Friday, December 29, 2006

Pictures from VA

After living in Richmond for 22 years there are people that I've grown up with. This is a picture of my best friends from high school. However 4 of us in this picture have been good friends since a 6th grade gym class! Alice, Amanda, Neha, Ashley, and I outside Carytown Burger and Fries.
Dr. J was an amazing professor that I got to know throughout my four years at University of Richmond. It was great to go back and see him.
Here is a picture of my Res Life boss Kerry--as you can see she was about to have a baby and TODAY (12/29/06) Addison Ellen Fankhauser was born! YAY!
Not the best picture of any of us but here are some crazy and fabulous girls I got to know while I was an RA--Dominique, Tiffany, and Kristen M. at Moe's.
I forgot how gorgeous the University of Richmond campus is...this is a picture of the lake and gazebo. Laurie and I took a morning walk around campus and were amazed by the changes and renovations made to the university. For instance, here (next picture) we are in front of the gold fountain in dhall. Is that really necessary? I don't think so!
Another unnecessary purchase that I always laughed at as a student were these giant wreathes that the university spends thousands of dollars (I'm not exaggerating) to hang up on the tower of the library during Christmastime.A fun surprise of the holidays was Sarah's engagement! Here she is with her sparkling diamond--exciting!

My sister and I in front of the Christmas tree. My Mom kept trying to capture "Christmas card moments" since she didn't have one for this year. My Dad, Mom, and crazy dog--Ollie in the backyard of their new home. Quite a different backdrop than LA yeah?
Since Cursillo I have become quite excited about butterflies--so much so that I gave one to the cat for Christmas. I think he liked it...or at least the catnip inside hehe.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Visit to VA

I spent the past week and a half in Richmond, VA celebrating Christmas with family and friends. And in case I forgot in was in Virginia there have been several humorous reminders that I was not in LA anymore...

* When looking at neighbors' Christmas lights I saw numerous farm tractors all lit up.
* Instead of worrying about hitting pedestrians when driving, I have to worry about hitting deer. There are actually special deer whistles installed on my parents' cars!
* I'm no longer in the minority in saying y'all...people "talk more funny" than I do here!
* There were 2 cars on the interstate and that was traffic. Later as when my parents were dropping me at the airport to fly out we saw a pick up truck driving in reverse on interstate. Guess he missed his exit...
* When checking out at the UR bookstore the cashier asked where I was living since college. I said I moved to California. In response she asked if I kept a life jacket under my bed because CA was going to fall off into the ocean. She was completely serious.
* In digging through boxes of old stuff in my parents house I found dishclothes with the confederate flag sewn on them. Quite disturbing--but Richmond is the capital of the confederacy.

In all seriousness it was a fun trip seeing people I dearly love and spending time in a city I grew up in. I'm back in CA now trying to get ready for a new quarter, celebrating new year's, and watching the Rose Bowl Parade (only if it doesn't rain though). I'll post pictures of my VA trip soon!

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Becca, Sophie, Sarah, and I decided to not buy each other Christmas gifts this year and instead use that money to go to Disneyland! It was a joyous, relaxing, and fun day. We all needed the fantasy world of Disneyland to relieve stress from finals and really, stress from life in general. It was also amazing to have that time for the 4 of us to hang out. I think our Disneyland day is best told in are a few...
Welcome to Disneyland--Sarah, me, Sophie, and Becca posing by the A of California.

Our first ride of the day was Splash Mountain.

What we didn't realize was that the water in Splash Mountain is th fullest in the beginning of the day so we were soaked from the splash!

I thought the many strollers at Disneyland was quite entertaining.

Becca and I enjoying the teacups--I got tired of turning the teacup but Becca kept on going--thanks Becca!

And then we all turned into pirates thanks to the tatoos Becca brought. A pirate character told us we looked authentic all we needed to do was get drunk (not quite what I expected a Disney character to say!)
Our pirate hats also helped us turn into pirates. My pink hat said I was a "pirate princess!"

Sophie and I waiting in line for Indiana Jones.

We ended the day by watching the Parade of Dreams--the dancing snowmen were my favorite. Then we headed to Downtown Disney for a relaxing dinner before heading back. It was a great day:)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Another quarter = Done!

It's hard to believe that fall quarter is over. Someone at church asked me today how my quarter took me a moment to answer and truthfully say it was hard!

My classes were tough. I had Gospels with Hagner--who for you non Fuller people--has quite a reputation for being challenging. And while the class was academically hard for me I learned so much! One of our assignments was to read all 4 gospels straight through and journal in response to each one. It was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had--both academically and spiritually.
I also took Exegesis of 1st Corinthians with an adjunct professor. To be honest I didn't like this class until the very end as I was writing my paper. I have written one other exegesis paper before and did not enjoy the experience--but this paper was different. There were several cool insights from translating it from the Greek and I loved learning more about Paul's theology of evangelism (1 Cor 9:19-23)--Paul's a pretty swell guy I'm learning. :)
My third class was Pastoral Counseling and Family Therapy with Augsburger. I ended up taking an incomplete in that class to spend more time on the final paper. Honestly I have never been so emotionally impacted or drained by a class before. A person's family is the most intimate thing to them because they have been so influenced by them. To analyze yourself and your family as a class assignment is hard--but I recommend it to everyone.

