Check out my other blog: Arugula Addict! I'll be writing about my journey to becoming a healthier person.

Thursday, December 31, 2009


Okay, so I had an amazing title for today's blog, but it's completely slipped my mind. I'll just have to use it for the next one!

Just another hour and a half left in 2009. I think once I passed 22, the years started flying, and no matter how hard I try to press Pause, I am unsuccessful. So here we are, facing yet another new year and wondering where this one disappeared to.

It's been a pretty neat day and I'm grateful for my family today. Sitting in the DMV this afternoon, chatting with Michael for two hours straight (I'd brought a book, but he didn't let me read more than 10 pages of it!). Watching Rachel make a lasagna, show me her Chinese tutoring video conferencing gadget, and listen to old-fashioned British Thomas The Tank Engine on Youtube. Watching Lie to Me and an Alfred Hitchcock 1946 thriller with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman (two favourite actors/actresses) with my mom. Sitting at home and feeling all dozy and smiling because I am loved. This is what family is about. . .

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Part Two

Today was lovely. Ended up sleeping in till 10:30 so, since it was too late to go to church, I stayed home and did some journaling. We went to Mrs. South's place for leftovers, I'd made so much mixed rice yesterday that even after the second meal of Christmas yummies, there was enough rice leftover for the 4 families each!!! After sundown we (finally!) opened up our prezzies and I absolutely loved everything I got. Books, kitchen things, candles, bathroom soap in a cute snowman, my baby picture, a planner, daily calendar. The most hysterical gift was a book titled "Welcome to My Humble Commode" which Michael gave me. I love it because ever since we heard the Wrathbones on Adventures in Odyssey say that on one of the episodes, we've adopted it as a family saying. My most favourite gift was 7th Heaven 9th season (I remember, Shiloh & Rachel, when you gave me a 7th Heaven for, what was it, my birthday or last Christmas?). I've been looking forward to watching it and had decided that if I didn't find it under the tree, I would buy it online with my Christmas money! I've been suffering severe withdrawal symptoms from the Camden family!!! My mom loved the 12-place Callaway Corelle dishes set I completed/gave her, especially the pasta bowls and the luncheon plates, so that made my night. It's nice to be working and be able to afford special gifts, especially for my mom who worked hard all her life to make a nice home for us kids.

Awww, well, with Christmas thoughts in my mind, but unfortunately no snow on the ground, I shall sign off for tonight.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Twelve Meals of Christmas

I'm stuffed! But then again, who isn't, on Christmas Day! Today was totally awesome :) Went to eat Christmas dinner with our extended family, and after Mrs. South read the Christmas story, we practised up a bit then went out Christmas caroling around the campus. At first it was just Kate & Henry, Matt & Heather, Rachel and Michael and my mom and Mrs. South (Matt & Elena went back home), but as we went from house to house, we managed to pick up quite a few carollers, until we had Randy & Brenda & Freddy, Beth & John, Celeste, Cosmin & Rina, Coleen J., all singing heartily with us around campus. We went to 20 different houses on campus, singing a selection of Christmas hymns for almost 3 hours and always ending with We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

We laughed as we sang to houses that had lights on but nobody was home; sang our hearts out as doors opened and single mothers stood in the porchlight with tears in their eyes as their hearts were filled; wrestled our way down overgrown paths behind the duplexes as we hurried to serenade those who had turned in for the night; sang along with someone's carols at the piano until they realized their worship accompaniment had just grown by 18 voices strong; and smiled at the small gray cat who decided to be a Christmas Caroling Cat for the evening and join us on our night jaunt!

Made an English trifle for dessert which was absolutely heavenly, cubes of vegan sponge cake in a kosher raspberry/strawberry jelly, topped with custard, topped with cream, topped with sprinkles!!! Then there was mixed rice, mashed potatoes & gravy, sweet potatoes baked in a coconut milk-ginger-garlic-sugar concoction, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, Moldovan beet-potato-carrot chilled salad, cabbage rolls, stuffing and homemade gluten. It was all absolutely delicious and now I really must go to bed and try to sleep off what I wasn't able to walk off!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Thoughts

Wow, just a week left in 2009! A friend asked me today if I'd made any plans or resolutions for the new year. I hadn't, actually. I usually wait till New Year's Eve or Day when I journal a little about my goals for the coming year and look back on the ones I'd made the previous year and see whether I reached them. I've learned to try to make goals that are attainable :)

Just finished watching Julie/Julia, I absolutely loved the movie! Of course, after I finished watching it with my mom and sis, I went to the languages and found out we could have watched it in French with English subtitles! Oh well! Next on the list to watch: The Terminal and It's a Mad Mad World. Went shopping this afternoon and got goat cheese with garlic & herbs, my absolute favourite! Picked up an eggplant for a delicious Macedonian salad with baked eggplant cubes and parsley in it that I tried last week and want to make again. Made a vegan sponge cake this evening for the trifle we're having for dessert tomorrow, yum!

Still trying to decide if I like living alone. I think I actually prefer living at home, the bustle of it all, and then having my own room to escape to when I need peace and quiet. It's just awful nice to be able to do stuff with people. I'm blessed to have my family this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Just A Doodle

Finally, tomorrow is Wednesday and I'll finally get to sleep in! I've been thinking about it. . .since last week, but had especially planned to get to work by 9 am the next couple of weeks, just to have a bit of a break since I'll probably work through the Thursday of each week.

Got a bit of a cold. It's freezing cold, was about 35 degrees when I last checked, but I get to wear slacks to work so I'm happy!!!

Hmmmm, still trying to decide if I should take Thursday off or not.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

GlobeRunner (not just a GlobeTrotter!)

So I really should be sleeping right now, because I'm going to be up in just over 8 hours to go dashing around the Loop with Michael and Toby (the latter being a dog) at 7 am, yaaaay! I'm not exactly sure why I'm such a glutton for punishment, especially since I'm not the one who's getting paid to walk the dog! I think, though, it's cuz I really want to get my day going right. Even though I kinda didn't finish this one right, by eating after 9 pm. Really should have brought supper with me to the Jaime Jorge concert this evening. . . . But it was totally awesome. It's soooo nice to be able to go to a concert and not have to sit on the edge of your seat, worrying that the musician(s) won't hit their notes, but to relax and enjoy the music!

Just finished watching Top Chef and I'm kinda irritated because the one who won wasn't the one I wanted to win, and I sort of feel like they were prejudiced against the non-Americans who competed. Rachel wants to travel, to see the world. Me, I used to think I was content to stay here, but on the other hand, I'm not so sure I'm content to be a banana, or whatever they call the hidden immigrant who blends in to the host country. Watching Top Chef, I was rooting for the Europeans, but in reality I have absolutely no idea who I am :)

In my 29 years I've lived in 8 countries, Benin, England, Michigan, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Lebanon, California, and Korea. I've lived on 4 continents, Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. I've been exposed to 10 different languages & dialects, French & Creole & Dutch & German & British English from my family, Spanish in school, American English, Korean, and two dialects of Arabic. I have 4 different ethnical backgrounds, Mauritian, Seychellois, Dutch and German. The shortest length of time I've lived anywhere is 10 weeks in Korea; the longest in any country is 6 years in Egypt and the longest on any one continent is 12 years in North America. I've visited the Netherlands, Mauritius, Japan, Cote D'Ivoire, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Syria, Wales, Taiwan and a number of other states in the US.

No wonder I'm confused!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Truth Is Never The Problem

"Just as spiritual abuse victims have a lot in common, so do the religious systems that perpetrate the abuse. When power is postured and religious performance legislated, watch out! When those who notice the problem become the problem, beware! The truth is never the problem." ~ The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, p. 62

Slowly working my way through this book, it's got powerful stuff in there. It's almost as if someone took my life and wrote it down.

Went to the Handel's Messiah this evening, powerful choir, and of course I always love hearing The Hallelujah Chorus, which I was one of the first to stand up for tonight. Super happy to have Shiloh here for a week and wish it was longer. I don't realize how much I miss my friends until they come and go again :(

Today I'm grateful for a family to go home and eat lunch with. I'm thankful for the opportunity to try out new recipes, for cookies at the Christmas concert, and for the chance to see two fluffy black and white skunks dash across the road!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Just a Ramble Or Two

So this week has actually been one of the hardest weeks of my life, just because of the steep learning curve, but I'm grateful that the weekend is here, Shiloh is coming for a week, tomorrow night I get to hear Handel's Messiah with a full orchestra (hopefully!) and I have enough work to keep me busy through the holidays.

I'm also grateful for the friends I have here and miss the ones who live far away.

Today my mom told me that the counseling career is one of the more stressful careers. I still want to do it, though!!! So I think I shall continue to pursue my dream. Figured out today that if I save up just about everything each month, I can fund my Masters in Marriage & Family Therapy (MFT) in three years. Hopefully by then my green card will have arrived! I'm pretty excited and now my goal is to see how frugal I can be, instead of enjoying spending my money :)

Being the sanguine that I am, tomorrow I'll probably have a new goal, like flying to Timbuktu, but then again, this has been a dream I've had since I was, oh I don't know, about 15 or so?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bottles of Tears

Learned some hard lessons today, but I'm grateful for Godly people in my life who are able to help me see where to grow.

1. I have to let go. When I'm passionate about something, I embrace it and it becomes my life. I have to learn, however, to let go of the way I think things should be and take a back seat. It's hard for me, because I'm a choleric and used to being in charge. When I first came on the scene, four years ago, I sat back and quietly observed. When I felt comfortable, I began to speak up, and then people began to rely on me to help them get things done. But times change and I am now in a season of my life where I have to develop an "I don't care" attitude and let others take the reins. It's not going to be easy, because I do care, but maybe I care too much.

