Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On flowers and bikes and five years of matrimony.

July 29th will be the 5 year anniversary of our marriage. If you had asked me on my wedding day, a 21 year old bride, what I thought life would look like in 5 years, I would have shrugged. At 21, I could not think that far into the future. There is so much wisdom that comes with age and life experiences, that at 21 I thought I knew everything and at almost 27, I can tell you that I know very little. What I do know is this- our love has bloomed and blossomed at a steady pace from the day that we met. There has not been a single moment that has gone by that my love for Omar hasn't increased, and vice versa. At 21, I would have said that is the definition of successful love.
 I now know that it is not. 
It is the moments that we have struggled and fought to sustain the promise we made that have created the roots that ground our love.
A pretty flower can only survive so long once it is out of the ground, it grows and is beautiful, then it slowly dies. Above the surface, our love has continuously blossomed, bringing beauty and light to the world around us, but without our roots, the beauty is temporary.
Deep reaching roots are the definition of successful love.
When Omar and I got married, we had dated for exactly 1 year. We had only been dating for 1 year, yet we promised our entire lives away to each other, not knowing the cost. We knew very little of sacrifice and forgiveness. We only knew attraction, that there was an undeniable connection between us, and how to hear the still, small voice of God pushing us towards the alter. 
In the last 5 years, I have learned to love another person. Not superficial adoration, but true, unconditional, undeniable, worth dying for kind of love.
There is nothing I wouldn't do for Omar.
There is no place I wouldn't go and no sacrifice I wouldn't make if it meant he would benefit from it. There was a point in our marriage where I was moments away from filing for divorce, that I thought God had abandoned us, that I hadn't heard Him clearly when He told me to say "I do." It was in that moment that God moved in ways that I had been praying for for years. He brought about a repentance that I had only read about in books, and caused us both to reexamine everything we knew of Him and one another. He filled our lives with people who were present in the storms and valleys, when things got unbearable, there was not a single burden that we carried alone.
We were covered in prayer and surrounded by tangible love.
Recently, we bought bicycles with hopes to someday do a triathalon. The most fun part of cycling is coasting downhill, however, it is not possible to go downhill without having to go uphill. Uphill rides are extremely difficult, there are moments when I cannot breathe and my legs feel like they are going to give out. There is a stark contrast between the ease of going downhill and the effort it takes to go up. Downhill is fun and freeing and I used to think that was what marriage was about. In the moments when I have nearly given up because the intensity of the uphill pedaling gets to be too much, it is there when I meet God. It is those moments when I cling to Him, when He is the only thing sustaining me. There are little to no benefits in going downhill except that it feels good in the moment. My muscles, my confidence, my improved heart health, my strength and my mind only benefit from the uphill climb, the unbearable moments of clinging to Jesus and pushing forward even though it feels like I cannot.
5 years feel like an incredible victory. Growing up with Omar has been the most significant part of my life thusfar. Through the joys and the trials, he has taught me more than any other human being. He challenges me to be more, to do more, to push harder and to overcome. He constantly holds a mirror to the brokenness and beauty inside of me, and helps me to see my soul clearly. He does not allow me to give up or give in, instead, he is behind me, yelling for me to keep pedaling, to keep going, encouraging me and calling things out of me that I cannot see myself. Our love is deep rooted, and strong, and though we will face many more uphill battles, we will face them together.
"We're dancing in the minefields,
We're sailing in the storms, 
and its harder than we dreamed, but, I believe,
 thats what the promise is for.
So, when I lose my way, find me.
When I loose love's chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith, till the end of all my days,
when I forget my name, remind me.
Because we bear the light of the Son of Man,
so there's nothing left to fear,
So, I'll walk with you in the shadowlands
till the shadows disappear.
Because He promised not to leave us
And His promises are true.
So, in the face of all this chaos, baby,
I can dance with you."


Sunday, May 27, 2012


today's sermon was about remembering, so i spent the last half hour looking through my old blogs and realizing a few things.

first, i don't feel like an alien anymore. i spent so much of the last 7 or so years feeling like i was from another planet. the tension between following Christ and having my own way was so intense, and it made me have a perpetual feeling of being homesick. i am not sure which changes have made this feeling less relevant, but i feel like i'm exactly where i'm supposed to be. i still have moments where i hope Jesus will just come and take me home, where i wrestle with the ugliness of humanity and this world, but they are no longer dominating my life. thank God for that.

second, in september, i wrote that i wanted to be migraine free by april 2012 after suffering from migraines for the better part of my life. thank god, i have found a solution. they are needle-less imitrex injections that i take when my migraines come on, and they have changed my life. i haven't truly suffered from a migraine for several months now. i can't believe that i'm finally free!