However this quarter was hard for other reasons besides classes. Still recovering from surgery in the beginning made the quarter tiresome from the get go. And I had never had a part time job on top of full time seminary before--the income was great, but it was new time management to get used to. And finally the quarter was interrupted midway by the incredible gift of Cursillo. In sum, the quarter wasn't bad--it was just an compact period of intense growth.

Here are pictures of two groups of people that were amazing throughout this chaotic time in my life. This is my small group--Lisa, Rebecca, Christina, me, and Sarah. We are all 2nd year Presbyterian students at Fuller. We met once a week and listened as each one of us took a week to share our story with the group. They have been an amazing source of joy, support, and prayer.
This second picture is of me with Sophie, Sarah, and Becca. While we're not an official group of any sort, they have been a wonderful threesome to walk through the good times and the hard times of the last couple months with. I treasure these women and see us being in community long after we're done at Fuller.

So what will I do next since I'm done with the quarter? I'm going to Disneyland!!! :)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

I spent Thanksgiving lunch with friends in a gorgeous house of a family from church. We eat brought a dish making it a potluck Thanksgiving. I made cranberry sauce for the second year in a row. After lunch had digested I headed to a church family's house and ate a second Thanksgiving feast of the day. It was a great day filled with friends, great food, and relaxation. Here are some pictures of the weekend...

Denise and I salting the turkey...turns out cooking a whole turkey is quite a large undertaking, but it tasted great in the end.

One of the best parts of being at this house were the dogs--here are Sophie and I trying to get them to pose for a picture.
Yes we are standing in a pool on Thanksgiving...granted the water was a bit chilly but still it's the principal of things. I do love California weather but it was a bit odd to be so warm on Thanksgiving day.
The entire group:

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Faces of Cursillo

I already posted once about my Cursillo weekend in Texas. Over the past two weeks I have had the chance the process the weekend a bit more and am continually realizing what a life changing the weekend was for me. One of the most amazing parts of the weekend was the community. Here are a few of my favorite people...

This was my Cursillo roommate Robyn. She is a great woman who has overcome some serious obstacles in life with an amazing attitude.
The average of Cursillo participants and staff is about 50. It was a joy to be around such a diverse age group. However it was fun to have a few under 30 crowd. Here's some of the younger generation of Cursillo...Nathan, Steven, Alan, me, Beccca This is one of the staff involved in my small group--Lanee. We had a blast hanging out throughout the weekend. Margaret is a woman that showed me an entire new meaning of love. Larry and Bob declared themselves my grandpas for the weekend. Who says pastors can't have fun? Here's two of the three pastors from the weekend--Casey and Jeff goofing off. Finally, this is a picture of one of my favorite people from the weekend--Robin. She and I immediately connected during the weekend--at first because we're both 4'11'' but then realized that there was a much bigger connection. She and I have stayed in close touch since the weekend and at some point I'd love to visit her and family in Houston.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving A-Z

I have to preface this by saying this idea was stolen from Sarah. There are so many things that I am thankful for this year and what a cool way to share them...Here is what I am thankful for, from A-Z:

Apartment—I moved into a large spacious apartment this fall and it is wonderful!
Bed—I was given several gifts including a very comfy bed, desk, and several assessories when moving.
Cursillo—A joyous weekend filled with AMAZING people, healing, prayer, and most of all—God’s love.
Disneyland—The happiest place on earth that I now live an hour away from.
Education—It’s such a blessing to have the opportunity to attend Fuller and to learn in the classes and with the professors.
Fellowship—I have a great small group of girls that formed this fall. We’ve enjoyed getting to know one another throughout the first quarter.
Gilmore Girls—A fabulous TV show that I identify with all too well.
Healing—Crohn’s Disease has been gone from my body for almost 3 months!
Ipod—a fun device that lets me experience the power of music anywhere.
Job—I have a low stress, well paying, interesting job working the front desk of a psychiatrist’s office.
Kettle Corn—One of the many foods that I love and can eat post surgery!
Los Angeles—I have discovered a new excitement and love about living in this city. From the warm weather to the culture to my community—I now call it home.
Meals—Some of the most special times this year have been spent around the dinner table when friends shared home cooked meals together.
Nooma—a fabulous series of DVDS done by Rob Bell that has messages of God in ways I’ve never heard before.
Ocean Sunsets—Nature speaks incredibly powerfully to me. This year I saw my first ocean sunset in Malibu.
Prayer Garden—The place where I first felt God calling me to Fuller. It is my favorite place on campus by far—a beautiful tranquil garden that I love to escape to pray.
Quirkiness of my Friends—I have a great group of friends to walk through life with at Fuller that never cease to make me laugh.
Restaurants—How fun to explore the many new restaurants in Pasadena and spend hours in old favorites like Moe’s.
San Marino Community Church—My new church home. I love the people and watching God transform SMCC.
Therapy—From my family therapy class to individual therapy—it’s one of the best things that’s happened to me.
Unexpected Financial Provision—Throughout the year I received several unexpected financial donations that help me continue to be at Fuller.
Verizon Free Minutes—I’m not sure how else I could stay in touch with people from the East Coast without Verizon’s free minutes.
Water—Whether it’s Santa Monica, Malibu, the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, or even Sophie’s pool there is so much fun to be had by water.
X-tra Good Health Insurance--$30,000 later my stomach is healed…and 100% covered by health insurance.
Youth Group—I’ve loved helping out with the youth group at SMCC, such great kids and amazing ministry experience.
Zephyr’s—My most frequented study spot in Pasadena by far. This funky coffee shop has helped me drink a lot of chai and write a lot of papers.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

learning to fly

I got back Monday from one of the most transformative weekends of my entire life.

