Family time, snow, and Mexico

Thanksgiving is coming up, and although I'm going home in just a couple of weeks for Christmas and although I have great friends to spend the holiday with and although this isn't the first Thanksgiving I've spent away, it still is a bit sad to miss out on family time this week.

However, my brother Joseph had a conference to go to in Santa Clara, just 3 hours south of me, so for my day off I got to drive down and see him. It was a lot of fun - eating delicious Indian food, eating icecream with one of my old classmates from GFA and her two adorable kids, going shopping, playing at Dave and Buster's, and calling our grandpa the next day to sing happy birthday. I'm so thankful for the chance to hang out.

The past few days have been really snowy. My car got stuck at Tyler's, so we've been hanging out at Tara and Billi's since he came and rescued us. I know, I live in California, but I am in the mountains, just like I was in Mexico, haha, so no eternal spring for me ever. :)

Speaking of Mexico, tomorrow is my year marker since I've lived there. It's a bittersweet memory. I wrote this when I came back, and even though most of you won't understand because it's in Spanish, I'll leave you with it anyway.

es que
tengo una rara forma de
nostalgia, absurda, ya se
es tanto por las coasas que han pasado
como por las cosas que hubieran pasado
asi que
extrano a lo intocable
extrano a lo inolvidable.

te extrano, mi vida,


brownbag 11/17/10

The latest letter I wrote to the AIMers and AIM staff in Lubbock right now:

Hey everyone, it's been a little while since I've written, but I certainly haven't forgotten you guys. I've been thinking of you even more these past few weeks of team formations - I remember how antsy I felt during that time, and I don't miss it, haha. But I'm praying not only that God puts you "where you're supposed to be" but that you can have peace in this moment, and in future moments, concerning where you're at. I'm so excited to hear who's going where, but I guess I'll just have to wait too. ;)

I have two quick stories to share. Recently I went on a retreat with the youth group here in Grass Valley, and it was really good for me to establish relationships, reconnect with Steve and Jewel, and spend some good time with Jesus by reading the Gospel of John. But one of the most memorable things for me was singing with them Saturday night. I started to feel really emotional, and realized that since I came back from Mexico, I had only sung devo songs with a group of people maybe a handful of times, tops. I know as an AIMer it can get old to sing all the time, and you don't always feel like it, but it really is a blessing to praise God intimately with a group like that. I meditated on how God is omnipresent - in Lubbock, in Tulsa, in Mexico, in California, all at once, even though I can't be. It's a comforting thought.

Which sort of brings me to my next story - in just under a week, I will be commemorating my one-year-since-I-left-the-field day. I don't really want to say "celebrating," because it was kind of a terrible day, but I don't want to say "mourning," because it was kind of a good day at the same time. It was so hard to leave some of my best friends behind (like you, Angel) and I cried a lot. But before that, we had a party with the church. It was the beginning of what has now become a weekly event for me - singing karaoke. haha! The church hired a karaoke man and we sang all kinds of songs that day. And do any of you know about the Mexican tradition called "la mordida"? Well, it's pretty special - it means that when there's a cake for you, they all yell "bite!" until you bend down to take a bite, and inevitably someone will shove your face in it. Wendy pushed my head so hard that my glasses got stuck in the cake. And then guess what? We ate it anyway. hahaha

Anyway, I just wanted to mention that this past year since leaving Mexico has undoubtedly been the hardest year of my life, and I'm not just referring to reverse culture-shock, though I'm sure that had something to do with it. But now that I've been healing from my own mistakes and hurts from others, I can honestly say that God is faithful, and I trust him now more than I ever have before. I pray to God that you all will say the same years down the line.

I'm sorry guys, I'm feeling too overwhelmed to write shout outs, there's too many of you. I just want to say to everyone, staff and students alike, I love you, I miss you, I'm praying for you, and I hope you all have a super happy Thanksgiving wherever you may be.


delicious irony

So, without delving into details, I'll just say there's been something heavy on my mind and heart for the past few months. I wish I could explain more, but I really shouldn't. However, I did want to share something incredible: this past week was the first time I really let myself be completely happy in spite of this situation that caused me so much emotional turmoil. Even though the circumstances hadn't gotten any better (it actually seemed that they had gotten worse), I realized that I had still gotten better. I've been healing a lot, thanks to God, from my past mistakes and hurts from others, without even taking the time to honestly acknowledge it. So, this past week I did acknowledge it. I started telling people I was really happy. I started thinking more intentionally of the things I'm thankful for. I even wrote a poem about it just two days ago.

