Sunday, December 30, 2007


Greetings from India! I'm not going to blog right now, but head on over to the Sanctuary Home blog and read all about our incredible adventures and see pictures of us and the kids. I miss and love you all and I'll see you soon!

Peace and love,

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Can you feel the love tonight?

Okay, did anybody else really and truly love that song? Not just in a "Disney songs are catchy and cute" way, but in a "Yes, yes I can feel the love tonight! Simba and Nala are so meant for each other!" way.

No? Just me? Moving on, then...

Right now I'm waiting for the peach cobbler I made (read: bought frozen at the store and popped in the oven) to finish baking, so I decided to do a shout-out blog entry to the amazing women who comprise my blogosphere.

First of all, I have to give a shout-out to the original blog shouter-outer: Miss Christy. She is ever so fantabulous, and here are just a few of the many reasons why: She is wise and mature beyond her years and loves her God with a fully individualized faith. Her faith is one that has been questioned, nurtured, struggled with, lovingly tended to and driven by a sincere personal desire to know God better. Alongside this is Christy's love for people, especially those who are "out of the norm." Her love, joy and inner beauty spill over into all aspects of her life and onto those lucky enough to be around her, and she is someone whom I can look to as an example. Plus, she knits some truly amazing creations. Jealous!!

Bethany is my sister and my ever-brave pathfinder. She has lead my younger sister and I by example and unerring courage throughout our lives, and has always been an example of the kind of responsible, loving, hardworking, hardplaying, quirky woman and avid sports fan I aspire to be. Perhaps the biggest way she has set the example for me is in her choice of husband, so Danny's going to get an honorary mention on here even though he isn't a lady. D-Fitty is so freaking cool, and has helped me to feel loved and accepted into my sister's new life. I love having a brother, and someday I hope I can be part of a ministry team much like Fitels.

Evie-Baby! The fourth Hall sister! Eve is awesome because she is so intrinsically motivated to do great things with her life. She's run a marathon, biked 100 miles to benefit charity, and is doing it all over again in November! She bakes, she hosts Bible studies, she climbs Half Dome, she puts up with my attempts to freak her out -- is there anything this mega-babe DOESN'T do? Eve is such a special part of my family and didn't even get mad when my Study Abroad session this summer meant that our longer Ireland '08 trip would have to become a shorter Oxford '08 trip. When I think of Eve, I think of giggles, and that's ALWAYS a good thing.

Pat is my second mom, and has been such a source of beauty and love in my life. When I wear her jewelry I don't just feel pretty, I feel loved and cared for. She and her husband have undertaken a huge project to turn a run-down house with masses of potential into a beautiful Victorian dream home in San Antonio. It helps me so much to know that you are so close and so willing to be there for me when I'm so far from my family. That sentence used the word "so" a lot, but that's how Pat is! She's not sweet, she's SO sweet. She's not thoughtful, she's SO thoughtful. Pat is just so so so so so!

Adelle is just too cool. I actually haven't been able to spend that much time with Adelle in person, but our mutual blog-checking keeps us up to speed on each other's lives, and I could not be more excited about the addition of little Scrappy-Doo to the Gabe clan. You are a wonderful encourager, a fantastic mom, a strong lady, and a beautiful soul. May God protect and bless your growing family of Gabes!

Katie is one of my good friends out here in Abilene and I joke with her that she's just like me, only better. She bakes (instead of fake-baking), she reads even more than I do, she drinks tea all the time, is a published author and is just too freaking cute. Katie is an encouragement to me in that I'm not the only one who thinks books are as essential to living as bread and water, and people love her for it. Currently she's over in Oxford working on her Master's (see -- me, only a little further ahead) and having a grand old time, and Abilene just isn't the same without her. Katie, my dear, your fiancé and I miss you terribly and want you to come back to Abilene soon. No, nix that -- I wish I could go be with you in Oxford and out of this dry, flat little town for a bit!

Honorable mention goes to my Mom and Dad. Mom doesn't have a blog and Dad isn't a lady, but they're just too fabulous not to mention. Thanks for all your support and love -- I always know who my number one fans are. Here's to (almost) 24 years of keeping me grounded and loving me for being the weird little kid I am.

Yaaaaaaaaaay! Love fest! I feel like we should all be hippies and live in an eco-friendly commune and grow our own food and wear shoes made of hemp and not bathe for days at a time!

Okay, maybe not that last one, but you know what I mean.

Much love to all...

P.S. The cobbler was so good I just may have a crush on it. Mrs. Smith's Classic Peach Cobbler. Go. Buy. Eat. Die of happiness.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Wow, it's been waaaaay too long since I've posted. Sorry about that! Life has been crazy lately. It's actually been a pretty rough and stressful start to the semester, but things are getting more settled now.

This'll have to be quick (sorry, B!!), but I PROMISE a more worthy update soon.

I just wanted to let everybody know for real about my trip to India that's coming up in December. I'm going through Highland Church of Christ to work with Sanctuary Home, an orphanage in Tenali, India that was started by Ray and Amanda Pettit, a couple at Highland. One reason I've been so busy is because we put on a big Night in India dinner to raise funds for the trip and it was spectacular. Normally when you do a big event like that your ideas start out big and slowly have to get cut down to a reasonable size. With this event, though, all our big ideas just kept getting bigger and bigger. That's NEVER happened to me before, so I know it's gotta be God blessing this trip and the team that's been put together.

