Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Merry Christmas!

For the holidays I'm hanging out in Florida with my dad and stepmom and other assorted friends :). The weather so far has been glorious - rainy but temps in the 70's so I'm not complaining. I came down last thursday and will head back to the big city of DC on January 3rd. Two weeks of chilling out - now that's vacation.

The other night I was heading home from my friends house and driving along a back country Florida road late at night. I saw something in the middle of the road that looked like a big gray cat just sitting smack on the median. As an animal lover, I turned around and went back. Turns out it was a big gray owl that must have landed there and gotten scared. Cars were zooming by in the lanes and it's feathers were being ruffled but it just sat there. I honked my horn but it just moved it's head. I was afraid it was hurt or something so I pulled off to the side of the road to rescue it. An SUV behind me honked its horn at it and they drove up next to me and told me it had flown away. Phew! I was worried. Owls are one of my favorite animals. I think they are so cool but I hardly ever see them. I would love to hold one someday or have it as a friend.

Anyway, Paddington and I wish you a very Merry Christmas. He's enjoying the warm weather here with me as well and we hope that wherever you are, you celebrate the season with friends and family and other loved ones. May you glimpse the face of God this year!

On a side note - I will be in Atlanta for the New Year celebration with some dear old family friends the Mellars! I've known them since I was two (or thereabouts). Should be good times.

Two Weeks Plus One Day

So two weeks plus one day after I was laid off, I received a job offer for another company. I think that must be some kind of record. A huge thank you and shout out and props to my friend who submitted my resume at her place of employment. My job is about the same as the one I lost which is great seeing as how I really enjoyed what I was doing. It has more sales associated with it however, which means total salary has the potential to be much higher. Right now the projected increase (including commission) for next year is almost a 30% increase over what I was making. God is good. He always goes bigger and better :)

Plus my first day of work will end with me being flown out to California for a week of meetings with over 200 other employees. How cool is that! Nothing like sunny Los Angeles in the middle of January!

I have to admit however that I am feeling unsure about saying yes. I wonder though if this has anything to do with the fact of having been let go from a job and now not sure what the right direction is exactly. I felt so sure about the last job. When I look at other areas of my life, I'm seeing that same hesitation about moving forward - is this a nudge from the Holy Spirit or is this my own fears surfacing? I'm not sure exactly.

Any thoughts on deciphering this?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's Been One Week...

Anyone remember that song that was about a break up? Well, it's been one week since my company broke up with me :)

I have to say that it has been a really busy week so far. I have filled out paperwork, updated my resume, gotten happy at several happy hours, taught Sunday School, made lunches for the homeless, hung out with friends, watched TV, waiting for a phone interview, cooked (but haven't cleaned yet), and have made dentist plans and lunch plans with friends.

So far life has been so busy, I don't know how I could have a job! I am really feeling good about life at the moment. I think that my short stint at the last company is a stepping stone for something bigger and better. One of my friends said to me just after the announcement, that I was ready to bounce now, but if I had stayed in my last job, I wouldn't have been ready to bounce. As I've been preparing for the next steps, I can see the tremendous amount of growth that occurred over the past four months and am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I had. Perhaps my time there was indeed done and now the next steps will be far greater than what I had envisioned.

I can only praise God for these things since He has been incredibly faithful to me and when one thing has ended has only brought me into bigger and better than what just was. I praise Him.

As I said at one of the happy hours with former co-workers - My boss is a Jewish carpenter and the CEO of the biggest company in the world. Why should I fear the loss of a human boss when my spiritual boss will always keep me employed!


On Sunday night, I auditioned for my second musical. The first one was in high school and I had to sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I barely knew the song and was so off key it was sad. Since then I have always wanted to be in a musical but haven't really had the courage to go for it.

Until now.

My church is launching it's new arts ministry with a major production of Godspell in the spring. I prepared a song "Day by Day" from the musical and gave it everything I had. We also had to learn a short piece of choreography and then perform it and perform a cold reading of the script. Then there was a group improv segment. The entire audition process took about four hours (with lots of waiting) but ultimately, I felt great about my audition. Even if I don't get a part, I want to be involved with the production in some way. I really would like a part though :)

I'll let you know what happens when I hear the news. Then of course you will all be invited to a show in the spring (weekend before Easter and weekend of Easter).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A "Reduction In Force"

Basically that is fancy talk for getting laid off, employment terminated, canned, kicked to the curb, shown the door, dismissed, "fired". That is what happened to me and 100 other fellow employees yesterday. Some of them I have never met. Some are good friends that I have enjoyed spending the bulk of my time in cubicle world with.

Some of my good friends were not lucky enough to be part of this distinguished group of 103. I wish them all the best. I hope they finish strong this year proving that they are not going to let something so completely out of the blue and devastating affect the jobs that they still have. I want to be proud of what they do next.

As for me, my first reaction was He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is in absolute control of my life, always has been and always will. I know without a doubt that I was supposed to take this job. I have a complete peace. It is a bit surreal at the moment, but it is a peace nonetheless.

More to come I'm sure. One upside to all of this is that I now have more time for blogging!

Monday, December 04, 2006

What's Your Average?

Over the past 30 years, I have lived in 20 different locations. This averages out to a new mailing address every 18 months. What's your average?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Where Do You Sound Like?

This was my result which I thought was funny. I have lived on the East Coast and South more than anywhere else. However, my first seven years were overseas and then grades 2-8 were in Maryland where my father said I was starting to have a Baltimore/Maryland accent. They say your accent develops strongest by 4th grade. After moving South some say I have a slight Southern accent. I pick up accents really easily so it can be hard to figure out where I come from based on what I sound like. Enjoy!

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
The Inland North
North Central
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Monday, November 06, 2006

Paintball Doesn't Hurt (Too Bad)

A couple weekends ago I played paintball with some friends from work and it was a blast. We played outside in the woods and I felt like a real Army girl. It was awesome!

A Great Weekend

This past weekend I had two parties that I had been invited to and said I would attend. As they drew near, I was not at all interested in attending either of them. Not in the least. I was tired and didn't feel like getting dressed and dragging myself into the city to attend these two parties.

But I did. I made myself get dressed up, purchase appropriate gifts (one was a birthday party and the other a going away party) and head into town. Albeit two hours late to both parties, but I arrived in true DC style anyway.

And I had a blast. I thoroughly enjoyed each of the parties. On Friday night, I went out dancing at Cafe Citron for the birthday party and walked through my front door at 4am. On Saturday, I spent time talking to church friends I haven't seen in months and left that party around midnight.

I have cut myself off over the past few months from a lot of social activity. My excuses have been real and valid, but that's just what they have been. Excuses. I have had a new job consuming much of my energy. I have a dog who is getting old and sick and needs extra attention. I live far away from my church and most of my church friends.

I'm glad I made myself go out this weekend in spite of all my excuses. I got exercise, I reconnected, I took advantage of life in the city. I spent time in a new coffeeshop hanging out with my roommate.

Thanks to all of you who were part of my great weekend!

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Is silence golden?

Only if it means that I'm raking in the bucks :) of course I'm not usually that crass however, the new job is providing me with some extra moolah which is fabulous. As a result, however, I don't have the leisure time I used to to blog. Please forgive me...if any of you are still reading :)

I shall try to be more faithful to this random instrument of communication. Now that I am getting more used to the new position, I should be able to bare my soul (or at least flash a little at you) more frequently.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Old Crowd

This here is a picture of my former co-workers. This is at the end of a great party on my last day of work. They had a cake for me and everything. Again the coincidence thing this year. The party was almost exactly four years to the day from my last day at the American Lung Association in Florida. And here it is the ALA in DC and saying goodbye again. So interesting. One of the best parts was this gift from my friend Jennifer. She is so talented...and a thief since this slogan was dreamt up by one of the company's committees and never used. I have worn it with pride in my neighborhood with some hoochie mama shorts while walking my dog. Pretty funny.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Third Week

I know these posts from work aren't very exciting, but I really haven't had much time to do anything else. I can't believe that I have been pulling 10 hour days a couple times a week, which is nothing I have ever done before. I'm needing to get myself together and leave at 5pm. Just so I don't kill myself.

I think part of this reason is because I'm still in the learning mode and haven't yet settled into a routine. I'm still running sprints instead of getting a pace together for the marathon. I'm tired and trying to get my routine sorted out. I have to be patient with myself knowing that this will happen.

Meditation from Isaiah 40:31 -

But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

A promise, a challenge to seek His face even more than ever before. Because only in Him am I able to stand.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Where Have All My Creative Juices Gone?

So it's been ages since I've posted. I guess that's what happens when you have a real job...the time for fun and games is sucked away by the dry corporate air I find myself in. Just kidding. This place is great so far.

