Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Film

Last year I did a photo breakdown of 2010 so I thought I would keep the tradition (can you call it that after only doing it once?) going with 2011!
2012 holds some very very exciting events: getting my teaching credential (and first teaching job? *Fingers crossed*) and.... getting married! But before that can happen, we gotta get through tonight!

Here is the year in color film ;)

Spent New Year's Eve & Day with my beautiful Godson (who is now huge and talking and running around!)

My dearest Great Uncle passed away leaving behind great memories and bringing the family together to remember.

Sara turned 21 and we celebrated in Palm Springs!
I threw Lauren her bridal shower :)

Traveled to Baltimore during Spring Break in March to serve the local church and do community outreach.

Lauren and Isaac get married!! Luis is the best man and I am a bridesmaid. I watched Elias that night too (more bonding time with nina and her favorite little man)

Sara and I graduate from college- on the same day! A giant party is held on the following day :)
My mom and I go on a week long cruise to Mexico and Catalina. Parasailing, eating a lot, relaxing by the pool... and holding baby lions

Dear friends Blake and Turell get married!!
I travel to San Francisco to visit the lovely Rebecca Wurm

We celebrate Kevin's birthday by riding bikes to the Huntington Beach Pier/ Main Street.
Tamale Party in Long Beach :)

Luis moves out of his house and in with Sara in Huntington Beach!

I start graduate school at the University of California Irvine to get my Elementary Teaching Credential
I get my very first teaching desk in my Fifth Grade classroom!
Elias turns ONE and we celebrate with a Toy Story themed party at the Leland house.

I say goodbye to The Turdette/Club Static/my old car
and say hello to my wonderful new car from the Miller family :)
And I sell my old car to Laura Mancilla (keepin it in the family)

The family celebrates Thanksgiving in San Diego...
Swimming with the dolphins included
{Swimming, Beatles tribute band, Sea World}

Luis and I get engaged in Catalina!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How do you like them apples?!

The Lord is really working on my heart lately; shaping me into the woman that He created me to be. He is using many different avenues and people to do this in my life.
When discovering what it means to be a godly woman, it is generally a good idea to look to God's word.
Every day, I get more and more peace and strength as I explore God's purpose for women.
God created us to be the helper. When I look at my own personality, I see the characteristics within me that would make me a helper: organized, efficient, caring, etc. I see how God has formed most women with the desire to nurture and care and be the support.
In the context of men, it is hard for women (especially in big bad America) to see themselves as the helper. Our culture has taken the word SUBMIT and camped-out there without looking at the beautiful context of submission. Before we are married (and also within marriage) we are to first submit to the Lord. This submission is a place of rest. Not a statement of value or worth, but rather of roles and responsibilities. As we find rest in our role as helpers, carrying a quiet strength, we become empowered to see God move in our lives.
But just as Eve was tempted to take control of her situation, daily we are faced with the opportunity to trust God or take matters into our own hands. Our sinful nature wants us to do the opposite of what the Lord has called us to. As women, called to entrust ourselves to the authority of another, we are daily tempted to take control.
Instead of viewing submission as constraining and demeaning, I am working on seeing it the way God intended, with peace and understanding.
Praying that today you can rest in the promises of God. He is your God. He is El Roi, the God who sees you (Gen 16). He knows your struggle to take control but it is precious to Him when He sees a woman with a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:1-4).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vacation Bible School
This summer I have volunteered at two Vacation Bible Schools at my church. I was the craft leader and had the opportunity to see all the beautiful crafts made by the children of our church and community. Throughout the week I found myself thinking of Vacation Bible Schools in the past, particularly the ones in Uganda last summer and I couldn't help but thank God for his provision.
Photographed below is merely an attempt to display one of the most awe inspiring days of my life. The whole scene was surreal. We drove through what is commonly referred to as "the bush" to get here on what some people might consider a road- think Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland :) Upon arrival to the first circle of huts we had seen in a while, we were greeted by the tribal chanting from one of the women. We walked into a small, dark, one-room hut and as our eyes slowly began to adjust we could see the shining whites of many eyes staring back at us. The room was filled with children wide-eyed at the large group of white girls who just entered their village. Some of the children had never seen a white person before. The moment was National Geographic-esque. We were told we had to move outside to make more room for the children. *Side note- as we prepared for these Vacation Bible Schools, we were often given an estimate of how many children would show up but the key word is estimate. We were sometimes told between 20-200 kids would show up... super helpful :) * So we go outside and were literally staring at hundreds of children. At this point in the trip we had all learned Africa's favorite word, flexibility, and dove right in.
Some of the children wanted to show us their village's well so we went on a walk (about a mile) to see how these young children gathered water for their family.
The clouds of Africa are hard to capture in a photo but believe me when I say that they can make any walk seem like a special journey.
I could obviously go on and on about these few days in this remote village but LONG story short, we eventually left... and our van was chased by children as we went.
*Taken from the back seat of the van*
Now fast forward a year and here I am working at a VBS in not only the United States but Orange County, California. It's safe to say there were differences.
In Uganda, I walked a mile with a child to learn how he collected a jug of water to carry (a mile back!) to his family. And now I've heard a child complain because the drinking fountain is too far away.
In Uganda, I watched seven year olds carry their brothers and sisters to our VBS, unattended by any adults, only to walk them home later. And here I've seen the organization it takes to make sure that all children are safely dropped off by their parent and checked in to their group leader.
The differences are vast but one thing is very much the same... God provides. And when we work through his spirit and his power, we are going to see the fruit of our labors.
In Uganda, I saw many many children make decisions to follow Christ.
In California, I heard a story of a boy who understood that Jesus could take away his fears.
God provided at all these Vacation Bible Schools in so many different ways. He is faithful and He is oh so lovely.

