Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My House....

Nothing amazing to write or read here today. Just wanted to take a minute and sit with my thoughts online. Sitting here makes me get out of auto-mode and look beyond my "to do list".
I feel like August is getting out of control and it really doesn't start until tomorrow. I am not complaining in the least. I am just not ready to start thinking about school along with all of our other activities slated.

This week holds adventures galore for me......
-the girls are having 2 sleepovers
-providing care for various friends' young children
-youth car wash
-turn and burn to the beach
-teaching over the weekend
-then all of the usual household and office admin. responsibilities

I love it all. Seeing the beach will be great and cause a smile and big sigh to envelop me.

After that things go into high gear with.....
-school planning
-various meetings
-TIP training
-painting (no it is not mandatory for me to paint the rest of the house. It is just something that will help me feel orderly)
-bridal shower
-baby shower

I do want to make mention that I had a great day on Sunday. My mom and I put together a huge dinner to celebrate my dad. (After being laid off the last several months, he was able to get hired on at a small airline at the airport. Praise God! What a relief that is.) So, I made lumpia while my mom fired up the grill for a combination of bbq wings and bratwurst.
It was so great to sit and visit and laugh with my family. My mom and cousin "lani-girl" always make tears roll down my face as my sides hurt from laughing so hard.

Well how about that.....I didn't think I had anything worth writing today. The above words won't really mean anything to anyone else, but I can now use this to look back and smile as I say, "oh yes I remember that day. That was the day I sat down at the computer frustrated and weighed down but finished with a smile of fond memories and encouragement."

Thank you God for always being an encourager.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Youth Camp...

A week ago today, I headed out for youth camp with my brother-in-law's truck/camper combo and our trailer filled with Costco food fixin's for 23 people. We had four days planned out with tent camping, fireside talks, rafting, and an all day ropes course adventure. Part of me asked myself what in the world did I think I was doing while the other half of me looked forward to the exciting adventure.

Truth be told, hanging around with our youth group is an addictive shot in the arm for me.

At 36 years old, one would probably figure I am just trying to make sure I stay young. Honestly, I have occasionally wondered that very same thing myself. Really, with all of my responsibilities as wife, mother, teacher, and childrens pastor....why would I put myself in the shoes of being a self-appointed secretary who tries to remember to fill in administrative gaps and have ample energy left over to smile and share my motherly heart with the teens?

Being a mom......
at times I have felt so insecure about my position. After all, I am MOM. Why would they want me there anyway? General society behaviors scream out that teens look for any escape to get away from their parents? So, aren't I infringing on their precious time of self-awareness and individuality?

Time and time again though, I learn fresh that they minister to me just as much as I minister to them. You have the freedom to say that I am biased, but I believe with all my heart that our group does not display the "normal and expected" characteristics of teen-hood that so many of us have had to deal with. Yes, they have their ups and downs just like everyone else on this earth, but they are resilient, strong, and don't want to be classified as society's "typical".
Even though our group is filled with a combination of jocks and computer techies, musicians and introverts.....there are truly no cliques or self absorbed neon signs in our bunch. Despite character differences and learned experiences, they genuinely encourage and care for one another as a whole.

It is by these continual demonstrations in equality of heart that they teach, minister, and impact my life. It is in this realm where I see that they encourage me to be all the different facets that I need to be.
As an administrator I heard them say, "Thanks Julie for getting me those permission slips. I couldn't have gone to camp without them."
As the cook I heard, "Wow you are the best! We are never going to starve with all of the food that we have here."
As the nurse I saw gratefulness in their eyes as I doled out bandaids, tylenol, ice packs, and prayers over their bodily mishaps.
The mom side of me was so blessed when they physically jumped off that 80 foot free fall swing and yelled out, "Julie I am going to need a hug when I get down from here!"
And as a part of the group, I can still hear their cheers of encouragement as I fought off my fear of heights to climb 50 feet up a tree and slide down an 800 foot long zip line.

See, as these teens are growing up and learning who they are in the world, they have already mastered what some adults have failed to learn.......and that is the fact that heart and moment matters.
The truth is, I need them just as much as they need me. And it has nothing to do with age.
It has everything to do with heart.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


This is the week of adventure and begs me to ask myself the question......How do I get myself into these things.

"Wow" is in Canada right now touring the countryside on bike.
I am packing up this morning to be the youth camp cook for 4 days.

Who is going to have the better adventure?
No, that is not a fair question. Each situation holds a personal and fulfilling experience all on its own.

Well, here I go........

Friday, July 13, 2007

In A Moment....

There they were walking down the sidewalk.
Neither could have been more than 16 years old.

