Monday, July 29, 2013

Exhausted Service

Ok, so after a little hiatus I am back.  This past week was one of inspiration, fun, challenge, and pure exhaustion.  Quite literally, I even took at three hour nap yesterday and slept all night.  So, here goes all I have learned in a blog. 

Thursday and Friday of last week were competition days for the Miss California State Competition.  Most people hear this and think beauty pageant.  But it isn’t. There is no judging on beauty, swimsuit, or poise.  It is strictly a scholarship competition with areas of competition including community service, academics, interviews, fair industry (the title holder is the official hostess of the California State Fair), community advocacy, impromptu, and talent (no beauty in any of those areas).  The organization that puts it is on is Youth Focus, Inc. being an advocate for the advancement of youth. 

I have worked with this organization since 2005 when I first competed and have served as competitor, judge, and now chaperon.  I have seen a variety of All Star Teams, but this one will always hold a special place in my heart.  This team was unique as there was a very special guy competing for the title of California State Ambassador.  He was talented (extremely – he plays 8 instruments and focuses on 4), kind hearted, and compassionate.  But what made him unique was that we competed with Autism.  I have never seen a special needs individual compete, much less at the high standards required of this competition.  That was special enough, but watching his team mates join around him and support him was something else. 

Most often, contestants will help each other out, but try their best to stand out on top.  This year they all helped David without any care to where it would put them in the competition.  He was so inspiring; they just could not help it.  He came in second with the title of Golden State Ambassador with a perfect score in talent (his harp playing brought me to tears it was so beautiful).  When they called his name, he didn’t realize what it meant.  The girl I chaperoned all week, and who was named Miss California State 2013, Madi Wackerman was standing next to him.  She leaned down to tell him he won and we were just so excited.  I do not think he has ever won something this big in his life.  The entire contestant pool erupted in cheers…it was truly beautiful. 

Miss California State 2013 Madi and Me

California State Golden State Ambassador 2013 and Me


This competition kept me on my feet about 14 hours a day four six days in heels.  Those of you who know me know I am always in heels, but by the end of the week my feet were numb.  Quite literally, two days later and I still can’t feel my toes.  But, it was worth it to see this team.  They truly blessed me.  I was able to write an article (thank you to Josh for catching a mistake…that’s what I get for writing on 2 hours of sleep…thank you).  Thank you to all who read it for me. 

I was very successful at avoiding the ex last week.  Though on my way out of the final luncheon he tried to catch me.  All I could was wave at him and hurry out because I was hosting a birthday party for my sister that night and still had a three hour drive ahead of me.  So close but no cigar, sir! Too bad I have to do it all over again this week at the fair.  He is judging and I am working with the girls.  Good news, Miss California State (who I chaperoned last week) and my mini-me will also be there  and they run great interference.  Plus, even with the two hour time difference, Robert said I could call him and use him as an excuse.  He is the best boyfriend ever. 

I made it back to finish set up for the birthday party with only a couple hours to spare, but it was a great party made more intimate by the orchard setting.  It was lovely.  I got to see my siblings I seldom get to see because of distance and schedules, and enjoyed watching everyone.  I was so tired though I could barely stand up by the end of the night.  I didn’t even do the beer tasting because it would only make things worse.


Birthday girl, my daddy, and me!
 

I hadn’t been able to talk to Robert all week (it felt like eternity).  So, I called him on the final ten minutes home (yes, I know it was illegal, but I put him on speaker phone and drove with both hands on the wheel).  It was so nice to hear his voice.  You never know how much someone means to you until you can’t talk with them or see them.  Those ten minutes were not enough.  Though, he succeeded in doing something no one else really has been able to do – calm me down in less than five minutes.  So, after the party, though I was so tired, I crawled into bed and Skyped him on my phone.  I think he was shocked to see how tired I looked.  Oh, but it was so needed to see him and reconnect with him.

Yesterday, I did the 5th Sunday celebration at my mom’s church. She does only one service on 5th Sundays of the month so that everyone at church can see everyone.  This week she made a 20 foot ice cream sundae.  I helped in the drama and on the worship team and served.  It was fun.
Me at the 20 foot ice cream sundae


I then had lunch with my grandparents and great aunt.  They wanted to know more about Robert and asked to see a picture of him.  I showed them one of him in his dress uniform and they just about lit up!  “How handsome!”  “What nice eyes,” and “Wow!  Does he have a lot of ribbons…speaks well of him” seemed to pepper the conversation. They are anxious to meet this wonderful beau of mine  (two more months grandma.) 

Robert in dress uniform for me


I crashed when I got home.  A three hour nap and two episodes of the West Wing and I was just beginning to feel normal again.  I Skyped Robert and we started planning the trip to Maryland (getting really excited about it).  He had a test this morning he was stressing over.  But, when you prepare you succeed.  Who has a handsome beau with brains that got a 97% on his test he was just hoping to pass?  Me!  So proud of you, honey! 


And now, to start another day back in the orchards.  Here we go!!! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Impact

Impact: a powerful word that is often given very little reverence. We go through life and forget that we all have an impact on this world.  We impact the people around us.  We impact the planet.  We impact the morals of our policies and how we treat people.  But, more often than not, we forget this simple reality leading to poor self-image, depression, and in the most extreme circumstances, suicide. 

This competition is a fantastic example of how that impact is so important (whether we choose to recognize that or not).  The young girl I am chaperoning remembered me from my first year of competition.  She was so impressed with my talent (spinning a rifle) and it has stayed with her for eight years.    Her father worked on the music for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.  I just came from that very show a few weeks and was impacted by the experience I was brought to tears.  That experience will stay with me for years to come because one man decided to dedicate his skills and talents to such a worthy cause.  How blessed I was by that man, who may never meet me and may not think what he did was anything special, but he made an impact on my life. 

This impact is often best seen through our skills and talents, but it can also be seen through our weakness and failures.  This often hits home when one considers things like watching an “aha!” moment arise after many failed attempts. More often than not we see this in science when the serendipitous accident results in the finding of a cure of balding (Rogan) or treatment for a disease.  But what about situations a little closer to home: job hunting (my city has been in double digit unemployment since 1990), that class you have to retake because you just didn’t understand the criteria?  When people watch how you handle that failure, it is impactful (either for good or ill).  I have been denied a job in my field four the past four years, but that failure to find a job has not kept me from looking.  I have been told by many that this has been a testament to them in a variety of fields.

Who you are makes a difference.  If we all just believed that truth and shared that truth with the people around us how the world would be different!

All this to say that this competition is still impacting me – even though I am not a competitor this year.  Between the workshops and the people it is still a learning experience. 

