12/1/09

change of path, change of pace, change of life.

Every time I attempt to go for a run outside, I go through periods of uncertainty... "Well... I don't know if I am hydrated enough"
"I just finished eating"
"I haven't eaten enough"
"I could just go to Nubody's on the bike?"
"I hope no one sees me"
"It's really cold and... *cough*... I don't feel that great"
"It's that time of month"
...

Honestly.
The excuses could go on forever so just the feat of getting my butt out the door is a battle in itself. Once I start, then the decision turns to "Where do I run today?"
It's not like Antigonish is a mini San Francisco, but it definitely has it's fair-share of hills that should be taken into account when you chose your route. Personally, I like to plan my run to get the up-hill stuff out of the way. It's nice to get it over-with and then the flat land and down hill stuff is such a breeze.
When I was a little girl, Hawthorne Street seemed like the most enormous street ever. I only walked it if I absolutely had to. I remember in the summer, Lesley and my babysitters use to make us walk it and it seemed like it took all day to walk down and get some ice cream and go to the park and then walk back up. So the other day when I decided I would run up to my home-home from my X-home, I thought for sure it was going to be kind of difficult.
It wasn't. It turns out, Hawthorne is not that up-hill... it's fairly flat. And it turns out, it's really quite short.

I dunno why but all of this got me to thinking about how life is kinda like that. Not only do certain things seem to be in higher grade than they are (for example, I was SO nervous to not use a math work book when I graded from grade 2 to grade 3, but it ended up being not so bad once I got there and had to use... a scribbler... big D folks... or the fear of going to University in grade 12 and feeling like you'll never be ready for it) but also when we step out into our big scary world there are easy routes, and hard routes.
Sometimes we don't take any routes. We just wait for things to happen.
Sometimes we take easy routes. We do what we know we can do, we stay on the worn out path, and we are undefeated but totally unchallenged, bored and unchanged.
Sometimes, though, we step out of the comfortable path we're use to. Our pace slows down because we aren't use to it. Sometimes we don't even know if we'll make it - we don't know how much we can handle. Sometimes we keep going. Sometimes we take breaks. Sometimes we turn around. Sometimes we give up. The choices we make, and the paths we embark on, will inevitably affect the condition of our hearts. Just in the same way that our bodies will adjust to the same old work-out if we do them every day, our souls will remain static in the times we stay safe because it's habit and it's what we're use to.

All I know is...
I want more. I want to feel tired and keep going. I want to not know how many blocks there are to go before I will be finished. I want to push myself beyond my limits - beyond what barriers I've reached in the past that stopped me. I want to move into my runners high and feel challenged. I want to chose the path I'm not use to - the one I don't want to take, but that God wants me to take. I want to grow. I want to be changed. And then, I want to do it again.

When the burden seems too much to bear,
Remember, the end will justify
The pain it took to get us there.
-Rk

11/23/09

you can... but you shouldn't

You can, but you shouldn't complain that things are boring - that there isn't enough going on. That your town is too small, your weekends are repetitive, and your motivation for life in general isn't strong enough to actually do anything about it. We, as a generation, have been so overloaded with excitement that it turns to white noise. I remember dating a guy in high school who took a vacation with his family every single spring break. I think it's nice they spend their money on quality time together as a family but I noticed his 8- and 10-year-old siblings being less than impressed by Disney World because they had been there so many times that its excitement wore off. While on the topic of Disney, I even noticed the huge gap between my excitement and my friends' this summer when I finally had the opportunity to go. It was my first time and growing up, the exciting vacations me and my family took were to PEI and Moncton - cheah... Crystal Palace... Sandspit... so bomb.
Okay, okay. I'll admit I am kind of envious of people who grew up going to really amazing places and experiencing travel before they were even old enough to travel on their own. My point isn't to say that traveling and excitement and big Christmas's are bad in and of themselves. I guess my point is just to say that we are so bombarded by materialistic forms of pleasure and joy that we exhaust ourselves with so many activities and it becomes increasingly more difficult to satisfy our needs.
Just a thought to ponder on.
Maybe... when we are feeling bored... that we don't have enough... or that we're not doing enough exciting things, we should really stop and be grateful that we don't have something in our lives to legitimately complain about - as many of us do. If we find ourselves in a place where things are just plain boring, don't jinx it by wishing you had something to do. Because sure enough, there will be times you'll have something to do - and it will be anything but pleasurable. We are just on such roller coasters. Sometimes we're going up. Sometimes we feel we're crashing down. And sometimes we are at a standstill - the place in the roller coaster where you're moving but you're not feeling anything. Be thankful for those moments.
Be grateful. When you have a pet pass away (RIP Jude), you get dumped by a significant other, or worst of all, you lose a loved one or close friend to a tragic accident, you'll really notice the difference between boredom and drama, trauma, and sadness. And you'll miss having nothing to do or think about.
Let's just think about it friends.

<3

11/9/09

the Samaritan woman at the well


I love my Mom:

"... let the portals open and the of glory come down from heaven and fill you with the healing and peace and freedom that is yours to enjoy.

Remember, without a crisis we remain complacent in our relationship with God, so praise Him through it until you get the answer. The answer is coming, your healing is coming but you need to know... you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. "
- Mom

11/7/09

doe-doe-head

I feel like a bit of a doe-doe.
I spent the night at HOME-home last night which was beyond lovely. Had some real heart-to-hearts with Mom and relaxed. The best part was when I got up this morning to go to my 7am shift and she got up with me at 6am to make me coffee and breakfast which was totally unnecessary but very appreciated. She dropped me off and the first thing I said when I walked into the break room and saw Julia and Lauren was "I can't believe we're going to be here for 8 hours... that's such a long time." Haha... well... I ate my words no more than 2 minutes later when I discovered I wasn't suppose to be there until 3pm. Wicckkkeed. Nothing better than getting up at 6 for no reason.
It turns out I am actually happy. Not happy about working the 3-11 shift - I strongly dislike the 3-11 shift - but I'm glad I didn't know I was working that shift. If I did, I would have slept in, and bummed around until 3. I'm much happier getting up early and being productive. Can't even go back to bed because I've already had 2 cups of coffee. But I'm sure a nap will be in order after I go to the gym.
Anyways, since I've got a bit of extra time on my hands, I'll share some things. I chose point form, cause I have a lot to say and they don't really have anything to do with one another:

  • Jude fail #691: knocks over my full 1-litre cup of water from my tall dresser beside my bed onto me and my body in the middle of the night. Talk about worst wake-up ever. Needless to say, I'm pretty sure I gave him an even stronger concussion than he already has.
  • I'm no movie-critic, but I'm pretty sure Couple's Retreat makes my top ten boring movies list. Such a waste of $7.
  • I gave up beer. Haaah. Wish me luck on that one.
  • Zero motivation for school. I don't know what's happened to me. I use to be so studious and now I'm a last-minute kind of studier. Don't care.
  • I miss O.C. and all the people in it.
  • One-Month-Til-X-Ring was so much fun. Everyone was just so happy and carefree. I want to do it again.
  • I bought a camera. Finally. I've been going crazy since I broke mine in SanFran - always depending on other people for pics. Claire: CanonPowerShot-SD1000. Sound familiar?
  • 26 days until The Bling-Blang X-Rang Yo. :)
  • Emotional-Theme-Of-Life-Lately = Insecure. Should I even admit that? Isn't that giving my insecurities more power? I dunno. All I know is that it's there and I want it to leave. So that's been my reason for getting rid of Facebook for a week. It's hard enough living in the real world with 100's of societal pressures but then throw the cyber world in there and it's a whole new battle. I've been focusing my attention toward God and the promises he's given me:
  • 1 Peter 2:9 "But you are not like that. You are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God's holy nation, His very own possession"
  • Ephesians 1:6-8 "So we praise God fo the wonderful kindness he has poured out on us because we belong to his dearly loved Son. He is so rich in kindness that he purchased our freedom through the blood of his Son, and our sins are forgiven. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding"
  • 2:8a "God saved you by his special favor when you believed."
  • Ahh. I could go on and on. It's truly the only way I can successfully do this "life" thing. I am over building my identity on things that fail me.
  • I feel like a bit of a hypocrite since the title of my blog is "Content with where I am and getting where I need to be." I want to be content like that. I'm working on it.

