Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Strange things happen in these here woods

Busy as ever, I have had quite an extraordinarily good couple days.  I have seen old friends, visited new places and enjoyed some wonderful quality time with Robert (well as quality as you get over Skype and through mail).  But let’s start with Sunday.

I have come to the realization that I am so blessed by friends.  How God is able to restore relationships is beyond me, but I am glad He does.  My high school sweet heart married a wonderful woman almost a decade ago.  We all went through a really rough patch and did not speak for years.  About three years ago, God did something miraculous, He reconnected us.  I am now friends with both of them, but I am much more blessed by his beautiful, intelligent, and wonderful wife.  V- you are an inspiration and a blessing.  Nothing will ever change that. 

That is a long introduction to the following experience.  I texted V- the other night to see if she wanted to get together for coffee.  I miss her and now that she is in the same state and same general vicinity I would like to do this more.  She and I ended up talking about Robert (as girls do).  She asked how I felt about our relationship and where things were going and I expressed my trepidation of some of the things happening but that I was mostly overjoyed and excited to be with him.  That’s when she said, that is the best way to know if you can be serious with someone, along with some other really great advice.  And as wonderful as that conversation was (and it was really wonderful), what brought joy unspeakable to my heart was that she asked to host a Bon Voyage party for me (I am moving across country in November).  What a beautiful expression of love and friendship!!  How blessed I am by a God who saves me and reunites and rebuilds relationships!!!  I can’t wait to move, but I will miss having her close by (but the phone calls and texts will continue V-). 

Robert sent me this wonderful package in the mail.  Complete with an Air Force sweater I have been trying to hunt down, a couple really beautiful sun hats, and a beautiful box.  He is such a blessing to me.  I have never been this spoiled or happy with a guy, and I am so glad it is with a man of integrity, brains, and a sense of humor.  I have laughed more with him than anyone I know.  These are examples of his great taste.

That night, I finally fell asleep around midnight.  My phone is set to Do Not Disturb so that I am not kept awake or awoken by unnecessary calls.  If you call me twice in a row within 3 minutes, my phone will ring it through as an emergency…this did not happen.  At 12:30 a.m. I was awoken by a pounding on my door.  The only reason I answered it was because the person yelling new my name, and I assumed if you know my name, and where I am staying on this grand property it is probably because you know me. 

It being the middle of the night, I through on a covering to find my brother-in-law and a policeman at my door.  Apparently, the alarm of the house went off and no one new why.  If you don’t already know, I was embarrassed to be seen in my sleepwear – even with a covering – and so was my brother-in-law.  Sorry.  So, I spent the next hour having the cops comb through the property to make sure nothing was out of place and no one was there who should not have been.  You want to know what set the stupid alarm off?  A wasp!!!  A wasp set off the motion sensors.  Who knew?  But, all was set right and I finally fell asleep about 2:30 in the morning to be up in just a few hours.  Funny and embarrassing, but good to know my family was willing to risk life to make sure I was ok.  That is a blessing few can say they have, and I thank God for it daily. 

Monday, I took my sister and her kids to Tony’s fruit stand off of highway 70.  There, my good friend Y- runs the fruit stand and everything there is addicting.  Don’t believe me?  Ask anyone from the ONE Worship Team in LA at In His Presence Church, I am pretty sure they will testify to the goodness of what they ate at Easter.  Also, check out their music on itunes.  At this fruit stand there are some really neat signs, but the coolest part was the port-o-potty.  I kid you not, it was the nicest smelling and looking one I have EVER seen in my life!!!!  Check out the fruit, but don’t forget to check out this great place to relieve yourself. 


The lot of us then headed to Bidwell Park in Chico (I had never been!)  CSU, Chico is located on this park, so you can imagine the immensity of it.  But, the neat thing I saw that they took the river and, following its course, made it into a sort of pool for a little bit.  The kids played in it, discovered dragon files, and all in all had a great day.  We even made some friends to have a play date with later.  What a beautiful day.

