Sunday, June 26, 2011

J+M

I have no creativity in me tonight (it was a busy weekend!) so I'll just tell you what I did.  Sam and I were really blessed to be able to celebrate two of our best friends getting married.  James and Monica have been such great friends to both of us, and to witness such a beautiful couple become husband and wife was really special.  They are seriously the most genuine, optimistic, fun couple!  They're the type of people who make you feel better about yourself after spending time with them...which is why we try to spend as much time with them as we can. :)  They're awesome, they love God, and they bless everyone around them.  So it was a great weekend!

Here are just a few photos:


They are seriously so adorable together!  They constantly make each other laugh.
Monica with her maid and matron of honor.  Jenny and I had lots of fun!
She looked gorgeous, and was incredibly mellow all day.

It was so much fun, and we're so happy for James and Monica!  Lovely weekend, lovely wedding, lovely friends.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kids and Kitties

Seven months ago I walked into a school for kids with special needs.  Most have severe autism.  Never having worked with kids on this spectrum before, I was totally overwhelmed and intimidated and had no idea what to do.

Today was my last day there, and I was sad to say goodbye.  Over the past few months I finally felt like I knew what I was doing with the students (since all of them are very different and respond better to different techniques), and they knew me, too.  It was fun to walk into the OT room and have Ryen smile at me.  One of my favorite parts of my day was getting a big wink and a smile from Tosh, along with a, "Oh hey, Kim," followed by a low, "Phone," in which he expected me to hand my phone over so he could watch videos of himself singing.  No, I won't miss getting hit, bit, or changing diapers.  But I'll miss Nicasio's adorable squeaks and chin slapping, Sarah's, "Friends coming?" and Will's high tens.  I'll miss all the hilarious things they do and say, and I'll miss their hugs.  These kids are seriously some of the coolest people I've been around, and I really feel blessed having had the opportunity to know them.  It was awesome that my job was to hang out with them.

My kitties seemed to know I needed some extra love today, so they both cuddled up next to me while I took a nap.

It's hard to see, but Morty actually curled his head up in my hand, which was lying face up.  :)


I feel like I could go on and on about my job, about the kids, and about how much I learned from them.  I have tons of hilarious stories, for anyone who is interested, but I feel like I sound like I'm bragging when I talk about it.  And I don't want to do that.  So if you really want to know more, ask me; though I must warn you it will be hard to get me to shut up.  :)

But for now - goodnight!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Give me just enough

"Give me enough food to live on,
  neither too much nor too little.
If I'm too full, I might get independent,
  saying, 'God? Who needs him?'
If I'm poor, I might steal
  and dishonor the name of my God."
                         -Prov. 30:8-9 (The Message)

I first memorized this verse when I was in college and felt discontent with the small amount of money I had.  Upon reading this, I came to the realization that not being rich was actually keeping me from a pretty selfish lifestyle.  Don't get me wrong - I know people who can handle being wealthy without it affecting them negatively and actually use their wealth for the good of others.  But unfortunately, I'm quite certain that if I were ever blessed with fortune, I would turn into a self-centered, greedy, brat.  The same thing goes for fame - rather than be level-headed about it, I'd probably be a narcissistic jerk.  So if you want to keep me as lovable as I am, pray with me that I never experience fame or fortune (and that I maintain my delightful, self-deprecating sense of humor.)  And no, I'm not looking for any of you to affirm me and tell me you think I'd handle it well - I know myself better than you do.  :)  I'm really being honest.

Lately I've been thinking about how this verse can apply to all aspects of life.  Lord, keep me from becoming too smart.  Lord, keep me from becoming too thin.  Lord, keep my blog from becoming too popular.  (Seriously, we'd have an egomaniac on our hands.)  If I'm too smart I might think I am above those who aren't as "educated" as I am.  If I'm too thin, I might think that somehow a smaller size makes me more attractive or more of an ideal woman than others.  If my marriage is too perfect, I might start thinking I only need to connect with my husband, rather than with God.

