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For those that have been reading my posts since I first left August 28th, I made it back home. I want to thank everyone who was praying for safe travels.  It was a long journey, 25 hours of traveling to be exact. My whole family was waiting for me at the airport to welcome me back into the US, including my dog who gave me a million kisses.

I am filled with mixed emotions. I am sad to leave Granada and I have caught myself crying a couple times when talking about Granada, specifically my host mom. I am also excited to be back with my whole family. It has been a while since all 4 of us have been under the same roof.

There are so many things I miss. My walk to school every morning, my host mom, the friends in my program, the language, and the food.

But there were so many things in the U.S. that I had missed and was excited to come home too. My family. Starbucks. Chipotle. CPC. mexican food. Friends. My mom’s cooking.

The Essentials

I am not a light packer. I love to use every last space that is available in my bag, whether I need the extra item or not. Packing for Europe came as a challenge for me, but one that I was prepared to take. Over the years I have collected a huge wardrobe, a massive number of accessories (scarves and necklaces primarily :)) I was excited to pack light as it is a way for me to live on less, and truly experience happiness and joy in life, rather than possessions. It feels freeing. So I packed my 1 bag, 1 carry on and 1 backpack this morning, and I still have room! I think the real help was that I only brought 3 scarves and 4 necklaces.

Despite living on less this semester, I made a list of the essentials that were on my list that had to come along in my bag.

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1. Rubbish Boyfriend Shirt from Nordstrom BP. A very comfy shirt for traveling.

2. HydroFlask Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle. The best Christmas present from my sister. Made just a couple miles away from her school in Bend Oregon. The perfect container for ice cold water or a steaming cup of joe. This bottle doesn’t sweat and keeps beverages cold and hot for up to 12 hours.

3. Nikon D3200. My birthday present to myself this year and the device that will capture countless memories and sites during my adventure.

4. Deuter Act Lite 60 +10 SL Pack Women’s. Luggage that you can wear on your back. Skip the wheels and carry it. This pack has been a lifesaver on countless trips

5. Journal. Over the years, I have still yet to find the perfect journal. Sometimes I like lines and sometimes I want blank pages. But regardless a journal is a must for me to document my adventure and a place to keep my museum and train passes.

6. Raw Almonds from Trader Joes. My favorite grocery store and the perfect snack while traveling. Just a quick pick me up of protein until the next meal.

7. The Northface Surge Day Pack. The perfect day pack to fit my camera and lunch. Not to mention a special compartment for my laptop.

8. Grey Maxi Skirt from H&M. A gift from my dear friend Sunee and the perfect, lightweight skirt that goes with anything. Dress it up or down, this skirt will make a regular appearance on the streets in Europe.

9. Black Toms. As a shopper, I don’t normally by for practicality but for this trip I had to buy and pack with practicality in mind. My new black Toms will go with anything and everything plus are very comfortable to walk in.

Studying Abroad is like Freshman Year

My bags aren’t packed yet and I have a never ending to do list, but I leave for Europe in almost 48 hours. I have been waiting for this day for so long, yet somehow it just snuck up on me.

Between spending my summer with family and friends, golfing, and working I haven’t had much time to process the fact that I am leaving home, family, friends, California, and my country for four months. As Spain is finally approaching I have a whirlwind of emotions. I am excited. Excited to meet new people, travel, getting lost in a new world, live in Spain, learn Spanish, and experience new food and culture. But I am also scared. Scared to meet new people, scared of getting lost, getting stolen from, missing home, and fail with learning a new language.

Even as a junior, this chapter makes me feel like a freshman again. I am going to a new place, meeting new people and experiencing something completely different than I have before. As a freshman I was so excited to head to Central College but I was also scared. It’s weird to go through this same experience again but there is also something so refreshing about going somewhere new.

Freshman year was a very humbling experience for me and drew me so much closer to God. He was my ONE constant when everything else was new and different. My prayer as I embark on this new trip is that I would journey with Christ this semester. This is his journey, not my I am delighted to get to journey with Him in a new land.

