Sunday, June 19, 2011

Catch Up

Hello everyone! I'm sorry, I know it's definitely been far too long since my last post. To be completely honest my life has been an insane roller coaster of unpredictable events over the last month or so. I have been so thankful for our community and the wonderful conversations I've had with many of you since the last entry in my blog. But I would like to summarize what's been going on since that last post.

This whole housing situation has been the major contributor to the turbulence in my life. As it stands right now, I still don't have a place to live and I am staying at my aunt's house living out of suitcases. I am so fortunate to have that kind of support in my family and she has been a huge support for me during this time. We began searching for a house well over two months ago and we began that search with a lot of excitment and hope. The search eventually became incredibly stressful without reaping any sort of progress. The places we could afford ended up being way too far away for me and in kind of shady areas. I'm not sure if it's because I was the only one with an upcoming move out date or not, but no one else seemed to be grasping the urgency in our house search. I was the one communicating and orchestrating things with the realtor and it was increasingly diffucult to get people to turn in paperwork in a timely manner etc.

So about two Sundays ago we found out that we had finally been accepted for a house to rent. The house was rundown and all the way up in Fullerton. But the price was really good, so we were going to move forward with signing the paperwork. A few days later and some suspicious actions on the part of the owner's and the listing agent later, we found on the county record that the house had been filed for default and foreclosed on back in April. The house was a scam. The owners and listing agent were trying to cash in on our deposit and first month's rent before skipping out leaving us to find an eviction notice from the bank a few days later. Thank God we caught it before any of that happened and indeed before we signed any paperwork! But it did set us back a week or so and certainly caused us to be more cautious.

It was after that close call though I began to become wary about my future living situation. I really didn't want to have to commute as far as Fullerton considering that I go to school and work in Irvine! And my car has been acting up a little lately. My car has proven to be incredibly unreliable over the years and I've replaced almost every part in it other than the engine itself. So if my car did break down completely it might be forever and I most definitely can't afford to buy a new one at the moment. I have wonderful and amazingly supportive parents who happen to pay my rent and at evaluating all of this, they began to pressure me to reconsider living closer to campus. After a lot of consideration I decided that I would have to tell my other roommates that I would need to start looking for an alternative. I found an apartment complex in Santa Ana that I really liked. When I expressed this to my future roommates one of them was incredibly understanding and was on board to live with me in that other apartment. The other did not receive this information well at all. There are a lot of details that go into what happened after this but I'll keep it short. She saw my decision to abide by my parent's wishes as a betrayal of our commitment to live together. I knew that it would a difficult task telling her this information, but the response I received in doing so blew up in my face. I saw a side of her character that I had never seen before. She insulted me and my family and just really lashed out in general. I'm still kind of in shock about what happened. Like I said there are a lot more disappointing and discouraging details about the actual confrontation that I'm skimming over, but all in all it was an incredibly hurtful and disturbing encounter. So I guess I could really use some prayer in recovery in that. And for her as well, she obviously acted out of hurt and anger. I know that she is incredibly hurt by me as well and I'm definitely praying that God will use this in her life. As guilty as I feel about the way things went down and were taken, I have this overwhelming peace about the situation. I think it just took me a really long time to realize how ultimately unhealthy this relationship and living situation was becoming. There was a lot of strings attached to living with these people and I think that I probably let the things that were bothering me go on a little too long. I am an incredibly passive person and in a lot of my past relationships I have been taken advantage of. So for God to use me to stand up for myself and really speak my mind in this situation has been a very unusual and encouraging experience. I have been granted a certain kind of boldness and peace I have never possessed before. And for that I am incredibly thankful. I am also very hopeful about the place I will eventually find. It is now just going to be me and my friend Jessi and I am feeling much more secure about that! I'm praying and know that God will redeem this entire situation and ultimately our new living environment will be ideal.

God has really been giving me a lot to look forward to in regards to my future! I have a camp that I am working at in my home town to look forward to in the immediate future (I really need to blog about this....Art's Camp is one of the highlights of my life every year!!!). And I am looking forward to going forward with High School and maybe helping out with Circles for the next year. I really just want to be available and present so that God can use me wherever I am needed. I feel like it's really important for my to stay plugged into the lives of my high school girls! I can't really describe it, but I have this overwhelming feeling that God has a lot to teach me and reveal to me over the next year and I am stoked for that journey. I have been really desiring to allow Him to change my character and make it more like His. This year has been very introspective and I've learned a lot about myself and I've gained a lot of knowledge. Because I have learned so much I can see now how much more I need to learn! It's an exciting season to be in for sure!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Something happened to me about a week ago that I am just now getting around to recording, but I feel that it is important to share anyway. And in light of Darin's message on Saturday and the weekend message, I think it ties in rather nicely.