I spent 4 days in the tiny town of Placious, Texas. Nestled aproximately 2 hours outside of Houston the retreat center lay on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico.

Why was I in Texas? I was at a Presbyterian Renewal Weekend called Cursillo. Much of the message of the weekend comes in the form of surprise so I'm not going to share many details of the weekend...please go experience it for yourself... :)

I have never experienced or felt God's love in such a tangible way. I lay in bed Saturday night unable to fall asleep--all that I could think was "I am so loved!" God loves you is a simple message that we hear often but this weekend commicated that message in an entirely new way for me. When one understands that message, you cannot help but be transformed. The title of my blog has a whole new meaning...

I'll leave y'all with a picture of a Texas sunrise....

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Ordinary in Between

Late Tuesday is a great band that I was introduced to last year. I was listening to their CD this morning and was struck at how this song spoke to the place I'm at. It's so easy to get caught up in wanting to know exactly how life is going to turn out. But really God wants us to enjoy where we're at and He will surely show us what step is next. But for now--we should enjoy the ordinary in between...

"The same old stuff I have to do
Over and over and over again each day it seems
Nothing great to show of my abilities and my worth
So show me my purpose in the midst of this routine

Because I'm trying to understand why I am here at all
With so many guesses and too many simple answers
Could it be that life is not what I think at all
It's not the big things but the ordinary in between
And maybe this is not the time to be waiting for
Any better reason to be glad that I'm alive at all
So help me take each day each simple thing that I must do
To bring glory to You

And I could search out a lot of ways
To keep me doing things in attempt to make my mark
But then maybe I'd miss the mark of your desire for me
So I will trust in you and in everything I do
Do it as for you

And I am learning to understand why I am here at all
There's no need for guesses when you are the simple answer
And You show me that life is not what I think at all
It's not the big things but the ordinary in between
And maybe this is not the time to be waiting for
Any better reason to be glad that I'm alive at all

So help me take each day each simple thing that I must do
To bring glory to you"
--Nothing Great

Friday, October 20, 2006

Year #2

This post is definitely late in coming since we are beginning Week 5 of a ten week quarter, but I figured better late than never... This quarter marks a lot of things. It marks a one year anniversary of me moving to LA. It's hard to believe that a year ago I stepped on a plane filled with many curious and terrified thoughts about the many unknowns that lie ahead of me. Nevertheless I've been here and year and while it's been a hard journey at times--I love it. This quarter also marks the beginning of my second year. Because I went full time (12 units a quarter) all last year and the summer my credits mark this as the beginning of my second year. 1/3 done of the way with a Masters of Divinity!

This quarter also brought with it many new things. One--my health is completely different than it ever has been. I am still feeling better than I ever have, loving food and eating, and even able to exercise now. Next week I'll be done taking medication and for the first time in my life in 10 years I won't be taking any daily medicine--pretty exciting. All that to say--I have a whole new energy and stamina level now and because of my new level of health school and life in general are better. A second new thing is my apartment. I moved in August to a much bigger apartment in a much quieter and less stressful location. I've had fun making the space my own--for example painting my bedroom blue. Coming home to my apartment is wonderful--I love the space and location. It's amazing how a peaceful living space makes life that much calmer. Finally, a third new thing this quarter is my job. I had been looking for a job since August when this job fell into my lap a few weeks ago. I now work at the front desk of a pyschiatrist's office. It's only 8 hours a week, pays super well, and is low stress--the ideal job for me right now. I like the environment a lot--great coworkers and I'm learning a lot about the world of psychiatry. It's also really nice to be out of the Fuller bubble a bit more.

There's a life update for you--God really does have things in control because a couple months ago I had no clue where I was going to live, how my stomach was going to get better, or what kind of job I'd find--and all three outcomes to those questions are far better than I could have dreamed--praise the Lord!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

"Irreducibly Valuable"

In class the other day my Family Therapy and Pastoral Counseling professor used the phrase "irreducibly valuable." He said that most people are only praised in external love--the external parts of their identity (for example what you you look...what you achieve). Instead we should praise people in internal love--people are prized by God and others despite their external parts of their identity. In sum, we are "irreducibly valuable"--nothing we do can increase or decrease our value. I loved this lecture, what an amazing phrase-and how true it is! I wanted to write and share this with y'all and remind you that you are irreducibly valuable!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The many adventures of the first 2 weeks...

When I moved into my new apartment I realized I'd be there for at least 2 more years and I wanted to spruce up my bedroom. San Marino youth group had Servant Day as a fundraiser so I had 4 guys from the high school youth group help me out and they did an excellent job!

Fuller held it's annual "Rooftop Party" on the Friday of our first week back to class. It is held on the roof of an art museum nearby. It's lots of dancing--DJ'ed by our hip hop expert professor--Dr. Ralph Watkins. Here's Kristin, me, and Audrey post party.

