Traveled to Ireland

A few months ago my brother called me to let me know he’d be in the state, and we tried to meet up (though it didn’t work out). He was going to be visiting his girlfriend, Cristina. The week he called me though, she was getting ready to visit Ireland. I took the opportunity to ask if he could ask her to get me some sort of keychain or something with “Erin” written on it.

For those of you who do not know…Erin.. is a poetic name for the country of Ireland (technically the Republic of Ireland). Often this can be heard in the phrase, “Erin go Bragh” this means “Ireland forever.” So…I’ve always wanted to go there…I figured they think I was pretty cool…and I could find my name in some pretty Gaelic calligraphy.
Cristina had another friend “Erin” so she already understood the name thing and said she’d try. A few weeks ago my brother sent it to me and this is what I got when I opened the package: she had found a pretty neat keychain that has an actual tiny clover inside it, and family crest pins for my maiden and married name. I adore these! I can’t wait to find some way to display these in the apartment, maybe with an Irish flag.
When I travel around (which I’d love to travel to Ireland, throughout Europe, Egypt, Australia, and Israel among others) I love to collect different momentos including: wall hangings, figurines, clothing, jewelry, purses, and coins. Currently these are mostly spread throughout the living room. Whenever I have a house, I think I’d like to theme each room a different country or region. But for now here are some of my decorations:

Haunted a Live Performance of Phantom of the Opera

Ever since my school announced and finished construction on its new theatre, and the first production season in that theatre, I’ve been counting down the days to see the final performance: Phantom of the Opera. We are actually one of the first colleges to be able to get the rights to do this performance…I guess the rights become available after a show has spent a certain amount of time on Broadway. While in college my girl friends and I always “talked” about seeing shows here, but never did it. So we themed the night “little black dress night.”

Dinner..they were out of crab legs :0(
Strawberry Smoothies
The  only picture from the show…since its copyrighted.

The performance was amazing! *Warning* If you haven’t seen the show yet, please wait to read this. The show opened to an auction, exactly like the movie in 2004.  It seems slow, then the auctioneer says, “Let’s see if we can’t scare these ghosts away” Then, they raise the chandelier over the audience in tandem with the amazing overture music. It was an incredible hair raising moment–to be part of the show in that manner.

The characters acted their parts perfectly! My favorites included Carlotta, and Meg. Much of the show is very similar to the recent movie, but also included other smaller scenes and songs that helps to explain the overall story and plot better.

My favorite scene was when Christine and the Phantom entered through the mirror and traveled through the bowels of the Opera House. I was wondering how they would do this scene. There was smoke, and some sort of motor powered boat that they traveled around in on stage. Once they arrived to the Phantom’s lair there were actors dressed in black costumes holding lights, in essence being the candelabras. They danced around Christine, and were even hanging from the ceiling. This led to a funny moment when one of them was unable to balance his body weight; he got quite a bit of blood rushing to the brain.

Other creative uses of the stage included: the Phantom taunting the audience and characters from the catwalks, the viscount and new managers of the Opera were sitting in box suites set on the edges of the stage, and using the depth/backstage area of the stage to create the labyrinth of the Opera’s backstage area.

Overall, it was an amazing experience! I love the story and music from Phantom, and watching it live was perfect. The cast was able to surpass the expectations of the audience for such a well-known production.

Pretty sparkly shoes that I’ve had since Prom in High School. The husband saw that and said, “You can still wear your shoes from High School?” To which I replied, “Yes, I can wear my shoes from High School, and you can wear your jeans from High School…this shows the difference in our growth patterns” lol.

Exhibited Gracefulness

When I was a kid, I often used to bounce around the living room pretending to be a ballerina performing to the soundtrack from the Lion King, or attempting twirls on the wooden plank dividers on the playground. These stunts usually resulted in landing on the side of my foot, bruising my ankle.

I am still that clutzy young girl who has slidden down the stairs head first on more than one occasion. (This has caused a severe fear of walking down high/long flights of stairs. This is often why  avoid high heeled shoes, considering that I can trip over “thick” air in tennis shoes).

The true disappointment is the lack of grace and composure in my personality. I desire to be that woman who’s gentle and peaceful spirit is evident in her outward appearance. I want to be the dainty hostess who is kind to ask questions of others, instead of yammering about herself. I want to be the woman who guards her emotions instead of being subject to them. I want to be secure in my identity as a woman in Christ, that I do not have to be anything else: competitive, perfect, witty, funny, or feisty.