Work In Progress…

11/6/09

you make all things work together for my good

"I know I still make mistakes but
You have new mercies for me everyday.
& Your Love never fails."

10/22/09

Vancouver, B.C.

I love it.
I love everything about it.

I only spent 4 nights there but in those 4 nights, Riley had an exhaustive list of activities to make sure I got to see as much of the city as possible, and experience it for everything it's worth. I am so glad it was Riley, of all people, who was responsible for making my two-way ticket worth the money. Because he appreciates the same things I do and had such a desire to just treat me and show me a good time.

I arrived there late at night - later than planned - around 1:30a.m.. So I was pretty tuckered! I was so cranky the flight had bothered my sinus infection a lot but as soon as I saw him, standing at the bottom of the escalator, my heart skipped a beat. Is that man really mine? That handsome, and extremely charming man? I hugged him when I got off the elevator and made a mental note to myself to really try my best to shake of my sickness. He took me through the city to show me the lights and we headed into Burnaby, his town, and finally, Pandora Street. I was so excited to be there, but fell asleep instantly regardless. The next morning we slept in and he informed me this morning's activity is kayaking and hiking! So excited about both. We ate waffles, got dressed, packed a lunch.
Kayaking was incredibly gorgeous. It was so peaceful and we even got so lucky to get close to some seals. I felt a huge rush of peace as we paddled through the green hills - I felt loved, and protected. It was so quiet. The hike was perfectly challenging for me and my cold, and when we got to the rock at the top, we got to look down at the waters we had just been in and ate ham sandwiches Riley made.
That night I was so lucky to spend it with his roommates and friends for a potluck. Riley BBQed steak and made a casserole and I mixed some guacamole. We had some delicious red wine, a ginormous feast with way too much food left over, and a dance-party. Then someone had a brilliant idea that Riley and Ryan make a video to Eminem's Lose Yourself. Definitely entertaining:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5ENsstN8RI

The next two days were spent exploring the city - going to the market, doing a little down town shopping and sight-seeing, walking in parks, sitting on the shore, taking touristy pictures - stuff like that. And Saturday night he told me to put on my finest for a surprise: "It's something I've always wanted to do but never have. I don't think you've ever done it - there are only a few in the world. I'm not going to tell you what it is but basically, you can't be over-dressed" :) He had me close my eyes until I was facing all of Vancouver city half-way up a glass elevator. It was phenomenal - a rotating restaurant. Definitely not something you do everyday but I definitely recommend it. "I was trying to think of a way to show you the whole city in 4 days. I thought this would be perfect" and it was - such a great evening. We went to the Karaoke bar his roommate, Breanne, bartend's at and he sang the classic, Teenage Dirtbag by Weezer... an obvious choice. Sunday night after church we ate at the restaurant he works at - the Keg - incredible and affordable [with his discount]. I was feeling really sick by the end of it though, so we headed home and I crawled into bed like a big baby and got serenaded to sleep by Riley's voice.
We spent our Thanksgiving Monday first eating sushi and then with family-friends of the Merrell's - but basically family. It was precious. They had a long table and so many people over and at the end of the meal we went around and said something we were thankful for. It was kinda over-the-top adorable. Riley and I took some coffee, 3 hours before leaving for the airport, sat on the patio by the heater and recorded a song together. Not really good quality what with my sniffles in between meters but still great because it meant a lot for us to record that medley together.

We drove to the airport and people-watched a lot and found a really great way to lay down on airport benches where we both get to lay down and we both use each others shoulders as a pillow. Riley was like "take a mental picture of this one - we won't want to forget it for when we start traveling together." Haha we watched so many couples say goodbye to each other and judged them because they aren't as good as us. Instead of hugging, kissing, and crying, we did a secret handshake, highfive thingy when it was time for me to go through security... just so we wouldn't be one of those couples. But then we were serious and it got all sad. :(

Umm so basically, I'm in love.
I'm in love with Vancouver, and I'm in love with Riley. Ooo. The L-word.
Get out of the way - we're in love.

Oh.
And did I mention we're spending Christmas together in B.C. as well? Yup. Intense.
Happy, happy, love-dovey meeeeeeeee.

10/15/09

cough cough cough cough sniffle barf Zzz

Okay minus the barfing part. But dude can I just complain for like 4 sentences?
I am siiiiiiiiiiick and actually don't remember the last time I felt so terrible! My entire body aches, have mucus in every area of my sinus's and my head feels like 100 pounds. Not to mention my cold sweats and lack of taste and smell... I'm miserable. I've heard horror stories of people flying when they are sick but I never really understood what the big deal is until I did it. It's not that you just have a lack of space to stretch your legs, no one to cuddle or care for you, and no real privacy... but the elevation does quite the number to your head. Take it from me: flying with a sinus infection does not make your ears feel good. I came home with a "hemmorage" to my eardrum... whatever that means. I suppose it's better than a rupture but still... who wants a hemmorage?!
I wanted to slap Riley when he said "Lucky you ... you just stay in bed all day and sleep and then talk to me and then sleep..." ARGGH! Does he know how uncomfortable this is?! I would way rather be in the real world and healthy and writing my midterms and being normal than this. I got out of my midterms but I'm still going to have to write them at some point plus I'm so far behind in all of my work cause now I have missed classes I have to somehow make up for.

BLAH.
I think this is to teach me a lesson that your health is the most valuable thing you own. Cherish it. Love it. Cradle it... and hold onto it. You don't realize how wonderful it is until it evaporates from your fingertips and you have to just sit and wait for it to get better.

10/8/09

giving thanks

I'm thankful for a lot of things this thanksgiving. But it's fairly predictable that this thanksgiving will be unique in that I will be thankful for the amazing man I am so privileged to spend it with. It will also mark the two month anniversary of the day I met him (in person, not cyber world) - which doesn't seem like a very long time to have known someone - but I consider it to be significant because within those two months (and the months leading up to it... in the cyber world) I have not only gotten to know some of the in's, out's, up's, and down's of a person that I had immediate positive feelings for, but I have come to a greater understanding of myself, my heart, and my God. I have grown up more in these past two months than I have in the earlier 12. I have left fear at the door and have challenged myself beyond what I believed I could have met. This isn't a corny thanks for my boyfriend - he's so cute and like we like to like hold hands and kiss and it's so cool and he's like really amazing. Yeah he is those things and I am definitely a big-time little school girl about this incredible boy. But, more than that, in all seriousness, I have so much gratitude that I have someone in my life to inspire me and build me up into a stronger, better, and more beautiful me than I thought was possible.

