Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wildflower Triathlon

Every year, I have the opportunity to do a triathlon. It's usually the first weekend in May and it's called "Wildflower" at Lake San Antonio. They offer three choices for distance and I do the sprint distance: 1/4 mile swim (which doesn't sound far but really is, at least for me), 10 mile bike, and 2 mile run.

Not only is the race itself super fun, but I look forward to the whole weekend. It's so nice to get away and camp with a bunch of friends. To relax and read in my chair with the sun above me, chat with people I haven't seen in awhile, eat yummy food, feel the excitement build with other participants.

So my friends, I leave tomorrow to drive to the lake and will be back late Saturday evening. Can't wait to tell you how it goes!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Harry Potter is boss

I love all things Harry Potter.

Yes, I am 31. Don't care. And not ashamed to say it. I luff Harry.

And I'm sorry Twilight fans. Stephenie Meyer, Edward/Bella/Jacob, and Robert Pattinson - you and your fictional world are interesting and entertaining. But you simply cannot hold a candle to J.K. Rowling and her amazing epic Potter universe. It is superior in every way.

The sixth Potter movie was supposed to come out last November. I was so excited! And then we heard the studio was going to delay the release until July 2009. Seriously? And why did they decide to do that? Harry Potter movies make more money in the summer. So they went and royally ticked off all the HP fans who now had to wait eight more months to see the next installment. L-A-M-E.

Anywho, as it's getting closer to the release, some images from the film have been popping up on the internet. I thought I'd set up a fun game for other Potter fans like myself. The first person to name the main characters in each picture AND what scene it is...I will mail you $5. Remember this is Book 6 "The Half-Blood Prince". Good luck!






Extra credit: name all these characters:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fun Fridays

Every other Friday, I get to spend the day with the world's cutest baby (aka: my nephew Judah). Today is one of those days! I told my sister that when I drive over to their house on Thursday nights, it's like Christmas Eve. Judah is already asleep so I have to wait till morning to see him. And when I climb into bed, I lay there thinking, "Sarah - just go to sleep, because the sooner you do, the sooner it will be morning and you get to play with him!" But then I can't fall asleep because I get so excited at the thought of getting to spend the whole day with him! Vicious cycle.

Anyway, he is 5 months old now and SO FUN! My sister wrote a blog recently about this, saying how he used to be a blob, but now he's like a real baby. My favorite thing is how he loves to touch everything. His little hands want to feel different textures. Whether it's the carpet, a painting, the curtains, my jeans, whatever. He also loves to touch my face when I lean over and give him thousands of hugs and kisses. Never-Ending cuteness! (cue The Never-Ending Story theme song here...) "Never-Ending Cuuuutenesssss....Ahhhh Ahhhh Ahhhhh...."

Another thing he loves to do (just like all babies) is put everything in his mouth. Everything. Here is what he has tasted today: milk from his bottle, his toys, his Johnny Jumper, my fingers, a blanket, his bunny stuffed animal, the strings that hang from my hooded sweatshirt, the book I read to him, his own thumb and fingers, his burp cloth, and my hair. Ew. (I pulled that out right away)

I am in love love love with this little man. He makes me so happy. I look forward to my Fun Fridays SO MUCH.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Isaiah Project L.A.

So wow, we're back from our LA mission trip. Different from Mexico in almost every way, and yet, still SUCH an amazing trip.

There is so much to tell but I'll share the main stuff. We drove down Monday, found the CSM headquarters, unpacked our stuff, settled into bunkbeds, and then were taken out to dinner. Every night they took us to a different ethnic restaurant so we could experience different cultures and foods (I thought this was a great idea because many of our students are picky and don't try new things when it comes to food). Monday night was Honduran. Mmmmm, sooo good.

And then our worlds got rocked.

They took us on a prayer tour. We drove around south-central LA and stopped in certain areas so our two hosts (Nikki and Chris) could tell us about what was going on in those communities and how we could pray. Our second stop was hard. It was an elementary school with gates 20 feet high surrounding it. Across the street, we saw a warehouse-looking building and Chris told us it used to be a prostitute house. Right across from the school! The teachers (who are severely underpaid, overworked, and had the most difficult kids) would come early to school every day and clean up everything on the block that little children should not have to see. As someone who used to be in education, I tried to imagine what it would be like to have these difficult kids with such sad stories of home life (if they even had one). Not to mention teaching right across the street from a brothel! Heart...breaking...

