Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cultural Immersion

Yesterday was hilarious. It was an Ozark cultural immersion kind of day:)

I set out in the morning in search of a coffee table. I didn't want to spend the money on a brand new one, so I did a quick Yelp search for local thrift stores. While I was driving around a nearby town looking for the place I had in mind, I stumbled upon a few I hadn't heard of. In each of my stops, I came across some fascinating items... and people:)

Thrift Store #1:


Croc Purses?!


Thrift Store #2:

I'm not actually quite sure what kind of store this was... It was just full of so many different random things. While I was perusing, the guy working there came up to me with a jar in one hand and a cracker in the other. He said, "Alright, right here we've got the hottest item in the store. We completely sold out of all of them yesterday, so they're going fast. It's 'Gringo Goose Poop'. It's called 'Gringo' because it's the mildest of them all. You need to give it a try." He then handed me a cracker with the 'Gringo Goose Poop' on it. As I tasted it, he went on to explain to me how his wife eats it on her eggs and how you can put it on anything... It was all so random. 

But you know what? It tasted so good! I bought a jar!


While I was waiting at the cash register, I heard him give his pitch to the next customers. One of them said that she's friends with the lady who makes the Goose Poop! I can say that I'm eating local:)


Thrift Store #3: 


I know this is a blurry picture, but hopefully the story behind it makes you see its beauty:) So this store is called "Bear Market"... in honor of the random stuffed bear in a glass case at the center of it. The whole ambiance of this place was cracking me up. The old men lounging on the couches around the bear. The fake tree trunk columns all over the room. The children's Sunday School songs playing over the speakers, getting occasionally interrupted by a recorded voice listing off random bear facts. As my friend Ashley from Georgia would say, "It was blessing my heart!"

As I was lifting up my phone to snap a picture of this scene, I was accosted by a huge panda. Like, a person dressed up in a bizarre, large-and-round-headed panda suit. The panda just stood there, looking at me. I looked down and saw it was holding a basket full of small popcorn bags. I wasn't sure if the panda wanted money for her popcorn, so I just stood there. The panda motioned for me to take one, so I did. I kind of stood there for a second, still wondering if the panda wanted something from me, but then she just walked away.

Though I was by myself I could not hold back my laughter. As I stood there chuckling from the awkwardness, I noticed a guy and a girl standing a little bit away, also in a fit of laughter. The guy came up to me with a huge smile and said, "Pretty creepy, huh?!" I laughed and agreed as the girl came up behind him with a sort of scared expression on her face. She looked in the direction the panda had walked and said, "Is it gone?! I don't do fake-dressed-up-panda-things!"

I then tried once again to snap a photo of the bear. I was still laughing, which is probably why it's so blurry. After that, I happily continued on around the store, snapping more pictures of hilarious oddities and searching for the panda in hopes of getting a photo. Perhaps the panda had been an angel because she was suddenly nowhere to be found;)

Some of my other finds:


The skull and antler table. That's not something we have in San Diego thrift stores:)



The stuffed deer on the wall above the shirt section. That's not something we have in San Diego either:)


Oh and no, I never found a coffee table.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Arrived in Missouri

Hey, so I had a wonderful road trip out to Missouri with my dad. We left last Thursday and arrived on Saturday, stopping in Arizona and Texas along the way. It was really so much fun, even in the midst of some hiccups here and there:)

Dad helped me move into my apartment (as well as some staff members that were assigned to be my hosts). He and I spent the next few days making runs into town to get food, some decorations for my place, and of course, coffee:)

It worked out that my dad would fly home yesterday, which, unfortunately, was his birthday. I felt really bad that he had to fly on that day. Even though our family had celebrated before we left on our road trip, I tried to make the day still feel like a birthday. When it turned midnight on the 11th I gave him a present to open. After we woke up in the morning we watched a few episodes of Good Mythical Morning together (it seems to have become a father-daughter ritual for us, ha). Then before we left for the airport we went down to the lake that's on the edge of the campus I'm living at.





We took selfies. I love how he's laughing in this one.



And then at the airport we found some cheesecake and I stuck a straw in it to serve as his candle.

I'm not going to lie, I was definitely crying when I left him... But mostly out of thankfulness that I have a dad who is also my best friend. I know that is a blessing that not many people get to have. I tend to dwell on what God has not given me, but in my dad I see how much God really has given me beyond what I deserve.

