Posted by: tranalist | November 24, 2008

Back to School

This September I found myself dressing up (ok, not really) and heading off to my first day of class since I graduated from University 2 years ago. I had enrolled in a Spanish class and a Photography class at the local JC to add some enrichment to my life.

One thing I’ve learned is that semesters are LOOOOONG. Good grief. Who ever came up with them had a sick and twisted sense of humor. I come from the Quarter system. Ten short weeks–fast and furious–but over before you can blink. Semesters however…oh my goodness…they go on and on and on.

I ended up dropping my Spanish class to keep my sanity. I was acing the class, but between working full-time, doing the church plant and taking the two classes, I needed to regain a little balance.

I’ve stuck with my photography class though and am really enjoying it. We’re learning the basics of black and white film. Time consuming, but a lot of fun. Here’s some of my work.

Some of my work

Some of my work

Melissa and Rachel have been such a huge help to me. They have posed as models for my assignments more than once. Love them. I’m hoping to take a digital photography class next, cause I’d rather spend hours in Photoshop than hours in the darkroom. I tip my hat to film folk, but I’m definitely a child of technology.

Posted by: tranalist | September 11, 2008

A “Do Over” Moment

12:55pm I get this email from a friend in New York:

The fire alarms sounds and lights are blinking. It’s 9/11 and the building informs us AFTERWARDS that they’re testing the system today. There are a lot of really ANGRY people running around! Where are their heads at?!

Talk about a bad day to make that sort of mistake!!

Seriously, people can be such boobs sometimes.

Posted by: tranalist | September 9, 2008

Best Pickup Lines EVER

Oh man, a friend just sent me a list of Christian pickup lines, which are politely refer to as “chat up lines” on this particular site (what the h?).

Anyone with a good sense of humor should appreciate the following. These are simply hilarious and should be widely used just to get people laughing again at the cheese-ball factor of pickup lines in general.

Enjoy.

“Now I know why Solomon had 700 wives. He never met you.”
“Is this pew taken?”
“My parents are home, wanna come over?”
“Is that a thinline, duo-tone, compact, ESV travel bible in your pocket?”
“Let me sell you an indulgence – it’s a sin to look as good as you.”
“How many times do I have to walk around you before you fall for me?”
“I like to arrange the substantial Christian section of my bookshelf into alphabetical order. Coffee?”
“The name is Will. God’s Will.”

But the best line I’ve ever heard was shared with me by a fellow in my Spanish class:

“Hi Ladies, I’m here to be rejected.”

So classic. What girl wouldn’t take a moment to laugh along with this?

Posted by: tranalist | August 25, 2008

Donut dives & coffee shops

It seems the tides are turning—and for the better! For a while, when I asked newly married couples if their first year was hard, I was, more often than not, met with a resounding, “YES!” But lately, I’ve been hearing a resounding “No!” which does my heart good.

A couple weeks ago, I spent the better part of my Sunday with one such couple. They were so fun to be around, because you could tell they loved one another and truly enjoyed each others company. We drove to a dive donut shop, stuffing our faces with way too many of those delectable desserts as we caught up on wedding, honeymoon and post-honeymoon details.

Then it was back to their place for more conversation and laughter…so much laughter. They had such a way of making me feel at home, so much so that at one point I stood up mid-sentence and (please excuse the following) proceeded to pick a murph.

As I sat back down, the husband interrupted me and said, “You don’t know how happy what you just did makes us.” No, he doesn’t particularly like watching people fix their unruly undies; he saw it as me feeling comfortable in their home and in their company. And he was right.

I learn so much from people like this. It’s great being around them!

____

This week I’ve been spending a lot of time catching up with old friends. Today, I had coffee with a college girlfriend of mine who I hadn’t seen in 4 years (though we’ve been living but a few blocks from one another for the past year)! It was great.

We giggled at how ambitious we used to be while in school, how we were going to have an amazing career and make lots of money. Now, our attitudes are more along the lines of not wanting to be a slave to our job, and just wanting to be moms. They still exist right? :)

I thought it was so cute that over the years she’s been keeping current with my goings on via this blog (people do read it!) Michelly, I forgot to snap a photo to document this momentous occasion. Make sure I do it at the wedding; you deserve to be web-famous. Thanks for the good times today. And I forgot to tell you, that I still always think of you every time I hear Mercy Me’s song, “I Can Only Imagine.” Remember that?!