So let me set this up for you.

My class:
I'm taking an inter religious dialogue class this quarter. The class is set up so that in our lecture of about 300 on Tuesday the professor presents a prompt and the historical/religious context. On Wednesday we have a discussion of the papers we wrote in response to the prompt in a class of about 30 people. On Thursday we meet in the lecture hall again of and the professor asks people to come up to the front and present their response to the prompt. Then the class can ask the volunteers questions. That's the basic set up. But as you can imagine, it becomes very heated. I'm not a person who does well with confrontation and it has pained me to see people talk themselves into a corner and see people say horribly degrading things to one another. In short, this class is the very definition of spiritual warfare. But don't get me wrong though, I absolutely love this class. I love the challenge, I love the writing, I love having an open mind.

What happened:
The lecture this particular week was a lengthy list of reasons why theists believe in God with corresponding atheist responses. For the prompt we had to pick the most convincing argument to us for either side and defend it. I feel very comfortable speaking my mind in the discussion, but I have never felt bold enough to volunteer to go to the front of the lecture hall and speak. This week however, a boy named Juan who I have never talked to before, approached me after discussion and began talking to me about what I thought of the class. At some point I asked him if he was going to volunteer the next day in class. He told me that he would if the Spirit lead him too. I had been feeling for some time now that I really should be bold and speak in class. But I couldn't stop myself from confessing to this near complete stranger that I was scared. Juan went on to tell me that God knows what I am capable of and that he would never put me in a situation I would not be equipped to handle. He said that God only has love for us and that He ultimately has our best interest at heart. Now it wasn't as if any of this was news to me, but I am convinced that this Juan guy was literally a mouthpiece of the Spirit in that moment. I have never felt more encouraged and convicted to do something in my enitire life. And the revelation that this was an honest to goodness conviction from God absolutely terrified me. I literally wanted to run away from this conversation. Now I did not do that, I felt that might have been rude to Juan. But I certainly became very uncomfortable and I was so when the conversation ended. But I couldn't shake the conviction. I wrestled with it all day and it was at the high school life group that I finally realized that denying this conviction would be the worst thing to do. I told the girls so that I would be held accountable and so that I could recieve prayer. I knew that if I kept this to myself there would be nothing to compel me to follow through.

So I did it. I spoke in class. I was obedient. Nothing dramatic happened, no one asked me any questions or attacked me, God didn't bring divine enlightenment upon the class. It seemed like I had made such a big deal over something that ended up being relatively simplistic. But I am certainly not taking this for granted. This experience has actually been incredibly monumentuous for me. The first being, the power of prayer. Wednesday, the day of the initial conviction, was stressful to say the least. But the next morning, and even right after I told the girls, I felt this overwhelming and calming peace. I know my girls were praying for me and I can not deny the power in that. Kati told me a few days later that she had prayed that the class would be silent and just listen to what I had to say. And that's exactly what happened. I'm just blown away by how amazing that is.

The second reason for this being monumentuous is the simple obedience of it all. In reality, what I said in class wasn't really that important. I have no idea if what I said changed anyone's life or if they will eventually turn to Jesus--I'm certainly not denying that as a possibility--but ultimately this was such a literal act of obedience. I felt convicted to do something and I did it. I think that is what gave me such peace about the whole thing. In all honesty, I was a little disappointed that I didn't feel "fulfilled" or something afterwards because the day leading up to it caused me so much grief. But what I'm walking away triumphantly from this situation because I have this new confidence in my walk in obedience to God. I have been praying for boldness and for God to use me in some way. This has been my prayer for quite some time now. Chris Ward described it in a past sermon as a "whatever moment". I was presented with a circumstance for me to prove it. I feel confident that this was just the beginning of a new series of events in obedience. I am so excited and so ready.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Songs of Praise

"How great is our God”

“You caught my soul when I was struggling to breathe”

“You are the love that frees us, you are the light that leads us, like a fire burning”

“You make beautiful things out of dust”

“He has cheated Hell and seated us above the Fall”

“The earth is Yours and singing”

“You are the living water, flow through me, wash me clean”

“I once was lost, now I’m alive in You”

“To live for Christ, I first must die, to all the rivals in my life”

“Tear down the walls that divide us, let love rebuild and unite us”

“All glory, honor, power is Yours, Amen.”

