Friday, December 28, 2007

A Weary Traveler

I recently got back from a whirlwind trip to the East Coast for Christmas. I waited too long to book my flight and ended up getting one way tickets with lots of layovers to make it cheaper. So in just a few days due to layovers and cities I flew into/out of, I visited the cities of Houston, DC, Richmond, Raleigh/Durham, Atlanta, and Las Vegas before getting back to LA. I realized on the day I got back that I had spent 16 hours traveling, but it wasn't all bad--I did get to play the slots once in the Vegas airport--definitely a new experience for me, too bad I lost a $1. Despite the many hours traveling, it was definitely worth seeing people I hadn't seen in a year! I love living in LA but there is definitely something great about being in the city that I grew up in.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

It was a Beautiful Thing

While the ending of CPE was pretty bittersweet for me, there is something to be said for being done with an incredibly exhausting and intense 3 month internship--and that means some celebrating. I've celebrated with both my CPE chaplains and friends outside of CPE. In this post I'll post only pictures from my CPE people in this post and then use another post to show my other celebrations. We had our offical CPE graduation ceremony on Thursday. It was an intimate and meaningful ceremony with my fellow chaplains, supervisors, a few hospital administrators, and our close friends and family. To steal a frequent said quote of my supervisor--CPE was "a beautiful thing." There was much growth, tears, joys, and prayer poured into the last 3 experience I'll never forget! Here's a picture of my group including my supervisor Cheri sitting "around the table" during our celebration lunch after graduation. This is the table in which all of the hard conversations, conflict, sharing, and breakthroughs happened during our group time. The table was definitely sacred space!

My friends Christina and Sarah came to graduation to support me.

This is Cheri--my fabulous supervisor and I. She shared an amazingly calming presence in the midst of all the chaos.

Although with Cheri the chaplain interns were fortunate to have several other staff chaplains to lead and assist us. The staff chaplain I worked with most was Deacon Mike. He is an ordained deacon in the Catholic church. He and I would do visits together sometimes and it was so neat to minister to a patient with both of our perspectives together. He also helped me remember and relearn some of my Spanish, I now have a great cheat sheet of the common Catholic prayers in Spanish to pray with someone.

I formed a different relationship with each of my group members, but I grew particularly close to the two women in the group. Darenda and I often shared meals together. Here we are for one final meal at the Huntington Gardens. Darenda is now back in Austin where she lives with her family. Carol finished up her fourth unit of CPE and was a welcomed and needed voice of experience in our group. She also grew to be a fun friend to have. On Thanksgiving she invited me to join her family for a fabulous meal. Here's Carol and I having a celebratory sushi lunch on our last day of CPE.

Finally, here's a picture of our 3 male chaplains...Magdy, Bruce, and Darren. They are each so, so different--but so much fun in their own ways. There were definitely lots of many laughs and shared memories in these three months--and I am thankful for getting to know each of these people. It was a beautiful thing!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Today I saw my last patient at the hospital. We still have 3 days left at the hospital--all wrap up stuff and goodbyes, but no more patient visits. For my last day of patient care, it was quite an eventful one! I had never responded to a "Code Blue" before (an announcement over the hospital speaker saying that a patient is in cardiac arrest and the code team needs to respond) but I had to respond to not one, but two today. Thankfully both patients ended up okay. Even with all the trauma of the day... I was very sad to say goodbye to my last patient. I tell my unit staffs goodbye on Thursday and that will be even harder as I've grown attached to some of the staff and loved being a part of a team so big. All that to say is that I am so grateful for this opportunity that I've had at Methodist but it's sad to end.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving A-Z 2007

Last year for the first time I created a list of things I was thankful for in the year 2006 going from A-Z. It was a really neat exercise and way to reflect--so I decided to continue this tradition with 2007.

Arcadia Methodist Hospital: The past 3 months I have been a full time chaplain at Methodist. It has been a life changing experience--growing me more than I have in my entire life. Methodist has given me the space and people to grow and transform with. Here's a picture of my group (minus Carol) out for dinner on our special CPE field trip to see Wicked.

Bible: Yes, I have been thankful for the Bible before--but this year I have a new appreciation for it. After failing the Bible Content Exam in February I made the resolution to actually read the Bible straight-through from beginning to end. Each night I've tried to read about 20 minutes of it, I've made it to the middle of Isaiah. Who knows if reading it will actually help me pass the exam--whether I do or not, I've been so blessed and enriched at getting a bigger picture of the stories and themes that God continually tells in Scripture. Those 20 minutes at night have become one of my favorite parts of the day!

Curly Hair: I tried a new hairdresser that told me I have curly hair. I responded to him, I know that...I just can't control it. He gave me some product so now, if I choose I can wet my hair, put some product in, and walk out the door in 5 minutes. After struggling with straightners, hairdryers, and spending way too much time in the bathroom trying to tame my curly hair; I am now embracing it, and waking up later and that, is a beautiful thing!

Discernment: Since coming to Fuller I've been anxious about what's next for me... This year I feel like I've been given a bit more discernment in that. Through my Reformed Worship class, church and Presbytery people, and CPE, I feel like God is pointing me to continue to the next phase of the ordination process to become a candidate. And while that still leaves a wide open door of many options after graduation I feel more peace about my future than before.

