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. ;)