to be viewed in light of what is true of God:
  1. He made me (v 13)
  2. He knows me (vv 1-5)
  3. He hems me from behind and before (vv 5, 7-10, 15-16)
  4. My times are in His hands (v 3)
  5. He is always with me (vv 7-10)
  6. He is favorably disposed to those who are His children (vv 17-18)


There's some food for thought.
Now that I've totally derailed from the original post topic and am horrible at writing conclusions...ONWARD.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wise Men Relocation

This is my mom's nativity scene. She hand-painted each ceramic figurine some time ago before marriage and children. She also crafted the manger from popsicle craft sticks. Vintage, I know.
 But what she doesn't realize missing is....the three wise men. 
They were relocated to the east.


Because the wise men were not present at Jesus' birth. It took them 2 years to get to Him. 


Side note: No where in the Bible does it state that there were three wise men. That tradition comes from the fact that Christ was given three gifts (gold, frankincense, and myrrh) by the wise men who arrived.



So Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, and the lone shepherd eagerly await the three wise men from this nativity set.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ironic...or just plain sad?

I own over 2,000 recorded songs through iTunes, and I continue to ignore them in light of Pandora giving me more of a "new variety." Is this a reflection of discontentment, of desiring that which I do not have? Or is it just an observation? I want to be careful to not be legalistic, but I think there's a thought to be processed here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Yikes!!


I officially mailed all my medical records to Washington, D. C. yesterday.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

If I Weren't a Christian....

....would I be a hippie?

Phil asked me this question a couple of nights ago. I laughed it off as visions of tree-hugging, long-hair and flowy-skirt going, government-protesting, animal rights activists flashed through my mind.

No.

I would not be a hippie if I weren't a Christian.

Then I told my "adopted" dad about this question. His reply was, "Of course you would be!"
Sheesh. His primary reason was that I "run around barefoot" all the time. What he doesn't know is that I usually see him after a full day of teaching in high-heels and HAVE to have some sort of relief for my poor feet....in the form of no shoes. And I only "run around barefoot" indoors, anyway. So there.


 I didn't really pay attention to Phil's reasons for asking the question, but I think it has to do with my picky eating habits of mostly organic food. 


So does that make everyone who eats organic an automatic hippie? I eat organic (and no sugar, grains, dairy, or legumes) for health reasons. I've read enough and experienced enough to conclude that the said above foods are no bueno for humans.


I especially don't like long skirts. Even cute ones like this:

  
And, though I think that having to take showers is annoying, I gladly do so out of respect for myself and others around me.


I'm not an environmental activist. Yes, I care about the earth, but I don't think that we're causing an epidemic of global warming. I do, however, think that we are mucking up the system that God provided us with. We are playing with and altering things that we weren't meant to. Genetically modifying foods and cloning live cells I am not such a huge fan of. Because we are trying to take life into our own hands. It's a stewardship issue to me. We're not being good stewards of what God has given us. I suppose that if I didn't have a Christian worldview, I would be a "hippie" in that sense. I appreciate the farm and feel like I can breathe better in the natural environment. God has given us all that we need for life and godliness! We don't need to add anything to it.

I actually really don't like animals. True story. I admire them, certainly. But I'm not one to "ohhh" and "ahhhh" at pictures of puppies and kittens. It probably all started with my childhood adulthood fear of dogs. And horses. My sisters were all up in the animal business. Not me. I was the only one who never wanted a dog as a kid and never took horse lessons at the riding stables down the street. Nope, too much risk of being mauled and hurt. I'll appreciate them from a distance, thank you very much. For what it's worth, even though this won't help my argument at all, I prefer bugs. Bugs are cool. Barely any of them can do you harm, and they're a tiny part of our ecosystem! My personal favorite is the rhinoceros beetle. We saw them all over the place in Papua New Guinea. 

And geckos are pretty cool, too:


I ride my bike to work and for other occasional errands for the exercise factor. And because it saves gas in my car. If I'm going to go to work then go to the gym afterward, why not just ride my bike to and from work and cut the gym out later? We can kill faaaar too many birds with that stone. (Told you I don't like animals.)


I make my own clothes (sometimes) because I like to be original. And creative. In fact, I usually base my designs off of modern things I've seen by top designers and high-end fashion stores. Why pay more when you can make it for pennies? This girl has been the most recent inspiration.