I'm here at the crack of dawn which would shock my former co-workers. I arrive in the office around 8am every day. Pretty crazy. This morning it was so quiet I thought there should be a Good Morning Discovery Education radio show. I think it would go over big as long as everyone already had their coffee. Otherwise I might have things thrown at me.

Keep up the good work. I gotta get back to mine.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Day 2

I'm pretty busy with lots of training and a pretty intense schedule for the next two weeks here at Discovery. Not a lot of time to blog :) But wanted to say that I'm going to enjoy this job. There's a lot to learn. It's a little nerve-wracking and a little like standing on the edge of a cliff knowing that you are going to have to jump and realizing that you have on your parasailing gear, but having never done this before, a little uncertain if it is going to work. I trust the principle of the parasail, but have to really jump to see that it works and to learn how to make it the time of my life.

I like my cube. It's a little bare. Any suggestions on how to improve it are welcome!

Thursday, July 20, 2006


A poem from Street Sense - written by vendor David Harris

It's a sorry excuse for religion,
I know,
we light the crucifix of gasoline
and climb into the flames

we charge admission to our immolation

We use to think we were dangerous
with frightening ideas,
huffing the glory of our ageless wisdom.

At twenty-three and twenty-four
you're the withered hag,
I, the wizened geezer-
teens on inline skates
laugh at our daring
to think we're cool

The sixteen-year-old suicidal poet
was in vogue one year
I played my role with great panache-
you were stunning as my muse
decked-out in gothic threads;
but our moment in the sun
flickered like a butane spark
and now, we live lives
of therapy
and bills.

It's a sorry excuse for religion
but on our Sunday mornings
we trudge to our church of melancholy
on our knees among our towers
of "modern rock" CD's
I, the toothless soothsayer,
you, the skeletal crone,
we relive the thirty seconds
of meaning in our lives

A Great Read

If you hang around downtown DC, you may occasionally notice street vendors selling a newspaper called Street Sense. It is by the homeless about the homeless and the $1.00 it costs to purchase provides income for the homeless vendor selling the paper. They receive $0.75 of every paper sold.

I have purchased a few papers over the past couple years and they are a great read on a topic that I don't know that much about nor am I very involved in. This is not a whiny paper, but an interesting factual paper. There are several pieces that I find fascinating, particularly the articles, photos, poems, and serial stories written by the vendors themselves.

This weeks issue was one of the best I've seen.

I encourage you to check out the paper. Subscribe to it and have it delivered to your home. Purchase a paper from a local vendor. It's worth it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

There Is No Such Thing As Coincidence

This past Sunday, my church had its annual Baptism by the Bay (Chesapeake). About 12 people were baptized including my pastor's dad which was pretty cool. We played games like marshmallow and water balloon toss and tug of war. Then a big picnic, some praise and worship on the beach and the baptism.

I was struck that each person getting baptized had a different story and different path to all arrive at this same point: making a public profession that they are a follower of Christ.

This was the first year that I was able to attend the Baptism By the Bay in the four years I've attended the church. I always see the videos and get emotional at the awesome dedication and excitement and commitment exhibited.

When I got home I pulled out my own baptism in the bay pictures. I couldn't remember how old I was when I was baptized. I checked the date on the back and it said July 1986. Exactly 20 years I was also baptized in the bay. God remembered and made it possible for me to be at this years baptism. Kind of like an anniversary. God is amazing!

My dad is in the striped shirt, my mom is standing just behind him. The guy in the flowered shirt is our pastor at the time.

Blast From The Past

Here are some pictures of me and my friend Alana (and her younger sister Angie in one of them) when we lived across the street from each other and were best friends. She just got married on July 8 and I saw her for the first time in 15 years. These pictures were taken 1986/1987. We met when were about 9 years old. In the pics we are 10-11. I'll post the recent ones later so you can compare :)

What a Day!

Checked my email this morning and there were lots of posts from people in my Foreign Service yahoo group saying that results were avaiable online. I went to the site, downloaded my results letter and found out that I had passed the Foreign Service Written Exam! I was pretty excited and a little in shock. Step 1 of 550 (or something like that) completed.

I also received an email from a college friend of mine that I recently reconnected with and the words he spoke and encouraged me with and the topics the email covered were exactly the right thing. Praise God for faithful servants who listen to His voice and His heart and are obedient in following Him. I wish him peace, protection, and boldness as he heads to Israel in a few days. He does not go alone, but with all the power and glory of His heavenly Father and the angels accompanying him. Pray for him that where his feet go, the Spirit of God will be felt and manifested in the hearts and lives of the people.

Earlier this week, I was praying for the situation in the Middle East that the living water available from the throne of God will pour out into that region quenching the fires in the hearts of men and in the streets. I don't normally speak such things on this blog, but I believe and know that in situations like this when I feel helpless and frustrated by what is right and what is wrong and what should be done, I can only fall on my knees and ask God to reign supreme in these situations. My friend and the church group he is going with are ambassadors of peace both for the region and the souls of those they meet.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Frustration with lists

I've noticed lately that as I drive home or ride the metro to work or walk the dog or do any number of things that I'm always thinking of my list of things that need to get done. These are all good and fun things and activities and events that I want to get involved with. But I'm finding myself checking them off in my head or writing them on an imaginary list in an effort to accomplish them and move on to the next task.

I need to stop and realize that they are part of life. They are good things and I don't need to check them off to enjoy the life that I am living with them. I have several Bible study groups that I'm part of this summer as well as kids ministry on Sunday and other fun events. Instead of enjoying them and thinking of them as life, I'm thinking of them as items on a list that need to be checked off in order to get to the life part of living. Life is now, not in the future, but now. I'm not sure how to quit this line of thinking. Any ideas?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Big Sky Country

I had some pictures posted on this earlier and Blogger wouldn't let me publish it. I have uploaded some pics on My Flickr Photos to at least satisfy some of your cravings for some awesome shots of my vacation. I'll try again later to update the blog with some additional pictures.

Flying into Missoula, Montana on July 4th was awesome. We could see the fireworks exploding below us and because we were so high up, they were like shorts bursts of light, almost staccato like. As we dropped closer to ground the fireworks resembled camera flashes in a stadium. Pretty awesome. In the distance, over one of the towns, there were some storm clouds occasionally being lit by lightining inside of them. I thought they were God's fireworks because He didn't want to miss out on the fun. Seeing the tiny fireworks popping as we flew over, I imagined that this must be what God sees when He looks down on earth. These tiny little poppings and little people running all over the place. Everything in miniature. That's how big He is and yet He is small enough to live inside us and spend time with each of us every day. Pretty incredible.

Big sky country is all about water. Most people think mountains and big wide open spaces and there's that too, but I will always remember the water. Everywhere I went you heard a river rushing, a waterfall falling, a stream trickling, a lake being. Turquoise in color and clear as gin as one tourist magazine put it and it was true. There was also an amazing amount of wildlife. I saw deer, hoary marmots, a bald eagle, osprey, hawks, columbian ground squirrels, wild goats, cutthroat trout, and lots of interesting bugs.

I spent one night camping in Glacier National Park and then hiked about 10 miles or so the next day, through the woods, over snow fields, down mountain sides, next to rivers and lakes. Later I went whitewater rafting through a gorge over class III rapids. AWESOME!

The reason I was in Montana was for my friend Alana's wedding. We met when we were nine years old or so and haven't seen each other in about 15 years. It was a great homecoming. We lived across the street from each other for about four years and were absolute best friends. I will post some pictures of us back then. We were really cute! I was able to meet her fiance Chase and his wonderful and crazy family from West Virginia. They had friends fly in from all over the country which was so amazing and really added to the special day. It was wonderful to see her and her sister and reconnect again as adults. I hope it won't be another 15 years before we get to see each other again. One of my favorite parts of the wedding was the fact that Alana's mom and dad both walked her down the aisle. They divorced when she was very young and it was so great to see them come together again because of the love for their daughter. I also loved having Chase's grandfather perform the ceremony. He is a minister (maybe retired) and has married just about everyone in the family. What special touches to wonderful day. Of course the food, dancing, drinking, and general merriment (till 3am) made it a day to celebrate.

My one regret was that I didn't get to see a grizzly bear...unless you count the stuffed one in the airport. I'm looking forward to getting back to Montana and spending even more time with Alana, Chase and the great outdoors. Thanks for such a wonderful time Mr. and Mrs. Jones. Mmmmmmmwwwwwwoooooooaaaaaahhhhh!!!! (the Overman kiss)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Sunburnt, exhausted, refreshed

I'm heading home from Montana tonight. It has been a great trip and I have lots of pictures and stories to share. Thanks to everyone for their good wishes about the new job. All the new people I met out here were really impressed to hear about where I was working. It was fun saying "I accepted a job at the Discovery Channel" and hearing how excited everyone was. Several people told me about the programs they had just seen on TV or listened to on the radio and how they really liked that channel. I even met a teacher from Florida who uses the products that I'll be training others on! She loves it and gave me suggestions for improvement and comments on what she really likes about it. Do you think I can bill the hour I talked with her about it? Haven't signed the paperwork officially yet and already on the job :)

So I'll post more later. I've got to pack up my stuff and head out to a final lunch with the newlyweds. Write to you from the big city!