I was lucky today to hear a wonderful keynote speaker, encourage more than one of the contestants, and get to help write.  To top it off, I was confirmed as a paid writer for Examiner.com (it is official!)  The trick is to pass it around because I am paid per view of my page, not article written, so please go follow my articles and take a look: examiner.com/andriablack. 

I also got to text my sweetheart who never ceases to make me feel special.  Just the nick name Angel makes my heart flutter.  He is also so supportive of my work here with these youth, but also my trepidation about seeing my ex-fiancé.  The good news is I have to rush back home to my sister’s birthday party Friday so there shouldn’t be any problem with escaping him.   Robert has made me laugh and feel like a princess so much, but especially when I am surrounded by so many crowns it means a lot. 


The day has mostly been one of contemplation in its purest form and I blessings in its most tangible form.  How blessed I am to be able to lend some of my talent for words and public speaking to these youth and encourage them in their efforts.  Thank you for letting me make a difference.   

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Competition Begins

I love reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.  Always with a Youth Focus, Inc. event that is precisely what happens.  But what you don’t know is that the Cal State Week Experience continues to teach you about yourself even if you are not competing. 

Today I had the pleasure of picking up the girl I am chaperoning for the week – Miss Orange County Maddie Wickerman.  She lives four miles from my old place in Huntington and we got along swimmingly from the start.  I then headed to meetings and the ever long process of hurry up and wait that seems to be inevitable when this many people get together for a something of this grand nature. 

As I encountered more and more people I have known throughout the years and was consistently asked about my brother (who was a previous title holder) and my ex-fiancé (also a previous title holder) and only once directly asked about my life (and only for a brief interlude).  What a perspective to get on the impact you had on people. At first this made me sad because I felt like I had not made that grand an impact of people who have made a big one on my life.  But then I realized I had been given a gift.  I get to lay a foundation of who I am now and what makes me a great person, teaching and encouraging the next generation. 

This also gave me time to consider such grand ideas of what competition really means. In today’s world competition is measured by who one can step on to climb a ladder, but really what that teaches is not success but emptiness – you end up alone on top with no one with whom to share the spoils.  Competition is also often taught as a way to compare oneself to another.  But there will always be someone who is better at everything than you.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at me and my kid brother David who can do anything he puts his mind to well, and often better than me.  I have learned a lot from him.  So, what this way of thinking does is teach us to be jealous and unhappy with who we are and the many gifts we have to share. 
Instead, and stay with me here, I think competition should be taught as a way to best ourselves.  When we encourage our competition to do their best, it would actually force us to put our best forward to achieve our desires and goals.  For example, in the game of golf it is a part of the etiquette to cheer on the opponent because their success actually pushes you to achieve at a higher level.  It is the only game of which I am aware where this is a common practice.  Why do we not teach this more?

When one thinks of rising teen suicides and bullying and self-esteem problems for people of all ages, he often thinks it is society’s fault for being too hard on a kid (everyone should be a winner).  The problem seems to be that we are not giving enough credit to our kids and that we set them up to feel this way about themselves.  Instead, if we encouraged each other on to love and good works we could really improve not just our own lives but make an impact on the people around us.  No longer would their successes hurt us, but they would be models of how to grow in our own gifts and talents.  No longer would jealousy be able to take root, for we would be encouraged to strengthen our own gifts and talents to be able to achieve at a higher level. 


We could make more of an impact if we challenged ourselves to be better today than we were yesterday.  I think it is time we changed our focus of competition from being one of outward focus to being one of inward focus.  Cheers to being better tomorrow than we are today.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Leadership, Band Geeks, and Traffic

I had the best busy day I have had in a while complete with friends, rehearsals, and God.  The prelude to it was just as grand.

Saturday night I video chatted Robert (never a bad thing…just a few more months) and then headed to the Peach Festival with my college friend, Nellie.  She and I saw experienced peach in a variety of forms from lemonade to turnovers to licorice.  Then we had a simple dinner of chicken sandwiches and got caught up.  Her husband, who I refer to as Marky Mark, was pleasant company and more humorous than I remembered.  Then I went to bed with happy texts from Robert.

Though I had very little sleep (I had to pack for my trip to the Miss California State Competition in San Jose) and have trouble sleeping in the heat, I awoke with energy enough to brew some coffee and hit the day swinging.  I got ready for church and Dad and I headed to rehearsal complete with coffee and high hopes for the day.  I saw Grandpa (he is doing really well, thank you for the prayers) and my great aunt.

The sermon was about leadership and the different types of leaders we choose to be in different circumstances. I thought this was particularly apropos for the week where I am helping select the team captain for Youth Focus, Inc. (choosing leaders and working with community leaders from across the state).  Something that stuck with me is that we are leading, even when not in an official leadership capacity, but we are either leading towards something or away.  So who are you leading?  Where are you leading?  How are you leading?  These questions are important for us all to ask, but especially those with children in their lives, and those looking to create change, and those in transition.  These circumstances make or break a leader, and we are in them every day.  So, if you think you have failed as a leader once, don’t worry, there are many more opportunities to lead and succeed throughout life…daily in fact.  You just have to choose to be better.  We can all be the next Martin Luther King, Jr. or Gandhi or Lincoln we just have to choose to be. 

With these thoughts of leadership in mind I went home to finish prepping for a great reunion with some high school friends and their families.  The old crew got together, complete with wives and children, and we had a great time of laughter, story exchanges, and realizing that our conversations ceased being about trivial things but now focus on adult things – jobs, children, laws, and bills.  When did we grow up?  How did that happen? 

I was most blessed by the company of my ex-boyfriend and his wife and son.  He makes a good burger (thank you standing in the heat and grilling for me, sorry about all the smoke).  V, you are a gem and I love that you are in my life. You are one of my favorite people and I see great leadership in you, but also great compassion and joy.  I want to be like you.  Thank you Ryan and Crystal for driving all that way; I have so missed your faces and enjoyed reconnecting.  Jess and Matt, you two bring such life and color to everyday events.  Thank you.  I can’t wait to see you all again; there is a special place in my heart for all you.

After cleaning up I headed to San Jose where I realized I still hating driving by semi-trucks…especially when the driver is falling asleep and then tries to merge into my lane where I have nowhere to go.  Let’s do that again!  Thank you God for protecting me from semi-trucks and stupid night runners who run with ear buds in and only wear black.  No accidents because Dad taught me to drive defensively but still hate driving.  Robert please come home so you can drive on trips like this (and because I love your company and want to experience these kinds of trips with you).

I then met up with my mini-me and we caught up.  We had such a great time looking at old pictures and prepping for this week of competition.  Ironically, we had a little virtual visit from one of my old roommates.  The timing was hilarious because I happened to be sitting next to her when he requested her friendship on Facebook.  He hasn’t talked to her in at least two years, to the timing was perfect.  We had a great meal of Hawaiian Sweet Rolls (I think they put some coke in those to make them addicting) and finally calmed down enough to go to sleep around two a.m.


