Sunday, November 11, 2007

I'm still here.

August 2007 is a month to remember. In two weeks' time, I moved into a new apartment with new roommates, changed jobs, and performed in a 24-show run. My weekends were spent at the theater, and my weekdays were spent at work (I had one day in between jobs), so moving had to happen on the weeknights... little by little, box by box. I was also setting up my new classroom and throwing together lesson plans, as I was hired two weeks before school started. It was an exciting, exhausting time! The cherry-on-top was having two of my best friends, Karen and Carlynne (above) visit, along with Carlynne's wonderful hubby and adorable baby Caleb!

I love being back in the classroom teaching English to teens!! And I've discovered an effective new way to keep my students' attention: by dressing up as Elastigirl. (This is classroom management at its finest!)

(Yes, I really taught in this get-up all day long.)
The Angels made me weep this year, but not before the Fearsome Foursome got to take in a game or two... (I love my bros and sis-in-law!)

(Please note the short-sleeve shirts and my scarf. Undoubtedly I was wearing flip-flops, too. Southern California just messes a girl up, ya know?)

My dear lifelong best friend, Christy (and her husband Joey and beautiful baby Claire) just moved to Bangladesh two weeks ago. I am so blessed to have friends who lay down their lives so that others may come to know Jesus. (But I miss 'em, too!)

And that, my blogging friends, is a poor attempt to make up for my three months' absence. I hope to blog more faithfully now that life is back to "normal" insane, instead of impossibly insane.

May your hearts be richly encouraged in Jesus and may you laugh painfully hard at least once today! More later...


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Arky, arky!

For those of you who have asked for info about "Noah," here's a link with showtimes, seats, and ticket prices:

(Photography by Jane Cason; used by permission of Dustin Ceithamer.)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Boiling pasta, shredding TP, and stuff that really matters

Today was hotter than a boiling pot of pasta. Just thinking made me sweat, and I may need to take a third shower before bed so I don't stick to my sheets.

My little Lucy cat is presently curled up in my chair with me, suffering from separation anxiety. I haven't been around much in the last two weeks, and she's made every effort to communicate her disapproval. Despite my creative attempts to outwit Luce, I have lost three rolls of TP to her. When she's angry, she drags a roll into the living room and shreds it into microbial-sized pieces.

In case you're afraid that I may be joining the ranks of bloggers who talk only about their mindless nothings and trivial happenings (such as "today I went to the grocery store" and "I think I'll paint my toenails blue tomorrow"; I mean who really cares if it was hot today or if Lucy is curled up in my chair?), I'll get to the point of what I really wanted to share here: a fabulous Scripture that has deeply encouraged my heart tonight!

"Thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, 'In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be your strength.' Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him." Isaiah 30:15a, 18

Be quiet.

If I was being tested on those five practices, I'd probably get an F. (Laughing. Now crying.) But what precious hope for people like me--the call to these habits is sandwiched in between wonderful truths of who God is!

The Lord is God.
He is the Holy One of Israel
The Lord waits to be gracious.
He exalts Himself to show mercy.
He is a God of justice.
He blesses those who wait for Him.

Friends, I hope this coming week is full of resting in and trusting God, quieting ourselves in His presence, and waiting on Him for all that we need.

Blessings on you all as you do!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Got emotions? (Yeah, me too.)

Sometimes I cave to a flood of emotions that seems to mock the dam that is my will.

Hmmm. That was very wordy. In simple terms: I’m a girl.

Now before I’m misunderstood, let me quickly say that I believe emotions are good, wonderful, and God-given. Throughout Scripture, we’re commanded to “emote” in a variety of ways: be at peace, have joy, delight in the Lord, don’t lose our zeal, feel awe, praise God, don’t fear, and so on. Our emotions are part of the whole; we cannot separate them from the body, soul, mind, spirit, will. But there’s a fine line between commanding our emotions and being commanded by them, glorifying God with our emotions and glorifying the emotions themselves.

So once in a while, especially when I’m drowning in emotion (whether it be fear, condemnation, jealousy, pity, anger, etc.), it’s helpful to meditate on a simple Scripture such as Luke 6:47-48.

"Everyone who
comes to Me and
hears My words and
does them,
I will show you what he is like: he is like a man
building a house who
dug deep and
laid the foundation on the rock.
And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built."


Dig deep and lay a solid foundation.
Don’t let your house be shaken by the flood.