Monday, July 03, 2006

A Big Day

Today is a big ball of stress day for lots of good reasons.

1. I have officially accepted a position at Discovery Communications, Inc. (best known for the network side ie Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, History Channel, TLC, etc.) I will be working in the Education Division training teachers on an education product that enables them to integrate video into their curriculuum and still meet state standards. I'm super excited about this job and give a huge shout out to my friend Christy for greasing the wheels and helping me get my foot in the door. The location is closer to home, the pay is better, the benefits are great and the opportunities are limitless.

Part of today's stress was telling my current boss I was leaving in three weeks. She was not happy to say the least. Ah well.

2. I am going on vacation tomorrow to MONTANA! I am so excited. I have wanted to visit this state for years and finally my dream is coming true. One of my oldest friends is getting married in Missoula this weekend and that is the reason for the happy occasion. We met when we were about 8-9 years old and I haven't seen her or her family in something like 15 years. It's going to be a great homecoming of sorts, a celebration of this new phase in her life, and a time filled with some serious Western adventuring.

Here's hoping I see a grizzly - from a safe distance of course!

3. I finally have my official Maryland registration for my car. It took seven trips or so to the Motor Vehicle Administration, almost $1000 for repairs and fees, and several months to accomplish this illustrious task. With a Master's degree, years of work experience, a cheerful demeanor, and a tendency to obsess over details, I figured this would have been a simple task. Alas, beauracracy reigns and I pin a first class ribbon on the system. Be warned and know that there are NO shortcuts in the state of Maryland!

HAPPY 4th of July!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Russian Joke

I think this is hilarious. What do you think?

A young man runs into a friend on the street that he has not seen in some time. "Hello," he says. "I hear you've formed a musical group!"

"That's right," replies the friend.

"What kind of group is it?"

"It's a quartet."

"How many people are in it?"


"Who are they?"

"Me and my brother."

"You have a brother?"


Monday, June 26, 2006

Saying Goodbye

This past weekend was kind of weird. On Saturday, I spent the day saying goodbye to two friends I have known for the past 1 1/2 years. I spent the afternoon with one eating and riding bikes and the evening with the other in a house full of people for a barbecue and impromptu dance party that lasted beyond midnight. I was sad at saying goodbye to them both and realizing that I may never see either of them again. Not for any particularly bad reason, but simply that we may never again be in the same place at the same time.

Just today I was telling a co-worker about how this and it hit me why I've had such an odd reaction to the departure of two friends. Usually I am the one who is leaving. I think this may be one of the first times in my life that I am staying behind and seeing friends leave. It has happened only a handful of other times, but for some reason it really sticks out as completely unusual.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Forgotten Memories

Last night I was having dinner with some friends at another friend's house. There were candles on the table, the lights were down low, Sarah Groves and Norah Jones were softly playing in the background and the six of us were just talking about God and prayer and seeing the supernatural in everyday life. The owner of the place mentioned how he had always grown up having dinner wtih candles. It was just something his family did. When he said that, something just clicked and I got really emotional and teary eyed.

I had forgotten that my family used to sit around the dinner table together just about every night with some classical music or soft music playing, light the candles and have dinner together. We always had a Greek salad with whatever we were eating and after dinner the three of us would just hang out at the table and talk. It was so great.

Until last night I had forgotten that was my family's dinner tradition and I became verklempt with emotion because I really missed that. Perhaps one of the hardest things about losing my mother was also the loss of my family in a sense. My father has remarried but they do things very differently. There is no more Greek salad, no more candles, the music still plays and there are conversations, but different. I really miss my family.

I didn't realize why I feel so lonely sometimes even with so many friends and great roommates and workmates. There's a big part of my life and my being that is missing and can never be replaced, until perhaps someday I have my own family.

I'm not sure how to end this blog, even as I get teary eyed again. So I'll just say goodbye for now.

Friday, June 16, 2006

FAME! I'm Gonna Learn How To Fly

Last night I went to the Dance Party small group at Ebenezer's. Juman is having dance lessons every Thursday night and it is so much fun. This was the second week and the dance of the night was salsa. Last week was swing which I missed but it sounded like everyone had a great time. The cool thing about this is it is a low key way to make friends and learn how to dance. Juman is a great instructor and kept things fun and relaxed. I think next week is waltz and you really should come out. No experience necessary.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Some Shenandoah Snapshots

More pictures posted on my Flickr photos (see link on right)

Exquisite Camping

This past weekend I went camping in Shenandoah National Park with some awesome friends. I want to say thank you to Kurt, Juliet, Matt, Amber, Katlyn, Theresa, Dennis, Brandt, and Ben for a fantastic time. You all were so much fun to eat with, sing with, laugh with, talk with, hike with, take pictures with, see bears and deer with, and get bitten by a cranky dog with. My soul has been enriched and my spirit has been deeply touched through this weekend in God's creation. Thank you and Praise Him from Whom All Blessings Flow.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Relative-ly Speaking

My other birth half brother
One of my birth half brothers
My birth father

Before and After: The Haircut

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Hair Cut - Part 2

He got the hair cut. Looks like a hack job, but at least it's short. I'll post pictures soon.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Hair Cut - Part 1

Last night I started the process of cutting Paddington's hair. Pretty funny actually. I can't show you any pictures yet because he looks really bad (in a funny way). It was a quick one just to get off some of the bulk so he wouldn't be so hot at night and during the day, but he has some baldish spots where I got the shaver too close, some really long patches that I missed completely and some stringy random hairs that escaped. Overall, he looks rough. I'm gonna finish up tomorrow morning. Until then...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dirty Domestic Duties

(Can you tell I'm obsessed with the letter D today?)

Last night I cleaned our grill. Can you say GROSS? I don't know how many years that grill has been part of the family, but I know that there have been many, many people using it and it is disgusting. I must have scraped off at least two pounds (or more) of baked on grease, then I degreased it three times and still had to be satisfied with a thin film of grease left inside. So disgusting, but so much cleaner now. I also replaced the rusted out burner with a new one and installed new ceramic briquets and a new drip vaporizer. The grill looks great and is ready for the Sunday Night BBQ's to begin.

Today (or tomorrow) I will be giving Paddington a hair cut. I ordered new blades for the clipper and will begin the long (at least an hour or more) and difficult process of removing tons of hair. I think I might try and weigh how much hair I remove. It really is spectacular. I'm cutting off at least six inches of hair from him. He looks like a completely different dog when I'm done. I'll try and post before and after pictures.

I also have to go on poop patrol in the yard. How fun!

Doggie Do-Right

This morning it was off to the vet to see about getting meds for Paddington. The vet did a great job checking out his range of motion and did indeed concur that he has some pretty intense arthritis on his left side. They drew blood and gave me pills and Paddington is back at home resting. He is currently unable to get up once he lays down so I have to help him get up. Once he's up he's okay. Hopefully the meds will improve this situation. Otherwise, it's not going to be fun.

I did barricade the kitchen floor however, because I'm not sure how safe that is for him to be sprawled out on struggling to get up. He may hurt himself even more.

Ahh the joys of motherhood :) At least with children they can tell you what's wrong and you can explain things to them. A dog...well, even as smart as my egghead is, he can't speak to me.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

It's No Fun Getting Old

For the past week, I've been noticing my dear little man Paddington getting older. His new thing is to lay on the linoleoum floor in the kitchen right by the front door. The problem is that once he lays down he can't get up in spite of the struggling. His feet keep slipping out from underneath him and his arthritic hips can't seem to get him up. It's funny in a way, but also sad, because he just flops down on the ground and looks at you, like whew, what is going on? I have to get behind him and lift him up around his middle so his legs can get under him. He growls and barks, but I know he's doing that because he's just embarrassed and as all men do, doesn't want to admit that he needs my help. But like a good mom, I ignore him and help anyway :)

He is thirteen and most dogs his size and breed live somewhere between 12-15 years, so I know his time is coming soon and I will be very sad when that day does arrive. In spite of his stubbornness, growling, crankiness, disobedience and various challenges related to having a dog, he has been a very good little son of mine and I love him dearly.

