Top 25 Things I Learned in the PNW - Round 3

Again Sol and I traveled to the PNW for our third year in a row and we learned a variety of new lessons:

1. We are all in this together... until we split up. 

2. Good things come in pink boxes.

3. Australians think American diner coffee is strange. 

4. "The Internet is like a bunch of tortoises held together by duct tape." - Austin from Voodoo Doughnuts

5. Beer aware for Seattle is beer country.

6.Always take the time to make new friends - it leads to unexpected adventures. 

7. Even extroverts need their alone time. 

8. Never take crayons for granted. 

9. Fancy cars can be the most confusing

10. Pigeons never, ever forget. 

11. You are awesome and sometimes you need people to tell you that.

12. There is always a reason to wear red pants. 

13. Some places don't tell you they are closed for a holiday on their voice mail... or website... or Facebook... or Twitter... or Instagram. Instead they go old school and leave a sign on the door.

14. Warnings for bathroom emergencies are always helpful on long road trips. 

15. Making friends with the locals can unlock town secrets. 

16. One of the saddest moments in your life could be breaking your glass at a beer festival. 

17. Until you realize it is really having to sit at an airport for seven hours due to flight delays. 

18. Doughnuts can make everything better. Especially if they have maple involved. 

19. Your eyes are almost always bigger than your stomach. Especially when it comes to sushi. 

20. If you can't decide, just try them all. Especially when it comes to beer and coffee. 

21. Sometimes you need to chose a hotel based on whether or not it offers free wi-fi. 

22. Sometimes you just have to laugh, or else you'll cry. 

23. Never be afraid to go back to the places you love. Even you've been there a lot. In the past 24 hours. 

24. There is almost always a reason to get ice cream. 

25. No matter how many times you've been someplace, you can always find new things you love. 


Portland and Seattle: Round Three

A few weeks ago, I visited Portland and Seattle with my best friend, Sol. Here are some of my favorite pictures from our weekend away:

Pike's Place Market

The view from The Inn at the Market - sunset of July 4th

Pike's Place Market and the ward

Seattle skyline from the Space Needle

Entering downtown Portland

Voodoo Doughnut

It's a pretty fantastic sign...


May I Listen?

I have been trying for the past week to write something about the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial verdict. I have been unable to come up with my own reflections because at the moment, I'm surrounded by the emotion. I wrote this because I realized that my silence, while it was as a way to not offend while emotions were raw, could be perceived as not caring. So I wrote this poem. I hope to find the words for future reflections. In the mean time, this was my favorite article about what to take from the verdict. 

I find I have trouble coming up with the right words to say
To express my anger, my frustration, my confusion, and overwhelming sense of fear
I am afraid to say so many wrong things
That what I say will just add to the ever growing list of your own frustrations, confusion, and overwhelming sense of hopeless
So I remain silent.
To you I am sorry that my silence conveyed apathy.
I assure you I do not feel apathetic.
This is a big deal.

My heart has been beating for you - pounding in my heart,
Wanting to jump out of my chest and embrace you
To give you loving arms to hold
Or shoulders to cry upon

My mind has been racing for you - swirling, whirling, and preventing sleep.
Wondering how we got here
Planing and planning what to do next
How to fix it, if it can be fixed
What to say, when to say it, and how

My soul has been grieving for you - hurting, bleeding, crying out for our rescue
Crying out to our God for peace
For justice, for mercy upon our souls
Crying out to a God who loves us
Who hears us when we call
Who gives us a new song in our mouths and sets our feet upon the rock.

I find I have trouble coming up with the right words to say
So instead of my speaking right now may I just listen?
Can I hear your stories, your pain, your hurt that others too often ignore.
Can I hear your reality, the one so different from my own
Will you bring me into your life?
I know it is a risk, to open yourself to up to yet another person who claims to care
I know you may feel afraid to be hurt, to be wounded, to be misunderstood
I fear the same so I remained quiet.
That may have hurt you and I am deeply sorry.

But will you tell me your stories? Will you share your life?
Because I am here to listen.


Wizard of Ahhhs

As you may already know, Pentatonix is one of my all time favorite singing groups. Recently they did a collaboration with Todderick Hall as a spin off of the Wizard of Oz. It is brilliant, genius, and highlights Kristi Maldono, the only female in the group. I've always thought they under play her talent in their arrangements and this one she plays every female role so it really showcases her ability.

You should also check out Todderick Hall's twist on Beauty and the Beast called Beauty and the Beat: Also fantastic.



For the past three nights I have not slept well or a lot. Too much has been going through my mind from the personal to the spiritual to the current events of our country. I want to share my reflections and thoughts about these things, esepcially the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman verdict but right now I have no words only inexpressible emotions that keep me up at night. For an external processor that is probably a first.

At least tonight I'm attempting to be productive by finishing editing photos. The problem is the ice cream in my freezer. ;)


Old Skin

My new recent song I've fallen in love with is Old Skin by ├ôlafur Arnalds and Arnor Dan. It begins with a soft piano and builds throughout the song to send a wave of feeling through your chest. One of the best uses to this song was from So You Think You Can Dance. I highly recommend you check it out.

To purchase on iTunes click here.



Sara Barielles is one of my all time favorite artists. She has an amazing voice, range, and talent. Many artists can either sing well or have amazing lyrics. Sara B has both, and extremely high on both to begin with.