One more thought. My sister was telling me about a War and Peace lecture course she took in college. One of the men chosen to lecture was an editor of a magazine. He lectured about keeping peace through sustainability. If each country is self-sustainable, his theory was that there would be no need for war. If any given people group can grow their own food, supply their own energy, and be self-reliant, then they're not depending on anyone else. They won't end up fighting with others that they're sharing with (because they're not sharing anything). He was so convinced of this that he put it into practice of his daily life. He did this by:

     - not owning a car (rode his bike almost everywhere and used public transportation when needed)
     - locavore in food choices (bought food only from within 100-mile radius of his house)
     - bought goods second-hand or from companies he knew were sustainable
     - used renewable resources


Hearing about this man's lifestyle was rather inspiring. Would you call him a hippie? Probably not. Just a conscious consumer. Who is doing us all a favor. I want to be like him. I want to be a good steward of what God has given me. I want to be wise with the resources that are in my direct (and indirect) care. Because of my love for the Lord.


Ok, Phil. You win. I would probably be a "hippie" if I weren't Christian. A non-pot smoking, shoe-wearing, and showering hippie. I might even have a hippie headband that I wear sometimes. Might.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thinking

I can't believe that almost a month has slipped by without a post. Goes to prove how much free time I schedule. Or how much brain activity is left at the end of the day.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. I took a critical thinking math class in college and one of our first assignments was to write a paper on "thinking." It was a broad topic and didn't really have an outline. We just went at it. Whatever we wanted to write and research about thinking found its way into that assignment. I'm a thinker. Not always in a positive way, and it leads me to over analyze situations (which I then further analyze) at times. And one time when we were little my sister got upset with me and told me that I think too much. I still haven't forgotten that one. Still wonder if I think too much.

I have waaaay to many thoughts to sit down and share, so here's a little glimpse of what's been consuming my thought life of recent: 



About...

          ...parenting.
          ...quiet times in the morning.
          ...harboring bitterness in my heart.
          ...self-control.
          ....putting off sin and putting on righteousness.
          ...thankfulness for the Christians in my life.
          ...what it truly means to be a Christian (ie, salvation, sanctification, et al).
          ...Africa.
          ...this temporal life.
          ...finances and money.
          ...health.
          ...time management.
          ...priorities.
          ...speaking only half-truths.
          ...balance in professional and casual business relationships.
          ...bugs (yes, insects. They're so cool).
          ...South Bay Los Angeles.
          ...my sister's wedding.
          ...personal acts of worship.
          ...submitting to God's will, practically.
          ...submitting to authority, even when I don't agree.
          ...undermining, subliminal effects of our government.
          ...giving up coffee, even though I only drink decaf.
          ...whether or not to give up running after the next race.
          ...how thankful I am to not be a kindergarten teacher.
          ...contentment.
          ...how to make life more simple.
          ...Jim Elliot and his passion for the unsaved.
          ...what really matters.
          ...how fearfully and wonderfully we have been created.
          ...all the craft ideas that are in my brain.
          ...what to name my design label.
          ...certain friends from my past.
          ...why I care so much about aesthetics and the way things look.
          ...why I am intimidated by a certain administrator.
          ...making friendships significant and intentional.
          ...heaven.
          ...how to get away from the noise in Valencia to have a decent quiet time.
          ...using resources wisely.
          ...learning to speak Spanish more effectively.
          ...Mexico.
          ...what I really desire.
          ...what God is calling me to right here and right now.
          ...how incredible my parents are.
          ...all the knowledge around me and how to best take advantage of it.
          ...Hebrews.
          ...waking up early tomorrow for the sake of high school ministry.
          ...how abnormality creates more room to direct others toward Christ.

...among a host of other things.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What do I know of Holy?

I've been addicted to this song for the past month or so.

And because live music is my favorite (it's just so...raw): Enjoy the harmonica. Ponder the lyrics.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I Accept

I rose to your challenge, Davi.

Your post was just the inspiration I needed to finish off the blank white (gasp) wall in my bedroom.

Thank you!



The Endless Summer sign was a birthday gift from the Standifers.
Not only is it super cool, it also holds a lot of sentimental value.


I found the 4 frames at Salvation Army, all in the same trip.
My strategy was to find frames with the most texture. It worked!
They cost about $5 total.
The paint color matching machine was not in working order,
but I was determined to finish the project I had come to start!

I was looking for something to make my room a little more bright 
and cheerful. This fit the ticket, exactly!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Awesome Austin!

On Tuesday afternoon I got to meet my 15-year-old cousin at the beach in Santa Barbara. He was there with a friend's family.


The day was slightly overcast, which made for great pictures!
I haven't seen Austin in a number of years, and we re-connected over his Dad's wedding in June.
He is a cool kid with a lot of negative influence in his life (not to throw the baby out with the bath water; he definitely has positive influences, too).

It was funny to me that, after his dad's wedding, he was concerned that he wouldn't be able to hang out with me in the immediate future. Alas, when I found out he was going to be in Santa Barbara, there I was! We boogie-boarded it up, he taught me to throw a lacrosse ball, and what's a trip to the beach without someone getting buried?