I hadn't really thought about that village in a while and the Lord just laid it on my heart tonight. This has turned into a mega-rant but if you're having trouble sleeping tonight (guilty!) then pray for these children. Children in Uganda and children in America and everywhere in between.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Still Learning...

It has been a long time since I have blogged... I'm tempted to say "time flies" but in reality it has been a long three months.
Since I've blogged a lot has happened. Biggest news first: I graduated college. A tad anti-climactic considering I have more school starting in September. But exciting nonetheless.

There were a few things I was not quite prepared for this summer:
-Most of my close friends having real jobs and not being able to hang very often.
-Spending a lot of time watching TV (mainly "How I Met Your Mother" after going on a mad buying spree at Target)

On the plus side, I have seen my lovely boyfriend quite a bit which is a nice change of pace from only seeing each other on the weekends!
And... I am working on being a woman of my word. So when Becca and I started talking about me going up to visit her in San Francisco... I decided to be more than just a talker! I had an awesome time with Becca exploring all the touristy things that no one wants to go to once they've lived somewhere for a while (thanks bex).

I got a job at a paint-it-youreslf ceramics studio called Color Me Mine. I enjoy the job but it has also been a rude awakening to the joys of customer service and scary moms from Orange County. I am more thankful than ever for Brett Vowell and Ashley Rotter who were unbelievably amazing bosses who encouraged and challenged me. Lets just say I miss them every day at work!

I continue to enjoy being this adorable baby's Godmother everyday :) I love spending time with him (so mom can catch a break). He is crawling now and just turned 10 months yesterday!!!

Today is the 6 month anniversary of the death of my Great Uncle. In some ways it feels like it happened years ago, and in others ways it feels like it was yesterday. Either way, we are learning to live without him and enjoy the memories as they enter our minds.
With Undergraduate Degree in hand a lot of my school-type education is done. But every day post-grad I realize that I will be learning new things each moment. Some lessons through pain and trials, some from victory and joy.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Happiness is:

There are many things that one could be stressed about considering there are only 27 days left before I walk across that stage with diploma in hand (well diploma holder... nuance)...
But instead of worrying today I have chosen joy.
Today I am happy. Simple but true.
I have a Blackberry Izze, some goldfish, this new lotion that will *hopefully* help my Eczema, and A CLEARANCE TICKET TO GRADUATE!
Its {already} 4:30 but that still gives me plenty of time to work on study guides, write papers, and watch a new episode of Chuck {finally} at 8:00pm :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Living HIS Purpose

There is a great chance that this will just end up being the ranting of a typically-confused-almost-college-graduate... so bear with me....