I'm preparing myself. Thanks for being understanding.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

My Weekend

This is what my weekend consisted of:

Four movies in one day, a doggie bath and grooming session, cleaning a rusty grill and buying new parts at Home Depot for it in preparation for the summer grilling season, making waffles, fruit salad, and cappucinos for my roommate, going to a barbecue, spending Sunday morning helping kids blow bubbles in water and glue fishies onto construction paper, listening to a great church sermon by one cool Pastor Dave, going to a belly dancing recital at a Moroccan restaurant, feeling nauseous - maybe allergy related or sugar related.

Overall, a pretty good weekend. How was yours?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Mad at Maryland

The state of Maryland is really annoying. They have so many crazy rules and regulations that trying to do the right thing a la Deut. 6:18 is challenging at times. I've gone to the DMV three times in two days AND I still don't have my Maryland title or registration in spite of having all of the correct documents. They keep needing a signature from this or a letter from that...mainly from my dad who is currently in Australia in a 12 hour time difference so it's ridiculous to keep trying to get in touch with him. Anyway, that is my rant for the day. I know it's not really that big of a deal, but it is frustrating. Peace out ya'll.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Peace and Quiet

That's what this weekend was all about. I headed to Southern MD with some friends from church for a retreat weekend at this great house. We all did our own thing on Saturday, meditation, long walks, picking wildflowers, praying, sleeping, playing basketball. It was just great.

I did a devotional on Deut. 6:18 which is where I feel the Lord is really challenging me right now. It's a hard verse and a hard truth to fully walk out each day, but good and right things are not always easy. The rewards of knowing that you are glorifying Christ and bringing Him joy is so worth it in the long run. I will fail, I will make mistakes, I will cheat the system so to speak, but thank goodness for the grace of God that allows me to get back up again and keep going. A la Brother Lawrence.

May you all be blessed and comforted this day. May you find peace and truth everlasting in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May He be what you are living for today.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

6 1/2 years

For some reason today, I wanted to post on my mom. Mainly on the fact that it has been almost 6 1/2 years since she passed away. I can't believe it has been that long. It has been one crazy ride and I am grateful for the presence of God through all of it.

Here's a picture of my mom in the late 60's about a year or so before she married my father. She was in Izmir, Turkey with the USO (service organization that supports soliders in the field). Previously she had been in Vietnam with the USO serving for a couple years or so. She was one of the first civilian women in the country when the war started and she flew all over the place in the open sided Hueys. Other jobs included a TWA flight attendant, model, radio hostess.

After she and my dad got married, they spent 15 years in Europe traveling and living. They opened up a leather boutique in southern Spain called Gasp Boutique. They would cross the straits of Gibralter to Morocco and buy leather and beads. My dad would make belts, sandals, bags and my mom would convince the tourists to come in and buy them. It was in Spain that they both became Christians.

They also lived in Germany and worked with a group of the Jesus people there. Then they moved to Greece and ran student ski trips by bus to Austria. Dad also had a boat chartering business. I was born while they were there and we lived another seven years. Moving back to the U.S. was very difficult. Mom went back to school and eventually received her B.A. in Ancient Languages (or something like that).

She studied Ancient Greek and would do personal bible studies with the original texts. I was pretty impressed. Then we moved to VA Beach for both my parents to get their Master's. My dad got his MBA and Mom got hers in Education focusing on TESOL (Teaching English to Students of Other Languages). After we moved to Florida, she taught at the local community college and really enjoyed her students. She was great at reaching out to them and inviting them to be part of our family.

Her favorite holiday was St. Patrick's Day and we would have an all green meal. All of the holidays were a big deal for her and she would try and make them special.

This next picture is one of my favorite. It was taken on her birthday in 1999 about 2 1/2 months before she died. Here's to you my little brown nut head! Love you.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Friends Come in All Shapes, Sizes, Colors

I love being part of the kingdom of God, for it is the richest, most colorful, diverse, global place I know. It transcends both heaven and earth and the dimensions of time and space. No matter where I go, I will find brothers and sisters who worship the same God I do. I am never alone. What an awesome blessing.

I have been so encouraged this week by friends especially both at my Alpha group and last night/today. Their words of encouragement, hope, understanding, compassion and thoughtfulness have meant so much to me.

I am in the middle of an understanding of the impact holiness has on our actions and it is not an easy lesson but a vital one. Deuteronomy 6:18 says " And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land of which the LORD swore to your fathers," This is my challenge and with the grace of God and the sharpening of my fellow soliders, I will move toward the Light of Heaven.

I know God is faithful...

but I'm struggling right now. Not sure if what I'm facing is a spiritual battle or one caused by my own sins and failings, or simply because that's just how life is right now.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I am at a loss for words on how to explain how deeply and profoundly impacted and blessed I was by the Buzz volunteers. I was in charge of coordinating about 40 volunteers for the two day conference for my church. I was amazed at the "extra mile" attitude of so many of them. We were overstaffed but the volunteers kept looking for something to do. They interacted with attendees and they never sat around doing nothing. They were always ready to help out with whatever task I asked of them.

I even had some say they couldn't take the time off of work, but they would be willing to show up an hour early or come during their lunch hour or even stop by on their way to an evening event to help pop popcorn. I have recruited volunteers, trained volunteers, been a volunteer, but nothing prepared me for the NCC volunteer. I can't say thank you enough or tell them enough for how special they are.

Truly they are V.I.V.'s (Very Important Volunteers)!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Books Are Funny

On my way to work this morning, I noticed a guy in front of me reading a book. Occasionally, he would smile or almost laugh while reading a certain passage. That made me smile too. I love books for the fact that they can engage so many of our emotions. I recall some intense crying and sobbing after reading "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" and "Bridge to Terabithia" when I was in jr. high. I actually still cry when reading these books :)

One of my most recent laugh out loud non-fiction books was "Stiff: The interesting lives of human cadavers". This is an absolutely hilarious book and also pretty gross. I kept having to put it down after a couple of pages. So great though.

One of my favorite books is "My family and other animals" by Gerald Durrell. It's a biography of sorts about the Durrell family who move from England to the island of Corfu in Greece and their subsequent adventures. The pages are falling out, but I can't seem to find another copy of the book, so I keep this one. I love it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Have you seen a cuter dog?

C'mon and Sing!

I love to sing. All the time, anytime. I've gained a reputation in my various places of employment for singing all the time. The office in Florida still asks the headquarters here in DC if I sing all the time. I don't even realize that I do much of the time. I just love to sing. I like to make up songs, sing tunes. I especially love praise and worship music.

In my wallet I have printed out tiny copies of several of my favorite hymns so that I can sing them (and memorize all ten million verses) at any time. Perhaps my all time favorite hymn is Be Thou My Vision. I love that it is an Irish melody and the words are so amazing. This is the only song that I definately want at my wedding. That and "The Impossible Dream" for my dad and I to dance to. That was the song he and my mother danced to at their wedding.

So that's off topic, but the point is I love to sing. I may not be the best (and I have a wedding experience/fiasco to prove that), but I do love it. It's what I was created to do.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart,
Naught be all else to me save that Thou art,
Thou my best thought by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom and Thou my true Word,
I ever with Thee and Thou with me Lord,
Thou my great Father and I Thy true son,
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always,
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, bright heaven's sun,
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Compel Them To Come In

So I love my church as mentioned below. But sometimes I've worried that with all the gimmicks, the gospel gets lost. During the Buzz volunteer orientation session, one of the pastors explained the way we do church in a way that helped me better understand. The slick materials etc. are one way of compelling someone to walk through our front doors to experience the redeeming love of Christ that is at the heart of the gospel. It's one way of compelling them to come in.

There's a guy at my work that I occasionally show the production/marketing pieces too. He's really impressed. I showed him the popcorn box annual report this week and his response: "Wow, you really are the FUN church. I wish my company had such great stuff." I understand now. I haven't invited him yet, but maybe when I do, he'll be curious to see what a church that does such an unbelievable job in its production pieces looks like.

Another co-worker flipped through the pages and saw that our membership/attendance for 2005 was around 800. Her jaw dropped and she said "I would have sworn you were so much bigger than my church because of all the things you are always doing." I don't always understand how we do what we do, but it sure makes an impact.

Her boss came in and saw the annual report and thought it was a popcorn box. I explained what it was and that I went to church in a movie theater. She looked at me like I was from another planet or something, but she couldn't deny the impressive quality of the annual report.

Praise GOD!!!

My church

I can't talk about my church enough. Every time I'm on the phone with my dad I always end up talking about how awesome my church is. Now don't get me wrong, there are things I don't like about my church and there are some things I don't always agree with, but overall, I love my church.

I love the people - how dedicated they are to service and to Christ, the spirit of excellence they exhibit, their willingness to be creative and to allow others that same measure of grace, their questioning what we believe in order to more strongly believe it, their desire to see others come to know Christ and to experience this journey together.