Yesterday, we took the kids to Ellis Lake in Marysville.  Ellis Lake is a man-made lake that was built during the Great Depression in order to provide jobs. It has since become known for being filthy (they have pulled entire cars out of it) and for having quite a few ducks.  We thought it would be fun to take my niece and nephew to feed said ducks.  When we got there, the ducks were overrun with geese – honkers (my high school mascot).  I don’t know if you know this, but honkers are mean!!!  And they pack a pretty nasty bite!!!  

Well, we get the kids out to feed the ducks and it is not two minutes before a honker bites my niece because she can’t feed it fast enough.  The irony is that at that very moment a couple locals were coming by to warn us not to feed them because they are so mean.  We ended up putting the kids onto of the car to through the bread. In the process we discover a honker with a broken wing and a man asking for a cigarette from us (the people with two kids who in all likelihood don’t smoke, much less if we did let you near us to give you one because we had kids) who quite literally was wearing a snake…the head of which was free to roam!!!


In the paper we discovered a community leader found himself in a scandal and the next day a school teacher was arrested for meth.  Small towns apparently are the new places for drama…someone tell Warner Brothers or Fox…there is a reality TV show here waiting to happen.  Sad that small towns now have big town problems.  But it is also a reminder of where our morals as a community and country are and what it means to stand by them.  It is a slow fade to make decisions such as these.  A slow fade.  When we do not surround ourselves with good people and arm ourselves with the truth we are only opening ourselves up to the slow fade. 

But, small town problems aside, I would say this has been a very special and blessed week.  More to come.  


There is a story in the Bible of a young king who was called “one after God’s own heart” who fell hard.  One night, he was out on his balcony and looked over to see a young lady bathing.  He fell in such lust for her, he sent her beau out to the front lines of war to die so he could have her to himself.  But, the young knight lived and the act of adultery had already been done.  The king who had been known for his faith in God, his wise decisions and great military capability lost his reputation and the trust of his people over night.  The story of King David has been told multiple times throughout history in both story and song (ever hear the song Hallelujah?)

Normally, in my life this has always just been a story, but no longer. 

One of my mentors and friends has found himself in this very predicament and with his standing in the community could easily be equated to the King of the town.  The sad part is that after decades of service, his reputation has been tarnished because of one lustful act.  What is worse, is that his actions do not just affect his career and family, it affects the entire community.  He has served in places of leadership from church positions to community organizations to coaching.  All those lives he touched are affected by the decision.

As much as this is a tale of tragedy, and it is, it brings to question a very complicated faith point of view.  As a Believer, I am called to love the sinner – gay, prostitute, liar, murder, etc.  In this case, how do I put that into practice?  How do I help this man and his family who has so often been a help and pinnacle of faith to the community?  The simple answer is prayer.  Although I believe that to be true, I do not think that is the only thing to do. 

When you live in a small town like this and the actions of one have such overreaching arms, it is hard not to think of his wife going grocery shopping and getting the sympathetic looks to her face but the snickers and whispers behind her back, or his daughters feeling like they no longer have a home of comfort and trust to come back to, or the man himself knowing he has to make some pretty tough decisions to potentially step down from programs he has dedicated his life to.  How do you help the family through such sad situations and not condone the sin?  How do you stand by the people and help while not casting the first stone?  After all, we all mess up.  We all sin.  Our sins by definition affect others too. 

The answer is I have no answer.  I am saddened by the choice that was made.  I am saddened by the community response to it.  I am saddened by the pain and hurt that was caused.  But, I am hopeful.  I am hopeful that like the crowd that wanted to stone a woman who was caught in adultery, we will all remember that “he who has not sinned should cast the first stone.”  I am hopeful that rebuilding and unity will be accomplished in His timing.  God is a healer of more than the body and mind. 

If you read this friend, (yes friend because that is what you and your family has always been and your one stupid action – because that is what it was – does not change that) I want you to know that God loves you.  We love you.  This is not the end of everything, though it may look like it.  This is only the beginning.  King David is remembered as a great king and is the king in which Jesus our Lord descends.  God uses all things for good for those who are in Christ Jesus, which I believe you are.  God still has a purpose for you and your family.  I don’t know how to be a support to you or your family, and I don’t condone what you did, but I am here if you can think of a way I can help.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Busy weeks with simple lessons

This past week I have been none stop busy.  I have spent some time with my niece and nephew who live out of town, went to the zoo, and experienced some good lesson learning. But, let’s get to the cute stuff. 