2. While people earn your respect, everyone must be treated with respect. Sounds like a contradiction, I know, but I wear my heart, and all my emotions, on my sleeve and on my face. I need to learn to keep my thoughts to myself and not display them where everyone can see. I need to develop the facial expression of a sphinx.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Eyes Are Opening

"There are spiritual systems in which what people think, how they feel and what they need or want does not matter. People's needs go unmet. In these systems, the members are there to meet the needs of the leaders: need for power, importance, intimacy, value—really, self-related needs. These leaders attempt to find fulfillment through the religious performance of the very people whom they are there to serve and build. This is an inversion in the body of Christ. It is spiritual abuse." The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, p. 23

Friday, December 11, 2009

Is The Most Important Thing Really The Most Important Thing?

So there's something wrong with the system. How do we fix it? Maybe we need to scratch everything and start from the beginning. Easy enough to say, impossible to do.

I work on a class schedule every single semester and it is always a process to get a rough draft to the point that I am comfortable with it and ready to show it to the teachers.

First: I email everyone and get class days preferences, conflicts with other teaching assignments, and length of time per class. Then I usually start by saving a copy of the previous semester's schedule and putting in the new changes.

After about 20 minutes I always get slightly irritated because I realize that the schedule isn't coming together, it's not working, and it doesn't make sense.

So I start with a sheet of white clean paper.

I have learned that I work so much better when I take the ideas in my head and put them onto a blank sheet of paper, rather than trying to work them into something that already exists. Then, taking my very first draft, I can create, change, add, and delete to my heart's content until I find something that works for me. Once I am happy with the end result, then I can replace previous content with something I know looks good.

Maybe that's what we need to do? Scratch everything, the standards, the rules, the regulations, the traditional way of doing things, and start from the very beginning. Hand out markers and white posterboard to everyone and for the next week, work hard until something amazing comes out that everyone can look at and know will work.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On The Twelfth Day of Christmas. . .

"Sorry you are having difficulty. Please get help and try again later."

I was trying to log in to Audix and accidentally pressed the wrong button, so a disembodied voice kindly instructed me to get help and try again later. I chuckled at the thought, saved it in my drafts so I wouldn't forget the phrase, and then forgot about it till tonight.

When I opened up my unfinished post and read the single line, a slew of thoughts hit me. Unfortunately, it is also almost 11 pm and I've been trying to get to sleep earlier for about two weeks now with a very low success rate. So this will be short.

In the past eleven years I have learned one thing: it is that when you are having difficulties, are struggling, or facing challenges, you must face them on your own. You must not tell anyone, because then it will be passed around as "Did you know about so-and-so? Please pray for them because ______________." You must not let anyone know that you are struggling because that will ruin your Christian witness. You must not be honest about your experience, rather you must learn early how to be wise as a snake.

Well-known maxims include the following: Recognize that you are the only one to blame. Prayer will answer all problems. Your opinion is of no value. Your reality is only in your head. What you think doesn't matter; it's what I think that matters. Your actions reflect your character—spiritual performance is to be preferred over personal spirituality.

It's easier to talk the talk than walk the walk. Myself included.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Day In The Life. . .

This is officially my 100th post. Even though I started with every intention of faithfully blogging every day, life caught up and even this overachiever was unable to achieve that very high and lofty goal! So here I am, 7 months and 16 days after I first began blogging, and I'm about to write my hundredth post. Hmmmm, wonder how long it will take me to reach a thousand!!!

Today was rather uneventful. I finally had the luxury of sleeping in, which I took full advantage of, not prying my eyelids open till after 11 am. Then I got comfortable and began writing a paraphrase of The Lost Sheep, which occupied my time till Michael called for pickup from the Methodist church where they'd been having a choir performance. I spent most of the afternoon tidying and putting away boxes of stuff my mom happily unloaded on me last week, watched 4 episodes of Kitchen Confidential while I ate my lunch, washed my dishes, and went to a fundraising meeting for mission trip. After the meeting I finished seeding the last of a humongous box of grapes I bought at Costco two weeks ago (don't ask me why I'm buying fruit at Costco!), sliced another box of kiwis (also from Costco) and then boiled them down together with some sugar and cinnamon. I also fried up a tub of tofu so I'll have something interesting to eat tomorrow. I think I'm finally getting tired of ready-made pop-in-the-microwave meals (even though they are so convenient!). While doing all this, I watched Places in the Heart, an excellent true-to-life movie starring Sally Field, one of my favourite actresses of all time.

Hope it snows properly tomorrow.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ten Miles From The Nearest Sin. . .

Another full day at the Women of Faith Conference. Today I managed to drive the wrong-way on a one-way 3-lane street (thankfully traffic was light!). I was grateful that we were able to find free parking in a small plaza a block away from the Arena, so we didn't have to pay for parking on Sabbath.

These past couple of days have been exactly what my heart needed. Encouragement from like-minded Christian women who just want to share their personal testimony of how God has helped them through similar struggles and difficult times. Even stories of events that hadn't happened to me touched my heart because I could hear the sincerity of the women and I could see clearly how God had come close to them in their time of need.

We laughed, we cried, we sang, they clapped & danced (a little too jumpy for my stoic European upbringing!), and thousands of women listened in silence as God spoke to them through willing people.

It was a cultural experience for me in more ways than one. Generally, the music wasn't exactly my style, a little too much dancing and hopping up and down, but there were several songs that were mellow and heartfelt. The talks were deep and it was amazing to be with Christian women from around the world who were also seeking to know God better.

I was (unfortunately) surprised at how similar to me the presenters were. I've spent too much of my life in a closed system where "we are holier than everyone else," and "we don't struggle, and if we did, we wouldn't dare to share it because then we would be condemned," and "no one else has the truth like we do." It angers me to see the fallacies in these beliefs. The reality is that everyone is on equal footing before God, we all struggle, and there are earnest seekers in every church and every city.

No one is perfect, I know, but sometimes we tend to think we've bought the last tickets on that heavenly train and don't anyone dare to try to get one from us! That isn't what it's all about that. What it should be about is love. Call me liberal, shallow, a saved-by-grace person, but that is really what it is about. It's about God's love, how He shows it to us and how we can be His love to others.

Anita, Marilyn, Patsy, Lisa, Sheila, each of the women who spoke had a deep experience with God and you could see it on their faces and hear it in their voices. There was no judgement, no guilt, no condemnation, no self-righteousness. As I listened to the stories of love and healing, my heart was filled and my soul stilled.

I want to be like them. . .

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Grand New Day. . .

Just got back from the Friday evening meeting of the Sacramento Women of Faith "A Grand New Day" event at the Arco Arena. So far I've heard Stephen Arterburn, Marilyn Meburg, Sheila Walsh, and Patsy Clairmont, along with musicians Nicole Mullins and Mandisa. It's been a huge blessing so far (though the music does get a little loud at times!) and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's speakers. It has been awesome to be at a conference with thousands of other Christian women and to be enveloped in fellowship. One thing I learned this evening is that God has His people far and wide, in every country and every denomination, and that if you are a Christian, you will speak the same language.

Listening to these women share their testimonies of how God has been there in the hard times has encouraged me in a refreshing new way. I have been stuck far too long in silly petty things. I need to begin embracing the joy of God's presence in my life and letting go of all the "junk" I tend to accumulate. It's time to stop focusing on the things that irritate, annoy, and anger me, and start focusing on God's love and freedom in Him.

As Sheila Walsh so aptly put it, "Forgiveness is God's gift to us to help us live in a world that is not fair."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Just keep talking. From talking comes the love." ~Lost in Austin

Unto Me (sung by Steve Green, word & music by Twila Paris)

I wanna be a godly man. Follow the call and follow Your plan. I wanna have the purest heart. I wanna be a burning spark. Lord I want to be like You. Tell me Lord, what must I do? And the answer came simple and so plain.

Go and find your neighbor. Find a friend in need. Go and find a widow. There's a hungry child to feed. When you help the helpless, that is true Christianity. Whatever you've done to the least of these, you have done it unto Me.

I wanna be a faithful son. I wanna hear You say "well done". I wanna be a pleasing sight. I wanna shine a holy light. When I tell them about You, how will they believe the truth? And the answer came steady as the rain.

Go inside the prison. Go behind the wall. Go and be a servant. There is none too great or small. Go pick up a hammer. Go and build a home. Go and take the sunshine to a heart that lives alone. When you help the helpless, that is true Christianity. Whatever you've done to the least of these, you have done it, you have done it unto Me. When you help a widow, you have done it unto Me.

When you help the helpless, that is true Christianity. You have done it, you have done it unto Me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Casting Cares: Psalm 55:22

Woke from a very vivid dream last night, realizing the deadly battle that is being fought between righteousness and wickedness, and was struck by the knowledge that evil is a very real presence and force. As ever, I turned to my Bible for comfort and flipped through the pages of my compact fraying NIV. In times when you go to God for help, you do not trouble yourself with the version of the Bible and worry about whether a particular word is missing or something is translated differently from the original Greek. In those times, you cling to Him and to His word and you know that His word is truth.

I have a silent prayer request tonight. It is very close to my heart, and while I cannot speak more, I do know that God hears, not only my prayer, but the prayers of so many whose silent cries pierce the heavens. God has not promised that the right thing will always take place, but He has promised that He will sustain us through those gut-wrenching times and that He will never allow the righteous to fall. That is the promise we all can cling to. . .

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Thoughtful Chain Letter

GROCERY LIST (inspirational fiction)

Louise Redden, a poorly dressed lady with a look of defeat on her face, walked into a grocery store. She approached the owner of the store in a most humble manner and asked if he would let her charge a few groceries. She softly explained that her husband was very ill and unable to work, they had seven children and they needed food.

John Longhouse, the grocer, scoffed at her and requested that she leave his store at once. Visualizing the family needs, she said: 'Please, sir! I will bring you the money just as soon as I can.'

John told her he could not give her credit, since she did not have a charge account at his store. Standing beside the counter was a customer who overheard the conversation between the two. The customer walked forward and told the grocer that he would stand good for whatever she needed for her family. The grocer said in a very reluctant voice, 'Do you have a grocery list?'

Louise replied, 'Yes sir.' 'O.K' he said, 'put your grocery list on the scales and whatever your grocery list weighs, I will give you that amount in groceries.'