The next few pictures are from our Presby Welcome BBQ. It was a luau this year so we dressed the part. First picture--Becca and I.
This man is one of my favorite people on Fuller's campus. His name is BJ. He works in the library and has been at Fuller for years. He cares for the students in amazing ways--whether it's cooking Indian curry for students every Tuesday for lunch or greeting the 8am classgoers every morning or giving us lollypops in the library--he never ceases to bring a smile to my face. BJ won a pinapple at the BBQ.
Sophie, me, Sarah, and even Kernie the monkey decked out for the luau.
Finally...Chris and Ryan did some hula dancing for us as we were cleaning up.

The last pictures are from a Dodger's game with the Presbys. It was a great group with the new students joining us. Notice the Dodger's cap on my head--I decided that after the many Dodgers games last year that I am now a LA Dodgers fan...even if we didn't play very well that night...
A beautiful picture of the LA skyline from the top of Dodger's stadium.
And here's the birthday girl complete with a birthday crown! It was Sarah's 25th birthday the day of the Dodgers game...Happy Birthday Sarah!

"A Joyous Occasion"

Last week I made my first step in the PC(USA) ordination process. Having been a member of San Marino Community Church for 6 months I was now allowed to go before Session (the elders of the church) and be voted on whether or not I could go "under care" with SMCC.

Before I could meet with session there was a large task that had to be completed...the actual Inquirer application. The application was quite intimidating including a detailed personal yearlong budget and 9 essays with questions such as, "What does it mean to be Presbyterian?" or "Describe the Trinity." Not all questions were quite that in depth--but they all did force me examine different aspects of my self and faith and why I was beginning the process of ordination. Once I got into writing I learned a lot in reflecting and educating myself more on the reformed tradition.

Finally the application was finished and I was ready to meet with Session. I was surprised to realize hours before the meeting I was growing more nervous. I eventually decided to sit down and try and relax in the quiet moments before I had to leave. In those moments God reminded me of a lesson I have struggled to learn for years... Becoming an Inquirer is not another achievement or accomplishment, it is a step in the process of discernment of God's call on my life. It wasn't about how well I wrote my essays or articulated myself...instead it is joining with the church body and the regional Presbytery body to discern together.

With that reminder I set off for the church and my nerves calmed. I arrived early and listened to an hour of the session meeting before they reached my part on the agenda. I had never been to a meeting like that--it was neat to see how committees of the church function . As Jeff (the head pastor) introduced me to the session he commented that the next item on the agenda was "a joyous occasion." He then asked me to share with session of how I had arrived at the point starting the ordination process. I shared a bit of my story. The session didn't have any other questions so I was sent outside while they voted. After 10 or so minutes an elder came to get me. As she escorted me back to the members they all began clapping. Jeff announced that they were excited to have me go under care with SMCC and even agreed to give some support financially! I was assigned a liason from session (a mentor type relationship) and she escorted me out of the meeting.

I still have 2 more steps to go through before I can become an Inquirer--a psychological evalutation and a meeting with the Committee on Preparation for Ministry of my Presbytery. I have no idea if I will complete the process of PC(USA) ordination but I do feel called to at least begin the process. The time with San Marino was indeed "a joyous occasion" as I was reminded that this process is not about me at all--but it is instead a communal effort of discerning future leadership for the church and that night was a great picture of communal support.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Welcome to Fuller!

This past week was "Welcome Week" for new students at Fuller. I was a part of CREW--a team of returning Fuller students who put on the week of orientation. Most of my job consisted of sitting at the Information Booth and directing/answering questions for new students. We also put several all campus meals including an all seminary BBQ. The crew was a diverse group of students from Fuller and lots of fun to work with. Here are couple pictures that I hope capture the last week....

We wore these bright yellow Tshirts all week so I had to get Kristin next to her bright yellow bug. Notice the Starbucks in her hand and the not-fully lit sky behind Kristin...we had to wake up quite early--before the sun--the day of check in to be ready for the students. But it all ran smoothly so it was worth it!

Charlie's Angels...or Audrey, me, and Andy in the Information Booth
Most of CREW with our yellow balloons...the new students dubbed us the "yellow balloon people."
Finally the one of the best parts of crew--the walkie talkie radios, here's Audrey, me, and Laura. Yay for Orientation Crew:)

And for some more matching T-shirts...Here's Becca, Sarah, Sophie and I with our Fuller Presbyterian Tshirts outside the Fuller welcome sign. Welcome to Fuller new students!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Around the Table

As my stomach continues to heal I am adding foods to my diet that I haven't eaten in months. Peaches, cucumbers, humus, cheese, grape juice, and baked lays potatoe chips are some of my favorite new foods to eat. Going into a grocery store holds the excitment of buying all sorts of variety of foods. There are so many choices! Even better than the grocery store is coming home to fix a meal or snack. And after consuming the food I feel good! It is amazing to see the fruit of God's healing.

Tonight, however, I was reminded of another blessing of food. Moving to CA brought with it the new experience of not eating most of my meals in a dining hall. The past four years I had been blessed with the convenience of the University of Richmond dining hall, dining facilities at camps, or Mom's kitchen. Not only were these places convenient in that someone planned and cooked all my meals for me, they also all had the element of communal dining. I grew up eating every dinner around the kitchen table with the entire family. College and camps continued this tradition. Meals brought adventures as I laughed with large groups of friends or had intense intimate conversations with friends hidden in the back of the dining hall with everything in between.