I love Jesus’ simple words to my complicated heart. I will go to Him. I will listen to Him. I will do what He says.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Someone wants to be me

It's true. Someone's trying to be me.

And I resent it.

Tonight I discovered I am, for the second time now, a victim of identity theft and bank fraud. Yes, indeed, someone got their kicks out of opening a new credit card in my name, changing my address on file with the bank, and stealing money out of my checking account.

Initially I took this all in stride, calling the credit card reporting agencies, American Express, and Wells Fargo. Changing passwords and addresses, closing accounts, filing claims. And then after an hour on the phone, I hung up . . . and got really mad. How dare they (whoever “they” are)?! Let me at 'em!!


My little cat Lucy wants to be a bug assassin when she grows up. (It disturbs me greatly, but I think it's my fault. She watched Bourne Identity and Mission Impossible with me at a very impressionable young age. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find a cat therapist for a reasonable price. So I just pray for her.) Every night, Lucy drags in a June bug from the balcony, meows till she gets my attention, then proudly exhibits her professional sniper skills--finishing the ugly job by munching up her prey. It's absolutely disgusting.


When I was young, I wanted to sing like Sandi Patty, be a gymnast like Mary Lou Retton, and dance like Michael Jackson. (I think I just dated myself.) My parents were wise enough to know that as I grew up, I'd look for people to emulate. So they fed me and my brothers biography after biography of Christian "heroes"—stories of people who loved Jesus so much that they gave everything, some even their very lives, to follow Him. These "dead saints" (such as Amy Carmichael, Ridley and Lattimer, Madame Guyon, Jonathan Goforth, John and Batty Stam) lifted my sights from my spoiled American culture and inspired me to live for something greater than myself.

In the coming days, I'll be posting memorable, thought-provoking, inspiring quotes from some of these dear "friends." (Through several lonely school years, I still had the best of company!) I hope you drop by often and enjoy their wisdom and insights. And I hope whoever wanted to be me via my bank account, finds the truth and freedom and joy and hope these saints lived for.

That would be worth the hassle.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I'm hungry.

My dear friend James reminded me this morning that sometimes I think too much. It's true. Which is why God gave me a warped sense of humor, hilariously funny friends, and a family that can laugh at just about anything. Otherwise, my brain would have surely imploded a long time ago.

So tonight I'm taking a break from thinking and bringing you a blog that is devoid of any cerebral value whatsoever.

Yea, it's nigh unto stupid.

Click on the link below to laugh, cry, or torture yourself. (Compliments of David Arevalo, Jonathan, and myself, pictured together above, at one of my least favorite places in the world. But it was late and we were hungry.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Redeye surprise!

I don't think I've ever been so excited to surprise someone.

I hopped on a plane at 9:00 p.m. last Friday and began a 7-hour cross-country trek, which landed me in Washington, D.C. at 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning. A few hours later, I was huddled up with a huge crowd, ready to yell SURPRISE! as Karen walked in the door. Lemme tell ya, it was a 30th birthday party to remember!

If someone had told Karen and me when we first met 22 years ago that we'd be lifelong friends, one or both of us would surely have laughed. But unlikely friends are often the best kind, and now I cannot even begin to imagine life without Karen. She has encouraged me and cheered me on through many years and seasons; looked past my numerous faults and frailties; been as impetuous and crazy as I've been; made me laugh till I'm nauseated; and shared my passion for truth, intelligent faith, purity, and love for serving Jesus.

Here's to a friend who defines friendship. Happy 30th, dear woman!!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Hold the caviar, please.

Last week I tried to save $5 on coffee beans by buying a pound of Don Francisco's instead of Peets. At some point in the last four years, I turned into a hopeless coffee snob, and so on this particular day I wanted to prove to myself that I could be a humble coffee drinker. ("Instant Folgers coffee? I'd love some!") I paid for my bag of cheap drugs and left the grocery store feeling very satisfied with myself.

The next morning I took one sip of my new Don Francisco's coffee and promptly pitched the whole bag of beans. Then I went to Starbucks for an iced Americano. So much for saving money.

My job requires me to spend a lot of time in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, and I often run across strange and unusual words--like widdershins, sticky wicket, nudnik, quaggy, and scrofulous.

But today I lingered over a very familiar and somewhat boring word: humble.