All in all a busy day, but full of life, friends, color, and excitement; they only thing missing was video chatting Robert (two hours difference is more than one realizes).  Though I have nothing to complain about, V did fifteen months with Josh in Iraq…four months of him in Mississippi is nothing to complain about.  Now to start a week of renewing friendships, avoiding old relationships, and leading the next generation of leaders…Father, let me be an example of you that I might be a small impact for good in the lives of these youth.  

Saturday, July 20, 2013

All-Consuming

The past few days have been slow and boring.  Complete with tons of rejection letters and no responses, but full of quiet moments of reflections.  From writing to reading to long walks in the orchard to get my head back on track, I have learned…or perhaps realized…one thing: No matter where I am or what I am doing, I am loved.  That sounds corny, but it is reality.  And I believe more of us need to claim that truth.  How did I come to this conclusion?  I am not really sure I can actually put it into words but I am going to try.

I had dinner with my brother the other night.  Will served with the Marine Corps for most his adult life and now works on base here in town.  He is a feisty one, but has a heart of gold.  We put in a movie after dinner only to turn it off to talk.  He reminded me that when we were in school we used to talk all the time.  He missed it as much as I did.  I remembered that when he served in Japan and Iraq I always felt special to get a call from him.  He has always been a good brother and I am thankful God put him in my life…even though it wasn’t until high school. 

Then I found myself in an orchard reading (I like to walk and read at the same time) and the book I was reading was discussing love – all forms.  Agape love in the book is an all-consuming love.  Having never been in love before (don’t get me wrong, I have loved deeply…my first boyfriend, my ex-fiancé I will love forever, but I was never IN love with them), this idea stuck with me.  

The irony was that I was reading and pondering this on my parents’ 39th anniversary (I think 39 it could be 38…but a long time none the less).  And I was reminded about my Grandpa John pursuing my Grandma Shirley across the country. But, even these samples of love did not lend much to the all-consuming idea of agape.  The closest thing I could come to understanding it was my relationship with God.  And not even my side of the relationship. 

You see, sometimes I forget about him, I ignore his requests, I sin, I rebel. But his love for me is all-consuming to him.  I mean the best way I can explain it is the best true fairy tale ever.  A prince, who had everything, left it to find me, the wayward Jezebel.  Then when he found me, I rejected his advances.  Where this would drive most men into anger or harden their hearts, he found new ways to pursue me.  When he had exhausted all his resources and rationale, he gave the ultimate gift, his life for mine.  And then, he came back to celebrate and walk with me.  That is all-consuming love if I have ever heard of it. 

So, yesterday, I gave myself a “get my head in the game day” meaning I took it out of the game for a break.  Sometimes it is the distance to a problem that lends to a solution.  I went out and prepared for my trip to San Jose next week.  I am chaperone a Miss California State contestant.  I used to do these competitions I know the kind of stress that it induces.  So, I want to be the chaperone that helps relieve that stress.  So I went out and put together a nice welcome basket for her and have some other things planned for her throughout the week.  But this quite time of painting and creativity reminded me of how happy I am when I write and create.  So, I am praying this writing thing takes off as well as a potential other proofreading gig (I am on the short list I am told). 

I talked to my mom and had a great dinner (thank you for the introduction to zucchini pizza and chips!!! YUM!!) Here I realized how love is perceived by others.  My mom asked me about Robert and I gave her some updates.  She responded, “Well I am glad he loves you and makes you happy.  That makes me happy.”  He had never said he loves me and I had not realized it, until she said something.  But, he does (I know because he told me) and that made me feel special.  But it was his actions that made my mom say that, she has not met him yet.  But, his encouragement, the way he thinks about me (sending flowers because I am stressed…and they look beautiful!), and talking to me about all we see and experience, he is involved – much like Christ is involved in my life…he wants to know all about my day and the people I encounter. 


So, I am still mostly unemployed (read my examiner.com articles so I can be more employed), but I am loved, taken care of, and have a bright future.  You see, my God does not abandon me; he loves me too much to do that.  He has promised to give me abundantly more than I could ever ask for, and he promises to give me the desires of my heart.  So, though this may be a difficult time, it is not by far the end.  I have something bright coming my way, and I am excited to see the path.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Why do good girls finish last?

Why is it that good girls finish last?  I mean really!  We do everything right and then, smack, knocked down again.  Sometimes it really feels like I am Sisyphus rolling a rock continually uphill.  But I get ahead of myself.
 
Yesterday started like any other day.  Job hunting in the morning and then a meeting with Restoration Railroad to help plan some events and help with fundraising ideas occupied most of my day.  I had a nice and much needed video chat with Robert (he is such a great encourager) and then I headed off to dinner with my brother.  We talked and had a great time and I headed home to bed…or so I thought.

I got a call from my would-be employer for the weekend cancelling on me.  I was supposed to work the Peach Festival this weekend (and Lord knows I need the income), but the company lost two people and just doesn’t have the man power to do it.  So, that income went right out the window.  Not a problem, my God is a god who provides, so I know something will come, but this was the tail end of a day that had been intermixed with rejection letter after rejection letter…including one that told me I was unqualified for a teller position at a bank.  Really?  I know tellers; I am way OVER qualified if anything.  Frustration does not begin to explain where my head was and may still be potentially.

Reviewing the past couple days in general, it really does feel like I am rolling a rock uphill just to have it come rolling back down on top of me.  I apply to (on average) approximately fifty places a week (it takes longer for most because I have to send in numerous writing samples).  I receive maybe a fourth of that in responses all of them are rejections.  I can’t understand it.  I am educated, I am a hard worker, I am determined, and I have loyalty that surpasses some Marines.  I leave companies better than when I started.  I am a quick learn.  I am a great public speaker and even better writer.  So, explain to me why I can’t seem to get hired anywhere?  No one can say it is because I don’t qualify and that I am not trying. 

Jehovah Jirah, my provider, my faith is in you.  At this point, you are the only one who can provide for me.  Thank you for the provision of a car to use, a house to live in, and food in my belly.  For that I am grateful.  I know you know my bank account (my worth is not in my bank account) and I know you know that I still have bills to pay (those pesky student loans are not going away anytime soon).  You promise to provide for your children.  If the birds of the air have a place to rest their heads and the lilies of the valley are clothed so beautifully and they are here today and gone tomorrow, how much more will you provide for me?  As a faithful tither, I know you will.  Please renew my strength and hope.  Send me some relief.  Father, you promise to give abundantly more than we can ask for, so I am expecting an incredible job where, for the first time in my life, I don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck; I am expecting a job where I have purpose and am excited to get up and go to work; I am expecting that as I wait for that job you will provide me with an income that pays the bills and allows me to save a little.  Thank you for always coming through, even when it looks grim.  Thank you that you hear my prayers and have compassion for me.  Thank you for being a God who is involved and loving.  I ask my fellow Believers to join with me in this prayer, for where two or more are gathered in His name, there He is also (it does not say it has to be in the same place at the same time).  Amen. 

