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.