Louise hesitated a moment with a bowed head, then she reached into her purse and took out a piece of paper and scribbled something on it. She then laid the piece of paper on the scale carefully with her head still bowed. The eyes of the grocer and the customer showed amazement when the scales went down and stayed down.

The grocer, staring at the scales, turned slowly to the customer and said begrudgingly, 'I can't believe it.' The customer smiled and the grocer started putting the groceries on the other side of the scales. The scale did not balance so he continued to put more and more groceries on them until the scales would hold no more. The grocer stood there in utter disgust. Finally, he grabbed the piece of paper from the scales and looked at it with greater amazement.

It was not a grocery list, it was a prayer, which said: 'Dear Lord, you know my needs and I am leaving this in your hands.' The grocer gave her the groceries that he had gathered and stood in stunned silence.

Louise thanked him and left the store. The other customer handed a fifty-dollar bill to the grocer and said; 'It was worth every penny of it. Only God knows how much a prayer weighs.'

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Just a Jot

Drove to the Camino church today, thought it would take about 45 minutes but it actually took over an hour, but it was a beautiful drive. Rock quarry, the Foresthill bridge, vivid autumn colours, and tiny roads winding around in the Sierra Foothills. Daniel was speaking, one of Rachel's classmates and now a pilot with GMI, so Michael was quite keen on hearing him share some stories and chatting a bit. Church starts near 10 there, and it was just after 3 by the time we got home. My stomach is still kinda queasy from those roads!!!

I'm not sure I like these early sunsets. Not enough time on Friday to get stuff done and then by the time you've finished lunch and gone for a couple of loops, Sabbath is already over!

Dreading for Sunday to be over, I think I need a month of vacations. . .

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fluorescent Green Friday

So today, about 2 hours before sundown, is when my mom and Rachel suddenly decide they want to switch rooms, right now!!! Actually, they had been planning it for some time, but it wasn't till this afternoon that they decided it was the day to put their plan into action. Which, of course, meant that Michael and I were conscripted into service to help carry dressers, desks, and drawers, along with various asundry baskets of items back and forth between the two rooms as they figured out exactly which furniture belonged where.

Last night I stayed up till 2:30 am looking at all the good deals online for Black Friday but did not dare venture in to town today. I know some people have been camping out in front of stores since Wednesday, but I have different priorities in life. I work hard for my money and don't mind paying full price for an item, rather than try to beat through crowds of greedy people all grabbing for the same thing I am reaching for. Just about all my Christmas shopping is done, too :)

Had a great game night tonight. We've gotten into a tradition, Friday night after the sun sets, where we gather around the kitchen table and play endless games of Boggle, Skip-bo, and Rummikub. Okay, so it's not very "religious" and we're not reading lengthy passages aloud from Testimonies Volume 6, but those hours are some of the times I treasure most from my week.

A passerby might be startled to hear the volume at which conversation is carried out, but if they were sitting at the table with us, they too would be enthusiastically participating in the evening's entertainment, both through games and with each other. We'll spontaneously burst into song, harmonizing instantly, laugh till our sides ache, and revel in expressing our emotions.

Friday game night isn't just about connecting letters to create a word, strategy and luck with your cards, or the ability to see groupings of numbers that as yet have not been created. It is about connecting through laughter, learning new words, enjoying friendly competition, encouraging and coaching, and building relationships with family.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Some Crowns Are Made Of Thorns

So it's Thanksgiving and everyone is happy and full of pumpkin pie and other such things. Not really in the mood for holidays this year. Probably because it's been one of the hardest years of my life, yup, it ranks right up there with coming to America in '98 and getting the green card in '04.

But I'm thankful I have my family, I'm thankful for my good friends who, though scattered around the world, are still close to my heart, and I'm thankful for a God Who continues to love me through my struggle to know Him despite the junk I encounter every single day. I'm thankful that my parents brought me up to know how to have a relationship with God and that I will always belong to Him and He to me. I'm thankful that the God I knew is not the "god" that people try to shove on to me, that He is not obsessed with my outward behaviour and constantly attempting to control my inward thoughts. The God I continue to learn about is strong, filled with justice, caring, loving, compassionate, merciful, gracious, long-suffering, understanding, and He will never change.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Good Friends and a Glass of. . .Martinelli's

It's late. 10:32 to be precise and I really should be heading to bed, but I just thought I'd scribble a little.

Today was an awesome day. Katie and Laura came up for the day and we went to the mall, hung out, tried on cute clothes, they all bought really cool sunglasses, rented a movie, and ate at India Oven where they have the best buffet with tons of vegetarian options. Better and cheaper than the one in Auburn, even! Then we came back to my place (which I'd spent a week cleaning and tidying up, haha!) and watched the movie and drank hot drinks.

Everytime I get to spend time with good friends like Katie, Laura, LaVonne, Shiloh, and Eva, I enjoy and appreciate every moment and realize how blessed I am to have such good girlfriends. And I also realize that is one of the reasons why I'm struggling so much right now, because I don't have an active social group to be a sanguine in! But I'm grateful for my sister (sniff!) and friends who do keep in touch and grateful that at least I live in a country where I can speak the language and get around :)

Okay, I seriously have to go now :P Absolutely dreading tomorrow, but maybe I can look at it as a job and try to focus on that, instead of people giving me guilt trips "in the name of the Lord" about how I should live my life. Hah, dream on!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Better Than Perfect

Know how you have those perfect days when nothing seems to go wrong? The scales say you've dropped a pound, you wash your hair and it dries just right, and your outfit for the day makes you look slim and goes together exactly right?

Well I'm having a better-than-perfect day today :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A $2.60 22 oz Peanut Butter Smoothie, Anyone?

Feeling super tired tonight. Probably because it was one of those "lunch meeting" days. I really notice the difference between taking an hour off in the middle of the day to get away and relax a little while I eat my lunch and the days when I don't get that opportunity.

So I'm trying to get some exercise in every day, but that didn't happen this evening because Rachel and I "flew" in to the Meadow Vista library to see what they had on the DVD shelves. It was slim pickings this time, but we still managed to cull at least 15 DVDs in the ten minutes we had before closing time. Somehow we've started to make a habit of it, rushing in the doors just as the anxious librarian is beginning their closing-up procedures, prompting them to remind us 30 seconds after we've come that there are "ten minutes left before closing time!"

Sitting in my place feeling happy that I've finally gotten around to vacuuming and listening to Boyz II Men on their Legacy CD sing "Down on Bended Knee," one of my all-time favourite songs.

The class schedule looked good to the staff today at college council, phew! I know there'll probably be tweaking between now and January, but at least we now have something I can give people, because they are definitely starting to ask!!!

Oooooh, Costco, at least the one down here, is having Jamba Juice cards, buy $50 worth for $39.99 (and no tax on that). Absolutely marvelous! I bought the cards on Sunday, then this evening we popped in to Auburn and I ordered my favourite vegan Peanut Butter Moo'd (no yogurt, no chocolate moo'd base, substitute sorbet and soymilk). I had one of those $1 off specials ( and I paid with my JJ card, so my 16 oz was only $3 (and if you factor in the savings on my card, I actually paid $2.60 in cold cash for it). Then I lucked out and they made the smoothie too large for a 16 oz so I got it in an original size cup which I didn't mind at all! That usually happens when it's someone new doing it :)

Ran across a poem I wrote one summer :) Wishing it was this hot right now!

I wade
Thick layers of heat
Swimming against the current
Of beating sun
My hand firmly clutching
A pink soda can of
Cherry vanilla
All my energies centered
On a small 12 ounce
Cylindrical container, as
Its chill begins to
Through the palm of
My hand
Soon an icy feeling
Begins to spread from
The tip of my spine
To my toes, radiating throughout
My body
In a hundred
And six
Degree weather,
Begin to
Despite the sun’s rays
Mercilessly pounding
As I keep my eyes
Cement passing under my sandaled feet
Relief is near
Behind closed doors
An air-conditioned office awaits
Where twenty degrees cooler
I shall
And I shall
My cherry vanilla crème soda
(c) maria L.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

All By Myself

Afternoons are both my favourite and least favourite part of the day during my work week. Afternoons are when everyone disappears, most of them up to the farm, and I am left alone in the silent halls that are reminiscent of the time we had 10 students in the college and they rattled around the building.

I like this time of the day because I can focus on big projects, difficult tasks, challenging issues, or simply file for hours on end or tackle a part of the office that needs tidying up and sorting out. Mornings seem to be taken up with "putting out fires," answering phone calls, and being available for those who need to talk. I am bemused and also irritated when interested applicants call, convinced that God has "called them" to come to school here when they have no money and are thousands of dollars in debt from other schools. Personally, I think God is a little more responsible than that.

Then there's the downside to working alone, which is exactly that, being all alone for four and a half hours straight. I often head over to the administration building to hang out, when I go for hours on end without seeing a single soul. Or I find myself talking to myself, which doesn't bother me, but it may startle the solitary visitor or two!

Tomorrow is going to be a full and busy day. Wish it was Friday :P

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Endorphin Highs

Just came back from a brisk invigorating absolutely marvelous walk on the trails with Dr. Jensen, a Newstart guest from Poland, and Michael. It was great!!!

I was trying to figure out how to get in my walk this afternoon, and when Michael mentioned he was going to go on the nature walk with Dr. Jensen and the Newstart guests, I thought that would be a brilliant idea. For the first hour we wandered around the Loop (can you imagine, a whole hour walking half a mile!) and learned about Japanese maple, sugar pine, ponderosa pine, gingko biloba, dogwood, redwood, magnolia and liquid amber trees. I found out that a certain spot by the cafeteria always smells like an open sewer line, especially when it's been raining, because of the fruit of the female ginkgo biloba tree.

After our leisurely stroll, Dr. Jensen asked who would be interested in going on a longer walk and only one guest took her up on the offer, nevertheless we hurried out onto the trails and hit Coyote Creek and several other bits and pieces of trail, ending up at the swing. We stayed there about 15 minutes as she swung peacefully back and forth, I pushed her, and we all listened to her instruct from the swing! We got to see three Canadian geese fly over the sewer ponds, but they changed their mind about landing, so we carried on home.