And you know what happened?

Today, the situation got better. Very suddenly and very obviously.

I got the feeling of when you hastily take a huge gulp of something way to hot, except instead of in my throat, in my soul. And I cried, a lot. I didn't even really know why I was crying so much until I remembered that it was when I had finally, finally let go of my problem that it finally, finally, completely out of my control, took a bold baby step towards better. And all I could do was pray, thank you.

I still don't really know where to go from here, but yet again, in case there was ever any doubt, God has proven himself faithful to me. And I had to share it with you. Love you guys.


A lovely weekend

When I went to church today, I had no idea what I would be doing afterward, and as I chatted with various friends quickly everyone began to disappear, and I realized I might end up at home alone. But then I started talking with my friend Stephanie, and we ended up going to eat in Nevada City and walking around downtown. It's always so refreshing to talk with her. On the one hand, she's about my mom's age, and I have so much I can learn from her life experience. But on the other hand, she's a brand new Christian, and so I feel like I have a lot of knowledge and experience from my life in the church that I can reciprocate. I know that there's always this potential give-and-take of knowledge and experience with any relationship, but it's nice when it's so obvious and readily available. She's so open and sincere, and I love all of our conversations, even when we disagree sometimes. What a great friend. We've been trying to get together like that for a long time, so it's funny that it finally happened kind of on accident.

Yesterday was nice too. I went to lift weights with Tara, Leland and Jeffrey at Jeffrey's house, haha, something very different for me but surprisingly fun. After work, we hung out at Tara's and watched Toy Story 3. :)

I'm excited to say Friday night at the Bistro went wonderfully! As the first set, Jeffrey, Leland, and I did a sort of reading panel where we took turns sharing 3 things we had written. I was honored to participate, and by the time I was sitting up there, I didn't even feel nervous anymore. I hope that this can be just the start of more times of sharing. Tara and I are thinking of starting a monthly time even just amongst us friends to play music together and/or create art or whatever comes up. This is such a great community of talented friends, and I'm so glad to be a part. In case you're interested, here are the three poems I chose to read:

Voice cracks, control lapse,
breach in the dam behind brown eyes.
No flood, no stream, just a swell and a gleam of
shining tears that so cautiously create
trembling pools, the meniscus in the
graduated cylinder from high school chemistry.

Everything is different and
nothing has changed.

Homesick much? Maybe so, but
this list that's ever lengthening
is difficult to name.
So many spaces, places, faces,
phases, gazes upon an album full
or seven or twenty-two...
all organized and boxed and shelved and away
but swirling and boiling and fermenting and here to stay,
heavy here in these hands, this head, this heart.
I'm homesick, maybe, mostly for you.

You were my home, and away I moved,
sitting here weeping and homesick for you.


"Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands[...]" - Isaiah 49:15-16

Loving you
has left its mark on
me, your face on
my heart, deep.

Loving me
has left its mark on
him, my name on
his palm, permanently.

Loving you
changes me
changes you
loving me
making marks on
our identity
loving, deep
marking, permanently.

My deep, a drop
in his eternity –
individually, collectively on
his palm, permanently.


It's raining,

And while it's not your fault,
you're still the reason I
inhale and
take in and
And while I'll never blame you for
everything we do,
it couldn't be we
if it weren't for you.

My empathy exhausts itself
with you.
I'm the sponge that soaks the stuff you spill.
And it's not your fault,
but you're still the reason.
And while I'll never blame you for
everything we feel,
if it weren't for you,
it could never be we.

It's raining,

And these complications cause conflict
in my consistency, confidence, concept
of who I am.
(it's more than I generally like to let on,
the influence we've had on each other.)
And I'll never blame you because:
the rain makes others hide,
but it makes me glow inside.
(how could I make you apologize when
the rain makes me alive?)

It's never your fault
but you're always the reason
because without the you
I wouldn't, I couldn't
be me.