It seems more and more clear that by preventing things in my life from being perfect and easy, God is actually enabling me to learn to depend on Him.  When I'm stressed or overwhelmed or hurting...I desperately need God.  "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalms 34:18).  I know it's odd, but it is when I'm facing a lot of pain in my life that I feel the strongest connection to my heavenly Father.  If I had no hard times, I wouldn't need him or his love.

Do I really want a perfect life?  Do I really want everything to come easily to me?  Well...to be honest... yes...but not if the price I had to pay was my relationship with Jesus.  So for that reason, I want to be thankful that I'm not rich, that I make silly grammar mistakes in my blogs (I hate that), and that no matter how healthy I eat I'll still have a flabby belly.  My imperfections make me real and my struggles and hurts allow me to sympathize with others and show deeper compassion.

So here's my prayer:

God...give me enough sunshine and love and talent and joy to live on,
  Neither too much nor too little.
If I'm too perfect, or have too perfect of a life, I might get independent
  and think stupidly that I don't need you (or forget that all my blessings are from you).
If I'm seriously lacking, I might get mad at you (which I know you can handle)
  and I might be really jealous of others (which I often am)
and act in a way that's not glorifying to you.  And that would suck.

Amen.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wise, gentle, loving...Dad

If you know my dad, you know why I love him so much.  It's impossible not to like him.  But I wasn't always aware of how blessed I am to be his daughter - when you're a little girl, you imagine everyone's dad is loving, protective, and writes songs - at least I did.  But the older I get, the more I realize just how lucky I really am.  I hope this doesn't come across as bragging; I just really believe my dad deserves some recognition for putting up with a daughter like me.  My simple words can in no way express my gratitude for all he has done for me.  But Dad, in the sort-of words of Elton John, "My gift is my [blog], and this one's for you."

I grew up listening to my dad write songs.  A gifted musician, he was always plucking away on the ivory keys, composing meaningful lyrics and pleasant tunes.  Dad wrote each of his four children songs when we were born, which is something I thought every dad did.  (One of the most bizarre experiences with my dad's songwriting was on my first date with Sam.  He told me his family's church sang one of my dad's original songs at Christmas, and proceeded to perfectly sing the song to me.)  When I started writing music, I realized it was all those years of listening to his process that encouraged that passion in me.  I am utterly grateful for his part in making music such a central part of my life.  He was my own personal vocal trainer, coaching me through church solos, talent shows, and musical theater, encouraging my love for singing. 

One thing I remember most about growing up was my dad working on his sermon on Saturday nights.  Yes, procrastination is also something I inherited from him. :)  He usually sat at the kitchen table, and if he thought everyone was asleep he'd quietly preach to the empty chairs.  Being a preacher's daughter came with good and bad things, but overall I am so thankful for his position.  I may be slightly biased, but I still believe he's one of the most insightful, entertaining pastors I've heard, and I miss being part of his congregation.  The fact that he's chosen to share God's love with others as his life's work makes me admire him that much more.  Because he is full of wisdom and insight, I highly value his opinion and his advice, and still seek his counsel when I'm facing difficult situations.

As an emotional, quick-tempered brat, I especially admire Dad's calm demeanor.  I've never once witnessed him yell or shout in anger.  I'm not saying he never got mad at the things my siblings and I did, but in his correction he was always gentle.  We were completely unaccustomed to hearing him yell, and once my friend Beth told him she couldn't imagine him getting mad.  So later on, my dad thought it would be funny to pretend to be mad and yelled at her, terrifying her until she realized it was a joke.  But, as Dad always says, he only teases people he likes.  His dry sense of humor is also something I appreciate now that I'm older (and fear I may have inherited).  :)

I am so thankful for the guidance he provided, and continues to provide.  He has been an incredible example of a loving, godly husband and father.  He put up with a lot from me over the years, and sometimes I'm still amazed at how much he loves me and continues to give.  I could never possibly express all the reasons I love him, but I thank God for him every day.  No matter how old I get, I will always be my dad's little girl.