I'm feeling good after that brisk walk :) And slightly irritated (okay, a lot irritated) because it sounds like someone is training for the trampoline Olympics upstairs in the Inn and I can't figure out if it is the dryer going or someone running around up there. Most of the time it doesn't bother me, but there are days when I get extremely frustrated and seriously question my living down here, whether it's worth the trouble. The light streams in from the Inn so it's never properly dark, even with blinds fully shut, there is always someone upstairs either running the washing machine or dryer or bouncing up and down like they're on a sugar high, I can't open my window at night because I'm on the ground floor and don't feel safe doing that, parts of my place "mold" real quickly so I have to constantly keep wiping down things (probably because the air doesn't circulate as well since I don't have my windows open all the time), and I can't play music unless my window is closed. Oh well, I shall plug in my headphones and watch some Top Chef now!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lucky Friday

You know how you have those days when everything seems to go right? Well, my day wasn't quite like that all day, but most of it!!!

The morning was pretty tough, work stuff and the usual politics and other messed up aspects of it, but then my afternoon went really well. I went in to Auburn and had my tires rotated (now my car drives much smoother!), then popped across to Trendcuts and got a trim and bangs, with my favourite hairdresser who is really good and knows what she's doing, and when I stopped in at Grocery Outlet to see what good deals they have, I found Artichoke Tapenade (the huge glass jars they used to have in Costco) for $3.99 a jar so I bought six! And I also found my favourite cookies for just $1.99 each, so I got a bunch of those too!!! Then I came home and played board games for 3 hours with Rachel and Mommy and won most of the games, tehehe.

It's Friday the 13th today, but it's my lucky Friday :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Deliverance Is Not Yet Complete. . .

I just finished watching "Deliver Us From Evil," a gripping documentary about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and what is being done to keep justice from being served. I agree that it "should be seen by people of all faiths and by anyone concerned about the well-being of children" and put it right up there along with Hotel Rwanda, Not Without My Daughter, and God Grew Tired of Us, each well-done presentations that deal with the awful realities of life.

Two things really struck home to me. One was that the perpetrator, who appears on the documentary and constantly narrates his part in person, appeared to have no conscience. I've seen people like that before, no remorse is in their eyes, and no emotions are apparent. They are somehow capable of creating their own fantasy that reality cannot touch and are all too quick to place the blame elsewhere, not accepting their role in the crime.

The second part, and I don't normally get emotional when I watch documentaries but this really struck home, was to see the father of one of the female victims react so strongly as he was recounting the events. The father was choked up and at times he expressed strong anger that something like this could have happened to his own daughter. You could tell that he truly cared about his daughter and felt deep regret that he was unable to protect her when she needed it the most. The father's conclusion was that there is no God, and I cannot fault him for coming to that conclusion when it was the church that cloaked in secrecy the sins of their own.

Father Thomas Doyle, ironically also a Catholic priest, was a strong advocate for the abuse victims who told their story in this documentary, and it was encouraging to see how much he too, cared, and wanted justice to be served. So few men today have the courage to stand up and protect the children.

This is not the end, and the Catholic Church does not hold a monopoly on religious pedophiles. I think the words of Jesus say it best, "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." ~Matthew 18:6 NIV

Friday, November 6, 2009

A New Sound

Okay, it's 9:28 pm and I might actually go to bed early tonight! I can't believe it!!! I was listening to an audio book this afternoon while cleaning my bathroom (that is the only way I'll clean, is if I distract myself with music or. . .my latest discovery. . .an interesting audio book!) and realized I really need to change my priorities in life. I need to get into a program where I'm getting to bed early, getting enough sleep, exercising daily, eating healthy, and then I'll have more energy and won't come home zonked at the end of the day and sit in front of my laptop for five hours straight, watching some movie or playing Freecell because I feel drained. My favourite book on tape right now is Wuthering Heights, read by Patrician Routledge who makes it sound so realistic. The Exhaustion Cure, by Laura Stack, is the one I was listening to this afternoon. I used to not be very into audio tapes because I'm not as much of an audio listener as I am kinesthetic and visual, but somehow I've gotten on a streak where it makes time fly by.

So my bathroom is clean and dishes done (in cold water, the boiler burst in the Inn so we haven't had hot water for a week now, kinda depressing) but I still have a thousand things just lying around making me nervous. I mean, I'm not going to use them anytime soon, so why do I have them???

Two whole days of nothing to do, what bliss!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Just a Few Thoughts

Wow, so it's November already and before we know it, Thanksgiving and Christmas and then 2010 will be here and we'll wonder where time went. And I still remember 10 years ago, the excitement of Y2K and here we are. . .just another year passing into eternity. I'm not even 30 and already I feel old! Some friends I still keep in touch with I've known for nearly 20 years. Can you imagine that???

Seem to have gotten in a bad habit of going to bed after 11 these days. This week at least, I could sleep in a bit since I clocked in a bunch of hours over the past weekend driving back and forth from Southern Cali, so I've been going in to work around 9 or later, quite luxurious! Next week I'll have to buckle down, though, and get in to work by 8, bleugh!!! Went in to the public library this evening @ Applegate and walked out with a stack of audio books and DVDs, despite the fact that I'd walked out with a similar amount of material Tuesday night of this week!!! I think I'm OCD about borrowing something from the library. Oh well, at least I can renew it online and it isn't a far drive to return stuff either.

I was rather depressed this evening when I looked in my little fridge and found that the onion/poppyseed bagels I bought at Trader Joe's had gone mouldy. Both of my fridges seem to "sweat" a lot and everything gets soggy real quick, which is quite depressing. I guess I just need to buckle down and buy a proper fridge, especially now that I know I'm going to be here for another fifty bazillion years!!!

The weekend is almost here (yaaaay!) and I actually don't have anything planned!!! It's absolutely amazing and I shall relish in every single moment of freedom (not like I don't already have tons of free time every evening!). I have been wanting to go to the Auburn church for several weeks now, too, so hopefully that will work out as well.

Got my Leslie Sansone DVDs in the mail today, so I'm super stoked! I tried out the warm up, 1 out of 5 miles, and the cool down on one DVD this evening and I absolutely loved it! It's so easy and time just flies by, which makes it fun. Which reminds me, I need to get into some sort of a routine so I can get in exercise every day. Which would require going to bed early enough to wake up early enough. . .probably not going to happen tonight as it is already 11:18 pm!!!

Time to sign off.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hoping to Fly on Through

Shall be short, been going to bed waaaay too late recently, and yesterday and now today I've had a bit of a tight chest, kind of strange, really, it feels sort of like when you inhale menthol rub or eucalyptus, when it burns your throat, that's what it feels like. I did hot and cold this evening, and I really have to go to bed early so I can get some good rest. I DO NOT want to come down with the flu, porcine or otherwise, and I hope that this is as bad as it will get!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Epiphanies of the Moment

Kind of frustrated with the system, as I tend to get on certain days (okay, most days!) I was sitting at home working through it with my mom and sister. I reasoned, "When you reach adulthood, you realize you can now do whatever you want, but you know it won't make you happy. On the other hand, doing the right thing and following all the rules doesn't make you any happier either." It's the old "_____ if you do, and ______ if you don't, Catch-22," I exclaimed in exasperation. Then my eyes fell on the Colfax Yellow Pages, lying on the kitchen table. The front cover boldly proclaimed, "The answer's in the BOOK."

While naturally the Yellow Pages was thinking of their newspaper-print gray and yellow leaves being where one's attention should be drawn, mine went immediately to an old familiar red NIV Bible I keep by my bedside. Most would call me a heretic, labeled simply by the version of Bible I read, but it is the one version that I turn to for comfort and hope. "Maybe the answer is in the Book," I thought, pondering my recent epiphany. My thoughts continued to wander. . .

I think we try to make it too hard, sometimes. We get caught up in the rules, regulations, laws, and traditions of men, attempting to explain Truth through our narrow convoluted thinking and interpretations, and forget entirely about grace, mercy, love and forgiveness. Joy and happiness seem to be on their way out, being replaced by a subtle perverse form of control that seeps into every aspect of life. We're so afraid of being saved by grace that we cling to the phylacteries of the Pharisees for salvation.

I think there's more to life than that, though. That is my constant struggle, because I believe there is more to life than what I am finding and I believe God's plan includes reaching the world in amazing ways. It often feels like we are battling against the tide of a solid mind-set that refuses to be open to miracles in its truest sense. It can be easy to get bogged down in platitudes, cliches, and "tithing the mint and cumin" when the heart issues are ignored. At times it seems as if petty issues become the "le special du jour" while real-life struggles and the harsh reality of sin in this sick world we live in, hover just beneath the surface.

There has to be something more. . .