Thank you for accepting me into your arms this Thanksgiving. Thank you for your support and for your confidence in me as an individual. I have no doubt you deserve many of the thanks I have to offer.

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you so much that you have allowed me to handle Gold when I didn't spend silver wisely. Thank you for bringing me to a new level of me, and for granting me with peace I have not felt for a long time. Thank you for the past, where I have stumbled, the present, where I climb, and the future, which you hold, and have blessed me with the hope in advance for. You are an incredible God to serve because you come right when I need you, but you also allow me to fall, so I can know what it's like to be picked up. Thank you for sending me Riley when I was undeserving. I love you. You deserve the most thanks. Amen.

10/2/09

uncontainable inexplainable unfathomable joy

We don't give her a name. Sometimes referred to as Devil Woman, she's the one who ripped my man's heart into too many pieces. I've never been seriously traumatically heart-broken. The kind where, when you repeat the story, others can't help but have some serious sympathy for your situation. I've been really lucky to have pretty neat and clean break-ups. No break-up is a good break-up, but you have to admit, there are some really bad one's out there, and I'm pretty sure Riley's would have to top the charts for evil. Evil doing, evil intentions, evil spirit... Just no bueno. I try as best as I can to understand what it's like but sometimes it's hard for me because I see how what she did to him is still affecting his life... including our relationship. I hope she never reads this because truth be told, both Riley and I would be extremely upset if she knew how much she is still haunting his life. It would be a disappointment to know that she would get that kind of sick satisfaction. Anyways, as best as one can, I try to really be there for him despite the fact that sometimes his broken heart turns into baggage that makes it hard for him to care about someone again. It's understandable and I know it's not personal. It has nothing to do with how good of a girlfriend I am. It is what it is. It's the past, and you can't change the past. You just live every day the best you can and try to move on. And I know that's what he's doing.

Going back to Vancouver didn't make his heart heal any quicker. He was suddenly bombarded by memories that she left him with. Good memories, I'm assuming, but ones that now just haunt him because all they make him think of is what she did to him. I totally called him out for it. I could tell he was uneasy. And he finally gave in and, leaving denial at the door, came clean about his insecurities when it comes to that dark aspect of his past.

We decided it would be in both of our best interests to take a week. To breathe. To think. To pray. To come to terms with ourselves and with our lives. Not a break like "Oh we're... on a break..." haha just a civil break from talking to each other so we could focus on our baggage and insecurities. It was a difficult week, but definitely well needed and extremely therapeutic. At least... for me it was. About 4 days after we started talking again I got a package in the mail from Riley. I opened it to find red cardboard cut-outs in some jigsaw pieces with writing all over each one with a paper-clip to secure them together. The sticky note on the outside read "I know she broke my heart into many pieces. But I'm certain you're the only one who can graciously put those pieces back together." And each piece had a message written on it - one for each day that Riley and I weren't talking. It made me laugh, and it made me cry. It was, to this day, the most thoughtful thing any one has ever done and for the first time, I experienced Riley's heart. I mean... I think I have experienced bits and pieces of it before, but this time, something was different and I felt like it was the most raw and real version of someones heart I've ever sensed.

After I finished reading them, I got my scotch tape and put the puzzle together. It was awakening, and revitalizing and beautiful. I feel so lucky to be the one who gets to put the pieces back together and to have a man who will let me do that. I'm sure he's not going to be totally stoked I wrote a blog about it - haha he's probably embarassed that he's such a softy and now everyone knows it. But he'll understand... I'm sure... :)

So yeahhh... we're basically the cutest thing since Ps. I Love You.
He's da best. Da best I ever had.

9/30/09

caffine & Happy Man

I should not drink coffee in order to stay awake for my night class... But I do anyways. And today, I had a nap. Therefore, I can't sleep right now. On top of my high energy, I have a persistent cough. It doesn't even hurt - it's just annoying. So being that I have some time on my hands, I lay in bed with my computer. I day-dream. I check facebook (& maybe I did creep some of the highlights in the news feed). I turn out my light. I talk to God. I cuddle with Mitch (the penguin). I then start talking to Jude (in a very realistic way) and realize I probably am not falling asleep any time soon.
I feel like I did when I was a little girl. You're tired all day and then as soon as mom says it's bed time, you are wide awake. Les and I used to sleep in the same bed all the time and I remember falling asleep was the last thing we could do. Especially when we had babysitters. We would just talk and play and laugh and tell stories and one favorite game was seeing who could shoot little balls of wool out of their nostril the farthest. Very entertaining, indeed. I feel like that right now.

So I am going to write a blog about the black man with dreds who sits on St. Ninians Street. I don't really get it but this is a route I walk to school every day. I've never talked to the black man with dreds who sits on St. Ninians Street (for the purpose of this blog, I shall call him HM, short for Happy Man because he's, well, a happy man), but that never stops him from making the effort... and neither does the fact that I purposely walk on the opposite side of the street.
HM literally sits out on his patio all day on St. Ninians. I don't know his purpose in life - if he's a student or if he's working full time, part time, or if he's just a lazy ass bum who has a trust fund. All I know is that I can count on him being on his patio 80% of the time. Another 10%, he's walking around in front of his patio. It's a pretty busy street, St. Ninians, because the students use it a lot for their comings and goings.
And in addition to his consistency of being on his patio, he also seems to consistently be happy, loud, and extremely willing to meet people. As people walk by he just starts talking to them, very loudly. Like I said, I walk on the other side of the street, yet he still yells from across the traffic "Are you having a good day?!" "Keep smiling!"
Haha I don't understand his intentions. Others have told me he offers them beer and I can usually hear some reggae music coming from inside of his little bungalo house.
I guess the reason I write about him is because while he's odd, he makes me very curious. He strikes a chord with me that no one ever has. I mean we all have seen people who siton the streets just talking to randoms because they want some company. But something tells me that HM is different. I feel like his efforts are for the sake of others. I wonder what life would be like if we all slowed down and like HM just told people to smile. Left notes under people's books, and bought an extra cookie for the person behind you in the line up. It makes me happy to think that some people aren't caught up in gain or in fortune. But just in people, in happiness, in smiling, in living and enjoying and slowing down to take in all that oxygen and be thankful for it. I am happy HM has inspired me to try to do that more... even though I am way too scared to talk to him.

scrambled eggs

today I feel like scrambled eggs.

scrraaaammm scraaam sccraaam.
there.
scrambled eggs.

9/29/09

oh, how he loves us

It's actually not even remotely fathomable how much he cares for us. Even through the most fearful moments in our lives, it's really wonderful to know that we have a mighty, amazing, and loving God to cling to. And that our efforts may end but His never do.
He is holding my hand and loving me in a way I will never understand.
And I have everything to worship him for.
Thank you, God. You are good.

:: Your life is a miracle, and the Creator of the universe knows you by name.

::He's big enough to breathe out our stars, yet intricate enough to fashion together the trillions of cells that make up every facet of who you are :: The God who spoke the universe into existence made you, too, and knows everything about you :: From the smallest molecule to the situation you find yourself in right now, He's aware of your circumstances and intimately acquainted with everything you do. And He cares about you and promises to carry you through.

:: That's where we find hope in the midst of the darkest places in life. The journey often complicated and painful, filled with confusion and chaos. Yet, the cross of Christ reveals God's promise to preserve and restore you no matter what the circumstance :: He will Hold onto you and hold you together, giving strength to those who hope in His unfailing love.

:: He is the everlasting God.