Thursday, June 16, 2011

You are what you eat

Sam and I recently watched a documentary called Food Matters which has encouraged a lot of focus on health and well-being.  I highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in what you can do to take good care of the body you have been blessed with.  I've just been thinking a lot lately about all the things I can and cannot control.  I know I can't control every aspect of my health, but I know a lot of problems I have are the result of laziness or ignorance on important eating habits that could easily be changed.

I just wanted to write about this because I believe it's so important.  Now that I'm more aware of how much I can do to help my body work in my favor, I really want to take care of myself, and I want to encourage others to do the same.  I also want to write about it as a way to hold myself accountable to make better decisions.  It's so easy for me to rationalize unhealthy habits, but I feel like if I put it out there for everyone to see, I will be more likely to stick with this new lifestyle.

So, for anyone who is interested, here's the trailer for the film.  (Sam and I found it streaming on Netflix.)  You can also visit the website http://www.foodmatters.tv/ to get a lot of good information. 

And I'm asking whoever is reading to help keep me accountable.  Maybe just ask me every now and then what I'm eating and how I'm taking care of this temple.  And then I'll ask you the same question. :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rain or Shine

I am definitely a California girl.  I love the sunshine.  I grew up in the water and wonder sometimes if I'm part fish.  I'm also starting to believe that I'm solar-powered.  I'm pretty sure I'm much cooler and funnier when the sun is shining and it's hot outside.  That's why in the winter I'm such a boring loser.

But I'm moving to Oregon soon.  I know Oregon isn't all clouds and rain...but I know it's a lot more of that stuff than I'm used to.  I want to learn to be okay with the rain, to even start to like it.  As I consider this, I also realize I want to be okay with the figurative "rain" in life.  When things seem like they just keep falling around me, when the storm seems to be never-ending, I want to buy some rain boots and go splashing around in puddles.  I want to accept everything that comes along, even if it means I don't see sunshine for a long time.

Here's a passage from Streams in the Desert that I found particularly fitting:

Is it raining, little flower?
  Be glad of rain;
Too much sun would wither one;
  It will shine again.
The clouds are very dark, it's true;
But just behind them shines the blue.

Are you weary, tender heart?
  Be glad of pain.
In sorrow, sweetest virtues grow,
  As flowers in rain.
God watches, and you will have sun,
When clouds their perfect work have done.
-Lucy Larcom

So there's my go-to poem for when I'm tired of gray skies and clouds.  Hopefully it will remind me to look at rain as something that is necessary for me to grow.

But I still like the sun.  And I warned Sam that we will be vacationing in sunny, sunny places.  And maybe my next tattoo will be a little sun.

:)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A little sunshine in life

I had a really blessed weekend.  Sam was up in Salem looking for a home for us, so I went down to Porterville to see my newest nephew.  I stopped in Fresno on Saturday to see T.J. & Becca (Becca's birthday was Saturday) and Ashley and Rusty.  Unfortunately I forgot my camera so I didn't get any pictures with them, even though my sweet niece and nephew are adorable.  Seriously, I don't even think I'm biased, they are literally two of the cutest kids I've ever seen.  If you don't believe me, go look at pictures on Becca's blog.

Saturday morning I got to spend time with Jacquie, Annie, and Kayla, some friends from Porterville.  Each of these friends honestly deserves their own post (shoot, I haven't done my friendship posts in too long!), as they each have such sweet spirits.  So....more to come on them later!  It was such a great time and I was so thankful to be able to hear about their lives and be encouraged by them.  I miss them!

Then I got to meet sweet Nathan!  He is tiny and precious.  I also got to hang out with Samantha, Kristy and Mike.  Again, I don't want to brag, but Samantha and Nathan are two more of the cutest babies ever.  My mom had her camera, so I do have pictures of them.


And here's the proud big sister:

In this picture, Samantha saw me holding Nathan and wanted to climb up in the chair with us.  But as soon as the camera came out, she wanted down!  I don't understand - if she's related to me she should love cameras. ;)

Look how tiny his little body is!  It was hard not to squeeze him.