Life with a Capital L

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A trip to the farmer’s market can always lift up my mood. My taste buds go crazy as I try a ripe peach. The vibrant colors of the heirloom tomatoes widen my eyes. The smell of the fresh basil makes my nose deviate from the path ahead. The commotion of people around brings a ring to my ears. Lastly, the touch of the warm, soft bread makes my mouth drool. There is something so life giving about a farmer’s market because it is a place where all 5 senses are engaged in such a joyous way.

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This past weekend my family came along with me to the farmer’s market at the ferry building in San Francisco. There was something so raw and authentic about sharing my joy with the people I love most. Grocery shopping with my family was so much fun. We would stop to taste, smell, and look. Oh and I can’t forget about standing in the long line for our Blue Bottle Coffee (my dad is now obsessed) . It wasn’t the chaos grocery shopping we fall so easily in, where we rush in to pick our three or fifty items and get out as fast as we can. This experience wasn’t rushed. We were focused on utilizing our taste buds and just having fun with the raw food God created and intended for us.

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To say that our fun ended as we piled into the car with bags of fresh produce would be an understatement. My mom, sister, and I spent the rest of the day cooking what we had just bought. We madeKale Chips and Fresh Heirloom Tomato & Squash Pasta and ate lots of bread.

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I think the reason I love cooking so much is because I love to take raw ingredients and mix them together to create something completely new that could not be made without the help of each other. I think that this can be a metaphor for our Life. When we allow Christ to take our raw self and allow Him into are life, we are made new. This kind of living creates Life with a capital L.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Rest and Joy in one weekend

This summer has felt like go go go. Between working 40 hours a week, and trying to squeeze every free minute I have catching up with family and friends back home I am utterly exhausted. I decided that this weekend would be different, a time of rest for my soul. The great thing is I didn’t just sit on the couch being lazy all weekend. All I did was fill my weekend with some rest, a lot of ME time, doing things I absolutely love and spending time with some great friends.

This weekend was filled with some of my favorite things: John Mayer. Phillip Phillips. Friendships. Picnics. Breakfast cookies. French Press coffee. Hiking. Baking. Rest. Reading. Proverbs. Incredible Views. Saturday Evening Service. Brunch at La Boulange. Shauna Niquiest. Anthropologie coffee mug. Chocolate. Joy. Rest. Christ.

On Friday I went to the Phillip Phillips and John Mayer concert. I filled this time by getting closer and cuddling with some recent friends (I still can’t believe that these girls are so similar to me just graduated from my rival high school, but God let our paths cross each other), eating a great picnic that we packed, and just watching the stars while listening to some great music.  John Mayer

Although I had a late night out, it was such a chill night that I felt utterly relaxed after a long week.

Despite my late night, I woke up early (well early for a Saturday morning) with a smile on my face. I knew it was going to be a good day and I woke up in a mood ready to BAKE! Everyone in my house was gone for the day so it was just me, the dogs and a quiet house. It was glorious. I started off my morning sipping my French press coffee out of the beautiful mug my best friend gave me from my favorite store, Anthropologie and I just started baking. I made a beautiful breakfast, completely gluten free thanks to my amazing recipe in Bread & Wine by Shauna Niquiest.

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As I sipped my coffee and ate my warm breakfast cookies, I had some quality me time and caught up on some ongoing projects. It was relaxing and accomplishing at the same time.

Later in the afternoon, two wonderful friends stopped by for lunch and more BAKING! We made a beautiful chicken, pear and walnut spinach salad complete with homemade dressing (That was a first for us all) followed by some homemade pretzels. We had some fun, we made a mess, got creative (cream cheese filling cinnamon pretzels), laughed, and cleaned up our huge mess.

The next morning, I woke up early again and went on a 6 mile hike with my best friend. We talked, huffed and puffed our way up the hill, debated turning back, but most importantly made it to the top of the “bench hike”  just in time to watch the fog roll away and see a stunning view. We made our way back in time for breakfast at La Boulange by 10am to study Proverbs together. I am literally falling in love with God’s scripture this summer as I am reading Proverbs with Kirsten. Afterwards Kirsten asked me to give her a tour of Trader Joes because she wants to start shopping there this school year. I literally don’t think she realized how happy she made me with that question. I was so excited to show her the food I eat and how I cook certain things . I don’t know why but the preparation of food gives me so much joy from raw ingredients to a beautiful dish to the unique taste.