I love you Dad:)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Last Two Weeks

A month or so ago a friend of mine moved back to her hometown. Before leaving, she told me that the week leading up to her move had been incredibly insane with so many things to do and so many people to meet with. When she said that, I tried to imagine what my last week before moving to Missouri would be like. For some reason, I didn't foresee it getting too crazy.

Perhaps this is because I was trying to remember what the week before I moved to Kentucky in 2009 was like. It seems like my whole move to Louisville was so casual. I don't remember ever laying awake at night, worrying if it was the right decision. I was just so excited to go. I don't remember spending hours planning out what I was going to take with me and organizing everything into boxes and bags that I'd carefully strategized to fit into the trunk of my car. All I remember is throwing a bunch of stuff into the back seat and trunk of my car, without putting a ton of thought into any of it. I don't remember rushing around to meet up with a ton of friends and family, with each meeting ending with a really painful and slightly awkward goodbye. The only goodbye I remember is waving to my mom as I pulled out of my driveway.

Well this pre-move week has been the complete opposite. I've kind of felt like my head has been stuck in a messy cloud of to-do lists, anxieties, and feelings of guilt about every goodbye. However, there really has been so much good happening in the midst of all the chaos. In between the mall runs to get last minute supplies, wedding gifts, and birthday presents, the bank run to get a new debit card to replace my hacked one, the borrowing of my parents' cars because I accidentally slashed one of my car's tires and then found out the car had no back breaks, the sending of countless emails to finalize various things before I move, and packing up my car -- I got to spend time with a lot of awesome friends and family. 

One of my favorite times in the last week was when I got to go out to dessert with seven friends, five of which live in San Diego and two of which came into town from Louisville for a visit:


I loved that even though they didn't all previously know each other, they all seemed to connect so well. Being with them all together made me realize how amazing it is that God's brought so many Christ-filled young women into my life. I often don't realize what a rare, precious gift that is. :)
___________________________________________________

So, I just remembered that I said I would post pictures here from my trip to Oregon. I haven't been able to load any on my computer yet, but here are some of my favorites that I posted on Instagram:


Selfie with the big sis and horseback riding with her on the coast of Washington (about a 2-hour drive from where she lives in Oregon).



Our fun accommodations at The Sou'Wester.



Meeting up with San Diego friends in Portland. They live about an hour outside of Portland and drove in just to see me!:)


Okay, I need to sleep:) Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Five Proofs That My Brain Is Completely Fried

Over the last week I haven't had too many pressing responsibilities on my plate... But I wish I had so I could use them as an excuse for my brain's recent malfunctioning. Some cases in point:

1 - Last Sunday I drove to the church I do childcare at and I couldn't remember what streets to turn on to get there. I've been going there every week since January.

2 - On Monday I wanted to go to a book club that started at 7 pm. For some reason, my brain computed that I would have to leave the house at 7:10 to get there on time. While driving there, I looked at the clock and saw that it was 7:18. That's when it finally hit me. To make things even better, I also realized then that my gas gauge was on "E". :)

3 - On Friday I composed a bulletin insert for my church that summarized all of the latest news on the missionaries we support. The inserts are half letter sized sheets of paper, printed on both sides. For the last four years, I've had a system of formatting the document a certain way, printing it out, and then driving to church to make copies. After printing this month's update, I drove to church and copied them all, only to realize I had never formatted the document to be printed on both sides. I also had an obvious typo. I threw the whole stack away.

4 - On Saturday I finally finished the aforementioned missionary updates (after reviewing them a bazillion times) and had them ready to go in the bulletins this Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon, I realized that I had written in the portion about myself (I'm one of the church's missionaries), that I would not be at church on the 2nd and 3rd Sundays of the month. Well, the 2nd Sunday had already passed and the truth is I would not be there the 3rd and 4th Sundays. *face palm*

5 - Today I had to go online to check in for the flight I'm taking to Oregon tomorrow. All day, I had been reminding myself that I needed to check in at 4:15 pm because that's the earliest the airline would allow. I'm flying with Southwest so I wanted to check in as early as possible so I would be in the first boarding group. So I sat down at the computer a little before the check-in time, just so I would be ready to go. I don't know what I got to doing there, but suddenly I looked at the clock and it was almost 4:30:( I proceeded to freak out, search frantically for my confirmation number, etc... and didn't end up with the boarding assignment I'd hoped for.