I'm going to be focusing on getting to know six orphans while I'm out there. I'm already learning their names and praying for them, and would love it if those of you who feel compelled would join me in that. The kids are Babblu (Koti), Elizabeth, Solmon, Harshanihanth (the Bible group that sponsors him nicknamed him Harry, so you can, too), Malathi and Anusha.

Elizabeth, Solmon, Harshanihanth and Anusha don't have their own pages yet, so you'll have to look through the page of new kids to see their pictures and learn their stories. Unfortunately, Anusha isn't sponsored yet so I'm actually not sure if I'll get to work with her -- kids can't be taken into the home until they're sponsored, so she's still living on her own. This is a background I made for my computer with all of their pictures and names if that's easier for you:

If you're interested in sponsoring one of the 6 kids who don't have a sponsor yet, or just want more information about Sanctuary Home, check out their website. I'm so excited about this and can't wait to get over there and get my hands dirty. If you're of the praying type, please be praying for our trip, our team, and especially these kids. They've all dealt with some truly tough stuff, but hopefully this trip will be part of the healing process for these kids.

And now for something completely different:

My 24th birthday is rapidly approaching, and I have decided that this year I will be throwing an "Over The Hill" bash in honor of my decrepitude. Everyone has to come dressed in all black and the place will be decked out with Halloween decorations. Hey, if I have to be officially mid-20s, I'm going to do it in style.

Bedtime, kids! More soon!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

This one's for you, Bethany Leigh!

Hey, kids! Sorry I've neglected you. Bad college student! Bad!

Alright, what to tell... The weather out here has been crazy! It's rained pretty much every day for the last three weeks or something ridiculous like that when normally it's up in the 100s by early June! So far the temp's been hovering in the high 80's which is truly a God-send for me. For those that don't know, I coach gymnastics and also happen to get heatstroke easily. So to be coaching, in Abilene, in summer, in a gym with no AC -- pretty much everybody was worried. With all the rain, though, it's been super nice and I've been staying cool by wearing these neck band thingies. I actually wear one around my neck and one around my forehead like Rambo. I look ridiculous but MAN does it feel good. It's been an ongoing joke at work that God's been making it rain just for me, and the other day I started walking around singing "Jesus loves me, this I know... For the weather tells me so..." Catchy, right? I think I'm pretty clever!

What else, what else.... Um, last month was my really good friend Brianna's 21st birthday so we went to her hometown in Dallas to hang out with her friends and go dancing. It was so much fun. We went to this one place called Gloria's that has salsa dancing and I had a blast! The second we got on the dance floor a middle-aged Latino/Hispanic guy (I'm sorry, I try to be PC but I still get confused on that one) asked me to dance. I told him I wasn't very good, but I figured out that if you have someone leading you who knows what he's doing, you don't have to know what you're doing! He was AWESOME. I got dipped, twirled, swooshed and I pretty much looked like a fantabulous dancer. Suckas!! After that, though, this strange Asian man who had to be in his 60s grabbed me (didn't ask, mind you, just grabbed me) and pulled me onto the dance floor. You know how normally when a guy leads and he wants you to turn he'll put slight pressure on your back? Yeah, this guy didn't do that. I was pushed, pulled, shoved, yanked and basically tossed about on the dance floor like a rag doll. That wasn't as much fun.

Okay, one confession. I've always prided myself on being the kind of girl who won't say no to one guy (unless I'm honest and tell him I don't want to dance with him) and then turn right around and dance with someone else. However, I broke that rule straight down the middle that night. A couple of guys asked me and my friends to dance, but we were honestly so hot and tired that we needed a break and needed some air. As we were turning away I felt this very gentle hand touch my fingers. At first I thought someone had just brushed into me, but as I turned around this totally gorgeous Latin guy was holding my hand and asking me to dance. My brain turned to mush and I mumbled something to my friends about holding my purse. I almost said no on principle, but he was just cute enough and apparently I'm just shallow enough to ignore said principles.

It was nice. *sigh*

Anyway, on to less nauseating news.

Actually, I think that's it. That's kinda sad, huh? I've just been spending all my time reading. I'm taking two literature classes this summer so I had to read 7 books in June and I'll have to read another 7 in July. These aren't your average novels, either. Three of the books this past month were the Grapes of Wrath (weighing in at a hefty 455 pages), For Whom The Bell Tolls (at 471), and The Last of the Mohicans (at 415). Interesting stuff, but very time-consuming!

I wanna say Happy Anniversary to Bethany and Danny who are officially an old married couple now, having past the one-year mark. May you grow old together and bicker frequently about what to have for dinner.

To close, I'm including some pictures of what my apartment looks like right now because I know my mom likes to imagine what my surroundings look like when I talk to her on the phone. So here you go, Mom. If you don't care what my apartment looks like, then fine. Go suck a pickle.

My fridge. These are a few of my favorite things!