We ended up going to State Street to walk around, enjoy the farmer's market, fro-yo, and conversation. He even humored me by accompanying me to Anthropologie! (My camera's battery failed after about the first 30 minutes, so there's a lack of pictures from the rest of our visit.)

It was really interesting to interact with a 15 year-old-boy. I never had brothers, and I guess my other cousin never let me on to what he was really thinking...GIRLS. It seemed like every 30 seconds he asked, "what do you think about that one?" or "Would you ever...with a guy?"

WOW! I was pretty surprised.

The cool part was that he was pretty open to talking about relationships and the why's and what matters the most's in them. I won't go into detail, but he text messaged me later that evening about the more serious things we talked through.


Thanks, Austin, for letting me hang out with you!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lives....Wasted

From the magazine Better Homes & Gardens:

"The average teenager spends practically every waking minute outside of school using a smartphone, computer, television,or other electronic device. So says the Kaiser Family Foundation, which found that children ages 8-18 used such devices for more than seven and a half hours a day."

I'd like to know: Seven and a half hours?! Looking at what??

Thursday, July 15, 2010

In Regards to Health...

Someone emailed me this quote and I thought I'd share:

"Recovery [from illness, injury, et al] is just like fixing a house. A crack in the foundation requires raw materials to patch things back together. In the body, those raw materials come from what we eat."

- Cynthia Sass, R. D.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Father's Day Weekend

I had the pleasure of joining my family for Father's Day weekend last week. What a great time we had!

I drove up north with Anna and she dropped me off to my sisters in Rhonert Park. We ate at Chunky's Mexican food before heading over to Sac Town. Chunky's did not agree with my stomach. However, based on local raving reviews, I think it has a lot of potential.









We drove from Rhonert Park to Sacramento that afternoon. It had been 6 months since we had all been together.


That night we had a mini Father's Day dessert celebration. I am thankful for my dad!



On Saturday morning my sister's friend Kayla gave us the grand tour of Denio's Farmer's Market. Because of family history, we had never ventured to this local attraction. It was quite the experience.


Kayla explained the market set-up to us perfectly: About 1/3 of the "Farmer's Market" is produce and local people selling their food goods.



I couldn't figure out what these (left) were. They were labeled as squash. Looking back, I should have bought one and cut it open to find out! Sarah is happily choosing corn to take home (right). Yum!





The Pomelos (a variety of grapefruit) were HUGE!






The middle third of the "farmer's market" is like a swap meet with people selling new goods (anything from baskets to wedding gowns and rolls of bulk material to knick-knacks. The last third is like a giant garage sale. It was like the "farmer" was getting further from the "market" the further we strayed from the entrance. This is a picture of about 1,000 kids' meal toys someone was trying to sell. I was amazed at how many there were to choose from. It would be some kid's dream! Now I know where to go to stock up for my classroom treasure box.

On Saturday evening we went to my uncle's house for his 2nd marriage wedding reception. It was a beautiful Sacramento summer evening outside, and our family could not be more happy for Uncle Pat and his new bride, Lisa. I had a fantastic time hanging out with my younger cousin, Austin, for the first time in about 8 years. No exaggeration. The last time I saw him, I think he was 8 or 9 years old. A lot changes from age 8 to 15 1/2.


Our new families:

from left to right: Austin, Cheyenne (Lisa's daughter), my mom, me, Lisa, Uncle Pat, Megan, Sarah, Dad, and Tamsen in the very front.

We spent Sunday together as a family and took Tamsen back home to Rhonert Park. On Monday afternoon I flew back to Los Angeles to resume life as it is.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ensenada Loft Trip May 2010


Here are some pictures of our recent Hands of Mercy Loft Home build.
Since a picture is worth 1,000 words, I'll let the photographs speak for themselves.

Gilberto y Maria, our expectation is that this home and the ministry that made it possible will draw you closer to the God who provided it for you.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Crazy Random Happenstance

I think the last (and only) time I was emotionally, physically moved during corporate worship through music was in high school. I was some 14 or 15 years old, standing around our school's flagpole on the national day of prayer referred to as See You at the Pole. An upperclassman led the popular song Shout to the Lord. As my vocals blended in with the other twenty-some people present, I couldn't help but lift my hands upward in surrender and humility. Literally, it was like they were thinking for themselves. My heart has never physically felt more full. As soon as it started, it stopped. I'll never forget that snipet of my life.

It's something that I crave, something I wish I could be more like others in. I am envious of watching others lay everything aside to bask in the presence of their Savior during corporate worship though music.