If a person can leave Weimar knowing who they are and with their relationship to God still intact—they will have won one of the hardest battles of their lives.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thoughts Of a Dentist's Drill

It's been a long week, and a long day. Fridays always seem to be the longest and the shortest days of the week, long because you're just waiting for sundown to come so you can sit down and take a breath and finally relax, and short because there's never enough time to do all the things you need to do, like dust on top of the refrigerator, sort your winter clothes, and prepare three entrees for Sabbath lunch :P

This week I was at the dentist, again!!! I'm starting to feel like it's my second home; I wonder if they have a preferred customer card and if I can get a discount on crowns, you know, buy one & get one free? Probably not, unfortunately! I joke that I don't need to go to heaven because I've got enough crowns here on earth!!! Thankfully all I had this time was a cleaning, and the dental hygienist was a very friendly young lady who seemed to know what she was doing as she measured the pockets of my gums, used a water drill (?) to clean off the dark spots (they always ask if I drink wine, coffee, or tea, because of the staining, but one dentist said that comes from eating a lot of vegetables), and then applied the tasty polish. It wasn't the most pleasant of procedures, but each time I'm sitting in that plastic chair with the extra plastic cover down at my feet (are they concerned about shoes passing on germs?), head tilted back as I try to stare anywhere but into the face of whomever happens to be bent over me at the moment, as they peer intently into the cavern of my mouth and begin drilling or filling or cleaning, I think about what kind of a job dentists and their assistants have, and I grow more and more grateful. I mean, think about it, would you like to spend your days looking into mouths filled with dirty teeth, poking and prodding around, sucking up saliva with a small aspirator, making sure nothing falls down someone's throat, drilling just enough tooth off so the crown will fit and not too much so there isn't any tooth left for it to hold on to, and sticking globs of plaster between teeth and then peeling and prying the hardened stuff off. Or perhaps you enjoy flossing other people's teeth, scraping away at little stubborn dark bits, or sticking needles in the exact spot, and making sure someone doesn't go numb in the wrong tooth. I really appreciate all the staff there, Jermaine, the friendly dentist in training who thinks I'm 18; Gloria, the no-nonsense Filipino dentist who assists my primary dentist; my dentist, a very sweet Indian lady whose name I still haven't learned; and the front-desk secretaries who never fail to call me to remind me about my upcoming appointment (only $925 for your crown, payable in advance, would you like to pay with check or credit-card and when can I make your next appointment for?). During each procedure I've had, whether a filling, a crown, or a cleaning, they've always made sure I was comfortable, asking me if I'm okay and if anything hurts, and apologizing if something was the slightest bit painful. I don't know how many of them are Christians or how much of the friendliness is "customer service training" but regardless, I appreciate that I am cared for. As I reflect on how the staff are both professional, friendly, and caring, I realize that this is something I need to strive more for. A Christian witness speaks louder than words and will convict more than a thousand sermons.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Unfinished Thoughts Still Smoulder

Got my H-1B visa extension approval notice yesterday, it came through 2 weeks early, which was kind of nice. Trying to adjust mentally to being at Weimar for, well, if I stayed another 3 years, that would be 14 years in all. Can you imagine that? Hahah.

Just finished watching Chocolat, with Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench (one of my favourite older actresses) and Johnny Depp. The plot of the film is where a young single mother and her daughter come to a very conservative set-in-its-ways town and she opens up a little chocolate shop, during Lent, and all the residents are supposed to be abstaining from things like chocolate! It was quite a good film, set in a little French town, and it was very emotional. I could identify with it because the mayor of the town also controlled everyone's lives, particularly spiritually through writing the sermons that the young priest had to read each Sunday. The mayor was skilled at weaving guilt all throughout the sermons and at making everything into a moral issue.

But near the end, there was one part that really rang true with me. The young priest, in his Easter Sunday sermon, said, "I think we can't go around measuring our goodness by what we don't do. By what we deny ourselves, what we resist, who we exclude. I think we've got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Still No Answer

There doesn't always have to be a rhyme, a reason, a "why" to why something is. As children we grow up asking why and adults push us away or try to explain in language that is more complicated than the question, but one day we finally feel we have found all (or at least most) of the answers to our "whys" and we then turn around to answer the next generation's questions with a pat on the head or encyclopedic pontifications. Sometimes there aren't any answers, though.

When a young baby dies of no seeming cause, there is a why, but no answer. When children are abused, and their fear is unseen by those who can save them, there is a why, but no answer. When refugees in Sudan walk thousands of miles to escape those who kill the only life they have known, there are many whys, but no answers. When a woman finds her husband trading a lifetime of commitment for a moment of emptiness, she asks why but hears no answer. When an elderly man is sent home to die from cancer, or an elderly woman finds out she has breast cancer and had a stroke in the same day, they still ask why but silence echoes no answer. When earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and the swine flu lay claim to so many lives rich with the fabric of being and now stilled in an instant, a collective "why" ascends to heaven and still. . .no answer.

Only a Father Who weeps. . .

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Bit of This & That

Wow, it's been a while! After a couple hectic days (okay, make that "day") getting ready to head up to MT for Heather & Matt's wedding, then 5 days on the road, and the past week recovering from a head cold so generously shared by friends, I'm trying to get my life back into some semblance of order. However, order does not seem to be one of my strengths, because, while oddly enough I can be quite organized at work, once I come home, all my organization skills hop out the window and I'm faced with mountains of STUFF, wondering where it came from and why I feel the need to rush out about once a week and purchase more of it!!!

You'd think that I could get my shopping "highs" from grocery shopping, since I love a good bargain no matter what it is, whether colby jack cheese sticks with an instant $1 off coupon at Walmart, Mediterranean Veggie Chips at Grocery Outlet, or Kashi's soft granola bars at Target. But no, even though grocery shopping keeps me happy, I'm not completely happy unless I've purchased enough of the bargain item to make it worth my while. Which usually entails buying enough for me. . .my family. . .my friends. . .and the entire campus!!! It's quite hysterical, really, because while I have only two borrowed pans in my cupboard, I have three boxes of Kashi's assorted cereal (I had coupons!), four different kinds of washing up liquid (coupons again), and I'm well stocked in the ready-meal section with three different Indian sauces and numerous packets of basmati rice, just ready to pop into the microwave (specials at Grocery Outlet). I guess I just have my priorities straight!

I'm not exactly sure how I wandered onto this tangent of shopping, but I should be wandering towards my bed right about now. I'm still harbouring a bit of a cough and need to beat that before we head to Yosemite for some fun R&R next weekend.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Patch of Garlic

Yesterday, Thursday, I hiked up the hill to the farm, unsure what project we'd be working on that day. I hoped we'd plant some more garlic, maybe finish the 8 rows Rocco wanted to plant in that particular spot, but it was also a particularly hot day and if we did something else I wouldn't be too disappointed. That was one thing I liked about the farm, the variety of tasks we were assigned to one day always differed from the next. Oddly enough, while I like to have a definite sense of order in my life with carefully lined up tasks and scheduled appointments and while the unexpected often throws me off course and upsets my day, I did not find this to be the same up at the farm. Maybe it was because I wasn't working in my area, or maybe it was just because I loved doing all the interesting things we had done so far.

When the concept was first introduced to us about working a couple of hours each day on the farm, I was not too thrilled about it. I figured I had already "put my time in" as a student at the college and why did I need to waste their good money pulling weeds and cleaning out dusty sheds? I must admit I was rather reluctant to throw myself wholeheartedly into this new project and unsure why it should be required. I was also feeling quite overwhelmed with the beginning of the new school year, so I obtained permission from my boss to participate in the work education program only twice a week. About three weeks into the semester, my mind had already changed, however.

Our first project was simple enough: cleaning up the prayer garden, raking, and dumping all the extra pine needles behind the grounds department. Then we spent the next several days up on the farm doing a number of different projects. I was working with Dr. J, one of my old-time good friends, and quickly grew to know students Rebecca and Shaina (Kylee was part of our original group but was transferred to the academy as assistant girls' dean). I found myself looking forward to 3:15 pm when I would slip into my jeans and t-shirt, jam a hat onto my head, and, with a filled water bottle, escape from the rush of life and slip into a calm rhythm. The hearty exercise, the sun's rays generating vitamin D, the companionship, the learning of new skills, and the focused hours of mind-relieving time became my favourite part of the day. I worked hard to finish my projects in the office so I could return to working four afternoons instead of two and was surprised to realize how much I enjoyed that time.

Yesterday we did do one more row of garlic, then spent the rest of the time "shelling" garlic heads, or separating the individual cloves so we could have more seed to plant as we were running low. I'm looking forward to next week already, as we have been promised that we'll get first chance at picking the fall apples and hopefully we'll get to finish planting the garlic.

Like a Spoon

Ummmm, I'm enjoying the most delicious mango right now from Costco, they're super good, and I'm enjoying one of their kiwis too. It might be a little pricier, but it's worth it for the quality of fruit you can get there. Anyhow, that isn't the topic of this particular blog!

Wednesday we were up on the farm expecting to pick apples and found out that we were going to try something different: planting garlic! Now growing up, I didn't have much experience with planting, growing fruits and veggies, and such fun things. My mom tried to grow cabbages in West Africa and succeeded, until she found out that the full grown cabbages were the decorative kind and not for eating! I attempted to grow tomatoes and put about 50 gallons of water into 4 cherry-sized results. My herb pots did not flourish like I had expected and the chives that pushed up eagerly out of the soil first did not last long. And here we were, headed to plant garlic.

I watched Rocco as he pushed a tiller of sorts through the thick clay earth, creating a wide furrow about 6 inches deep. He then turned to us and instructed us to plant the garlic about 3 inches apart, right-side up. Rebecca and I got busy quickly, squatting or bending over to carefully place the garlic in the waiting earth as Shaina came behind covering them with loose dirt. I didn't know that to plant garlic, you have to have a single clove. From that single clove a full head will develop. Last year they planted 10 pounds of garlic and harvested about 100 pounds. This year they're planning to plant 25 pounds.

We soon got into a routine of sorts, bending, planting, moving down a bit, planting more, stopping often to reach into the bucket for another handful of cloves. Leap-frogging each other, we finished our first row 45 minutes later and started down the second. I had shed my sandals early on and Rebecca followed suit, pulling off socks and shoes, to relish in the feeling of wet earth between our toes as we tromped down the rows, soaking up the sun and feeling the gentle fall breeze. Dr. J busied herself pulling euphorbia (a fancy word for a kind of weed) and the time flew by.

At some point in the afternoon, Dr. J came across a spoon of a rather odd shape. Both the front and back thirds of the spoon had been bent inwards so it formed a U-shape of sorts. Recognizing the cafeteria design, we theorized that it had been through the composter, and as Dr. J reached to add the spoon to her collection of scrap metal, PVC pipe, and other things she'd found in the garden, I suddenly said, "I want that spoon!" It just seemed like a cool object to keep and maybe it would come in handy for an illustration one day.

At quitting time we headed back up the hill to the small shed where we would deposit our tools and extra garlic to be planted the next day. We had finished two rows and were pleased with our day's work. After putting my items away, I reached in my pocket and realized I had lost my spoon. I carefully checked my pockets and found my Ipod and keys but no spoon. "I must have lost my spoon, I'll be right back," I called to my teammates and headed back down towards the garlic patch to retrace my steps. As I walked by the row, carefully scanning the ground, I began to despair of finding the spoon. Why did I need it anyway? It was just a silly little used spoon anyway. But I liked to collect odd things, like random stones and branches and the worn lug nut off my tire and bird feathers and burned bits of firewood. So I prayed, knowing that God knew where my spoon was and that He could show me. Sure enough, at the end of the row, I looked up and saw my spoon happily laying there on the ground, just waiting for me to come and find it.

