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so, you think you know me...

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a letter to my pastor and his wife

Dear Paul and Karen:

Sometimes I find it hard to tell you exactly what this church means to me. Paul, you are such an amazing spirit-lifter and encourager, that when I get a chance to chat with you, I barely get an opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate this church, this dream, this home you have created for all to share. And Karen, you have spoken so much wisdom to my soul and I could never thank you enough for it.

When I walked through those Naz 8 Cinema doors those 5 years and 3 months ago, I never expected them to be the starting point of the journey I am now on. Who would have thought that a morning spent in church to appease my friend would turn into a lifetime of change and growth? Certainly not me. But I know that because of your dream and vision, that is exactly what you saw happening in the lives of hundreds through the ministry of Crossroads Church.

There are many that are far more eloquent than I am and can easily and immediately give you a picturesque description of the road that lead them to Christ. The story of my road has been told, in front of the church and in private, many, many times. But I feel like I miss so many opportunities to thank you. Paul, you have not only been my pastor, but you have been a mentor to me. At some of the lowest times in my life you have been the big brother in Christ that I never had. You and the staff believe in me and you have done so much to put the right tools in my hand to do God's work with excellence.

I chuckle when I think of all the big questions I had for you both, before I was born-again. I had them written down - they were my weapons to cling to. They were my only rationale for turning away. So, when Shannon and I met Paul at Bay Street Coffee in Fremont, I was going to tell him how the Bible didn't make any historical sense - that Noah was a different rendition of the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, except that Gilgamesh pre-dated the Bible. But then you shared what it meant to have a personal relationship with Christ, and suddenly all the scholarly articles and research in the world didn't matter at that time. I would later discover that the Bible contains more historical proof and accuracy than most other ancient books. But at that moment, all that mattered to me was that tug on my heart and I knew Jesus was holding the string.

The friends that I have made here are really family to me. They have shared in my sorrows when my dad was diagnosed with and still continues to battle cancer, when I was laid off from my job, when our family business burned to the ground and when I had to leave a long-term relationship that wasn't honoring my newfound beliefs. They have been a part of my joys when I accepted Christ, when I got married and when I started the Creative Communications team. So, many years later here I am and I get to use my talents and passions to serve God, lead a team and share His love with people around me. This has been the greatest joy in my life. Standing beside the men and women of this church, people with their souls intact and thriving, is an absolute honor and privilege. It gives me the guts to keep going and the encouragement to never stop trying to reach people for Christ every single day of my life.

I know that there will never be a letter written well enough, nor words to properly describe my gratitude. So, I will say it simply - thank you for saying "yes" to God, because it saved my life.

In Christ's Abundance,


the brat

My sisters have always called me "the brat." As little sisters go, I guess I was one. I teased, I taunted, I made life more than a little difficult for them. For one thing, I was a huge whiner. If you were so unlucky as to get on my bad side, a high-pitched whine of mumbled complaints would be all that you heard until I finally got my way. I was ruthless, but I had to be. There is nothing worse than two older sisters ganging up on you - so I had to set-up a defense system to at least deter their attacks.

Sadly, this little trait of mine has followed me into my adult years. The fast continues and while I don't think about shopping all the time, I get kind of annoyed when I cannot buy something I want. Annoyed is a slightly better term for what I actually felt.

Let's set the scene for the most recent rampage of the brat:
Disneyland, 2005, is bustling with excitement. The 50th anniversary is bringing record crowds and our family happens to be among them. Take a trip to New Orleans Square with me, let's stop at the Blue Bayou first. Now, let's take a peak at Club 33 and hope to catch a glimpse of the people waiting to get into the elite restaurant. Let's round the corner and stop in a the very fancy Jewel of New Orleans shop. The mahogany and glass display counters encase the jewels of the past. This is one store in Disneyland that easily carries the highest priced items in the park - including rings, earrings and bracelets from the Victorian era. A young woman is at the case on the right and the saleswoman is telling her about a gorgeous white gold and garnet ring from 1950. The young woman is convinced that it, like everything else, was priced well above and beyond anything she can purchase, but she likes to try them on and image the hands they have adorned. Then she realizes that this gorgeous ring is actually not very expensive, at all. Let the pining begin...

"Oh honey, come over and see this! It's so original and it's totally affordable." She started with a not-too-subtle hint and continued for about three minutes.

