Last Night on the Hill

Friday, March 13, 2015

Tonight is officially our last night in our first home.

We experienced so many firsts in this place.  Our first meal cooked together as a married couple. (Lumpia!) Our first pet.  Our first big purchase.  Our first dinner party.

I'll never forget our first night in this place.  We had just gotten back from a whirlwind month of wedding prep/ wedding/ honeymoon/ friend's wedding.  We were exhausted and giddy.  We spent hours opening up gifts that had accumulated on our doorstep while we were gone, and excitedly figuring out where each item would go.  Though these were small decisions, they seemed to hold deep significance, as they were some of the first decisions we were making together.

We didn't have a bed yet so we pulled together some old cushions and mattresses and camped out on the floor.  Our room was empty but our hearts were full.  That's kind of how I'm feeling tonight, too, as I look at our bare walls and nearly-empty rooms.

This place has been so much more than a house for us.  It's been a refuge for countless people in need of respite (ourselves included.)  It's been a setting for gatherings through which we discovered our shared passion for hospitality.  It's been a safe place for tears to be shed.  It's held countless bible studies and game nights.  It's held more people than we would ever admit to any fire department.  It's taught me what a safe and loving home can look like.

I'm excited for what's next.  There are really, really beautiful things on the horizon and I know that our next place will come to feel like home in the same way this place has.  In the morning I will choose to brim with anticipation for all the great things that are to come, but for tonight I'm content to steep in the memories we have made here and mourn for a small piece of my heart that we are leaving here on the hill.

Keeping the Dream Alive

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

This past weekend I had the joy of having brunch with three lovely ladies that I've gotten to know through blogging.  Daisy, Jhen, and I met up with Katie at her house for a few hours to eat, laugh, and get to know each other better.  As we were upstairs in Katie's (totally dreamy!) room she asked each of us about our dreams... and I totally froze.  Her question made me realize how long it had been since I had actually cultivated my dreams.  Far, far too long.

It seems like I have spent the past few months so focused on the immediate. The here. The now. The due-in-30-minutes.  The reading.  The writing.  The rushing. The end-of-the-day-collapsing.

Sometimes I feel like it takes every ounce of focus and motivation I have just to make it to the end of the day.  I have a hard time dreaming about the weekend, much less about the next five years.  And when Katie asked that question I realized; sure, I have been good lately at setting goals... learn Spanish, get good grades, excel in my practicum, graduate.  But dreams?  I haven't allowed myself to dream in quite some time.  I haven't let myself imagine an ideal future.  I haven't let my mind wander to a dream that didn't require concrete, measurable, attainable steps.  And that's the thing about dreams...  they provide this painting of the type of life you want to create.  Sometimes dreams turn into goals, but sometimes they don't and that's okay.

It's important to dream for the sake of dreaming.  It's important to be present and enjoy what's now, yes, but it's also important to imagine what could be.  As I listened to these wonderful women describe their dreams and aspirations I felt inspired in a way that I haven't felt in quite some time.  I want to dream big dreams and I don't want to live a life free of imagining the impossible.  

What are some of the things you've been dreaming about lately?

Holding Your Cup

Thursday, January 22, 2015

It's no secret that one of my favorite vacations is wine tasting.  The reason is not because I am some kind of wine snob, but rather because nothing makes you slow down quite like sipping on a glass of wine.  I frequently notice that when I taste a wine at a winery it will taste much different than when I drink it at home.  Unlike at my house, when I am at a winery I am taking my time.  I'm not just drinking but I'm holding.  Examining. Checking the color.  Sniffing.  Analyzing.  Wine is so much better when it's experienced in this way.

I think the same is true of life.  So often I go through life just trying to get from one day to the next.  I don't even bother looking at what is in my "life cup."  I chug it down in order to survive and scarcely notice whether it's fulfilling or whether it's fitting or whether it's sour.  Whether it's full and rich, or diluted and tasteless.  This is especially true when the contents of my life cup are hard to swallow.  I want to pinch my nose and guzzle it down quickly so that I can forget about the unpleasantness.  I rarely stop to examine my cup; to notice its complexities, its aroma, its color.

In his book "Can You Drink the Cup" Henri Nouwen says, “Just living life is not enough. We must know what we are living." We must take a good hard look at what is in our cup; whether it is lovely or flavorless or hard to swallow. We must stop and notice. In order to answer Jesus' question “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” we must know what is in our cup.  We must slow down, hold, examine, and reflect.

PMT Style Challenge

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

One of my favorite style blogs, Putting Me Together, is hosting a style challenge for the new year!  I'm so excited to participate because winter break put me in a bit of a clothes rut.  Not that I regret wearing yoga pants/ leggings/ pajamas for three weeks straight.  Not for one second.  But this quarter I'm desperately trying to look a little more put together. 

You see, I'm a big believer of the "dress well to test well" mentality.  When I have a particularly long or stressful day I find I'm much better able to tackle it head on if I feel good about the way I look.  I know that may come across as shallow, but seeing as I have class from 8am to 9:30 pm on Thursdays I'll do whatever I can to get a little extra boost of motivation and energy.

The first challenge was simply to wear a dress.  It seemed easy enough until I realized I haven't actually worn a dress in about three months!  Most of my dresses are either super summery sundresses or fancy cocktail dresses.  This is one of my few "in between" options and I love how easy it is to dress up or down.  It has worked great for all seasons (well, Los Angeles seasons at least) and is perfect for layering.

