Thursday, December 27, 2007

Buyer's Remorse

I feel like a clothes glutton. All the Christmas presents are unwrapped, exchanged, and re-purchased. I still have some extra cash left from overly-generous relatives and returns, and for once, it's not burning a hole in my pocket. And I don't even feel like shopping or thinking about new clothes. I have everything a girl could want.


I'm having buyer's remorse about those adorable red boots I bought. They are super cute, and very fun & spunky, but... they weren't what I was originally looking for. I thought my quest was complete, until my stylish aunt rolled into town from Texas (I know, stylish and Texas don't usually go together in a sentence, but she will be the first to tell you that she is from California, and is not a Texan-- despite her driver's license.). She had a pair of tall boots that were exactly what I had been looking for-- and were within my price range.

The only catch: she got them at Dillard's, a department store that has not made an appearance in California thus far. On a whim, I did some online shopping on the Dillard's website this morning (and I thought I was done shopping), and found at least 10 pairs of perfect tall boots, all around $100!! Incredible!

Why are you even wasting your time looking at Dillard's when they are no where to be found on the West Coast? you might ask. Well, I will tell you: we are going to Texas January 8th for a conference, and my red boots are still brand new and in the box (okay, they're near the box).

Should I return them?? Should I hunt for that perfect pair of black boots in Texas, or should I leave well enough alone and keep the adorable red ones? Gosh, life is tough (and I am feeling grossly spoiled!). I hoped I was done thinking about clothes, presents & consumerism. Hopefully I will re-enter reality soon, and start concerning myself with things that actually matter. Until then...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Yuletide Cheer

Yesterday was a truly wonderful Christmassy day. I mean, the kind of great day that makes me giddy & happy inside (that might have had something to do with the fact that I ended the evening with a margarita, but I'm not sure!)

I met my mom early at Nordstrom Rack for some Christmas shopping, and everything was strangely deserted. The shoppers that were there were all chatting with each other, admiring one another's finds, and telling stories. It was strange. No eye gouging, no pushing, no fighting for parking spots-- just peace, joy, and really great sales.

When lunch rolled around, I hadn't had quite enough yet, so we crossed the street to South Cost Plaza, and wandered for a few hours looking at things we didn't need, checking out Santa Claus, and (the best part!) listening to carolers. The mall had hired 4 carolers to wander around and sing to shoppers, and my mom & I were shameless stalkers. Call me crazy, but I truly had a worshipful moment in the mall, listening to Oh Holy Night! being sung by 4 college students dressed in Charles Dickens era costumes.

We ended with a Moroccan Mint Latte, sipping & chatting & people watching. I even felt relaxed and cheery as I sat in Friday rush-hour traffic for the 1 1/2 hours it took me to get home. There is something peaceful about sitting in a car in stop-and-go without anything to worry about (not even putting your foot on the gas peddle).

The other day, someone said, "I remember when Christmas used to be fun." It broke my heart to hear her say that. When I asked, she said that she supposed it was all the stress of shopping that took the fun out of it.

Thankfully, I happen to love Christmas shopping-- buying gifts for other people, and thinking of what will make them happy, or what fun extra thing you can add to their life. And I love all the decorations and seeing Santa at the mall-- even if it is just a ploy to get you to spend money. I love driving around the suburbs and seeing all the elaborate (and sometimes gaudy) displays on the front lawn, and walking around in the City, and seeing the high-rises lined with Christmas lights. I love Christmas music & Christmas movies... it all just gives me those warm fuzzy feelings the commercials tell you you're supposed to have. But it's not because I got some diamond necklace from my husband, or anything (like in the commercials), but something deeper and more subtle.

I have been thinking a lot about gratitude since finding out that we are going to Africa. Did you know that in a refugee camp there, there are some people who can't afford doors on their huts, and every night they live under the fear of being raped by the soldiers who should be protecting them?

I don't say this to be a downer, but because I have never thought about being thankful for a door. As I wandered around yesterday, looking at all the pretty things that I don't need, but that God has given me the chance to enjoy, I felt very, very grateful. Not guilty, or greedy-- just so grateful for what I have. It was a good day.

A Dream Brought to Completion

Ever since I moved to San Francisco, I have had my heart set on a great pair of hooker boots. I mean, what girl doesn't want to be Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when she grows up?

Okay, I'm kidding-- but only partly. I have shared before about my
quest for the perfect pair of tall boots. I thought I had found them last year in these Aerosoles (pictured here, only in black), but alas, I was just wooed by their incredible sale price ($39!!). They are okay, but not the boots I have been longing for.

Yesterday, however, my quest was finally brought to completion (I think-- I haven't
taken the tags off yet). My mom & I were doing some Christmas shopping, and I came across these boots on sale. Very fun & spunky, without being too Pretty Woman, and comfortable without being boring. And... they're RED!

I'd like to thank all the little people who made this dream possible, especially my mom, who thought this was important enough to spend the last of the cash my Grandma left. Thanks, Mom-- Nonis is smiling down today, no doubt. ;)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What Did I Get Myself Into??!

I just got off the phone with my new friend, Brodie-- the girl Chris & I will be leading our trip to Uganda with-- and I am a little shaky right now.

Remember all those things I was a little afraid about? Bugs, primitive living situations, running water, electricity?? Yeah, we'll get everything you could want out of a great African Adventure.

Here's some of those details I was missing:
  • We will be staying in an "Internally Displaced People's" camp-- a refugee camp for Ugandans who have fled their villages to escape rebel forces in Northern Uganda-- 16K from Gulu, the city highlighted in the film Invisible Children.
  • By the time we get there, there may be a volunteer housing facility set up by the ministry... or we might be staying in tents, with no running water or electricity for 4 weeks.
  • If we really live luxuriously, we would stay in "guest houses" in Gulu, which have no hot water, and only sometimes have electricity. But that would really be living large.
  • We will be working at one of the best medical clinics in the region (meaning they have medicine), and also with a rehab center (same site). The rehab center now has 15 women, and their 22 children. These "women" were girls abducted by rebel forces & raped. We'll be helping to rehabilitate them.
  • The Ugandan government and the rebel forces are in peace talks right now. There has been no rebel activity in Northern Uganda for 20 months-- but there are Ugandan soldiers at our site for protection, just in case. Brodie said she felt safe when she was there.
  • We will be bringing about 20 students with us-- mostly from Brown University, and some of our own (hopefully)
Okay, that's all I can take in now. I am literally shaking at the thought of living all of this out. Part of me says "This is the best thing you could ever do with your life", and part of me screams, "How in the world are you going to survive this??! You wear makeup when you're camping!"

