30 September, 2011

hey check out this article about The Georgia Justice Project, written by Claire Hagan, one of our summer interns!

23 September, 2011

"In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength."
- Isaiah 30:15

May you find quietness and rest this weekend.
Be blessed abundantly.

22 September, 2011

"The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your soul in drought,
and strengthen your bones;
you shall be like a watered garden,
and like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail."
- Isaiah 58:11

20 September, 2011

Thank you Target for giving me some dance instructions so I can do a happy little dance about receiving my online purchase in the mail today. On an ordinary day, I would probably be upset that Target isn't spending their money on more important things, but today I just smiled and did indeed do a happy little dance.
"Try to learn something about everything and everything about something."
- Thomas H. Huxley

06 September, 2011

Today at work, I received a box of my own business cards. I know it's not that significant, but for some reason, this feels monumental, as if this box of little cards somehow signifies that I am now an adult. And these past few weeks, for the first time in my life, I have actually felt like an adult. I work a full time job with people who are all married and have kids. I pay my own rent. I buy my own groceries. I do whatever I want with my free time. My idea of fun is reading a book. I choose to be responsible instead of carefree. I don't get a summer vacation. Seems like I'm not a kid anymore...

All things considered, I guess I actually am an adult! And now I have the business cards to prove it.

05 September, 2011

I had an absolutely wonderful vacation! Unfortunately, my friends and I were too poor to go to Disneyland, but we did do some other awesome things! I went to the beach, visited the Little Italy Farmer's Market, and went to see a couple movies (Midnight in Paris, One Day, and The Debt). My parents and I took a tour of the famous Marston House and gardens. We learned all about the craftsman architectural style and about the Marston family, who helped to form San Diego and contributed so much to our beautiful city!

The Marston House, dining room, and library.

I had plenty of time to visit my favorite place in San Diego: Balboa Park! I had a lovely picnic under some trees with my bestie Katy, our good friend Bryan, and Katy's boyfriend Dustin. We played some music (like the good ol' days), took a nap in the sun, and meandered around the park. I also had time to visit the San Diego Museum of Art and enjoy the work of some of history's most wonderful artists.

I spent a lot of time with family this week. My brother Kevin came down from Santa Barbara for a few days. He got to San Diego early and came to meet me at a coffee shop where I was reading. I was about to leave to pick my mom up from work, so we decided to surprise her that Kevin was already there. As I pulled up to her office, Kevin climbed into the very back of our SUV. My mom got in to the car and we started chit-chatting. She asked me if I had heard anything from Kevin, when all of the sudden, he came climbing out of the back. I knew my mom was going to be surprised, but I was not at all prepared for her reaction. She screamed louder than I've ever hear her scream before, not once, but twice! It was hilarious, to say the least, and truly made my day!

I also spent some time with my cousin Caitie. We attempted to make some French macarons, but did not succeed. So we decided to try an easier sandwich-style dessert: whoopie pies! They turned out to be delicious, and were quite adorable, if I do say so myself.

I spent time with a couple other great friends, went to the library, and simply hung out. But, what was probably the most monumental part of my week was my first ever eye exam. Ever since my surgery in June, I've noticed some things are a little blurrier than normal. I can see far away and I can see close up, but things in the middle are just a little fuzzy. I mentioned this to my surgeon and he said I should probably just go to the eye doctor. So that's exactly what I did! And it turns out, I have an astigmatism, which means I got glasses...

I've also had really bad headaches for the past eight years, so I'm hoping these glasses will help them go away! I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Overall, it was a really wonderful, relaxing vacation, and was just what I needed! Now it's back to life in Atlanta!

25 August, 2011

My dear friends,

I am taking next week off and going home to San Diego for nine days! Nine whole days filled with spending time with family, hanging out with friends, playing at Disneyland, splashing in the ocean, and relaxing! Although you probably won't be somewhere as perfect as San Diego :) I hope your next week is as fun-filled and refreshing as mine!