Monday, April 18, 2011


So I've had something on my mind grapes* these past few weeks and I wanted to get some feedback from my fellow slices and mentors. I've never been baptized before and it's something I've really always wanted to do. I really can't figure out why I haven't done it before, maybe timing, laziness, or lack of conviction, but in a way I'm really glad I've waited. Many of my friends were baptized in middle school or younger and they hardly remember it. I really feel like I'm at a place in my life where baptism would be really symboloic and meaningful.

That being said, I'm also having some significant hesitations though. The first one is a little bit trivial and I know it doesn't seem like something that is incredibly crucial, but I've always wanted to get baptized in a river. All of my friends were and the church I went to back in Folsom did summer baptisms in the American River. I guess I always just pictured that for myself. But it just seems like such a material or worldly desire. I know tht the significance of baptism goes beyond those things. My main hesitation is that my family wouldn't be there. I went home for my spring break last month, so I can't afford to go back up for this month. Also I don't have anytime off from school. Are those good reasons to wait on something like a baptism? Shouldn't it be solely a personal decision? Why do I feel so hesitant about the lack of community support?

I'm just curious to hear what you guys have to say. I'd really like some advise and prayer on guidance in this matter. Thank you so much for reading everyone!

*high five to anyone who got that reference....

Friday, April 8, 2011

0 Unread

Oh man does that feel good! I did it! I read every single one the of the blogs! Can I just say how much I love all of you guys? Seriously, I am so blessed to be a part of this community. Each one of you has this amazing inspiring faith that I continue to learn from each and every week through blogs and conversations. I'm praying for all of you and I am so thankful that you are all in my life. Thank you.

And now that I've done that, I simply cannot find the motivation to write my own. I pray I find some sort of inspiration and motivation come morning time. Here's to an insightful and moving blog tomorrow!


Friday, April 1, 2011

Core Five

I can't exactly figure out why I am feeling so sentimental this afternnoon, but I feel called to share how incredibly blessed I am by the friendships in my life.  This might be a little cheesy so I apologize.  I'm not normally this gushing over in emotions...except for during Disney animated films, but that's not what this blog is about.

I've been fortunate enough to have the same core group of friends for the past nine years or so.  I met this wonderful group of girls when I started attending my middle school youth group and our group grew once we reached high school.  I think what made this group so unique is that very few of us went to the same school, but we still remained close throughout all of those years.  And even now we are sprinkled across California and even across continents, but I still consider them my closest confidants and influences over my life.  I heard it said one that you are the average of the five people you hang out with.  It really makes you think twice about who you are asssociating with.  Not only are you the average of those people, but it's important to realize that outsiders will perceive you this way as well.  I look at these girls and I am so grateful that they are the women I have become an average of.  We have all grown up together.  Grown up in every sense of the word: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  If everything about my character is an average of these girls, I am especially grateful for their faith.  These girls challenge me, inspire me, and hold me accountable.  I feel so blessed to be a part of this intimate little community we have created.

I realize how much I have in these girls when I compare this lifestyle to my sister's.  I'm not sure if it is just happenstance or the drastic differences in our personalities, but my sister though she has always had a multitude of friends, has always lacked a close intimate group of best friends (or just the singular version of that).  Growing up, it seemed that every summer or school year she would be hanging out with a different group of friends.  I could hardly keep track of it because as soon as one girls face and name would become familiar to me she would be replaced with another a few months later.  When I was in middle school, at the beginning of my relationship with Sarah, Tarrah, and Marissa, I remember my sister just being in adoration of me and my friends.  I think what impressed my sister the most was that these same girls would be coming in and out of our house year after year.  And despite my sister and I growing apart as we entered high school and middle school respectively, I could always tell that she somewhat envied my consistent relationship with these girls.  She eventually became too cool to want to hang out with us, and she shut herself away from me and my parents.  Even though she became incredibly difficult to get along with I could always sense this distant sense of desire to have friends like mine.  Alli is still a little bit difficult to get along with, but I think the distance of me moving out has made it easier for me to connect with her.  It's definitely a relationship in my life that is not perfect and I definitely need to be more intentional with her, but I can see the beginnings of her chipping away her hard outer shell.  I think it touches her to see that even though I live 400 miles away, every time I come home those same girls she looked at with adoring eight year old eyes are still present in my life.  I long to be an example of community, accountability, and love in my sister's life, but if nothing else this makes me so incredibly grateful for the wonderful relationships in my life. 