My nephew Collin is a little thing with some big attitude.  He is smart and witty.  And only three.  My sister and he nephew came to visit the other day and I went in to say “hello.”  As usual, Collin did not want to say hi, but his kid sister Kaylynn did.  So I give my smooches to her and then head over to Collin (the introvert I think).  He needs help seeing up, so I pick him up and start talking to him.  He sees what he wants and want down.  Our conversation goes something like this:

“I want down.”

“But, I would like a hug and a hello please.”


“Well, I think your cute, so maybe I will eat you breakfast.”


“Well, how about, I squish and love you?”


“Well, what can I do?”

“You could get me a treat.” He says with this mischievous smile.  Apparently, his parents are working with him on moderation.  Treat came from Grandpa so I did not have to worry about. Lesson 1: Kids are way smarter than you think.  

Grandpa had to help Collin figure out how to pick an orange for a was so funny.  

That afternoon, he comes in to watch Walle with me.  He crawls onto the couch, under the blanket I am using and we chit chat about the movie.  Then about half way through he looks at me all serious and says, “We have to watch movies in moderation.”  How do you not lightheartedly laugh at that cuteness?

I finally caved and got my hair cut.  I even got it layered, but we will get to that part in a second.  I go into this thinking all I am going to do is get a trim. I end up getting a deep conditioning and a cut (for only $16, not bad).  The girl who comes up to me has a VERY bad a-line cut (I find out latter one of the other stylists practiced on her).  I think to myself, anyone but her.  But, God heard me and laughed.  She did my deep conditioning and then asks if I want a magazine to read while I wait for the conditioner to do its magic.  Not being one who reads them, I said sure and surprise me with which one you pick.  She surprised me with this:

I laughed out loud and immediately texted Robert.  His response was, “Well, if you were looking for signs.”  Interesting choice…and I have now thought more about a wedding than I ever did with my previous fiancé.  The very next day Robert tells me his roommate called him out for telling one of his class buddies that he should not have gotten engaged…roommate’s word: “Please, you know that will be you in a few months.”  More signs…if you read them I guess.

Anyway, this girl turned out to be quite capable so when she asked if I wanted layers my usual knee-jerk reaction of “no” did not come out. Instead I said, “I really like my length and that I can do an up-do in less than seven minutes.  Please do layers so minuscule that I can still do that it looks good.”  Which, she did beautifully.  She was also really funny…but she was more interested in my not-happening wedding than I was (no, Robert has not proposed…sorry to all my readers who are eagerly awaiting such things). But, here is a bad picture of what it looks like:

Lesson 2: Don't judge a book by its cover.

We took my niece and nephew to the Sacramento Zoo (I have now been to all of California’s zoos in one year).  We got to pet some beautiful animals and almost fed time. 



My good friend Vivian came to visit.  I actually learned a lot about Yuba City high society – that would be anyone who shops on Plumas Street in Downtown.  We have a great winery, some beautiful décor shops, and a really great used book store (though that is more off a side street than on the main street in general).  She and I window shopped for nothing in particular and I learned I have a keen eye for décor.  At least according to Robert, so I will now be taking applications to design your home.  Some pieces I liked are:

The Winery in Yuba City...super stylish and GREAT wine.
Lesson 3: Small towns are bigger than they appear.
Lesson 4: We still discover skills later in life.  

Robert’s birthday was Sunday.  Everyone wish him a happy birthday.  I sent him a care package of some books, some chocolate covered pomegranates (yes they make that!), some energy drinks, some homemade peach jam, and the best ever Cookie Tree cookies!!!!  He thoroughly enjoyed them…can’t you tell?

All of this happened while juggling three jobs and trying to find a real one in Maryland.  Any ideas are welcome. 

What I want to be when I grown up...