Emergent: I took an Ethics class this summer in which part of studied the ethic of the Emerging Church. I had previously written off the Emerging Church, but in taking this class I have a new found respect for many of the values of the Emergent Movement. I am still deeply committed to the PC(USA) denomination and was curious at how to reconcile the two. I was thankful to find a movement that dialogues between the two--check it out at

Fine wine and good friends: This year I've expanded my taste buds to liking wine. And in that, I've discovered how much fun dinner parties are with good friends, good wine, and good food. This fall a group of us started a weekly potluck to watch the TV show Beauty and the Greek. We each take an aspect of the meal every week and rotate hosting at each others' apartments. I look forward to that time each week anticipating the laughs and moments of sharing that I know I'll find during potluck.

Gardens: My biggest complaint about LA (and I really don't have many) is that there is no good places to frolic. I need a place that is open, filled with nature, that just inspires one to frolic. For my birthday/Christmas present two friends combined their resources and got me a membership to the Huntington Gardens. It is an absolutely gorgeous place. It has been my haven--place to go read amongst the trees, smell beautiful roses, and drink the best tea I've ever had. Doesn't this look like a great place to frolic?

House Sitting: This year several families from my church have temporarily employed me to house sit and dog sit. While my apartment is spacious--nothing beats the feeling of a home in the suburbs (it's the part of me that misses Richmond). The other perk is I get paid to hang out with adorable dogs! My most frequent job is dog sitting for a beautiful golden retriever named Mack. This is a picture of Mack's owners--two adorable kids in a family that I've loved getting to know over the past year from San Marino.

International cuisine: Ever since I had surgery over a year ago--I get so much joy trying new types of food. One of the things that is so wonderful about the culture of LA is the varieties of international foods. On a junior high mission trip that I helped lead this spring I had the chance to try Nicaraguan and Armenian. During Oktoberfest I had some good German food. And while it's not that exotic of a food--I have fallen in love with sushi. And of course, I'll go for some good Thai anytime.
I feel blessed to live in such a diverse city.

Julie and Amy: While at Fuller I went through an experience that most go through during college--living with roommates. This past year I've had two roommates--I lived with Julie for a little over a year, and Amy took her place in September. It's fun to get to know a person in the way only a roommate can--and I feel fortunate to have had each of them.

Kilometers—Five Kilometers: I made a goal with myself after surgery that I would run a 5k--it took me a year to actually do it, but I did it in August. Finishing the 5k was exhilarating and I got hooked. Since the 5k in August I have run two more. It has kept me in shape and got me started on what I've found to be a great stress reducing habit. I have found one of the best remedies after a long day to get on the treadmill and run hard.

Life-giving: One of my fellow chaplains constantly asks us to try and name what we consider life-giving. Having thought about it in the past 3 months I have found myself very thankful to be able to have resources of places, people, and activities that are life-giving--many of which are named on this list.

Macs: In September I made a huge switch--after years of having PCs, I bought my first Mac! I used Apple's Back to School deal and got a free IPod and Printer in addition to a nice discount off my Macbook. I have loved the simplicity, speed, and large numbers of possibilities that I'm discovering on my Macbook.

New Uses for Paint: There are many walls in my apartment. In order to cover some of these wall--Julie created her own artwork. I loved this idea and gave myself and 3 friends--Becca, Sophie, and Sarah blank canvases and paints. It was so neat to see what we all came up with and now I have a beautiful display on my bedroom wall. Becca created another painting for me for Valentine's Day--the verse John 3:16 written in Greek, English, and Latin. That is on my kitchen wall.

Opportunities to decorate: In addition to the homemade paintings I've enjoyed buying things for my apartment. One of the most fun purchases that I needed to make was dishes. I spent at least 45 minutes in the Target dish aisle to pick a set out. There is something empowering about deciding how I want my space to look like.

Pointy Toed Shoes: I received a letter a few months prior to starting my internship at the hospital outlining the chaplain dress code. For women that means, a suit everyday and close toed shoes. I knew that finding suits and shoes would be quite a challenge for my oddly sized body so I set out early. Surprisingly I found the suits easily and got them to the tailor right away to be altered. The harder part was finding shoes. One day Becca and I went to every story in the mall and could not find size 4 professional dress shoes. A few days later when I vented about this to Robin (who is also 4'11'') she mentioned that there was a shoes store in Houston that specialized in selling odd sized shoes. Ironically, I had a trip planned to Houston a week later in which Robin had picked out 2 beautiful pairs of size 4 shoes--just in time to start my internship. Those shoes have been with me all 3 months, and I've learned that wearing pointy toed shoes seriously builds confidence.

Quiddith: Years ago when the first Harry Potter books were written I read Books 1,2, and 3. I lost interest in reading the rest of the books once I started college. I had enough reading--why would I read for fun? This summer as all the frenzy about the release of the final Harry Potter book was building I decided to try reading the books again. In two weeks this summer I read Books 4, 5, 6, and 7. And I was one of those people who reserved my Book 7 ahead of time at Borders and picked it up the day it was released. This summer I am thankful to have escaped into the wonderful world of Hogwarts.