third,  i really need to stop planning my own life. i'm terrible at it.

fourth, i am overwhelmed with gratefulness for the church that God has given us. i've always kind of been annoyed by the idea of getting fully invested in one particular church. i think its because i've witnessed people worship church over worshiping God, and i was always so afraid of that happening that i never allowed myself to get involved. we are invested in a church with every single characteristic that i ever hoped for in a church. our pastor is an authentic man of God whose singular goal is to bring the hearts of people to God. every part of his life says that this is true. he has taken the time to invest in Omar and to challenge him to be a better man. he has believed in him and called things out of him that may not have happened without his encouragement. he understands grace and second chances and places integrity as the highest priority in peoples' character. i've never grown more spiritually than i have in this place with these people. we are surrounded by people who are authentically following Jesus and loving others. and its the little things too. our church understands the importance of adoption. although it is only a little more than a year old, we are investing in orphans and widows in our community and abroad. there are multiple families in our church who have adopted children and are so good at parenting them. my best friend's husband is the worship pastor. our friend, vincent, is the guitar player. omar is the children's ministry director and they think its cool that he decorated his office in vintage super hero art. i'm just stoked to be challenged by the sermons, filled by the areas that we get to serve, and brought to the throne of grace each week in worship. i didn't realize what an important role being involved in an authentic church would play in our lives until now.

i really feel like a grown up and its weird and great and i love omar and the other rad people in our life and holy moly we are are so blessed. life is goooood. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012


2011 will go down as the craziest year of my life. i have never grown so much in a single year. i am stronger, braver, more humble, more grateful, and more in awe of the power of Christ than i have even been. a few things that happened this year (in no particular order):
- we were on national television (wheel of fortune) where we won a trip to puerto rico!
-i was awarded "new teacher of the year" for CCSD!
-we remodeled our house!
-we hiked vernal falls in yosemite, and we didnt even die!
-we stopped drinking alcohol completely.
-i went to california more times than i can count. at least more than 6 times. 
-we drove to san francisco and got to see the golden gate bridge!
-i got a master's degree!!!!
-i asked my boss if she would double the size of my classroom and hire my best friend, jocelyn, to co-teach with me and she did! we have 9 of the cutest, best, kids ever. our kids have grown and are doing things that we were told they would never do.
-toured hollywood with my baby sister and stayed at a fancy hotel.
-we camped on the beach with 6 of our friends!
-jocelyn (see above) went from being a classmate, to being one of my very best friends. she gave her life to Jesus 3 months ago, and has immensely blessed my life with her presence in it!
-Jesus saved my marriage. He gave us a hope and a future when we saw none. redemption has never been more tangible than it was in 2011!!!!!
-watched my best friend give birth to her perfect little boy. we are obsessed with him!
- omar started a job at the raddest church in america. he spends everyday serving God with my best friend's husband.  rad!
-went on a mermaid trip with my favorite girls to disneyland and rode the mermaid ride!!!
-omar got into seminary to be a pastor!
-we started the process to get our foster care license!
-we spent 8 days in puerto rico riding horses through the rainforest, hiking, kayaking in bioluminescent bays,  best vacation of my life and it was FREE! thanks, pat sajak!

(in making this list, i realized a few things. one- this is a blessed life. i can't believe i'm living it. two- 2011 was a LONG year. i had to look at facebook pictures, because i didn't remember most of what happened in the first six months of this year. pure, utter, chaos that i can't believe happened, and praise the lord! we came out on top.)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

christmas cheer.

i started off this christmas season with a bad case of the scrooges. i complained to omar that christmas was going to be depressing this year. we both have small immediate families, and last year may have been the worst christmas ever. the thought of putting up a tree for just the two of us, without enchanted little eyes to look at it, depressed me. i sat with omar at the starbucks at target a few weeks ago and complained about all of the reasons that i wasnt excited for christmas. and i prayed.
then, suddenly i was.
the difference between a depressing holiday season, and a delightful one, is the choice that one makes to have one or the other.
i realized this morning that this is the best christmas of my life. my life is more blessed today than it has ever been. in fact, every christmas past pales in comparison to the incredible life that i am living this christmas. sometimes, we just need to pause and take note of the goodness. i am married to an amazing man, a man i deeply respect and admire, a man who has overcome incredible obstacles in the last year and has shown me what it means to lay down your life for those you love. our parents and siblings are still alive and love us. we live in a beautiful house that has recently been painted and tiled, and we haven't had to pay for any of it. we both drive cars that always start when we turn the key. we both have fulfilling jobs that we look forward to going to everyday. we have the BEST friends in the entire universe, and they are in a better place than they have ever been.
and even if none of that were true, we have a God who loves us immensely, who guides our every step, who has completely redeemed us and turns the murky, awful messes of our lives into beautiful goodness. and THAT is reason enough for Christmas cheer.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

gifts of christmas past

 i wrote this to omar for christmas, five years ago. it is more true today than ever before. thankful for my incredible husband, the best christmas gift ive ever gotten.

