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. . .