9/18/09

mooshy gooshy mumble fumble swooshy

feelings of inept
continue to linger in
the hope that once burned bright
is slowly growing dim
am i wrong?
do i belong?
should i listen to my hearts song?
it's playing in a minor key
now that things are wrong
but it wasn't long ago
it sounded like the angels' song

i come and then i go
in and out of phases
in and out of stages
of plays and and circus cages
one time to be loved
and sometimes just paraded
but no matter where i tend to stand
i continue to believe
i have purpose and He has planned
i'm where i'm suppose to be

i'm in a swarming vortex
a whirlwind of expectation
bars to be reached
standards, met
it's complete exasperation
it can bring me to my knees
where everything is healed
or i fall deeper into doubt
on the floor in fetal
i want my insides to explode
so that everybody feels
the heart and soul
i want them to hold
so they can know what's real
and i can stop pretending
and playing these roles
i can stop defending
the raw and real version of my soul
the one with holes
the one with sores
the one that has beauty
the one that wants more

i feel evaporated
what do i have to give?
who am i?
and what is this?
please just let me live.
let me be
and let me grow
let me see
and let me know
i feel i lose a piece of me
when acknowledgment is absent
i can't explore the inner being
and i end up feeling resentment
i try to change the shape i am
so i can fit into the hole that's been cut for me
but nothing about this hole
truly let's me see
the deeper version of me
begging to be free
begging to be seen
eye to eye
nose to nose
toe to toe
heart to heart



















dying to be known
as the inner core of me
hoping to be shown
that's all i need to be


'cause at the end of the day
that's all that i can be
i hope that i'm okay
this girl, rena marie

9/14/09

fumbling her confidence.

I'm in a new period of my life where I am constantly disappointed with the way I look. It's so easy to get caught up in image - especially when school just started and I'm around all these amazing looking girls all the time. & the argument is typical: "You're not ugly... you're SO pretty! I'M UGLY. Look at this (grabs skin on butt)." Sarah and I had a convo about this. It's like we're suppose to complain about the way we look. And when our friends do, we're suppose to tell them their crazy, and then compete with them about who needs to lose weight more. It sounds ridiculous, but when you think about it, 90% of the time a girl complains about the way she looks with a group of girls, another will chime in with equal negativity about herself.
This seems to be a recurring theme in my life:
Trial. Error. Self-disappointment. Of course, that's not to say there aren't times where I'm happy with the way things turned out, but of course those times are completely overshadowed by the times I feel inadequate. Whenever this happens, I come to the same place - on my knees; with teary eyes and an open heart; sad, alone and vulnerable.
When I have those times, whether it's feeling ugly, stupid, a failure, socially unaccepted, or anything that makes me feel like less of a ME than I truly am, there is no way that anyone can tell me otherwise. It's not that I don't have good friends, but when I'm told "You're so pretty" or "You are so smart" etc., it doesn't change the way I feel about myself. Because the truth is, there is no one who can feel or think for you. It's you - only you. It's me. And my girl Sarah said it well: "You really can't expect anyone - not me, not your mom, not Riley, to convince you of how amazing you are Rena. You need to find it in yourself and let it manifest in your life." It's true. No one wants to be that girl with low self-confidence and complete insecurity - it creates a lot of problems in the relationships around you.
For me, finding my beauty in myself translates to finding my beauty, security, and identity in my savior, Jesus Christ. It's getting down to the raw, real, daughter of the Most High, Rena Murray, and realizing how spectacular she is. A+ or D. Size 2 or size 6. Zits or not. Long hair or short. Tanned or pale. Success or failure. Gain or loss. It's not my heart. It's not my soul. It's not me and it's not Christ. It's superficial shit that invades our lives and takes away from what is real and what is good.
I don't even put my iPod on shuffle anymore when I go to the gym. I'd rather not listen to some rapper sing about his girls tight ass. Instead, I put Bethany Dillon's Beautiful on repeat, and let the words sink into my heart. I am trying really hard to know what real beauty is. I think it's a worth-while journey to embark on :)

"Beautiful"

I was so unique
Now I feel skin deep
I count on the make-up to cover it all
Crying myself to sleep cause I cannot keep their attention
I thought I could be strong
But it's killing me

Does someone hear my cry?
I'm dying for new life

[Chorus]
I want to be beautiful
Make you stand in awe
Look inside my heart,
and be amazed
I want to hear you say
Who I am is quite enough
Just want to be worthy of love
And beautiful

Sometimes I wish I was someone other than me
Fighting to make the mirror happy
Trying to find whatever is missing
Won't you help me back to glory

[Chorus]

You make me beautiful
You make me stand in awe
You step inside my heart, and I am amazed
I love to hear You say
Who I am is quite enough
You make me worthy of love and beautiful

9/11/09

the countdown begins

Actually, the X-Ring countdown has begun since I registered at St.FX in 2006. However, now that I can say I have tried it on and ordered it, it hasn't felt more legitimate to this date. I am more than happy about my size 5.5, 2-face, 10k yellow gold 2010 X-ring!! It looks phenomenal and I feel so excited.
83 days folks, and counting down.

inspiration

steps:

#1. find something worth being inspired by

#2. focus your attention and energy on it

#3. be inspired

#4. act

just a healthy reminder i want you to keep in your back pocket at all times

8/31/09

Single Milk. Half Sugar.

I'm working at Tim Horton's. Also known as Timmy-Ho's. Also known as the place where old men get coffee and sit for copius amounts of time and look out the window and where hockey mom's get their daily doses of happiness and sanity. Where I will be wearing baggy brown pants, a visor and hair net. Where I will have to work early morning shifts.
Eeee. Haha I am kinda excited. Don't ask why.

8/23/09

My Bucket List

This is more of a reminder for myself. But if you feel the need to be inspired, this might be a good place to look :)

. Have a window seat in my future house .
. See a National Park in Utah (preferably Bryce) .
. Go to the Philippines to meet my sponsor child, Laarne .
. Sky-Dive and/or Bungee Jump .
. Pierce something other than my earlobe .
. Learn Sign Language .
. Get a tattoo .
. Take a pottery class .
. Own a pug .
. Do missions .
. Make a scrap-book about my life journey (all the big moments) .
. Make a play-list where each song stands for a pivotal moment in my life .
. Write and record one good song .
. Send an anonymous care package to someone who needs it .
. Get and STAY in shape .
. Make a vow and keep it forever .
. Meet Mikey Mouse .
. See RK in concert again .
. See Hillsong in Australia .
. See Paris .
. Own a genuinely vintage dress .
. Go back to Sandy Hill camp .
. Use "Xavier" as a middle name for one of my children .
. Get an X-ring .
. Learn how to solve a Rubix Cube .
. Get a grad degree .
. Stay in the South for an all-inclusive vacation at a resort .
. Go on a cruise .
. Share a kiss in a hot-air balloon .
. Build a tree-house .
. Get a flip-flop tan .
. Have a breakfast nook in my future house .
. Get a motorcycle license and own a motorcycle .
. Learn how to whistle through my fingers .
. Perform a random act of kindness for a homeless person .
. Volunteer at a homeless youth shelter .
. Have confetti fall on my head .
. Own an espresso machine .
. Own a black leather coat .
. Practice meditation .
. Be HOLY .
. Own a cottage .
. Volunteer at L'arshe .
. Volunteer at a nursing home .
. Own something that is real Louis Vuitton .
. Learn how to Ski/Snowboard and live in the mountains .
. Sleep on flower pedals .
. Change someone's life .
. Learn how to BBQ .
. Wear bright red lipstick .
. See a penguin up-close (touch it!) .
. Go to a talk-show (like Tyra) .
. Go black-water rafting in New Zealand .

