Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy New Year (a bit early)

The last two weeks have been so great. I drove down to So. Cal the week before Christmas and spent 7 glorious days away from work and life. I got to see a ton of friends who live down there - yeah! Here are my highlights:

* the drive down and back. That may sound strange but it was great thinking, praying, processing time for me. Maybe you guys are the same way.

* beautiful sunny, cold weather the whole week!

* watching Elf and eating Christmas cookies with my old roomate. And playing with her big ol' golden retreiver, Gus.

* going on morning "Walk/Talks" with friends

* San Diego Zoo! Wow, I hadn't been there in 10 years. Way too much fun. The hippos are probably my favs. I got to feed giraffes some treats and they had the longest and slimiest tongues I've ever seen. LOVED it.

* Sleeping, sleeping, and um...more sleeping.

* Driving to Torrance and seeing the lights. There is this famous neighborhood that goes all out, so on Christmas Eve Eve, my best friend from college, her husband, and I drove to check 'em out. Strangely, while we were waiting in line, two cars in front of us ran into each other and the two cars in back of us ran into each other...but our car was fine. But that's another story. Anyway, it was amazing! Lights, Santas, nativity scenes, trees, fake snow blowing, music playing, families in front of their homes selling hot chocolate, mistletoe, popcorn, wreaths, etc. I could have stayed all night.

I was actually pretty bummed to drive back Christmas Eve. Not because I don't love my life here...but because I love vacation. It's so restful and relaxing. I feel like it re-energizes my soul.

So I came home for the midnight Christmas Eve service at my church and then drove to my parent's house Christmas Day. Always good times with my fam at the holidays. These times usually include three or more of the following: a) yummy food b) laughter c) cramped sleeping quarters (when we were kids, it was fine. But now we're all HUGE!) d) movies (either renting or going out to see them) e) typical family annoyances (everyone can attest to this one, I'm sure) f) games g) morning gatherings in the kitchen, hanging out and talking in our pjs h) sometimes all of the above

I went to work Wed. and Thurs. but I was still sort of in La-La Vacation Land. So starting Tuesday Jan. 2nd, the real work begins. I feel more ready for it now.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and have a happy new year!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Two years in a row!!

*** Mike Murrow!! I KNOW you are going to read this. You should feel very, very bad for what hapened last night!

Last night was our house Christmas party and it was good times...except for what I got in the gift exchange. If any of you read last year's blog about our party, you'll remember that I got a box of CEMENT from the aforementioned Mike Murrow. I was like, "Dude, you better bring something NICE to make up for that next year!"

Mike and his roomate Rob came to our house last night carrying this HUGE packge and I was totally NOT going to choose it during the exchange. I had learned my lesson. But then I was in the kitchen talking to friends and Mike comes in and tells us secretly that it is REALLY nice, he IS making up for last year, he bought a matching one for his MOM and other lies like that. So then, I thought, "Hmmm...maybe I will give him a chance to redeem himself from last year. If it IS nice, I can use it at work or in my room or something.

The gift exchange began! There was some amazingly hilarious gifts this year, including "The Ovary of Eve" book for roomate Laurel, "Preparing for Adolescence" for my frind Karen, a DVD on belly dancing for David, a ceramic statue of a Hawaiian couple kissing, and other such gems. When it came to be my turn, I had made up my mind. I was going for it.

My first clue should have been when Mike started laughing hysterically when I choose it. I started ripping off tape and opening the huge box. It was a nasty used-to-be-white chair! Ugh! I got duped 2 years in a row! It smelled so bad, the cushions were pretty much grey...what the heck?! I didn't think anything could top the cement. I was wrong.

Moral of the story: Never believe anything Mike M. tells you. Ever.

Ok, I'm off for vacation, everyone. I'll be back the 28th. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Friday, December 15, 2006

'Tis the season for par-tays

Wednesday evening we had our college Christmas Banquet. We had a great night. I loved seeing everyone all dressed up. 4 ladies came and cooked dinner for us (it was so delicious!), we played a game, sang Christmas songs, and had a white elephant gift exchange. It was kind of our "farewell" for the semester. We don't have college group for a month. I get to BREATHE. =) Yeah!