After hearing the price and her plea, her husband says "But you are on a fast from shopping. You cannot buy it."

"What do you mean 'cannot'?" she asks, in an almost shrill voice.

"You made a commitment not to shop, and this definitely counts as shopping. No, honey. I'm sorry. You should not buy it and I will not support your decision to do so." he says calmly.

"I hate that you get to dictate what I can and cannot buy," the ugliness, the brattiness and the claws comes out in her final statement before walking away. She was trying hard not to think of the wounded expression in his eyes and keep her focus on what he had denied her.

A few hours later, the young women couldn't help but continue to feel bad for the way she reacted. She felt that he was using the fast to his advantage - like he didn't think she was worth the pretty ring. She did finally come to her senses and realize that she was being totally unfair to be mad at him for holding her accountable to her promise. Oh how she hates to be wrong! All pride thrown aside, she apologized and he graciously accepted. Done deal.

Obviously, you are aware of the young woman's identity. I kept wishing that I has reacted with grace and with acceptance. I felt horrible. It would have been better if I had just whined about it, like I would have 20 years ago. But with age, you also grow in your ability to hurt people. I wish that wasn't true.

Later that night, Justin put a white box in front of me. I gasped. Nervously, I opened the box and nestled in its satin lining was the ring. With tears in my eyes I looked at him with gratitude. It is a beautiful ring. He completely surprised me. I didn't deserve it, but he thought I did. It will always hold two special reminders for me:
1.) Of course he thinks you're worth it - he loves you to pieces.
2.) Stop being a brat!


the original party of five

Long before Neve Campbell hit the San Francisco scene, there was another Bay Area-based party of five. Of course we had parents and there is no family restaurant to run, but there is a family auto repair shop my dad has kept running for over 20 years. Our party includes three sisters who still find time to make mischief and bother each other; and two parents, trying to keep us in line while making sure we weren't getting into too much trouble. Aside from our marital additions, not much has changed in our wacky clan.

We celebrated my parent's 30th wedding anniversary in Disneyland this past weekend. Yes, Disneyland, again. I never get tired of it! The trip involved kidnapping my parents, throwing them into a limo, getting them on a plane and into the park. They were totally surprised. All-in-all it was an awesome family vacation. I think it has been a decade since all of us have vacationed together. It had been too long.


my new adventure

The company that I have been waiting for agreed to my proposal and I am officially, officially, part-time self-employed. I have also picked-up a few extra accounts. Who knows? By the end of the year I may be too busy to continue to work part-time for my mom's office. This is such an amazing blessing and I feel God's hand all over this. Thank you for your prayers, friends - they have meant more than you'll ever know.


what's a matter with Johnson?

"He's a BUM!"

That's the sound of a good baseball game. You don't get to hear much heckling at SBC Park, because most of the patrons of a Giants game (I do not dare to call all of them fans) are too busy coveting their clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl to bother with getting into the game. For the record, any food other than peanuts, Cracker Jacks and hot dogs are not an American way to enjoy the game. Last night, though, the bleachers were alive with the heckling of the Padres' Left-Fielder, Johnson. It was endless and I think they actually cracked him, because he kept looking back at them.

Justin and I got some free tickets to last night's game against the Padres. Lucky for us - it was Bonds' first night back. I could tell he was happy to be back because he actually ran after balls coming to left field. He usually saunters towards them and casually picks up the ball after it's already bounced on the field. For such an amazing slugger, he sure can be lazy in the outfield. But last night he was really into the game. He even saved a ball coming to center field - which is way out of character for him. We thought we might witness homerun 704, but it ended-up being a ground-rule double. Props to the fan in the bleachers that snached it up.

We had great tickets. 18 rows from Barry. That's left field at SBC Park, don't you love how Justin cut off my head in the picture? The best part: it was the first Monday Night Football, and the BART train was pretty empty, because most sports fans are glued to their TVs from September through January on Monday nights. Not me. I do not watch football and I am very proud of it. So fellas, don't bother with the hate comments. I am a girl and therefore allowed not to be a football fan.



What American, who was alive for it, will ever forget the morning of September 11, 2001?