This past school year brought much busyness and transition and I was finding my meals to be squeezed in here and there often between classes or during a study break to watch the evening news or an episode of "Friends" or a time to catch up on phone calls. There is nothing wrong with my meals--realistically my schedule lends itself to dinnertime in those ways. But now the communal dinner time that I had previously taken for granted now were seen as blessings. This summer my group of friends had a friend visit from Texas for a 2 week intensive class at Fuller. We decided to make her feel at home and have multiple homemade dinners throughout those two weeks at our various apartments. After our friend had returned to TX we realized that those meal times were special...and something that we didn't do nearly enough!

My new apartment is much larger than my old apartment and lends itself much more to entertaining large groups of people. Tonight I had two friends over and made them the most basic meal ever--spaghetti. As we laughed about my fish dishes and enjoyed the pita and humus,we shared what had done that day. We chatted in preparing dinner, eating and then cleaning up the dishes. We pondered over both trivial matters and large life questions.

A friend sent me an excellent sermon on sharing meals. Here's a quote that I love:
"There is something about a meal, isn't there? You sit on the same level together and use your hands to eat, drink, pass things around. You look each other in the eyes as you share food and drink, you share conversation, you share each have to pay attention. There is mystery and wonder, intimacy and healing..." The sermon goes on to expound on the most powerful meal of all--the Lord's Supper. He goes onto to share about the power of communion today--the unity and tie that is brought in the body of Christ around the world, the tie and rememberence of the past and the hope of the future, and the tie that is brought between us and God--each time we have that meal! Meals can be powerful times!

Here is a picture from back in July sharing a meal with friends--back to front--Sarah, Becca, Gavin, Sophie, Denise, Jenny, and I. I am excited to experience more powerful meal times with friends!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

14 inches shorter...

Last Thursday two surgeons took out a foot of my small intestine and 2 inches of my large instestine. According to our a human's small instestine is approximately 20 feet long and a human's large instestine is approximately 4 feet long, so really I only lost a tiny portion of my digestive system--nothing big enough to give me side effects when I eat. The exciting thing is...the Crohn's Disease is gone! The doctor compared the pieces of my intestines that they took out to a garden hose that had been squished in the middle--essentially blocked. Now that part is gone and my digestive system is learning to function like a normal person's. And praise God I'm out of the dark in terms of complications from the surgery. No one is ever cured of Crohn's Disease but there's a 50% chance I'll never have to have surgery again and deal with the major effects of it again--so pray for that. The surgery went really well and the main surgeon was really, really happy. I am in minimal pain--I've only been taking Tylenol only for the last day and have been eating solid food--how exciting to eat:) The best part is I was released from the hospital Monday morning so my stay time there was on the short side. And I now have an incision about 5 cm long vertically across my belly button--I have a picture but won't post that:)

I'm done with medical talk for those of you who get queasy at that type of stuff. I am now staying at my friend Sophie's apartment. She and my friends Becca and Sarah are trading off days to stay with me over the next couple days to make sure I'm okay. I have been amazed throughout this whole surgery experience by community. If you had told me a year ago that I'd be having major surgery across the country I would have said you were absolutely nuts. I have been overwhelmed by the numbers of people coming to visit before and after surgery and people calling and praying. I think surgery has made LA home to me. It has become a place that I had a crisis and was cared for in the midst of it--in a way that I never imagined. I was driving to a doctor's apointment two days before the surgery on the freeway heading into downtown LA. As I approached the city skyline it hit me--I really like it here. The community makes it home but I love the culture, the city, my school... It's taken a year to get to this point and I'm sure there is more transition to come, but right now I'm really happy.

A big THANK YOU to my friends (on both coasts) for your support and prayers--you have been amazing.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

An Update

This summer has been one that I certainly did not expect. Tomorrow I have surgery to remove part of my small instestine and large instestine. I will be in hospital 4-6 days and then after a few weeks I will have recovered completely. The next couple weeks won't be fun but the long term effects of surgery will be worth it. There's a 50% chance I'll never have to deal with the effects of Crohn's Disease ever again. And whether I do have to deal with it again I will leave surgery feeling better than I have felt in the last 10 years--that is exciting.

Another update...I moved last weekend. I had been looking for a larger, quieter, and closer place to campus for awhile and last Thursday an apartment dropped in my lap. I decided it'd be a better idea to move my stuff before surgery. I was overwhelmed with help from the Presbyterian community--my stuff was moved quickly and easily. Thanks to everyone that helped out--you all are amazing.

Anyways there's a quick update--your prayers would be much appreciated over the next couple weeks for a quick and complication-free recovery.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Solo hablo espanol

This weekend I unexpectedly moved--I'll share more details on that in another post. For now though I wanted to share a story that happened while I was preparing to move.

On Friday I drove around to various grocery stores looking for free boxes to pack my stuff in. I wandered into Smart & Final and asked a store clerk for boxes. He directed me down aisle 9. I walked down the aisle to stumble upon another store employee sorting through discarded boxes and containers. I said hello and launched into my plea for free boxes. The man said looked at me blankly and said "solo hablo espanal."