To be fair, I’m not sure how much of that is an imagined persona considering I’m not sure I’ve met anyone who completely embodies those traits. My encouragement is found in Philippians 1:6. The promise that Christ will finish what He began in my life. Of course, the trick is getting caught up in His plan for my life, and not my own.

Maybe the best description is that I want to radiate as a grace filled woman; to reflect God’s love from His acts of redemption and forgiveness.

And yet, He graciously uses us in our imperfections!

2 Corinthians 4:7  But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us

I am the clay–He is the Potter.

How it works is that the wheel must spin the clay as the Potter molds it, such is our experience in life. We must continue, as He invisibly molds all of our aspects into a clay pot that will most show His glory, not our own.

POST EDIT: Literally moments after writing this post, I began research for a paper I have to write this weekend. I read the words in John Piper’s Sex and the Supremacy of Christ:

“A gentle and quiet spirit is not a personality type. A simple definition for a gentle and quiet spirit is a steadfast peace because of a steadfast trust in God” (Piper, 2005, p.205).

Oh, God makes me laugh in His irony!

Reflected on Palm Sunday

Being a Baptist located in the southern half of the country (yes sweet tea is my blood type) Palm Sunday may have been a special day at church, but it is not a special day within the community. According to the Pastor on Sunday, in the North East, Palm Sunday means that many businesses will shut down, and he was surprised when he relocated that this was not the case in the Bible Belt.

Personally, Palm Sunday was educational, often accompanied with a drama presentation, maybe some giant leaf fronds, or singing, most often it was gearing up for Easter itself. However, during the Pastor’s message the overriding principles of Palm Sunday struck me.

You’ve probably heard the story tons of times: Jesus is in the town, He rides a donkey, the people throw their coats down on the road, they wave palm fronds, and shout “Hosanna.” (Of course only to have their opinions about him change within the next few days). They thought their foretold King was coming, and they did get that part right. The problem is, that they imagined Jesus and His purpose to fit their plans. They had false expectations. It is true that Jesus came to save the people, but instead, to save them from their sins, not to (immediately) save them from the oppression of Rome. They expected a conquering King who would lead them to victory, and Jesus instead showed him a compassionate lamb who  would go wordlessly to the slaughter. (And trust me, Jesus is not the “love only type”…He can bring it better than Yoda in Episodes 2 and 3. Jesus is all loving, but in and through His love, He is perfectly righteous and just, which requires the punishment of sin)..

It makes me reflect on how much I struggle day to day with false expectations of Jesus, how He promised my life would be, how I plan/think my life to be. Within the past two years I’ve graduated college, gotten married, and really begun my life as an adult. I am also the type that needs a plan for my life. I like having my agenda to write things in, to color code my classes and events (mostly because it looks pretty). I think that because I am a Christian my life should be the following: good (based on my definition), easy, without trials, and I nor the people around me should ever fail. Then, when those things happen, when I experience miscommunication with the Husband, frustrations with a paper I’m writing, or delayed in traffic, I can become so frustrated and bitter with my life. I think “you know, Jesus, I’m a Christian, I’ve surrendered my life to you….now can’t you give me what I want for my life? Can’t you bless my marriage, can’t you help me by never being stuck in traffic or never experiencing car problems? Remember, I’ve laid down my life to be called by your name” haha. Of course most of that is based on the ideas presented within culture that I am prone to adopting (the other part is my own sinful nature).

Exodus 20: 4-5a 4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them

I have been the countries like Thailand, where people are literally bowing down to a Jade statue of a religious figure. It broke my heart, I was frustrated about how in the United States so many Pastors will teach on the “idols of …. money, sex, popularity” when there are people around the world who really worship empty statues. However, the truth is, to worship any false imaged, even a false image of God and Jesus, is just like bowing down to an empty statue with stone features.

Outside of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand in Summer 2009.

What false images of God and Jesus are you worshiping today?

Eaten at Stikfire Grill

Last Sunday a friend my group had lived college with was going to be in town viewing a theatre production, so we planned a group hang out. I suggested this restaurant “Stikfire” which I kept hearing great reviews about, but had never gotten around to visiting. I was looking forward to eating “food on a stik” wondering if it would be like Chicken satay from Thailand or a Brazilian Steakhouse.

After church we drive to the restaurant and we see the lot empty, the blinds down, and this sign:


I had finally decided to go, and its CLOSED???!!!

That would happen to me.

So, after some quick thinking we decided to eat at a local Indian restaurant…which I had never actually eaten Indian. I was hesitant at first, because I don’t really enjoy eating spicy foods. In Thailand the curry and other spices got to me, and I got sick of rice so I actually kind of stopped eating (Note: I do NOT recommend that).