I am just so impressed by these women in my life.  Two of us are devoting our lives to ministry, one of us is going to be a pilot, one of us is studying abroad to be a teacher, and one of us has a heart for the physically dehabilitated and is studying to help out with that.  But most impressive of all is their inspiring walks with Jesus.  These girls are my inspirations of faith.  We can spend hours in deep and meaningful conversation or hours throwing around ridiculous meaningless inside jokes.  We drive by this hill in Loomis all the time when I'm back home and we have this joke  that we are all going to buy the five houses in a row on top.  Our "plan" is to knock out the fences and have a giant Midwestern style backyard between us.  Natually babysitting roations would be set up among us etc.  My mom overheard part of this conversation and sounding concerned, asked me if we were starting a commune.  So yes.  We are starting a commune in Loomis. 

All joking aside, I just can't even express how grateful I am for these girls.  I am also expecially excited as I begin connecting with the Life Groups in the high school group.  I desire so much to encourage younger girls to go after these sorts of friendships with other girls.  I hope I can mirror the example of my own friends in their lives.  I am so grateful for my wonderful core five.  I am so blessed to be considered the average of such an impressive group of ladies.

Margarita Madness

Ok, shameless work plug, but....

It's Margarita Madness at Chilis right now! I gave up facebook and twitter for Lent, so this is my only social media outlet to advertise right now.

Margarita Madness is a nationwide contest between Chiliheads (that's what they call us) to sell the most margaritas over the next three months. There are a lot of really amazing prizes, including a brand new car, for the top sellers. I'm really only going to be pushing this contest because I am on the training team and we're expected to be in the top 10 at our store. So...because my hours are somewhat limited due to school I have to really push my friends to help me boost my margarita sales! So if you like margaritas come visit me at work! They're offering guest incentives this year too, so you guys can be entered into a drawing for gift cards every week if you come out.

So sorry about the work plug! I'd love to see you guys at Chilis though! I work every Friday night and I might be picking up another serving shift on Thursdays in the near future!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How Much He Loves Us

Hey Everybody! I apologize for missing this past Saturday--believe me, I've felt so out of the loop because of it! I miss all of you so much! It's my spring break, so I've been in Folsom for the past week almost. But I will see all of you on Saturday! I can't wait!

It's been a draining last week and a half because of finals, but now that I've had a chance to unwind I'd like to share this beautiful conversation I had the other night.

One of my really good friends Riley from high school had me and a few friends over for a Margarita Monday Ladies Night. It was such a fun evening overall catching up and telling stories! Riley lives in her parent's house still, so her mom joined us upstairs when she got home. Her mom Christine has always been such a fun addition to our group anytime we're over at Riley's house. She usually just jumps right into whatever we're doing and quickly becomes the life of the party. This night was no different. At one point though the conversations took on a more serious and sentimental note. Christine told us this story about a conversation she had with her mother on the phone when her children were really young. Christine told her mom that she was feeling so overwhelmed by her children, but not overwhelmed in a stressful way, but because she was overwhelmed by how much she loved them. She told her mom that she was almost out of breath because she couldn't fathom that you could possibly love another human being that much. Christine then asked her mom if she loved her that much. Christine told us that it has never dawned on her that another human being could feel as overwhelmed as she did. Christine's mother told her that yes, she did. Christine then told us that she was floored in this moment. She could not wrap her mind around the idea that her own mother loved her that much. Christine's mom told her that now that she had her own children she could understand how fully she loved her as her mother. Christine, with her head spinning then asked her mom if this is how much God loves us. Her mom told her no, God loves us even more. Even now, almost twenty years later, I could tell that Christine was still reveling in the truth of this moment.