My dream on September 11, 2001: I was running through an empty house. Although I wasn't certain, I was pretty sure that the gray, shadowy and billowy figures behind me were ghosts. My nephew, Bobby, was inside somewhere. He was calling out to me so that I could find him faster. It seemed like a scary situation, but I wasn't afraid. I just wanted to find my frightened nephew. The hallways were endless and my legs grew tired as my countenance and bravado turned from hopeful to hopeless. Suddenly, what seemed like a thousand voices cried out. It was so loud, that I ducked, thinking it was an explosion. They screamed, not at me, but in fear and in horror. The sound swarmed around me - men and women screaming. Their words were inaudible, yet their terror was deafening.

I woke up right then. I woke up the moment before the alarm clock goes off and you actually hear it click over to the radio. Still panting from my dream, I was waiting to find releif and normalcy in an amusing conversation between the radio hosts. Instead I heard, "If you are just waking-up, the World Trade Center has been attacked by terrorists..." By the time I woke up, the first Tower had just collapsed. I will always wonder why that dream has remained with the memory of that horrible day. I will never forget the sound of the waling in my dreams.

Who will ever forget that day? Who will happen to see the Twin Towers in a movie or a TV rerun and gasp? Who can ever pass the Pentagon without remembering the huge flag they placed over the building? Who can forget the images of people jumping to their death, because they couldn't stand to be burned alive? Who will get on a plane and not see the results of that day all around them? Who will forget how errie it was not to see one plane in the sky for a few days? Who doesn't get misty-eyed every time you hear the Star Spangled Banner? People seemed to have forgotten - and forgotten why terror cannot last in this world that we share. I will never forget. Never.


what am I going to write this time?

There is so much going on right now that I don't even know where to start. My brain is actually blocking all imaginative thoughts. So, rather than inundating you with platitudes, I'll be straightforward.

I start my self-employment venture next week. Yep. I will be part-time at my current job and taking 2.5 days a week to try and grow, develop and foster this new path the other 2.5 days of the week - which I'm sure will end up being much more, but that is OK. I have a handful of clients, but my main focus will be my new contract. I just don't know what to name my business if it takes off. I am thinking of playing off the BEAN thing, but I'm still just toying with names. For easier taxes, I am going to just be paid under my name, but I am still thinking of something fun and creative to call my business.

In other great news, my church pretty much bought Adobe Creative Suite upgrade for me. I have been putting it off, because of the expense, but the necessity has become apparent in the past few weeks. They want to put the right tools in my hands to grow God's kingdom. It's so cool to be a part of a church that believes in me and wants me to be available to God's calling in my life. I love that God uses the most unsuspecting gifts and talents to get His message across. I am inspired to see Him working through others, too. Like Darlene, Ricky, Jackson,Frances and so many more of my friends. I am feeling so encouraged right now.


a new look at myself

I am sitting at my desk, today, wondering how I am so fortunate. How is it that there is so much suffering in the world, so much devastation right in my own country and I still feel numb? My heart breaks a little when I read about Rebekah and poor little Maggie. I start to cry when I look at photos of Hurricane Katrina. I remain holed-up inside my bubble-life and I don't see this stuff up-close and personal. I don't see poverty, I don't see the face of hunger nor the expression of utter loss on my neighbors. My trials seem insignificant. For goodness sake, I am fighting a cause to not shop - a fight unworthy of the least of my attention. I know my life must seem petty to many of you. I feel like nothing I do amounts to anything if I do not experience, first-hand, the horror outside of my little world. I promise you, friends, that I do not turn a blind eye. I just do not physically run into it. I have to make a conscious effort to face it head-on. I live in an affluent area where our biggest problems and cause of distress seems to be over traffic. But I know that not 40 miles from here, in Oakland and Richmond, there is poverty and terrorized people living in fear of their own neighborhood. I know there are hurting people within my grasp, but I do not reach out. At times I just feel like a coward, but I know God did not give us a spirit of fear. So it must be my choice to cower.

Of course, my prayers extend to the victims of this catastrophic event in the South, as well as to the little children and their families suffering with cancer, but today's prayer will also be for a teachable spirit and a willingness to reach out. Too often, I forget to reach beyond myself. I think that I do, but really I feel there is so much more that I could be doing for others. I feel tied down by my life and I have to change that, because I know that God is more concerned about my availability than my ability. In words stolen from Rick Warren: it's not about me.