The one thing I feel confident about is that God wants us to be there. And that Chris will be with me. Wheeew. Deep breaths.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Our Dog Rides the Short Bus

[Pause for a moment, and reflect on the funniest picture ever taken. Yes, this is our dog...]

So, let's just say that our puppy is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He's a great dog-- everything we wanted in a dog-- but despite all his boyish charm, he's all brawn and no brains.

I'll give a few examples of his quirks:

  • We heard that you can tell a dog's intelligence by putting a towel or blanket over his head & seeing how long it takes him to get out of it. Gavin drags his favorite blanket into a room, and spends hours pulling it over his own head. I'm not sure what that means, but it can't be good.
  • He once ate a rock the size of a hockey puck, and then threw it up that night during dinner. It made a thud on the floor.
  • He tried to jump through the window of a lovely bakery in Carmel when I pointed at the yummy treats inside. He made the whole store shake, and his nose print stayed on the glass for at least 2 days.
  • He hasn't figured out yet that he can "ask" to go outside for a "potty break". Instead, when he really, really has to go, he lays on the floor & shivers, trying to hold it in (I appreciate the effort, though)
  • He frequently runs into poles during walks/runs.
  • He ate Chris' Bible once. He made it about half way through the Old Testament. Last week, he ate our prayer requests. Bad dog.
  • He peed on Chris as few days ago. A little thing called submissive urination
  • He burps & farts like an old man (I'm not exaggerating-- and it's usually when we have company), and gets the hiccups about once a day.
He stinks, he slobbers, he's clumsy, and crawls on your lap whenever you're at the computer. And yet, despite all that, he really is a great dog. He's sweet & happy; mellow indoors, but great on a hike. He'll chase a stick into water until he drowns. He is wonderful with other dogs, and is so entertaining to watch while he's playing.

I say all of this because I had a little "mother bear with her cub" moment today that surprised me. We were at the park, letting Gavin play, and a woman came with her beautiful Rottweiler. Then, her beautiful rottweiler proceeded to attack Gavin (he actually has teeth marks in his back!). Chris pulled them apart, and Gavin rolled to his back, in a submissive "help me!", and Chris bent down to pet him & tell him he was okay.

The woman lectured us on how we should never pet our dog after he gets in a fight-- full on lecturing us about the in's & out's of dog training (as if Gavin had done something wrong & it was our fault!), after her dog attacked ours. I was fuming! She just wouldn't stop! Finally, I said it was time to go, and we took our poor, defenseless Pit Bull home while smoke escaped from my ears.

The funny thing is that as I was fuming, I was also laughing at myself for getting so worked up about a stranger falsely accusing our dumb, goofy mutt. What will I be like when I'm actually a Mother? Scary thought =)

Christmas Project

Last week, when Chris & I were wandering around Fillmore St, I was oohing & ahhing over all the beautiful storefront displays, the white twinkly Christmas lights, and the general Holiday cheer that streamed from the shops. Everything Christmas shopping in the city ought to be. Chris was sweet and humored me while I gawked-- especially in the gourmet chocolate shop that was a little slice of gluttony, I mean heaven.

My favorite, though, was a cute little boutique that had the most incredible 3D paper snowflakes I've ever seen. And it just so happens that this morning, I stumbled across a craft how-to on making those very same snowflake decorations.

Ever seen the movie Elf, when he transforms the department store to look like a Winter Wonderland? That's going to be our apartment tonight. ;)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Uganda, Here We Come

Well, I have stopped holding my breath for one "unanswered prayer": We are going to Uganda!

Chris & I had decided that we would wait until Friday to hear back about Uganda, and then after that, we would let it go & pursue other options for our summer. Really, I had already let it go in my heart and was resolved that it wasn't meant to be.

But then, on Friday afternoon, my phone rang. Uganda is a Go.

Apparently there were a lot of details that needed to get sorted through before we could get the final Yes (we knew nothing about those decisions!), but all is sorted, and we got a big green light. I can't quite wrap my mind around it yet, and I had to keep repeating to myself all day "We're going to Uganda this summer."

Part of the reason it's so hard to comprehend is that we know so little about our trip. Someone else has already started planning it (a Campus Crusade staff girl on the East Coast, who we will be leading with), and we have gotten almost no details.

Here's what I do know:
  • We will be working with an organization called Child Voice International, working to rehabilitate child soldiers
  • We will be bringing a team of students, mostly from Brown University (an Ivy League school in Rhode Island). Some will be Christians, and some won't.
  • We'll be there about 6 weeks
  • God still answers prayers

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Waiting is the Name of the Game

One can only hold their breath for so long before they turn blue. I haven't quite reached "blue" yet, but it seems like there are a lot of prayers lingering out there in space, waiting to be answered.

Dad: My Dad finally talked to the doctor today about his biopsy. He said that there was a lot of cancer in there, but that he hopes he got it all. There was some indication that the cancer might have spread to an artery, but we won't know for another 2-3 months (when they do follow-up tests). Until then, we just wait & hope he won't have to go through radiation.

Money: Some [wonderful, incredible] friends of ours hosted a fund raising dessert for us last night. Of the 50+ "Yes and Maybe's" on the Evite, about 15 showed up, and one committed to giving ($15 a month). Now, I don't want to sound ungrateful, because I was so humbled & thankful last night for the love we felt at the dessert-- but I have to confess that I was a little disappointed this morning when I thought about how we lost money on a fund raiser. We were able to cover rent this month, but now we have to move on to Plan B in order to get the financial support we need.