As I am praying this, I am reminded of my boyfriend who has been nothing but encouraging and helpful in this process.  How blessed I am by him every day. 

As I was praying this prayer last night before bed, I was urged to get on-line and read a letter from a dear friend, one of great encouragement.  She thought she was encouraging me in my relationship with Robert and our different ideas of God, but what she did in reality was encourage me to keep my faith in the stressful time of not knowing how God will provide…because He always provides.  Thank you and I can’t wait to see you on Sunday! 


So, why is it that good girls seem to finish last?  Perhaps it is because it will show His immense love and grace more when He opens the floodgates of Heaven.  Let it rain!!!!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The unglamours life

Nothing like coffee with your sister after a great work out (don’t worry it is always low carb and sugarless).  Some quite morning coffee is a great way to reconnect and rejuvenate.  That became more and more important as my day evolved yesterday.  

I started Exodus this week and the many miracles of Jesus.  I noticed in Exodus that Moses’ mom actually ended up getting paid to do what she would have done anyway – be a mom and a wet nurse.  That is pretty cool and encouraging to me (still looking for a regular job and being paid to read and write in the meantime).  After my morning routine, I head out with my sister to run some errands.  I am helping her plan and throw her birthday party in a week so we went out to get some supplies. 

Afterward I came home and job hunted some more.  About forty minutes into my job hunt I get a call from Tammy from Utah.  Tammy is who I have been working with in the process of interviewing for this particular position.  She was calling to inform me that I was not chosen, though they did forward my resume on to another department (though she would not tell me which one) and that they would be in contact with me if it all worked out.  Thank you Tammy, you have been wonderful to work with in this process. 

At that moment I realize two things.  One I was holding my breathe as I knew it would be a call about if I were to move forward or not.  Second, I was torn between what answer I wanted it to be.  Don’t get me wrong, I want a job…terribly so.  But I don’t want to live in Utah and Robert will be in Maryland this fall, if I got the job that means that Robert and I would go our separate ways (we talked about it already, though neither one of us wants to).  I also really want to be in DC (since 2000) and if I got the job in Utah I might never get there.  So, part of me was relieved I did not get the job.  But, the other part was discouraged all over again.  I am an excellent employee and give one hundred and ten percent at everything.  Yet, I can’t seem to catch a break.  At least in Washington DC I know I have an employment company that wants to work with me (they love my resume) I just have to be there.  God, please open a door.

As I am contemplating all this, my dad comes to my door with a big box.  Robert has sent me fresh tulips (no guy has ever done something like that) and the card was perfect: “I know you’re stressed so here is a reason to smile. Robert.”  That was as God moment.  Thank you for the beautiful flowers and perfect card.  You are so wonderful to me.  The flowers look beautiful! 

My sister comes over to help me hang some art work (finally getting things feeling like I live here) and rearrange my kitchen (it did not make sense at all).  Getting that done made me feel more at home…something I have not quite felt yet. Then we headed over to the Cookie Tree with the kids and a new book store (yay for having one in Yuba City!!!)  I hunt down a book I have been looking for (it should be here between two days and two weeks) and got two more from one of my favorite authors.  My sister told me I could justify the purchase because I can write about them and get paid for them as an examiner (you all need to follow my articles there and help me out…different style of writing but still fun). It is as we are out that I get yet another rejection letter (do all the companies get together and plan delivering them all on the same day?  I mean really, I was still whirling from the first one and this one was actually at a place in DC I really wanted to work for...ah, well just another door I know I am not suppose to go through). 


I then headed to a rehearsal with the worship team and got coffee with my dad.  I love being able to spend more time with him.  I learned grandpa had surgery (they put in a pace maker) and is to be out of the hospital today.  Thank you all for your prayers, they were heard and we are blessed.  

I got to talk to an old friend, Katie, who is a professor at the local community college.  She teaches English, so I had to pick her brain for some articles I am writing.  It was so great to here from her and get a quick catch up.  I look forward to coffee or beer or wine and some great conversations with you.  Thank you for all your support!! I had hoped to come home to a video chat with Robert, but his schooling got in the way.  I am so proud of you, honey, for doing this and how serious you are taking it.  But I still wish we had gotten a little face time.  Ah well, this is only for a short time and then you will be home.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Burglars, Fires, and Blessings

I had the worst night’s sleep possible (waking up every 40 minutes) the night prior so getting up to do Insanity with Ariel was like some kind of torture.  But I did it.  I then immediately crashed for a 30 minute nap.  After a shower, two cups of coffee, and a Bible study I finally felt like I could face the day. 

Some of you know I was hired as a write for Examiner.com last week…on probationary bases.  This means they have to review a couple articles I write before I can actually get paid and they keep me on as a writer.  This is great as it will hopefully turn into actual regular income and I get to write about something I love – literature.  But before you can write for them you have to take some courses with them so that everyone is on the same page (i.e. style, formatting, rules, etc.) 

In the process of taking these classes I get a call from my mother.  My mother leaves a messages asking if I am at home, so I text her back with an affirmative.  She must have an auto response on because she told me she was in a meeting, but one minute later she is calling.  Apparently the alarm on the main house went off and she needs me to go through the house and make sure nothing is amiss. 

First thing I do is grab the dog.  He is small but I know he will protect me.  So, I wonder through the house, all the while on the phone telling my mom which room I am in.  I know the cops are on their way but if I find someone first I want them to know exactly where to find me if something happens.  After the ten minute search, with nothing out of the ordinary, we call of the dogs and I head back to work. My dad apparently didn’t secure the door completely and the wind blew it open.  Yay for a bit of adventure!  I think I am done for the day, but I was wrong.

My sister takes me with her to a doctor’s apt in Roseville and picks me up.  As we head out of town we see this cop fly around the corner and flip a u going at least fifty miles per hour.  At first we think he is just trying to find a good spot to hide, but then we realize there is what we think is a burn pile going off.  Burn piles have to be reported before they happen in case there is a problem (after all we live in a hot oven).  As we turn the corner and drive a couple miles we see this is not a normal fire, there are high flames, so I call it in (I am that girl). 

“911, what’s your emergency?”

“I am reporting a fire on Garden Hwy just south of Wilson Road.  It may be on the levee, but it may also be in the orchards, it is hard to tell from here.  There is a cop who just pulled over; I just wanted to make sure everyone was communicating.”

“Where?” I repeat myself.

