Food Adventures

This was the week of cooking and baking. I first started off with making brownies from scratch a week ago. I was excited to make these because I had fond memories of one of my college friends who made the best brownies ever, except there was one time where he ran out of cocoa powder and used ovalteen instead. It was not the same at all. But I did enjoy my first brownie from scratch experience and I cannot wait to experiment more.

This was the final product. 

It was also a chance to try something from Pintrest. I decided to make Chipotle Pesto Pasta this evening.  I dislike cooking for myself so I invited a few students over to be my testers. I was surprised how well it turned out (other than being pretty spicy). I have been surprising myself lately of how much I not only enjoy cooking but how easy it can actually be sometimes. I'm really enjoying going through these 25 Goals.

And here is the final product.


Pencil Poles

About two weeks ago, I took some students with me to my old elementary school to help turn their normal, boring, average looking poles into pencils. It was my mom's idea but one pintrest creation down! Only 24 more to go.

(left) Myself, Austin, and Nick all attended PCS at some time or another. 

The finished product. 


Rainy Beach Day

"What do you want to do for dinner?"

Well that one question was the beginning of quite an adventure for Sarena, Mark, and myself. We started out heading towards Pasadena to enjoy a wonderful meal The Hat, one of my favorite places to eat. But as we finished dinner we longed for a bit more adventure, excitement, and spontaneity. As soon as Mark began to discuss his failed attempts to visit Malibu Beach the night before, I glanced at my phone to see it was still early into the evening.

"Let's go to Malibu." I suggested. And they agreed. Off to Malibu, in the dark, in the rain we went. We arrived at Point Dume State Beach (#2 place I've never been) where we proceeded to play in the ocean, in the fog, and in the rain. For about an hour we just ran around in the ocean and trying unsucessfully not to get completely wet. There was a minor sand fight between Sarena and I. We all walked home barefoot because our feet were so sandy (my car is proof of that).

I would have to say going after these 25 goals is a splendid way to spend my time. Never would I have imagined such an evening.


Running Adventures

Today it was raining. I debated for a while if I should go running or put it off until tomorrow. I decided to brave it and go. It was only sprinkling so I wasn't getting wet really.

Until I managed to step into a giant puddle half way through my run. Literally at the halfway point so there was no point in turning back. I got to enjoy running just under a mile in a wet shoe and soggy sock. That's why I played basketball in school. Indoors and never a chance of wet shoes or soggy socks.



"It takes very little to raise me me up or thrust me down. Often I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of its waves. All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over shows that my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me."

- Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son


Long Road Ahead

For one of my 25 goals this year, I am going to run a 5K - well actually two - one at the beginning of the year and one towards the end. I have about two months until my first ever 5K race. I don't typically run let alone participate in organized running, but I want to get in better shape this was the easiest to do with my busy schedule.

I was doing pretty well before I left for Urbana, but because of the conference itself and then getting majorly sick right after, I haven't run since late December. I finally started training again and I felt like I wanted to die (or at least stop running and cry). I hope it was due to jumping back in even while I'm still recovering, but I feel like I started over. Not that I have any clue really what I'm doing (ok I have some idea how to train well and there is a plan involved) but it will still feel like a miracle if I pull this 5K off.

I don't really know what the picture has to do with running really, but I feel like I'm the T-Rex here, trying to achieve the possible. And you know, a genie in a bottle wouldn't hurt either.


Urbana 12 via a Bookstore Employee

As you may have heard, I recently attended a huge missions conference in St. Louis, MO known as Urbana 12. I went three years ago in 2009 and both conferences had a profound affect on my life. Back in 2009 I was anxiously awaiting an answer to the question "What will I do when I graduate?" I got one phrase - "Return to Fresno." And while I grossly misinterpreted that to mean moving to Fresno full time (which I didn't), I did find myself on staff for a Urban summer project in Fresno and then returning to get my teaching credential. A lot of things happened in my life because of Urbana 09, and I can only assume the same will happen for Urbana 12. But I don't know what God will do as a result of Urbana 12, and so I thought I would share what I am processing.

I tend to be very experiential so while the sessions were amazing (and you can see them here), I probably learned more from my experiences at Urbana 12 than any of the general sessions. First let me tell you what I did while I was there. Since I was serving as a staff at the conference, I did not have the freedom to do what I liked all the time. I worked in the bookstore stock room, making sure the bookstore looked clean, that there were always enough books on the shelves, and keeping track of when books sold out. I worked mostly from 1:00-6:30 (and was sadly unable to go to any of the seminars) with meetings in the morning. I was able to attend most of the general sessions and spend some time with my students.

I was surprised how difficult it was to serve in this role for several reasons. One it was very psychically taxing. I was on my feet for at least seven hours a day at work (not to mention all the walking to and from places) and while I was working around a lot of people, the lack of direct interaction wore the extrovert in me out completely. It was also interesting to be in a working position where you weren't sure if people were supposed to interact with you. Most people who walked through the bookstore tended to ignore the stock room employees not out of spite but so they wouldn't be in the way. They also had the cashiers to interact with and the book information table to ask their questions. We were there to keep the place running smoothly and sometimes it meant staying out of the way.

It was also difficult because I felt I was missing out on a lot. When I was a student in Urbana 09, I was directly apart of the whole Urbana experience, processing with my friends and maybe even being a little annoying at some points (I was still learning how to process around introverts at the time). But this time I felt distant from my students - who were soaking up their own Urbana experience, who had each other to process with, and I was limited by my work hours and my exhaustion. There were moments when I felt as I reached out to students, I could only go so far and they were already taken care. It was hard for me, for someone who had spent an entire semester trying to take care of them, feeling like I was unable to do so at this conference for a large variety of reasons.