8/22/09

8/21/09

Hearts are Magnets

Tonight I catch the 8pm ferry back to the mainland. I'm nervous. I know Riley is too. This morning I was in his arms and he started this conversation:
"Are you scared?"
"Yep. Are you?"
"Terrified"
"What are you afraid of?"
"That it's going to fade"
At this point, I have nothing to do with this... and neither does Riley. I feel like our "success" (whatever that standard may be) is purely contingent on our faith. It's not based on our schedules matching and having a Skype date every day just to make sure we stay in touch. It's not based on our comings and goings, our good talks and our bad talks. I think we've both come to realize that this is beyond those surface things. I think it has been from the first time we've talked. Jason Reeves's, Hearts Are Magnets, describes it perfectly:
"And it's obvious that this is beyond both of us
'Cause hearts are magnets
Pulling us together"
.............
At this point I realize that the best way to go about this is to throw my hands in the air, tell God I love him, and that I want only his will - his best. My hope is that his plan is what I feel it is. I know I don't need to predict the future to believe that this will be what it will be, and that if God is in it, it's going to be everything I've always wanted and more.

8/20/09

Konviccctttt

This is how I feel today, August 19, 2009, in Charlottetown, PEI.

I feel euphoric. Like things are good and they all are going to be okay.

I feel giddy. Noodle head never stops making me laugh with his goofy antics, and his wild dance-moves in the kitchen.

I feel blessed. God is with me every day. In the sun, the stars, the sunflower Noodle head gave me last night, and through the smiles that continually appear on my face because of a beautiful person that God so greatly gave me.

I feel reflective. I’m thinking constantly about Irvine, CA, and all my adventures, and what I learned from them.

I feel hot. It’s hot in the Maritimes.

I feel wholesome – the kind of happiness I value at the moment are in the small things.

I feel thankful. I have no money but I have everything I need.

I feel brave. I’m going back to X a conqueror. In academics, socials, and extra-curricular. I’m going to conquer.

I feel hopeful. I’m going to find a job and get more money.

I feel anxious to get things started.

I feel like jamming to Akon all day long.

7/27/09

be my escape

I’ve given up on giving up slowly, I’m blending in so
You won’t even know me apart from this whole world that shares my fate
This one last bullet you mention is my one last shot at redemption
because I know to live you must give your life away
And I’ve been housing all this doubt and insecurity and
I’ve been locked inside that house all the while You hold the key
And I’ve been dying to get out and that might be the death of me
And even though, there’s no way in knowing where to go, promise I’m going because
I gotta get outta here
I’m stuck inside this rut that I fell into by mistake
I gotta get outta here
And I’m begging You, I’m begging You, I’m begging You to be my escape.

7/16/09

what i like about you

why i like the male species:

They’re cute

They smell soooo good (Old Spice☺)

They give you butterflies without even trying

They can make your day with just one word

They hold you (and make you feel small in their arms)

When they show affection in public

When they act like your petty worries are important just to make you feel better

When they make you forget your petty worries just by being there

When they make life seem SO SIMPLE

When the make you chase

When they chase you

When they make you feel worth a lot of energy

How they look when they get out of the shower and their hair is wet

When they tell jokes

When they’re dirty, it’s sexy

When they don’t care – it’s sexy

When they get dressed up

When they are working out and sweaty

When they try and play it cool but you can tell they’re nervous

When they observe small and wonderful things about you that you never realized about yourself

When they take charge

When they kiss you on your forehead, nose, cheek, hand

When they pick you up

When they drive

When they have to do something serious and take it really seriously… I just think that’s cute

When they don’t have shirts on

When they genuinely smile because something made them happy

When you know that it’s you that made them happy

When they listen to you talk forever

When they admit they’re wrong

When they call you pet names or nick names

When you discover that they’ve said something really wonderful about you to other people

When they are shaving

When they call you just to say hey and hear about your day – no reason

How they have tanned backs and necks and white butts

The jewelry they pick out for you

When they give you flowers

When they believe in you when you need to hear it the most (or when no one else does)

When they fight for you

When they are loving

When they play with kids/hold babies

When they are charming & you know they are being charming but you’re falling for it anyways

When they say “You’re beautiful”, “You’re amazing” etc out of absolutely no where

When they believe you are special and tell you that AND make you feel it

The way they will be the big spoon (sacrifice watching their favorite movie, etc) for you just because they love spoiling you

The way they protect you

The way they look in sunglasses

The way they love ball caps even though… didn’t those go out of style in 6th grade?

When they are old school and pay your way into the movies

When they are old school and pick you up at your door and walk you back

When they say “I can’t keep my hands off you”

7/4/09

Dayz


Ha... some blogger I am. I write all my blogs at once... Muahaha.. just so they come in waves... just so you can't enjoy reading them at your disposal but you must read many things at once if you want to know about my life... muahha...

Life.

We spend too much money on frozen yogurt (Cherry On Top. Coveted. Most adorned.)

We love Taco's and Co. Happy Hour - $1 tacos and $4 pitchers? Yes please.

I think paying my Visa Bill is going to be a long and dreadful process.

I enjoy socks.

Days off work equals beach. Beach equals tan.

Claire and I <3 RockHarbor. Best church I think I've ever been to.

God is weaseling his way back into my life ... haha weaseling. No. He just loves me. And I am so grateful for that. Slowly but surely... I'm letting him change me.

My courses = Dead. I have no idea how I'm going to finish both summer courses by the time school starts.

I enjoy Sandy Hill Camp reunions (Alex from MD. Jordan from New Zealand.)

I learned how to play n64 007.

Kirby Ward. You will be missed. Ashram will never be the same without you. Rest In Peace, friend. I'll see you soon.

Hey Jude, (don't do that thing that you do with the water)

My cat finds satisfaction in digging his head into tall glasses of water even though he has his own perfectly cat worthy bowl by his food. This causes anxiety. We've had many a spills from his curiosity, but the worst was two days ago when my big orange cup was beside my laptop... I honestly don't know how I would ever pay to replace/repair an accident like that if I hadn't have been so lucky. I noticed right away, dropped what I was doing and proceeded to pick up my computer and literally dump the water off of it, kick Jude really hard, and make my way to the bathroom to take the blow dryer to it saying very loud cuss words along the way.

Luckily my computer is somehow okay. But... note to self.

Don't freaking leave anything uncovered in the presence of this dumbass cat.

Kabuki or BUST


My new job = Kabuki.

It's a Japanese Sushi restaurant and it's run by Koreans. I guess the best part about it is the free chicken teriyaki I get every shift I work. Haha but no really - working at Kabuki, my passions really are confirmed and can be summed up in one word - PEOPLE.