“Oh,…well, hold please.  I need to transfer you to the sheriff’s department.”  Just me, or is it a bit strange that I have now been on the phone for five minutes about a fire in an orchard and no one seems to think it is anything important enough to move on?  Maybe because I watched my house burn down when I was ten, but these are some slow moving people. 

I get transferred to the Sheriff’s department and have to repeat everything.  I have worked phones for many jobs, up to four lines at a time, when I transfer a call I tell you what it is about, especially if it is an emergency.  You would think the dispatch had thought about that, right?

“Oh really, how big is the fire?” What?!  How big?  It’s a fire in an orchard!!!! 

“Big enough I can see it from High way 99” (That’s a couple miles from Garden Highway). 

“Oh, well could it be the levee, I mean they do do controlled burns out there.” Of this I am aware; but really, do you want to take that kind of chance?  It’s Yuba City, nothing is happening, check it out people and do your job!

“Ok, I will send someone to take a look.”  You bet you will!  Fires spread quickly, not to mention ones surrounded by orchards!  Why do you think that copy turned so quickly?

So, assured by our great sheriff’s department that the fire will be taken care of, we head to Roseville for a pretty useless doctor’s visit.  But we grab some grub at La Bou (great food) and then ran to a book store.  I came home and worked on my first article for Examiner.com (now, you all need to start following me there too so that I can get paid…the more hits the better my world can be!)

I got to talk with Robert via Skype (praise God for that piece of technology!!)  We talked about our day, laughed at each other, and enjoyed a nice banter.  We talked about me driving his car out to him and I fully considered it for an hour.  Then practical Andria kicked in.  Aside from the gas, the car would need to be serviced in Mississippi and again when it got back home because of the miles put on it.  Then he will be taking it again across country for his change of base to Maryland.  So we nixed the idea (bummer, but only a few more months to have to deal with this long distance thing). 


I then began to work on the prep for my next article (a book review…so I will get paid to read the book and write about it!)  How did I not know about this job sooner?  I can’t stay sitting still very long, so I take the book with me on a two mile walk through the orchards.  It was a great way to end the day. Talking to Robert, reading a great book by one of my favorite authors, and enjoying a sunset in the orchards…truly I am blessed.  Truly.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

How Do You Know You Got A Good One?

Some days just take everything out of you, for me this was that weekend. 

Saturday I woke up not feeling one hundred percent (talking to your boyfriend till 3:30 am will do that).  So, I cancelled my work out with my sister and slept in a bit.  I met up with her to help her with a vendor event she was doing.  During the set up I excused myself to the powder room and one of the other ladies’ children had to excuse himself.  I was volunteered to watch him (my credentials being exemplary). 

I take this little guy I have never met to the powder room.  He was about six or seven and full of energy.  I am used to taking three kids at a time and know what it is like to have to relieve yourself quickly.  Since I did not know this child, I was extremely quick and awaited him in the hallway.  After five minutes I walk into the men’s lavatory to check and make sure he did not give me the slip.  All I can see are his bare feet dangling from the stool.  I ask him if he is ok and like every guy, “Yeah, could you just get out.”  So, I did thinking surely he must be done soon.  After another ten minutes of waiting I am concerned for the poor kid.  I know guys take forever to do their business, but fifteen minutes for a six year old!?!  Something is wrong.  I text my sister thanking her for putting me on kid duty. 

Two girls about two minutes later come bounding up to see where there brother is – still in the bathroom.  They confirm and leave.  My sister texts that the sisters are going to take over…but they just left.  Great!  Well, about three minutes later they come back to relieve me of my post.  Thank heavens!  Apparently, the mom was not concerned with this stranger watching her child, thank the Lord my sister was adamant about getting me off the hook. 

After the event she and I decided to eat at this place, Casa Verde I think it is called.  It is similar to a Chipotle, but I was not impressed with their meat.  Sad.  We ran a few more errands and then I posted my blog. 

When something is wrong I like to deal with it head on.  And Robert and I had been talking all day about the day and a little about our conversation the last night.  But, writing is sometimes easier for me to convey my feelings so when he read the last blog we really began to DTR (define the relationship).  You know a guy is good when he doesn’t want to break up but will if it will make you happy.

I have been engaged for four years to a man.  When we broke up I had to force tears out so as not to appear callas.  But, I had been praying for the relationship to end for about three of those years.  The idea of breaking up with Robert took all of my strength to hold back tears.  I don’t cry.  But that idea was too sad!  Needless to say, we didn’t break up!  YAY!!  He proved himself to be quality in that discussion.  

He ended the night talking about when I played Esther in Meet Me In St. Louis.  He played my dad.  There is a scene after the big party when Esther realizes she is moving and won’t get to be with her love.  But, her kid sister just can’t believe that is going to happen.  To calm little Tootie down, Esther sings Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.  Robert told me he used to purposely be in the wings to listen to me sing it because it gave him chills down his spine and his grandparents had not heard it sung so well in decades.  I don’t think I have that great a voice, but that just lifted my heart. 

I went to bed with his sweet words in my head and got up to a good morning from him.  I headed off to church.  Apparently, I missed my grandfather by ten minutes.  He was rushed to ER for chest pains.  Very scary.  Still awaiting an update, but I think they were testing him yesterday at noon.  I got to talk a little to my great aunt about Mississippi and enjoyed a sermon on children.  Apparently, even if you don’t have kids you are still responsible for raising them.  Good for me! 

I came home and finished cleaning the shower out that had the plumbing problem (I had cleaned it the prior night now that the plumber had fixed the problem but wanted it to soak in disinfectant overnight) and had a great lunch.  Then I helped my daddy paint the fence. 

As we were painting I got to talk to my dad in a relaxed environment.  It was the first time I got to talk about Robert.  What you have to realize I my dad is not just my dad.  He has also been my pastor for most my life and I consider him the wisest person I know.  I told him about my trip, how Robert treated me that he was willing to wait for me (to which my dad replied most Christian men wouldn’t) and my concern about the religion thing.  To which he said, it can work and to give it a chance (after all I have dated bad Christians).  That was encouraging.  And it was fun to talk with him – plus we painted the fence.  

A little heat sick I came in to video chat Robert.  I loved being able to make him laugh.  I then did some reading so I can be working on a writing assignment (oh yeah, I have been probationary hired as a writer for Examiner.com – ideas of what literature to write on are now being accepted).  And headed to bed – tired but happy and with this text from Robert:


“You give me a special feeling.  Well, special like my happiness comes from your happiness.  I can’t wait to hear from you every day.  Talking to you at night drives me to get through the day.  I can have the best day in the world, but it would still suck until I got to hear from you.  You could make my bad days good.”  He makes me feel special with words like that.  There are still good guys out there, and I think I may have been blessed with an extra special one.  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Equally Yoked



I woke up to a very interesting text: “Sorry, hun, I was dead to the world.  Can I add you to that list?” and an inconsistency on Facebook.  Additionally, if you know me you know I have a perfectionist thing going on and don’t like inaccuracy so I try to fix it immediately.  You also know that in my attempt to do so I sometimes come across curt (never my intention which you also know if you spend any amount of time with me).  Needless to say, Robert did not read my response of “No.  Please fix this” as a good morning.  