____

Last but not least, September 3rd Lara will be heading back to school! Over the summer, my work asked us to make a personal goal to accomplish over the next year. Mine was to learn Spanish (self teaching wasn’t working as fast as I would like). So now, I’ll be taking classes at the local JC.

Along with Spanish, I’ve signed up for a Photography class. My schedule will be quite full, but I’m excited to be learning again. I should be able to suck anything up for 3 months, right? Then during the Winter Intercession, Michelly and I are planning on doing conversational Spanish together. How fun.

Posted by: tranalist | August 20, 2008

Awww…June Lake

The other view--Gull Lake

The other view--Gull Lake

What was originally only supposed to be a long weekend up in the Sierras turned into a full week at the last minute. I had the vacation allowance and thought a week away from work would be good for the soul.

It was.

For the first few days, it was only my sister, brother-in-law, nephew and myself. I had originally wanted to visit the hot springs, an old stompin’ ground of ours, but when I found out that it’s been closed since 2006 because it started burning and killing people, I thought better of it.

We were, however, able to go on a couple of great hikes, get in some not-so-good fishing (I didn’t even catch one!), get funny sunburns and, of course, take lots of pictures.

But Sage definitely stole the show. There is nothing more hilarious than a 2-year-old’s interpretation of grown up talk.

My favorite was Sage wanting to go fishing. It does me in every time. We were originally heading to the dock to see the fish Jacob caught, but Sage had other plans.

In case you have a hard time understanding what he’s saying, let me translate:

Sage: I wan, I wanna go feeshing.
Amy: Want me to help you or do you want to do it by yourself.
Sage: Do it by myself.

The rest of the family showed up Thursday night and it quickly became a full house.

Asher only bonked his head badly one time (and boy was it bad—he literally flew off those couch cushions), which has to be a new record for him.

After a rather interesting lunch on Friday (let’s not talk about it, but I will tell you it involved crying babies), we all ventured into Mammoth for a hike. I have to tip my hat to Hayley and Adrianna who carried their 4 months old for 4 miles, and to the babies for lasting that long!

Saturday we had a nice time of remembering Mom. I got a little teary eyed whilst reflecting.

But, when the Olympics started over the weekend, it pretty much consumed us for the latter part of our stay.

All in all, it was a nice time and now I’m all gung-ho camping/hiking. I even went with a friend to REI to look at sleeping bags (the kind that smoosh down into the size of a football and weigh as much as my pinkie) and backpacks.

How glorious do a few days camping in the mountains sound? Very glorious. Actually, I would really love to trailer in some horses and go camping that way—you can cover more ground and still be as sore as if you’d done all the walking. It’s a win-win!

I wonder if my dad would be up for something like that…

Posted by: tranalist | August 14, 2008

Yes, I’m helping plant a church…

I realize that some of you might be wanting to hear the back story as to how I ended up on a team that’s starting a church.

To do so, we’ll have to go back about 7 months or so.

The church I was going to was really digging into the theme of investing your time into the city in which you live. Friends told me I should move back to the Fullerton area, but I knew I was meant to be in Pasadena and I knew that slowly my life would begin shifting from Orange County to Pasadena. I also knew that it had to be a gradual transition. Because of all the life changing events from the previous year, a sudden change might not have been very welcomed by yours truly.

So, I kept going to a Tuesday night bible study in the O.C, my guitar class, and church on Sunday nights for several months. Life in Pasadena was lonely. I had no friends and being a relational person, I missed having company. Then a few months into the new year, a pastor friend thought I might be interested in a church that would be starting in Pasadena. I agreed to be added to the mass email list and told him I’d pray about it without any promises.

At the time, I wasn’t really thinking about leaving my church, but have learned to not shoot down any ideas myself, because God’s pretty good at doing that for me if it’s not the direction He wants me heading in, so I kept that option open to see where it might lead.

In March-ish, I went to listen to Jon and Kate share their hearts and vision for the church plant. I purposely showed up late, sat alone so that I could really hear their hearts as an incognito bystander, and as Jon began speaking, I began crying. His words, his passion and their vision for reaching the lost penatrated straight to my soul. Here was something I could believe in, someone who was speaking the hidden desires of my heart, someone who was willing to do church a little differently in order to reach a generation who has grown up not knowing God.

It’s no secret that church has been a hard place for me to go to for years. One day I woke up and could not stand the routine or the predictability of it, and I didn’t know what to do with that. I tried so hard to go to church (mostly out of obligation and I don’t do well with obligation when it comes to my relationship with God), but doing so caused such a reaction inside of me, so much so that I eventually stopped going.