This week was so relaxing and it just gave me a burst of energy to start my week off right. After the restful weekend I had I was able to get all my chores done in a JOYFUL mood and even more. I was actually helpful around the house, my car got vacuumed and washed. But most importantly I feel restful as I start a new week.

God created rest and it is such a beautiful thing. He didn’t create us to go go go. There is a reason why we Sabbath and it is a beautiful thing when we can stop and actually spend time with God and ourselves and just appreciate the life He created.

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and

trust is your strength…” Isaiah 20:15

 

Abide in Christ

So this blog post is long over due, but the meaning behind these words are so meaningful to me that I couldn’t not post this.

So I have been obsessed with the word abide for over a year now everything from the sound of the word off someone’s lips to the definition gives me joy. You can find me sitting in class writing the word abide on my wrist as I pretend its tattooed on me.

This summer I had the opportunity to be a boat leader for the annual houseboats summer trip my church puts on for high schools. As I learned more about this trip I found out the theme was “ke aloha” which means Beloved in Hawaiian. I later learned that the speaker was basing his message on the word ABIDE. That’s right he wasn’t just going to talk about abide for one night but his five messages that he would be giving were all focused on the single word based from the scripture in John chapter 15. I was stoked!!!

The word abide is such a rich word. It comes from the greek word meno which means to spend time in. The definition is to spend time with, walk with, marinate in, attach to, walk with, listen to, dwell in, and journey with.

This definition shows me that it takes time and devotion to abide in Christ. But I still had an unanswered question: How do we abide in Christ?

Tyler Scott, the speaker broke it down in such a practical way that will stick with me forever. He broke it down by dissecting each letter of the word.

Attach yourself to Jesus. Jesus will always be the right thing to attach to and abide in. Through Him we will bear fruit. With this, we must first detach ourselves from the things that hurt us and grab on to Jesus.

Bring your Burdens. Burdens are BIG, RELEVANT, and REAL. We all have burdens. Now you may be thinking what do we do with our burdens and how is this relevant to abiding.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Bringing our burdens is an important step to abiding in Christ. Giving our burdens to Christ is not easy and is not a one time deal. We have to give them continually. But through praying about it, reading what God has to say about our burdens, and sharing them in the midst of community (sharing each other’s burdens) we can begin to Abide in Christ

Invest your Time. This step is a key to growth. As humans, our deepest desire is to find a love that will last. It gives me hope to know that God loves me with an everlasting love. The key to abiding in Christ is to build a relationship. All relationships take time. But is promising to know that time with Jesus is NEVER wasted time. Relationships also take trust. Trust is earned through truth and time spent with each other (Trust = Truth + Time). A relationship with Jesus takes trust, but through spending TIME with Him, who is TRUTH, one can begin to trust HIM. I am bad at this and can be working on this more, but the #1 habit is to spend time in God’s word and to use that time to learn all about Him, find wisdom with all of my decisions, and learn to trust HIM.

Decide to Follow. Tyler brought up an interesting point that I never fully realized. NOW affects LATER. The choices and decisions I make to today will affect later. It is important to make wise decisions. The framework that I want to live by when making a decision is to ask myself: is this wise based on my past experiences, present realities, and future hopes & dreams? Making the decision to follow Christ is one of the biggest and wisest choices one can make. As a Christian I want to continue to make wise choices. In proverbs, wisdom is the person of Jesus. So by following and abiding in Christ I will be pursuing the wise choice.

Enjoy life with Christ. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11 Now you may be asking yourself like I did when I read this verse, How do you get that kind of joy. Well the first way is by plugging in through reading God’s word, going to youth group and church, and just talking to others about what God is doing in your life. The other way is by partnering up. In proverbs it talks about how two are better than one and it is important to have someone alongside of you, holding you accountable as you are fighting back Satan and trying to pursue Christ. It is also important to know that God is filled with overwhelming grace and that when we wander He will still have his arms open for us.

I just love how we unfolded what it means to Abide in Christ by breaking it down by each letter.