Robin: When I attended Cursillo in November 2006, Robin was the weekend moderator and later I found out she was my prayer partner. She and I clicked during the weekend and have stayed in touch since Cursillo sending each other frequent long emails. I have also stayed with Robin and her family three times this year as I traveled to Houston for Cursillo events. Her sweet prayers, advice, and friendship are a huge blessing to me.

Selah: This April I led a group of middle school youth on a mission trip to downtown LA. It was a slightly chaotic trip with lots of group dynamics to think about and jam packed days of service sites. But the devotional material for the weekend that I used taught about the Hebrew word "Selah"--to pause. If you read throughout the Psalms you will notice that "selah" is frequently used. As I continuously told the kids to slow down and "selah" I realized that God was teaching me to "selah." It never amazes me the lessons that I learn in those quiet moments of pausing. At one point the kids drew on their hands reminders to "selah."

Triple A: During one week this fall I had a flat tire, a car battery die, and my check engine light go on. The flat tire happened first and thankfully I made it to my job at the hospital and used a friend's Triple A membership to get the spare tire put on while I worked. Two days later I was shocked at 11:30pm when my car wouldn't start. After getting a ride back from a friend, I signed up for Triple A online and they came the next morning to the hospital parking lot and put a new battery in my car. And a few days later when my check engine light came on, they drove out to the house I was at and looked the car over and deemed it okay to drive. Car problems are never fun and I recognize my ignorance at how to fix cars, but now I am thankful for the resource of Triple A!

Unlimited to do lists: Sometimes my brain is a bit scattered but this year I discovered a way to help that scatter--to do lists! I found that if I woke up each day and had written reminders and tasks for myself that I was much more productive. So now, when times get busy I have a new strategy that seems to be working well, to do lists!

Vists to Houston: I made 3 visits to Houston this year. While all 3 visits were Cursillo related events, it was the community there that keeps making me go back. The relationships I have in Houston are unlike anything I've ever had before--and for that I am thankful and wishing that Houston wasn't 2,000 miles away. Here's a fun sign that Robin's kids made for me welcoming me to Houston...

Wicked: For my birthday I went to see my first Broadway Musical ever--Wicked. Since my birthday I have seen the show two more times and listened to the soundtrack countless times. I love the story--a beautiful tale of transformation and redemption; the music--powerful lyrics and very talented singers; and set--absolutely gorgeous. I highly recommend it.

X-rays: X-rays have shown me this year that I am still healthy post surgery in August 2006. Life without Crohn's Disease is one of the biggest things that I am thankful for!!! Good health is a blessing.

Young Life: Around March I took a job as the Logistics Director of the Student Leadership Project. It's a partnership between Young Life and Fuller Seminary. I worked with Chap, a professor at Fuller, in planning the details for 30+ Young Life high school juniors who attended a leadership development two week camp. It was an absolutely blast to be a part of such a great organization. I am starting to work on the details for next summer's camp now.

Zephyr's: Okay, this is my one repeat from last year--but I have to be thankful again for Zephyr's. Because without it--and another coffee shop--Beantown, I would have a very, very hard time getting my schoolwork done. So I am thankful that I have a haven--outside of the Fuller library to be productive.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Happy Endings

I’ve had some time away from the hospital this week and that has given me some much needed to both rest and reflect. As I was driving to church this morning I thought about a party that I think summarizes a lot of my reflection. A friend of mine had invited me to go to a Halloween party hosted by some friends of hers. "Wear my fanta costume another time, sure!" I thought. Just before we left for the party she said, “oh yeah, it’s an AA Halloween party.” That perked my curiosity, an AA party... But leaving the party I felt rejuvenated. The party was a blast—there were couples, families with children, and singles all dressed in their finest Halloween attire. I loved watching people interact. Some of them called each other special names—“sober Suzanne” or brother and sister. In interacting with them it was clear that they knew deep intimate facts about one another—each other’s histories, hardships, joys… And I knew that they were supporting one another in this journey to become healthier people. While I'm sure that AA is not an easy process--seeing this was a joyous thing. A group of people helping each other and leaning on God to have happier endings.

Happy endings. Back in September, that’s what I said that I was most not excited about CPE. I said—I like happy endings. The hospital doesn’t always have happy endings. Death. Losing one’s independence. Chronic sickness. I have learned that life isn’t always happy endings, and I need to accept that. And sometimes things that don't seem like happy endings to me really are happy endings to others. The AA party was so exciting to me because I saw people actively headed towards a more whole lifestyle. And there are many in the hospital that are actively working towards more whole lifestyles. But there are also those that are not. It was a huge contrast—the party signified life to me, not death. But God gave us both life and death. The quote from Ray Anderson hit me again. To paraphrase him he said that, “love has to be big enough to encompass the tragic.” He went on to say that when a person is born, it is inevitable that a person will die. A birth means another grave must be dug. Wow. What an unpleasant picture. What a truthful picture. And this image was reinforced as I was doing my nightly devotion time last night. Ecclesiastes 3:20 says, “all come from dust and to dust all return.” This is reality. I hate this reality sometimes. But this is reality. I trying to make my love bigger to encompass the tragic.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


On Monday I begin week 6 of my CPE internship. I haven't blogged since I started because a. I haven't had a lot of time and b. it is hard to really put into words my experience of the last 5 weeks. I'll try my best to put an update in a few tidbits...