I have always known that God's will for my life is to glorify Him and make His name known. I haven't had those moments where I freak out wondering, "what is God's will for my life?" I know that in whatever road I choose to take, as long as I am glorifying God, I am in His will.

All that to say, I have wanted to be an elementary school teacher for as long as I can remember. First time I remember saying it out loud was in third grade. So lets just say that I've dreamed of this since I was 8 years old. My whole life has revolved around this. Get good grades. Like school. Get into college. Succeed in college. Get into graduate school. Get Teaching Credential. Be a teacher.
I have seen so many of these things come to be in my life and I have felt on track in every way. I intend to use teaching as a ministry and to use my summer in ministry and serving those around me.

I have never doubted these plans of MINE.

Well, the last three weeks have been a whirlwind of emotion, challenges and growth. God has used many different avenues, people, circumstances, and even cities to get me a one-way ticket on a new train of thought. I have been challenged to think of doing something even greater with my life. I have NO idea what this means. God keeps surrounding me with people and putting me in situations to hear the same affirmations again and again: don't settle. I would've never thought that being a teacher and fulfilling my life dream would be considered settling, but I am starting to feel this way. I am freaking out and now I have to figure out what is next.

I will keep moving forward for now. Go to UCI. Get my teaching credential. But my eyes and ears are open.

I am willing to go and do whatever it is that will make my life matter for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just looking for the next move to make.

Convicted. Encouraged....... o yea, and slightly Overwhelmed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Created in Christ Jesus

Growing up, if someone would've asked me how I would spend my Spring Break in college I would never have guessed I would be hanging out with church planters and prostitutes in the city of Baltimore. And yet, this is where I found myself just last week during Spring Break of my Senior year.
While I am constantly learning and growing, God has used these past 4 service projects through ISP/USP at CBU to get my attention in an entirely different way. Each experience has taught me a specific new lesson that challenge me, even to this day. In Baltimore, God continued to break down my judgment and reveal my sin to me in a new way.
In Baltimore, the Gallery church gave us "Neighbor Training." This unique name comes from both Colossians 4:5, "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity" and also Jesus' response to two important questions:
What is the most important commandment?
Love God. Love Others.
Who is my neighbor?
Are you a neighbor? (Don't miss this... You ARE a neighbor!)
The gallery church is very intentional about being good neighbors to those around them in order to share the Gospel. They told us that the very fact that we were there displayed something about who God is. He is worthy of our time. He is worthy of our service.
A lot of our work in Baltimore was very practical (cleaning the church, organizing storage, taking inventory) but it is important to realize the implications of even these practical tasks. Jesus performed miracles because they: met a need, said something about who He was, and caused people to believe in what He was saying. Granted, cleaning is certainly no miracle, but the end results should be the same. Because of our service, God should be glorified and our testimony should be legitimized through action.
We were blessed to have some time to serve God through building relationships in the community. God took us each a step (or two) out of our comfort zone and the only thing we could do was love. Many of us on the team felt nervous, under-qualified and not able to relate on so many levels. We spent a day at a center, ministering to women in prostitution. We organized their donation cabinets, ate lunch with them, and also got to participate in the Depression 101 session where they talked about how they cope with depression.
The ministry of Jesus was received better by the tax collectors and prostitutes than those who called themselves righteous. "Jesus said to them, 'Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him." Matthew 21:31b-32.
It sounds strange, but Jesus was so edgy. We picture him sitting in fields with children and lambs surrounding him as He sings hymns. But there is so much more to the Christ of the Bible! This man went to the secret places, the places where the lowest in society could be found, the places of the heart that we hide from the world. After spending a day with these women, I have an enlarged heart for the lives that they live and an even deeper love for my Savior who saw their need. Many feel trapped and scared. Many have NO IDEA of the incredible value they have in the eyes of God. As I sat there listening to the heart breaking stories from the women, I fell more in love with Jesus Christ.
I learned that you can only walk with a person as far as the Holy Spirit has prepared them to go. Sometimes the best thing we can do is sit and listen. Sometimes we are called to greater action. Either way, we are called to be the help.
Ephesians 2:10
"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do."