It is no suprise to me that the single word abide can give me so much joy because when I am truly abiding in Christ I am filled with joy.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

-John 15:1-11

Patience

This semester has flown by so far, but in many ways I was utterly exhausted last week. I thought about going on a mission trip, there were endless opportunities to go on an adventure, a new state. But as I sat in the front seat of Mariah’s car on the way to the airport, I took a sigh of relief that I chose to go home instead of a mission trip. I was excited. I was going home and would be bringing two friends along. I could not wait to show them my world and be a host to them as they have been such great hosts to me and welcomed me into their families. I found my seat on the airplane and took out my book. I took a sigh of relief that I had finished my tests and had no homework for the week. I took out a book by Nicholas Sparks excited to spend the next few hours absorbed in a hopelessly romantic novel. As we landed in Denver I took a sigh of huge relief that we chose to take the 6am flight as the snow was coming in and if we were leaving an hour later we would have been delayed by the snow. I sat on the last seat in the plane, just my luck, but my wonderful roommate was in the seat next to me. I spent the next hour laughing with her and basked in our excitement and our plans the week. We landed I smiled excited to see my family and be back in warm weather.

The week was filled with laughter, bonding, San Francisco, road trips, singing (more like screeching), Monterey, beaches, warm weather, beauty, friendships( both reuniting with old friends, meeting new friends, and bonding with my two wonderful college friends), cupcakes, Aquarium, Full House, Bachelor finale party, Bocce Ball, hot tubbing, flirting, delicious and healthy food (well, for the most part), Settlers, Naps!, devotions on Mt. Diablo (ironic, I know), Sideboard hot chocolate, Napa Valley, coffeeshops, Bundtinis, chipotle, hiking, Gracie, sleeping, decisions, clarity, and PATIENCE!

The Lord has blessed me in many ways. He has given me a heart that yearns to take every opportunity that is given to me, to take risks, and to do something that will make a difference in other’s lives. This upcoming summer has been a struggle for me because I feel like my heart and body is pulled in so many directions: Seattle, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Pella and the list goes on. I just need to make a decision. I hate decisions, not because it means saying yes to something but means I have to say no to everything else.

The past few days before I left for spring break were rough for me. I had interviewed for a summer internship with a non-profit organization that I have dreamed about for the past year. They told me that I would hear about a second interview around March 1st. March 1st passed, than the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so on. I knew I needed to be patient but all I wanted to know was whether I would be getting a 2nd interview. As I approached spring break, that worry faded I began to find rest in the time at home. While I was having some devotion time on top of Mount Diablo (ironic I know) and reminded the Lord (and myself) that this summer was not mine, but His. I told him that I knew that wherever I would be this summer I knew that it would glorify Him and that I didn’t want to worry about summer plans. The next thing I knew was that I needed to send an email to World Vision. I reminded them how interested I was in their job and that interning for World Vision was my first choice, so I needed to know soon so I would know if I needed to plan other arrangements for the summer. Monday afternoon came and I had an email from World Vision. I was so scared I made Mariah read it. I was asked for a time that would work best for me to interview with a manager from the creative solutions department, an internal ad agency. A dream come true for me.

Last Thursday, I had my 2nd interview with the manager. It went well in so many ways, and this dream began to feel more like a reality. This week, I found myself checking my email by the hour waiting for an email for World Vision. But each time I checked my email I was reminded of the word PATIENCE. I know that the Lordis trying to teach me something in this. It is frustrating sometimes I don’t want to bepatient, but I know that I need to learn this lesson. With that I decided that I need to practice patience and truly give thisinternship to the Lord. I have decided I need to use self-control and live in the moment instead of checking my inbox on the hour for a message from World Vision.ImageImageImageImage