My Harry Potter books and Canadian shot glass collections. I love Canada just a little bit if you couldn't tell.

You can't read the writing on the shirt over my TV, but it says "Think outside the box" and there's a picture of a TV. Get it? Get it!? It's like a joke, but it's also deep.

And in the continuing saga of "Grace has weird dreams," I had a dream one night about getting in trouble for calling my co-worker a woman, penguins, a pirate captain who plundered printing supplies and kidnapped people to make them fall in love and a Drew Barrymore movie (all one dream). I woke up in the middle of the night and stumbled into the bathroom where I wrote it on the mirror in dry-erase marker. If you can make sense of it I'll give you ten bucks. Here's a picture of the manuscript.

Oh, and one more thing. From time to time the realization that the Harry Potter movie and book are only a few days away swoops down on me like a panic attack and wherever I am, whatever I am doing, I have to physically restrain myself from screaming and flailing my arms like a little girl. Such an outburst was very narrowly avoided today during a very serious scene of a movie we were watching for my Lit class.

I need a HP fix quick or I'm freaking going to explode.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Okay, real quick:

I know I owe you guys a blog, and there's actually been lots to tell, but things have been crazy, as usual. I finished finals and ended the semester with good grades and things are on track for me to go to India over Christmas break to work with an orphanage out there so all in all things are awesome! Sorry if some of you didn't know that I'm going to India (Trisha had no idea until I mentioned something flippantly yesterday) -- but I am! Wheee!

And this just in -- I'm coming home!! I didn't think I'd be able to come home at all this summer, but ladies and gents, I will be in California this coming Sunday to the following Saturday. Whaaaaaaaaaaaat! Holler!

No, seriously. Holler at me if you want to hang out.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I WANT MY MOMMY!!!: A diatribe

This sort of thing just doesn't happen in California.


I keep telling people that, but they don't believe me. Honestly, if this sort of thing were to happen in California, Californians wouldn't stand for it. They'd protest until it was fixed. What am I talking about, you may ask? Tornadoes.

Last night I survived my first tornado watch. Or warning. Whichever's worse. Whichever means that an actual, hell-bent tornado touched down within the same zip code as yours truly.

This sort of thing just doesn't happen in California.

I was so freaked out. There I was, blissfully watching the Stars/Canucks game (that's hockey to all you uninitiated folk), and suddenly the world is ending and a swirling vortex of death, doom and destruction is bearing down on ACU. WHAT IS THAT?? I almost started crying and called lovely Brianna, Lynn and Nicole to come over and help me calm the heck down. Brianna and Lynn came directly over, but Nicole got locked in her dorm and wasn't allowed to leave because of the tornado. That's about the time I REALLY started to freak out. By the time Bri and Lynn got to my apartment, I was sitting on the couch, watching the Weather Channel, remote control clutched in my hand and my feet shaking like mad. Natalie, my lovely roommate, is also from California and deals with tornadoes only slightly better than myself. She called me from the basement of the Campus Center where the kids had been corralled and offered to brave the shelterless distance between the Campus Center and our apartment so I wouldn't be alone. Lovely, lovely friends. Stupid tornado.

I mean, really. Earthquakes are so much better! The last scary earthquake was the Northridge earthquake of '94 -- thirteen years ago!! The last scary tornado? LAST NIGHT! What happens right before an earthquake? Nothing! You chill, you live life, you go about your business in blissful ignorance. What happens before a tornado? Tornado watches and warnings and huge storms and lightning and thunder and sirens and trees falling over and running and screaming and dooooooom! How long does an earthquake last? 30 seconds, tops. Tornadoes? Hours of anxiety and fear and uncertainty. Are earthquakes fun? Heck yes! It's like someone popped a quarter in the earth's magic fingers, and you have 15 seconds of earth surfing. Are tornadoes fun? NO. No, no, no! How do you protect yourself from an earthquake? Get under a table or in a doorway while a couple things fall off shelves. How do you protect yourself from a tornado? YOU HIDE IN A BATHTUB. Honestly, a bathtub? You sit in a bathtub with a mattress over you while the roof is ripped away and you're sucked straight up out of the tub and into the infinite abyss. Great plan, guys. A freaking bathtub.

So basically I was scared, but Lynn and Bri and I said a prayer together and prayed for our friend Alex to be safe while he was driving back to school and they assured me that this was standard practice in Texas, so I started to feel much more calm. I also called my mom (which always helps) and projected some of my adrenaline overload onto her. She said I wouldn't believe how much she got done in the half hour after my first call because she was hopped up on nerves. Bri and Lynn calmed me down, the lockdown at the dorm ended, the immediate danger passed and I felt much better. I went to bed feeling tired and a little shaken up, but overall okay.

Then I had the craziest dream.

Okay, my mom is laughing right now because when I'm home, about every other morning I'll come stumbling out of my bedroom, eyes and voice still thick with sleep, and, completely mystified, announce, "I had the WEIRDEST dream last night." My mom thinks it's cute that I still seem surprised after all these years. I actually recently started keeping a dream diary and entries include a parallel Hollywood universe mansion with an entertainment library whose librarian is a skeletal Michael Jackson, Prince William announcing his engagement to his girlfriend and the Princes' nanny and I trying to dry out a drunk and belligerent Prince Harry, and most recently, a strange amalgamation of the mafia, vampires and real estate.