Toward the end of our prayer tour, things got worse. We drove through Skid Row. You guys, I have NEVER seen so many homeless people in my LIFE. I have seen homelessness before. But nothing like this. I went from shock to disbelief to anger to sadness to hopelessness. We drove by block after block of people settling in for the night on the sidewalk. It was freezing outside and I saw men covered in tiny blankets with their feet sticking out the end. There were so many. Hundreds all in this one area.


(this part makes me sick)

Literally two blocks away, was the LA Financial District. Skyscrapers! ESPN Zone! Convention Center! Starbucks on every corner! Swanky bars and restaurants! People dressed fancy! Lights! Huge TV screens flashing images!

I seriously thought I was going to throw up.

Two blocks away.

We stopped at City Hall and got out of our cars. I noticed I wasn't the only one who had been hit by the two extremes. Many of our group were crying. I just couldn't wrap my mind around it. How is it possible there are that many people living on the streets? And how there could be people two blocks away, not knowing or caring.

We shared what we were thinking and feeling and the main words I heard were "hopeless" and "helpless". What can we do? We are just one person. Or 17. Whatever. It didn't matter. This situation was beyond any and all of us. We all went to bed that night with heavy hearts.


This is why I loved this trip.

Yes, we saw the reality of south central LA. BUT God is at work. Every day, our hosts would take us to multiple organizations to help. Whether it was a soup kitchen, a mission, a church, an after-school program for inner-city kids - we would show up and they'd put us to work. We got to see and be a part of what God is doing to bring HOPE to that area. I was amazed at how many wonderful organizations there are in the city. How many people God is using to be a light in the darkness. I was honored and humbled to be a part of this. And these people do it every day! We were only there a week!

Some places we got to serve:

* St. Francis (soup kitchen - we sorted and made food bags for families)

* Grandview Retirement Home (we played Bingo with the folks - the lady I was with, Loretta, told me her second husband produced Gone With The Wind. I always complain about how old I feel, but now I realize "Man, I am YOUNG.")

* Central City Community Church (we tutored and played with the children at their after-school program every day. I fell in LOVE with those kids!)

* Project Angel Food (they make meals for people with AIDS, cancer, or other life-threatening illnesses. This was my favorite place. The vibe was SO great. 50 of us working, laughing, cooking, encouraging, volunteering. Myself and 2 other ladies made 235 quiches in 3 hours. Whew!)

* Breakfast challenge - taking someone on the streets out to breakfast. It's so interesting when you stop and take the time to really get to know someone and hear their story.

* Midnight Mission (awesome organization! They offer meals, sleeping space, a courtyard, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, counseling, job and skill training, and tons more! It's the only mission on Skid Row. We helped serve lunch. I have to admit: I don't like seeing anyone homeless, but I got especially sad seeing the women there)

* LA Regional Food Bank (largest food bank in LA. This is where most missions and organizations get their food. We sorted and examined food, to make sure it had not expired)

For dinner we had Honduran food, Thai food, Nicaraguan food, and Armenian food. All delicious, hole-in-the-wall places. Places where you bet they're family-owned and use grandma's recipes.

The last night, Chris and Nikki took us up to the Griffith Observatory to watch the sunset, see the night lights come out, and have a final debrief time and prayer over the city.

None of us wanted to come home. We were so tired but so full of joy. It was crazy to think back on Monday, how sad and hopeless we all felt. And then by Friday we were like, "What's next!? Where else can we go and serve?!" We felt so alive. No phones, no computers, no TV, no distractions. Just a desire to go out and continue being a part of what God was doing in the city!

Such a good trip. Here are some pixs from the week. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Home. Exhausted. Joyful.

When I've caught up on sleep, I will share pixs and stories.

God is good.


Monday, April 13, 2009

CSM, son!!

Today: I am heading to south-central Los Angeles with 17 other high school students, college students, and adult leaders. This is the crew that decided to still go somewhere, even after our mission trip to Mexico was cancelled.

What will we be doing? I'm not sure exactly but it sounds like:

* Living in the CSM facilities on Skid Row

* Working with the homeless community (taking them out to breakfast, "meeting a need" they might have, spending time with them)

* Playing Bingo with some folks at a inner-city retirement home. ("B 5!") Spending time with them, loving on them.

* Helping at local soup kitchens and shelters - serving food, organizing food for distribution, etc.

* Playing with inner-city kids at after school programs

Pretty much we will do whatever they ask us to do.

I can't believe the trip is finally here! If you pray, I would love prayer for safety (especially on the drive there and back - we're taking 4 vehicles), health, eyes to be opened, growth, and anything else that comes to your mind. And on a personal note, I would love prayer for patience. There are so many details, so many questions that get asked, and so many little decisions to be made. And being around the same people 24/7 is going to be challenging.