I pretended I was overseas and tried a little bit of everything. I LOVED it! It was a tangy spicy, but easily overcome with neutral tastes like rice, vegetables, and yummy pita like bread.  I went back for seconds (it was a buffet). That day consisted of great conversation, great friends, and great food. I definitely plan to return (maybe on a date night with the Husband).

Plus– Fun fact: It was the end of the missions conference at the church I attend. During that time they encouraged everyone with international clothing to wear it. So, I had decided to wear my reddish pink dress from Thailand with elephants on it. I felt that was pretty fitting for eating Indian food.

Indian food is now one of my new favorites!

Played “Sounds Like a Plan”

I love board games! I love the opportunity to find new and fun games. When my friends visited town this past weekend they brought this new game. It is really similar to “Apples to Apples” but involves an actual board and is much more structured (i.e. reduces much of the subjectivity).
How the Game works: You have yellow cards which are the “task cards” and you have the teal cards that are the advice cards. A person plays by picking up a task card and reads the three options. They are similar to the following: have tea with the queen, go skydiving, and a leak in the Hoover Dam. Then, the player rolls the dice. The roll will determine whether they will secretly pick the option they want advice for, advice from Grandma, advice from a child, best advice or worst advice. Then, the rest of the players play the advice cards (this is where the game is most similar to Apples to Apples). Those cards have various options like: get life insurance, let someone else go first, wear deodorant, take a lesson, bring your toolbox, etc. The player then, chooses the answer that corresponds to the roll and ranks them. Thus, the rest of the players earn points and compete to “finish” first.
I got to meet their new puppy!
Ranking and traveling around the board.
Picking up a yellow task card and the blue pawn is in the lead. hmm who might that be? :0)
Oh no! Blue has fallen behind!
And Blue takes back the lead!
Blue is much farther in the lead now…
Oh no! They are neck and neck!
Right at the finish line…what will happen????
Victory: my advice and the task for the advice.

I give this game an official 5 stars! :0)

Helped to Supervise CFAW w/o Our Directors

In the missions organization that I work with, our biggest promotional events take place during CFAW or College For A Weekend. During this event high school students are checking out the college. This is the perfect opportunity to tell them about how they can go on a missions trip making new friends, AND earn a scholarship towards the  college equal to the cost of the trip. Its a pretty sweet deal, I wish I would have known about it as a high school student. This was the final CFAW of the year, and this time our Directors and fearless leaders were going to be in Costa Rica. We had all assisted at these events countless times, but this time we would be leading them. The six supervisors would have to band together to lead; can I add that I really learned a lot about everyone’s personality and leading styles this weekend.

Everyone worked so hard, I love them!

Thursday: Check IN

We set up a booth in the hallway, and talk to cfaw’ers and their parents in a quick 3 minute blurp. This is probably our toughest crowd all week. Many of these people have been stuck in the car for hours, they just want to get thru the line to get checked in to begin the events of the weekend.

Our new pretty banners in action.

Our largest goal is to get interest cards for people who would like to be called by our calling center, and to inform everyone about our Missions Seminars on Saturday.  Overall, this went really well! We survived not clogging the hallway (this would mean the end of our participation in this event) and obtained several interests cards.

In cooking for eight hours the chicken tenderized and shredded
Thursday I got to come home to a yummy crock pot meal! At the end of that day my poor feet appreciated my prior planning.