As I was writing, I realized there is a lesson to be learned in something even as simple as this. We're like that spoon. We look kind of funny, maybe are a bit beat up and banged about, but God comes along and sees us and knows there is something amazing about us. That part of us that we are afraid of showing to the world, are ashamed of, embarrassed about, uncertain of, that part of our life experience that we wonder why we had to endure, that unique part about us is exactly what God sees and He thinks, "I can use that!" He picks us up and places us in a safe place so, at the right time, He can use us for the purpose that we were created for. He knows that there will come a time when we will be able to help someone else see their unique beauty and understand why they have gone through their individual experiences.

Then we decide to go our own way. We aren't sure whether we really want to have our experiences shared with the world, whether we can trust this God Whom we are still just getting to know, and whether we are ready for this different experience. Maybe it would be easier to stay where we were, buried in the ground, in a comfortable place, slowly rusting over time. So we quietly slip out the back door and return to our place of familiarity.

God knows we are missing, though, and He is not content to leave us where we would prefer to stay. He returns, and, like the story of the Good Shepherd, keeps looking until He finds us. Or maybe He keeps calling until we realize that we have been found.

Little Prayers Answered

Sunday this week, Rachel, Michael, Joel (Nedley) and I went in to Sacramento for the annual Capitol City Airshow. This year's show featured the Thunderbirds (I actually prefer the Blue Angels!) and we got up super early, finally pulling out the gate just after 7 am. After parking in a free park-and-ride lot, we caught the Light Rail to the Mather Field stop, then boarded a shuttle bus for the last leg of the journey to the Mather Airport. The airshow takes place right on the airfield and you have to bring your own water, chair, snacks, etc. Despite the later-than-planned departure, we still managed to arive 30 minutes early so I sat comfortably in my foldable chair while we waited for them to open the "gates" and let us through. Some helpful people went up and down the lines of people telling us to take our chairs out of their storage bags, to toss water stored in camelbacks, and "if you have pepper spray, please dispose of it now." With strict security being enforced due to the airplanes being showcased that day, we dutifully did the necessary steps to ensure that we could go through the check as quickly as possible. Rachel and I drained our 1-litre REI bottles, Michael downed as much of his 3-litre camelback store as he could handle, and then I remembered. I had a cayenne pepper spray on my keychain. I groaned inwardly, because it was too late to go back to the car now, and if I tried to go through security with it, they would surely confiscate and toss it. After scanning our surroundings, I decided on a plan. I got up and sauntered slowly over to the nearby row of portable toilets, then got out my cell phone and pretended I was listening to someone. With my guise in place, I moved up to the fence and stopped for a moment. Still appearing to be deep in conversation, I leaned my right leg up against the metal post, held the black canister tight against my leg and slowly dropped the spray straight down between the metal stand. I carefully kicked it into place then headed back to our group.

It was an awesome show as we saw the F-22 raptor, the Globemaster, the Patriot Civilians, the 400 mph jet car, a paraplegic glider, and of course the Thunderbirds. After a full day we headed back to the shuttle bus and suddenly I remembered, "I wonder if my spray is still there?" We exited the show and I headed back to the chain link fence behind the portable toilets. I reached the spot where I had placed it, over 8 hours earlier, praying that if God wanted me to keep it that He would protect it. It was still there.

Thursday's blog posted on Friday :)

Something has been up with the internet the past couple of days, which is most frustrating because then I can’t go online at night to read my friends’ statuses on Facebook, update my blog, or watch my favourite movies. Last night I started watching More To Love, and tonight I was planning to catch the next episode of my all-time favourite, ANTM, but unfortunately I’m out of luck. Oh well, tonight I’m super sleepy and if I wanted to watch, I have a wide assortment of DVDs to keep me preoccupied. It’s just kinda irritating, because I already don’t get TV reception down here. . .I think I’m actually too sleepy to write, so I shan’t. But I must not forget to journal next time on the pepper spray who went to the air show, a composted spoon, and lessons in a garlic clove.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Four Hands and a Single Vine

Okay, it's been a while. Life got hectic, everyone knows how that goes, and then stress and all that. But at last it is 9:02 pm and I'm sitting quite comfortably sideways on my bed with my comforter and all my pillows squished up behind my head, laptop on my lap (duh, hence the name!) and feet propped on my four-legged stool, an excellent steal from storage. There are a million things I could be doing right now, such as cleaning my bathroom, tidying my house, doing the dishes, sorting paper bags of miscellaneous belongings, but I'm taking the time to relish in the early hour and to quiet my soul with the luxury of writing. It isn't often that one takes the time to really stop. To stop rushing through the busyness of life and feel calm. I think it's something we all crave, but feel guilty to prioritize. Yet the simplicity of a few quiet moments, like a stained wooden bookshelf whose only decorations are a lace doily, miniature clogs, homemade crayon candle, and purple wooden tulip, can create stillness in the midst of madness.

This shan't be much longer, though, as I was up before the crack of dawn to rush through rush-hour traffic for a dental appointment to replace a chipped crown. This afternoon we were in the prayer garden, raking leaves and snipping ivy, and I had the task of pulling dead leaves out of the ivy that surrounds the large trees. Dr. Jensen had stationed herself at the same tree and was happily pruning the overgrowth to eye level. Several of those branches were rather resilient, however, and when she tried to clip them, they refused to be broken. She asked for my help, but when my "young, strong" hands were unable to make a dent, we decided to attack the stubborn branches a different way. This time Dr. Jensen bent a branch while I sawed at it with the clippers, slowly increasing the pressure until finally it snapped. Together, two sets of hands made it work.

Now I look forward to my time outside, whether it be on the farm, in the garden, picking tomatoes or wildflower seeds, pruning ivy or raking leaves. I find myself waiting for the time to arrive, see the hours fly by, and while I regret it when 5:30 seems to roll around too quickly, I am also content to see a good work completed. In the office sometimes it seems like the paperwork piles up faster than I can make a dent in it, but out in the fresh air, with the fall sun warming the afternoon, all worries seem to melt away as I focus on the task at hand. I never imagined I would treasure those couple of hours each day, but I do, and I'm grateful I have the opportunity.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cockleburry Bouquets

Today I went cockleburry picking! Finally, after about a week, I got out on the farm for my 2-hour stint and discovered that we were headed down to the pasture in the lowlands to pick weeds. Yay! So we all found a good pair of sturdy gloves and headed, tools in tow, to yank, pull, and heave until we got those sorry suckers loose from the dirt they so tenaciously clung to. We bent our knees, four hands to a vine, and pulled with all our might until the roots sprang forth and we nearly tumbled backwards into prickles and pokes of friendly thistles. We dived amidst drying grasses, rooting around for the little plants, burrs sticking to our hair and grabbing tight to any part of our body they could reach. We crouched low, making sure we were at the base of thick stalks as we lopped the toughest ones right next to the ground. And with each bouquet of weeds that we tossed on an ever-growing pile, the thoughts shook loose into my mind.

I know weeds are compared most often to sin and it was interesting to try to come up with lessons from my experiences today. The team began the project yesterday, and while they thought they had gotten all the plants in one particular section of the field, upon closer inspection today they found more of the pesky things. Often, when you think you've gotten victory over a particular problem, you go back and realize there's just a few more parts of it you overlooked.

Then, only after we pulled the large weeds were we able to see the smaller ones hiding underneath. It's the same in life, the closer you get to Jesus, the more you start to see all the tiny problems that you know you have to work on. You think, "Well, that was a big issue, now I no longer have to deal with it and I can start working on perfection" but as soon as you try doing that, you realize how many tiny issues you have and realize it's a big task yet.

Last summer, Dr. J and some of her friends pulled a huge pile of weeds and left them to dry. This year, new plants grew up aplenty at that same spot, teaching us that it isn't enough to just leave them there to dry out, you have to burn them till all evidence is gone. Enough said.

And finally, my favourite lesson for the day: sometimes it isn't enough to have just one set of hands pulling a weed, sometimes it is too hard and you need a friend with that little bit of extra support and strength. In life, especially as Christians, we start to think that we can fix ourselves all by ourselves. Not only do we need Jesus, though, we also need fellowship with others and good Christian friends who can encourage us with strength and support when we are struggling with an issue. Often, with those four hands pulling hard enough, the weed comes right out, root and all!

A few thoughts to ponder from the garden of life. . .

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wrinkled Lizards

Wrinkled fingers. That is the worst thing in the world, dishwater-wrinkled-fingers and hands. I began my evening at home with the best of intentions, I was going to make an indent on the mess that insists on putting the 2nd law of thermodynamics to the test and demonstrate that matter, when left to its own devices, will disintegrate. Of course the particular matter that lies around my place happens to have been helped along a little, namely by yours truly, and it could be the 1st law of thermodynamics for all I care, my point was that, oh I can't remember anymore, oh well! Ah yes, I was going to clean up my place! So I started the process by going to my mom's office to hang out and chat, for 30 minutes. Then I exercised (because you can't do vigorous exercise after you eat) and did my Leslie Sansone Walk-at-Home video, for 30 minutes. After that I watched something while I ate my supper, for an hour? I can't remember. Then I washed the dishes, for 30 minutes. Two days' worth, first because I'm lazy and second because it doesn't bother anyone but me if there are dirty dishes in the sink and third because I don't use many dishes at a meal and it's kinda sad to see a lone plate and bowl sitting in the dish rack keeping company with a single knife and spoon. Depressing!!! Now I have a full dish rack which puts a smile on my face! And wrinkled fingers. Now that definitely does not put a smile on my face because wrinkled dishwater fingers are the worst feeling in the world, even worse than all that leftover gunk at the bottom of the dirty dishwater. Well, the ultimate horrible feeling would be washing those wrinkled hands after I've finished wiping down the countertops.