With Love

19 August, 2011

I recently started reading Theirs is the Kingdom by Bob Lupton, who moved to the Grant Park neighborhood of Atlanta in the early 70s. At the time, Grant Park was a rough, dangerous, poor neighborhood. But Bob and his wife Peggy wanted to minister to and build community with the urban poor. Bob's experiences led him to create FCS Ministries, which is now the umbrella organization to Mission Year. I've just begun reading his book and already, Lupton's words so perfectly describe the experiences of my past year. In the preface He writes,
My wife and I saw the city as a mission field and ourselves as missionaries carrying the light of the gospel into the darkness of the ghetto. How surprised we were when we discovered that the One who had called us already preceded us. Those to whom we came to share our faith frequently had more faith than we did. They had learned to depend on God for their daily bread, and answers to their prayers were often miraculous. Their capacity to care sacrificially for neighbors and family members made our scheduled, metered acts of service sometimes seem trite and even self-serving.

So it was that God's children who suffer most from crushing poverty became the very ones God used to speak to us of our own spiritual poverty. From those who had very few material possessions, we learned about our bondage to things. And from those who had much to fear and little to hope, we learned courage and faith.

The following reflections are glimpses into our eighteen-year journey on the streets of the city. Around every corner is the unexpected. Values collide. Beliefs are challenged. Emotions soar and fall. The city, I have concluded, is a dangerous place to walk, especially for those of us who carry valuable luggage. Much of what we hold dear is likely to be stripped away. But for every loss there is a gain; something of greater value is given. That is part of the wealth of the inner city, and that is why we have made the city our home.

13 August, 2011

I've spent the past few weeks moving in to my new apartment, officially starting to work full time, and beginning to process through my Mission Year. I've probably written thirty-five pages in my journal. So the prospect of trying to share my feelings here is quite overwhelming. During our Mission Year closing retreat (pictures to come!) I was given a sheet of questions to help me begin reflecting on my year. One of the questions asked how I would summarize my year in to one paragraph. This is my response...

Mission Year is like a crash course in how to live a life for God with intentionality. It was only one year, which is a pretty short span of time in the whole scheme of things, so it was intense and challenging, but the challenges forced me to learn and to grow, and through them, I have been transformed. Mission Year provided a beautiful space for community to be built and I ended the year with four new beautiful sisters! Mission Year allowed me to witness what it looks like for God's children to be loved well. It taught me how to find God in unexpected places. It taught me more about who I am, though that required me to strip off many false layers of my personhood. While that was painful at times, it was well worth it and enabled me to grow closer to God. I had many moments of pain, struggle, joy, laughter, peace, love, and contentment. Mission Year taught me to love others simply and has transformed the way I live my life and the way I see and know God. I am so grateful that God would allow me to spend an entire year pursuing growth, community, justice, intentionality, learning, loving others, and being loved!

07 August, 2011

it is well with my soul.

31 July, 2011

Well... yesterday was my last day of Mission Year! I can't believe it! I'm in Asheville, NC for a few days, resting, getting a break from the city, and trying to begin processing through what's happened this past year. I have so many thoughts and emotions that it's impossible to put any of them into words! I'll be posting some of my thoughts once I get back to Atlanta. In the meantime:

11 July, 2011

07 July, 2011

I will exalt you, O Lord,
for You lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help
and you have healed me.
O Lord, you brought up my soul from the grave,
restored me to life
from among those going down to the pit.
Sing praises to the Lord,
O you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to His holy name.
For His anger lasts only a moment,
but His favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may endure for a night,
but joy comes in the morning.
As for me, I said in my prosperity,
"I shall never be moved."
By Your favor, O Lord,
You had established me as a strong mountain;
but when You hid Your face, I was dismayed.
To You, O Lord, I cried,
and to the Lord I made my supplication:
"What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me!
O Lord, be my helper!"
You have turned my mourning into dancing;
You have taken off my sackcloth
and clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may sing to You
and not be silent.
O Lord my God,
I will give thanks to you forever!