I succeeded at upsetting him before 7 am (did not even know that was possible).  After my work out we got some video time with him and cleared it up.  He meant to say he would like me to visit, he was responding to a question I asked about sending him a package.  And he really hates social media, so he didn’t take it as seriously as me.  Problem solved. 

I then did more job applications and deep cleaned the bathrooms and kitchen.  At about one a man in his sixties, smiling a crookedly sweet smile, came to my door and asked to get into the main house to take care of some bugs.  Apparently, he has been taking care of the property the past three years and my parents were out in town. He went through my apartment and, after he realized I was significantly older than the 20 years he had thought, started commenting on how clean my apartment was and how nice it was to go somewhere clean.  No bugs! (Amazing what cleanliness can prevent!)

I then went out to run some errands with Ariel.  We went into town and discovered a new market: New Earth.  The best way I can describe this place is Trader Joe's meets Whole Foods.  I found something to send to Robert (its coming in the mail sometime next week) and discovered the wonderful world of gelato has finally hit Yuba City.  

After feeding the kids we go with her husband’s ex-wife’s mom to play Bingo at the senior citizen center.  I think I am everyone’s good luck charm.  I had never played before.  Apparently there are like twenty different ways to play Bingo and we played them all…I am pretty sure.  But at least my sister won!  Yay!!! 

Then we headed over to this yogurt place, Janyo, and joined my kid brother and my parents.  We talked about everything from Paula Dean to a man who can keep four symphonies in his head at the same time starting at different places and be accurate with a performance.  I then got gas in the car and headed home to what I thought was going to be bed but was mistaken. 

Robert called me (yay for voice time) but we quickly found ourselves contemplating some important realities.  First topic on the docket:  Why are curse words bad?  I think they are degrading and don’t edify even when they are not.  I think there are many other words that came better convey what you are trying to express.  He believes that is a construct of society that they are bad, that they are just words and nothing more.  

This made me go straight to the scriptures.  Words can build you up or tear you down.  Out of the heart the mouth speaks.  Words can bring life or death.  Well, this may have been the first time I realized how important it is to have the same morale understanding because he could not see it.  So, I am now embarking on a research project of the development such four letters words into being bad words.  Any help is appreciated. 

We then got into a topic of faith, my faith, and why I believe what I believe. We discussed a lot of apologetics (I need to freshen up on that, but I think that late in the night I did pretty good).  We talked about the corruption of people then and now, how victors write history, why did some things get canonized and other not?  I don’t have the answers, but I know how to get them.  I am going to send him The Case for Christ (written by an atheist journalist looking to prove Christianity wrong).  A good read for Christians and non-Christians alike.  We discussed this till three in the morning.  Not something I usually do but I think that this was something important enough.  

It was at this point that I realized why scripture says you should avoid getting married, but if you do you should be equally yoked.  I do not know what will happen with this, but I do know that this is going to be a much bigger deal than I thought that he is not a Christian.  I appreciate his support in my faith, it means a lot to me, but it is hard to relate on a lot of things because how I see the world is so colored by my faith and it does not color his life.  It really does make me sad that he doesn’t believe because it is so important to me.  It is not just my religion; it is my being, my all.  I see everything through the lenses of my relationship with Christ.  So, it is hard that he doesn’t see that too.  Praying for a resolution and that we figure this out.  

I know you read this, and I know this isn’t news to you.  Thank you for talking to me about my faith and questioning me about it.  I appreciate it. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Water Breaks, Fights and Porno

There is nothing like waking up at 3:30 am to a soggy floor…which I did yesterday.  Apparently the “leak” we thought we had from the rain a few weeks ago is anything but a leak.  My bathroom floor was covered in water (two buckets to be precise) and my shower drain had been blown off and the entire shower looked like a hurricane hit it (complete with two inches of water).  There was so much water it poured out into my bedroom and soaked into the carpet all across the boarding wall and into my closet.  I was able to get half a bucket of water out of the carpet before my hands hurt from ringing towels out.

An hour later I crawled back into bed and finally fell asleep about half an hour later (after I texted pictures to my parents).  At 6:30 am my mom comes into my room (I couldn’t hear her knock because I had my sound machine on and fans trying to dry the floor).  She hear the rain sound my machine was playing and thought the shower was exploding again, so she rushed in and awoke me (not a bad thing since my alarm was about to go off anyway).  She agreed – not a leak. 

In considering it, I thought perhaps it had to do with when I did my laundry.  But further reflection, Mom, the last time this happened I had not yet done laundry.  And it happened on a Thursday (I remember, Mom, because David came to visit on the Friday after and we had to set up the fans…I knew it would come to me).  So, perhaps it does have to do with the irrigation? 

Anyway, after a shower and a Bible study (no Insanity today because my sister was out celebrating her birthday with her husband) I began the long day’s journey of a job hunt.  Oh, I can’t wait till this over!  I applied to a few more places. As I was just about to reach my limit, I got a call from my mini-me!
Some of you know I competed in the Miss California State Competitions for a few years.  I was 1st Runner Up in 2008 (I was really proud of that because my kid brother was the California State Ambassador the same year!)  Anyway, the competition is held at the end of July every year and this year they need more chaperons.  This group of people are some of the sweetest and most supportive people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  It is because of their work with me that I am now great at interviews and public speaking. 

In the process of competing, one of the teen candidates every year was Andrea (a very talented and bright young girl).  We hit it off and now she is my mini-me.  She works for Youth Focus, Inc. (the non-profit that runs the scholarship competition).  She asked me if I could be a chaperon for one of the Miss contestants.  Now, when I was there the rule was no once could chaperon if they were under the age of 35.  So, I inquired about this.  I was told the top guy of the organization asked specifically if I could (so that is a compliment in and of itself), but she followed it up by saying, “And you have a kind of maturity that is both ageless and timeless.”  I would have done it because Mr. S asked, but flattery was the icing on the cake.  So, the end of July I will be working with the competition for a week. 

Done fall, one of the judges I have been particularly good at avoiding.  You see, I got into these competitions because my ex-fiancé was in them.  He is now a judge who I really don’t want to see.  But, at least I can say I am in the best shape of my life and have a great boyfriend and a plan to head to D.C. but the end of the year!  That will be great to have out there.  And Robert says if he tries anything he will fly out here and put him in his place (comforting and totally unnecessary but makes me smile anyway).   