So what did I learn while I was there? Well four things stuck out about my experience at Urbana 12 (not including the amazing sessions I was able to be a part of).

1. Sometimes ministry is about getting on your knees and pulling books out of boxes. Ministry is not always the glorified view we paint it to be. There is a lot of hard work involved and sometimes we don't get noticed for the hard work we do - and many times we shouldn't. We live in a culture where we constantly need to be praised for every good work that is done (I'm a frequent member of wanting to be in that club) and sometimes we just need to do the work that God has called us, not to get notice or praise but because God has called us. That week, God called me to serve in the book store stock room. No, it was not glorious or fancy (and sometimes not fun) but it was necessary to help students have the full experience of Urbana 12. Will I see how my efforts somehow affected God's Kingdom - no I will not. But I can see how working here affected me and that is more than good enough.

2. Jesus meets people's needs, not me. This was probably the harder lesson I learned while at Urbana. After working with a ministry that had not had staff, I got used to the idea that I was "needed" around that fellowship. And yes, staff were needed there but ultimately it Jesus who meets their spiritual and physical needs much better than I could ever attempt. As I longed to meet the spiritual needs of my students - to help them process, to join in their experience of Urbana 12, Jesus telling me to let him meet the needs of my students. This doesn't mean I back off or get lazy because sometimes Jesus meets people's needs by using his servants to do something. And even if Jesus is meeting people's needs through me - I let Jesus be in control of the process. It changes how I respond and even initiate with my students, keeping Jesus at the center rather than myself.

3. My self-worth and value is not linked to how often people want to process with me. This is a hard lesson that I keep having to re-learn. Since the best way that I experience love from other people is quality time, I tend to view their time spent with me as an extension of their love. When it comes to ministry, I can be tempted to think that students care for me and trust me when they want to process their experiences with me and tend to be apathetic about me when they would rather process with others. This got challenged simply by my lack of availability  I was not around as often to process and experience the conference with my students so they would go to others rather than to me. Also Urbana is a hectic conference (really even that feels like an understatement) and so to process anything while you are there is only done by the extreme processors (like myself - but even I didn't do it this time). It is an ongoing lesson that was brought to the light when I came home as I tried to interact with my students about their experiences and felt like they had other places to go and process. It was hard to admit that I once again tied my value as a staff worker with how much people seek me out. But here they can seek out each other and seek out Jesus and once again challenging how easy it is for me to feel I have to be at the center.

4. A call is not felt, it is heard. This was big for me. When Tom Lin, the Urbana director gave an invitation to partake in God's cross-cultural and global mission - three years ago I was waiting for the magic spark. I was waiting for the gooey feeling inside that I knew this was right. Little did I know that God was trying to tell me for years to just partake anyway, that he was calling me to partner with someone great for something great. This year, as I sat in my seat, I knew that God was calling me to just say yes - that he would figure out the rest and let me know of the small steps I needed to take. I didn't have to wait for a gooey feeling inside to partake in his mission but I knew that's just what I wanted to do with my life long term. So I said yes. Don't know what will happen next but I know that God is faithful to lead me and prepare me for where he wants me to go.

It feels like a lot when I put it in writing, and maybe it was long overdue but now I must review my notes and watch the videos to see what God was teaching me through the content of Urbana, not just my experiences.



I have found a sandwich shop I like almost as much as High Street Deli (no one can ever replace them as number 1 in my heart). The one problem is that it is located in St. Louis. Even farther away than SLO. Seriously world? What's so hard about finding one in Los Angeles I really like? I'm too picky for my own good. Well here is new place number 1 I visited while in St. Louis for Urbana 12. 

Books 1 and 2

As you might recall, once I turned 25, I decided to create a list of goals for the year - to challenge myself in things I like doing. Obviously I plan to blog about my journeys through these. I have just finished two books out of my 25 for the year (remember I started on Dec. 16 rather than Jan 1).

The two books I have finished are:

Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver.
It is a story about a young girl named Liesl who is locked in a tiny attic bedroom and one night is visited by a ghost, Po. The same night, a young boy William (the alchemist's apprentice) confuses an important delivery. Will's mistake creates an adventurous tale of magic, friendship, and adventure for all three young children.

Healing for Damaged Emotions by David A. Seamands
There is a kind of hurt and pain that cannot be worked through by normal prayer and scripture reading. A deep pain, wounded emotions that are often caused from moments long ago but invade the reality of our present. These inner hurts are what Seamands works through - presenting their reality and their affect on our lives. He writes honestly through his own stories and hurts so that readers may also deal honestly with their own deep inner hurts.


Urbana 12

Every three years, InterVarsity USA and Inter-Varsity Canada put on a mission conference known as Urbana. I attended in 2009 and was privileged to attend Urbana 12 this year. There are so many things to be said about the conference, and I'm sure I will be reflecting on them more as the month rolls on but here are my top highlights.

- Hearing a talk given in Spanish
- Being challenged and grown in unexpected ways
- Hearing an African man be the first to give the primary scripture exposition for the conference

- Worshiping in 4 different languages at once
- Singing in Hindi for the first time
- Watching a Chinese student light up when we sang in Mandarin
- Seeing my students sing in new languages

- Seeing over 200 people make heart commitments for Jesus (98 of them for the first time)
- Seeing my students wrestle with hard questions and make radical commitments for God's global mission
- Watching 7 CSUN students commitment to long term cross-cultural and global mission

- Students joining-in and making 32,000 AIDS caregiver kits instead of a hearing a speaker
- Having 15 CSUN students attend the conference (that is 25% of our fellowship)
- Re-uniting with old friends and making new ones

Ringing in the new year with 16,000 of my brothers and sisters 

*pictures from urbana.org