--A large part of CPE is group time. We meet 3 times a week for several hours to go over written reflections and encourage and challenge one another. I am in a diverse group of people...myself, another twenty something, a 67 year old, and then 3 coworkers that have 24 year old daughters. There are 3 women and 3 men and we are facilited by a supervisor. I was concerned at how the age difference would play out but it turns out that I could not ask for a better group. We all have our differences but in the end it's a really safe space to try new things and process what we are doing on the hospital floors.

--I am the chaplain for 2 units: a floor that has patients that need to be monitored at all times but aren't serious enough to be in ICU--it's kind of a catch all unit; and a rehabilitation unit. It's been fun to get to know the staffs on both units-I am continually amazed by the hard work of nurses! On my catch all floor the patients leave every couple days so I rarely see them more than once. But on my rehab unit patients stay around 2 weeks...sometimes more. Yesterday I celebrated with a patient that had been in rehab for 6 weeks--she had been there longer than I had. While I enjoy being a chaplain on the catch all floor I have to admit I love the rehab unit because I can get to know the patients and their families so much better.

--I also am on call about once a week--a time when I get called in no matter what hour of the day. So far there haven't been any middle of the night calls but I'm betting I'll have at least one before it's over.

--I totally see why CPE is required for all PCUSA ordination canidates. I have been confronted in dealing with issues including--death, terminal illness, bioethic end of life issues, growing old... It hasn't been easy for me to deal with the stuff but I do realize that all of these things are facts of life. I was reading over my systematic theology notes from Ray Anderson and he said that "love has to be big enough to encompass the tragic...realize that when a baby is born then it is inevitable that that baby will be a person who will die." It's not a pleasant image but it is realistic... So I do feel like I am being prepared to be in ministry and also be a more whole person in general.

--There are many more things I could share... patients that have touched my heart, situations that have pushed me more than I could have ever imagined, putting my theology into practice, and the development of my professional and pastoral identities... But for now I want to celebrate that I am halfway done, and that, my friends, is exciting.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A New Season

Since I bought my Mac I haven't had the time to figure out how to work IPhoto--and thus I don't have the ability to post pictures of my trip to Houston for y'all. Hopefully soon though! The quick summary of it: I spent Sept 11-17 at a beautiful camp outside Houston, TX called "Cho-Yeh" staffing Houston Presbyterian Cursillo (HPC) 47. It was a weekend filled with tears, new friends, many many laughs, lots of singing, and a reminder and refresher of how amazing God's love for me and others is. I came back from TX physically exhausted but feeling incredibly renewed spiritually. I also returned with much encouragement and confidence that I am in a great place along this crazy journey of seminary and discernment of what's next.

This was a good place to start my hospital chaplaincy...and that's exactly what I did the day after I flew in. I began a 3 month full time internship at Arcardia Methodist Hospital. It has been a complete switch in change of people, new place, new schedule, even new clothes. The first two days have been good--all orientation and training. I already can tell, though, that this is the beginning of a new season for me. The internship is intense--already we have discussed some of our deepest anxieties and fears and tomorrow we visit the morgue. I feel like this is a time when I will be faced with huge opportunities to grow and be changed. My prayer is that I will be continually open in my heart and mind to whatever is thrust my direction.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The longest to-do list...

Between August 21-Sept 10 I had to:

--Memorize Directory of Worship of Book of Order, take final
--Ethics Reading and Journal Reflections
--Ethics Research Paper
--23 Systematic Theology Lectures
--A worship reflection paper
--Reformed Worship Reading Log
--Reformed Worship Journal
--2 Systematic Papers to write

And not to mention the preparation I needed to do for Cursillo, my upcoming internship, and general life tasks... I made myself a schedule and organized it so I can get it all done by the 10th before I flew to TX. Now, as I'm about to fly out--I'm happy to say that the entire to do list was done except for one systematics paper--which isn't due till December anyways.

It has not been the most exciting couple of weeks to say the least! But, I did try to have a good balance of fun things in the midst of the schoolwork so I did't completely go insane. Part of that fun including buying a new computer...a Mac! The new computer is a very needed and welcomed change! Only thing is that I'm still learning how to use it--and I'm still organizing my pictures--therefore I can't post pictures on my blog of other fun adventures of the last two weeks. But they are coming later.

For now, I'm off to staff Cursillo. I fly back in on the 17th and on the morning of the 18th I begin my hospital chaplain internship. Lots to come I'm sure!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Here's to health!

1 year ago today I was having surgery to take out part of my intestines. I had been struggling with Chron's Disease since I was 13 and I needed surgery. The doctors told me that there was a 50% chance that I would never have to have surgery again or a 50% chance that I would have it again, as soon as in 6 months. Regardless of the odds, I left the hospital in celebration.

