Friday, October 28, 2011


I know I just got back from Disneyland on the fall road trip with my college students. But I am leaving again to go to another Disney theme park. This time though, it's Disneyworld!

I'm sure you know by now, I love Harry Potter. And in Orlando, they opened up a Harry Potter theme park as part of Universal's Islands of Adventure. I've wanted to go ever since I heard about it. And months ago when best friend Elissa and her husband Mike said they could go in October, we jumped online and bought plane tickets! Woooo!

We will be hitting "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" as well as the 4 Disney World parks - Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. We're staying at the Animal Kingdom lodge. Would it be wrong to feed the giraffes outside my window? (I don't know if they come right up to the windows. Probably not. It's fun to think about, though)

It's very strange to be going on vacation smack dab in the middle of our semester. But I have been dealing with heavy stuff lately (work, students' struggles, and friend stuff I've mentioned before) so it's actually perfect timing. I can get away and have fun and come back feeling more light-hearted and ready for the rest of the semester.

Farewell my friends! Be back in a week!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

pumpkin carving

It officially feels like autumn. Tonight I carved pumpkins with my roomates. Guess which one is mine.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

a swim and a smile

Last year I swam laps at our community pool every Saturday. It was like clockwork. I woke up, made pancakes, put on the sunscreen, and headed over to the pool.

Recently, I have slacked. I can't remember the last time I went swimming. So when I heard today was going to be sunny and in the 80's, I decided to jump back in.

It was glorious.

As I was swimming laps and then laying out afterwards, I relished the fact that it was this warm and lovely in late October. I know the cold weather and rain storms will be here soon, but I am going to enjoy these sunny days as long as possible.

Anyway, something that stood out to me at the pool was how many dads were there with their kids. I love seeing fathers play with their children. I saw them playing Marco Polo, having their kids jump into the water from their shoulders, and swimming around with two or three toddlers clinging to their necks. And they were having a ball - both the dads and the kids. The moms were also in the pool, cheering them on.

It made me smile.

I think I really needed to see that today. Like I mentioned in the previous post, my friend's divorce is weighing heavily on my heart. I needed to be reminded that there are many fathers out there who love their kids. Who are good husbands and dads. Who put their family above their own desires. Who will never abandon them. Who will stay and continue to love, even when it's hard.

It was a good day.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

ups and downs

Hi friends. Isn't it interesting how up and down life is? Two heavy things on my heart right now are: 1) a dear friend of mine is battling colon cancer. She is married with two little boys. 2) I just found out that another dear friend of mine is getting a divorce because her husband of six years is having an affair (with a married woman) and doesn't want to save and restore their marriage. She has a young daughter.

Sometimes I really love this life.

Sometimes I REALLY don't.

Thank you God for being God and being unchanging.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

we went to diddyland, dawg


What a great trip. One of the best. On a logistical note, everyone stayed safe! No car accidents, breakdowns, or car issues. No injuries, hospital visits, sicknesses. Yeah! On a ministry note, the students had a ball, made new friends, and are more invested in the group (and church as a whole). Double yeah!

We drove down to So. Cal on Friday. We enjoyed 3 hours in traffic. (LA traffic can suck it.) Friday night people either went to a Ducks/Sharks hockey game, walked around Downtown Disney, or hung out in the hotel's pool and hot tub.

Saturday we played in Disneyland from 9 am - midnight. Our feet felt like they were going to fall off. Highlights:

* everything decorated for autumn and Halloween

* seeing the joy in the faces of 3 college students who had never been to Disneyland before

* Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. Scary and fun!

* Haunted Mansion, Nightmare Before Christmas style

* I think I saw Cee-Lo by Splash Mountain

* being silly in line with students

* one of my shy girl students having to sit extremely close in a guy student's lap for Matterhorn

* getting dizzy in the Mad Hatter teacups

* all the Disneyland smells - churros, cotton candy, popcorn, big soft pretzels, etc

* 30 of us went on Star Tours together and took up the whole room

* fireworks and Fantasmic

Sunday, we drove to a nearby church for their morning service and then ate at Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles for lunch before heading home.

I fell asleep the MOMENT my head hit the pillow the night. And I stayed asleep for 14 hours. Bliss.

Thank you, Happiest Place on Earth!

Monday, October 10, 2011

fall road trip

The past two weeks, Intern Scott and I have been getting all the details ironed out for our annual Fall Road Trip. Every year we take a bunch o' college students somewhere fun. The whole point of the trip is to bond and build community. It's so nice to get away from church and get to know each other, while making memories at the same time.