I got an e-mail in the midst of all this to edit a couple children’s books.  Thank God for small jobs!  It wasn’t much, but the check will be nice when I receive it.  It did require me digging out some old editing books.  You see, when I moved in I purposely did not unpack my numerous books.  They are hard to pack up and put away (they are my friends and always there when I need them…yes, I know I sound like a loner geek…and maybe I am a little). But as I searched for these books, I came across a couple more fun books and I just had to pull them out to read.  But, once I found the ones I needed I got straight to those books and finished them.  I got the best e-mail in response to my work: “You’re the best!  Once again you KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK!”  There is nothing like an accolade like that to make your heart smile.  If you know anyone who wants something edited – you know who to refer!

I then had the pleasure of enjoying a salad and a long walk through the orchards (you have to get some movement in you when you live way out here you have to force yourself sometimes) with my mom.  She got me this “just because” gift (I like those the best).  It was as necklace with three charms: an Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Trioumph, and a camera – perfect for me.  We enjoyed some conversation about our neighbors and the town and then back to work. 

I was then lucky enough to get a phone call from Robert.  We caught up and I succeeded in irking him.  I guess you could say it was our first fight.  I used the wrong word in trying to communicate that I want him to meet and like my friends and family.  He thought I meant they were going to judge him (which my friends don’t do; I only hang out with amazing people).  It put him on defense and me on defense trying to defend them when they hadn’t even done anything.  That is why dating through technology is hard – it makes it significantly harder to communicate.  We cleared everything up and I headed to a Restoration Railroad meeting.

Restoration Railroad is the non-profit I am checking out that is anti- human trafficking.  I was hoping to get a feel of the organization but it was a night where they had a special speaker.  The topic – pornography is human trafficking.  There were three speakers: two (a man and woman) who are pornography addicts and a man who used to very successfully produce pornography in Chico. 

It was a great topic.  There was a lot of discussion of supply and demand – if there was not a demand there would not be a supply.  Apparently 90% of men and 70% of women admit to a pornography addiction in blind studies.  But more interesting to me, 80% of clientele are Christians with peak viewing hours being right after Sunday service.  These are all interesting and sad facts.

But, I have a hard time saying a college girl who signs a contract to get paid for services rendered is trafficked.    He did not convince of that, just gave more reasons to hate the industry.  You see I don’t watch porn; I don’t like what it does or the effects of it.  But I have dated people who are addicted to it.  Not my favorite thing in the world. 

But, to me (and understand I have studied this extensively for years) human trafficking is defined as a human (usually a child) that has been recruited, transported, transferred, harbored, or received for the purpose of exploitation.  This can be through forced labor (working in brick kilns to sweat shops and domestic slaves to child soldiers) or in the sex industry including commercial sex, brothels, strip clubs and escort and massage services (this is according to UNICEF).   

Though I can understand why Donny Pauling can consider the porn industry human trafficking, I have a hard time agreeing.  The women and men he recruited (much like companies all over the world recruit) have not been coerced into signing the contract and are paid for services rendered.  Do I think the industry objectifies the participants?  Yes.  Do I think it ruins the lives of the models and those who demand the industry? Yes.  Do I think that side of it is human trafficking? No.  So, although the presentation was interesting, I was sad not to learn more about the actual problem of human trafficking (which happens in the area – check out the brothel that was closed down in January by the FBI in Live Oak).

I would love to hear any thoughts you have on the matter.  Perhaps I am not being liberal enough in my understanding of human trafficking.  If you are interested in learning more, however, I would highly recommend a great starting point: read the book Half the Sky.  Amazing eye opener!  And check out the FBI website on your area, I think you will be very surprised at what you find.



Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fruit of Our Lives

Ever have one of those really productive days but are bored out of your mind?  That was me all day yesterday.  It was a long day to say the least. I found myself contemplating the fruit of our hearts and hands. 

I got up at my usual time to prep for my 7:30 am interview (which I would not have had had I not sown the seed in the application).  Turns out I was right; their IT people said they could not connect with me because it was not a secure line.  Thwarted again by technology!  So we settle for the next best thing – a phone interview.  The interview lasted almost an hour.  The panel was nice and I believe it went really well.  Before you ask, they are still interviewing for the next couple weeks, so I won’t know if I am heading to Utah for a couple more weeks yet. 

After the interview, I did what I always do – Bible study, blog writing, and job applications.  Israel (Jacob) died, Jesus was baptized.  Looking back on it the juxtaposition of life and death in those two chapters was really beautiful.  Baptism is a sign of life, and life more abundantly!  No longer do you walk in the shadows of the world but you are connected to the Holy Spirit given the same power and authority of Christ!  That next to the death of the father of the Jewish nation shows just how temporal our bodies are.  Of this you can be sure, in 100 years we will all be dead.  You have a choice, you know?

Anyway, I started the job hunt up again (6 more job applications in yesterday – sowing more seeds).  My focus is solely on the DC and surrounding areas.  I can’t wait to be there and see this 12 year dream come to fruition.  Talking with Robert we decided when he takes leave to check the area out, I will go with him.  It is going to be wonderful!  If you have never been to that part of the country, you are sorely missing out.  It is gorgeous!  A canopy of trees meets you from the air and surrounds you as you move about.  The people are kind and there never ceases to be something to do.  Add in that that is where policy is made and I just get so excited!  I can’t wait!! 

During this time of filling out applications, in order to move around a bit I cleaned the kitchen, did my laundry, and wrote to Robert (yes, you have something coming in the mail, Hon).  By noon I had reached my stay in the house limit and had to get out.  But I kept working and applied to a few more freelancing jobs.  Finally at three my sister called and we went to run some errands.

I jumped into the car and headed down the street.  I went inside as she finished with the kids and talked to my brother-in-law a bit.  But then was pleasantly surprised to get a visit from my kid brother and his girlfriend.  I got to have a one on one his girlfriend, which I never get to do and learned a lot about my brother.  I learned he is considering the Navy officer program, but may also move to Arizona in the next two weeks! That last one was a surprise.  It is a great job offer, but may put his schooling on hold.  I do not know what he will choose, but know that either way he will be successful.  We used to joke as kids that there was nothing he could not do well.  He is just that person.  We tried to find something once and the best we could do was come up with things he never tried to do…that doesn’t count.  Share the wealth, David!

Ariel and I then were going to deliver some things to a friend but I got a call from this non-profit with which I am looking into working.  Restoration Railroad is a new grass roots non-profit that works towards the end of human trafficking in the Yuba-Sutter area.  Some of you know that I have a passion for ending human trafficking.  I consider myself a modern abolitionist. That said, it nice learning more about the program.  But I get to go to one of their meetings tonight, so we will see if we really are a good match.  I will have coffee with one of the founders next week and will be put on their public speaking roster.  I want the world to see and know that we will not settle for the exploitation of humans! Trying to sown the seed of justice, mercy, and humility in my life that I may be a conduit of a blessing to others.