Waaaay too often I'm more focused on the lyrics, the sounds, the people around me, the whatevers. I pretty much gave up on trying to make genuine worship a mental discipline. I think it's an individual issue that each worshipper struggles with. Worship matters. I don't take it lightly. But sometimes I think I think about it too much, thus disallowing myself to be emotionally moved to the point of natural physical reactions.

I cried during worship today.

Today was different. Something new crossed my life's spiritual path. It was probably the combination of enjoying an "acoustic" worship experience, followed by an off-the-charts (encouraging, humbling, biblically accurate, much needed, gently delivered) sermon, followed by another acoustic hymn that did it to me. God opened my heart to respond to His truths.

This post is to say thank you to David, a guest lead worshipper at a church I was a guest at this morning. I know little about you. That's okay. I could go on and on about why I think your song choices, musical talent, and raw presence added to the experience. But it's not necessary. I just want you to know that something about the circumstances and your love for the Lord was moving. It was contagious.

The Lord used your surrendered life to move His people this morning.

Thank you for being sensitive to the Spirit.

Praise be to God.

Friday, April 30, 2010

My Sister got Engaged....

...and I came THIS close to spoiling the surprise.

Let me explain.

RARELY do I check my email in the morning. However, this morning I was ahead of schedule, syncing my iPod for new music I purchased last night, and decided that I may as well check my email while the music was transferring.

I had a whopping 2 new messages. One was from my mother. The subject line read: "GREAT NEWS!!!!!!!!!" (I literally copied & pasted that.) Of course I opened it immediately! Mom went on for two or three sentences that I was to call my older sister that night to ask her about the great news. I let out an "ugh!" because I thought I missed something big last night. (She and her boyfriend have been discussing engagement possibilities, gone ring shopping, et al. I definitely missed something BIG yesterday.)

With a bitter attitude growing inside I dialed my sister's digits.
I was met by a chirpy, "Hey, Kate!" on the other end.
"So, Mom says you have good news to share."

Silence.
Awesome.

"Uhhhh, I don't know what she's talking about."
"Are you sure? You're not engaged or anything?"
"No, David & I are went ring shopping, like I told you, and though nothing's set yet, we're still thinking about sometime around Thanksgiving."
With panic in my voice I asked, "He wouldn't propose to you over Skype, would he??" (David lives in another state. Thank you, eHarmony.)
Laughing, "No. He wouldn't."
"Ooooookkkkkaaaaaaaayyyy. Maybe mom's just off her rocker. I'll call her and ask what she's talking about."

As I hung up with my sister I read the time that my mother had sent the email. A mere 30 minutes previous to the above conversation. Oops! Mom had meant to call Sarah tonight! Not last night!! My reputation of the family secret ruin-er was forever sealed in stone. Greeaat.

Fortunately, all is well that ends well. David flew in to CA this afternoon, our little sister ushered him to Sarah's apartment, and he was graced by her nonsuspicious presence as she arrived home from work. He proposed in her apartment, complete with roses and a ring. She said YES!

Now that I've had a chance to publically defend myself,

Congratulations, Sarah & Daivd. I love you!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Salt Produces Thirst

The Dodger's chaplain came to speak at my school's chapel yesterday.

Speaking to an audience with an age range of 5 years old to 50+ years (including teachers & administration) has always seemed like a daunting task to me. Since chapel is for the purpose of exposing our students to the Truth, our speakers do quite well at catering to the 12-and-under crowd. I have come to appreciate their simple messages.

Mr. Rodriguez spoke to our school about the Sermon on the Mount yesterday. He explained why Christ referred to His disciples as "salt and light" and proceeded to review the purposes of salt and light, practically. With no intention to undermine or strip significance from these truths, it was nothing that I hadn't heard before. Then Mr. Rodriguez asked the audience,

"What happens when we eat a lot of salt?"

He had my intrigue.

"It makes you thirsty,"

replied one second-grader.

Salt produces thirst. Hmm.

When the world is saturated in our "saltiness" of the faith, it produces a thirst that can only be quenched by the Water of Life.

It was so refreshing to think about!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pismo Beach with the Germans

My aunt and uncle from Germany were in California this past week. I met up with them, my grandparents and my dad in Pismo Beach. It was so lovely!
I led them up towards San Luis to a state park, Montana de Oro.
We hiked about a quarter of a mile through eucalyptus trees to get to the cliffs overlooking the ocean.This is what met us at the clearing. We were probably a good 200' above the water.

Epic, Uncle Uwe, epic.


If you look closely, you can see Morro Rock in the background.
Montana de Oro is at the south end of Morro Bay.


We left my grandparents to hike up the hill.
You could spend days hiking around the cliffs and dunes out there.


Later we went to a cove where dad & his brother took to:


Rock Art.


I mean [insert: British accent] Rock Aaarrhhhhttttt.

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