So anyway, weird dreams are not entirely uncommon to me, but it still scared me. I had a dream that my Dad was here in Abilene and there was a whole tornado scare going on and we had to drop Trisha off at her apartment, but instead of running to a first-story apartment where she would be safe like we thought she was going to do, she ran over and plopped down on the lawn and started reading! Then my Dad and I drove around a corner and saw TEN tornadoes all touching down at the same time -- all huge -- and my dad conversationally remarked "Look at all those tornadoes! How beautiful!" I actually remember thinking in my dream that I wish everyone could see my face because it was a perfect mix of shock, fear and "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE??" Dad and I met up with Brianna and we headed over to her apartment, and as we walked outside the tornadoes had gotten bigger and closer. I screamed and started freaking out, but there were two guys sitting on lawn chairs on the grass, just watching the tornadoes like it's a spectator sport and looking at me like I was completely unreasonable and silly. I wanted to grab them and scream, "YOU SHOULD ALL BE MORE SCARED RIGHT NOW!!"

Then I woke up. I was so scared I had awakened myself from my nightmare and couldn't get back to sleep. I just KNEW the tornado sirens were going to go off at any second, and I swear I could almost hear them. My feet were shaking again and my eyes were wide as dinner plates, and I seriously considered trying to crawl into bed with Natalie, or at least camping out on the floor in her room. However, I decided that I was too old to be crying to others in the middle of the night when I have a nightmare, and I needed to pull on my big girl panties and deal.

So I slept in the bathtub.

It's a crappy plan, but it's all I had, so I grabbed my sleeping bag, a blanket and all my pillows and made up a bed in the tub. Actually, once I got in there it was incredibly comfortable. It felt like a little cocoon, holding me close and tight and safe, so I pulled the shower curtain closed and went to sleep.

I'm really okay, but this is just so freaky. I don't know how to deal with this kind of thing and I'm a little peeved at Texas. I mean, we were just getting to be friends. Yesterday afternoon I was driving along in the beautiful sunshine, admiring the open green fields with the cute shrubs some people mistake for trees, and I thought for the first time that Texas was truly beautiful. I appreciated it. I liked it. I enjoyed being right where I was. Then it comes back and slaps me in the face with a freaking tornado. You're a mean ol' cuss, Texas, and one of these days you and I are going to rumble.

Here's a picture of where I slept:

And here's a picture of how I felt:

(My little sister Trisha with our old dog, Pupperoni)

Alright, diatribe over. Thanks for hanging in with me, and a big thanks to all my friends and family who listened to my prolonged freak out over the last 12 hours.

Happier things next time, I promise! Peace, kids!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Skateboarding, snow, and a near-death experience

You're probably wondering what my near-death experience was, but before I get to that, skateboarding and snow!!

My super wonderful friend Brianna and I went to a sports store and bought skateboards! We are now officially hard-core skating super stars. Tony Hawk asks US for tips.

Seriously. We're that good.

Actually, we're still learning, but we're really not bad! These are some pictures from our first day of skating. Bri fell a couple of times on her keister pretty hard. The worst part was that she realized AFTER falling on her butt that her cell phone was in her back pocket! That was not fun. She had a cell phone-shaped bruise on her butt for a few days there. I, on the other hand, was skating back from her place late that night (without a fall all day), leaned a little bit too far back and landed by back foot on the cement while my front foot was still traveling forward on the board. Instant splits!! It's a good thing I'm flexible, otherwise I would have been in a world of hurt.

Here are some pictures of us NOT falling!

Another thing my friends and I have been doing a lot lately is sitting out on the grass in front of the campus center and reading or sleeping or (in Lynn and I's case) tumbling! This is one of my favorite things to do. It's like a breath of fresh air in the midst of a hectic week. The picture below is of two of my good friends Nicole and Lynn. Lynn (the blonde) is going to be my roomie next year! We're totally psyched, and I'm so grateful that God has given me such wonderful, Godly women to be friends with.

Speaking of wonderful, Godly women, here are three more of my favorite people here at ACU!! From left to right, there's Katie, Abi and Kelsey. The Saturday before Easter the four of us gathered together at Abi and her husband's house for brunch -- that turned into an all-day eating/movie fest when it started snowing! Really, I just don't get Texas weather. I kept walking around telling everyone "This sort of thing doesn't happen in California! It's 70 degrees all year round. 70 70 70 70 70!!!" I think they're getting a little annoyed with my insistence, but seriously, this sort of thing doesn't happen in California! 30 degrees on Easter Sunday and 80 degrees two days later? That's not okay!

Our day, was, though! It was an awesome day just to cuddle up with some blankets, a movie, and amazing cinnamon muffins (my contribution to breakfast was Ritz Crackers and Coke, only the best breakfast in the world). Seriously, though, God has blessed me so much with a plethora of amazing Christian women friends. I'm being able to connect with these girls in ways that I never knew I could. I love these girls and they are what make ACU so wonderful to me!! See how happy I am?