I can barely describe how I felt hearing this story from Christine. She told us that this is her most precious moment of revelation and her fondest memory of her mother. I feel so blessed that she shared that moment with us girls. I feel honored that she gave us that experiential wisdom. And I can now say that is one of my favorite stories as well.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

the sun and the clouds

I thoroughly enjoyed Henri Nouwen's Here and Now.  I think that this text was particularly suited for our first reading.  Setting up the idea that God wants us "here and now" in the present will help place the focus of what our mindsets should be going into this year.  Living in the present is certainly difficult for me.  I think it might be safe to say, judging by people's responses to some of my previous blogs, and my own assessment that I might have some perfectionist tendencies.  I am constantly struggling with my past--specifically my shortcomings and failures.  And I spend almost just as much time worrying about what the future holds and attempting to plan and map it out as best I can.  What I seriously lack in my life is an emphasis on the present. 

Nouwen's words are full of so much wisdom and I love how the chapters are so thorough and address so many of the angles of each topic.  He doesn't just address suffering, he addresses all the kinds of suffering there are and our character through those situations and seasons.  I feel as though this should be a book that should be read again in my life, perhaps in a few years or when I know that significant growth has taken place.  The pages of my book are underlined and highlighted so much!  There is just so much wisdom in there!  

My favorite passage in the book is in the chapter about Joy.

"Yes, I know there is a sun, even though the skies are covered with clouds.  While my friend always spoke about the sun, I kept speaking about the clouds, until one day I realized that it was the sun that allowed me to see the clouds.  Those who keep speaking about the sun while walking under a cloudy sky are messengers of hope, the true saints of our day."

The way this is crafted is so beautiful and I love its message of hope.  It hits you with this overwhelming conviction to glorify God in all things.  Ultimately everything is from God--the good and the bad.  Where is the value of your blessings if you never experience sorrow or pain or loss?  I love the metaphor of the sun and the clouds.  The clouds maybe covering the sun sometimes, but the sun is always there.  And in that same way hope and opportunity for blessings are always there.  In every situation look for God.  I believe that God truly uses some of our greatest struggles to make us stronger and to ultimately bring us closer to Him.  Bring everything to God and find a way to glorify Him.  Always remember the sun is there.  I find that to be a comforting thought.  

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Selective Dietary Discipline

I mentioned this to my table on our metting on Saturday, but I thought I'd share it with all of you fellow slices!  So a few of my friends from back home (Sacramento area...) decided to give up something food related every month for this year.  I'm been having a difficult time defining it for people, but it's a mix between a lent type thing, a diet, and a simple discipline exercise.  The other requirement for this is that each month needs a catchy name for its theme--so either a rhyme or alliteration. 

For example:  Thus far we've had No Dairy January and No Fried Food February.  And as someone who is terrible at living up to diets/food related discipline it's actually been going really well!  I've been forced to branch out in my food knowledge and I am also more conscious of what I'm actually eating because I have to stop before I prepare a meal (or order a meal...sometimes....a lot of times...I'm a bit lazy with cooking) and ensure that it doesn't have whatever it is that we have given up that month.  For the No Dairy month I had to get creative with different types of soy milk and non dairy substitues.  I found that because of my lack of dairy, I had a lot more energy throughout the day!  Which was really nice.  No Fried Food has been a lot easier that I thought it was going to be.  I'm not sure if it's just an easier topic, or if the success of January has inspired me.  I think that swtiching it up every month and setting up a time short time frame is what is making this so obtainable for us.  I've been trying to fuse more discipline into my life lately and this has certainly been an inventive challenge.  I'm just trying to glorify God in the little things--even if it's not eating french fries or tostada chips.

Next month isn't quite decided yet--we're throwing around the idea of either No Starch March or No Meat March.  If we use meat now I'm not sure what we'll do for May though.  So if you have any suggestions or if you want to join us, feel free!  I would love more people to keep me accountable for this!  And more people means more brainstorming for pithy themes and names.  Thanks everybody!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Something I've been trying to do lately is really listen to God's whispers.  If I feel an impulse or God tugging on my heart, I'm trying to follow through on it.  Keeping that in mind, I've been noticing a certain topic come up time and time again over the last month or so. I have absolutely no idea how I made this far in my life without giving the idea of spiritual gifts any considerable amount of thought, but God has been flashing it onto the neon signs and billboards of my life of late.  Seriously every time I listen to a podcast, a sermon, open a book, whatever, it's ALL about spiritual gifts!  Or at least that's what God wants me to get out of it.  So needless to say I have felt the need to scour the Internet for a decent spiritual gifts test.  