Friday: Johnsonville Brat Fundraiser

We usually have another promotional event, but since the college was changing the way they do this event, our Directors decided it would be easier for us to skip it this time. Instead, team Italy hosted another fundraiser. One of our fellow leaders (and a fellow supervisor) is actually Johnsonville certified with his giant grill that is hauled by his car throughout the summer. This event went very well due to the extra people on campus (and the extra people who wanted to avoid the crowded cafeteria). It was FREEZING cold, it had snowed either that morning or the day before. And we were understaffed for the event. However, we made it work (even despite dropping two brats on the ground—hey, it matches the two buns that I mooshed at the previous fundraiser). I wasn’t able to take any pictures, but I have some from the previous event.
Saturday: Missions Seminars and Meet Your Team Party
I am the Queen of this Booth!
Missions Seminars are held twice, one earlier in the morning and one after lunch. These are our major informational events. We share not only about our organization, but also other organizations and opportunities at our college and how these can help to becoming a full time missionary. Our Director always speaks at this event; I was soooo glad that he recorded himself doing the presentation, it was less for us to think about. Other responsibilities during this seminar include setting up our product table of t-shirts and handcrafts from our missionary partners. The morning session went really well, even despite the fact that it took a little bit longer due to a change of set up. We reworked the product table (I man this) and we are sosoo proud to show our Directors. (They love it when we can find a better way to do something).
The second sessions filled up slowly…but then all of a sudden we were standing room only. In a teeny classroom we fit approximately 122 people, with 45 people left either sitting on the floor or standing. It was crazy! In my three years of working with this organization I have never seen the room that packed. I was happy to see too, that there was a large interest in the purses and jewelry from India, and the bracelets from Zambia. We were able to sell those products to send back to our ministry partners!
Sports Action Mode with my new Nikon coolpix
The video of this is hysterical
Then, we had our Meet Your Team Party. Many of the students on our trips are planning to come to our college, and check it out during this highschooler’s weekend. Thus, we take the opportunity to invite them over to meet them and spend time with them before our trips in the summer. This time one of our ingenious supervisors came up with this really fun group game called “Shuffle Your Buns.” Basically you encircle the room in chairs, then the students have to play a game similar to musical chairs (only making sure to place their bottoms in each chair) while the person in the middle tries to cut them off to the empty chair. There can also be the switching of seats from opposite sides of the room, thus the entire room can get into chaos. I greatly enjoyed taking pictures and watching the chaos.
Team Italy and Friends
After the group game all of the students were really “opened up” and this led to more opened discussions in our teams while eating ice cream and cookies. Team Italy mostly chatted with our leaders who went on the trip last year, becoming more and more excited about this summer.
At the end of the party I was done. I had had my fill of people and I wanted to go home. I skipped out on an impromptu party with my friends and relaxed watching Mulan on my computer. I then crashed, thankful that that was the final CFAW event of the year, and grateful that God had let everything go so well.

Stalled My Car While Driving

Can I just tell you, that this is an extremely scary situation? I had learned about what to do in these situations in my Driver’s Ed class, but it is different when you are in the situation. This is really a tutorial for how not to handle the situation like I did, in hopes that next time I’ll be more prepared.
Great advice! Wish I would have followed it :0(
Rule #1 – Do Not Panic 
I was stopped behind traffic waiting  at a light to turn right (less than a mile from my apartment). I was zoned out, just waiting to get home after work. Then, I pushed on the gas to drive…and the car wouldn’t move. I finally realized that it wasn’t on; I tried turning it back on, and nothing happened. I was really unable to make intelligent decisions at this point because I was still in shock.
Rule #2- Put the Car in “Park” and Try Turning Back On
The second half of this was my natural reaction…hence more panic when the car would not turn back on, and there had been no warning of it dying. At that point I called Husband and was barely able to calm myself to tell him where I was. I didn’t know until afterwards that you have to put the car back in park first.
Rule #3 – Turn Your Hazard Lights On
Okay, this one I knew. I knew that since I was in a busy area (and there were people behind me) I needed to let them know there was a situation. However…
Rule #4 – Know Where Your Hazard Lights Are
Your hazard lights are completely useless to you unless you know where they are. New rule, at least once a month  test yourself on where that button is. I’ll give you a hint, its usually above the steering wheel.
I was the stereotypical blonde damsel in distress–I hated that!
Rule #5 – Push The Car Out of the Way
I was still panicked; I realized with my car being in the middle of the road that I needed to get out of it, if I didn’t want to die when it got hit. So, I got out and am talking to husband on the phone. I don’t know why, but my ability to move my car never occurred to me. Maybe I didn’t think I’d be able to move it by myself. Divinely (Praise Jesus!) a few young men walked from the local shopping area on the corner to help move my car out of the road.
Rule #6 – Call For Assistance
I had already done this earlier and the Husband arrived just as the guys had moved my car out of the road. Then he looked  at it, couldn’t really see anything wrong. We ended up taking my car to Jiffy Lube to see if it was the coolant, or other things of that nature. At this point the “check engine” light was not on. Apparently, even brand new cars can stall out, so this is to be expected when driving a motor vehicle.
For the next few hours I had calmed myself, but I could still feel my heart racing, and my nerves were constantly pulsing. I’d been wanting to chop off the ends of my hair for a few days now…I took advantage of this perfect opportunity. That helped to relax me quite a bit.
I am just incredibly thankful for this incident to happen where/when it did. I had just turned off of a 65mph highway about 700 feet earlier, and was only a mile from home. Plus, this is my husband’s off week, so he was awake to be able to come to the rescue. I am feeling incredibly blessed at the providence of God.