Now for the much-anticipated story of my near-death experience (drumroll, please)....

It was a dark and stormy night, and Brianna and I were bravely battling against a gruesome flat tire. Bri had been driving on the freeway the week before when a crate fell off the truck right in front of her and smashed into her front bumper, immediately flattening one tire and flattening the tire that is the star of this story a few days later. We had help getting her truck lifted up on a jack and getting the flat tire off, but after that we were on our own!! First off we drove all over town trying to find the right tire for her truck and ended up at Discount Tire Co. (which we both highly recommend). When we got there, the guy who helped us was totally awesome, but this old guy in the store was totally giving us dirty looks. We wanted to prove that we could change the tire all by ourselves, but no one seemed too sure of our ability. We were asking the guy to just take the rim off the old tire and put it on the new one, but he looked at us like we were crazy! So then, of course, we started doubting ourselves, and I finally just blurted out, "The silver thing! You, know! The silver part! We want that! On the new tire! You know!"

At that point the nice young man escorted us outside to the truck to see for himself just what the heck we wanted done. Once we had communicated clearly, he told us it was no problem and to come back in 45 minutes to pick up the new tire. To blow time, we went to PetSmart and played with some kittens. I totally fell in love with one and half-seriously considered taking it home and naming it Puppy. He would have been a good puppy.

Finally we got back to our apartment complex and proceeded to put the new tire on the... thing where the tire goes. As we tried to tighten the bolts (or nuts or whatever they are), the tire kept spinning around! One of us grabbed the tire and tried to hold it still while the other used the tire iron to try and tighten the bolts. After going back and forth for a while I finally spoke up, "Wouldn't this be easier if the tire was on the floor?" Oh, yeah!!! THAT'S what you're supposed to do! So we went around to the front of the truck where Bri's friend had set up his jack and proceeded to try and lower it.

We failed.

We ended up calling the Discount Tire Co. guy and asking him how to lower the jack. It was a weird one that didn't just turn to the left and lower, so we were trying to describe it to him and figure out how to work the stupid thing whilst ignoring the roaring laughter we could hear in the background. Ah, it's all in good fun. Finally a guy came along and offered to help us. He took a look and saw a little knob that we had to put the handle on to turn it. He warned us to go very slowly or the truck could fall quickly. Determined to avoid that, I lowered myself to the ground and tried to reach the handle without having any vital body part trapped between the curb and the bumper. I grasped the handle, slowly began to turn, and...


It was a little stuck, so I gave it a little more, trying to turn very slo -- WHAM! The entire truck slammed onto the ground all at once!! Brianna and I both screamed and covered our heads, and the helpful young man politely asked me "Did it get you?" DID IT GET ME? If it got me, you'd know!! I felt like Chandler on Friends, "You GET me, you KILL me!" Luckily, though, we escaped this frightening (and empowering) experience with nothing worse than a mild case of hysterics.

Well, that's about all for now -- look for an update soon that will include pictures from my first gymnastics meet as a coach!

Much love to all....

Ladies' Retreat

This is a short thought that I wrote about grace for my home church's ladies' retreat. My mom and Pat (my second mom) asked me to post this -- hope you all enjoy!

"I was joking with a friend today that I am really special because the Bible talks about me so much. I told my friend that there are even several songs written about me, and that while others sing “Amazing Grace,” I simply sing, “Amazing me.” Obviously I’m not serious, but I think this is actually closer to the truth than we’d like to admit. The definition of grace is “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their sanctification.” This is a beautiful image, made even more so by the fact that this grace is truly unmerited. We have forfeited our right to God’s favor, and we continually renew this forfeiture every single day, yet He continues to bestow it upon us. We don’t simply stumble and fall, we voluntarily throw ourselves down on the asphalt over and over again, only to have God pick us up and heal us every single time. In the song “Dandelions” by Five Iron Frenzy, God is compared to a mother who receives a gift of dandelions from her child. The mother doesn’t simply see a fistful of ragged weeds, she sees a bouquet of flowers fit for any queen. By all rights, we are nothing but weeds, but through God’s grace we are made into beautiful flowers."

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Isn't Bible thumping a little violent?

So... my dad is awesome. He's smart and funny and is the only preacher I know of who went and saw Jimi Hendrix in concert twice -- that's right, TWICE. I'm still a little upset at him for going without me, but I called dibs on the ticket stubs when he dies, so we're cool. Anyway, my dad writes a blog that a lot of people from our church read and his latest blog was talking about how it is not easy to communicate the sometimes difficult truth of the Gospel to non-Christians in a way that expresses our love for them. It's really a great read and I encourage all of you to check out his thoughts here before reading on. After I read it I e-mailed my parents with some responses and decided to post what I wrote here for everyone to read. Please keep in mind that I'm no communication, debate, counseling or anything else expert, but I'm pretty good at loving people who are different than me and these are some of the ways I've discovered that help me when I'm trying to discuss faith with non-Christians.