Its definition keeps nagging at me. "On the ground; not arrogant or assertive; reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission; ranking low in a hierarchy or scale; insignificant, unpretentious; not costly or luxurious."

On the ground.
Not assertive.
Ranking low.
Not costly.
Not luxurious....

I was curious to know how this compared with the Bible's definition and use of humble, so I did a little research and found that one of the Greek words for humble, tapeino, means "to level, reduce to a plain; to be ranked below others who are honored or rewarded; reduce to meaner circumstances."

I went to an Angels baseball game on Tuesday night. An announcer came over the loud speaker and to a crowd of 45,000 said something like, "Kindness and courtesy are contagious. Try being courteous and watch others follow your lead." I'd say no one was listening--trying to get out of the parking lot after the game was like a bad hour-long chicken fight.

And I wonder... how do we pursue humility, what does it look like to be humble, in a culture that feeds our pride and screams, "You're worth it! It's all about you!"?

Sunday, June 3, 2007


Had I searched the world over, I could never have found a better match for my brother than Heather. And not only did David get the wife of his dreams, I got the sister-in-law of mine. I have learned so very much from this precious woman, and I love every minute we get together. Heather is humble, selfless, creative, loyal, talented, athletic, fun, witty, beautiful, thoughtful, patient, forgiving... and loves and honors my brother like nobody's business! To say I adore her is an understatement.

Happy 25th birthday, dearest Sis!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I deserved it.

I got my first ticket on Friday night. Excuse me: traffic citation. I was totally irritated about it, and I even laid awake a couple of nights after, stewing over the whole situation.

It's not that I didn't deserve a ticket. In fact, I'm about fourteen years overdue. I've broken the speed limit daily, run red lights, tailed cars, changed five lanes in two seconds, and rolled through too many stop signs to count (but what's that "California stop" named for anyway?). To beat all, when I was pulled over six months ago, the cop let me go despite three violations and my apparent disregard for protocol: to his utter amazement, I got out of the car and walked around to the passenger side to dig for my insurance card (which I never found). No joke, he was laughing by the time he walked away from my car. I think he was thinking: "Good Lord, thank you for my wife! I got off easy!"

So I knew my time was coming. It's just that I imagined that the ticket would be well justified… and not stupid. I mean, my record is clean and I’m pretty sweet, so a cop has to be justified to finally issue that very first ticket, right? Nope. Not in Lake Arrowhead. Little Snobville Cop was staked out for someone just like me on Friday night.

I was going to visit friends at their beautiful mountain cabin and couldn’t remember exactly which way to turn. Uncharacteristically, I made a full and complete stop at the stop sign, and then proceeded to turn right. That’s when Mr. Cocky Cop pulled behind me, turned on his lights, and then--once I'd parked--swaggered up to my driver’s window and stuck a blinding flashlight in my face. “There’s a sign that says, ‘No Right Turn,’ back there, ma’am, and you turned right,” he triumphantly told me. (It was as if he’d spent his whole day staked out at that corner, practicing that little speech. Despite his cool and cocky exterior, he was jumping for joy inside.)

Okay, so here’s the thing: I didn’t fight it. Didn’t make any excuses. Didn’t cry. And didn’t flirt. Yes, it was dusk, so I could have claimed the sign was illegible. Or I could have pointed to my clean record. Or explained that I was somewhat lost and needed directions. But I just signed that stupid yellow ticket and drove away wondering what that right-hand turn was going to cost me.

Call me dumb, but it was almost a relief to have the inevitable over with. Every day I drive, I deserve a ticket, so it was high time for me to pay.

And then, with a fresh perspective, I was reminded that I've been let off every ticket for every violation I've ever committed, from the day I was born to the day I will die. And I'm talking about my sin violations here. Every lie, selfish attitude, hideous thought, envious ambition, gossipping word, lustful impulse, and failure--every way I fall short of perfection and God's glory--is no longer written up against me... because of Jesus. Because of what He did for me.

He went into the warehouse packed wall-to-wall with my sin citations and paid for every one of them by giving up His life on the cross. I should have been on that cross paying, but He was my perfect substitute. I should spend eternity in hell, separated from the goodness of God, but I no longer have to pay--because Jesus did. On the road of life, I am now considered a perfect driver, because it's actually Jesus who's driving now. When Guilt Cop or Shame Police try to pull me over, Jesus leans out the driver's window and says, "She's with me."

