This week I reinstated my Tulsa tradition of staying after work late (or here sometimes going early) in order to have some special time dedicated to prayer, reading or journaling. I've only done this twice so far and already I feel so blessed to have this routine forming. It's so hard for me to read or pray at home when there is so much to be distracted by - the internet, fun roommates, chores, etc. So when I'm outside somewhere, even if there are people around, it's so much easier to focus.

Today, I started by writing this: "I want the music I make and poems I write and art I create to instill a longing for something more in the listeners, readers, and viewers - I want them to want heaven. I think most good music does that without even trying, even if the artist is unaware. I just want to acknowledge that from the start."

I've been thinking a lot about C.S. Lewis' comments on heaven, about how the Christians most focused on the next world are the ones who make the most difference in this one, about how every longing and feeling of nostalgia we endure is best recognized as a desire for the after-life with our Creator. Being a single twenty-something, I tend to get lonely, even surrounded by so many friends. I mean, I want a family someday, a husband and kids and everything. So sometimes it's hard to be just, me. But when I'm pining away for a certain person or even that general concept, or when I'm missing home or Mexico or family or friends or whatever, or even when I'm going through struggles with others or personally, I've started to use that as a prayer to God telling him about how much I'm excited for heaven and how happy I'll be to finally be completely satisfied in his perfect presence. And that hope makes me more content in this moment and maybe more able to live in the now in the way that I ought. Kind of ironic, maybe, but it seems to be doing me good these days.

On the radio the other day the Modest Mouse song "Ocean Breathes Salty" came on and I started singing along without realizing it. I used to have this CD but got rid of it when I realized this particular song was making fun of Christians - "For your sake I hope heaven and hell are really there, but I wouldn't hold my breath (you missed, you missed). You wasted life, why wouldn't you waste death (you missed, you missed)?" But then I got to thinking, you know, Paul said the same thing in a way. "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith... your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men... If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." But since Christ was risen, and heaven does exist, for that reason our hope is beyond this life, and our faith is the most valuable thing we have. That's why I got the symbol of this hope etched permanently on my skin. I hope to live a life that's different because of what I believe about when I die. "But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure."

Wow, that was long and maybe a bit heavy. I'll end on a completely random note: I started reading Harry Potter aloud to my roommate Jo every night, and it's so much fun for both of us, since she's completely new to all things Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling is a genius. And this is good practice for when I do have kids someday. :)


day off!

Sometimes, all it takes is an iced soy latte from Starbucks to remind me that I'm so happy to be alive.

It's the little things: sleeping in, sunny skies, sitting by the creek, talking with friends, getting things done, listening to good music... It's been a good day off. I miss people and places, but I'm very present where I am.

And I'm extremely excited to enroll in school this fall. Tyler and I went to ask Sierra College questions. I'm going to apply for scholarships before the deadline next month. My residency status should be good to go by the time the semester starts August 22nd. (NOT the 13th, which scared me to death that I missed the living in CA for one year mark by only a few days!) I'm so ready to be going to classes and learning and working towards my degree again after so long.

Tonight I'm going to church with the youth girl's class, then headed to Jeffrey's to have a special night with friends and plan our poetry reading for the next Bistro event the 28th.

This verse stood out to me while I read today: "The teaching about the cross is foolishness to those who are being lost, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." - 1 Corinthians 1:18. I am always inspired by the present tense-ity of the Bible.

And lastly, my brother Joseph surprised me with a trip to Houston and a ticket to see Julieta Venegas, one of my favorite Mexican musicians, in just a week and a half! I bought her latest album to get ready for the concert, and I love it! The best part of course is that I'll get to see all of my family that I missed over Christmas.


failure, and hope

I find it ironic that after writing yesterday's blog and having similar conversations with friends, today would be one of my grumpiest days ever at work. I didn't exactly call anyone a mean name, but I sure did let people and circumstances bother me excessively, and I complained a LOT. It's frustrating to fail, to prove myself weak and flawed. It's so much easier to talk about Jesus than to actually act like him.

And yet, there's hope. Tomorrow is a new day. This moment is a new moment.

Beyond that, there's the hope of heaven. This is what I mentioned yesterday when I said I had more on my mind; I've been thinking of heaven a lot these days. I've been contemplating what is really means to be the bride of Christ, longing for the day when I will truly be entirely satisfied and see him face to face and exist in the tangible presence of God. I want to live without fear and neediness, and see what grand implications that will have on my relationships with my brothers and sisters.