Afterward, Ariel and I crashed on the couch for about twenty minutes watching Mega Mind (the kids had started it but we ended up being the only ones watching it).  But the best part of the day was going to water the orchards and then pick fresh fruit right off the tree (peaches, nectarines, oranges and plums)!!!!  I was so excited to use my Ninja and this gave me the perfect opportunity. 

I then headed home and sat with my mom for a while.  I walked in on the craziest movie I have seen in a long time called Vamps.  It is about two vampires that don’t eat people.  But that’s about all I could gather.  There really wasn’t a plot.  But it had some big names.

Anyway, after the movie we sat and talked about jobs (thanks for some ideas, Mom!) and the church.  Oh that we could be a unified body of Christ! Get rid of denominations and quarrels amongst us and actually do what Christ wants us to do – love God and love man.  

I had hoped to talk with Robert last night via video chat, but between the stressful day he was having and my conversation with Mom, it just didn’t happen.  So, here’s hoping for some time tomorrow.  I did get to talk to him about Maryland and some of the silly things that happen throughout the day.  It does make our video conversations that much more important.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I Hate That He Peed On Me

What a day I had!  I got up early to do my Insanity work out – about time since I took a break to go to Mississippi.  Thank goodness the weather was a little cooler.  As I worked out with my sister her two beautiful babies did everything to distract us – to the point of climbing on us as we did our Insanity Abs.  If you thought Insanity was hard add two toddlers to the picture – increase the insanity one hundred fold. 

After a nice shower and breakfast I headed out with my sister and her kids to meet my kid sister and her two beautiful toddlers (my siblings produced some gorgeous offspring!)  We were going to go to this place in Roseville called Bounce-U but we left a little late (my niece is the accessory queen and wanted to run every single one by mom before she could leave…and I wanted to eat before I met up with them).  So we changed focus and went to a place called The Fountains (this was not here ten years ago). 

The Fountains is this outdoor high end shopping center with stores like Charming Charlie and Whole Foods.  There happened to be a farmers’ market outside and who doesn’t love a good farmers’ market?  It looked bigger from the street than it actually was, but still cute.  We stumbled across this humus maker.  Oh goodness!  There humus was amazing!  The owner was speaking French to another customer (how sweet did those sounds cross my ears!!)  And to my astonishment I understood their rapid French.  I haven’t spoken it in over five years, so I was really proud of myself. 

The owner was from Kenai (that’s in Africa in case you did not know) which also explains why his humus was so good.  I once had homemade humus from a Lebanese friend and it was so good I use it to compare humus now.  We bought four different kinds of humus – partly because it was good and we got a deal, but also because the owner was so friendly. 

We strolled around and found some great fruit stands.  Ariel has fruit literally growing on trees in her yard and of course her kids only wanted what they have on their property, so no fruit for us (except the blackberries which were great).  We almost bought blueberries from this one stand but I am glad we decided not to.  If you ever wonder what bad customer service does to your business, try it, we leave (especially when your competition is only two feet away). 

Content with our purchases we went to the play area for the kids.  Complete with water to play in and a play structure (note things that were not available when I was a kid) it was the perfect place to await my kid sister and her family.  Ariel and I sat on the bench in the sun watching the kids.  Those benches were so hot they burned through my jeans in two minutes – no joke. We stood standing. 

As the kids played I talked to Robert.  He was struggling with the military messing his orders up, among other things.  So, I shot up my best weapon – prayer.  See I am a highly favored daughter of the most high God.  The God of angel armies is a friend of mine.  As such, I can come boldly into his presence and present my request to him.  So I did.  I asked him if he could resolve the problem for Robert – and he did!!!  My God comes through! 

My kid sis joins us about twenty minutes later (she did take her kids to Bounce-U).  She is so beautiful and chic you would not think she had two babies.  The kids play while we wait for a train for the kids to ride on (things at malls that were not there when I was kid).  My baby niece gets her hand stuck in the grate and I got to be the hero and get it out!  Yay for being a good auntie!  The kids are sufficiently soaked by the time the train is ready for us, so we proceed to get aboard. 

We cram four adults and four kids into the caboose of this tiny kids train.  The conductor laughed as she closed our door saying she had never seen so many people in one car before.  Leave it to us Blacks to astonish her.  On our first trip around on this train I realize that this shopping center looks like something in Calabasas (where the Kardashians live for a point of reference).  But it I on my second trip around I realize a disheartening reality.  One of these kids just peed.  They are all wet from the water however so I can’t tell which.  That is until we get out of the caboose.  My nephew (the one who was sitting on my lap) gets up and the smell is an affront to my nostrils and the reality sinks in – this kid just peed on me.  Nothing to be done, I don’t care a change of clothes.  So we head to lunch smelling like urine (thank the Lord I did not run into anyone I know)!

During all this commotion I am contacted to schedule my Skype interview with the company in Utah (yay for an interview).  We plan on doing a test run that afternoon and I have some paper work to get to them before the interview set for 7:30 am my time.  With a change in my plans for the day we head home to good old YC. 

When I get back I head home to prep for the test run.  At 3:30 I am set to do the test run and have filled out the application half a dozen times because stupid Windows 8 doesn't operate correctly and wants to clear the entire form and not let you save.  So annoying!!!  I get the call from Utah and we spend an hour trying to figure out how to make it work (let me tell you it had nothing to do with my account and everything to do with their secure network).  Thank God my mom came in at just that moment and she is the tech queen so she helped a lot!

We table till tomorrow at 7:30 hoping their tech guys can figure it out.  My mom then asks me about Robert.  Because she reads my blog I know she knows most things, so it was hard for her to ask me questions and hard for me to know what I else I should say.  I say most things here.  I then finish the application and get it printed and scanned and e-mailed to Utah.

My mom has made teriyaki chicken (I love that she cooks now, she didn’t growing up).  My dad headed to Utah for a meeting so we ate together.  She and I then played a hand of Canasta (which I have a vague memory of playing when I was kid but she had to reteach me).  It was a nice time.  I really enjoyed it.  Then back to work.  I still had to prep for the interview in the morning and there were still more job applications to do. 

Robert got Skype finally and we got to video chat (yay for technology!)  We talk about the day and the problems we encountered and the solutions we saw.  We talk about the future and Maryland – what that will look like for us…still don’t fully know.  We talk about relationship titles (we decide I can use beau or boyfriend – though I think he is partial to boyfriend). 


It is so strange dating technology.  But I can’t complain that he will be stationed in the area I have wanted to be for over a decade.  Hopefully I get a job offer in DC (fingers crossed for Library of Congress!!!!)  Praying for some resolution in my life.  Grant me the desires of my heart, Lord, and send me to DC please.