Bonus: While getting ready to write this post, I went downstairs in my house to look for my laptop's power cord. I didn't see it, so I went upstairs, grabbed my computer, then walked back downstairs.

I still hadn't gotten the power cord.

*sigh*

Oh well. I think I've just had too much on my mind lately. Hopefully a week of vacationing in Oregon will help out with that. I won't be taking my computer with me, but when I get back I'll be sure to post some photos from my trip here. I'll also try to post some photos on Instagram (link is in the right sidebar) while I'm there.

Bye!

P.S. This has nothing to do with anything I just wrote, but I think it's too amazing to not share:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What I've Been Up To

... in no particular order:

  •  Working - For the month of June I worked at an environmental testing company, helping out in the accounting department. After working for several years at a soil testing company as an administrative assistant, I never thought I would end up working in an office of a testing company again. When a friend invited me to come work for her there, I was a bit hesitant. However, I had no need to be. I loved working there! I found all of the tasks she gave me to be both interesting and completely doable. My short time there also gave me a little confidence boost as my friend commended me daily on how well I was doing. :)

  • Also, since January I've been working at a small church doing childcare. Every week, at the end of my home church's service, I drive to this second church to work in the nursery. I have really loved working there as the community has so lovingly welcomed me in. I will only work there a couple more Sundays and I am going to miss being there so much!

  • "Introverting" - I now have a couple weeks of free time, so I'm spending most of it taking long walks on dirt trails, reading, and writing. As far as what I'm reading, I just finished Secrets of an Unlikely Convert and am now simultaneously reading Pilgrim's Progress and Little Women. The latter two seem like literary staples that I should have read ages ago. Oh well, better late than never. As far as what I'm writing, I regularly journal and attempt to write a book.

  • Planning - I am halfway packed for both my upcoming trips to Oregon and Missouri. I don't leave for Oregon for three weeks and I don't leave for Missouri for five weeks. I may be getting a bit ahead of myself. ;) Since the trip to Missouri will be a three-day one with my dad, we just booked a couple quirky motels to stay at along the way, as well as his flight home.

  • Listening - I'm always trying to discover new music. If I wasn't going into missions I think I would want some kind of job in which I could just review albums, interview musicians, and research all the stories behind their songs:) I was so excited when Joy Williams' new album came out a couple of days ago. I've been a fan of Joy since she was singing Christian music in the early 2000's... Back when she was blonde and I was an awkward high schooler:) Though I loved her Christian stuff, I've got to admit that the quality of her music has risen since she left that genre. Her new album is beautiful.

  • Singing "I Love Technology" a lot - If you've seen the comedy Napoleon Dynamite, you know the famous scene at the end in which Kip sings a song that mentions how much he loves technology. Ha. Well, I love researching how to do little computer tricks to achieve a goal and whenever I succeed, I break out in Kip's nasally little song:) I've been singing it a bit more lately as I just gave my laptop away*, bought a laptop that appeared to have everything I wanted but turned out to be a dud (which lead me to sing "I hate technology"), and finally replaced it yesterday with one that looks like it's in for the long haul!

Anyway, I know that's a random list... Hopefully once I start travelling I'll have something a bit more exciting to write about here:)



* I planned on offering it to one friend, but when I sat down to text her I randomly decided to text someone else about it. Little did I know, her family's laptop had just died the week prior. It was so cool to see how God directed me to contact her because He knew what they needed!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Three Book Recommendations

I've recently turned over a new leaf and am actually finishing the books that I begin reading. It's quite fulfilling.

Recently I've finished three books that I would consider some of the best I've ever read. Here they are, in order of my completion.



My favorite book genre is biography and one of my favorite subjects is comparative religion. This book is a beautiful medley of both. I love that he recounts his experience of growing up in Islam with such respect and love for Muslims. He succeeded at enabling me to understand why so many would devoutly follow Islam, while also making me very thankful for the unique message of salvation by grace through faith in Christ. Nabeel's an incredibly gifted speaker and has tons of videos on YouTube sharing his story, including this promo for the book.