- Psalm 30

Well, I had another few crazy weeks! Two weeks ago, I started feeling sick. I had a stomach ache, was nauseous, and thought I had the flu. So, the next day I stayed home and rested. All I ate was a piece of toast because I didn't want to make things worse. But, that night I passed out, most likely because I hadn't eaten anything. I called my mom (because mom always knows what to do) and she told me to go to the emergency room, just in case. So, my roommate Emily drove me to the hospital and we spent the night in the ER. The doctor focused on the fact that I passed out and wasn't at all concerned with the intense stomach pain I had. She practically yelled at me for not eating more and asked me if I was anorexic. She gave me two different pain medications and neither of them helped. After about eight hours, I was discharged. Among the instructions on my discharge sheet was "You must eat more than a piece of bread." I was frustrated, to say the least, because I still had bad stomach pain.

Luckily, I had been given a referral to see a gastroenterologist. I met with him two days later and after about five minutes of talking with me and poking my stomach, he knew I had acute appendicitis. I went and had a CT scan for confirmation, then went back to the hospital for surgery that same night! When we got there, the doctor and nurses were all waiting for me. The took me in, drugged me up, then took out my appendix. I remember waking up from the surgery feeling awful and shaking uncontrollably. They gave me some pain meds and after about an hour, I was feeling much better. I spent that night in the hospital and was sent home the next afternoon. I mostly just remember being extremely tired. The hospital had surprisingly good food and it was a treat to watch a little TV. I spent the next week at home, mostly napping and reading. Today, after being gone for thirteen days, is my first day back at work. I feel much better, though still a little tired and sore where my incisions are.

Thank you so much to everyone for your prayers, cards, phone calls, flowers, and love! It truly means a lot to me to know you care!

23 June, 2011

Yesterday, I got home from work to find our power was out. It had been quite stormy earlier and a huge tree in my neighborhood fell on the power lines. We ended up without power for about eight hours. We borrowed a lighter from one of our neighbors and lit a bunch of candles, along with our gas stove so we could cook dinner. It was fun at first - the golden glow of candles and the nostalgic smell of fire - but after awhile, we began to get frustrated. In case you didn't know, it's hot in Georgia in the middle of June. Real, real hot. And without our air conditioner and fans, our house began to get pretty hot too. I wanted to take a shower, but it was too dark in our bathroom. Electricity is one of those things you don't think about unless it's gone. But last night made me realize how much we truly do depend on it. And it made me feel pretty pathetic for having difficulty going without electricity for only a few hours! I couldn't help but think of our brothers and sisters around the world who can't afford or don't have access to electricity. It's easy to compare our lives to those who have more than us, but in reality, we have a lot! And a lot to be thankful for!

We are more than blessed! Praise God! And don't forget to pray for those who have not been blessed with the resources we have!

21 June, 2011

Happy Summer Solstice!

Do you remember the baby tomato plants I planted a few months ago? Well, they've been growing! They're about 2 feet tall and each plant has one big juicy tomato! I'm hoping the summer sun will soon turn them red so they will be ready to eat!

Last weekend, I went to a Summer Solstice Celebration! To celebrate the time of growth and harvest, we discussed things (other than tomatoes) that we wish to nurture into fruition during the coming months. The people of this community hope for many beautiful things to grow: love, trust, hope, peace, empowerment, and much more. I personally hope to nurture my faith in God, that I may truly trust in Him for everything. What growth do you hope to see in this season of summer?

20 June, 2011

Hey everyone! I just wanted to give you a little update on my dear brother Kevin, and ask for your prayers for him! He is spending the next two weeks serving at an orphanage in Chiang Rai, Thailand with his youth group! Please keep him, his team, the orphans, and the people of Thailand in your prayers! You can follow the youth group's travels here!

And a little bit of fun... the car blog Jalopnik did a feature on Kevin and his stories from a sport our lovely parents introduced us to called off-road parasailing. I'm also pretty excited about it because the site used a bunch of my photographs from our adventures! You can check it out here!