I love the ministry staff - their availability and willingness to be part of the community and not just to lead it, their openness to new ideas and new ways of doing church without compromising what we believe, their innovativeness and creativity and energy and committment.

I love my church building where all are comfortable, where I can wear jeans every Sunday and sit next to someone from the Hill and someone from the street and all are welcome and made to feel welcome and encouraged to participate in worship of our dear Lord and Savior.

I love the fact that we have a totally cool coffeehouse with delicious coffee that is free trade and we care about doing it that way. Coffee with a cause!


Sunday, April 30, 2006

Night Light

This picture was taken Saturday night on a friend's balcony. I just loved the paper lanterns and used another friend's awesome new camera to take the picture. A shout out to all of you who where there on Saturday. I really enjoyed myself and getting to know some of my new friends better. I was so glad that we chose to play Cranium instead of watching a movie because the way to build relationship is through shared experiences.

Although watching a movie is one way, I always think it is more effective for the verbal communication to occur. We get to hear different perspectives on a similar topic, to see how we interact in a competitive environment, to learn about each other and to laugh together. It was a lot of fun and I'm so glad I was able to grow in community and fellowship this weekend.

Breaking and Entering...

Don't worry, I wasn't arrested or anything. My car was actually broken into and entered by some very health conscious but inept thieves this weekend. After breaking the passenger side window of my car, they took a towel from the backseat and very carefully folded it and laid in on the front seat to cover all the glass. Then they proceeded to tear apart my car and try to steal it. Either they were thwarted in their efforts after destroying my steering wheel column, or they realized they couldn't drive the car after destroying my steering wheel column which made it impossible to turn.

Either way, I would have liked it better if they had managed to steal my car instead of destroying it. With a couple extra brain cells, they could have simply opened up my center console and used the key that is prominently located inside. Oh well. I need a new hiding spot now :) Thankfully, no one was hurt and nothing was actually stolen out of my 10 year old Honda Civic with a tape deck. Yes I said a tape deck. The only thing that did end up missing was my Florida license plate, which could be seen as a sign that I need to register my car in Maryland now.

I was a little stressed yesterday, but overall not really that upset. More annoyed than anything. They get to enjoy their gorgeous saturday while I have to deal with the police, a tow truck and a mechanic. Sounds like it could be the beginning of a good joke!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Because Hyla asked :)

I've actually been wanting to post, but there has been so much happening lately and much of it impacting me so deeply and personally that I haven't been sure of how much to say on this very public blog. I don't want this to just be a place for listing events, but also a place where the impact of life is shared so that I may grow from others insights and wisdom and hopefully others will learn from me as well.

I'm in a place of my life right now, where for the first time that I can remember, I'm actually a little frustrated with God. This seems kind of funny to me in an ironic way considering the many crazy things I've dealt with in my life and the many uncertainties I have faced and I am just now getting a little frustrated with God. In whom, I might add, I have faith and trust and have seen do miracles in my life and the lives of those around me. During this time of uncertainty (jobwise, financially, location, relationally), I tend to see myself as weak and unrighteous and sinful. I'm not sure if it is because trials and challenges tend to bring that side of us out, when we want to really be super spiritual and wholly lean on the cross (which I hope I'm doing), but I also realize that I fail at that miserably. Many many times throughout the day.

Am I doubting God just a bit and wondering if his promises are true? Perhaps a little. I wonder if this is because I am getting older and still feel like I don't know what I'm supposed to do with my life, or who I'm supposed to spend it with, or where I'm supposed to spend it. God has been nothing but faithful and truly blessed me beyond belief. I don't even have to look very hard to see what he has done in my life. Just stopping for a moment and realizing the simple fact that I am alive should be cause for a major worship session. It is by his breath that I am even living. And yet I get lost so quickly in the details of life.

Some lessons I've learned recently and am trying to incorporate/apply/examine:

1. My passion and purpose is to glorify God and to serve him. The where, how, when is superficial, yet that is what I spend more of my time worrying about.

2. I tend to be lazy and satisfied with the status quo perhaps mistaking that for God not leading me. I need to explore this more often and be more of a mover than a sitter, a shaker than a stander (in some areas and in some circumstances).

3. Four years in Washington, DC has made me a better friend, a more compassionate and open Christian, and a more realistic/analytical thinker.

4. Four years in Washington, DC hasn't made this place truly feel like a home yet.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Egg-citing Eggstravaganza!

This past Saturday, my church ( held the 5th annual Easter Eggstravaganza in Lincoln Park near the Capitol. There were over 1600 parents and kids who showed up for this awesome free event. There were games, prizes, snacks, crafts, face painting, and a petting zoo for everyone. The best part though had to be the 8,000 easter egg Egg Hunt. That's right...8,000 easter eggs each stuffed with a piece of candy. This is one way my church reaches out to the community to say that we care and that we are relevant to their lives. With around 100 volunteers I think we showed the love of Christ in a practical and super fun way.

My favorite part was the impromptu dance party I had with several kids under the age of 4. That was awesome. One little boy named Guido kept coming up to me and saying "Break It Down!" And boy did we. There were some pretty awesome moves being showcased out in the park :)

This picture is of the crew who stayed until the bitter/sweet end helping pack up all the materials and unpacking them back at Ebenezer's Coffee House. Our reward was that Pastor Joel (big guy in the back row left with the yellow shirt on) treated us all to an Ebenezer's drink. Yum. Mine is a tall iced mocha - one of my favorites.

Friday, April 14, 2006


I've been on a cupcake making kick lately and this is one of my creations. I was inspired by a food picture blog to take this fancy shot of my cupcake. These are peanut butter filled fudge cupcakes with homemade chocolate buttercream frosting and decorated with peanut butter and chocolate chips.

End of the Road?

This is a picture of my small group Journey that had its last meeting on Wednesday. I have really enjoyed meeting this great group of people and look forward to continued relationship building with them. That sounds so formal - basically I want to keep hanging out with them :) Not pictured: Hyla and Karen.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Test Taking is FUN!!!

Tomorrow I sit for the Foreign Service Written Examination (FSWE) which is the first step in becoming a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) with the Department of State. I'm not sure how well prepared I am, but I am looking forward to seeing what this test is all about. I want to send a shout out to those on the Yahoo groups listserv for the encouragement, support, laughs, and thought provoking discussions over the past month. I'm sure I would be way more nervous than I am now if it hadn't been for them.

The test is pretty grueling starting at 8am and finishing around 2pm. There are three major sections and a written essay portion. Depending on how well I do tomorrow, I may move onto the next step which is an oral assessment sometime in the fall/early spring 2007 or I will have to study for the next year and sit for the exam again next year.

Here goes nothing!

For more information visit

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Road To Remember

Not a poem this time, but a song - phrasing and lyrics need work and the tune is everchanging because I need a tape recorder or something to get it down. Anyway, a work in progress :)

A road to remember
That’s what I want to leave
Behind me
A road full of dangers, a road full of peace
A road that makes my heart sing
Only to the KING

My feat are growing weary,
My strength begins to fade
I’m all alone on this
Road called life

But I’m pressing on,
I’m going forward
It’s taking all I have and all I am
To walk toward you,

On this
Road to remember
That’s what I want to leave
A road filled with stories of grace
A road to remember
That’s what I want to leave
A place for others to reveal
Their songs of joy.

So I call to you
To help me through
This place of toil and fear
For the place you’ve called me to
Is just beyond my reach
And I need you to help me

On this road to remember
That’s what I want to leave
A place for you to stand and see
Where I have been
And what He’s done for me.


What does this day bring?
Sorrow at the leaving and joy at the coming home.
Soaring on wings toward
your destiny, your land of promise.
The sun rising over the dunes, calling you
to come and dwell in its bosom.
The sea behind beckoning for
your soul to stay within its touch.
The heart breaking at the choice,
but the spirit longing to walk
with the Father eternal..
So the choice is clear, nay firm.
Follow the call, follow the voice, follow the leading.
Confident that what remains is
Held in His hands.

NOTE: This was written as a goodbye for a friend of mine who was leaving DC to go to Africa. She was raised in the city and her mother lives here still, but she has been a missionary in Africa for many years and was headed back after a short three month furlough.

September 25, 2002

Anarchy. Liberalism. IMF. World Bank. Negotiation. Resolution. Birth Control. Party Animal. Freedom. Ignorance. Self conscious. Conservative. Sheltered. Longing. Not belonging. Alone. Memory.


Future. Where, what, how, who, when. Understanding. Not understanding. Protests. Tear gas. Long sleeves & high socks. Old. Young. Fat. Normal. Obsessed.

Stop obsessing.

Cell phone. Conference call. Time zones. Insecure. Unsure. Out of style. No style. Screwing up.

Screw it.