At first glance, his tri-colored hair in shades of bottled red to jet black made me think he had been the sad victim of a "tar baby" game. I don't mean that to be snide. It was just truly my thought at first glance. My second glance told me that he was expressing his individuality and creative freedom. He was dressed in all black from head to toe. He had on a duo set of t-shirts, the outer shirt appearing to be about 3 sizes too small. His jeans, which desperately needed a belt, were clean and free of worn spots. He walked with determination and seemed to convey the idea that he knew the world was watching him as he sucked on the straw of his McDonalds drink cup.

She had blonde hair that hung past her shoulders and her shapely figure was accented by her black tube top and tan colored shorts. She was free of tatoos, hair accents, and piercings. Her only jewelry was a black lanyard around her neck with a single key on it...probably her house key. Her step had an energy and spring to it, singing the idea that the world was basically good and just waiting to be explored.

For all obvious purposes, they looked like their worlds and experiences were vastly different from each other. Yet, as they crossed the street in front of my car, I noticed something else entirely. Just a few feet from the curb, he took one last sip of his drink and then with a casual air.....tossed his cup into the grass. At that instant, she grabbed his arm in her hands, laid her head on his shoulder, and looked up into his face like he had the power to hang the moon and stars. He looked back down into her face with a smirk that said there was no place else in the world she ever needed to be but right there at his side...adoring him.

As I sat at that traffic light watching them turn and walk away from me, a few questions ran through my head.
What does she see in this young man that makes her feel so?
Has anyone in her life ever told her that shooting for the stars means looking and aiming above the trees?
Do her parents know where she is?
Is she as innocent as she appears?
Will they still know each other next week?
Who will they be next year?
Will they one day look back on this moment of time and blush?

It is amazing how much of the world you can see at a traffic light.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Voices Will Get You If You Are Not Careful...

Today I have decided to shout out my freedom from the voices.
What voices?......The voices in my head of course.
I know, I sound nuts.

See, I have always been a firm believer that man's spoken word (and also The Spoken Word) wield such power in the every day lives of people. You know...
If you don't believe you can do it, then you will fail.
Tell yourself you are a success and you will succeed.
You are what you eat. You are what you think. You are who you hang with.
So on and so forth.........

So, when my thoughts start getting complicated, I try with all of my might to not give voice to them. As loud as those thoughts get, I focus on my target and goal, what I know is right and responsible. It often reminds me of a scene in Star Wars when the rebel forces are getting ready to destroy the Death Star. As a fighter pilot is flying down the trench towards the exhaust port, he yells into his com device that it is too tight and difficult. You hear his commander saying firmly over and over again, "Stay on target! Stay on target! Stay on target......"
I actually hear that in my head when I feel life and my thoughts spinning out of control. Crazy huh?

Why bring all of this up? Well, for years (and I do mean years) I have run in different directions from a certain and particular thought that has plagued me. I won't bother naming that thought here and now because......it is meaningless. Let's just say that it was a big and monsterous thought....one that if I dared be so stupid as to act out on it......the ramifications would re-set the earth into a different orbit.
I ran. I metephorically stuck my fingers in my ears so I couldn't hear it. I focused on every responsible thing I could think of. But the thought grew and began to have a life of it's own. It would corner me in the dark shadows and whisper to me when I least expected it. It was horrible!

One day though, I learned a lesson. Sometimes, giving voice to those monstorous thoughts can cause the overwhelming and make-believe bubble world to pop.
Reality seeped in gradually and colored my world in new hues.
I have to laugh at myself now...holding onto a thought such as that for so long.
I can now hear a thick french accented voice smiling at me and saying,

"You silly little girl."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


God has such a way of making things come about.
In reference to my emotional quandary of last week; everything is finished now. I picked up the prescription and had to deal directly with "contact fitting gal". It happened to be most geographiclly convenient to pick it up on my way home from having dental work done....with both sides of my mouth numb up to my nose.

See how God did that?

There was no way I could be in spiteful form when I was busy trying to make sure drool didn't leave my mouth. I simply smiled in sincerity and said "thank you" as best as I could.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

You May Now Call Me Super Girl

Granted, I don't jump up and down with excitement about driving into the north part of town, but I am capable of doing it. My intstinct is to say that I am not a metro-city-girl, but if you throw a challenge at me that the downtown streets, traffic, and interesting people are a daunting task.....I will stick out my chest everytime and accept the challenge without even quaking in my boots.
Bearing that in mind, I jumped up this morning and headed straight into freeway traffic to be early for my training class.
There were no accidents, no wrong turns, no panic attacks. I did just great. Aside from having to drive around the building three times to find the entrance to the parking with all of those one way streets....there is nothing to make my story interesting.