Now, I love God's timing on this whole spiritual gifts soul searching intervention.  I have to make some pretty big decisions involving graduate school over the next year, and I've been praying for guidance for what I should go into.  Before I found and took the test I felt pretty confident that I already had at least idea as to what my tendencies might be.  I guess taking the test would just be an affirmation of the gifts I've always had, but perhaps never embraced.  So my results were as follows:

-first: encouragement
-two way tie for second: administration and writing
-three way tie for third: leadership, pastoring, and faith
-two way tie for fourth: teaching and exhortation
-fifth: helps

I may have mentioned before that I have spent a significant amount of years teaching Sunday school--especially considering that I began teaching at a relatively young age.  I have had people tell me that I have a knack for it and that I should go into teaching, but for some odd reason I always resented that idea.  It's hard to describe why I felt this way.  Looking back on it now, I think the responsibility of creating curriculum seemed intimidating to me.  What's more I think I was mostly intimidated by the leadership and authoritative role I would have to play.  I know I've mentioned before that I am incredibly passive, but what's strange about my personality is that I also have this out of the blue competitive streak.  These seem like really contrasting traits, but they culminate together in me to create this terrible fear of failing.  

We spoke about failures and success this past weekend and I couldn't help but to think of my own definition of success and failure.  I set the bar high for myself, and so do the influential people in my life.  I have always been pushed rather hard to meet expectations and goals.  I joke around sometimes that my childhood had elements of the one Amy Chua describes in her controversial article, "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior".  I mean my mom drilled me on flashcards and made me do those "get ahead" educational workbooks for every summer I was in grade school.  But the thing is that when I don't meet expectations or the bars set in place for me, I consider that a failure.  And in all honesty, I don't take it very well.  So when a compliment is extended to me it suddenly becomes an expectation.  I really enjoy teaching and I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I relish the fact that I'm actually really good at it.  Once I realize this the pressure of expectations is suddenly on. 

So though, I am incredibly intimidated by the idea, I can feel God calling me back into the teaching arena.  I feel confident that this is what I should do, or at least it's something I should explore.  I think I overheard that there might be an opportunity to teach for the high school group, so perhaps I should think about that--or at least sit in on the planning discussions for the lesson.  I almost feel silly explaining this over the course of this lengthy blog, but I just feel like God is really pushing me to explore my spiritual gifts--especially the teaching and leadership gifts.  So I would love some prayer about this and some guidance on this one.  I'm so intimidated, but at the same time I know that I can't ignore these feelings because they've been gnawing at the back of my mind for a while now.  So I guess I'd like to wrap this up by saying that I am thankful that God has given me these spiritual gifts and that I can feel his presence in persuading me to use them.  Now I just need the confidence and the strength to live up to them.  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This Weekend...

I will be going home this weekend to see my family in Folsom.  I know it seems like a random time for a trip in the middle of February. But my mother has been set on bringing me home once a month since the beginning of the school year, plus she found really cheap flights through Southwest.  I have been looking forward to this quick trip home over the past few weeks, but due to recent events I'm a little apprehensive about the whole thing. I mentioned on our facebook group page that a coworker of mine passed away over the weekend.  When I come home I will be attending her funeral and all that that entails.  I have been fortunate in my life thus far as to have never had anyone close to me pass away.  I couldn't say that Kaylee and I were particularly close intimate friends, but she was certainly someone that I considered a friend in addition to being someone I saw almost everyday that I worked over the past year and a half.  Her passing was sudden and I'm having a hard time letting it sink in-- it just doesn't seem real.  I just feel very distant from this entire ordeal.  This may be amplified by the fact that I moved away from that environment some five months ago and I'm geographically far away from everyone involved.  I really don't have any analytical or profound revealations to share about this.  And anything I could think of to say probably just some sort of cliche or regurgitated hallmark card saying.  
     I know that I've certainly been shaken by her passing, but I am grateful that I will soon be in the company of many friends and coworkers who can share these feelings of shock and loss with me.  I'm so glad that God instilled in us a longing for community with one another.  It's time like these that the importance of togetherness is realized.  What has really been resonating with me lately are the chapters in Nouwen's book that discuss joy and finding joy in everything because of God's love.  This weekend is going to be very difficult, but my intentions are to keep in mind that "joy is based on the spiritual knowledge that, while the world in which we live is shrouded in darkness, God has overcome the world." 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Combating Passivity