Uganda: Still no word on whether or not we are going to Uganda this summer. We were supposed to hear the final decision by Thanksgiving-- but then they found "a few more options" that they wanted to look into before telling us Yes. Monday was supposed to be the next deadline, but still no answer. I don't mind so much being the last choice, I'm just eager to hear a decision one way or another!

Ministry: Back in October, we found out that our beloved director would be leaving our team, and that the scary, faceless "National Leaders" were restructuring the whole ministry. Now, we don't exactly know what that means, except that everything is about the change-- for better or for worse (and so far, I fear for the worst). Time will tell (sooner rather than later, likely), and I wonder if we will still be here when the dust settles.

Now, none of these "prayers" have ended tragically yet. Some are big & life-changing, and some are big at the moment, but will pass. They all, however, feel big, and I find myself waiting for one or all of them to fall on my head at any moment.

I'm working on trusting God's goodness lately. For some reason, that's been really tough for me, and I've found myself very fearful-- that everything is going to fall apart, that God will leave me again, that He won't take care of us, that He doesn't love me anymore, or that He can't be trusted...

I started reading Disappointment With God by Philip Yancey today-- I read 83 pages in one sitting!-- and I can feel my heart opening towards Him a little. I want to trust that each of these "prayers" will work out-- one way or another. More than that, I want to trust that God is good, and that He loves me, even if things don't work out the way I hoped.
I'm still pushing through...

Monday, December 3, 2007


I have been so very grateful for all the times people have told me that they are praying for my Dad, or have asked about his health. I always pass the thoughtful concerns on to him, and he has just been overwhelmed by all the love he has received. Just last night, he told me that my brother's ex-girlfriend, as well as an old Jeep racing buddy (one of the rougher, gruffer, uncouth individuals you will ever meet) planned on coming by to wish him well. Now that's being loved.

I have been waiting to send out an update until all the news was in, but I'm not sure when that will be. For now, here's the scoop: He had surgery the day after Thanksgiving. It went well, and the doctor felt that he got most of the cancer. We are waiting on the biopsy results to see if the cancer has spread, and if he will need to go on to radiation & chemotherapy.

He was supposed to get the results back on Friday, but the doctor couldn't make it to the appointment. The nurse told him that everything looked okay, but that there was a slight "glitch". Not to worry, she said-- she was sure everything would be fine. After a few questions, he learned that a "glitch" probably means the cancer has spread a little. It might mean radiation. It might mean a million things that one's brain can dwell on for ages. We just don't know until the doctor calls back. Grrrr. I hate glitches.

For now, though, he is at home, recovering well, and in good spirits. He plans on taking a walk today-- a pretty huge accomplishment for everything he's been through!

Keep praying! We really hope that this can be the end of the cancer scare, and that he won't have to go through chemo & radiation-- especially at that nasty hospital in Hollywood where he had his surgery. Maybe sometime I'll blog about Kaiser and my Dad's homeless, belligerent, painfully smelly roommate (this coming from someone who likes homeless people!), or the elderly woman they released from the hospital into the streets of Hollywood without notifying her family... but for now, I think I'll focus on the positive! =)

Keep praying!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Small Complaint

I have decided that the next time I get a haircut, I am telling the stylist that I am... an artist, or a musician, or that I work at Urban Outfitters, or something. I swear, no matter what kind of hairstyle I request, the "Professional Christian" title takes precedent over all else.

Today, I went in to this fun, expensive, funky salon, pointed to the receptionist and said, "I want that haircut". I emphasized my request by saying, "I would love to go even funkier than last time-- something really fun & different." I left looking like a Sunday School teacher.

Let me add that my stylist is covered in tattoos, was wearing red velvet scrunchy boots, and has cat eye makeup. She's not the kind of person you would expect to get a boring haircut from. So, why can't I seem to get them to believe that I really want something different?

Now, I have to say that once I styled it at home, it was definitely better, but still no where near what I was hoping for.

I guess I'm bummed partly that I spent a ton of money (that was set aside for "something special") on something that wasn't quite what I wanted. But I think I'm also bummed because I hate being pigeon holed into a conservative Christian, Molly Homemaker mold. Okay, a highlight of my month is getting my Martha Steward magazine in the mail, and I did vote for George W (Gasp-- don't tell my neighbors!), and I do work for a conservative Christian organization-- but,
but, does my haircut have to give that all away??!

I'm obviously exaggerating, and my sweet & wonderful stylist told me that I could come back anytime if it wasn't funky enough for me. But still, it's the principle. ;)

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Most Wonderful Night of the Year

If someone were to ask me, "What is your favorite day of the year?", I would have to say it's the day that we decorate the Christmas tree. Now, no one has ever asked me my favorite day of the year, but I'm telling you, none the less.

We weren't sure if we would be able to get a tree this year-- money has been tight, and we're really only in town for 3 weeks-- but on Wednesday night, Chris caved, and we drove off to Home Depot to get the smallest tree they had.

As luck would have it, every tree in the lot was at least 6 feet tall, except for two little 2-footers-- one being a sad excuse for the Charlie Brown tree, and the other being a fat, happy looking dwarf of a tree. $15 later, we were setting up our squatty new friend on a chest (to make it look a little more stately) in front of the window.

Now, usually decorating the tree is a festive occasion, complete with Christmas carols, eggnog (or hot chocolate), and the happiest Christine you've ever seen. But it was 10pm by the time we made it home, Chris was sick & cranky, and I was getting sleepy. What is usually the highlight of my year turned into a frazzled, moody Christine, throwing the last decorations on at 6:45 Thursday evening before our Small Group came over at 7. Needless to say, it wasn't the highlight of my year.

But, despite all the funk in getting it set up, we have a lovely, fat, dwarf tree sitting in our living room now, giving off it's wonderful pine smell, and looking just as a Christmas tree should look: white lights, coordinating silver ornaments, and a pretty silver garland wrapping around it. And if you make fun of the giant star sitting on top-- which is at least 1/3 the size of the entire tree-- I'll throw a candy cane at you.