Looking back, I am so thankful for the year-and-a-half I was outside of the church. God really taught me so much: seeking out truth in the word, doing things, not out of obligation, but out of desire and learning what it feels like to be an “outsider.”

When I came back from Canada in June 2007, I remember praying one morning and found that I actually wanted to go back to church. Then “Vineyard” popped into my head, which was odd because I had no connection with a Vineyard (and had never gravitated to major names like that). But, I’ve learned to trust and explore what I feel God is telling me, so I looked up the local Vineyards and attended one the next Sunday.

I knew God was in it based off of the message–it was on Hebrews 11, a chapter that someone close to me had spoken over my life. That day I met and made a great friend and that’s where I began taking free guitar lessons (another answer to prayer). A couple of months later, I also began visiting my old church again, which God had me do for specific reasons and lessons that I will forever be grateful for.

So, that day in March-ish, I introduced myself to Jon and Kate after the service, we went to lunch, I learned more of their hearts and they learned more of mine. In April I began attending the vision casting meetings for this Pasadena church. We were all strangers brought together by a common desire to see God really impact the city. I still wasn’t 100% in, but kept coming to the meetings and praying about it. I never heard a resounding YES, nor did I hear a resounding NO.

At the end of May, I reached a crossroads. I knew that I had to get off the preverbial fence. On one hand, I loved my old church, the people, the worship and I didn’t know if I was willing to give all that up. I wanted God to make it really clear, but He wasn’t doing that yet and I was so torn!

Finally, one night I skipped one of the church planting meetings to go to the Sunday night service at my old church and during worship I began crying and asked God if I really had to give all of this up. He said, plain as day, “No. You can stay here and be blessed, but it’s not the best that I have for you.” Immediately the burden fell and the weight was lifted. I was set free and knew I was ready to move into the next season of growth. I was able to grieve the loss of my present fellowship through silent tears during worship, but I knew, without a doubt, that I had hopped off the fence. I was going to Pasadena and wouldn’t be looking back.

Fast-forward a few months and here we are. Things are falling into place. The website is up (www.oasispasadena.org) and the venue determined (The Ice House). I am so grateful to be a part of this. I’ve never had so much fun and been so excited about being a part of a church in my life. I love the people who have gathered—they are absolutely amazing.

So my life has finally shifted from Orange County to Pasadena and I’m very excited to see what the future holds.

I’m just enjoying the journey.

Posted by: tranalist | August 10, 2008

Back to Reality

I arrived home from a wonderful week in June Lake and I found it hard to come home this time (that or a week just isn’t long enough).

Sigh.

Nature. Beauty. Hiking. Lakes. Docks. Fishing. Skipping rocks. Mountains. Family. Books. Sun. Swimming.

I had a great time. Took tons of pictures. I’ll fill you in later.

Posted by: tranalist | July 28, 2008

Big Bear Retreat

Oasis Pasadena

Oasis Pasadena Big Bear Retreat

Here we are–well most of us anyway–the team that has gathered to help start Oasis Church in Pasadena. Everyone is so amazing, each with such unique gifts and talents. I really am enjoying this journey and feel lucky that I get to travel it with them. The retreat in itself was very refreshing and unstructured, allowing us to get to know one another in a family sort of atmosphere.

Each morning I was able to steal away for some much needed alone time, taking walks before the rest of the household woke up. There were some great trails not too far from our cabin, so great that I ended up getting lost one day in the woods. New rule: no ipod when on a not very clearly marked trail. I was so distracted by the music and the praying that when I went to retrace my steps, I missed a turn and ended up a couple miles from where I needed to be. Luckily a kind runner on the path (thank you Jesus!) provided alternate directions that required residential navigation and very steep inclines. But I made it home–a little sore–but intact.

I also got to play sidekick to a five-year-old boy over the weekend. We went on rock hunts, played hide-and-seek and Go Fish (I never realized what a great teaching tool that game is until now!). Spending time with him was so fun and helps keep me young!

My favorite times, though, were spent singing and playing worship songs with some of the guys. We would stay up ’til the wee hours of the morning rocking out. I love that sort of fellowship and miss having it at home.

Sunday morning saw the break through that I had been praying to God for all weekend. Not being able to feel His presence for a length of time is very hard, but when the guys started singing their simple songs of worship, the Holy Spirit showed up and the flood gates opened.