On Saturday night my mom and I made chicken enchiladas and peach pie.  The enchiladas are a favorite of mine, and my mom is famous for her peach pie, so I wanted to learn how to make both of these yummy things before we move.  My dad appreciated my desire to learn, as he got to enjoy the final result.  :) Sunday morning I helped Kristy and Mike take some newborn pictures of Nate, which was fun because his cry is so tiny and sweet.  Hopefully they turn out well. 

On my way home I got to stop and see my friend Krissy, who I've known as long as I can remember.  She, too, deserves a post all her own.  She's a doctor now, which is really impressive and I'm so proud of her!  It was a really special time, and I was reminded of how lucky I am to have family I love and really good friends.

I finished off the weekend with the best part - picking Sam up from the airport!  I missed my cute husband.

And now, time for bed - as you can see, having lots of fun is exhausting.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Porterville is...

I'm moving soon...very far from Porterville.  Porterville and I have had our differences, but when you're making the long five hour drive to visit, knowing you won't be seeing it as often, you start to look at it with a little more nostalgia.  And to be honest, Porterville and I like each other more when we don't hang out that much - absence makes the heart grow fonder, you know.  And yes, I'm aware that I'm personifying a town, but after five hours in a car alone I tend to lose my mind a bit.

This is what I was thinking while I was driving, and what I've been thinking all weekend.  Porterville is:

  • Hot, hot summers
  • Driving with the windows down...until it gets too ridiculously hot
  • Country music...it just feels right to listen to country when I'm driving back to the valley
  • The city pool, red lifeguard swimsuits, and fun friends
  • Driving around with friends, videotaping yourselves TPing houses
  • Stopping in the church parking lot at night for a spontaneous dance party with the NBTC
  • Starbucks on Henderson
  • Walking around Veteran's Park with friends, seeing numerous people you know drive by
  • Huge Veteran's Day parade...where you're usually sweating profusely in your band uniform, even though it's November
  • Monache Band - practicing for field shows in the fall, hearing the drummers and being reminded of those awesome times
  • a music-loving town - thanks to Buck Shaffer and Dale Anderson
  • Lyon's restaurant after band concerts, dances, and plays...until it closed...
  • then Perko's for Hogs Trough, after band concerts and dances
  • El Tapatio...and mole sauce
  • Foggy in the winter!
  • Henderson Ave. Baptist Church, which was my second home and family growing up and now feels so distant and cold, almost like a friend that died
  • Waking up in the summer to sun streaming in my window and the fan on high and loving how hot it already was outside
  • a cute Main Street
  • houseboats on Lake Success, water skiing, and swimming across it for hell week in water polo
  • riding my pink beach cruiser everywhere...and getting made fun of for it
  • fields and fields and fields
  • golden brown hills...everyone thinks they're ugly but I think they're romantic
  • football games and field shows
  • playing "Ditch-em" at Grandma's house
  • Riding the merry-go-round and playing football at Rockford on Thanksgiving
  • swimming at Dales and at the Webbs
  • friends I've known since birth and still adore and keep in touch with
  • my hometown
Porterville...I'm going far away, and I've never loved you more.  Thanks for being home.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

If a person allows it...

We all have different ways of coping with daily stresses, different things that really help us center ourselves and make the most of our day.  At least, I think it would be a good idea if we all had that.  My favorite way to start my day involves a cup of coffee or tea and three books.  First of all, the Bible...that's non-negotiable for me, and if I start my day without this I'm guaranteed a more frustrating day, and I'm usually in a worse mood.

The other two books are the type that have a different reading for each day of the year.  One of them was a gift from my father-in-law that I've mentioned before, A Year with C.S. Lewis.  Another was a gift from my Aunt Sharon, called Streams in the Desert, by L.B. CowmanToday's entry was particularly helpful to me, so I thought I would share it with you:

"If a person allows it, he can find something at every turn of the road that will rob him of his victory and his peace of mind.  Satan is far from retiring from his work of attempting to deceive and destroy God's children.  At each milestone in your life, it is wise to check the temperature of your experience in order to be keenly aware of the surrounding conditions.