This is (kind of) Like That

Life is (kind of) like a drive down Pacific Coast Highway. Life is exploring what is going on. It is meant to be a journey not just about the end result or landing on a calling. When driving from Northern California to Southern California there are two different routes: down Highway 5 or down Highway 101. Highway 5 is a direct route through Central California but in many ways is very straight with miles of orchards and crops.  It can be a boring drive but is direct when you need to get from point A to point B. Then there is Highway 101 that takes you down the coast. It is a beautiful view filled with many places to stop and just take in the beauty. This drive would be the ideal time to have a convertible with the top down and just a great playlist. Although the drive is two hours longer, the drive is half the fun as getting to the destination. If the driver blew a tire going down Highway 5 they would probably become annoyed and irritated. They are worried about getting to their final destination and does not want a small detour to get in the way. While if the driver going down Pacific Coast Highway blew a tire, although they may be irritated by the new hassle keeping them from the drive. They would use this detour as an excuse to go to a new restaurant for lunch or find a hidden spot that is unknown to tourists. Just like a drive to Southern California, in life there will be mess ups and detours along the way. Following Jesus was never called easy. There will be fatigue, oppression, and even desire to just to turn around and walk away. But like a drive down Pacific Coast Highway, in life I should not place too much stress on a destination and forget about the journey along the way.  I too easily can be like the person driving down Highway 5 that is worried about just finding my calling or focusing on the end results, but I should be like the person driving down Highway 101 that is enjoying the drive along the way as much as the final destination.
Church planting is (kind of) like Marketing.  I have been learning that God has placed my love for business and passion in studying marketing to glorify Him. I have learned that with these gifts I can minister to people in the secular world during work hours. Despite where God calls me to full-time ministry or working for a large corporation, I know that I will be serving at my church whether on payroll or as a volunteer. Ministry is just as important to me as a full-time pastor at my church.  I enjoyed when Marty went through the steps it takes to start a church planting movement. IT got me pumped because I realized that the steps to plant a church is very similar to a marketing plan, which makes sense because essentially a church is marketing Jesus to others. In a marketing plan you have to start with a mission statement, and for a church they focus on their core values to make a mission statement. The next step is to create a vision for the church, which is essentially similar to the objectives that a business would have to grow their business. While a businesses objective is always about long-term growth and profits. A church’s vision would include long-term goals to address the needs and become a lasting place for people to grow.  The next step is to create strategies and systems to implement the vision. For a business they call this the marketing strategy. This has two parts: target marketing strategy and marketing mix. Just like for a business picks a target group to sell their product to, the church needs to pick a target group. Although a church is for ALL people, a church may find a need for people who never grew up in the church or people who have a negative connotation of church. Also a church could focus on an excellent children’s program because of the need for a safe environment for children to come to each week. Next comes the marketing mix, or in marketing we call it the 4Ps: price, promotion, place, and product.  Although, this does not relate in many ways to a church it does at the same time. Now the details must come to get this church plant from an idea to reality. You must pick a name, find a pastor, pick a location and building, and how to promote this church to the community, maybe an Easter Bunny like Marty does or through serving throughout the community.
 Through this process I got so energized and pumped. I realized that God may have called me to a marketing major and given me these specific gifts and passions so that one day I can plant a church or help in the process that it takes to plant a church. This week has showed me new ways that I can serve Christ and follow His call to bring His name to the ends of the Earth in ways than I never imagined myself to be a part of.

A Time For New Beginnings

Today is day 30 of my 40 days of preparation. As I have not posted how I have been preparing, I have been in meditation, reflection, and preparation for the new school year. August is a time for new beginnings. Today, I focused on new beginnings and goals for the coming year. My fear is that I will become too busy. I may be busy with good things, but I have learned that sometimes the devil uses the good things to block me from the BEST things. I am worried that my busyness will keep me from resting in Christ. I may be His witness and servant, but I am also His daughter and need to spend time with just Him. These two quotes were a real help to me as I became anxious and fearful of the new year, and I hope that they may help others.

Action without reflection can easily become barren and even bitter. Without the space for self examination and the capacity for rejuvenation, the danger of exhaustion and despair is too great. Contemplation confronts us with the questions of our identity and power. Who are we? To whom do we belong? Is there a power that is greater than ours? How can we know it? Our drivenness must give way to peacefulness, and our anxiety to joy. So concerned with effectiveness, we learn instead to be content with faithfulness. Strategy grows into trust, success into obedience, planning into prayer.
Jim Wallis in the Soul of Politics page 200

Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you; I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures. I wish no more that this , O Lord, into your hands I commend my soul; I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into you hands, without reserve, and with boundless confidence. -Charles de Foucauld