But I know it is going to be a great trip! I am looking forward to seeing what God is doing in L.A. Can't wait to come back with some stories.

Till then my friends, peace out.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

these are for Jody

Happy Easter!

Judah with my dad ("Grand-dude" to baby J) and mom ("Gigi"). I told my sister that Judah looks like the Joker from Batman in this picture (in baby form).

Judah and his favorite aunt. (Why God WHY am I doing the "Blue Steel" look from Zoolander?)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

All Fridays are good.

But this Friday is the best.

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter weekend!

Monday, April 06, 2009

the cross before him

Um, apparently next Sunday is Easter.

I just realized this yesterday when I went to church and they said it was Palm Sunday. Huh!?!?

I feel like this happens every year. It's my busiest season. I spend tons of time planning for our Spring Break mission trip. (And with having to switch trips this year, it's been extra crazy) And then all of a sudden Easter creeps up on me.

And I'm kind of annoyed at myself.

What we as Christ-followers celebrate at Easter is sacred to me. And yet I let life and busyness take over and distract me.

Needless to say, I am really glad I went to church last night.

The pastor talked about the symbol for our faith could have been anything. The tree of life (creation). A burning bush (God revealing himself to man). A dove (the Holy Spirit descending on His people) etc. But it was chosen that the cross would symbolize our faith. And we have sort of romanticized it. Crosses are on everything. Necklaces, T-shirts, water bottles. But when you think about it, the cross is brutal. It was used by Romans in the 1st century to kill criminals. However it represents the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made. Sometimes we'd rather skip ahead of what he went through on our behalf and just focus on Easter. Happy! Celebration! He is Risen! But the cross is sobering. It makes me stop and contemplate how deep and rich and good and abounding God's love for us is.

So this week before Easter, I look to the cross. The beautiful, horrifying, redemptive cross.

Where my Jesus died so I may live.

Friday, April 03, 2009

another week

Another week has passed. We are getting closer and closer to our LA mission trip. Tomorrow night and Sunday morning we are getting "commissioned" at our church services (we tell the congregation what we'll be doing in LA and they pray for us). And then we leave a week from Monday - the day after Easter.

I felt responsible this week. I went to the dentist which I was dreading because I despise the dentist (too many traumatic stories to tell...). However, I have a NEW dentist (just switched) and I LOVED my new one. I wonder if it's because she's a woman? She is much more nurturing and sympathetic than my last unfeeling bastard of a tooth driller who would basically tell me to grow up every time I cried during one of my office visits.

I also went to see my chiropractor this week. I try to go every month but I haven't been in months and I could feel it. My neck was beginning to hurt if I turned it around too much. My chiro said I was suuuuper tight and used this little electric massagy-thingy to loosen up my back, shoulder, and neck muscles. And then she went to town and cracked whatever she could. Hallelujah! Oh blessed relief. I feel much better.

And lastly I got an oil change this week. I am pretty religious about this. Every 3 months or 3,000 miles. And nothing but the best oil for my Corolla, Johnny! He gets the top-notch stuff. As they were checking out all the fluids, I was called outside and showed that my front right tire has a nail in it. Whoops, better get a new one soon.

On a completely unrelated note, I saw the movie Australia this week. I went into it with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. It came out at Christmas time with Hugh Jackman (Rrrrrrrrrr....) and Nicole Kidman. It's directed by Baz Luhrman who directed Strictly Ballroom (a family favorite growing up!), Romeo and Juliet, and Moulin Rogue (LOVE!). I recommend renting it if you enjoy one or more of the following: long movies (it's 2 hrs. 45 minutes), epic story lines (takes place during World War II), crying (I love movies that can make me cry), love stories, and/or Hugh Jackman.

In closing, the big news this week was that my friend Amy and I saw a dead whale on Wednesday. It has been beautiful weather lately, so we went out to lunch with her 10 month old son and then went for a stroll by the ocean. While we were walking and talking, we saw something large in the ocean. We stopped and talked to some other people and realized it was a whale! We were so giddy. A whale so close to shore! I thought it was just sleeping because it bobbed on top of the water. But sadly when we came back that way 30 minutes later, we were informed by a lady with binoculars that it was dead and being pushed to shore by the current and waves.

It was a 3 ton female California gray whale and she beached on Wednesday night. She was 25 feet long. This morning a crew hoisted her up the cliff and drove her to a landfill to be buried. No one knows how she died. They figured she was about a year old and migrating from Mexico up to Alaska when she died. Sad.

That's been my week. How 'bout yours?