Okay, enough of that!!!

I still haven't done any tidying up (because now I'm blogging!) and now I have a lizard. I'm not exactly sure how he got in, because I keep my windows firmly shut, but he must have slipped in under the door because he can't be more than 5 inches long. I watched him creep across my carpet like a miniature iguana, kinda creepy like. Now I don't mind lizards, too much, except that growing up in Africa I have bad memories of opening up our mosquito nets at night and lizards dropping out of the bundled up net. Thankfully we'd be standing by the bed during this procedure and not lying in the bed, but it was always a dance to get those lizards out of our room. I called home and asked Michael what to do about my lizard and he said to let it be; it would eat my flies and spiders (not that I have any!). So for now, I will let the tiny gremlin share my living quarters as long as he behaves himself!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Someone's Got Issues (and they'd better stand up and admit it!)

"So you grow up thinking everyone is perfect therefore you have to be perfect, and you can’t share your issues because if you do, then everyone else will know immediately what those issues are, and meanwhile no one else has issues but they go around looking for everyone else’s issues to point them out."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Quotable Quotes

"Ten years of living in heaven does not a saint make."

"Do not require others to live your life, to be convicted of your convictions, or to realize your reality. Only you are in your present, they must walk their own path, and each one's footsteps are spaced differently."

"The ones who are struggling but are open about it, those people I can understand. It's the ones who are perfect, those are the ones I cannot forgive."

"So you tell me I won't be going to heaven because I ate a slice of cheddar cheese today? That's okay, I wouldn't want to live in your heaven anyway."

"Stop short before deciding another's future."

"Mistakes? Difficult choices? Uncertainties? How will you ever learn if all you do is play it safe? I'm not saying you shouldn't try to do the right thing; I'm just saying it's okay if you miss your exit or take a different turn on the pathway of life."

"What happened to love, anyway? Is it hidden under dusty piles of caring, compassion, kindness and concern? Maybe it's been tossed to the side to make room for reformation and revival. Love is, after all, highly overrated."

"Maybe it isn't all about what's wrong with me. Maybe, just maybe, I'm doing something right and maybe all this struggling, this fighting against injustice, is the right person to be."

Monday, August 31, 2009

It's that day again

It's 10:04 pm and I seriously should be sleeping (I was feeling sleepy at about 7:30 this evening!) but unfortunately, I went online as soon as I got back from visiting my home on the hill, and I can slowly feel the sleepiness slip away as the excitement of Facebook and emails and doing all kinds of random unnecessary things catches me and I'm not so sure I want to be up early with the train whistle tomorrow, running through another day.

It's been a while. Today wasn't a good day. Mondays generally aren't, and yet they are. Monday means you'll be busy all day catching up on whatever didn't get done on Friday, there are voicemails to answer, papers to be shuffled, and a general sense of busyness in the air. Mondays also signal the beginning of another week. . .a long week. . .and it is on Mondays that I take time to plan out that week so that I can be most productive (and forget the least amount of things!).

Ah well, enough of the pity party. I seriously must get some sleep, because tomorrow is a Tuesday and who knows what exciting adventures it may bring!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wildflower Seeds & Rusty Nails

Well, the semester has officially started at Weimar College and so has a new aspect of my experience. . .manual labor. You know, it really isn't as bad as it sounds or appears! It's sort of like exercising, you know you have to do it, you really don't want to do, but once you start, and especially once you're done, you're glad you did it!

As part of the "new" college, all staff and faculty have been assigned to work together with the students for a couple of hours a day, Monday through Thursday. (ahem, somehow Laura didn't get on that list. . .) While we are technically supposed to be supervising the students, most of us have no clue what we are doing, so it's a learning curve all around, which is actually kind of fun. I'm on a team with Dr. Jensen, Rebecca C, Shaina and Kylee and we're called the "farm beautification team" which basically means we're the floaters, the drifters, the sorters and the organizers!

Our tasks so far have been interesting and varied. Monday I put on my jeans and t-shirt and happily sailed to the front of the college building to receive my first assignment. Our first project was to clean up the prayer garden. While everyone else was busily raking pine needles away to reveal the carpeted grass beneath, I was handed a pair of clippers which I used to work on hacking away at some rather rebellious ivy. It didn't take me long to figure out that I was not a naturally-born gardener and the end of my day saw me staring at a much-pruned area that also boasted large gaping holes scattered about. Oh well, at least it's on the side that people don't see very often?

Tuesday I had to skip because of duties in the office, but Wednesday I headed up to the farm in 103 degree weather where, thankfully, our assignment for the afternoon kept us in the shade and in the shed. We spent our time sorting all kinds of bits and pieces as we attempted to make some sense out of a shed full of items I had never seen before in my life, let alone could identify, and organize it so that others who knew what everything was could access them easily. It was interesting when we dumped out the #10 can full of nails to sort them and out came a matted clump of rusty nails. Needless to say, those went in the trash can.

Today we finished up the shed and then transitioned to picking wildflower seeds. I spent a couple of enjoyable hours in the sun, getting my vitamin D, listening to the conversation around me, and rubbing dried flower heads between my fingers so I could sift out the dark seeds. At the end of our laborious labor, Dr. Jensen and I managed to fill a 3 inch plastic bag with our seeds. We're a long way off from filling a #10 can!!!

I have learned several things from my experience up on the farm, even though it's been so short. I've learned that it isn't about getting things done, but it is about doing the things that need to be done. As a type A overachieving perfectionistic choleric-sanguine eldest child (that's quite a mouthful!), I tend to multitask. . .all the time. I go into a task head on, figure out how to get it done and do it well, and then proceed to accomplish it. . .in as little time as possible and as efficiently as I can. That system does not work up on the farm.

Projects on the farm are done at a more leisurely pace. We are not taught to rush through something quickly so we can move on to the next task, rather we are being taught to relish the experience, to build friendships with those around us, and to do the task to the best of our ability. I'm finding that when I'm working in nature, I tend to forget all the things that are running through my mind constantly when I'm planted in my office, phone ringing, a constant stream of people in my office demanding my attention, and a mile-long to-do list that insists on taking every spare minute. Instead, I tune in to the natural rhythm of nature as I relax and realize that I won't be penalized if I don't get something done straight away, I don't have to worry about forgetting some important task, and all I have to do is focus on the task at hand, however small it may appear. It's almost as if I'm learning how to work all over again!

I know not every day will be easy or fun. So far I've encountered prickly "wild grape" plants intertwined with the ivy and dried rat droppings in the shed, the dust and dirt makes for great sneezing attacks, and I'm discovering some muscles I never realized I had. But hey, I'm getting paid to exercise and to de-stress, so it couldn't be much better than this!

I love the feeling you get after a couple of hours of good manual labour. I love to work hard and see a task being accomplished. I love an excuse to get my fingers dirty and I love being out in the fresh air and therapeutic sun. And I'm already looking forward to what we're going to do next week. . .

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A fun thought or two

It's late and I really should be sleeping, particularly considering the fact that I had a slight problem waking up this morning (ahem, I DID turn my alarm off. . .at 7:30 am. . .and then promptly fell unconscious. . .hmmm. . .maybe I have sleeping sickness?). The sprinklers outside my window go off at random times and it is rather disturbing when a loud "swishing" and "sputtering" decides to erupt as soon as my fridge stops humming! I'm chatting with a good friend, reading LaVonne's blogs (love your list of top 10!), and trying to remember my grandmother's maternal name so I can Google her and see what interesting things come up. It's been a super long day and I seriously need to learn to budget about three hours of downtime into my evening, along with everything else that needs to be done!!!

My lovely little studio apartment urgently needs some care. I have a long strip of unpainted wall right by the door that needs attention, a pile of unwanted belongings that my family so generously transported to and dumped in my place sits tall in a corner, and haphazard items lie strewn about, waiting for a new home.

It's been a long day, and I managed to stretch it out even longer by staying at work till almost 8 working on the "mug sheet" of students and staff pictures. It's really quite hysterical when you think about it, 25 students and we have to see their pictures so we know who is who. I mean, after registration I had everyone's first and last name down pat and was working on memorizing their class schedules as everyone seems to think I have a database in my head that just spits out random information on demand!!!

It's 11:27 pm now, just got off the phone with an old friend (not in age!) and I seriously need to "hit the sack" except I think I shall be sinking into the sack! The mattress I dug up from storage has seen firmer years. . .but can't complain. At least it isn't a sanitarium mattress!!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Greatest Want. . .

I'm excited! If you've been following my blog, you'll know that it's been kind of difficult lately, trying to keep that vision, and wondering if there is a purpose and meaning to it all. Today was exactly what I needed: a reminder of why I am here. As I busily bustled about Classroom 1, solving scheduling issues, answering questions from agitated people, and handing registration packets to uncertain college freshmen, I was truly happy within. When someone asked me how I was feeling, amidst the hectic, I grinned real big and said, "this is my most favourite time of the year!

I'm also excited because I was reminded again today why I am at Weimar and what my mission in life is at present. My mission in life is not to travel the seven seas, reaching people on distant islands, it is not to hike tall mountains and share the gospel with remote tribes, it is not to pull people out of the grasp of sin through inner-city ministries, it is not to live on a farm in some deserted area far removed from the city and it is not to journey to foreign countries and convert souls by the thousands. My mission in life is to do exactly what I do now. To be the best registrar, advisor, counselor, and friend to as many as I can who come to Weimar. My mission field is right here, near the city but not in it, enabling missionaries to go out but not going as one, supporting the sharing of the gospel in an indirect way and yet seeing results all the time as one by one, the young people leave this campus, faith strong and ready to change the world.

As I sat in Classroom 2 this evening and listened to the beautiful harmonies swell and fill the room, tears came to my eyes. "This is why I am here," I thought, "and I don't have to go anywhere else to find this experience. It's right here."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It's My Skin (and don't tell me what colour it is, either!)