Maybe it's just the culmination of a long and exhausting week, but I just need to vent here for a minute.  It's been building over the last week or so, but I have just been getting incredibly burnt out and frustrated at my job lately.  It's only a serving job--so most definitely not a career path--but I have just been so appalled by the unprofessionalism and just down right laziness in my workplace.  Now maybe I have a slight go getter personality and at times I teeter on the verge of workaholic, but I really don't think that it's asking too much for people to do the bare minimum for the requirements of their job.  On top of lazy servers our restaurant itself is just not doing very well.  Our numbers are bad, I was recently asked to fill out a corporate complaint about a manager, and I even had to confirm complaints about sexual harassment incidents among our staff.
It's really difficult for me to say those things, because I actually really like my job and I really enjoy serving. I also really like the people I work with on a personal level, but in a lot of ways, their professionalism could really be kicked up a notch.  
I think the main issue that's been getting to me is that because I'm not the kind of person who can allow myself to cut corners or slack off--people will often times take advantage of me.  My restaurant has this "team service" system where they divide up the stations on the floor with two servers sharing one station.  So basically you have a "buddy".  You're supposed to help them out throughout your shift and then you are supposed to complete your side work together--and at Chili's it's a lot of work because we cut bussers last year....but that's grievance for another time.  Lately it's been really frustrating for me because almost every single time I work, my "buddy" will leave and leave me with the majority of the work.  Or they will not complete something accurately so I will have to come over and fix it once they are gone.  Too many times I find myself still at the restaurant a good hour and a half after my "buddy" has left.
I guess where all of this venting is going is to confess that what lies in the center of all of this is a weakness that I have really been struggling with recently.  Well perhaps recently is a terrible word to use.  I've always struggled with passiveness.  I go to great lengths to avoid confrontation.  There have been many times in my life when I have been a flat out doormat.  The other week in church we had to fill out cards with something that we struggle with or retreat into in our moments of weakness.  Or at least that's how I interpreted it anyway, because I found that God was really bringing that particular weakness to my attention.  This is obviously something I struggle with very deeply because upon deeper reflection I find that it is at the root of many of the darker events in my life.  It's something I certainly need prayer about and something that I really need to work on.  I am happy to report that this last week I mustered up the courage to finally tell my manager about a particular server who was continuously slacking off.  It was terrifying and liberating at the same time.   still not sure if it will amount to much, but at least it's a step in the right direction.  I always worry about people seeing me as overbearing or controlling.  And I certainly don't want to come off as arrogant as I tell them how to do their jobs.  But this is something I'm going to have to get better at, especially since I was just recently put on the training team at work.  Hopefully that step up in authority will give me more confidence to stand up for myself and to crack down on people when they are not doing their jobs.  It'll certainly be a struggle, but I will certainly be working on that.  So thanks for listening to me vent, I feel much better already!

Friday, February 4, 2011

"I Will"

This has certainly been an eventful week with many all-nighters and a surplus of espresso.  In short, it's midterm week.  But amongst my own personal trials and anxieties this week, it became quite clear to me that I would have to put my own concerns on hold.  Multiple close friends have chosen this week to make their struggles known to me.  It seems that our discussion on listening and speaking from the past two weeks could not have come at a more perfect time.  It really puts things into perspective when people open up their world to you.  Somehow all of your own annoyances and problems seem petty and insignificant in comparison.  I find it incredibly flattering that these people would hold me in confidence and that they would seek my advice.  This is also incredibly intimidating for me.  I feel a lot of pressure to be there for them and to say the right words.  The words that will give them clarity and comfort.  The words that just may very well solve their problems.  I put a lot of pressure on myself like that.  Many times when I don’t see immediate results or get that immediate gratification, I get discouraged. 
This week as I was grappling with all of these issues—both my friends’ struggles and my own inadequacies in helping them—I was inspired and encouraged by a note card pinned up on my desk.  I’m one of those types of people who tack a lot of things up on my walls and on my desk.  Empty spaces on a wall kind of make me uneasy.  Because of the amount of things pinned up on my desk I find that they almost become a visible white noise.  They all fade together and I can kind of ignore the chaos.  This one note card in particular was from a Women’s Ministry gathering I went to some months ago and it says simply, “I Will” Luke 5:5.  I vaguely remember putting it up there, originally hoping that it would inspire me daily.  And luckily, this week, it did.  This verse is from the story of how Simon, after a night of unsuccessful fishing, tells Jesus that he will cast down his nets, simply because Jesus told him to.  What really struck me about that story was the blind and trusting faith Simon had in Jesus.  God put it upon the hearts of these people to share with me, and I know that God will find a way to use me to encourage them.  I’m still not one hundred percent sure of what my advice to them will be, but I am striving to trust that to God.  Another encouraging verse I found this week (also pinned up on my desk) is Philippians 4:9, “Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”  I have been really focusing on letting that peace of God flow into my life rather than stress or anxiety.  For me that certainly is a daily struggle, but I find that anytime I have any sort of success in that, the reward is overwhelmingly satisfying.  So I guess for I could use prayer for myself, in my dealings with advice-giving, but also for those close friends of mine. I pray that I can give them the support and encouragement they need by being a good listener and then I pray that with the help of the Holy Spirit I can be an equally good speaker. 