I'll be honest. I bought this book because I thought the cover was pretty and decided it would look good sitting in my bedroom. Before purchasing it, my only previous exposure to Heidi was a classic film adaptation that I saw as a child (which I don't remember anything about other than Heidi shouting "Grandfather! Grandfather!":). Well, once I started reading it I was blown away. Not only is the book incredibly relaxing due to its beautiful imagery of the Swiss Alps landscape, it is also filled with rich spiritual truths. In fact, I can see God's hand in guiding me to this pretty book as its lessons deeply comforted me in the midst of struggling with a lot of unanswered prayer. This book has even renewed my interest in fiction. For some reason since my teens I've considered reading fiction a waste of time. However, this book is proof enough for me that we can learn so much from stories, even if they are completely imagined.



I've read a number of books on depression. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the very best. Zack Eswine, guided by the teachings of Charles Spurgeon, presents practical tools for dealing with sorrow of all kinds, whether you're the one who's struggling or simply trying to help one who is. Every aspect of the topic is addressed with such empathy and understanding that I think any reader would come away feeling comforted and in no way condemned. Read it. :)


Okay that's all for now... I really hope to soon finish some books that I've been slowly inching through for years (literally), such as When Helping Hurts and Good News About Injustice.

Bye!


All images via amazon.com

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The God Who Sees

This past Friday was one of those days. It was a leave-work-early-and-cry-half-the-way-home kind of day. Soon after pulling out of my work parking lot, I decided to stop somewhere to grab some comfort food. I’ve been sick with a cold all week so a hot bowl of soup sounded like just what I needed. So, I drove to the mall near my house to stop inside the Panera.

Well, when I got to Panera the line of customers was almost to the door. I was not about to stand for that long so I figured I’d just quickly walk over to Starbucks to get some hot tea and a snack. As soon as a chai latte and heavenly slice of pumpkin bread were in my hands, I began heading for the car. Now this particular Starbucks is connected to a Barnes and Noble and I always like to exit by walking through the bookstore first. As I strolled between the rows of bookshelves, I somehow caught glimpse of a book entitled Unafraid: Trusting God in an Unsafe World. I opened it up to a random page and whatever I read immediately struck a chord with me. Next thing I knew, I was at the front counter paying for it.

I went home. I called my dad and emailed a friend to vent about the troubles of the day. Though that did help me detox and process things a bit, I still felt very defeated. I finally curled up on the couch with a blanket and opened up this random book I’d just bought.


People, it was creepy… in a good way. I have never before read a book that so precisely described pretty much everything I struggle with. I really can’t get over it. It was as if God had emailed the author Susie Davis a list of all my lifelong and current issues, writing “ideas for your new book” in the subject line. It got really weird when she quoted and discussed a song by Penny and Sparrow. Penny and Sparrow, my favorite and not very well known musical duo that I’ve seen in concert three times in the last year and have an inside joke about yoga pants with. ;) What?!

As tears rolled down my face in light of the comforting relatability and transforming truths of this book, I couldn’t help but be amazed at God’s guiding hand over the day. I realized that if I had not had a bad day at work and had not been sick with a cold, I never would have left work early and driven to the mall. If there had not been a long line at Panera, I never would have ended up walking through this bookstore. All of the little frustrations of the day had a domino effect of leading me to this book that God knew would connect with me right where I was at.

At some point in the book, Davis mentions the Genesis 16 story in which Hagar is fleeing her mistress Sarai. After the angel of the Lord comes to speak to Hagar, “She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me’” (NIV, v. 13). On Friday God showed me how intimately He really does see me. He saw the truth about my life better than anyone else and desired to tenderly care for me through it.

This all provides comfort as I look ahead to the next few months that, Lord willing, will be filled with several changes. Next week I will finish working at the preschool that I have worked at for the last two years. In June I will work in an administrative position alongside a friend at an environmental testing company. In July I will be hosting friends visiting from Kentucky, visiting my sister and friends in Oregon, and packing up most of my stuff. In August my dad and I will road trip out to Missouri where I will begin training with New Tribes Mission. Though I'm so excited about it all, I definitely have had long nights of lying awake, dreading it all out of fear... Fear that I'll be bad at my temporary position in June... Fear that I'll get in an accident during one of my summer travels... Fear that I won't make any friends while in training... The list goes on and on.

As I begin a new season of life this coming Friday, I hope that I can hold onto what I learned this last Friday. I hope I can remember that He is the God who sees me, who is sovereignly guiding me through the story He has written of my life, and who will tenderly care for me through all of it.