Demon Days

Some people don't feel the same way I do, but I just love it when I find bits of truth to connect with through whatever means of media I may encounter. I've listened to this particular song a million times, but I especially liked it again today. Gorillaz are a totally rad hip-hop group, been around since at least I was a freshman in high school. They're more true to the roots of hip-hop I think in the sense that they aren't all about the glamor and decadence and hate that usually saturates this particular genre these days, and how appropriate: this is from their 2006 album, Demon Days, the title song. What a great picture of repentance and hope. Love it.

In these demon days
It's so cold inside
So hard for a good soul to survive
You can't even trust the air you breathe
Because mother earth wants us all to leave
When lies become reality
You numb yourself with drugs and T.V.
So pick yourself up, it's a brand new day
So turn yourself round
Don't burn yourself, turn yourself
Turn yourself around
To the sun!

To the sun, to the sun...
To the sun, to the sun...


Today's prayer

I had to get a ride to work from Tyler this morning, so I was two hours early. It was really nice to have so much time to read the Bible - Hebrews is one of those favorites that I forget about too often. After reading, I felt really moved to write down a prayer. So, I decided to share it:

God, it's been too long, again. Your word cuts deep even as it brings hope and joy. I know it's real and I love it and I love you, but I'm lazy, distracted, confused, and I feel alone sometimes. Help me to "spur others on to love and good deeds." Help me to "watch my tongue!" Give me eternal perspective. Help me to pray and remember those who are suffering. Help me to believe and to obey and to love, truly, whatever anyone else does. Most of all, let me live moment by moment, not for pleasure, but by faith in You, the one true, living God. Thank you for salvation, for Christ's sacrifice, for conquering death and giving value to our sufferings and giving us something to look forward to. Help me to share this with others even as you help me to share my belongings and time and resources with others. Let me be patient and wait on you and spend time with you even before I dive in and "do" too much. But God, answer soon so I can know what to do instead [of other meaningless things]. Thank you for hearing me. Speak to me, speak through me, give me peace and make me a peacemaker. I love you I love you I love you - take away my other, contrary affections. Be with me. Please. <3



I'm so excited!

I just bought my plane ticket home, December 12-27. I can't wait to see you then, Tulsa! And I think my whole family is coming too. I'm almost bouncing off of the walls just thinking about it!

My friend Miguel is planning to spend Christmas in San Francisco, so I'll go meet him there when I get back and bring him to Grass Valley to hang out for awhile, including for New Year's, and I'm already getting excited because I think there's going to be a party in Tahoe, so even though it's going to be cold, it will be beautiful! (longest sentence ever, sorry!)

I already mentioned this, but I'm reading poems for an event one week from today, hooray!

I'm learning guitar and about to start teaching Spanish to my friend Jeffrey tomorrow in exchange.

I just saved $50 from tips without even really trying, so that makes me think if I really do try harder, maybe I really can save enough to go to Mexico City this summer...

The leaves are changing on the trees, Karaoke Night is tonight, Documentary night with the Comptons is tomorrow, Thanksgiving is coming and I already have 3 different invitations to celebrate, I mean, I could just go on and on.

God is good, all the time, but it's really nice to believe it in the good times too. :)


El Día de los Muertos

Today was a beautiful day. First of all, I slept in a lot, which was nice. I didn't have to work, also very nice. I had my second guitar lesson, and it went really well especially considering that I hadn't practiced so much because my fingertips still can't handle the pain for too long, haha. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. I ate lunch with friends, walked to the post office, called my sister Lindsay to say happy birthday, and spent some time praying in the car. It was one of those days when you're just so grateful to be alive, really.

Then it stuck me that today was el Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, and that there was an event at the fairgrounds. I was hoping it would be an opportunity to get in touch with the hispanic community here, but it was mostly just a bunch of gringos' art, haha. It wasn't exactly what I expected, but it was really cool anyway. They had about 60 altars set up in this expo building, most of them remembering loved ones who have passed on, some commemorating famous people or making statements for peace in places like Israel. A few weren't even really about death at all, oddly. I really enjoyed soaking up the creativity exhibited and the stories people had to share. As I was leaving they invited me to be on the mailing list so that maybe next year I can make an altar too. Pretty sweet.

I was thinking about heading to SanFran today or tomorrow, but decided against it for several reasons, but soon I want to visit. Instead, Tyler and I went to Auburn for a couple of hours to go to Target and In n Out. The trip was a success. :)

Until next time!