Monday, January 24, 2011


     As way of introductions, my name is Bri Lynaugh.  Don't worry, it's a lot easier to pronounce than you think.  I actually just moved down here to go to school at UC Irvine to study Anthropology and Religious Studies.  I moved from Folsom which is in Sacramento County and I'm definitely still adjusting to life in southern California.  I don't need any of my winter jackets and I have to take at least three highways to get anywhere...But despite all the adjustments, I've really liked it down here so far.  I love being close to Disneyland and I'm really enjoying all of my classes.  Except Stats.  I hate stats.  So I guess it goes without saying that I am also very new to Rock Harbor as well.  I attended one of the Sunday night services the first week I moved down here and I've been hooked ever since.  I feel so fortunate to have gotten lucky and found a good church home on my first try. 
     I grew up going to a smaller church in Folsom, called Oak Hills.  I was very involved, both as a participant and as a leader.  I've been teaching Sunday school for the last four years or so and helping out in the classroom for five years prior to that.  I would most definitely say that Oak Hills provided a strong foundation for my faith.  I've always considered myself a Christian because I accepted Jesus into my heart when I was very young and because I would heavily involve myself in leadership roles in my church.  But it wasn't until about seven months ago that I realized I had become almost too comfortable or lukewarm in my faith.  I felt as though I was at a standstill--neither moving forward nor taking steps backward.  For a long time I had been burying myself in my teaching, but I was doing nothing to enrich myself.  I attended a college group with a friend back in June at a large church in Granite Bay callled Bayside.  I was overwhelmed by the staggering amount of people my own age in one room all worshipping God.  The message was refreshing and encouraging to me.  For so long I had become too conditioned by what I was used to.  For the first time in recent times I could feel God stirring in my heart.  I guess that night was like a wake-up call to me to get back on track in my spiritual life.  It was like be welcomed home after a long out of town visit to an unfamiliar place.  I cannot even express how glad I am to be back.  The months throughout the summer I reveled in the fulfilling relationships I found I could have with fellow believers.  To be perfectly frank I was absolutely terrified to be leaving all of that behind when I moved down here for school.  At first it was very difficult.  I can honestly say that my first month down here--made complicated by other personal losses--was among the worst of my life.  But, ever the eternal optimist, I have come to love this new start I have been given.  I am so excited to begin building a community in the fellowship of Christ here in my new home.  I have a lot of uncertainties about my future, but I am becoming more convicted everyday to rely on the peace of the Lord. 
     I guess that was a lot of information for an "about me" post, but I think it's important to explain where I am spiritually.  I am so ready for Circles!  I'm probably not alone when I say that I'm not one hundred percent sure that I know what it has in store for each of us, but I am excited nonetheless!  I would like to end this lengthy introduction with a few random facts about me that may or may not spark a conversation later.  So thank you for reading and I can't wait to get to know all of you in the coming months!

-I was born in Dallas, Texas.
-I have never been outside the United States.
-I have a startling amount of owl jewelry and knick-nacks.
-I play air guitar with my left hand...I am right handed.  
-I brought home two ducklings one day after school and raised them in a kiddie pool in our backyard.  I live in a residential neighborhood.  My parents were less than thrilled.
-I don't eat any kind of melon. 
-My right shoulder is slightly higher than my left shoulder.