And that celebration has continued for me throughout this year. Hooray for eating anything I want....including spicy curries, sushi, all kinds of new raw veggies, nuts, everything that ends in -ito, and corn on the cobb! Hooray for not taking so many pills a day! And hooray for having enough energy and stamina to run a 5k! All of those things continue to remind of what a blessing health is. This year has passed without any issues with my stomach--Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Welcome 2 (to) H-Town!

After a brief delay from tropical storm Erin, I flew into Houston, TX Thursday night. I was flying in for training for the upcoming September Cursillo weekend and also using my time in Houston to spend with friends. The training time went very smoothly and made me very excited to serve with this superb team in September. I'll keep y'all posted on how that weekend goes.

The best gift of being in Houston was being able to see members of my Cursillo family in TX. It boggles my mind to be a part of a community that spans 2,000 miles! I visited fellow Fuller student and Cursillo friend Barbara at her house.
After spending much time with Barbara in CA when she came to take classes it was very fun to see her house, meet her kids, and play with her adorable dog Candy. I've decided that when I get a dog--I am getting a pug. How can anyone resist these brown eyes???
I stayed with Robin--a woman that I connected with during my participant Cursillo weekend back in November. She and I have stayed closely in touch since then. She has become an amazing blessing to me! Robin and her husband Rusty were gracious enough to open their house up to me even though they had just moved homes the day I flew in.
Here are the her kids--Alyssa, Sarah, Bethany, and the cat Tigger. It was lots of fun getting to know the girls more. They made me some lovely signs above the guest bed welcoming me 2 (to) H-town. :) I spent much time that weekend playing card games, playing Polly Pocket, and getting updates on 7th Heaven. All in all, I had an absolutely wonderful, relaxing, and much needed vacation in Houston.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Walking the Tightrope

Yesterday I went business suit shopping. My experience business suit shopping was a disaster. I went in and out of almost every women's clothing store in the Santa Anita mall to find the same situation--no suits at an affordable price to fit my body. I gave up and went to Ann Taylor Loft the next day to find that the first suit I tried on--fit!

My first experience wearing a business suit was awkward. I felt a bit out of place in my own clothes--too professional and formal for my own comfort. The second time I wore my suit I felt a bit more myself. And the third time I wore my suit I found myself even liking my clothes. So yesterday, I tried the business suit shopping again. It took less than an hour to find two suits. I knew what I needed, knew how they would fit, and even got excited at the thought of having to wear a business suit every day! I realized that I've become more comfortable at thinking of myself as a professional and dressing like one...

My friends and I talk a lot about what makes someone an adult. In my youth ministry classes we learn about the "tightrope" of adolescence. And developmentally, one does not leave that tightrope until at least age 25. But really, what constitutes being an adult? Is it being comfortable in wearing a business suit? Is it being married? Or having kids? How about having a career you love? Is it being completely financially independent? I can name a person that fits each of those descriptions but isn't what I consider an adult. I don't really have an answer to my question...I guess it's just something that happens organically. Whatever it is, I know that I'm still learning about who I am, and hopefully one day I'll get off the tightrope. Until then, I'm going to continue to enjoy the journey.

Friday, August 10, 2007

An Intense 4 Weeks

Today at 6:50am I rejoiced. Why? Because it was the last time I'd have to wake up to go to class or get up to get to the library and do homework hurriedly before class for a long, long time. For the last month I have taken 2 two week intensives--back to back. Two week intensives are great for one reason--you have so much vacation time. Two weeks of class is better than ten weeks right? Well....that's debatable. Because I had forgotten the reason the classes were so much shorter--because all ten weeks of material is crammed in the two weeks.

My first class was Reformed Worship with Ron Kernaghan. I had a love hate relationship with the class. There were moments when I was bored out of my mind--repeated case studies from the Book of Order get really old. But it was the other moments that made this class one of my favorites at Fuller. For the first time I really understood why our church services are structured the way they are, the clear relationship between worship and justice, and a practical understanding of how to do things such as weddings and funerals. Ron is a former pastor of numerous congregations so many of my learning moments came from stories of his experience. The most transformative part of the class for me, however, was learning to do funerals. I had the chance to do a mock pre-funeral interview with a classmate of mine in front of the class. I walked away from Reformed Worship with a new love for the Reformed tradition and ready to put the knowledge to practice in my upcoming internships.

Christian Perspectives on Ethics was my second class. We looked at three different ethical traditions--Evangelical, African American, and Emergent. For the most part, it was not my favorite class at Fuller--I really didn't appreciate the hugely discussion oriented aspect of the class (can we say random tangents?). Yet, there were some points in this class that really made me think. I loved having an African American professor and gaining the perspective and knowledge that Dr. Vincent Bacote shared with us. We also had two interesting guest speakers--a prominent LA African American pastor and Rudy Carrasco, the director of the Harambee Christian Center in Pasadena. I think I was most challenged with the reading for this class...particularly the Emerging Church reading. I discoverd that I while I certainly don't agree with all of the Emerging Church movement--that there are many similarities between the Emerging Church tradition and the Reformed tradition. I found a website that is working to bring elements of the Emergent Church in the Presbyterian denomination--neat stuff. Check it out,

To sum it up, I came away from both classes changed--which is always good. But now, I'm tired! And rejoicing in the fact that it will not be until January that I will be back in the Fuller classroom. I love Fuller--but I need a break, and CPE is going to provide just that. I'll continue to have to wake up early, but not for going to class:)

Now I just need to finish all the papers from these classes and do that systematic theology IDL class....