Remember when you were a kid and you were asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Some kids answered doctor, lawyer, rock star, police man.  I answered actor…until I was told I had ugly elbows (to this day I think they are the worst thing on my body).  Then I wanted to be a Navy Seal…until I was told I couldn't because I was girl.  I still think they have the coolest job ever.  Then I decide on President of the United States…until I discovered what that actually meant – stress, stress and more stress and looking like a haggard mess after just four years much less eight (I still want to be beautiful when I am old thank you very much…and domestic politics is not nearly as interesting as foreign). Last week my answer would be to be a diplomat, hopefully an ambassador, but my answer has changed.

I have three jobs now and by this Saturday will have worked fifteen days in a row.  Sunday after work I watched the movie Trainspotting (a recommendation from two of my brothers that I hated!!!)  So, to get my mind back I searched Netflix for something more cheerful and stumbled upon the movie This is Our Time.  It is a tale about five college graduates entering the real world.  Four of the five find themselves in the places they believe they should be in their careers right out of the gate while the fifth one (the one I relate to and will be referred to as Connector in this blog) has been denied graduate school and is stuck serving sandwiches at his dad’s shop. 

Naturally, Connector is frustrated feeling like he wasted his time and money on a degree that is useless to him.  He feels left behind as he watches his friends move forward in life and in love and he remains on the sidelines.  In his bearing of his heart to his mentor he discovers that perhaps, God places us on the sidelines for such a time as this.  What a way to hit home for me.  But my lessons in this movie did not end there.  Oh, no. 

Later, one of the characters dies and in the going through of remaining articles, the group discovers what she thought of them.  His description was connector.  He was the writer, the one who could see people for what they are, not what they present to the world.  He was the glue that held the group together and connected people to who they truly are.

Robert had just finished telling me that I do good in the lives of so many, even though I do not see it.  Hearing this, it was as if God was telling me that my unique skills and talents will accomplish tasks, but an occupation is not what He called me to.  You’ve hear that term before, “calling.” “God called me to Africa,” “God called me to be a singer.”  Well, my whole life I have been waiting for this calling.  I have watched as my siblings new from a young age their “calling” – lawyer, stay at home mom, singer.  I never had that feeling.  My feeling was to be a history maker…there is no college degree that can prepare you for that (Abraham Lincoln was self-educated…never got a formal education). But somehow, I missed this lesson.

What I learned was that my calling is not to an occupation.  That question: What do you want to be when you grow up? we interpret that wrong.  It is not about occupation and employment, it is about character.  I want to be good.  I want to be generous.  I want to be humble.  I want to kind.  I want to be compassionate.  If all of this is in place, God will use the unique skills, talents and abilities he has granted me in my employment whether that is as a banquet server, a nanny, or an ambassador or officer.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Simple blessings

“I am not skilled to understand what God has willed what God has planned.  I only know at His right hand stands one who is my Savior.” Aaron Shust

Blessings come in many sizes and packages.  This week I have been blessed abundantly.  No, I do not have my dream job, or even a job in the field…yet.  But I have found joy in the simple things.

Sunday I had such a good experience at church, I just had to share it with Robert.  We set up a much needed Skype session (thank God for the part of technology) and I explained how much I enjoy singing worship and hearing from God.  I got really excited when he said he would like to come to church with me. That kind of joy can’t be shared in its truest form by just discussing it, it has to be experienced.  I am so excited to share that part of my life with him.

I talked with Robert this week about a dream I have.  Some of you know I want to see the end of human trafficking in my life time (at least in the US).  But, I also have a passion to help where it is really bad – the Congo.  In the Congo 90% of girls are sexually mutilated (not just assaulted) by the time they are 3 years old!!  Evidence shows that one of the best ways to curb this is to educate.  I do not mean educate girls about how to protect themselves, but to educate period.  Math. Science.  English.  Reading.  Writing.  All of it. When this happens, the children of the abusers/traffickers go to school and become friends with those would-be victims.  This relationship makes it more difficult for the aggressors to kidnap, attack, etc.