Languages. Which one. Research. Writing papers. End result. Advisor. Christianity. Cross-cultural.

How’s it fit?

Balance. Values. Ethics. Morals. Who am I. what am I. God is love.

God is.

Guiding me. Leading me. Drawing me. Cleansing me. Filling me. Loving me. Focus on Him.

At the end, that’s all there is.


NOTE: This poem was written one month into grad school, September 25, 2002. I was at American University and living in DC and was really going through some intense internal challenges. I vividly remember sitting on a bench in the main area of campus having just finished a cell phone conference call for work and it all hit me at once.

World Bank protests were going on, I was in a much more liberal environment than I was used to or had ever been in before, I had just read an article on the different health policies of all the universities and discovered that American is one of the most liberal in the area. The elephant and donkey painted sculptures (party animals) were on campus hiding from the protests downtown. I had read on a website that anarchists wear long sleeves etc. to protect themselves from the tear gas.

So there was much swirling around inside of me and I just had to get it down. As I wrote, the action of putting it all onto paper was cathartic and naturally led me to the conclusion. To me journaling as a form of prayer has always resulted in praise and recognition.

Ironic or Saying Goodbye on IM

If you gotta go
Just let me know.
I won’t be sad
I won’t be mad
I will be glad
That we did grow
In heart, and mind, and soul.

NOTE: written to a friend of mine. I find this an ironic goodbye message because instant messenger (IM) is such a shallow and superficial means of communication. You can discuss deep and intimate topics over the Internet, but the very nature of technology removes you from the warmth, the personal touch, the nuances of language both verbal and body making a true connection difficult.

three worlds (conundrum)

The following is a poem that was inspired by a friend of mine. He is Chinese born and raised outside of Shanghai. He spent five years in France and then came to the U.S. for a semester abroad which is when I met him.

We were walking through Chinatown in DC and he made a comment about how each of the three languages that he knows all have their special nuances and are each better for expressing different things that he feels and thinks and wants to say. Even if it has expanded his ability to express himself it has also complicated his ability because the choices are so much more.

The title of this post is also the title I have given to the poem.

I'm sitting here in my room
at my journal.
Wanting to empty myself in written word
but not sure which language to use.

Should it be the lyrical mother tongue
that evokes memories of the childhood village
and makes the bright lights of Shanghai sparkle?

Should it be the nearly perfect second language
with the romance and poetry that invokes
Paris, Lyon, la Tour Eiffel, l'Arc Triomphe?

Should it be this third global language
that rules the world through
slick images and raw might?

Which one should it be?
Which one will best express my thoughts and emotions
on paper covered with ink?

Three worlds, three voices
one me
I think I'll use all of them.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Spring Flowers

I took these this past weekend in DC!

Friday, March 31, 2006

A Night on the Town

Fall 2005 with friends from American University

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Metro Musings ii

On the train to work this morning, I was reading Conversation 1 from a small book titled "The Practice of the Presence of God." I was inspired to write the following poem:

Practicing the Presence of God

What does it mean to practice the presence of God?

Shall we always walk in humble obedience?
Should our heads hang low conscious of the weight of His glory?
Should our hearts sing with unspoken praise at the works of the Creator?

Yes, yes and yes.

The presence of God is indeed
a humbling, weighty, and joyful place.

It sustains us in times of deep and mournful trials,
It surrounds us in the midst of dangerous toils and difficult passes.
But most of all it is the evidence

of our relationship
our ongoing conversation
our painful walk and glorious journey

with Christ our Father and our friend.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Big Apple Digest(ed)

Click here to see the pictures!

So I had a great time in New York. I took the bus from DC straight to Penn Station where my friend Yao's girlfriend Monica picked me up. We headed to the Empire State Building for a look of New York at night. Then back to their apartment and a hello to Yao.

Saturday Monica and I tried on Marc Jacob shoes in Bloomingdales and pretended we had enough money for the furs. I don't think the sales staff believed us :) We met Yao for a walk in Central Park which was by far the best part of the day. Then Yao went back to work and Monica and I went to Union Square and The Strand - a great New York bookstore. That night we all went to Monica's friend's birthday party out in Queens. Monica is Polish and so are most of her friends. We had a great time drinking, eating, drinking, telling jokes, drinking...until 3 am. That's a party!

Sunday morning, the three of us were too lazy to do much of anything. We finally dragged ourselves out of bed to the local deli for some amazing New York bagels. Then back to the apartment for a quick nap after all that rigorous eating. Finally we managed to drag ourselves into the city (they live in Queens) for a meander down Fifth Avenue. We stopped at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, and managed to avoid a run in with the police outside of Madison Square Garden where they were trying to maintain order after a Knicks game. A fight almost broke out and it was so cool to see masses of cops swarm across the street to break it up. I wanted to hang around and watch but Monica and Yao were dragging me away. Then back onto the bus and home, home, home again I went.

The weather was cold but New York was fun and I had a great time with Monica and Yao. We've already made a list of things to do for when I come back which hopefully will be soon!

Click here to see the pictures!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Start Spreading the News...

I'm leaving today. I'm gonna be a part of it...New York, New York! So this afternoon I'm headed to New York City for the weekend. I'm visiting a friend there and I'm a little nervous. I'm not a huge fan of New York and the last time I was there, I didn't enjoy myself at all. I'm hoping to change that situation by this trip this weekend. It should be fun. I'm taking the bus from DC up to New York and my friend Jessica told me that they have great movies on this bus line! Goodie! I'll post pictures when I return.

New York or Bust!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Meditation on the Journey

Last night at my Journey small group we explored the topics of meditation and memorization as related to the Scriptures. We did a simple meditation exercise on the verse "Jesus wept." My initial reaction was to the word wept as images of weeping, heartbreak, intense pointed pain, tears, sobs, a body wracked with grief came to mind. Intense, large scale emotion. In contrast, the images of Jesus as the most compassionate, in control, strong, healthy, omnipotent God came to mind and the two words seemed incompatible at first blush.

So why did Jesus weep? He was a man and his best friend was dead. And yet Christ knew of his death and waited four days to come and still he wept? Doesn't make sense to me. Then I thought of why do people weep. For joy, for sadness, out of frustration, out of accomplishment.

Perhaps Jesus was weeping because he lost his friend. Perhaps he also wept because of the lack of faith he perceived in those that were at the scene.

Perhaps he wept in anticipation of the miracle that God the Father was going to perform in front of him. Perhaps he wept because he could see the thousands of people that would be "raised from the dead" in years to come through salvation.

Perhaps he wept at his impending death. Perhaps he wept to show respect, to join with the culture, to join in fellowship with those who were mourning.

All we know is that Jesus wept. And that is comforting.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Lent Anyone?

Today is Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent. In the Catholic faith tradition, this is the time to "fast" or give up something in preparation for Easter. This year I have decided to give up television. I hope to fill the time getting more into the Bible and spending more time in prayer and devotional activities. I also want to have more time in general and think that letting go of TV for a while will help in that way.

The only shows that I think I will miss not seeing are the Oscars, The Amazing Race, and a new show on TLC called "Little People, Big World". Tivo anyone?

Monday, February 27, 2006

What Color is Your Parachute?

I have started working through the exercises in this job assistance book/workbook. I'm hoping this will help me figure out what I want to do with my life. My dad will be proud of doing this finally since he has been on my case to do this since high school :) It has worked for him at least twice so I thought I would give it a shot. If you've never heard of it, this book has been around for ages. It really makes you think about what you want in a job, but through exercises that aren't difficult, just time consuming.

check it out at

Friday, February 24, 2006

Four Things

Four jobs you have had in your life:
1. Easter Bunny & Santa Helper at the mall
2. Cashier at a grocery store
3. Asst. Store Manager at tropical clothing store
4. college cafeteria line worker

Four movies you would watch over and over:

1. Chariots of Fire
2. Hoosiers
3. Triplets of Belleville
4. Life is Beautiful

Four places you have lived:
1. Athens, Greece
2. Annapolis, Maryland
3. Wilmore, Kentucky
4. Jacksonville, Florida

Four TV shows you love to watch
1. Made on MTV
2. Any Law & Order
3. CSI
4. Scrubs

Four places you have been on vacation:
1. Thailand
2. Switzerland
3. Morocco
4. Azores

Four websites I visit daily:
1. Hotmail
2. my work website
4. CNN

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Greek/Meditteranean
2. pasta
3. sushi
4. El Pollo Rico - Peruvian chicken place in Wheaton - YUMMY!!!