This year, we're heading to the Happiest Place on Earth! Aka: Sarah's 2nd home. I swear, I have been to Disneyland a million times and I'm still not sick of it. I love it so flippin' much. I think I will always love it.

Anyway, in previous years we've taken anywhere between 10-20 peeps on the fall road trip. This year, we're taking 35. Woot! That might not sound like a lot to jr. high or high school groups who pile 100 kids on one bus for 13 hours straight and the bus breaks down in some podunk town where it's 105 degrees outside. (Sorry, I'm having flashbacks of my own high school trips.) But 35 is big for us. There's a lot of collecting money, medical release forms, finding drivers and cars, putting directions together, making cell phone lists, getting gas money, hunting down some walkie-talkies, figuring who sleeps in what rooms at the motel, etc.

We leave Friday.

Mickey...we're coming for you.

Friday, October 07, 2011

how do you view God?

We've started a new series at church about the characteristics of God. My pastor's recent sermon has stayed with me and I can't shake it. So I'm going to share it with all of you.

How do you view God?

What is your mental image of God? Maybe it's one of these:

* God is like Santa. Do you picture him as an old guy with a long white beard? Do you think of God like the Santa song: He knows when you're sleeping and He knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake. And you go to Him to ask for stuff? I want a Barbie, a pony, the new iphone, the perfect job, a husband, a kid, etc. Dang it, God. I didn't want that other type of doll, that Samsung phone, or that job. And where's that husband? Didn't you get my list?

* God is a Cosmic Cop. Always lurking with his Sin radar gun, just waiting to bust me. He is anti-fun. "Are you having fun? Then it's wrong." You know that feeling when you're driving and you see a cop car in your rear view mirror? Your heart leaps, your hair stands up on the back of your neck, and you check everything you're doing. Did I get that tail light fixed? Am I going the speed limit? Is that how you feel about God? (Or the church?)

* God is the Giant Judge. Always judging and grading me. God is up there in heaven analyzing every single thing I do, and at the end of every day, I get a little report card from God. "I was very pleased with you today," or "I am very disappointed."

* God is The Big Blur. God is blurry, fuzzy, unknowable. Kind of like "the Force" in the Star Wars movies. He's not really a personal God. He might exist but it's presumptuous to say you can get to know Him and He doesn't really have any standards except for a vague fuzzy, lovey-dovey-ness.

These labels limit God.

They put God in a box.

Do you believe in the God who really IS...or the God we make in our minds?

Here's the kicker my pastor shared: We shape the idol of God in our minds and then the idol ends up shaping US.

Psalm 115:8 "Those who make idols end up like them. So does everyone who trusts in them."

If Christians think of God as a Giant Judge...they become judgmental.

If they see God as a Cosmic Cop - they become behavior cops.

God is a Big Blur? Those Christians become blurry. They don't take a stand on anything.

You become like the god you serve.

Let's get God out of the box we've put Him into.

Let's discover and then stand in awe of who God truly is.

Always present.
Full of grace and forgiveness.
Jealous for you.
Abba Father.
Worthy of our worship and praise.

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Magic Clipboard

A couple weeks ago, I got a call from one of my previous college students whose wedding was Saturday.

Jill: "Sarah, I have a question for you."

Me: "Go for it."

Jill: "Austin and I were just talking about the wedding and we realized we should have a 'day-of coordinator'. You know, someone to be in charge of the timeline and make sure everything goes smoothly. Check in with the caterers, DJ, pastor, etc. And the first person we thought of was you. Would you like to be our day-of coordinator?"

Me: *pause* "Could I have a clipboard?"

Jill: "Yes."

Sarah: "Then I'll do it."

Seriously, I just wanted a clipboard. I've helped set-up lots of friends' weddings and I've seen the wedding coordinators running around. They ALL have a clipboard.

I don't have aspirations to be a wedding coordinator. But I wanted to see what it would feel like to hold The Magic Clipboard.

It. is. awesome.

Granted, I am exhausted. But it was a great experience. I would like to share...

What I Learned as "Day-Of Coordinator" at a Wedding

1) When you hold The Magic hold the power. Everyone will ask you anything and everything. The cake guy arrived and looked confused. Then he spotted me and walked over. "You have a clipboard," he explained matter-of-factly, without even introducing himself. "Where do you want the cake?"

2) You can get drunk off its power. I felt like I could boss anyone around. One glance at my clipboard and they knew they had to do what I said. Mwahahaha! *evil laugh*

3) With great power comes great responsibility. After your initial drunken spell, you sober up and realize your job is not to boss people around. Your job is to make sure things run smoothly so the bride and groom can enjoy their special day and not have to worry about anything.