Even though my manager can be really awful sometimes (yes, mmhmm, indeed, he makes me cry that son of a bitch), I am so incredibly happy when I'm at work. I realized it's because I truly adore people, and I get to be the first one to speak to them when they come in the restaurant and the last one to see them as they leave. I take a lot of pride in that. I take a lot of satisfaction in knowing that I won't miss anyone who comes in to Kabuki in the run of my 5 hour shift. I love talking to people - "What are you folks doing tonight?" "Cute shoes! Where did you get them?" "Oh wow, I love your accent. Lemme guess... Australia?" "I hope you have an amazing birthday!! You seem to have really good friends" ... ETCETRA etcetra

I don't know why I love that responsibility so much. It's not just about walking people to their seat for me - it really truly isn't!! It's about connecting to the people I meet everyday because really - there are so many people in this world and I want a chance to find something beautiful in more than just my close friends and family. I want to reach out and find something in everyone that I can use to improve myself. Even if it's the snobby man sitting alone at the Sushi bar, complaining that I served him regular instead of Happy Hour prices (OKAY - THAT'S TOTALLY NOT OKAY) ... he teaches me to take critical examination...

I make little to no money working at that job. It's 12.5 miles away and getting rides is a total bummer most of the time. My shifts are far and few in between. I am constantly scrutinized by my manager (who, by the way, I still try to make smile and it hasn't happened yet). And the people I work with definitely think I have had too much to smoke. But I realized it's because of me, not because of my cirumstances, that life is so pleasing, and that the people think I smoked too much because they are in their Orange County bubble where people don't take their walls down. Everyone's so afraid to let people in here, and being at Kabuki has helped me realize that I'm not like that.

I love PEOPLE.

6/3/09

33 Mandrake

June first was the day we finally moved into our humble abode. I honestly could not have been happier with the living situation. Our room (which the 3 of us share) is huge because it's actually a double garage converted into a bedroom (by the wonderful sub leaser Andreas) with hardwood floor laid down, a bar, a full fridge just for us, a wonderful sofa area with a coffee table (basically our own private living room) and a big bed for us to share with a curtain around it. Luckily we also have our own washer and dryer too which is amazing. He also has blue Christmas lights strung all over the room and light dimmers. It was perfect for us, our new kitten and our hookah. Outside of our room, there is a gorgeous kitchen with beautiful cabinets, marble counter tops, and ceramic tiles. We have two large sliding glass doors into a really great backyard and a living room with a large TV. The upstairs consists of our bathrooms, and the 4 bedrooms where our dude roommates sleep.

Andreas seemed really nice as we moved in all of our stuff (which turned out to be one truck and two carloads full of goodness knows what). He left and we started unpacking and organizing.

We met the roommates one by one and they are so great!! So not only was our room and house bueno but so are the guys. Three of the four are in theater... so you can expect some wacky peeps in the house. But they are all so unique and wonderful in their own way.

First, Alex was the first person we really got to know. Found out he's a huge movie buff, and an absolute genius. He's brain is huge. He knows so many random movies, books, songs, artists, etc. Last night he left our little shindig at midnight to go write a play for one of his classes... Not every day you meet people who just write plays and are good at it.

Johnson is the burly rugged cowboy in the house. He's big, intimidating, but a real teddy bear at heart. He does try to be the tough guy but... we see passed it. :) He is incredible at BBQing and cooking and last night just started making homemade BBQ sauce... slightly impressive.

Tom, is great. And his girlfriend Nancy is a real sweetie. Tom has a real skill for piano and word in the house is that he'll just sit at the piano and amuse himself for hours (record of 3 hours and 15 minutes) composing by ear and reading the hard stuff... he's got fast fingers to say the least. Nancy doesn't live here but she basically does. She's a tiny girl whose major is Dance. She really looks like a dancer and I can't wait to actually see her bust a few moves.

Frank is the other foriegner in the house!! He's from Germany and speaks pretty broken english. I've noticed the roomates interaction with him consists of teasing him, and trying to help him understand different words we use. Some of the ones I heard were words like Squirrel and Lesbian. Haha, he's great though and he shared a beer with me so I think I bonded with him.

Last night everyone gathered in our garage room, and we bonded over the kitten and how we aren't even allowed to have cats in the house but everyone fell in love with Jude. We had a lot of laughs last night and were literally in here from the afternoon until midnight sharing stories and getting to know one another. I think we made a really good choice when we chose 33 Mandrake way :) And I'm not sure which was rocked more - us or 33.

Loving it, either way.

HAPPY AS A HORSE

Things are really looking up. And not only because we have each other. Right now, I don't think things could possibly be more ideal for us.

Vegas = Bomb. It was incredible. I am so happy I was fortunate to go with such a wonderful person such as JR - he really took care of me. The entire trip (3 nights and 4 days) with going to 3 clubs, the formal dinner, the Blue Man Group, and the Renaissance Theater Dinner, drinks, meals, and gas all included, I only spent $60 which is something I don't think many people can say they've done. I am very lucky to say the least.

Alli and I came home from Vegas and enjoyed a few short nights at the Suvanto's and then packed our gear, and headed for the shore - Huntington Beach.

We left on Saturday, May 30th, Claire's birthday, and our present for her was a Hookah - one of her FAVES. Luckily, we got it second-hand from a friend at Sigma Nu, Clint, and basically got it for free. However, when we stopped in Bakersville on the way to Huntington, Alli and I had the BRILLIANT idea to make Claire's birthday even more ideal and buy her a kitten - her other fave. So we back-tracked to the SPCA and found out that neuterd kittens were only $30. It was a done deal, and we picked out the one that stood out from all the others. A soft orange kitten with boogers in his nose and protien in his eyes, and kitty litter stuck to his head. But he was special to us (mostly Alli's pick).
Claire was SO happy to get both presents and I don't think we could have celebrated her birthday any better. We named the Kitten Jude, and Claire also liked the name Hashbrown, so we just kinda call him both. We went to Claire's Dad's (Ron) and met her extended family. Ron made us the most amazing chicken taco's I have ever tasted. The chicken he BBQ'd and the Guacamole was made perfectly. We ate them with Margarita's and I met Claire's childhood friend Nancy Tolman - such a great girl. We went to a really great bar called Woody's and when Midnight struck, I was celebrating my 21st birthday.

The Sunday after was my time to shine as the birthday girl, and we spent the day relaxing (exactly what I wanted), we watched Me, Myself and Irene, and the girls made me Raspberry Coffee and a wheat bagel with creamcheese and tomatoes (my fave). In the evening we went to a frozen yogurt bar called Cherry on Top and it was incredible frozen yogurt. Then the three of us went to the beach with our blankets, and a notebook, talked, and wrote down all the things on our heart, and the things we really want to get out of this summer.

I woke up on June 1st, feeling a fresh start to my life. I'm now in the OC, I'm now an adult, and things are definitely looking up :)

5/25/09

Expect the Unexpected

So I've come to the realization that this summer's theme will be expect the unexpected. It's when I think something's going to happen that it doesn't. And when I am positive something won't happen (like right now, I'm pretty sure I'm not getting a job... pessimism), that it does.
The day BEFORE Alli leaves for Vegas for the Sigma Nu formal, I get invited to go. Before that, I was pretty sure I was spening those few days chilling in Fresno just waiting for her to come home...

The man's name is J.R. and his date bailed on him last minute so he thought he'd ask me - the foriegner, the girl they all love to call "SCOTIAAAA". I spent the day yesterday scrambling to find myself a dress, shoes, and all those extra essentials for a three night stay in Las Vegas.

I have gone from going but not the formal, then going to the formal, then not going at all, and now I'm going to the formal but not with Blake. I'm going with J.R., and he's so nice. He has a lot of adventurous things planned for us that he's taking care of. Like indoor skydiving!! I have skydiving on my bucket list so maybe I can scratch that off? Haha... cheap...