Obviously, we're to be striving for this sort of contentment with God here in this life, and there are moments when I feel close to true contentment. But there are also times when I feel alone, confused, estranged, and really just exhausted by life. In both of these times, hoping in heaven is essential. Hope of completion grants you closeness in the present. On the one hand, we never want to be too comfortable away from our true home. Yet on the other hand, we never want to despair of life itself and doubt God's love and purpose for us.

I feel like I'm rambling now. To sum it up, I'm excited for the day when all of my relationships, with God and everyone else, will be exactly as they were meant to be. And until then, it's going to be hard, but I'm going to work to embody the love that Christ calls us to live.

As a side note, if anyone has any insight as to what it means for us to be the bride of Christ, feel free to share it. Also, feel free to share any reasons why you look forward to heaven. Thanks!



I had a spiritual epiphany yesterday at work.

You remember how a long long time ago I said that I prayed before I went to work, that I would do well and be a blessing and so on? Well, I haven't done that in awhile. It became normal I guess.

So yesterday this woman came in and demanded a latte with low-fat milk, LOW-fat, half caffeinated, and at precisely 160 degrees. None of this would have been a problem, but the way she asked was soaking with disdain. She was very unpleasant with how she ordered her food, and about 5 minutes later was loudly complaining about how long it was taking and how she needed to leave. As I walked back to the kitchen, I called her a mean name in a low voice to everyone.

This isn't the first time I've done this, but this time, I instantly repented. I thought, what does it accomplish to call this woman something ugly behind her back and complain about her to everyone else? And what about that makes me anything like Christ?

It's true. She was mean and it was uncalled for. But that doesn't make it okay for me to be mean back.

And so I thought of Eli's sermon on Sunday about praying for our enemies. It suddenly dawned on me, that woman is my enemy. I never knew who or what to think of when I thought of enemies, so I never knew how to think about verses that talk about it. I don't live in a place where I have to face intense persecution, I don't live in a war zone, I don't even go to a school with cliques. But, there are those horrible customers at work.

And what does Jesus have to say about them? To love them, serve them, and pray for them.

I feel a renewed sense of purpose. I will start praying about work again.

There are more things I've been thinking about, but this is long enough for now. Until next time...


Holidays, etc.

Why, hello everyone. What do you know, it's a new year! Here's an overview of the past several weeks:

I commemorated my year-since-leaving-Mexico on November 23rd by spending the day in prayer, reflection, journaling, and reading, ending with a dessert get-together with friends at Diego's. It was a meaningful day, and I was glad for the alone time as well as the time with friends.

Thanksgiving was really nice at the Sikorski's with a few other families from the church. It was a great day to get to know my church family better and honestly feel at home with everyone, not to mention the delicious food!

I went home to Tulsa on December 12th for two weeks. I loved getting to see so many friends and spend Christmas with my family. My brother Kendall, his wife Rachel, and my sister Lindsay with her family all came to Tulsa too. It was good for me to spend quality time with everyone.

But I was happy to come back. The 28th was my friend Leland's birthday, so we had a small party at Tara's house, eating and playing games. The next week was filled with visits from various friends. Miguel came to spend Christmas with his family in Petaluma, just north of San Francisco, and he spent a few days here in Grass Valley to meet everyone and see everything and celebrate New Year's. We also spent a day in San Fran with a group of friends. He already wants to come back. :) Ann Cardamone from the AIM team that worked here a few years ago came to visit with her boyfriend Joel and good friend Amber, and that was fun too. Johnathan Ledbetter, my other friend Amber's brother, was also visiting from Lubbock. And lastly, Erika Carley has been back home from college, and she heads back to Abilene on Saturday.

I went back to work on Friday, and things have been a bit slower but not too bad. My hours haven't been cut, so that's really nice. It's good to see everyone again, and even though I had such a great holiday season, it's nice to get back to life as usual again. I'm looking forward to starting new Spanish lessons, talking to Sierra College to get things going for the fall, helping out with the youth girls' class at church, and continuing music and poetry endeavors.

One last bit of news: yesterday I finally got the tattoo I've wanted for years - the empty tomb on my foot, a symbol of hope and life. For some reason the picture uploader isn't working, but if you're on facebook, there's a picture there!

Love you guys, and hope your 2011 has begun as beautifully as mine has, thanks to God. :)