The bottom line: it's crisp and cold outside, I'm making up Christmas wish-lists & listening to The Rat Pack Christmas Carols, and despite the fact that we're both sick, sniffly & worn out, I am one happy girl.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

God Save the Queen

Today was a sleepy day. Have you ever had one of those days where you don't leave the house until the afternoon, and when you finally make it outside, the world feels big & scary compared to your warm cozy house? Oftentimes on days like today, it takes me a while to warm up to people & conversations & human interaction.

As I was driving across the Bay Bridge to Laney Community College in Oakland, I knew I needed a shot of adrenaline to get me going, and I found the perfect remedy to the sleepy day blues: Queen.

Upon my request, my brother made me a CD of "happy classic rock", and on that CD was a fantastic array of Queen. Now, I wouldn't necessarily say that I am a Queen fan, but I do have to say that some of their songs are absolutely life giving.

So, my sleepy, unsocial self turned on the stereo and blasted Bohemian Rhapsody, singing along (in full opera voice) at the top of my lungs. I'm telling you, it was down right therapeutic. I was doing air guitar solos, head banging, screeching out all the Galileo parts-- the whole works. And by the time I rolled up to Laney College to tutor my shy, quiet Cantonese speaking students, I was ready to take on the world. You should try it, too...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

Things have felt stressful lately. We worked at a conference last weekend, and for some reason my capacity for social interaction was at an all-time low. And it's tough being surrounded by energetic college students and wonderful co-workers when your extroverted self simply won't kick in. Several times while I was helping with registration, welcoming people in and giving them info, I had to open my mouth wide and stretch out my face, which ached from smiling so much. You know you're tired when it hurts to smile =)

But then... after the conference was over, Chris & I made the drive over to a magical place called My Parents' Cabin. Now, honestly, it's tough compete with the beauty of the redwoods in NorCal, but there is something absolutely therapeutic about that cabin in the woods. As soon as you walk through the door (and get the water running & turn on the heater), all the responsibilities, all the stress and anxiety that you once had simply melt right off of you. It must me something in the air-- or that mountain spring water that comes right out of the tap.

The cabin is huge-- it can sleep at least 12 comfortably. It is cozy & comfortable, and just feels like Home-- but without computers & phone calls or any kind of responsibilities other than figuring out what to make for breakfast at 11am. The newest addition to the cabin was a giant flat screen TV, which made movie watching by the fire even better. Lovely.

But the best part was that we had old friends join us at the cabin. Two of my closest friends from college (plus one great husband) joined us, and we spent hours lounging, chatting, going on walks, eating junk food, assembling puzzles & watching movies. There is something absolutely wonderful about a friendship where you can sit in your PJ's and talk for hours, or read in silence without feeling awkward. I've missed that since moving away. But I soaked it in till my fingers got pruny in front of that great fireplace, on those big comfy couches.
I feel super thankful.

Great Expectations

There are moments in our lives that we look forward to and anticipate for a long time, and then when they are over, it feels strange that they should leave us so quickly. Walking down the aisle, Christmas morning, a wonderful vacation-- when those moments are over, there is a certain bitter sweetness that comes and a realization of the hopes & expectations you had (that may or may not have been met).

Yesterday was one of those days. I had been looking forward to The Day Before Thanksgiving for weeks now, and without realizing it, putting some big expectations on that poor little

My Dad has cancer, and his long anticipated surgery is tomorrow. There have been a lot of stresses, issues & burdens on my family for the last several months (on top of the cancer), and I have been away for all of it. It's hard to feel so far removed from those important family moments-- even the difficult ones-- and to get all the updates through phone calls, rather than hearing them face-to-face, or living them out alongside everyone.

I had this vision for Wednesday. I was going to take my Dad & Step Mom out for the day-- pamper them, help them relax and feel free from the daily grind. I wanted to bless them, to pray for them, and to help carry their burdens for a little while. I think that, secretly, I hoped that I could somehow make up for months of being away, and squeeze in all the emotions and intimacy and help that could have been given in those several months. That's a tall order.

What ended up happening was that they pampered us. Chris & I drove with them down to Balboa Park in San Diego, where they bought us all tickets to see the Dead Sea Scrolls. Then they bought us an enormous lunch at our favorite restaurant down there, and the evening ended with Dad slipping a hundred dollar bill in my pocket for "gas money".

Now, don't get me wrong, it was a beautiful day-- really special. But when I got into bed, I just felt flat. I realized that one great day in San Diego doesn't take away the fact that I live an entire day's drive away. It doesn't take away the fact that my Dad as cancer and is going through major surgery tomorrow. It doesn't somehow lift the burdens of an entire family, or make up for months of being away.

It's interesting to see the hopes & expectations I put on myself unknowingly. The truth is that I do live far away, and that life will keep going on without me. So what do I do with all that? There must be a balance somewhere between savoring in those beautiful moments (of which yesterday was one) and not putting too much pressure on them to be everything.

Yesterday was a sweet and golden day-- the kind that make good, lazy-day memories. And I think that I can let go of those herculean hopes I had of saving the day, accept my free lunch & hundred dollar bill graciously, and be thankful that sometime I can be taken care of too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I got a phone call this morning from The Powers That Be down at our regional offices, and it looks like we just might be going to Africa this summer!!

I can hardly wrap my mind around it. We will (again, probably-- not quite for sure, yet!) be spending about 5 weeks in Uganda this summer, leading a team of college students to help rehabilitate child soldiers.

This has been a dream brewing for over a year now, and it seems like it's actually coming together. But now that it is materializing, my mind stops skimming over the big, romantic picture and rests on details. Details like:
  • mosquito nets
  • bugs, snakes, germs, bugs, and bugs
  • third-world toilets (enough said)
  • crazy, weird food (and the fact that I am hypoglycemic, and have a sensitive stomach)
  • our housing/sleeping arrangements (unknown, but possibly pretty, um, simple)
  • jet lag
  • leading a team of students who will whine about the things on this list even more than me
On top of all of that is the reality of how incredibly difficult it's going to be to hear these children's stories, to see their pain, and to try (somehow) to help them through it.