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Sleeping
2. on a beach in the Caribbean
3. in Torino for the Olympics
4. on a sailboat

You're next! Copy and paste this on your blog :)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Eagles, Chickens, and God

"Through a conversation with a friend, God reminded me of a simple but difficult truth: If I have it, he gave it to me, and if he gave it to me, I need it. On the other hand, if I don't have it, either he took it away or he never gave it to me. In either case, I don't need it." - from Dennis Bourne, The Black Sheep Diaries

I joined a new small group on Wednesday nights called Journey which is apropos to what I see 2006 being for me...a significant step in my journey and what my blog is all about. I know I've put some silly stuff on here lately as well. All part of the journey. Today I was googling and searching through websites of people in my small group and from church and ran across this blog from my friend Dennis. I first met him a year and a half ago through an acting small group and haven't really talked to him much since then, but wow, his blog is awesome. This section from his blog that I've posted above really struck me.

I get so caught up in looking around me and seeing what I don't have that I don't stop to think that God took it or didn't give it to me in the first place BECAUSE I DON'T NEED IT. Being in Washington, DC can be intimidating because of all the special and unique people that come here and live here. This taps into my insecurities in a big way and I don't feel like I quite compare and yet in other circumstances and cities, I have appeared to be the special and unique person; the eagle surrounded by chickens in a sense. God is shifting my perspective on myself and on the others. I am special and unique simply because I am His child and He has created me and given me all that makes me special and unique. I am both a chicken and an eagle, depending on the day and the circumstance. And so is everyone else around me.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Funny or Frightening?


This week I had a super low day on Monday. I literally took a mental health day from work. The thought of going into the office made me feel like I wanted to fall apart and just cry. So I stayed home and it was a good decision. On Wednesday, I tried out a new community group called "Journey" which involves exploring the four aspects of a disciple - seeker, learner, influencer, investor. After the meeting, my heart was so much lighter and I realized that the tough time I've been going through lately can be changed or lightened by focusing on building relationships and surrounding myself with Christians. And not just any old Christian, but Christians who are actively seeking and pursuing Christ. It has been a much better rest of the week.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Just for fun folks!

Check out this fun site

What a fun place to build your own burger or check out the other performances. I love this stuff.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Mazagines Are Taking Over My Mailbox!

For the past two years, I have been using some of my frequent flyer miles from airlines that I infrequently fly for magazine subscriptions. I don't have to pay for any of these magazines and its a cool way to try out a new magazine without feeling really guilty. The problem is that I order at least five magazines at once which means they all arrive in my mailbox around the same time and I end up with piles of unread magazines laying around my room.

The one good thing that has come out of this is that I have discovered I don't like some magazines that I thought I would like.

For example: Shape is really annoying. Running, Bicycling, and Scuba are cool magazines but I'm not so addicted to any of those sports to read them cover to cover. The Economist which I got to improve my economic skills and work on the left side of my brain is mind-numbingly BORING.

I'm neutral on Travel & Leisure - I don't have enough money to go to any of the places they talk about, but someday...

I have found through this experiment a couple of magazines that I really like. They are in no particular order and you may have heard of them - if not, check 'em out. I read these magazines COVER TO COVER (including most of the ads and letters to the editor). The funny thing is that I'm not interested in technology, business or politics which these top four all cover. That's a good magazine.

- for the creative geek/nerd. Love this magazine even if I don't understand some of the super technical stuff. Overall totally engaging

Fast Company
- again the creative approach to business really keeps me interested

Fortune - I'm just getting into this one, but very cool way to keep my pulse on the stockmarket and business in general.

The Week - summarizes the past weeks news stories with excerpts from all kinds of news media which keeps the coverage pretty neutral because they capture all sides of an issue. Great bathroom magazine because the articles are all really short.

One I want to get a subscription to: Discipleship Journal

Thursday, February 09, 2006

What God Says About the Big 3-0

This is my 30th year. I can't believe that I've been around for almost 30 years! Wow - that made me feel like a fossil or something and yet I have barely even begun to live. When I look back at what has happened in my life and what God has done in and through me in 30 years, I can only look forward with anticipation and excitement at the next 30. It can only get better!

Since last summer I have been praying about this year and asking God that it not be the dreaded 3-0, but rather it will be the beginning of a new chapter. Christ's ministry finally began at 30. It may have only lasted for three and a half years, but what a ministry it was. I have always been a late bloomer so I'm excited to see 30 as the start of my blooming and growing (like the Edelweiss in the song from Sound of Music).

So far however 2006 has been a challenge. I set out goals for myself which are proving difficult to achieve and I have felt more immature and scattered this year so far than I have in a really long time. I was really feeling down yesterday and flipped open my One Year Bible for the day's reading (dated July 29 - I'm a little behind from last year, but working on it - God is faithful).

Romans 12:1-12 jumped out at me and seemed to address all of the issues I've been struggling with lately.

"...I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice - the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? This reminded me that I need to take the focus off of me and put it where it belongs - on being a sacrifice acceptable to God that he may use me for his perfect work. By doing that I stop worrying about all the things I feel I lack or need to do or be in order to be successful. I am successful when I continually offer myself as a living sacrifice for the Living God.

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is. Wow, I'm not responsible for making myself a new person or by altering the way I think. I am responsible for not being like the world but being like Christ and he will do the transforming. Don't get caught up in needing the right clothes or the right job or even looking the right way to fit the world, again be pleasing to Christ, be his sacrifice.

We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others. I've been comparing myself lately to people around me that I think are better in so many different ways and feeling kind of useless and boring. How sad this is to God's heart and how useless and worthless that makes me as His child. This again reminded me that we are all unique and special children of God's that He has created for a very specific purpose and reason. The following verses say that whatever are gifts are to do them with excellence because our abilities come from God himself, the ultimate Creator.

Don't just pretend that you love others. Really love them.
I've had some challenges lately learning to love and accept some people in my life that I should love, but I just don't "get". This is a huge prayer for me that I not only learn to love them because I should, but that I love them because they are awesome and they are God's child and they deserve love as much as I do. There is no judgement, but rather a call to community for those who love Christ. I cannot love Christ and pretend to love them.

God is good!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Fortune Cookies Can Be Pretty Accurate

"He who waits to do a great deal of good at once, will never do anything."

This really spoke to me because I tend to do a lot of research etc. before making a decision about anything. I especially seem to hesitate at times when wanting to volunteer or get involved with something, feeling like I need to be totally committed or passionate before taking that first step or even really prepared. I know that God does not just call the equipped, but He equips the called. I need to remind myself of this many times. Life doesn't happen in big steps but rather small ones. Stepping out in faith is the only way to find yourself passionate and committed to something.

Monday, January 23, 2006


On Saturday, I went on my first ever silent retreat. It was from 9-3 and we were completely silent the entire time, even during lunch. It was a pretty cool experience. I'll post more on this later. But just wanted to get something new up :)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

How much is that doggie in the window?

That question (or a variation on that question) is one I'm asking myself today. How much is that doggie in the window? Not just how much for the initial purchase, but how much in vet bills is that doggie in the window going to cost me? This morning I took my dear boy Paddy to the vet because he was off balance and kept veering to the left and having a very difficult time standing up or walking normally. This was of concern to me because it happened so suddenly (last night as I was going to bed) and didn't go away by this morning.

So to the vet he went, and they gave me a diagnosis...vestibular disease which basically is a disease of the peripheral nerve in a dog that affects their balance. There are several potential causes, but mainly it is of an unknown origin and there is no cure. It could take one day to several weeks for him to recover. But in the meantime to rule out a brain lesion, lung problems, or cancer that may be associated with this my dog is having a chest x-ray and bloodwork done which according to the web seems to be the standard procedure for this.

Of course this is not cheap, but at what point do you not pay for something for an animal, a friend, a companion that you have had for years. I don't consider myself one of those nutty dog people. I'm actually not a real fan of other people's dogs, but do love and adore my furry baby as my friends know. Any thoughts from out there?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Check out this Movie "End of The Spear"

"End of the Spear" is the story of Mincayani, a Waodani tribesman from the jungles of Ecuador. When five young missionaries, among them Jim Elliot and Nate Saint, are speared to death by the Waodani in 1956, a series of events unfold to change the lives of not only the slain missionaries' families, but also Mincayani and his people.

OPENS January 20, 2006

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Fellow Traveler On This Road...

This is from my friend Leena who headed to South Africa in August 2005 with the Peace Corps. I am thrilled to see how God is using her in this incredible land both as a Christian and an American to create connections and form bonds that will last forever. Please think of her in your prayers. I know God is doing a mighty work in and through her.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE.” Isaiah 9:6

Dearest family and friends,

Christmas greetings from Mtubatuba! I pray this letter finds you in festive spirits as you prepare to celebrate the Christmas holiday with family and friends. Hopefully your Christmas shopping was finished early, and you don’t have to make any frantic last minute purchases. (I must admit that I don’t miss American shopping malls!)