T'was a long day today, filled with meetings, phone calls, people needing to talk, and of course the things that needed to be done for registration, which I managed to squeeze in somewhere. Now I am grateful for the extra two hours I have tomorrow morning when I will be scurrying about photocopying things, locating extra pens, and trying to calm frantic teachers, direct new students, and help worried parents as we begin a new year. . .yet again!!! Seems like every year we're doing everything from the beginning, all over again, and you'd think I would have it down pat by now, but unfortunately it seems like I've been getting a lot of curveballs lately.

I love and my quote for today kinda hits home:

"All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naïve. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: that I am nobody but myself." ~Ralph Ellison, "Battle Royal"

Monday, August 17, 2009

Step One: Lose It

Ahhhh, nothing beats Pandora, especially "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey. I'm sitting on my bed, my peach double-sided quilt and three pillows stacked behind my head, as I hear the faint drone of the a/c keeping the summer's evening heat at bay. No matter how long a day I've had at work, nothing beats coming home and fully relaxing, kicking back and knowing that I have a deliciously long evening stretching ahead with no one laying claim on my time. (except for the dishes, the correspondence course, the filing, and all those other "to do" items that keep nagging at the back of my mind!)

I learned something today: when you have a list of things to do, lose the list, and by the time you find it again, you will have accomplished at least two thirds of the items! Several days ago, I sat down and created a list of urgent to-do things so I could clear my head and get organized. Well, I promptly lost that list beneath piles of dead trees, I mean paper, and soon gave up hope of ever finding my desk again, let alone that list. Late this afternoon, I finally found the time (and people stopped coming in my office, the phone stopped ringing, and emails stopped flooding my Outlook inbox) to clear my office. As I shuffled through a pile of useless documents, my fingers stopped at a rather important paper: my list! I quickly located a pen and began to cross items off, until I realized that most of the things I was so worried about finding the time to do several days ago, were now finished.

I have been learning several other things in this past week or so. I have realized that I am a strong woman, I am comfortable with being who I am, and I will not allow myself to be controlled by anyone (my biggest pet peeve). I have a strong sense of justice and a big heart that aches to make everything better for everyone, both characteristics that I know God gave me. I have also realized that God understands when I'm struggling with all the injustices, the politics, and the hunger, pain, and suffering and that He is proud of me for caring.

It's been a week of learning, and it's not even Tuesday yet! Now to enjoy some Trader Joe's Chocolate Cherry Chip Icecream. . .

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Purple Cat With An Orange Collar

"Keep this in mind—you are loved."

Today was another of those tough days. Seems like I've been getting a slew of them lately and I'm not exactly sure why. Well, okay, I have my theories, but cyberspace is neither the time nor the place to expound on those.

Feeling like a little pick-me-up was in order, I began to leaf through a cute "Stuck on You" notepad that LaVonne gave me for my birthday. When I came across the note where a smiling purple cat proclaimed that "you are loved" as bubble hearts sailed above his head, I stopped turning pages. "It's true," I thought. "I am loved."

We all have bad days. We all have bad weeks. Some of us have bad months and even bad years and, okay, let's stop there. Yet in the midst of those difficult times, don't we all stop and think, just for a moment, of the people who love us? We realize that even though it's not easy going, there are people who care about us, who are rooting for us, who want us to succeed, and who will support us through the hard times and cheer us on as we pursue our dreams. I am blessed to have so many people in my life who I know care about me. I have a really great family, very close friends, awesome coworkers, and so many friendly people in my wider circle of acquaintances. Most importantly, I have a Father Who loves me infinitely and maybe I need to stop and ponder how much He really cares for me.

As I prepare for another busy week, I'll not forget to remember. . .that I am loved.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Life's a See-Saw (and I'm in the middle)

So there are down days, there are up days, and then there are those days when you experience both in one, which is fine as long as it ends on a good note!!!

Yet another crazy hectic day. I didn't get to anything on my extensive list of "things to do;" I couldn't even find my list!!! I feel like I've spent my entire week putting out fires, answering questions, answering the phone (14 messages in one day, when for months I would be excited if I got 4 messages in one week!), answering questions, answering the phone, answering emails, answering questions. . .you probably get the point. I'm not exactly sure why, when everyone seems to have managed quite well for six weeks while I was gone, that the instance I am back they become utterly helpless and unable to do the smallest things. Okay, maybe not the smallest things, but right now I feel like I'm in panic-mode and I'm frustrated because I'm not able to be as organized and on top of things as I normally would be if it were an ordinary school-year. With a number of new students, new teachers & staff, and a new experience overall, it is difficult to stay above water, let alone be competent in the areas I know I excel. As an overachieving perfectionist, that doesn't bode well for my sanity!!!

There are always, though, those moments when you know you're going to be okay. When you wake up from an amazingly deep unexpected nap, taste a steaming fresh banana muffin that rose perfectly, or sit around the kitchen table with family and laugh from the bottom of your soul. You realize that, despite it all, you are still blessed with health, family, friends, shelter, and more than you need. (plus it's easier to feel grateful when it's the beginning of a lovely long weekend!)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Ramble

It's late, I need to be sleeping, but my soul requires the outlet of writing before I can feel fully rested.

Today hasn't been an easy day. I find that the days I make an effort to spend some extra time with God in the morning are the days that are my worst. I know why, but that doesn't make it any easier to handle!

One disturbing part of my day was when I checked my bank balance and discovered that someone had made an unauthorized charge in excess of $100. Thankfully I was able to catch that quickly enough, but it was rather upsetting.

Still waiting to catch my breath, and I fear I shall never have that opportunity. . .

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's Wednesday (but feels like Friday)

Yaaaaay, I'm happy :) Tara Marie is here and it's so nice to see her again. I also realized how much I do like having a roommate, particularly when strange noises sound in the middle of the night. But I do enjoy having my own space too, so I guess I'm flexible. But this is one of the reasons why I got my own place, so I could have friends come over and hang out. Which reminds me. . .I need to get around to having a house-warming party at some point. . .

Today was the most fascinating day at work yet. Different challenges, one of those days when you think "Oh well, it can't last forever, can it?" and yet you know it will. I am still waiting for an hour or two when I can start crossing things off my list and actually start preparing for registration. I've found that every time I start to think that I actually have things figured out, life just throws more curveballs and I end up sitting down, overwhelmed and about ready to cry "I quit!"

But there's always tomorrow, right?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Night Owl

Hah, it's 11 pm and I'm still up. Shouldn't be, particularly since I have resolved to exercise, every day, for at least 30 minutes. I set out quite determinedly on Monday morning and managed to get in a good 45 minutes around the Loop. Then I woke up this morning feeling slightly sore and hit the snooze button. Tomorrow morning I have to get in to work asap, which means I won't have time to walk unless I get up before the crickets (and I am so not a morning person) so maybe Thursday? I think I value my sleep more than my exercise. But my evening was not time wasted :) I talked to a good friend for over an hour, spent some time at home chatting with my mom, and vacuumed my little place and cleaned the bathroom. I'm excited cuz Tara Marie is coming tomorrow, yaaaay! Oh, and Michael made the most delicious homemade blackberry pie with fresh blackberries that he and my mom picked by the creek and he even made the double crust from scratch (Betty Crocker rocks!). It tasted absolutely perfect.

Found out at the dentist today that I've managed to chip a crown so I have to have it replaced. Fun :( Not. My orthodontist has recommended jaw surgery because of an open bite and an overbite and it's a 30-month process with braces and breaking the jaw to realign it and I really don't want to do a major surgery like that but she and my dentist both strongly suggest I should because I'm "compromising" my back teeth. Bother. I hate making decisions like that. Which is why I'm eagerly looking forward to going to heaven, where we will never have to worry about root canals, where crowns will be golden and placed on our heads instead of in our mouths, where we can eat all we want and never have to brush or floss, and where toothaches will be a thing of the past.

Okay, I really should go to bed now. But does anyone know when I'll get to take a break from getting back from being away?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Long Days, Short Nights

Because I decided that my priority was to watch "Confessions of a Shopaholic" last night and stay up till 11 pm, I also decided to skip the morning walk this morning and set my alarm for 7:30 am. Unfortunately, the train had a different idea and I was up at 6:30 to a distinct choo-choo right outside my window. So, after sailing around the loop a billion times, I started a rather busy day at work. I'm still trying to catch my breath after six weeks' absence and am beginning to fear I shall never see my shadow again!!! Tomorrow a good friend comes to stay for a week (yaaay Tara Marie!) and after that, yup, school begins. It will be fun to have everyone around, but when do I get to breathe???

I forked over $80 today for a meal ticket and the plan is to eat lunches in the caf for awhile since they have such great salads (no bread for me!!!). My absolute favourite is English cucumbers, red bell peppers, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), kidney beans, and sweet corn, with garlic feta drizzed over top. Yum yum!!! Of course I have so much food stuffed into my tiny fridge from my town trip to Winco yesterday, that I may have to eat some of my lunches at home. I'm not used to buying food for only one person!!! It's probably a good thing that I only have a mini fridge right now, or I'd be tempted to buy everything in bulk.

I'm grateful for air conditioning tonight, cuz it's kinda hot. Nothing particularly scintillating to write about, so I shall attempt to get a little more sleep tonight. I think I'm finally starting to catch up. . .

Oh, Raley's has been having grapes for 87 cents a pound, and they're super delicious too! They even had Bing cherries for $1.49!!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Noises in the Night

Last night I woke up about 2 am, to unfamiliar noises. It sounded like a party was going on, across the freeway, and I strained to hear voices and at times, what seemed like a woman's scream, muffled by the freeway. I wasn't sure whether I was hearing things, if the resident peacocks had returned, or what I should do, so after lying in bed petrified for about 20 minutes, I got up, closed my window, and went back to sleep. I'm still not sure what that was all about, but the previous resident has told me that I happen to live in the perfect spot on campus to hear everything that is going on across the freeway. Oh joy!

Still haven't completely unpacked, due to a rather hectic week, but can't complain, as the time has been well spent with friends and attempting to settle back into the routine we call life. I'm finally starting to feel rested, after too many late nights!