"I really appreciate your latest blog. It is so difficult in this day and age to be seen as Christian and "normal." People automatically assume that if you are Christian you're just one step short of Jim Jones. The temptation is to claim Christianity but to align yourself with secular views in order to be accepted by non-Christians. This is not to say that this practice is completely shallow (you have to be accepted by non-Christians in order to reach them with the message of Christ) nor is it completely without Biblical merit (I Corinthians 9:22), but it can be a slippery slope and eventually lead to two problematic questions.

1) If we adopt secular views and practices, then at what point does "Christian" living cease to be recognizable as Christian? You can't live with one foot in each world -- eventually you're going to have to make a stand one way or the other. Another way to think of it is this: if you wear a disguise long enough, when does it cease being your disguise and simply become the way you look? The second question is this: Is watered-down Christian theology effective/worth it? If we are watering down the message of what we believe it not only suggests to those outside the faith that we have doubts and are not sure ourselves, but it also implies that the message of Christ "as is" is insufficient. Do we really believe that a watered-down God can convert non-Christians better than an undiluted one?

The struggle to be Christian, be myself and be understood by non-Christians all at the same time is something I've struggled with. I've debated faith and reason with many non-Christian friends, and I found myself adopting a few helpful rules: 1) Don't engage a non-Christian in a debate unless you are fairly good friends with them. A debate about such touchy, personal and polarizing issues is trying even in the best of friendships. In the early stages of friendship, let God's love shine through you instead of doctrine. There is a time and place for both, but until the non-Christian gets a feel for your personality and your sense of caring for them, any debate can easily be seen as an attack that could destroy a budding friendship. 2) Call timeout. I have come to view debates much like football games. The beginning of the debate is kickoff, but when the whistle blows the play is over and you stop competing. Make a clear, verbal distinction between the debate and your friendship, and affirm that your political/spiritual views don't effect your friendship or your caring for each other. 3) It may seem excessive, but after any particularly intense debate I would just look at my friend, pat his or her shoulder, and ask "We okay?" This provides an opportunity for your friend to air any hurt feelings or questions he or she may have. The equally important part of this is to actually leave the game on the field. Once the whistle blows, leave it. No fistfights in the parking lot. Leave the debate and resume just hanging out."

Well, I hope that was helpful (or at least interesting) for all of you. In the California public schools where I grew up being a Christian is definitely the minority, and going to church every week makes you a radical, but with these guidelines I was able to have open, honest and challenging discussions with my friends without anyone feeling threatened. I never convinced anyone and no one ever started coming to church with me, but I feel like if my non-Christian friends can at least think of one example of a loving, "normal" Christian who has thought about her faith a lot and truly believes it, then I've done my job.

Besides, there are worse things in life than being considered a radical for Christ.

Peace, homies!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Welcome back!

Well, after a long break from blogging, I'm back! Not much has been happening, but I figure I can share a couple of fun stories.

Last night my friend Casey and I went to a concert and met up with some of my other friends. The music wasn't too bad! It was a pretty fun time, but afterwards my other friends decided to go dancing at a club. Clubs and I don't mix, so Casey and I went to Sonic instead. We proceeded to order half of the menu because for some reason we decided that sounded like a good idea. And when corn dogs are going for 50 cents a pop, you can do it on a budget! I mean, really, what can you get for 50 cents these days? You can't even get gum for 50 cents anymore, but you can get a corn dog!

We took our food to the park and ate, then went to the swings to work off the corn dogs, popcorn chicken, french fries and soda we just ate. While we swung, we made up stories about the moon wearing taffeta because it was mourning the death of the sun. Then we made up a story about a family of trees and the Suburban (named Burby) who fell in love with Elizabeth, the daughter of the tree family. Obviously, Elizabeth's parents Joseph (said with an Irish accent) and Brigid were not pleased with Elizabeth choosing and "other-kinder," and Elizabeth's twin brother Fred threatened to fight Burby, but Jesus came and straightened everything out.

I liked our stories. Casey's a kindred spirit and a neat girl. I'm glad I know her.

I just got back from Spring Break and it was a really nice vacation. I spent a lot of time with my family, just hanging out and storing up hugs. One day I got to go up to Daybreak and just sit around talking shop with B.J. and Caroline. It was one of most relaxing afternoons I can remember in a long time. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and the three of us just sat around in the grass and talked about Daybreak and church and camp and all the good things in life. Another day I got to go with Trisha, EveMedina (all one word) and Christy up to San Francisco. We got Beard Papa's! If you don't know what that is, you have obviously never been to Japan and are seriously deprived. Their cream puffs are so good that I actually married one in Japan. True story. Here's our wedding photo:

And here's Christy, Trish and I enjoying the supersized American version of Beard Papa's in San Francisco:

Speaking of fun with family, I finally got to watch one of the movies that Danny (my brother-in-law) and I have been talking about for so long! For those of you who don't know, Danny has been doing a series on the blog he and my sister write about his top 50 favorite movies. We've been talking about his favorite movies -- a lot of which I've never seen -- for months now, so this past week we actually got to get together and watch one! I chose Inside Man for the movie I wanted to watch and it was seriously good! Of course, I'm a total smartie and impressed my sister by guessing important plot points with my stellar detective skills and keen intellect (not to mention staggering humility), but it still kept me on my toes and I thouroughly enjoyed it! Can't wait to watch another movie with you, bro!