It is hard to believe that 4 months have passed since I first set foot on South African soil. The months have been filled with many adventures – some exhilarating, others challenging – but in everything I have certainly felt the hand of God guiding my every step. Thanks to technology, the distance from home seems significantly less as I am able to correspond with family and friends fairly regularly through letters and emails. (my family is even able to call me once a week with a calling card with amazingly low rates) That said, at this time of the year, when families are gathering together to celebrate Christmas and ring in the new year, there are moments when my heart aches to be home. Thankfully, life in a new culture and environment offers many distractions away from lingering too long on my homesickness.

Since my last email, I have settled in a bit more into life here in rural Somkhele. (10k outside of Mtuba) My host family, the Thabede’s have not grown tired of me yet (at least I don’t think so!), and have graciously accepted me as a new member of their ginormous family. Last Thursday, 9 members of the family and myself traveled to Durban on my host brother Mondli’s truck to spend the day at Shaka (Shark) Marine World. (somewhat like Seaworld) When I went to pay for my ticket, Mama Thabede refused, saying that she was taking her family out for a holiday, and wasn’t I one of her children?

While I am no where near to being proficient in Zulu, it has been extremely helpful to live in a home with small children who tend to be the most eager instructors. My best instructor is 2 year old Far whose simple command like vocabulary is help me learn my verbs. “Aunty Leena woza!” (come) “Aunty Leena hlala phanzi!” (sit) “Aunty Leena thatha!” (take) She also likes to stand outside my bedroom window and yell, “Aunty Leena vula!” (open) When I open the window I respond with “Ngibona Far!” (I see Far!) Then she yells “Aunty Leena vala!” (close) And we repeat this over and over again until I am able to convince her that we need to stop. (for my sanity!)

Through trial and error I am finally able to lift my 20 litre bucket of water onto my head and carry it from the community tap (200 metres from the house) to my room. This has been a source of frustration and embarrassment for me, particularly considering that children far younger than me are able to perform this task with perfection and ease. I have provided the family (and community) with a few laughs as they have been eager spectators in my struggle to perfect this skill. I’ll spare you the details, but let me just say that one incident involved me shattering my first 20 litre bucket. (don’t ask!) Another incident involved my inability to properly push a wheelbarrow carrying two buckets of water, which then led to the water in the buckets spilling onto the dirt path, which then led to the dirt path becoming muddy, which then led to me falling flat on my face in the mud! (which then led to the neighbor lady asking me, “Don’t you have wheelbarrows in America?!!)

Work at the Africa Centre is going well thus far. As was expected, the first couple months have been a bit slow as I am trying to gain a better perspective of the organization and determine where I can best offer support. I have been meeting individually with the HIV counselors at their community centers, and have found that most of them are bored and feel under-utilized, as they only average 5-10 clients per week, leaving them with quite a bit of idle time. All of the counselors have other skills that could be of extreme benefit to the communities they work in – one is an amazing artist, another a musician, another an ex-pro soccer player – all skills that I hope can be utilized to launch support groups and classes for the community members. (to change perceptions that the counseling center is only a place to find out ones HIV status – a perception which may deter some from coming to the centers as they many not want the community members to know) In the coming months I hope to also begin assisting small local organizations that are delivering services to the communities impacted by HIV/AIDS. I have already begun to attend a support group for HIV positive people and AIDS orphans that is run by a British couple at the church I attend, and I hope to assist them more in structuring their programs and securing additional funding.

On November 25, I was able to organize a small group of people from the Africa Centre and my community to take part in a 10K run at the local government hospital. Three girls from the neighborhood (who are my off and on jogging partners), my two 18 year old twin host brothers, 3 counselors, three others from the Centre and myself took part in the 6AM run. The 45 minute drive to the hospital was beautiful, as we had to pass through the Game Reserve (I’ve been there three times already), and was able to see giraffes, wild dogs, impalas, baboons and other animals along the way. The run was along the dirt paths of the community surrounding the hospital – beautiful and scenic, but too hilly!! Some of the Africa Centre staff have expressed interest in organizing a 10K run in Somkhele sometime next year.

Regarding church, I’ve found one! I am attending Grace Community Church (part of New Frontiers) in Mtuba. I was hoping to find a church that was mixed racially, which is nearly impossible here. While GCC is predominantly white (pastor is Afrikaner) there are a few Indian and Zulu families as well. In addition, the church is reaching out to the community through programs such as the HIV support group mentioned earlier. While the church is far from perfect, and I’ve had frustrating moments of dealing with racial tension and ignorance of certain church members, for the most part the church appears to be striving towards bridging the gap between the races. My 9 year old hold niece, Nandile, introduced me to the church – she attends the school that the church runs – and she accompanies me to church every Sunday.

An Indian family at the church (the Stephens) have insisted that I join their Bible Study on Weds nights. The majority of the people who attend the study are Indians, and it has been interesting to learn more about the South African Indian culture and how it differs from my own American (East) Indian culture, as most of their families have been in South Africa for 4-5 generations. An added bonus to this new found relationship is that Aunty Stephen is a caterer and so I am able to enjoy good Indian food. (of course, not even close to being as good as Mom’s cooking, but enough to satisfy my craving for curry)

Socially I have struggled to balance time between two different worlds in which different people in my life live. My role as a Peace Corps volunteer is to serve and integrate into the rural Zulu community in which I live and work. However, I cannot ignore the other “worlds” that coexist in the small area of Mtuba. At work, while the majority of my time is spent in the Zulu community with the Zulu staff of the Africa Centre, there are fellow Americans (albeit much smarter, Harvard grad types) in the office whom I am naturally inclined to want to spend time with. The Indian in me is naturally inclined to want to spend time with the Stephens and other Indian families, to enjoy their fellowship and good Indian food. However, each time I retreat to what is familiar and comfortable to me, I return to my life in rural Somkhele feeling a bit guilty that somehow I betrayed my purpose for being here. I’ve come to the conclusion, however, that I am in a unique position to bridge the gap between many worlds that exist in Mtuba. (at least for a handful of lives) For example, though they live just 10km away, the Stephen family have never once ventured out to Somkhele, due to their unwarranted fear of crime. (and misconceptions and stereotypes of the Zulu people) I was hurt on many occasions that the Stephens were so willing to accept me as part of their family and yet reject a part of who I am in Mtuba by never expressing a desire to see where I live and meet my host family, the Thabedes. That changed a couple weeks ago when I asked them to visit me in Somkhele – for the first time in 25 years the Stephens braved their way to rural Zululand and discovered it wasn’t as scary as they thought!

Another example was last weekend when I took two fellow foreigners from church (one American and the other from the UK) on their first “Zulu culture excursion.” Both have come to South Africa to teach at the church’s school, and are staying with an Afrikaner family in town in a home larger than their own homes abroad. They were expressing their envy of my rural Zulu life and so I suggested they join me for a birthday party in the township and sleepover at my home. With much hesitation, the Afrikaner family whom they stay with agreed to let them go (after all, they are adults who don’t really need permission), but made it clear that they were not responsible if anything happened. (I nearly laughed out loud when I saw the families expression when we said we were going to take PUBLIC TRANSPORT to the TOWNSHIP…one of the few times I was made to feel like a bad influence!) The girls had an absolute blast, and my Zulu friend was ecstatic to have three foreigners (particularly TWO WHITES!) at her party. The girls were excited to return to their Afrikaner host family the next day in one piece, proving to them that taking public transport is not suicide nor are all Zulu people cold-blooded criminals. In fact, they found the opposite to be true of every Zulu they met that night – extremely kind hearted, generous and loving.

Anyway, those are a few ramblings of the past couple months of my life in South Africa. I am heading to Durban this afternoon, and will be traveling by Greyhound to Ladysmith (near the Drakensburgs) on Friday to meet up with other Peace Corps volunteers for Christmas. I am looking forward to seeing the others, but it will be strange to spend my first Christmas apart from all my family. This will also be my first Christmas spent with friends whose faith differ from my own. We make up an interesting hodge podge of beliefs – one protestant, two non-practicing Catholics, two Muslims, a non-practicing Jew, an atheist and two agnostics. (oh and a semi-Buddhist) Hopefully this holiday will provide us all with an opportunity to share a bit of our faith with each other. I will be staying in Ladysmith through next week to help out at a camp for AIDS orphans that is being run by two fellow volunteers.

Let me conclude this long letter with heartfelt wishes for a merry Christmas and a joyous new year. In the midst of the holiday rush, may we be mindful of the amazing gift that God gave us more than 2000 years ago. The “WONDERFUL COUNSELOR…THE MIGHTY GOD…THE EVERLASTING FATHER…THE PRINCE OF PEACE..” choosing to be born in a lowly stable (the most humblest of human existences) in order to grow into a sinless man willing to die for the sins of mankind. May God richly bless you!