Anways, it's 8am and I am waiting for him to come pick me up. Very excited but so sad I broke my camera! I will not be able to capture Vegas the one of two times I'll probably ever go in my life!!! I'm going to take mental pictures and maybe I can muster up the words to describe them on my blag. Yes that's right. I called it my blag.

I have many more updates (for example, my latest thoughts on the Greek culture, and a wee rant about how much of a joke exam period is at FSU) but I'll leave it at this.

Vegas, here I COME!!

5/18/09

Trip to the Trees

So. I will try to explain a little bit better our lives:

THEY ARE CRAZY. Things change EVERY day we are here in Fresno, and honestly feel like I am a puppet and things are just happening the way they want to. But I'm letting them.

A lot of drama has been going down and Alli seems to be in the middle of it all. The fact I already explained about how Alli's parents didn't get along very well with Claire and I - that's only part of it. Also, the Sigma Nu hate on Claire because they think she's a bitch (which, haha, she isn't really but she does give that impression. For example I am watching her play a game of Mario Brothers and she is cussing at the screen).

So after another wild night with the Sigma Nu's at Blake's house (after we became homeless) we decided to get our dresses on, eat some Mexican food and head for the HILLS!! We drove approx 2 hours to the mountains to see the worlds largest living things - the trees.
We took a detour to Riverway Ranch Camp - where Alli and Claire met in 2006. Haha funny story bout that one... :) See video.

The trees gave us hope. We know there is hope for us and that everything is going to be okay. The sunset on the way home was extraordinary... It made me feel at peace. Everything will be just fine. God is going to lead us where he wants to.

All of these things, plus the fact that Claire and I have been working out buns off trying to find employment and we cannot, for the world, find anything. We were seriously considering selling our EGGS - that is bad. But here we are, in a city in Northern California, just trying to get by. I wonder how many more people there are in the world in a situation similar to ours...

We just decided today to move and go to Huntington Beach - Claire's home town where her dad, step mom and brother and sister live. I am more than excited to see what that has in store for us because so far it seems every sign has been pointing towards another direction from here.

Alli found out she got a leave of absence from her work.

So this is how things are panning out.

Oh ps. Yes Blake no longer wants to take me to formal. As I said, frat boys are weird. Eff them. video

Worries... worries... worries...

Oh yes, I have some worries.

First of all, we are homeless. We no longer live at the Suvanto's. Total bummer, but well needed escape from that house. They are such a lovely family, but the problem is, their rules really did not mesh well with what Claire and I are used to... and things were just not working. We left on a good note... I... think... I am a little sad that things didn't work out well there but at the same time it's totally cool!! Because we are homeless but we crash at Alli's friends, Enrique - such a good roomie!! He lets us sleep in the spare room on the floor OR we sleep on the couch too. But clearly, we can't do that all summer.

So we were suppose to live at Sigma Nu (the fraternity) but some conflict has arose between Claire and some of the brothers and now they aren't sure if they want us living there for the summer - reeeeor. Lame. It was only going to be $96 a month each but we're not sure if that is worth the drama...

I am going to the Sigma Nu formal with a lovely man named Blake and I am so lucky we are taking a plane there because Blake's roommate's Dad has a plane and is going to fly us there. So lovely. But I don't have a dress - and I do not have money to buy a dress right now.

Second problem of life is that I have no job. This is rather large. Even if I were to find a job right now it would be minimum wage and only about 20 hours a week. Things are so tight here right now and it's frustrating. I am getting pretty desperate.

Third problem of life is that my credit card expires at the end of May. It hasn't come in the mail at HOME yet, and even when it does I have to wait for it to get to Fresno. :( Sad. I really have no money so that is emergency credit that I can't even use starting in a few weeks.

OH LIFEEEE. I knew you would be complicated this summer. But please start being a little easier!! Please!!

5/12/09

chips

Me and Claire decided to not eat chips for the rest of the summer (but we're allowed corn chips). We think it would be a good challenge. GO US!

5/11/09

Alright MOM

Mom says my blog is too wordy: "Rena I read it all but if I wasn't your mom I wouldn't have" haha... so It's boring. Cool. Oh mom... you're such a mom.
Okay here's a point form version of my thoughts:

  • Frats are weird. Yes I'll say FRATS and not fraternities. I have yet to figure them out.
  • California is HOT. But they say these are the cooler temps. So this should be interesting.
  • We have a place to LIVE. Woot. It's at Sigma Nu in one of their apartments. And it's 4 girls sharing one room. Haha. This should be wild.
  • I almost have a job. Okay I keep telling people I have it but technically I don't but practically I do. I mean she said "We're so excited to have you with us." and "I told my husband about you last night!" So... I'm going to take that as yes. It's at Quiksilver! And I'm just waiting for a phone call.
  • Claire got a job at Crombie and she's looking for another one. (PS SARAH. I'm getting you the skirt tomorrow!)
  • I want Tim Horton's coffee. Mom, will you send some? Please?
  • I love that there are no clouds here. Do you know how rad it is to wake up everyday to perfect weather? Amazing. And it's not a vaca. It's summer residency. :) RAD.
  • When camp starts, don't tell me stories. I'm going to be jealous.
  • Me and Claire joined a gym today. Expensive, yes. But amazing. Too much food going into my body lately. Not a good call.
  • I need to start my online course soon. It's starting to freak me out.
  • We get visitors this summer. Alex Carlson, Ben MacKinnon, and Jordan Lilley. I can't wait to see them!!
  • We're going to Vegas on the 26th. I'll be there for my 21st Birthday
  • It's going to be hard to not spend a million dollars a week on ForeverHoe (that's what they call it here) ... it's just so great.
Okay there was a boring update. No life lessons. Just random stuff.