Oh crap...I had known this moment was coming since I moved to LA. A city as diverse as Los Angeles and as close to Mexico I knew one day my long lost Spanish skills would come into play. Surely after 2 years in middle school, 4 years in high school, and a semester in college I could communicate something in Spanish right? My mind completely blanked. I said "hola..." Then I decided if I couldn't speak I could at least point. I walked over to the pile of boxes and pointed. The words "para mi... and mover" came out of my mouth. The man said something back in Spanish that I didn't catch. I kept trying...what were the words for free and boxes? And how did I conjugate a verb again? I kept mumbling and stuttering unintelligible "Spanglish" phrases.

Finally the man burst out laughing. He spoke clear English--"I'm just kidding...I speak English." The guy had tricked me! I looked at him in shock and then in relief--I could communicate clearly again. He gave me several nice boxes for free. While he was cutting one down for me I asked..."how was my Spanish?" He responded, "it was bad...really bad." I asked how I could have said correctly everything I had tried to say before. He taught me the basic phrases. Boxes = Cajas. Free = Gratis.

It was an odd experience to have happened but I'm glad it did. It was a reminder of what it feels like--even just for a couple minutes--to not be able to communicate. I felt like a fish out of water--total control lost for a few minutes. I hear tons of languages spoken around me everyday. Most commonly I hear Spanish and Korean. However I never have to speak Spanish or Korean because they know enough English to communicate with me...or we don't communicate at all. I want to learn more basic phrases in Spanish and Korean and perhaps Chinese (although I don't know what dialect is spoken around here). Part of the beauty of LA is the diversity but I was reminded Friday of how hard it can be to not to be in the majority culture.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A great listen, read and watch

Over the last couple weeks I have been privileged to come across some powerful words in three different types of media. I figured I'd share a little of what I'd learned and recommend a good listen, read, and watch. Enjoy:)

First, I was introduced to a great band back in December--Casting Crowns. My friend Kristen gave me one of their CDs to listen to over Christmas break but I didn't actually listen to it until about March. Since hearing it for the first time I have been struck powerfully by almost every song on their two CDs. Casting Crowns is a Christian group with an acoustic sound. What really strikes me about them is their lyrics. There is much truth and lessons in them. The lyrics are simple but with powerful messages. Check out the chorus from If We are the Body:

"But if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way."

I traveled last weekend to central Cali (first big road trip for the Focus and it did great!) to see Casting Crowns in concert. It was a great concert of worship.

Second, NOOMA. Rob Bell is a Fuller alum (go Fuller) who pastors a huge church in Michigan. He speaks in a DVD series called NOOMA. NOOMA is Greek for Spirit. The DVDs are about 15 minutes each and speak on a whole range of topics. My favorite DVD is called "Bullhorn." I wanted to post a quote from it but couldn't find it. Here's a quote from a DVD called "Kickball:"

"We always think we know what's missing from our lives in order to really make us happy, don't we? If only I had that car, or that job, or if only I could lose those 15 lbs, then I'd be happy. Really? How often do we want something only to find out that it wasn't that great after all? Sometimes we ask God for things and if he doesn't deliver right away, we start questioning whether God really understands or even cares. Do we really trust God? Do we trust that God is good and sees a bigger picture than we ever could? It's easy to want what's right in front of us, but maybe God knows what's better for us, and sometimes we just can't see it."

Rob Bell teaches this lesson by taking the audience through a trip to the mall with his toddler son. His kid really wants a bouncy ball from a stand at the mall. Bell instead buys him a bright red kickball. The gist of the lesson--God gives us what we need and not always what we want. Rob Bell preaches in a way that I've heard few preach. Anyways I can't do them justice--check out the website:

Third, Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen. Nouwen originally wrote this book to a Jewish friend who asked him to write about spiritual direction to secular people. In the end Nouwen acknowledges that it is a book for Christians as much as non-Christians despite his intended audience. It's a great narrative and thoughts on how to really live as the beloved child of God. What does that mean? How can that truth infiltrate every action of our lives? If you have read You are Special by Max Lucado (another great book) it's like that--except not written for kids. So check that out too:)

I hope y'all enjoyed my plugs and if you ever have any recommendations do share.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Cool Website--Check it out!

Hi Friends,
Since I've been sick I've been a little more in touch with what nutritional value is needed by my body each day. I was given this website from a nutritionist friend of mine:
It's great--it tracks your calories, activity level, nutrients, vitamins, etc. needed and received for each day. It's really interesting (and a bit scary) to see how you may or may not meet the daily requirements.
Anyways--check it out:)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

My Last Two Weeks

In the last two weeks as a friend said "my stomach went psychotic." I have had a stomach disorder for the last 10 years. It usually isn't a huge deal--a matter taking medicine regularly and watching the foods that I eat. I have had several "flare ups" since I was diagnosed when I was 13 but they went away after adjusting medicine. The thing about Chron's (or some spell it Crohn's) Disease is that there is no cure, only ways to treat the symptoms. Doctors describe it as a nuisance more than anything.

In the last weeks I had a "flare up" worse than I have ever had before. After 8 days of not being able to eat solid foods--and sometimes liquid foods--my body was weak. A friend took me to the E.R. and I was able to get some fluid in my body as well as some much appreciated anti-nausau medicine. Part of having a stomach disorder is having regularly scheduled diagnostic tests so the doctors can see the inside of your digestive system. Since the trip to E.R. my doctor pushed up one of the tests--a lower GI (barium sure is tasty--note the sarcasm) to last Wednesday. The test would tell the doctors whether I needed stronger medicine or surgery.