If you will do this and firmly exhibit your faith at the precise moment, you can sometimes actually snatch victory from the very jaws of defeat.   

Faith can change any situation, no matter how dark or difficult.  Lifting your heart to God in a moment of genuine faith in Him can quickly alter your circumstances.

God is still on His throne, and He can turn defeat into victory in a split second, if we will only trust Him."

That was really encouraging to me today!  Why accept defeat when we can experience victory?  Every change in life can be debilitating or strengthening; it's up to us to choose which we will let it be.  Too many times I've allowed my victory and peace of mind to be robbed from me.  That's silly.  I don't want to do that anymore.

And that's why I get up early to read. :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Feelings, and feelings, and feelings. Let me try thinking instead.

The title of this blog comes from the one and only C.S. Lewis.  I think part of the reason I appreciate his writing so much is that he is so logical.  Logic, unfortunately, is one of my weaknesses.  Just ask Sam.  I'm led far too easily by my feelings, so I love this quote, and use it to remind myself often that I ought to use my brain.

One of my English professors asked which writers I enjoyed reading outside of school.  Embarrassingly, I could only come up with one name.  C.S. Lewis.  This is not embarrassing in itself, since my opinion is that Lewis is one of the greatest writers ever, but for an English major to admit to her professor that she has such a limited reading repertoire is rather difficult.

I just really, really enjoy reading his work.  I have to read it slowly, and sometimes over and over (ever read Miracles, anyone?  Mind-stretching, it is!), but it is always worth it.  I'm currently reading A Grief Observed, which I highly recommend to anyone experiencing grief of any kind.  This book is a glimpse of Lewis' thoughts and his grieving process when his wife Joy died.  My favorite thing about it is that I'm reading a copy I inherited from my grandfather, who was also a big Lewis fan.  I can appreciate the passages he underlined, and love that I feel somehow more connected to him in knowing which sections he found particularly important.  My grandpa was also incredibly in love with my grandma, in the same way C.S. radically adored Joy, so I imagine this text was very healing for him to read when my grandma passed away. 

Here's an excerpt in which Lewis addresses the concept of hard times being "sent to try us":

"But of course one must take 'sent to try us' the right way.  God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality.  He knew it already.  It was I who didn't.  In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once.  He always knew that my temple was a house of cards.  His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down."

Brilliant!  Seriously people, it's worth reading.

Throughout this book, Lewis displays his typical style of offering insights while admitting he still has many questions.  I think that's why I appreciate his writing so much.  He isn't afraid to ask questions, to admit when he doesn't know the answer.  To be sure, he's incredibly clever and has fascinating observations, and I also appreciate those.  But it is the questions, the moments when he admits that he's just as unsure and confused as I am, that I find the most helpful.  (Well, he's probably not nearly as confused as I am, but still...)

That's part of why I blog.  I don't know much, and I have so much to learn.  But maybe if I journal my bumbling thoughts along, someone will be encouraged in the same way I am encouraged by Lewis.  No, I am not under any disillusion that I have his talent or skill, nor do I plan on being as influential as he was.  But if I'm honest and real, then maybe someone along the way will benefit from that. 

I don't know any crafts, I can't help you with any great ideas for your organic garden, and I am pretty clueless when it comes to cooking.  I really wish I had those gifts, but I just don't.  There are plenty of blogs out there for those purposes, and I definitely refer to them when I need to!  At times I have been tempted to focus blogging more on these ideas simply to appeal to more people, but then I realize I wouldn't be using the actual gifts God blessed me with.  I would be quite the phony, which is not something I hope to be.  So here I sit, offering my words in the hopes that at some point something I write can be of use to someone. 

If not, at least maybe you'll smile at the cute pictures of Morty and Willow.
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