4) You have to make big decisions. And dumb ones. It's super windy and knocking down the centerpieces? Since they could potentially break the glasses on the table (Oh wait, one already did?) we will take them off and pray the wind will die down before the wedding. Why do we have an extra table set up? No I don't have scotch tape for the namecards. The DJ's not here yet? Make sure the bridal party and families are staying hydrated in the sun. There are bees everywhere. Does the bride have her epi-pen kit with her? She's deathly allergic to bee stings. We don't have enough chairs? The bathrooms are over there. The cake is going to melt in the sun? Let's find an umbrella. No, I don't know where the ring bearer's fedora is. Where is the photographer? Hold on, I'll be right there. I'm pinning the 5 groomsmens' boutonnières on. And on and on.

5) Wear comfortable shoes. A nice sensible pair of ballet flats will suffice. You will be doing a lot of running around. Do NOT wear high heeled wedges. Especially at an outdoor wedding on grass. However, through this mistake, I DID discover a new dance move: the "Gopher Hole". It's really fun. While holding a clipboard, start strutting with purpose. Then quickly and swiftly crank your ankle 45 degrees to the right when your foot lands in a gopher hole. Regain your composure, act like you meant to do that, and continue walking. After about 9 or 10 times, the dance move will catch on and soon all the guests will be doing it, too. Woooo, party! And the DJ hasn't even started the music yet!

6) Speaking of the DJ, you hold the Magic Clipboard...but he holds the Magic Microphone. Microphone trumps Clipboard every time. You can tell him to announce toasts in 20 minutes and he'll get on the microphone in 10. Enjoy watching the caterers panic and run for alcohol to fill up everyone's glasses.

7) Some wedding guests will not listen to you. Even when you show them you're holding The Magic Clipboard. So get creative finding 5 or 6 different ways to say the same thing to the same people. For example:

- "Do you know where your seats are? Austin and Jill are waiting until everyone is seated before they come out."

- "Sorry to interrupt your conversation, but we need everyone to find their seats."

- "May I help you find your table?"

- "Once everyone is seated, the DJ will announce the bride and groom."

- "SIT THE EFF DOWN!!!!!!!"

Okay, maybe don't say the last one.

8) Eat fast. You don't have much time. Yes, the food is amazing. But Great-Aunt Harriet needs assistance getting to the buffet line.

9) In everything you do and say, you must be bossy but nice. Or nice but bossy. You can't be one without the other.

10) Enjoy the thought that you are helping make that day special for two people you love. It's all for them.

Congratulations Austin and Jill! I love you both very much. Magic Clipboard and I had a wonderful time.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


Hello readers and friends.

It has been awhile.

I am looking forward to reading all your fun blogs and seeing what's been going on in the world and in your lives.

You probably saw that I was sick two weeks ago and then I spent all last week playing catch-up. Life has a bit crazy. Busy but good. Here are some highlights from the past 2 weeks:

* A few weeks ago, I baptized 10 college students. Last Sunday we had Part II - there were 3 students who wanted to get baptized but couldn't that first day. So we planned this day and had all their family and friends come out for it. The waves were SO big and powerful. When we baptized the third student, a huge wave came up behind us and knocked me over. It was awesome! We were laughing. It was like I got baptized, too.

* I went to my final Giants game of the season last Tuesday. It was a great way to say good-bye to my boys. We won 7-0 and one of the players hit a homerun into the cove behind the stadium. It also happened to be Tony Bennett Tribute Night so the man himself was there and he is still rockin' at 85 years old. His version of "God Bless America" (at the 7th inning stretch) was amazing. After the game, we were walking to the parking lot and we saw his car in the street right next to us. We yelled hi and that we loved him and he saw us and waved. Wooot! I left my heart in San Francisco, Tony!

* There was a goodbye party for a friend who is moving back to Tennessee. It was at the bowling alley, complete with black lights, disco balls, and dance music. Par-tay!

* My friend Jody was here from Boulder, Colorado! She flew out for a wedding and stayed with me for a couple days. (more about the wedding in the next blog)

* My hip-hop class has started up again! Yeah!

* I turned in the reservation forms for our hotel and Disneyland tickets - fall road trip in 2 weeks!

* Um, have you seen the first two episodes of Glee? SO GOOD! This season (so far) feels like season 1. Back to the characters and singing and dancing. Does this clip for Tuesday's ep get you excited? (Brittany is running for class president against Kurt)