Incidentaly, if you ever find yourself choking, having protruding broken bones, or in a state of cardiac distress......have no fear for I am now newly re-certified in adult, child, and infant cpr as well as first aid.
My friend and I took classes today from 8:30am - 4:30pm learning all we could from young Francisco, who looked no more than 24 years old but had a personal experience for each situation discussed. I walked out of class with perfect scores on each test taken, 2 certification cards, and a head pounding with a swirling array of knowledge.
It is like brain washing and I am exauhsted and stressed about it all now.
I was watching a movie with my family tonight and when a situation arose on the screen that showed a character passing out.....I jumped and said "Wait! First assess the situation and make sure the area is safe!"
I guess Francisco is definately a good teacher.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

It Happens To Everyone.....

What does?.......

being human and dealing with a gambit of emotions.
This is where I am at right now.
The majority of opinion around me, tends to believe that I don't wrestle with petty things because I am quiet, I am organized, I tend to choose the mature option with things, I try diligently to think before I speak......
.....ugh I sound like a noble, dependable, wet noodle.

The fact is...I wrestle every day with what I WANT to say and do and what I actually DO say and do.

For example, here is the thing I am focusing on right now in my mind......
A few weeks ago, I took my 15 year old in to get her first pair of contacts. I spoke with 3 different people at the establishment of choice and they all told me that I could do the exam and trial pair of contacs for $110. It was a great deal to have all the perks of a real eye specialist and all of the support that they offered.
I was frustrated though in dealing with "contact fitting gal". She was short tempered and sassy through our whole appointment. She was sarcastic with my daughter and annoyed with me when I took over explaining how to put contacts in because she didn't want to give my daughter the time of day. Anyone who knows me, knows that a lack of professionalism is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. Still I bit my tongue and stayed in a "gracious attitude". She had us pay only $85 of the bill because she wasn't 100% sure on the fit when we left and asked us to come back in two weeks.
When we went back, we were able to find the correct lenses and "contact fitting gal" informed me that my bill was just $110 to be paid in full that day. No I didn't keep my mouth shut. With a smile I informed her that I had already paid the $85 and should only have $25 left to pay.
As much as I tried, I couldn't keep her eyes from rolling back in her head as she told me that I was mistaken and aparently shy a few marbles for believing such a falsehood. The $110 was for the fitting only and not for the doctor.

What did I do?...
I paid it.
I remember that feeling of being rescued from life with glasses and I wanted my daughter to have that freedom.
However, as best as I could convey my opinions about the situation without embarassing my daughter or making her feel guilty for money spent, I let that gal know that I didn't appreciate being misinformed. I told her that her team needed to get their facts straight and not take advantage of customers and they certainly needed to become more professional so that customers could actually respect them.
Yeah really........then I paid with a smile and walked out.
As I left, I could see the steam coming out from "contact fitting gal's" ears as she thought I had nerve to speak with such an obnoxious air.

I then made sure to tell all of my friends in need of contacts how annoying she was and they should go to a different office.

Now I must blush......
After we got back from vacation a couple of days ago.......there was a refund check in the mail from said place for paying $85 too much on our bill.
I was so happy to see that, relieved that I did in fact understand correctly, thankful that the money could go back into the account.........
Then I wrestled. Did I want to go down there and with all sincerity say thank you for being observant and honest? No. I just wanted to march down there and shove it in her face and say, "ha! you thought you knew it all and couldn't let anyone tell you otherwise. Look at this.....the accounts department caught your mistake and I am justified!"

Honestly, I am still wrestling. I have to call her in the next couple of days to get the final prescription written out. I have been stalling because I am not ready to suck it up and be the bigger and more mature person that I know God wants me to be.
I am human....
definately not perfect.....

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Vacation 2007: Day 1

We loaded up the car, a Ford Expedition which was a wonderful borrowed blessing from my parents, and headed south. Our destination was Windsor, California, wine country in Sonoma County. The first day alone was filled with adventure as we broadened our horizons and set out. After all, traveling with 4 teenage girls constantly giggling with ideas and conversation will broaden anyone's perspective on life.

From the moment we left our driveway, they began a film documentation of our journey. Since the title "24" was already in use by Kiefer Sutherland, the next LOGICAL choice was "A Weekend, A Week, and A Weekend". (Say that five times fast.) Each hour found the video camera being turned on to permanently inbed the highways , byways, and winding switch-back roads into our memory banks for an eternity (or as long as the video tape is living).

Listening to the girls made for quite the experience on our 12 hour driving foray. Each of the 4 girls have dabbled and are skilled with varying degrees of expertise in movie making, animation, music, computer technology, photography, and story writing. So their creative ideas flowed like a river as they took turns telling stories, singing songs, and snapping pictures.

As soon as the car was unloaded and groceries were put away in our condo, out to the pool they ran to wash away the rememberances of "life on the road" and embrace the modern day conveniences of resort living.
What will our week bring?

Day 2

Relaxation.........reading, swimming, and a walk around the golf course after dark.
Can you hear the blissful sigh?