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

i did it!

I wrote in an earlier post that when I had my stomach surgery last August (a year ago in about 2 weeks) that I made a promise to myself that I would do a 5k. Saturday morning Sophie and I went to an annual 5k in a town a bit east of Pasadena. The 5K marked a big step for both of us. Sophie had not run a race since she had mono this past year.

I was not feeling very prepared for the race but as it started the adrenaline of the atmosphere, fellow runners, and idea of the goal kicked in and I was able to run much more of the race and do it in a much better time that I thought could. And what a great feeling! There is something so empowering to cross the finish line and say I did it! I'm psyched to continue training and becoming more healthy and doing more races.

Hooray for being healthy!

We did it!

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Brief Escape to Paradise

Two weekends ago me, Becca, Sophie, and Sarah headed to Catalina Island for a break away from work, job searching, school, and all of the stresses of life in Pasadena. My session liason, Carol, at San Marino, gave us the gift of using her condo for the weekend. We felt like we were living in paradise in the condo...
We took the ferry out to Catalina (1 hour and 15 minute ride) on Friday evening. While there, we enjoyed kayaking, glass bottom boating, eating yummy food--mmm crab legs, sleeping listening to the ocean waves crash, and laughing a lot.
This is a picture of Sarah and Sophie in their kayak. I had never kayaked before--Becca was a wonderfully patient teacher. We kayaked parallel to the island enjoying looking at the different sights and boats around us. Becca and I even "jumped ship" and swam around the Pacific a bit.
And here is Becca and I post glass bottom boating. It actually wasn't quite as exciting as I thought it would be, but we did see some cool fish. We also saw people para sailing and snorkeling in the perfect spot--so we made a mental to do list of things next time we're in Catalina.
All in all it was a perfect vacation. For my schedule our Catalina trip hit right in the middle of my two 2 week intensives. So just as one class ended I headed to the island and got back in time for the start of the next one. And I'm learning that a 10 week class crammed into 2 weeks is A LOT so I was extremely grateful for the break!!! For me, there is nothing like the ocean with my best friends to bring calmness, rest, and recharging.

Friday, August 03, 2007


I feel compelled to share some wisdom with you all that my roommate Julie discovered in her First Aid training class...

When you need 911, call from a landline phone if possible. Calling 911 from your cell phone takes a long time because it doesn't go to a 911 call center. It goes to CA Highway Patrol who doesn't have funding to answer 911 calls--so it can take 10 minutes to get through-which is quite a lot in an emergency situation. If you don't have any other option than your cell phone then call 411 (information) and ask to be connected to the paramedics.

*I know this information is true in CA, not sure about other states--but it's always a good thing to check.

Hopefully y'all won't be calling 911 but it's always good to be informed.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I'm going to do it!!!

Right after I had surgery on my stomach (almost a year ago now) I promised myself that I would keep my healed body healthy. I made goals including eating healthy, learning to cook, and running a 5K. I've learned much about eating healthy and started the process of learning to cook but the 5K goal got lost in the midst of classes and homework. But now, ladies and gentlemen, I am going to meet that goal. For the last month I've been faithfully going to the gym trying to build up my endurance and speed as I walk/run for about 30 minutes each time. I've started slow so it may take me a long time, but I write it here--on a public blog, one of these days I will run a 5K!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Summer Fun!

So I have been absolutely awful at updating my blog--here's to staying better updated!

This summer has been packed with many fun times, much touristy stuff around LA, and after SLP was over--rest and relaxation! I'll share a few pictures and stories of some of my favorite things from the summer so far....

Memorial Day was a beautiful and relaxing day with some of my favorite people at Fuller. I attended the annual Presby cook out and spent the day laying in the sun, catching up with friends, and ignoring the finals that were just around the corner. Here are Sarah, Sophie, Alethia, Becca, and I--what a good group!

During my break from SLP Becca, Sophie, and Sarah went with me to see the broadway musical Wicked to celebrate my belated 24th birthday. I had never seen a show on broadway so I loved experiencing for the first time--the beautiful sets, amazing special effects, and brilliantly talented singers. Wicked is a wonderful show--I highly recommend it!

Immediately after SLP was over, I headed to the mountains for Family Camp. It was a great weekend to get away and enjoy time getting to know church members in a different capacity than Sunday mornings. We did all the typical camp activities... skits, silly songs, field day games, and my personal favorite--campfires! We had times of worship in between. This is a picture of a group that I went hiking with. We never found are targeted destination but we had a good time getting to know one another and seeing the nature of Thousand Pines. I look forward to getting to know the people of SMCC even more as I intern there starting January.