It is beautiful to think about coming alongside Jesus like that-- but it is also very sobering. I feel very small-- excited, but very small.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Pill That's Hard to Swallow

Okay, here's me being very real.
Yesterday afternoon was yucky. I mentioned in my last post that I have been taking medication that has made me gain weight, given me mood swings, and acne. Well, yesterday, I set out to Union Square with the last $50 of my Birthday money (yes, my birthday was in June-- I realize I'm strange) to buy some clothes that would fit a little better.

After hours of hunting, countless dressing rooms, and a lump in my throat, I came back empty-handed. But let me give you a little back story, first:

The Freshman 15 is a pretty common occurrence. I'm not exactly sure how much weight I gained in college, but it was more than 15lbs, and it was for more than just my freshman year. I really struggled with "the new me", and was plagued with awful thoughts about the way I looked, my self-image, and my worth. Everything I wore was chosen to cover up a body I was ashamed of, and to hide myself as much as possible.

After college, I slowly lost the weight, and began to actually feel comfortable in my own skin. I felt healthier-- mentally & physically, and finally re-learned what it was like not to hate my own body. I even discovered that I had a "style" that I actually liked, and didn't have to buy things
for the way they covered & hid me. It was very freeing.

Well, fast forward to yesterday, in the dressing room at Banana Republic, trying to squeeeze into a pair of jeans, and realizing that I don't wear that size anymore. I must have tried on 50
different items yesterday, and all those old messages about my worth, my value & my body started screaming in my head again. I realized that I would have to start buying things for the way they covered me, and not because I liked them. It felt like a door closing on my identity, somehow-- like I had lost all that healthy freedom I had gained these past 7 years.

To make matters worse, I went straight from my unsuccessful ventures downtown to meet some friends for pizza. The lump I felt in my throat made it difficult to thing of swallowing pizza,
so I ordered a salad instead. When the waitress brought the salad, she set it in the middle of the table for us all to share. I explained that it was for me, and she exclaimed "WOW! This is all for you?! You must be hungry!" I swear, the whole restaurant heard. Somehow, I didn't feel quite so hungry after that.

I realize that my dress size does not define me. I realize that my worth is not based on my weight, and that my identity and style does not come from the clothes that I wear. At least, I'm trying to believe those things...

I kept telling myself, each time I stood in front of one of those awful full-length mirrors in the dressing rooms, that every woman in America feels insecure about her looks-- that our culture (and the Devil) has set an impossible and ridiculous standard for us to live by, and that I don't have to buy it. I kept reminding myself that I had a hot husband at home, who loves me and thinks I'm beautiful.

I'm trying. All those voices in my head tell me that I am worthless, fat, and ugly. They are wrong. They are wrong, and I don't have to believe them. I know what truth is, and I know that's not it. I am going to fight very hard to live in truth...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Price You Pay for Beauty

Recently, I think I actually have been taking crazy pills. And ugly pills. Okay, slight exaggeration, but it feels like it.

I started taking a new medication that has had some pretty gnarly (yes, I said gnarly) side affects. My favorites have been weight gain, acne, and some seriously crazy emotions.

I had a different prescription before that cost twice as much, but without the side affects. The big problem was that our overpriced insurance didn't cover it, and shelling out $55 a month was starting to hurt too much on our very tight budget. So, I switched to a cheaper version, and felt my clothes get tighter, instead of our budget. Then my face started exploding.

I began to ask myself, "What is the price for beauty? How much am I willing to pay, and can I justify it? Can I really pay twice as much to not feel ugly?" It's an interesting question, really.

But now, as my emotions have started spinning, I'm beginning to realize I have to do something! I can't be crazy, on top of everything else! I've tried calling my doctor, but the answering service in the ginormous corporation they call a medical center keeps disconnecting me before I can leave a message.

However, I found a breakthrough! I turned to my friend, Google, today, looking for a generic brand of my previous non-crazy-making medication. I discovered that after a long legal battle over the patent, a generic brand of my medication was released to the public October, 2007! Hallelujah!!!

I imagine it will take some time to get the old medication (and it's effects) out of my system (and off my hips), but at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Weekend Parties (in my mouth)

We ate so good last weekend! Okay, I know that's improper English, but I don't know if there's another way to say it. There are a few of those simple pleasures in life that bring me so much joy (hot showers, warm beds), but few give me as much joy as really good food. And I was a happy girl this weekend!

Here is a joyful list of some of the loveliness I was able to
experience this weekend:

Nan King Road: This is one of our favorite restaurants in the City. It's cute (great decor!), the food is amazing, and it's crazy cheap (for SF!). I tried something new this time (Dan Dan Cold Thin Noodles with spicy peanut sauce, chicken, carrots & cucumbers. Amaza-zing!), and Chris had the most flavorful garlicky chicken stir fry with green beans & bell peppers. I was supremely happy when we left the restaurant. It didn't hurt that we split a mini mocha gelato next door afterwards ;)

Monte Cristo Sandwiches: I have decided that there is no more perfect combination of breakfast and lunch than the Monte Cristo. We made them for breakfast Saturday morning in Chris' favorite cast iron skillet (which requires only a tiny spray of Pam-- much healthier!) and it was glorious.

Napa Valley Vineyards Chardonnay: We finally cracked open this bottle of wine we've had forever when we went to dinner at a friends house (whose tomatillo enchiladas were also a party in our mouths!). It was so yummy! It's always fun to find wine we like that's under $10 (not that that really keeps us from buying primarily Two Buck Chuck!)

Cream Sherry: Okay, I'm starting to sound like a lush (I swear, I hardly ever drink!), but we also had, for the first time, Cream Sherry with a lime wedge. Wow! So tasty!