If you're looking for an excuse to find more inspiration in your wardrobe head over to Putting Me Together and join in the challenge!  Let me know if you do in the comments section- I'd love to see what you come up with  :)

dress: Modcloth 
chambray: Macy's (similar here)
necklace: old, similar here 
watch: via steinmart (similar here)
boots: old navy

2014 In Review- Part I

Sunday, January 11, 2015

I always find the task of looking back over my year to be both exciting and exhausting.  I look at some photos and can hardly believe they were taken almost a year ago, yet other memories feel like they are decades old.  Time is such a funny thing, isn't it?  This year I've noticed how popular lists have become... 27 Ways to Make Your Groceries Last as Long as Possible, 5 Things That Make Californians Weird, and (my personal favorite) 26 Reasons Kids Are Pretty Much Just Tiny Drunk Adults.  Yet I consistently find it difficult to sum up 365 days into one little list.  So I'm doing it in two!  I love looking back at my past years in review and remembering all the wonderful memories I have to be thankful for.  So without further ado...

j a n u a r y

We rang in the new year exhausted, relieved, and holding each other close.  We thanked God for the health of Nana and I stupidly ate garlic right before the New Year's kiss.  Good thing I married a guy who was willing to kiss me anyway :)

We explored and fell even more in love with our city.

f e b r u a r y

I celebrated my sweet friend's birthday with a laugh-and-sangria-filled girls' weekend in Arizona

Ty & I celebrated Valentine's Day with love notes, dinner, drinks and dancing in the park

We took a trip with our good friends to Cambria

m a r c h

I discovered really quickly that online classes were not my jam.  I vowed to finish mine quickly but instead dragged them out for 8 more months.

We played a second season with our church's softball team and contributed to a record-breaking three straight seasons of being un-undefeated (that is, never winning a game. Not one.)

I got to meet up with a friend-via-blogging who quickly became a friend-via-real-life.  I marveled at the ability of technology to bring people together.

(photo via instagram @chantelklassen) 

a p r i l

We celebrated this guy's birthday with a delicious dinner and a fun beer tasting party

We celebrated Easter with both of our families and I felt oh-so thankful to be related to such great people; both by blood and otherwise.  Now all I need is to teach a few of them how to smile.

m a y

I turned a quarter-century.  But more excitingly, my dad turned a half-century!  We celebrated with tacos and a pinata filled with slim jims and mini plastic tequila bottles, naturally.

j u n e

We celebrated weddings and had some much-needed reunions.

(photo via TreCreative Photography)

(photo via Kelly Smith)

I said goodbye to my grandpa, who had just turned 91.  I remembered all of the times we'd had phone calls and when I would tell him I loved him he'd always argue, "I love you more!"  I remembered our trips to the zoo, him teaching me about guns and cars, and the way that, even when his memory was all but gone, his wit and humor were still sharp as a tack.  I am proud to be related to such an amazing person and rejoice over the amazing life he lived.

...part two coming soon.

Travel Thursday

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Nutcracker has ended and my finals are officially finished, so for the first time in what feels like forever I have a moment to sit down and write... not for research and not for a grade, but just for fun.  As I was thinking about what I wanted to write about I saw Caitlin's most recent Wanderlust Wednesday post and I thought it would be fun to take a page out of her book blog.

Right about this time four years ago I was heading to India where I would study for a month with a group of students from my college.  The night before we left I was sick, sleep deprived, and hadn't even begun packing.  Needless to say, I was not even remotely prepared for the madness that the next month would bring.

We traveled extensively throughout the Northern parts of India.  We started in New Delhi and from there ventured to Dharamsala, Varanasi, Bodhgaya, Jaipur, Amritsar, Khajuraho, and Agra.  We spent Christmas Day at the Bodhi Tree and rang in the New Year with Aloo Gobi and Bollywood hits.

We studied the five major religions of India: Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism.  We visited temples and spoke with Monks, Imams, and Priests.  We visited countless temples and holy sites.

We watched people fervently practicing faiths which I had previously never heard of.  I was forced to examine my own faith, my lack of devotion, and my beliefs about those who didn't believe in Jesus.  I questioned how some of these religions could be so similar to my own yet also so different. 

When people ask me what India was like I find it hard to give an answer.  I was there for a month yet was never in one spot for more than two nights.  There was so much to see, so much to take in, so much to learn, so much to process. 

India was beautiful.  It was colorful and vibrant and full of life and laughter and music and chaos and incredible smells.

India was also heartbreaking.  It was full of poverty and corruption and sickness and impositions on freedom.  

India was confusing for me.  There were times when I just couldn't understand why certain things happened and why people believed certain things.  Below is a picture of an open-air crematorium where bodies are burned 24 hours a day.  The ashes are then dumped in the Ganges river where faithful Hindus bathe daily.  The fumes settle over the city in a thick black smoke and our entire group became ill during our time there.  The question that hung over all of us was "why?!"  To our Western brains the practice seemed barbaric, not to mention unsanitary.  But does that make it wrong? 

I like to think of myself as open-minded and culturally sensitive.  But India showed me just how limited my views were.  It challenged the belief that I needed to know why certain things happen in order to respect them.  There was a point where I had to stop analyzing, stop questioning, and simply watch.  Absorb.  Learn.

I'd like to go back to India someday.  I'd like to stay in one place for an extended period of time and really get to know what everyday life is like there.  I'd like to go with a humble and open heart that is ready to learn, even if it cannot understand.