My little sister flew in a few days after SMCC Family Camp. Visitors are always a good excuse to see tourist sites. We spent time at Disneyland, touring WB studios (very cool place by the way), a little Hollywood, the Pasadena sites, and Santa Monica. And I'm very proud to say--that after living on the West Coast for 2 years I finally was brave enough to swim in the freezing cold waters of the Pacific Ocean. This is a picture of my sister on the Santa Monica pier.
The last two weeks I've enjoyed spending time with a friend a couple of us have gotten to know through Houston Presbyterian Cursillo, Barbara. She came to take a 2 week intensive at Fuller (she is an extension student in Houston). We've taken turns hosting dinner for each other--which is always fun. And as a special treat, on the 4th of July we headed to Long Beach Aquarium. I got to pet sharks and sting rays! There were also many cool fish and other sea creatures. The movie Finding Nemo has transformed aquariums everywhere as we constantly found Dory's, Nemo's, and the sea turtles Crush and Squirt. The fireworks were less impressive that we expected but the neat exhibits in the aquarium made the trip well worth it. Here are me, Barbara, Sarah, and Sophie at the start of our day.
The last couple of days have been more low key. I've been trying to savor my free time before I start my summer intensive classes Monday. I've enjoyed a lot of reading for fun as I finally caught up with the rest of the world and read books 4, 5, and 6 of Harry Potter. I finished them just in time to go to the midnight premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix movie--which I highly recommend to all! And to finish I'll leave y'all with a picture of the Harry Potter car that was on display at WB studios--so cool. :)
Now I look to summer classes, a weekend getaway to Catalina Island with my girls, and staffing HPC 47--so 2 trips to Houston, TX. Happy summertime all!

Saturday, June 23, 2007


In going through the many pictures people took of the Student Leadership Project I came across this picture. What great hope that this gives me for the future!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Student Leadership Project

Last spring my friend Rana said that she was moving and wondered if I would be interested in the job she was leaving behind--working with Chap Clark (a professor at Fuller) and Young Life on a 2 week conference called the Student Leadership Project (SLP). Looking back, I realize that I had absolutely no idea what I said yes to and am sure glad that I did.

From the month of March on I spent the weeks doing tasks preparing for the students to arrive--things like booking their hotel rooms, requesting petty cash, and making meeting room reservations. Finally June 11th arrived and we hit the ground running. 35 high school juniors were flown in from around the country. They were chosen as participants in a highly selective process--chosen because of their demonstrated leadership skills in their Young Life chapters. There was also intentionality in making the group as diverse as possible--diversity in race, class, and in different hardships that they had faced in the past. I was eager to see how these kids would interact.

SLP took the kids on a journey. They were given a basic practical theology model for understanding the big issues in the world and then taught (both in the classroom and in experiential learning) about those big issues. One of these issues was class--and LA is a perfect place to demonstrate the extreme difference between the rich and poor. We first took them to MacArthur Park. This park is blocks away from downtown LA. It was originally created in 1880's and quickly became one of LA's premiere hang out spots for the wealthy. However a century later the park looked very different as it is still known today for the best place in LA to get drugs, fake IDs, and much gang violence. We gave the kids $5 each to "help someone" in the park. They broke up into groups. My group bought happy meals at McDonald's and passed them out to the many homeless people in the park. This was the group I was with most of the trip--Jameelah, Morgan, Clyde (a leader), Jessica, Marquese, and Tre.
The next day we took the kid to Rodeo Drive--a wealthy 3 blocks in Beverly Hills with stores including Armani, Louis Vuitton, and Versace. Needless to say, it is quite a different place than MacArthur Park. We gave the kids again $5 and told them to go out in the groups and help someone. Quickly they discovered that they could not buy anything in Rodeo Drive and starting searching for people to give the money to. My group gave their money to the doorman at the famous Beverly Wilshire Hotel. This exercise was amazing at seeing and understanding the different needs at both location. Here's my group on Rodeo Drive.
Mixed in with the teaching and experiential learning we also gave the kids opportunities to play and see LA. They went to the beach. Here are 2 guys learning to boogie board for the first time.
They went to a Dodger's game. The adult with the glasses is Cliff Anderson. He and Chap co directed SLP.
And they even got a taste of Hollywood as they went to two movie premeires--Evan Almighty and Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer. They saw The Silver Surfer at Fox Studios and were able to meet with the producer of the movie, Ralph Winter.
The kids went to Forest Home (a retreat center in the mountains) for the second week to focus on spiritual disciplines. I stayed in LA and was able to rest and help prepare for their last night. The last night the kids were here we had a worship service with different stations around the room. Leaders ran stations to anoint them with oil, times of prayer and confession, healing and cleansing, receiving a blessing, and a worshipful response in art. It was beautiful to watch the kids go through these stations and pray with one another. One of the most moving moments I saw was a group of 5 boys huddled together praying and talking. The part that was most exciting was that this was a very mixed group racially. It was an amazing picture of what God's Kingdom should look like...people of all colors standing together and working together for the Lord. I took a picture of the outcome of the art table I ran that night. The kids covered the middle back wall of Travis Auditorium (you Fuller people know that) with their art to God. Here's a snapshot of the art.
All in all it was an amazing two weeks. I still have lots to process so much--that I am going to do an independent study with Chap this year critically thinking theoretically and practically through the Student Leadership Project.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


June 9th marked the beginning of a very exciting journey for two of my best friends. It was Fuller's graduation. Becca and Sophie both walked across the stage to receive their Masters of Divinity degrees. It's been great to share with both of them some of their times in seminary. I've known Sophie for 6 years now--and seen her enter seminary and now leave seminary. I've only known Becca for a 1 1/2 years but we have become close in that short amount of time. How much fun it has been to see both of them learn, grow, and change in that time!