Arepas: This is something we thought we invented, and then discovered it had a name. It is so yummy, very easy, and fairly healthy. Here's our recipe...

1) Thinly slice onions, carrots & bell peppers. Mince a few garlic cloves & cut broccoli into small pieces. Sauté over high heat with a little vegetable oil, chili powder & seasoned salt-- starting with the onions & carrots, then adding bell peppers, then garlic & broccoli-- until crisp tender (5-ish minutes)
2) Meanwhile, mix Masarepa according to package instructions, and lightly fry in another skillet
3) Warm Ducal Black Beans
4) Top one arepa with black beans, shredded cheese (or sour cream), vegetables, and Trader Joe's Roasted Garlic Salsa. Squeeze a lime wedge over everything, and enjoy!

Carving Punkins

I know, I know: Halloween was almost a week ago. I've been meaning to post pictures of the amazing pumpkins we carved, but haven't gotten a chance until now.

We had a quiet night at home on Halloween (not a single Trick or Treater, or even a kid wandering by
in a costume-- there's something about San Francisco that's just not normal!). And it wasn't quiet just because of the lack of children-- we (and especially Chris) were pretty intense & focused on the pumpkins we were carving.

Now, I have to admit, I'm usually quite the master of those little templates with the intricate designs you poke through onto the pumpkin & then carve out. I've made some masterpieces in my days-- but they always
felt a little like cheating. So this year, I branched out and designed my own (with a little inspiration from the internet). I usually go for the cute, harvesty Halloween themes, but this year, I went with a creepy old pumpkin eating a frightened little pumpkin.

Chris, however, doesn't believe in templates, molds, or traditions for anything in life (he turns our family's Christmas sugar cookies into pipes, football players & demons. Yikes!). So, after about a half an hour of brooding in intense silence
and furiously sketching ideas on paper, he came up with this pumpkin. It's hard to see in the picture (click on it for a better view), but it shows a man & a woman being startled by a knife-wielding psycho coming at them in the light of their flashlight.

We bought our pumpkins out of the back of a run-down van late Halloween afternoon (along with some cocaine & stolen computers! Sheesh!) for $5! What a rip off! I'm thinking of going back now & buying more for a buck each, and carving some Thanksgiving themed pumpkins. I just can't get enough =)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Moving to the Equator

Last night, Chris & I stayed up way too late carving pumpkins (more on that later!). This morning when the alarm went off, it was pitch black outside, and I hit snooze several times, waiting for a few rays of light to help me crawl out of bed. When I finally made it out, it was 7:20, and still pitch black outside!

I'm sorry, but waking up at the crack of dawn and rolling out of bed at 7:30 should not be the same thing! I know that daylight savings is coming up, but that will only mean that it gets dark at like 3pm! Okay, I'm exaggerating a little bit, but it will be a bummer taking the dog out for his post-work playtime at the park and having it already be dark outside.

I'm going to need some serious help if I'm going to be able to get up before 7am and get my day going before noon! I think living in Brazil would would be a great solution.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Pursuit of Thankfulness

Chris & I watched The Pursuit of Happyness with some friends on Friday, and I have been thinking about it ever since. I have seen it several times (in fact, we own it), and I just love that there is a sweet-but-not-sappy [true] story out there of a father who is devoted to his son-- who is honest and loving and affectionate, and who sacrifices everything he has to follow a dream & provide for his boy. It's beautiful.

But that's not why I have been thinking about it.

I have been thinking about it because we're broke. At least, we think we're broke. Our cars are definitely "broke".

Our paychecks have been short (like Danny DeVito short), and we are going to have to take some time off from our campuses and work on fund-raising again. Both of our cars are in need of various degrees of repair (we can't drive one of them right now), and we have already shelled out hundreds of dollars on repairing them in the last month. It's a bummer.

It's easy to look around at the lives that my friends lead and feel sorry for myself. They go out to dinner, and buy new clothes for themselves, and go on vacation, and drink wine that's not Two Buck Chuck... Chris told me a few days ago that we couldn't buy groceries for the rest of the month. I was shocked & frightnened-- and then I realized that "the rest of the month" meant Thursday!

When I watched The Pursuit of Happyness, I realized just how much we have. It's ridiculous to feel sorry for myself. I am well fed (a little too well fed lately!), I get plenty of sleep at night (again, a little too much lately!). We have an incredibly comfortable, warm bed to sleep in at night, and we never have to wonder if it will be there for us when we get home. We have family & friends who love us, and we would never, never have to end up on the streets. We have beautiful things-- furniture, and clothes, and "toys", and a kitchen full of stuff. In fact, our little apartment can barely hold all of our junk. I think that's a pretty good sign that we have too much!

I could go on & on listing the things in my life that I can be grateful for. I probably should. I think that gratitude is the key to happiness & contentment. It is something I need to develop more of.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Thoughts on Africa

Chris & I have an interesting decision before us. We have been dreaming of going to Uganda for over a year now. Our hope & plan was to lead a group of college students to Uganda this coming summer to work with a ministry that rehabilitates child soldiers.

Last year, it seemed like God was opening all kinds of opportunities for Uganda, and it seemed like everywhere we went, we met someone who was from Uganda, had lived there or was going there. It was amazing. We even met a student, named Wadri, at one of Chris' campuses who himself had been a child soldier in Uganda. As we got to know him, we talked about his dreams to restore his country, and had big hopes of joining with him. I truly believe he could have been the president someday-- his energy & charisma were so compelling.

It's difficult to even write this down like a story, but shortly after meeting Wadri, he died mysteriously in his car of heat exhaustion. Chris & I found ourselves one Friday evening last Spring at a funeral home filled with Ugandan immigrants, listening to them memorialize Wadri. After that, things started to slow down with the whole process.

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago...
We have been talking with The Powers That Be in our company about leading a summer project to Uganda, and things were looking good. But then, 2 weeks ago, everything changed. They said our region would not be going to Uganda this summer. We were offered to lead a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa, where we would be working with college students & leading AIDS awareness classes. Very cool, and interesting-- but not what we were dreaming of. It looked like the doors to Uganda were closing, and I have been mourning that loss for the last 2 weeks. Although it seems strange or even silly to mourn something I never had, it was a dream over a year in the making, and something I felt so deeply connected to.