Another thing I did over Spring Break was seriously start planning my trip to Ireland! After I graduate next year Eve and I (and hopefully Trisha and Bethany), are going to Ireland! I've been researching different places I want to go see and neat places we can stay at. What I really want to do (and everyone else seems up for this) is to get to Ireland and then just play it by ear. Start in Dublin on the east coast, make our way across Ireland to Doolin and the Aran Islands on the west coast, maybe stop by Cork, Cobh and the Dingle Peninsula down south in between, but just play it by ear. For some reason the idea of not knowing where I'm going to stay night to night is a bit thrilling! Here are some pictures of where I want to go:

Well, that's about all for now, but keep an eye out for a possible Ireland '08 countdown blog possibly starting in the near future.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Pink tutus, melted keyboards and other random things

Welcome back, kiddies! Now for my next act...

PINK TUTUS!! On Monday I was having kind of a crappy day, so when Natalie got home from Sing Song practice she let me put on her pink tutu and go running around the apartment. I don't know how a camera got introduced into the mix, but here are the results:

Natalie: "I've GOT to work on my spirit fingers."

In other news, I kinda melted part of my keyboard. The other night, to reward myself for a long, hard week of work and reading (and a 103% on my first Advanced Public Speaking test!) I decided to take a lovely little bath with the new bath salts that St. Pat bought for me. It was just perfect. Relaxing music playing on my laptop, C.S. Lewis' Final Battle to read, and some Christmas lights gently illuminating the room. Only problem is, some of the lights were hanging down on my keyboard, and those little buggers melted three of my keys! The "Z" button melted with one end tipped straight up into the air, and after a day gave up and fell off in my hand. The Tab and Caps Lock buttons got a little smooshed, but they work alright for the most part. Here's my handiwork!!

I threw out the Z key on accident, so you don't get to see its little lopsided mohawk. Too bad.

Yesterday I went to coffee with a friend from color guard, and we were playing a game called Contrario. It's a really fun game where you get a mixed-up phrase and a clue and you try to guess who or what the phrase really is. For instance, if your Contrario was "Moonrise Avenue" and your clue was "Hollywood/Famous landmark," your phrase would be...... very good! Sunset Boulevard! So Adriana and I were playing and I was trying to help her guess some phrases, and we got some hilarious outtakes.

Phrase Adriana is trying to guess: "Take the bull by the horns"
Me: "Okay, the most prominent feature of a pig is its nose, and the most prominent feature of a bull is its..."
Adriana: "BUTT! .... No! Horns!"
The worst part of this one is that I was pointing at my head when she said "butt."

Phrase: Smoke like a chimney
Adriana: "DON'T SMOKE!"
Me: "Okaaaaaay, you got one word! And I'll give you a hint: it's not 'don't.' "
Adriana: "NOT!"

Contrario: Out of the private nose Real Phrase: In the Public Eye
Me: "Okay, take it a word at a time. Out?"
Adriana: "In!"
Me: "Private?"
Adriana: "Public!"
Me: "Nose?"
Adriana: "Bathroom!"

I laughed for a good five minutes on that one. She said that the bathroom is where you go to blow your nose so it made sense to her!

Alright, kids, that's all for today's show. Tune in next time and look both ways before you cross the street.

P.S. Pat, my bathroom still smells AMAZING. Thanks again!

Monday, February 12, 2007

San Antoniooooooooooo!

Welcome to my world, everyone! I figured I'd start one of these blogs so that everyone back home can keep up with my life out here.

This weekend I went to San Antonio to visit Pat and Bo Brockman and had a fabulous time!!!

Here are a few of the important lessons I learned:

1. Abilene is NOT all there is to Texas! Hallelujah!
2. Driving through West Texas during the day is only SLIGHTLY less boring than at night.
3. Apparently, George Strait and Tim Duncan are kind of a big deal.
4. Apparently, so is the Alamo.
5. Davy Crockett was a real person! He wasn't some fake person like that Johnny Appleseed guy. Wait, no, he was real, too.
6. The rodeo is NOT the same thing as the stock show. You may not say that you have been to the rodeo if you have not actually seen the crazy men on bulls.
7. A bull, a steer, a cow and a heifer are all different, and calling a longhorn steer "a big cow" is a punishable offense.
8. If you say something that a Texan doesn't agree with while they are within earshot, they will let you know that you are wrong.
9. Texas is not its own country. It's not. Bad, Texas! Bad! Stop saying that! It is, however, it's own weird little universe.
And number 10..... California is still better. So there you go!

The weekend was amazing. I needed to be mothered some, and Pat enjoyed the opportunity to mother me, so it worked out pretty well! I left work Friday evening and headed out to San Antone, and finally met up with Pat and Bo near their apartment around 11:45. When we got back to the apartment Pat was just pulling homemade cookies out of the oven. What a woman!!