And I'm free to go...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A brief breath

I've attended over twenty funerals in my time... grieved over the loss of some dear ones and ached over a couple of seemingly senseless tragedies. But I have yet to lose an immediate family member, and I cannot even begin to imagine losing a spouse. Those are griefs I know nothing of.

Phillip Ewert's young and dearly loved wife Tera died suddenly one year ago this month, and yet--in the midst of what must be unspeakable grief--he trusts and serves the Lord with all his heart. His blogs humble me and remind me that I'm living for another world. "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (Romans 8:18) Phillip parts the curtains of his suffering to give us a glimpse of glory...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Doubt, the dentist, and doorbells (cont.)

(Continued from yesterday)

I didn't budge from my bed: I was going to get a nap!! But a key jiggled in the doorknob, I heard a man yell "maintenance!", and in walked a very large stranger, who looked first in astonishment and then in utter embarrassment at the sight of me bundled up in bed. (The comedy is that I was angry and not scared.) Our brief conversation was awkward at best. He quickly left, and I never got to get my nap--probably because I was so angry that someone had ruined it in the first place. (Silly girl.)

Okay, back to doubt. Doubt loves to cast shadows on the very essence of who God is, keeping us from what our hearts were really made for in the first place: knowing and enjoying and glorifying God. Our doubt and unbelief cause apprehension (as if God were an insensitive dentist) and irritability (as if God were entering our homes uninvited, interrupting our plans). How He longs for us to know Him and believe Him for who He is, and trust that He knows what He’s doing.

Abraham of the Bible never ceases to inspire me in my faith. For all his faults, Abraham was characterized by his unwavering belief in God. In Romans 4, we find a stunning commentary on his life:

“In hope he believed against hope . . . He did not weaken in his faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead . . . No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised.” (English Standard Version)

Abraham knew God well and believed Him with all his might. He wasn’t apprehensive about what God might do to him, and he didn’t rage when God “invaded” the most important places of his life. He trusted God, “he did not weaken in his faith,” because he knew His God was the Almighty, Everlasting God.

God isn’t the dentist, and He sure isn’t a strange maintenance man barging into your home. He is trustworthy; He is perfect; He doesn’t make mistakes; He isn’t mean. He is the God who made the heavens and earth—and you and me. He deserves us being “fully convinced” about Him—and getting rid of that doubt, which will eventually (to return to my original analogy) take us captive in our own homes.

Tonight may we say with that old centurion, "I believe. Help me in my unbelief!"

Monday, May 21, 2007

Doubt, the dentist, and doorbells

Doubt builds its fence around the property line of our weaknesses: Where our finite minds cannot fathom the infinite, Doubt creeps in the back door. Where our pride persuades us that we know better than God, Doubt rearranges the living room furniture. Where we have known bitter disappointment and hurt, Doubt hangs his pictures on the wall. Where we have failed and sinned until shame shuts us up in silence and isolates us, Doubt throws a party.

I had a dreaded dentist appointment today. Many of you may sympathize with me when I tell you that I get slightly panicked and mildly manic for the three days leading up to a trip to the dentist. (Months ago I even looked online for tips to "surviving a dentist appointment," but when I read "avoid drinking caffeine before your appointment as this will only increase your stress level," I realized there were greater evils than going to the dentist.)

Anyway, today I let a strange man tilt me upside down in a chair, shine an old yellowed light into my face, shoot my gums with a needle full of unidentified numbing potion, chisel and drill violently into two cavitied teeth, shove gauze and water and air hoses in and out of my mouth, and then send me on my way with a curt, "We'll clean your teeth next time."

I was happy to get home, and I had a couple of hours to take a much-needed nap before my evening plans. Ahhh, sleep. Haven't done that in awhile, and my bed quickly lulled me into a comatose state. And then, a loud knock at the door and the chiming of the doorbells . . .

*To Be Continued (heehee)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

"Sing to me..."

After a seven-year hiatus from taking voice lessons, I recently found an incredible voice teacher in Orange County and ventured to pursue my lifelong love once again. It's been a rewarding, fun, humbling, and thrilling process. I've discovered many bad habits formed in seven years' time and learned amazing new techniques for (hopefully) taking my voice to new levels. I'm practicing daily and get so excited when I grasp new concepts and hear my voice improve just a smidgeon. It's a tedious process, and I'll never be that great, but it sure is a stinking blast!