But the story took another turn on Friday when we found out there there is still a chance we
might be able to go. It's a small chance, and it hasn't been given approval by any means, but it has gotten my heart beating fast again.

There is a ministry called Child Voice International that rehabilitates child soldiers, and they are working on a special project to
"construct a center in northern Uganda where children affected by war can live in a supportive community until they are emotionally, spiritually, and physically restored; educated; trained in a profession; and prepared to earn a living." Just reading about it makes my heart ache and my eyes tear up.

Unfortunately, when I think about the South Africa trip, I feel nothing. Maybe it's because my first introduction to the idea left a bad taste in my mouth. There were some miscommunications, some hurt feelings, and some big frustrations at the time, which have all been cleared up. I wonder, though, if I just have attitude about it now, or if this simply isn't the right project for us.

We have a few weeks to get things worked out. It seems like if we can organize some contacts in Uganda fast enough, we might be given the Green Light from the Higher-Up's. It's a long shot, but my feelings run so deep that I've at least got to try.

I guess if it doesn't work out, we'll go from there...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

One Holiday at a Time

Note: I've noticed that my last several posts have been a little on the "low" side. I don't mean to seem negative-- just keepin' it real, ya know? After a relaxing weekend, I feel much more balanced & rested-- so I think I'll even out all my deep, "low" posts with something lighthearted and shallow =).

I realize that it is not Christmastime. Despite Costco's attempts at marketing, I am refusing to buy into consumer ploys. I refuse to even allow an eggnog latte to pass my lips until the day after Thanksgiving (which is, after all, the first real day of "Christmas"). Having said that-- and firmly establishing myself in Halloween-- I will also confess that I have been lusting over something lately, and that my lust can only be quenched by making a Christmas list. I'll explain.

Every female in San Francisco owns a pair of tall boots. I saw a little five-year-old today in patent leather black boots; I've seen fashionable working women wearing them, drugged out hippies, and sweet little Latin Jehovah's Witnesses roaming the streets in tall boots. And, I myself own a pair of tall boots as well-- but I've decided they're not the right tall boots.

I went through th
is same longing last Fall, and finally bought myself a pair of boots for an amazing $39. And even though they're cute, I'm realizing that I settled. I didn't quite get what I wanted, and the desire still burns within. So this Christmas, I decided I would go all the way and spend the $150-ish (okay, ask for a gift of $150-ish) on a great pair of boots that I really love.

Here are the contestants:

Hush Puppies, Elaine $150

Kenneth Cole, Kiss Her $118

Aerosoles, Divison $99 (I can't seem to get a picture of them!)

What I really want is a pair of boots that can look nice with a skirt or a dress, or over skinny jeans. Something comfy for city-walking would be great too, and I want them to be real leather. My dream would be to have red boots, but I haven't found any to fit the bill. And should I get black or tan? I wear so much black that tan boots might be fun...

I can't seem to get my mind off of them. I go out into public and notice every pair of boots around. Too bad they'd be too hard to pry off an unsuspecting tourist's feet. I suppose I will have to wait, write Santa a letter, and make sure I'm a good girl. Is it wrong to ask Santa for hooker boots?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yoda Ears

A funny thing happens to our dog when he's really worn out: his ears go from perky & expressive to Yoda ears.

I'll explain. When we took him camping a few months ago, he spent most of the time in the lake, retrieving an enormous log that probably weighed 80 pounds. It was incredible. He just kept going until he almost drowned, and even then, he wouldn't let go of the dumb log. When he was seriously close to death,
came out of the water each time with Yoda ears-- all droopy, like they were sliding sideways off his head.

On Monday, we discovered this deserted patch of beach south of Daly City, and spent the evening throwing a eucalyptus branch into the waves for Gavin to bring back. He got pummeled by a few waves, and each time, the Yoda ears came back. Let me tell you, he's not a cute dog when he's all wet with Yoda ears.

I tell you all of this because lately I feel like I've had Yoda ears-- not literally (that would be seriously strange), but in my heart, and also in the worn out haggard look I've noticed in the mirror. I know I'm not actually drowning, and I know that I am going to be okay, but I've decided that I'm taking on a new expression to describe how I feel: Yoda ears.

I invite you to take on the term as you see fit =)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I feel empty. I think all the events of the last week have started sinking in, and I am realizing that I feel like I don't have much to give. I would much rather hide behind my laptop & answer emails than actually meet with students, have conversations, and give of myself emotionally. Thankfully, I have had the freedom to do that today, and have taken full advantage of it. =)

I met with a friend today for lunch, and we shared about our lives & our relationships with God, and we prayed for each other. We are going to try to meet every week (or so), and I can't even begin to say what a God-send that is.

When I came home, I realized that (outside of ministry) that was the first time I have met with a friend like that since I moved to San Francisco. Saying that felt very profound.

I mean, we have hung out with friends (as couples) since we've moved here, and I have had deep conversations with friends from home and in ministry, but this was the first time that I have ever sat down with a friend from San Francisco and gone deep with each other. It felt very profound, and very right, and yet also so sad. As I shared with her, I felt how deeply I needed someone to just listen-- someone to minister to me. I hadn't realized how much I was aching for it.

I admit, I am feeling rather emotional tonight as I type away, and I'm not sure how much to attribute to low blood sugar, or hormones, or all of the impending changes & disappointments. It's probably a little of each. I do know that I plan to lay low this week, spend as much time connecting with Chris as possible, and taking time to process my feelings. I think I need a little time to take inventory, and take care of myself... Wish me luck =)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Lord, Have Mercy

For the last several months, my family has traveled on a bit of a roller coaster -- not just with my Dad's cancer, but with my brother applying to the LAPD. There have been lie detector tests, background checks, physical exams to make anyone puke (or pass out, as the case may be), endless forms & interviews... it's been unreal. It's seemed like with each new hurdle to cross, there was some last minute crisis that would flush everything down the tubes.