The retreat reconfirmed my desire to get involved in ministry in some way, shape or form. I remember in Mozzy, when I had to handle a certain situation with some people, a woman who witnessed the interaction said to me, “If the parents are called, the children are called.” The lesson in Patience has helped me to not get too ahead of myself…so now I’m just praying and waiting.

Next weekend, I’ll be heading back up to the mountains–the Sierra’s this time–for our family vacation and to remember Mom. Yesterday was her birthday. She would have been 55. I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since she passed. What a full year this has been.

I’m looking for forward to the mountains, the hiking, the fresh air, the star-studded skies, the family and the break from work!

Posted by: tranalist | July 6, 2008

Festivities, Fun Parks, Fourth of July & Photo Shoots

My birthday marked yet another holiday without the madre, but my friends and family were there to step in and make my special day extra special.

I walked into work to a totally decked out cubicle, complete with fun decor, flowers, presents, and chocolate covered potato chips (which are awesome by the way). My co-workers are wonderful people and really went the extra mile. I’m so appreciative.

I spent the evening with a good friend who treated me to Thai food and I then treated her to Coldstone (I had a gift card). A few days later, my college friends took me to a fancy dinner at an outdoor restaurant in Old Town.

I was given an extravagant gift from a couple of friends for my birthday–a Canon Rebel–a camera I only dreamed of owning. Since then, I’ve gotten to act as official photographer at two work events, and did a photo shoot for possible website photos for the Pasadena church plant. Boy was that a learning experience. Out of the 500 photos taken, I think I managed to get 5 good ones.

For the Fourth of July this year, I decided to mix things up a bit and went to Knott’s Berry Farm with Melissa. We had a great time! The park was surprisingly uncrowded. I must have grown up a bit since my last visit to the Park some 10 years ago, because I wasn’t nearly as scared of the drops as I used to be. Our big disappointment: we didn’t get to see Snoopy.

Afterward, I headed down to Elsinore to spend the evening at my friend’s family BBQ. We got to cool off in the pool, eat a bunch of yummy food, then went out on the lake to watch a fireworks show. We returned to a table full of dessert, and finished off the night sitting around telling (and making up) ridiculous jokes (which still make me laugh out loud when I think about them).

What do you call a man with no arms and no legs floating in water? Bob.

What do you call a man with no arms and no legs with a basketball game going on in his belly? Jim.

What do you call a man with no arms and no legs who runs into things? Clyde.

Oh yes, they were good jokes and we laughed pretty hard.

The next morning my friends and I dared the heat of Elsinore and went horseback riding. We had a blast. They were pretty good riders for having only been on a horse a handful of times. We raced a few times–I won thanks to the Thoroughbred I was on. Then my dad treated us to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant, which was special treat.

After cooling off in the pool, my friend and I decided to drive down to San Diego for a mutual friend’s sister’s 21st birthday party. I hadn’t seen this girl in years and it was so cool to see how God can transform a person’s life.

Now it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m exhausted and very sore, and can’t wait to go out riding again.

Posted by: tranalist | June 29, 2008

Another mini vacation

At the beginning of June I hopped back on a plane and headed east to Florida to visit some old family friends for a long weekend getaway. Luckily, the weather hadn’t yet reached the typical Floridian humidity, and on days when we did venture out in the afternoon to any location other than the beach, sweating through and through reminded me of Africa or summers in Alabama, so it was nothing new.

It was great getting to see my friends, and boy were they wonderful hosts! I was treated like a queen the entire week–I had my own room with private bath, meals made for me, and was chauffeured all over town. My time was very relaxing, full of lounging and resting and days at the beach, with an occasional bike ride thrown in there. Regardless of what we were doing, our time was always full of good, deep, insightful conversation.

I realized how much I’ve missed being around folks older than I who are full of wisdom (I don’t get to do it nearly as much as I used to). I love picking their brains and asking tons of questions, so these were 5 days straight of just that. As an added bonus, these were 5 days spent with a couple who love, respect and cherish one another, which, in this day and age, kids my age definitely can’t get enough of.

Every so often my friend would tell me something sweet her husband would do for her and, as I stood there in amazement, she would turn to me and say, “I know, he’s just raised the bar for you, hasn’t he?” and I’d follow with a resounding “Yes!”

I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by a family of men who set great examples of how a wife should be loved in marriage, so my bar is already high, but this guy definitely made it go even higher.

So, Florida was great and it looks like my next venture will be back up to our family’s cabin in the Sierra’s for another family vacation.

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