I'm so inspired by her talent and passion. Her newest video - Brave - is an amazing concept. It looks like a normal, sing in public places video, but at the end it reveals so much more than that. One of my students also things the library scene was filmed at the CSUN library. We haven't verified it, but it could be true since it was filmed around LA.

Props to Sara B!


Exiled vs. Trailblazer

Disclaimer: This is in response to a previous blog post about my staff situation. After more reflection, I felt like a further explanation was needed to expand on the hopefulness of my staff situation and the gratitude I have for where InterVarsity has placed me. To read the previous post, click the link below.

Last week I wrote a blog post about some of the more difficult aspects of my journey on InterVarsity staff. I wrestled with a lot of the tension of being in staffing situation where I was by myself and was open about some of the pain brought up. The end point was to be hopeful and come at the pain from a place of gratitude for a hard year and a situation that ultimately grew in my understanding of the gospel. As I look into the next year and see a staff situation that may not change drastically (although there will be some change for the new year), I am pressed with the choice of remaining in a place of pain or frustration or blazing ahead into something new.

The question is, will I, myself, remain the same as I step onto our campus for another year? Will I chose to be hopeless or hopeful as I spend another year as the only staff at CSUN? Will I chose to see my position as one of a person exiled or one of a person sent, a trailblazer? This choice in perspective can make or break my next year at CSUN.

While being the only staff on a campus there are many feelings that come along. I feel alone, I feel distant from others, I feel isolated because of the location of school and being by myself, I feel different because I don't have the chance to interact with others in similar positions, and I feel generally misunderstood, feeling many do not know how to interact with my experiences.. These feelings are not bad in of themselves, they are the emotional reposes to the reality I am the only InterVarsity's staff at CSUN's campus. But there is a call to respond in particular point of view, or perspective to these feelings of isolation and distance. I have two choices: to feel as one in exile or one sent as a trailblazer, and the distinction between the two changes everything.

If I chose to see myself as one  in exile, I will be surrounded by hopelessness. I may feel alone because I believe the lie I am not worth putting in a "normal" team. I may feel distant because the location barrier seems too great for anyone to venture towards CSUN. I may feel isolated because I am not in a place of constant staff community and it also appears as if no one cares enough to come to reach out to us. I may feel different because because the lack of staff seems to suggest my place of ministry is not one where others want to go. I may feel misunderstood because I don't see people want to hear my stories or share in my experiences. I may even feel I am being punished and I am sent here for correction. If I chose to see myself as exiled, I am believing a lot of damaging lies about myself, about InterVarsity, about Northridge, about CSUN and its students, and mostly about the character of Jesus. If I chose to see myself as one been exiled to Northridge then I send the message this is a place of desolation and destruction, nothing good can come out of here or goes into here.

However, if I chose to see myself as a trailblazer then I am surrounded by hope. I will feel alone, but only  because of circumstance and I know there is an entire community sending me into this place. I will feel distant from others but only because Northridge is not conveniently located and let's face it - the 405 freeway has terrible traffic, not something I can control. I will feel isolated but only because I still will be the only staff on campus but an opportunity to invest and develop students, and see them rise to positions of leadership. I will feel different but only because of all the new things I am trying but difference is not a bad thing. I will feel misunderstood but only because I am learning how to share my stories in a way to be fully understood but people are trying. I chose to see myself, my campus, my students as trailblazers for risk, then we are being supported by a community who trusts us to try new things, who sees Northridge as a place where good things are sent and greater things return - it is a place full of abundant life.

How powerful can a change in terminology, in perspective, in a way of seeing can alter a ministry. I believe this is how Jesus wants us to see ministry at CSUN. Jesus saw with spiritual wisdom and spiritual eyes, which is so different from our human knowledge. I think he understands being a trailblazer can sometimes feel like being in exile. Instead of one being sent away, it is one of being sent forth. Instead of a ministry trying to run from hopelessness it becomes one to lead in hopefulness. Instead of a ministry where we struggle to help people to see their calling, it is a place where they understand they've been called to and begin to call others. Instead of place of desolation, depression, and destruction it becomes a place for growth, life, and transformation. If we want to see people come to Northridge, we ourselves have to believe it is a place worth being at - because it is a place worth being at. It is a place where risks are taken and where new things are developed. It could be a place where other fellowships learn from. We can be a place of revival but only if we are willing to take the risks, try new things, and see ourselves as a place and a people worth reviving.

I speak for myself and for my community, we must not be afraid to feel alone, isolated, or distant from others in ministry. We must not be afraid to take risks, to make big leaps, and to blaze ahead into unknown places. If we see ourselves trailblazers into something new we will not succumb to the lies and surround ourselves in hope and joy. We are a worthy people sent forth into a difficult place. God has great things promised for us. Like Joshua and Caleb, we may need to go ahead and scout out what God has promised us. God has promised us revival if we are willing to reach for it, if we are willing to blaze new trails for it. How wonderful to be a part of a trailblazing ministry and not be in a place of exile!


Glow Stick Night Photography

For Jenel's 21st birthday, a few of us travelled to Riverside to hang out, play games, shoot snails (not kidding here - this a tradition at her house), and of course have some fun with night photography and glow sticks. Here are some of the results of our adventures in the dark (sadly we were quite unsuccessful at getting Chance to pose in glow sticks).