Work In Progress

I feel like the reoccurring theme in my life for the past month or so has been a deep and dark feeling of loneliness. Not that I haven't had wonderful beautiful people around me all the time to encourage me and hold me when I need it. It's not that kind of loneliness at all - it's much deeper than that. The kind of loneliness I've been experiencing is the consistent realization and the undying truth that the things around me - people, travel, money, school, success ... they're worth nothing.
I know people say that all the time "You can't take it with you when you die" but I think there are definitely moments in your life where you just have to take a deep breath because that truth has never felt more real. When you lose a loved one, when you're heart has been broken by someone, when you are abandoned, when you are broke - for me it's in these moments of weakness that God is building us up the most. I feel so strongly in what my mother has always told me: "There is purpose in your pain." I'd like to talk about a few moments where this feeling of loneliness is at it's peak.
For me, in travel, these moments happen a lot. I don't know about everyone else in the world but I literally feel cursed when it comes to travel. I have the worst luck and I've experienced everything from unplanned 10 hour layovers, to sitting in a plane that wasn't moving for 5 hours, to having my plane turn around 30 minutes before landing. I find that airports and traveling just in general, when you're alone like that, and all you have is your brain and maybe a book, you think. I know it makes me think. Think about my life, where it's headed, what I'm doing. Am I making the right choices? Am I being the best I can be? And I start feeling vulnerable. I start realizing that there is nothing in this life I can hold onto.
My friend Riley explained to me the experience of bungee jumping. I can't say I have ever done it but he said that before he jumped the people working there told him there is a moment, X number of seconds into the free fall, where people literally have accepted death. They come to a place in this quick jump and for a split second, they believe they are going to die and they accept it. This is pure vulnerability. It's the feeling of absolute loss. It's the feeling of surrender because there is absolutely nothing you can do.
This experience, I believe is incredible. Because once you come back up and realize you're not dead, it must truly be the most exhilarating feeling in the world.
One thing that makes me feel very alone is the feeling the no one understands my heart. I have to admit that my mom understands my heart better than anyone in the world, but when people don't, and your heart is feeling something really heavy, it's such a devastating feeling when you know others will not completely know you inside and out. Not even my mom truly does. This happened to me only days before I left, when I came to the bitter realization that people will not know me inside and out, and that I am alone. It's just me, and this heart, and it's mine, and this is my first and last time to live.
It reminds me of the song "Deathbed" ... the man is just lying here in his deathbed. He has absolutely nothing left to hold onto. His entire life, he threw away. He lived, but he only scratched the surface of the kind of joy intended for us by Jesus. He is lying here in his death bed and he says "But I cling to the hope of my life in the next." and I just think this is such a powerful moment in people's lives but I wish that people felt that vulnerable all the time. I wish we acted like we were on our deathbed everyday ... because then maybe we could all realize what is truly important.
Today in church I couldn't help but get choked up as the pastor interviewed a couple (who have two kids) who have been through a lot of emotionally difficult and horrible times as a result of drug abuse in the man's life. And as they told the story, I first realized how everyone has a story, and how vastly different, but how beautifully the same we all are. It's a connecting theme in all of us - pain. And he neared the end of this glorious story about how he really had to make a decision to give his life to Jesus in order to have any hope at all. And at the end, he tried to tell the congregation about what his son told him, and he choked. He couldn't even speak the words because it was so difficult. His wife continued "Our son said, Dad, me and mom have been praying for you for a long time. I'm so happy you gave your life to Jesus. Welcome home dad."
In that moment of the service, I felt a high emotional anxiety about how little I have without Jesus. And how now would be a really great time to start praying more and trying to find contentment and joy in the sweet surrender, and sacrificing my independence for his Glory.
God is the only one who understands my heart... truly, exactly, in the imperfect way that it is.
He is with me in the airports even though I'm all alone.
He won't let us fall.
And he pulls us out of the muck.
He's such a rock of mine, and I hope this summer continues to give me that vulnerable feeling so I can know more what God's grace really feels like.

5/8/09

Bringing Sandy Hill to Frezzy



Yo party peeps!! So I thought it would be appropriate to bring into the conversation the fact that we own too may clothes and the three of us have the incredible ability to organize our clothes. Let's just consider the kind of skills you get from living at camp:
Sandy hill has this awesome aspect where every single week, new kids come. Which is great. I don't think I could put up with the same kids all summer long. However, with that change means a new cabin, which means an entire pack up, tidy up and move out and carry all of your unecessary boas, squirt guns, toiletries, your string set, dress up clothes, and cabin decor, and re-setting it all up in another cabin. Rad. So sweet. Two years of that taught us how to really make the most of our space and truly "live out of our suitcase."
So Claire and I have a room just for our clothes cause she has a pathetic amount and this is only half of it. It's silly. Just silly.
Anyways, as we were unpacking, folding, and rearranging, we both were amused and how we felt like we were back at SHC. It was such a warm feeling. Here we are, bathing suits go here, tanks here, jeans here, etc. And doing it together, like the co-counselors we always were.
I think it's an appropriate time to quote Alli, in reference to the fact that we have to remember her parents are conservative: "This house is Sandy Hill. My mom is Gregitta. And you just have to eat the shit sandwich."
Haha... except there is one difference - we're the kids!!

5/7/09

crickets two beautiful families

Growing up in such a small town, you don't realize the kinds of things in the big beautiful world you're so unaware of. I had no idea how important the Greek system is to some American's. Like, I mean, it's a really big deal and living with Alli might give me a slightly biased idea of it (she breathes, sleeps, and eats her Sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma) but in general, people understand the sentiment of being in a Sorority or Fraternity, even if they aren't in one themselves. By the second or third day at Sandy Hill, 2007, all the staff members were well aware that Alli is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, and even I was so skeptical of the entire thing. I'm not really a fan of house rivalries at St.FX - it just doesn't make sense to me why you could want to have enemies on campus just to have a "bond" with the people in your house. But as the summer went on, I realized why Kappa is so important to Alli and that sorority membership is more than fancy titles and prestige. Alli holds Kappa really close to her heart. Coming here, however, I realized it even more. Stepping into the beautiful house Alli lives in, I couldn't help but think "Wow, these girls have it so easy here..." but as I spent my night there, I could see how deserving they were of that. Every girl I met was so nice and kindly went out of their way to introduce themselves, say hello, and ask me how my day was going. Considering I'm not a fan of superficial small talk, I was really impressed with how genuine they are and they all really left me with a feeling that Alli has a really special family outside of the Suvanto's.
The Suvanto's are a whole other story. Alli's family lives in an especially quiet and beautiful area of the Clovis Bubble and the first members of her family I met were her dad Allan and her brother Danny. I felt imediately close to them as if they were my own family and they treated me just that way. The first night I was here, I later met the other sibling, Spencer, and Alli's beautiful mom, Marci. I think it's a really beautiful thing when someone's parents open up their home to a 21- and 22-year-old and I think it says a lot about Allan and Marci's trust and love for Alli that they are letting Claire and I live here for the time being, eat anything we want in the house, and make ourselves at home. I know that's something my family would not be able to do, and Claire and I consider it such a blessing that all they ask in return is a respect for their home. Last night Marci barbequed and we had an amazing dinner on the patio - all 7 of us - and the conversation just made me smile a lot. I love living it up with my friends, but I'm so happy that I have a home-base while I'm here for the summer, and a mom and a dad to come to if I need anything.
Alli's two families showed me why she loves her life here in Fresno so much, and I really thought I should at least put it out there just how wonderful they really are!!

<3

5/6/09

preview

The point of the blog is to share my California adventures of Summer-Oh-Nine, with my friends and family at home. To begin the journal, I should very well tell the story of our first 24 hours.
My adventure began as soon as I came out of the airport bathroom after brushing my teeth, I looked down the long hallway, and could easily spot my two amazing friends, Alli (Cricket) Suvanto, and Claire Tripeny. They were so distinguishable by their anxious body language and we undoubtedly made a scene as the Trifecta was completed for the third time. The Trifecta is just a name the three of us came up with when we realized how we really are a unit. We come as a package. Especially where we met, Sandy Hill Camp, 2008, our identity revolved around the simple and beautiful fact that we are perfect together.
The moment in the airport was a preview to the summer we are about to experience together.
We all agree that the summer won't be story-book-perfect - and neither will we. But our moments of mistakes is where we learn. What I find entertaining is the surprised expressions on people's faces when they asked me "What are you going to do in California?" and I respond with "I'm not sure yet. I'll see when I get there."
People are so anxious to have their life perfectly mapped. But I'll admit that this summer, my contentment exists outside of the tightly packaged practical and sensible plan I usually have. I'm not saying I came to California to make mistakes, but I am certain they will happen, and my goal is to let them better me while I am here. I don't like talking ourselves up - we are definitely not always the cute threesome displayed in pictures. But with that said, I just want to say how confident I am that being with each other causes growth, and that when I am with them, I can look challenges in the eye and not be afraid.
Not to sound so ridiculously corny (which I realize I've already done) but we really are in this summer together. And like the summer we met, this one is promising to be life-changing.
Summer-Oh-Nine, Hi. I'm Rena. It's nice to meet you!