I had avoided surgery in the last 10 years. It's a great short term solution but doesn't help things too much long term so doctors tend to use it as a last resort. After hearing my symptoms the doctors had thought that surgery was going to be the only option. Yet after having the tests the doctors were more hopeful in treating my stomach with stronger medicine. I'm not out of the dark yet with surgery--I meet with a Chron's Disease specialist (the perks of living in LA) on Friday for a final diagnosis.

I am feeling somewhat better now--I have even been able to eat chicken noodle soup several times, and how exciting to chew something! :) I have learned a ton over the last 2 weeks--one of the biggest lesson is what an amazing community I have around me here. From people letting me sleep on their couches (my A/C broke and I need to be in A/C while not feeling well) to bringing me movies to borrow to visits and prayers and phone calls from both sides of the coasts. It's been humbling to ask for help and see how God has created us to be loved by one another. So to my community--THANK YOU! And do keep me in your prayers y'all that my stomach continues to heal.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Shoe Shopping

For me shoe shopping is never an easy feat. I wear about size 4 in women's. To buy tennis shoes or flip flops is no big deal--kids shoes look exactly the same and are cheaper--life is good. But to buy dressy shoes--well that is a whole different story. For Ring Dance (a large ball that most junior women at UR attend to receive their class rings) I searched for months to find white shoes only to pay more money for my shoes than my dress!

The time had come this year that I needed new summer dressy sandals. My current sandals were close to 3 years old and were showing it in age and style. Every time I went to Target I cruised by the shoe section--nothing. I checked out DSW several times and came out empty handed. Finally at the end of a day-long summer shopping trip I stopped by Nordstrom. Preparing to walk out empty handed I approached a salewoman. "Hi, I need a pair of dressy black sandals that are size 4 that are adult shoes." I fully expected her to tell me that they don't have anything under a 5 or even 5 1/2 as most shoes stores did. Surprisingly she pointed me to a shelf of stylish sandals. I picked up a pair of shoes and they fit perfectly! Having never experienced such a thing I pranced around the store happily admiring my new shoes in every mirror. I walked back to the salewoman and thanked her--and told her I had never found shoes so easily before.

The salewoman went on to tell me that twice a year Nordstrom puts on an "Over Under" sale. They ship in shoes from all over the LA area that are size 5 and under or over size 10. They then email all their customers who have signed up for this mailing list and put all the shoes on sale. I was elated! Never again would I struggle to find stylish, adult shoes that fit my foot! I had to share my find with the world. So to all you with odd sized feet go to your local Nordstrom today and your shoe shopping frustrations will be over. :)

Monday, July 03, 2006

A tribute to otter pops

Ok so my whole blog isn't about otter pops. Instead I want to give y'all a taste of my summer so far...

* Two words: otter pops. It is HOT in Southern CA during the summer. I looked forward to a non-humidy filled summer for so long...but I'm not sure if dry heat is much better. It has been in the upper 90s to 100s for the last 2 or 3 weeks--every day. Living in an unairconditioned apartment I'm experiencing the heat in a very real way--I'm learning where there are free airconditioned places around Pasadena...I'm learning to not leave chocolate out--it will melt...and I'm learning the amazingness of otter pops. Those little plastic covered sticks of fake fruit tasting ice can bring so much relief in a matter of minutes. And the best part--they are cheap and you can buy them in bulk...thus I have over 100 otter pops in my freezer:)

* Two more words: Fuller hospitality. A neighbor knocked on my door a few weeks ago. Being from a different country he and I never exchanged more than waves and smiles because of a language barrier. That day he stood outside my door holding a large airconditioning unit. He thrust it toward me and mentioned the words "moving to Canada"...and "free for you." After a couple of minutes I realized he wanted to give me an A/C unit that was worth $100's of dollars. I energetically said yes and I now have air conditioning in my bedroom. So while otter pops are great--air conditioning is even better! Praise God for hospitality.

* Presby Moving and Organization Company. No we didn't start a business--but we could! In the last 3 weeks a group of Presby students have moved out 4 different friends and reorganized the garage of another friend. We have gotten the logistics of moving down--which vehicles fit futons best, how to hold elevators the longest, and are box taping experts. All joking aside--it is a really cool picture of community to as numbers of friends have come out and supported whoever is moving that day. Moving is a hard and stressful process but with good friends it's a bit easier.

* Intensives. Two weeks ago I began my first five week section of summer intensives. I have never taken summer classes before--so it has been an adjustment to think of summer as a time to do homework. I am in Pentateuch and Exegetical Methods (a class to show me how to use my Greek skills). Both classes have amazing professors and even more amazing subject matter. It's going to be a summer of studying but I'm excited about what I'm going to learn.

* Playtime. While my classes require hours of homework during the day...I'm still making sure to have some fun this summer too. Exciting things so far have included...several BBQs, a trip to Santa Monica beach, reading the Da Vinci Code (more to go), organizing my filing cabinet (that is fun for me!) and pool parties. Who knows what the summer will bring but I'm enjoying this pace of life.