Our house is throwing our 5th annual White Elephant Gift Exchagnge Par-tay (why are gift exchanges so much fun!?) tomorrow night at 7:30 pm. All are welcome and invited, so if you live in the area, come on over!

Monday, December 11, 2006

6 days

I just have to get through this week so I can go on vacation...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

College students getting married...

I had the opportunity to visit a bridal shop with one of my college students the other day. She had already picked out her dress but was going to get it fitted, altered, etc. I have gone with many friends (my age) to look at their dresses in the past, but this was my first time going with a student. It was so great to see her get in her dress and be so excited! The people who helped her in the store were so nice and helpful. They fussed over her which was so cute. Good times.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dogs vs. Cats

Excerpts from a Dog's Daily Diary:

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
6:00 pm - Dinner! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!

Excerpts from a Cat's Daily Diary:
Day 683 of my captivity...

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another house plant. Till then, in an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the floor.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am. The audacity!

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no good reason I was chosen for the water torture. This time however it included a burning foamy chemical called "shampoo." What sick minds could invent such a liquid?! My only consolation is the piece of thumb still lodged between my teeth.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe...for now...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sarah, be real.

Last week I was talking to the college group about our mission statement and checking in to see how we were doing. And then I wanted to share a vision of where I wanted to see our group go. One thing I really wanted to address was the idea of being real with other. Being REAL. Authentic. Genuine. Open. Honest. Vulnerable. Going deeper with each other. I was sharing a frustration I have when people feel they need to put on a happy face and pretend like everything's all right when they come to church. "How are you?" someone asks them. "Oh, I'm fine. How are you?" is there immediate reply. If we are truly trying to be an authentic community, we have to go deeper then that. Church should be the one place we SHOULDN'T have to act like everything is all right. It should be the one place where broken people can come together and love, encourage, and support each other during life's hard times.

I was in the middle of talking and I completely stopped. It was like a tug on my heart. A conviction. Sarah, why are you asking these students to be true and real and honest with each other when you are not doing that yourself? I had to supress that thought until I could think and process about it later. I kept on talking, but still had a hard time ignoring that conviction.

That night I thought about it when I got home. Boy, what a good, hard night. A night of realization. I was thinking back on these past 15 months I've been working in the college ministry...and how I always thought I had to act like everything was great and perfect around the students. Everytime they asked me how I was, I always smiled and said things were fine, when many times they weren't. Why have I been doing that? I think it's because I thought that's what good leaders did. Good leaders needed to have it all together. They could handle anything. People want to follow people like that, right? If I showed my struggles, they might perceive me as weak. Students don't want to follow a leader that is a mess once in awhile (or maybe more than once in awhile)...right? They have enough to deal with in their own lives. They want leaders who can provide stability and strength for them. Right!?!?

I have never taken a class or seminar on leadership. Many times I wish I had. I have to learn a lot about leadership by experience. I could probably write a book on all I've learned about leadership (mostly through mistakes). But anyway, this is something key I have been convicted about: I don't need to be perfect (or act perfect) to be a good leader. I need to be REAL. Students can't relate to a leader who doesn't seem to have struggles. But they CAN relate to a leader who goes through hard times and reaches out to people during that time for help. CONVICTION. Oh what have I been doing this whole time?

I think about my boss and how much I respect him. If he was fake around me and said he was always fine when he wasn't, I doubt I would respect him as much or see him as a great leader. But one of the things I appreciate most about him is that's he's REAL with me. When he's having a crappy day, he tells me when I ask. When he's struggling with things in life - family, finances, job, whatever - he doesn't hide it, but rather shares it and we can encourage him and pray for him. How amazing.

So from this point on, I am choosing to be real. Not that I'm going to break down and talk for a half hour about my hardships when a student asks me how I'm doing. (I have God, roomates, and friends for that) But if I want them to be honest and vulnerable with me, the least I can do is do the same. And hey, if you guys ever ask me how I'm doing, I am going to give you an honest answer. And I would hope you would do the same for me.

Come on, Sarah. Be real.