The next morning we all slept in a little bit and then went to the Historic Market Square for lunch at La Margarita! I had some delicious shrimp fajitas, and then Pat and I went and wandered around the little shops inside the mall area. I loved seeing all the culture and beautiful Mexican clothes and pottery. Things can be a little homogenous in Abilene, so it was nice to be surrounded by different people of different backgrounds and different languages. There was a beautiful leather store, and I saw this gorgeous distressed leather weekend bag -- just the thing for my (anticipated) travels through Ireland. (IRELAND '08!!! WHOOOO!)

Then we went to the famous River Walk and had a wonderful time just wandering around the quaint (and not so quaint) shops and restaraunts. I can't tell you how good it felt just to be surrounded by water and plants, including some big, romantic trees! We didn't have time to sit and lounge, but next time I go back I'm going to make sure I have plenty of time just to sit and listen to the live jazz at Jim Cullum's Landing.

As we emerged from the sophisticated, upscale, big city atmosphere of the River Walk we walked straight into.... a full-scale live reenactment of some general surrendering to some other general back in the... Well, I'm not sure when it was, but it was a long time ago. The Alamo was interesting, but I had to ask Bo to give me a refresher course. I felt pretty bad, but I think he enjoyed imparting his expansive knowledge on me.

From there we went on to Pat and Bo's new house. One house in that area leaned significantly, and as I remarked on it Pat said, "Oh, yeah, ours does that, too. It's structurally sound and everything, it just has a little lean." I gotta say, that's taking gangsta lean to a whole new level of committment! I looooooved their house. I used to work at the Winchester Mystery House, so I have a soft spot in my heart for houses built in that time period. It's going to be absolutely gorgeous, and I can't wait to come and spend some time drinking tea in their upstairs sitting room.

After that (yeah, we did a LOT that day!) we went to the stores that Pat and Bo's daughter-in-law and her sister own and manage. They are simply amazing and I loved the atmosphere and the merchandise -- especially the shoes and dresses! If it hadn't been so late and all of us so tired I would have spent a good chunk of time (and change!) trying on shoes and dresses in their "Sole Sisters" shop. As it was, I was a good girl and didn't get anything, though I did have a dream that night that I actually had bought this one really cute skirt I liked. Ah, well. That'll just serve as motivation to go back soon!

Sunday morning we woke up early and ate breakfast tacos, which Pat docu- mented on her camera because my first breakfast taco "is a big deal." Then we went to Oak Hills Church and I got to see Dave and Judy Treat! I had forgotten that they lived in San Antonio, too, but it was wonderful to see them. Oak Hills is very interesting, and very different from good ole Campbell, but I can tell that there are a lot of people there who have genuine hearts for God, and when you've got that, the rest will just come out in the wash.

From there we went to the Rodeo!!! Oh, pardon me. We went to the Stock Show!! It smelled. It was fun, though! My little Converse were completely out of place amongst all the cowboy boots, but everyone seemed pretty nice and the whole experience was just fascinating. I felt like an anthropologist studying a foreign culture and tried to treat it as a learning experience. I gotta tell you, though, the pigs and goats and all those other whatsits all look the same to me. As we were walking through the holding areas and Bo was pointing out the different kinds of pigs I had to keep reminding myself that these are serious animals in a serious competition and I should resist the urge to ask someone if I could pet their cute little animal. At one point, though, a pig who was being weighed freaked out and went tearing up the crowded walkway! Ever the brave warrior, I grabbed Pat and hid behind her.

My favorite part of the stock show was the sheep herding competition. The sheep herding was really cool because it had puppies and because I could actually understand why one was better than another!! The dogs did a really good job and it was amazing to see them kind of creep around low to the floor and listen so well to the different vocal, whistle and hand commands. They were all so neat!! The only bad part was where Bo remarked that the sheep herding dogs don't make very good pets and the two women in front of us whipped around so fast you'd think he'd said something insulting about their mothers!! Pat said later that she thought for a second there that she was going to be a widow. In true Texas form, though, Bo struck up a conversation with the ladies and the gentleman who was with them and they began jawing about all kinds of things.

After that we went and bought a delicious, steaming hot funnel cake. While Bo and I were in line he was trying to explain the difference between a steer, a bull, a cow and a heifer. I was trying to learn, but in frustration I whined, "Yeah, but can't you just call them all cows?" I got a stern "no" from Bo and an equally stern "no" from the little girl behind me! She was probably 12, but obviously knew a lot about this kind of thing. I smiled sheepishly and asked if she could tell this was my first stock show. She was kind to the noob, though, and she and Bo explained it all again. I gotta say, though, I still think that if it moos, it's a cow. Moo = cow.

After that we went to a place called Rudy's Barbeque for some good lunch before I hit the road. It's called "The Worst B-B-Q in Texas." I guess it's supposed to be funny. :) I got the sausage link and we shared some cream corn (very good -- very creamy! very corny!) and baked beans. It was awesome, but I swear Texas food is specifically designed to kill you. I get acid reflux every once in a while and I could feel that sausage burning my chest for the rest of the night! I'd still probably eat it again, though. It was goooood.

Ah, the folly of man.

Well, it was a wonderful weekend, Bo and Pat are angels, and I'm excited about my new blog! Stay tuned for pictures of me in a pink tutu.

Oh, yeah!