Day 3

"Dad, there are 4 votes for the beach today. So, yours and Mom's votes don't matter", proclaimed Rosie with an air of authority and satisfaction as my husband walked into the living room after a well rested night.
Pip spoke up in correction, like big sisters are prone to do, "Rosie that's not necessarily true. Mom and Dad are the drivers here. So we get to go to the beach only if they TAKE us to the beach."

Of course, we want the children happy, so away to the beach we went. We spent an hour playing around just north of Bodega Bay. It was such a wonderful area to explore and chase waves.

Once we had our fill of playing in the frigid waters, we found this very interesting sign. Let me just state here that this sign...... containing valuable and life saving information......was not by the parking lot where people could easily read it and be informed. Nor was it posted by the pathway leading to the inviting beach area. Instead, it was posted far off to the side facing the bathroom doors in the gully area. What did the sign say?.......
WARNING! This is one of the most DANGEROUS beaches in California. Beware of sleeper waves." It was illustrated by a picture of stick figured people being pulled into the water against their will and swirling about below the wave surface to their deaths.

No really.... I am not joking.

Aside from sunburns (because of the excitement of jumping out of the car and forgetting the ever important sunscreen), we all escaped unscathed. So, I guess the old saying IS true....God protects the ignorant.
I figure after our friends hear of this...I will never be able to keep charge of their precious ones again.

We then headed into town for lunch. We had hot dogs and burgers at the local "all the french fries you can eat" shack and then ice cream from the shop next door. Incidentally, if you are looking for a new business, the icea cream shop in Bodega Bay is for sale at only $49,000. It brags of having continual clients and of being the only ice cream/coffee shop in town.

To round off the day, we introduced Kish to the fun past time of letterboxing as we found 3 treasures during our day trip.

Day 4

Today was a day for lounging, swimming, and laundry. Even though I put SPF45 on the girls several times today, they are now thoroughly glowing in the red. Tomorrow I must plan indoor activities and forbid them from seeing the light of day so that their bodies can recouperate.

The evening found us venturing to the Town Green to watch the weekly movie and have popcorn while sitting on the lawn of the park. This week's movie....Stuart Little. Hey, who can resist that cute white mouse on a 30 foot inflatable screen under the stary sky? That does make him decidedly more tall than his voice counter part - Michael J. Fox.

Day 5

I had no idea that there was a museum soley dedicated to the works of Charles M. Schulz, the creator of Peanuts. We had so much fun touring the museum and learning the history of Snoopy and Charlie Brown.

After our scoop of cultural history, we ventured out to find 2 more letterboxes. The original directions actually named 5 boxes on this hike but we were worn out after hiking 3 miles. Though it was a beautiful hike and made my home spot pale in comparison, all of the mosquitoes made us quite grumpy. It was nothing a good dip in the pool couldn't fix.
While swimming around, our girls made friends with a japanese family that actually live not too far from us in our home metro area! If you know my girls, then you know what joy and conversation that all brought on poolside. Their daughter even came over for our 10pm invitation for movies and popcorn after the pool closed.

Day 6

I never knew how beautiful a redwood forest could be. I mean, I've seen pictures of it all but a picture just can't relay the complete magnitude of standing at the base of a tree that towers 310' tall. I would have loved to have spent a few a few days hiking around Armstrong Redwood Forest, but I'm grateful for the time we had.

We even found a letterbox while we were there.

Day 7

Old downtown Windsor (which was actually built 5 years ago to bring in tourism revenue) is quite an interesting place to walk around. Each shop and dinning establishment was created to resemble days of old and no matter where one walks, the sounds of music greet the ear.....everything from the big band era to the soul searching oddities of the 60's. The sense of community spirit was strong as I visited with independent shop owners and watched neighbors "walk" through the Town Green Park.

My husband, along with the 4 girls, had hopped on their bikes for a ride and met me in this center of nostalgia for some window shopping. We each found little trinkets to call our own: novelty candy, a train whistle, souvenier bottles of wine, and a small pair of sparklies for myself.

The evening hours were filled with the last efforts of swimming in the resort pool and hot tub. After all, in the minds of our youth, who really needs to eat when the cool water becons and says, "Tonight is our last swim together. Tomorrow you must leave and I may never see you again."

Day 8

As vacations go....we left and departed for home with mixed feelings. We were happy at the prospect of returning to the familiar but saddened for the adventure to end. We were worn out from all the excitement and change of pace but pleased with our minds full of fond memories.

Once again the car was filled with the sounds of ideas in full exchange. Creativity zoomed through the laptops and illustations as critiques and encouragements for various projects were shared.
We chose to take the scenic route home and travel Hwy 101 up the west coast. We oohed and aahed through the redwoods, snapped pictures with the legendary Paul Bunyan, and hugged the "Welcome to Oregon" sign.
As we drank in the amazing sight of the sun dipping into the clouds of the Pacific, we all felt blessed for the opportunity of time well spent this past week.

It has been a good time indeed.