I hope that you all stay cool wherever you are--and remember--try an otter pop:)

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Power of Music

Nothing gets me more ready for a day than to wake up to "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield. Before every Greek midterm and final I psyched myself to "Be a Man" from the Mulan soundtrack. Hearing Daniel Powter sing "Bad Day" was a regular occurance during finals week. Diana Ross' "You Can't Hurry Love" gives me hope. Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" has been my theme song since I graduated college. The familar opening beats of Phantom Planets' "California" played on my cell phone months before moving to LA. I instantly am transported to the Duke quad with hundreds of Tipsters running in circles when I hear REM's "End of the World." And I still feel the pride of Moore Hall when the Jackson Five's "I Want You Back comes on. Celine Dion belting out "My Heart will Go On" floods my brain with memories of 8th grade sleepovers.

I could go on and on, my point is that music is powerful. I love how one song can get a person to run five more minutes on the treadmill. One song at a punk rock concert brings an entire club full of people to a higher energy level than I've ever seen in my entire life. One song can give words to the feeling of a couple hopelessly in love. One song brings thousands of people declaring their praise for God together. One song can bring a person to tears as they remember a loved one...

I have been around music all of my life. From my Dad singing "My Girl" when I was little to hearing painfully sung church hymns to practicing a Mozart Sonata over and over on the piano--I grew up with music. The meaning of songs changed as I got older for example I found those boring church hymns to be now filled with truth.

Recently I have seen a new way that music is powerful. After a rough couple of weeks a dear friend made me a CD of "love, comfort, and reminders." Each song spoke the truth of a God who loves me, a God who is constant, and a God who cares. My favorite song on the CD is "Held" by Natalie Grant...look at some of the lyrics:
"This is what it means to be held
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we’d be held"
As I first heard that song immediately I began to cry. What a beautiful image of God! I have played that song on repeat wherever I am--in my car, on my computer, on my ipod. Music can make us laugh, cry, and dream...and music can be healing!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Buber Strikes Again

I can hardly believe it--but as two weeks ago I am done with my first year of seminary! Technically I still have to take summer classes but if I continue full time with classes I will graduate in exactly two years. After such a hard quarter I had to mark that occasion.

Spring quarter was my toughest academic load yet. I have already blogged about the frustrations and joys of Greek. What I haven't blogged about are my other two classes. My other classes Spring Quarter were Medieval Reformation Theology with John Thompson and Christ and Culture with President Mouw.

I think they can both be summed up by saying..."Buber strikes again." On my post about Greek an anonymous commenter saw an I-Thou moment. An I-Thou moment is from the philosopher Martin Buber...said simply--a moment of connection or an "ah-ha" moment.

Both classes were taught by Presbyterian professors (one of which is our president). In my church history class I had the chance to read some of the original works of Reformers. I was particularly interested in reading Calvin since I am in the Presbyterian denomination. As I struggled to make sense of Calvin's writing in my church history class, I was able to hear President Mouw share his views on Calvinism and stories of application of Calvinism in the world today in my philosophy class.

Late at night as I formed arguments for Calvin's doctrines for a paper assignment I was hit with an I-Thou moment. I actually believed and agreed with what I was writing! Coming to Fuller I was unsure of my theology. I definitely don't claim to have all the answers now--but I realized that from the basics of what I have learned about Calvin in the last 10 weeks I had come to agree with--even love some of how Calvin explains life.

I know that my theology will continue to be changed and shaped as time goes on but for now I'm going to steal a quote off our Fuller Presbyterian Tshirt and say..."Calvin is a stud." :)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Presby Banquet, Memorial Day, Foundations Pictures

Happy Memorial Day! On Monday the Presbys headed out to Garfield Park and spent the day grilling, playing volleyball, and hanging out. Here are some pictures from the day:

Look at our pyramid! Bottom: Jenn, Sophie, Becca; Middle: Denise and Sarah; Top: me
After much food and excercise we were tired seminary students....Sophie, me and Sarah
This is my new friend Daisy--Denise's beautiful golden retreiver. Since Daisy weighs as much as I do she took me on many walks or adventures around the park. It was especially fun when I was laying down and she dragged me on my belly into the middle of the volleyball game. Since then Denise has taught me how to discipline Daisy.
Aww...Sophie, me and Sarah. I have great friends! And of course, Kernie the monkey:)
The volleyball game. They played 4+ games! Here's Tim and Becca in mid-play.

Another big event of the last couple weeks was our final Foundations of Ministry small group. This is the random group of first year seminary students that we were placed with back in September. Since then we have met almost every week discussing some aspect of spritual traditions. I can't say that I'm not glad that Foundations is over. I'll still see my small group but it won't be under mandatory circumstances with mandatory discussion topics anymore. Here's my small group: me, Jesse, Dan, Noel, Pat, and Emily

Lastly was the Prebyterian Banquet--an end of the year celebration to honor our graduates.

This is a photo of the group "Westside Reformed"--see, we Presbyterians aren't always the frozen chosen!

Next year's Student Advisory Board--thanks to you all for all you do! Front: Alan, Ryan, David, our advisor Ron; Middle: Jenn, Sarah, Sophie, Denise; and in the Tree: Bob and Lisa

The group worshipping during the banquet.
Haha here's one of our graduates Reese looking a bit frightened at Becca.