i cant thank God enough for the gift of you.
for the way you pray.
for the way you treat the people around you.
for the way you love love love Him.
for the fact that you are more than enough for me.
for the way our lives have been coming together long before we even knew eachother.
for the fact that you dont want pets.
for the way you laugh from your heart.
for your gentle, sincere, smiling eyes.
for the way you look at me.
for the way you try to be subtle, but really are not at all.
for the fact that you took me to sea world, and insisted that we wore matching shamu shirts.
for the fact that you love Christmas time, and we make lists together and do everything on them.
for the way your first response is to pray.
for your wonderful family.
for the way you brush my hair everyday.
for the fact that you are the most attractive person that i have ever known, and the fact that i have no idea how to express that to you.
for the way you value my opinion.
for the way you've sacrificed your life for me.
for the way you are so silly, and you dont care what people think.
for the fact that youre the most generous person i know.
for the fact that ive never had to guess how you feel about me.
for the way you are willing to give me space.
for the way you are so receptive of Gods voice, and so eager to serve Him.
for the fact that i can tell you everything, and have.
for the way you love your family, my family, and are excited about our family.
for the way youve always respected me.
for the fact that you took care of a nano pet for three weeks just so i would let you hold my hand.
for the fact that you tell me at least ten times a day that im beautiful.
for the way you worship.
for the way you love your Young Life kids.
for the way you kept pursuing me even after i shot you down. like 10 times.
for the fact that i'm currently reading "The Power of a Praying Wife."
for the way you have a heart that beats with mine, and beats for Christ and even though i've spent my whole life imagining you, you exceed all of my expectations.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

on withholding good

"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is within the power of your hand to do so."
Proverbs 3:27
i've had several negative experiences in the last few months that have prompted this post. one of them was yesterday while i was talking to my sweet neighbor. she is a loving human and a wonderful parent. when i told her that we were trying to get our foster care license she said, "why? those kids are really messed up."
over the last few months we've had several people come into our classroom of kids with severe physical and mental disabilities and although we have done everything in our power to create the most inviting room possible, they let us know at the end of the day that they didn't realize they were going to be working with "these kinds of kids" and that they were out of their comfort zone.

thought: i have been working with people with special needs for five years now. i still do not feel comfortable. love, acceptance, excitement, anticipation, joy, gratitude, hope, amusement, inspiration, shock, awe- but not comfortable.
should we keep human beings from good because of our own discomfort? is this ever acceptable? maybe the point of life is not to nestle ourselves as deep as possible into our comfort zones.
people of the world, hear me on this- TAKE RISKS. step outside of your zone of comfort and LIVE. every good thing involves risk. the decision to believe that all human beings are worthy of love, and that it is in your power to love them, will reshape every single aspect of your life. i know that it has for mine. i have known many, many people who started to experience life because they were brave enough to be uncomfortable. i have friends who just moved to thailand as missionaries. they were not seeking comfort, they were seeking fullness of life. it is rare to have both.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

i am not the boss of life.

at some point, probably a little before my birth, i decided that i was the boss of life. i started dictating the world around me at a young age, and that worked fine because i was an only child and i was only bossing inanimate objects. recently, it has come to my attention that i have a lot of thoughts and ideas and opinions and feelings, and ive subconsciously decided that i know everything at the ripe old age of 26. as it turns out, i dont know everything. i know very little about a few things. thinking im the boss of life has had a few positive ramifications, but mostly it has made me frantic and stressed. apparently i can't control everything and everyone in my environment (damn those people that change lanes without blinkers!). i really just want the whole world to follow my made up rules about living.
i have a hard time finding the balance between influencing people in a positive way (everyone should go to and buy the cutest, most comfortable shoes ever- such a good cause!) and feeling entitled to pressure people into making decisions. maybe its because hard decisions are hard to make, and ive rarely made them without encouragement from others. anyway, its exhausting. im hoping and praying that jesus will reach in and clean out my heart and make me trust him and learn how to stop trying to control my world.