On behalf of Kevin, thanks for your prayers!

16 June, 2011

God is so good! I've been struggling lately to find my identity in Him - to realize I am His beloved and that is what makes me valuable. But He is making it as clear as possible that He loves me dearly!

At the beginning of this month, I had just returned from Oregon and was stressing out about my plans for next year (and my future in general) and didn't know what to do or where to go. I was torn between returning home to San Diego to be near my family, moving back to the gorgeous state of Oregon where the majority of my friends live, or staying in Georgia where I had discussed a job opportunity, but hadn't gotten a firm offer. I asked God to help me, show me, guide me, lead me. He has done much more than that - He has tossed opportunities right into my hands.

Two weekends ago, we went to Birmingham, Alabama to visit the Civil Rights Museum. When I got home, I had a letter waiting for me from the University of San Diego. I applied to USD back in February, but had never heard back from them, so I had kind of given up on the idea of attending graduate school there. Needless to say, I was shocked when I read the letter and it said I had been accepted into their Peace and Justice Studies Master's program!! (I re-read the letter about four times to make sure I had read it correctly!) As I started to really think about what my life would look like if I moved back to San Diego to attend school, I realized that I simply don't have the finances to do that. But acceptance in my first-choice program is an opportunity too good to pass up! But, I was hanging on to the idea of continuing my work here in Atlanta. Again, I was torn between my options.

In the next week, the Georgia Justice Project offered me a firm commitment to hire me for the next year. I contacted USD, explained my situation, and was awarded a one-year deferment to continue my work here! Working for a year will also help me to save up at least a little money for my graduate studies. So, suddenly I went from freaking out because I had no plans, to having the next two and a half years of my life planned out! The only thing left to worry about was finding a place to live for next year.

A few weeks earlier, I had met with a couple about possibly moving in with them. They live in Cabbagetown, an adorable part of town that is about a five minute walk from the Georgia Justice Project. When we met, we got along great, but they were still considering some other possibilities. Trying to keep my options open, I met with a group of people
on Monday of this week about possibly living in an intentional community together in the East Lake neighborhood of Atlanta. Although I really enjoyed these people and had a great time getting to know them, it just didn't seem like a good fit for me. I left the meeting a bit discouraged and prayed to God that He would allow things to work out with the couple I had met with earlier. The very next day, I received an email from them asking if I'd like to move in with them! Thank You, God, for You are so good to me!
For in every way, you have been enriched in Him, in speech and knowledge of every kind - just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you - so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 Corinthians 1:5-7
God has enriched my life with His gifts and blessings. He has truly been teaching me that I am His beloved. I have been realizing that I have all these opportunities, not because of anything I have done, but simply because He loves me and has given them to me! He gave me my brain, my personality, my character so that He could bless me and so that I am "not lacking in any spiritual gift." I pray that he would bless you too, and that wherever you are in your life, you will begin to understand that you are God's beloved.

From Atlanta, with love

P.S. I'll try to get all my photos fixed soon!

03 June, 2011

I've been up to a lot lately! I went on a road trip with my roommates Maureen and Jyssica and our friend Katherine! We experienced a nice little dose of Southern hospitality -- we stopped to use the restroom at a little store and the sweet woman gave each of us a Georgia peach!
We ended up in the adorable bavarian town of Helen, located in North Georgia.

We had a short time when it was nice outside (it's recently been in the high 90s every day!!) so we made dinner over a campfire in our backyard!

We planted vegetables and flowers with some of our neighbors...
including Cynthia...

and Ms. Mary...
and Sean and Toby.

We went to a Braves vs. Phillies game...
and stayed afterwards for a free Ludacris concert!

We also had a picnic at Stone Mountain for Jyssica's birthday.

We celebrated Katherine's 25th birthday!

And I went on a weekend trip to Oregon to be in my friend Heidi's wedding!
It was such a blessing to get to hang out at Chapters

and to spend time with Heidi

and Lanae! (and a bunch of other wonderful friends!)
More pictures of the wedding are coming soon!