There were celebratory events all weekend. One of my favorite times was joining the Draffins for tea at the Huntington Garden.

The biggest event was a joint party in Becca and Sophie's honor put on by a San Marino church member. Here's a picture of the two of them with 5 of the youth group girls. The party was a great mix of Fuller students and church members. Being a member of both of those groups, I had a great time. :)And the actual event of graduation was...well, long. So long that we made up a graduation degree for Kernie the monkey.

He received a doctorate in philosophy of theology. Yes--we were bored.
But we got through the ceremony finally--and grabbed a picture with the graduates. Way to go girls! Now they are both in the process of looking for calls to eventually be ordained pastors in the PC(USA) church. It's exciting to think of the amazing ways that God is going to use both of them.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Cross that off the to-do list...

I had an academically hard quarter with both my professors being some of the most challenging professors at Fuller--and two of the most powerful women at Fuller. It was a quarter filled with many papers, many books, and honestly many learning moments. But it was also a quarter filled with many to-do lists. But I crossed off my last thing on the to-do list this afternoon in finishing my last final and am DONE with the spring quarter! Whew!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Neighborly Love

My apartment's balcony overlooks the front yard of a quite eccentric houseful of people. My favorite is the guy who is the aspiring rock star...I often get to hear band practice with not so good guitar or drum solos. There are frequent loud conversations in their front yard--sometimes a party, sometimes an argument... There's always some kind of activity. I haven't spoken a whole lot with my neighbors--just a wave from time to time when I sit on the balcony.

One day when my roommate Julie was out on our balcony one guy from the house told her that he hoped her tomato plants were okay. He had been watering his own plants when he decided that the tomato plants needed water too. He pointed his watering hose from his yard across the fence, mailboxes, and sidewalk that separate our living places and aimed at our second story balcony and watered the tomato plants. Odd, yes. But sweet too--because he was showing us neighborly love in the only way he knew how.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Some say that today I officially entered my mid-twenties. 8:33pm tonight marked the 24 years I've been in this world. I've been reading through the Old Testament over the last few months and have continually been reminded of God's command to the Israelites--to remember what He has done for them. This morning I tried to reflect and remember what during the past year God has done for me. As I began to write, I realized what an amazing year it has been. Blessings abound...healing from Crohn's Disease from surgery, incredible financial provision, a new amazing community and emotional healing at Cursillo... These are only a few things on my list. Praise be to God! I can only imagine what the next year will bring..

It was a year worth celebrating--so celebrating we did. Friends took me out for a lovely lunch and we continued on to have a day filled with laughs and goofiness as we shopped at Paseo. My friends then tricked me tonight in coming over for a small surprise birthday celebration at Sophie's. We will keep celebrating this summer by going to see Wicked June 19th.

At CPK for lunch...I got a free birthday ice cream sunday

Late night celebration at Sophie's

And I have to rejoice that I now am the same number as my favorite television show...24. By the way--check out that artistic cake.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

$30,000 later...

Today I experienced a very different church fundraiser than I had ever been a part of. Growing up in youth group I helped with many a spaghetti dinner, bake sale, yard sale, or auction to raise money to go on our mission trips. Yet this church wide auction at San Marino took fund raising to the next level! For approximately the last 3 months I have been on the auction committee--a group that worked tirelessly to a create a fiesta themed live and silent auction and catered dinner. I was amazed at the talents and knowledge of the people on the committee--San Marino definitely knows how to throw a party! Here are some pictures of the event...

These are some of our youth helping to decorate the fellowship hall and tables by folding napkins.
This is Cami--one of the youth I know best, before the auction started. Many of the youth were our servers for the night--they were dressed up in a uniform of black pants, white shirts, and brightly colored sashes.

Don and Karen Berns (our new associate pastor) are on the church patio for the silent auction. Items included theme park tickets, dinner with Baby Oh (which made $100's!), and a spa package among other things. It was hard to win anything--people kept being out bid.
One of my favorite auction committee members--Bob--went all out in dressing festively for the occasion! I'm not sure I'll recognize him on Sunday mornings in his suit.
And one of the biggest items of the night was a live auction item--a ride with Jeff O'Grady (our senior pastor) on his motorcycle. Jeff surprised everyone by riding his motorcycle to kick off the live auction part. Here he is clad in his leather. The item that was most popular was having dinner with Jeff and his wife Lynn in the church manse. That went for $1500--and another couple wanted it so badly that they volunteerily gave another $1500. $3000 to eat with the pastor--wow...

The night was super successful. The auction raised $30,000 to benefit the youth! How exciting!!!