Well, today marks the last true hurdle in the application process, and if he passes, he starts looking for an apartment and joins the Police Academy. And this last one is completely beyond his control.

Remember in Little Miss Sunshine, how the teenage brother's only dream in life is to be in the Air Force-- and then he realizes he's colorblind and has a meltdown? Well, that's what we're all hoping doesn't happen today.
Can you see the 12 in the picture? That's all he has to do to pass. The only problem is that he is a little color blind. Pray for mercy =)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

All Better Now!

Okay, I was having a rough time last week. I felt like I needed a melt down, but didn't quite have the time. We're facing some pretty significant changes (and losses) in our ministry, our team & our roles. It also looks like our dreams of leading a mission trip to Africa have all gone to pot. On top of that, last week, we led our first Small Group for our church, and put on a Fall Retreat for our students. And I was sick.

I honestly didn't think I was going to make it. As we were trying to get out of town for the conference, we had a fiasco getting Gavin into a kennel & didn't have anyone to watch him. You know, just one of those last minute panicky moments where you don't quite know if everything will work out.

But it did. Miraculously, it really did; and I sit here Sunday morning in my PJ's with a belly full of pumpkin pancakes (YUM!!) feeling happy & content very, very grateful.

Our Fall Retreat this weekend did some amazing things in my heart (okay, it was God-- but He did it through the Fall Retreat). Every detail seemed to go haywire at the last minute, and yet somehow, it all worked out-- beautifully and in that sacred kind of way where you know it was only God who could have orchestrated something so lovely.

I grieved a little for Africa, and the dreams that were not to be. I felt like I was able to let go of it, and with it, some of my anger & hurt. But, more than that, I fell in love with our students all over again. For the first time, I think, I "got" why it is so important to work with college students (maybe I'll get into that in another blog!), and why my job is so important. On Friday, I had one foot out the door (so to speak), and was ready to say Goodbye to all of this Campus Crusade college ministry stuff. But as I listened to one student love & counsel another student through thoughts of suicide & depression, I got teary-eyed, and had one of those heart-swelling-with-gratitude moments. "I could do this for the rest of my life," I thought to myself.

The truth is, I probably won't do this for the rest of my life. The truth is that the changes & losses are still coming. The truth is, it still makes my heart sink when I think about not going back to Africa. But, all of those things feel smaller now, and I feel a kind of peace & contentment now that anchors me down. It's a good day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I wish there was an angry font, because I would use it right now.
I AM ANGRY!!!!!!
Descretion and Christ-like-ness keep me from posting the details on my blog, and I'm not even really sure what I can say except that I am so, so angry.

I feel like yelling profanities at the top of my lungs and hitting
things and flipping off large Christian corporations (I didn't say that). What really sucks, though, is that I don't have the energy to do all those things, 'cause I'm still sick. What really, really sucks is that, although I know it's okay to be angry, I also know that I need to do all that Christian stuff like forgive & take deep breaths & not say things I will regret. I'm really trying-- but sometimes it's hard to keep the filter on.

I'm not just mad (that's more of a knee-jerk reaction), but I'm also really bummed, a little hurt, and very disappointed. There are a lot of emotions in there. I suppose all of them are helped by some deep breaths & some help from the guy who says "Vengeance is mine..." ;)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mostly Dead

Today is cold & rainy again, and I am sick. All these wonderful, loving people around me have been sick & very generous in sharing, and I woke up this morning feeling yucky, and felt yuckier as the day progressed (or should I say Digressed?).

Strangely, though, it's been a nice day. I had big plans for being on campus: leading a prayer time, meeting with students, tutoring immigrants & recruiting for our Fall Retreat this weekend. Instead, though, I slept a huge portion of the day, and got caught up on all (well, some) of the behind the scenes work that has been plaguing me for a while. Yesterday, I felt guilty for being so behind, but it's funny how being sick can take away all that guilt. "I'm sick. What can I do?" The expectations are lowered significantly =)

Chris & I are going to make some experimental sweet potato & sausage soup and watch a movie with the Kleenex box & Airborne close by. And, really, that's not so bad, is it?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Big Winner!

So this week hasn't been all bad for me. On Friday, the Fed Ex guy showed up at our doorstep with a pair of brand new running shoes-- for free!

A month or so ago, I heard about this give-away that a (previously unknown to me) shoe company called Ryka is sponsoring (sign up and win a pair yourself!). It turns out, I won a pair of $90 running shoes! I wore them yesterday for the first time during my work out & they're awesome! I'm so happy with my new prize, and highly recommend them to others. =)
(No, that is not what the shoes actually looked like!)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Pirate Party

Some friends of ours throw an amazing costume party every year. Last year, the theme was Super Heroes, and Chris & I dressed up as characters from The Incredibles. This year, it's a Pirate theme. Now, anyone can come to a Pirate Party with an eye patch and tattered clothes, but we wanted to bring a little creativity. Here are some of our ideas:
  • The Dread Pirate Roberts (and possibly an R.O.U.S.?? I definitely can't pass for Princess Buttercup)
  • A Parrot, or a Monkey (Pirate "accessories")
  • A DVD Pirate-er (wearing a trench coat lined with DVD's)
  • A Mermaid (again, a pirate "accessory")
  • Peter Pan or Tinker Bell, or maybe the Lost Boys or Tiger Lily
  • "Arrrr" (Simply wearing a bunch or R's all over you-- this was my mom's idea. Cute!)
  • The Black Pearl (wear a giant black trash bag, and simply be "the black pearl" super cheesy, but kind of funny!)
The goal here is to be something creative, and to not spend a bunch of money. It would be easy to buy a $50 Tinker Bell costume, but I would much rather spend $3 at Michaels for a bag of feathers, and make myself into a parrot (somehow!). A huge bonus would be to actually look cute-- something I did not achieve last year as Edna Mode!

Any ideas?