Yesterday morning I was reading in 1 Timothy, and a verse in chapter 6 captured me: "But as for you, O man of God . . . pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness." I was fascinated by this idea of pursuing, especially pursuing love (I mean, don't you just have it or you don't?), so I decided to do some simple cross-referencing to find out more:

"Seek peace and pursue it." Psalm 34:14
"So then let us pursue what makes for mutual upbuilding." Romans 14:19
"Pursue love..." 1 Corinthians 14:1
"So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace..." 2 Timothy 2:22

I realized again that Spurgeon was right: we don't live in neutral. We're pursuing one thing or another--to one degree or another. I'm pursuing a better singing voice, and to do so I'm paying good money (which means cutting back in other areas), spending a lot of time and energy, changing bad habits and thought patterns, and saying "no" to other activities.

When I think of it in these terms, pursuing love doesn't seem so abstract anymore. To love people, I choose certain habits, thoughts, priorities, attitudes, and actions... and say "no" to others.

And I make these choices, not by my own power ('cause I'm pretty dang selfish on my own), but by the power of the Spirit of God who lives in me and "is able to do far more abundantly than all that I ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).

This pursuit takes work and time and diligence. It doesn't come naturally (at least not to me, it doesn't), and we shouldn't be surprised at how tough it is at times. But boy, is it worth it when you open your mouth and out pops a beautiful note you never thought you'd be able to sing.

Let's pursue loving the people around us today, sweet friends... and enjoy the beauty of the song that God writes with our hearts.

(The picture above is of me with a few college girls I get to hang out with every Friday night. These women are amazing and their lives belt out the most beautiful love songs...)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I don't lose glass slippers

It's past midnight, and I'm trying desperately to think my way through an overly fatigued haze in an effort to officially introduce my blog.

A blog ought to have a proper beginning, right? A "grand opening" or some such thing?

But you see, when midnight strikes, I don't lose glass slippers. I lose brain waves. All synapses stop synapsing and all activity comes to a screeching halt. (Much like a Southern California freeway.)

So I suppose I'll keep this simple and thank you for stopping by. I do hope this small corner of cyberspace proves to be an encouraging, thought-provoking, tear-jerking, laughter-inducing, faith-inspiring, and oft-visited one.

You, my friends, are the obvious inspiration for my blogging. Until we meet again (and before my coach turns back to a pumpkin)...

Good night.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I like the way this guy thinks.

"What if it were discovered that fetal tissue were a delicacy? Could you eat it?"

-Stanley Hauerwas' argument against fetal tissue experimentation, as quoted in WORLD Magazine, March 17, 2007

Monday, May 14, 2007


To a man whose love, integrity, purpose, honor, humor, kindness, faithfulness, godliness, and genius have quietly influenced the lives of all around you... Happy 28th birthday! You make me feel like a princess, beloved sister, and treasured friend. You are the brother every girl hopes for.

Happy aging. (I can say that since I'm older.)

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Giving birth to me was the easy part. Mom's real labor started once I took my first breath. In fact, I've never figured out why my parents had five more kids after me. I should have been the permanent cure.

I wasn't trouble in the typical way. I was creative in my sin, strong willed, stubborn, and deceptive at a doctoral level. An artistic drama queen, I had more flair and manic tendencies than I knew what to do with, so even at a very young age, I found outlets (like coloring on the walls and stealing popsicles from the freezer). Even now I'm a tough case, and if it weren't for the grace and power and love of God, and His work in my life these many years, I'd be the poster child for sin.

Raising me must have been a perpetual boot camp for my mom. And at 31 years of age, I still give Mom plenty to pray about. It's no wonder then that more than one person has said she is the godliest woman they know. I suppose I can take a bit of credit for that. But I definitely can't take any credit for the fact that God gave me such a mother. That's grace. Mercy. Kindness. Blessing beyond measure...

One of my mom's friends said to her: "Jesus leaks out of you." I'd disagree. Jesus cascades out of my mom like a waterfall. And everyone around her, especially her family, gets gloriously soaking wet in the process.
I have been loved unconditionally, prayed for continually, and shown the precious reality of Christ. I am spoiled rotten. Happy mother's day to you, my dear Mommers.

Mr. J. D. Fish

Happy birthday to a friend who has outgiven, outloved, and outwitted me at every turn. These nine years of friendship have proven to me what I knew from the start: you are an amazing man, and I am blessed to call you my friend.