So, I want to open a school in the Congo.  I want to also attach a clinic where students can be safe and get the help they need physically.  There are few doctors who can fix the kind of damage these girls receive when the have been mutilated with all sorts of tools and weapons.  Many die from lack of treatment.  It is a terrible place they are in and we can help.

As I was telling Robert this he surprised me.  Most men say, “Oh, that’s great but it is unrealistic.  You will never come close to that,” or, “Oh, how naïve you are!”  Robert’s response was, “I don’t know how to help you.  But, if all I can do is pass out clean water and send them to you for education and learning about God, then that’s what I’ll do.”  That is a sign of support from a good guy.  How blessed I am!  I cannot wait for this dream to become a reality, but knowing that I have his support, makes it all the more exciting.

Monday I was so blessed to not just talk to my nieces and nephews in Texas, but to Skype them.  Oh, how I miss them!  Keira showed me the new house and has grown into such a young lady in only a few months. She is beautiful and poise.  Gianna has gotten so big!  She bragged about sleeping on the top bunk, and she speech has just developed so well.  Khristian is so popular! He has already made friends with the entire neighborhood (and school hasn’t even started yet!) I can’t wait to see him play some b-ball…he has this incredible innate talent.  Kadin is walking!!!!!!  He is so big and cuddly.  I miss him.  Kole, my sweet little mischievous friend, took the phone and liked to play with me by walking into the dark closet and back out to save me from the darkness.  Then he monkeyed around and hung upside down with his curly-cue long hair and commented on his ability to change how it looked, and turned the phone upside down to show that I could be upside down too.  I miss dancing and singing with him.  He is getting so big.  Thank you for sharing them with me Tausha and Jason.

That morning I went to Roseville to play in this giant jungle gym called Wackey Tackey.  I have been to tons of these things with my nieces and nephews, but this is one of the best ones I have seen.  They had ball pits, jungle gyms, shooting balls, giant balls, and everything was tall enough for the adults to accompany the kids on.  The only down fall is there was poor security.  But if you are an active parent, this would be a great place to take the kids – especially in extreme heat and down pouring rain.



My kid sister’s baby girl surprises me every time I see her.  She is so cute and happy.  She had fun trying to keep up with her older cousins.  Collin was just so energetic!  I think he did the entire place in ten minutes and still had fun for another two hours replaying everything.  It was so fun to watch the eldest, Kolby, playing with the kids.  He did everything from throwing balls at the kids (when appropriate) to helping them climb, to chasing them around.  It was so fun to watch.

We then ate at this terrible hot dog place on the way home.  I would tell you the name but I can’t remember. In a tight pinch on time, it wasn’t bad.  The customer service was actually quite amazing!  But the hot dogs were less than appetizing.  Since nothing else was near, we settled there and had a good time of fellowship with the kids.

I spent the Tuesday morning at the park with my nieces and nephews – climbing up the jungle gym like a champ I might add! And then I was so blessed to see the movie Planes Tuesday.  We stopped by Jamba Juice because they are doing a promotion of Planes cups for kids smoothies and then took the kids.  This movie is significantly better than the Cars movie, in my opinion.  It teaches good lessons like lying catches up to you and hurts people, face your fears and always do good – even when life looks bad.  It was so fun to take the kids.  When I told Robert I saw Planes I also told him he would enjoy it.  His response, “Oh, I see them all the time.  Where did you go, on base or Sacramento?”  Oh what is lost in text!  I had to share that smile with the world.  Air Force on the brain, which is good, but I hope you get a chance to see it on your down time.  You will really like it, hon.

David, my kid brother, and I did a google hangout session yesterday – he is they only one I know who uses it.  For those of you who don’t know, it is a type of Skype.  We chatted about nothing and everything and enjoyed just joshing with each other.  I hope you are enjoying your day off today, though I still think you should come visit me.  Then I was blessed with my boss giving me today off.

Simple lesson: find joy in the small things and the big things seem less daunting.  I don’t have my dream job, but I am closer (pray this most recent application comes to something please).  I am heading in the right direction and know that God has a plan.  That’s all that matters.  Doing God’s will even when I don’t have the answers…which is usually. And still He provides and still He loves and still I am blessed.