Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Blessings of 2009

As Pastor Tim says, the last week of the year is often the LOST week of the year.  I usually spend the last 7 days of the year wrapping up any loose ends, cleaning things out, reorganizing things, and trying to come up with new plans for the incoming year.

Basically, I spend it reflecting.

It's not a waste of time--I become hyper-conscious of time and how I spend it.  I take an introspective look at what I value and how my use of time does or does not  reflect that.  This year, I think I've been diligent and deliberate in seeking God's plan for me and doing my best to be obedient in all things.  As such, this year had many surprise shifts for me--in life plans, health, ministry, and general focus.

So, 2009, this year I am thankful for:

Celebrating 8 years of marriage with my wonderful husband, Seth
Simple pleasures like reconnecting with old friends, watching the waves roll in, feeling crisp air on my face, or savoring a homemade cookie...yum!
Our vacation on the East Coast (Virginia to Maine road trip)
Graduating from a credential program, still intact and not wholly disenchanted
The blessing of working with the High School Ministry (Worship Band)
Serving as a Sunday School teacher in the K-1 classroom with Seth for two years and watching the students grow in their love for the Lord
The opportunity to write and direct another script for Fun Fest
Learning that I can make costumes from a pattern, in multiple styles and fabrics!
The chance to learn to be content without a paycheck of my own
Rejoicing with friends and family during their weddings and the births of their children
Our home church and Christian family
Challenging myself to search and explore my passions and how to use my gifts for God
Chances to inspire others

There's really so much more, but I think this communicates my point.  I was very blessed in 2009.  It's been a lot of work and required a great deal of humbling, tears, and trials--but it was worth it.  Trusting God is always worth it.

Now, as I look forward to 2010, I want my resolution to be the same as last year: to grow deeper in my love of God and my obedience to Him.  I simply want to be used by Him for His glory.

May your 2010 be blessed, too!

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. ~ Colossians 3:16-17 (NIV)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Silent Night

This video is for the families of Calvary Chapel Burbank, our home church.  Our preschool through first grade Sunday School students will be performing this during the main services on the last Sunday before Christmas.  Please be gracious with my voice...as per the post below, I'm almost fully recovered from being sick...

The lyrics are:
Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin, mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing alleluia
Christ the Savior is born
Christ the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord at thy birth
Jesus, Lord at thy birth

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dopey, Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy...& Doc?

I'm sick.  And I've been sick for just about all of November.  At first it seemed like a mild cold.

Then it morphed into a flu.

Then, just as I thought I was getting over it--it relapsed after a doctor appointment.

When my temp ran around 102 F, I had to go to urgent care.  After 4 1/2 hours getting run around for multiple tests, including getting blood drawn, I was diagnosed with the flu and an infection.

So I started on antibiotics.

Then, I had another appointment that was previously scheduled.  But, joy of joys, I had to get more blood work done after fasting (this morning).

During the blood draw, my vein collapsed and the phlebotomist had to switch to my OTHER arm after her wriggling of the needle didn't help the previously mentioned collapsed vein.

So now I'm sitting here with two bruised arms, feeling light-headed and nauseous.

Oh, and did I mention that I didn't sleep AT ALL last night because of the pounding headache I've had with this flu???

Is it any wonder why I'm channeling a few of the seven dwarfs after visiting the Doc?  Sheesh.

I'm so ready to be Bashful and Happy...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Praise in the storm

So much for being playful.  We have our bad days, too.

I want to be mindful on this blog.  I don't want to sugarcoat everything and make it seem like our lives are perfect.  It's so easy to post only the "pretty" pictures and make it seem like life is always rosy.  We all know that just isn't the case.

We all go through tough times.

We all have our own share of pain.

And now is just another one of those times where we get to choose how we are going to respond to the pain we are facing.

I choose to trust God.  Not simply believe in Him, but to truly believe and trust Him.

My mind keeps playing "Praise You in this Storm" by Casting Crowns

I'm currently in a situation where I'm disappointed and saddened by things going on around me, yet at the same time I feel incredibly blessed.  I see areas where God is working and I trust that He is going to use these situations for His glory--but it still hurts.

It's a bittersweet time.

I'm rejoicing with my Father, but I'm also mourning.

I fully praise Him and love Him, yet I also weep at His feet.

I look to the day when I will understand the why of the now.  He's reigned supreme in all of my past trials.  In the midst of trials I don't always understand why things happen as they do, but in hindsight I can see how God used those trials to strengthen me, to show His faithfulness and love, and to help others.

So, I will choose to praise Him, even in this storm.

"...at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
       I will sing and make music to the LORD."
- Psalm 27:6b (emphasis mine)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Being Thankful

How often do you reflect upon all the blessings in your life?  I do it often...and not just at Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve.

I don't want to take things for granted.  I often do...but I strive not to take anything for granted.

I'm thankful for so much, but here are some of the basics:

-freedom--to live, read, speak, move, own a Bible and attend church, love, and enjoy the world God created
-health--breathing, having all my senses intact and functioning, and having the use of my body
-home--having shelter for my family
-food--never having to feel the pangs of hunger
-love--my husband is the best!  I LOVE him and I am SO BLESSED to be his wife.
-salvation & joy--gifts from my precious Savior in all circumstances (number ONE blessing)

Again, those are the basics--there are so many more things I'm thankful for.  I know I am blessed far more than I deserve.  Every so often, I'll add another list of blessings...to remind myself and to encourage you to do the same.

So, what are you thankful for?

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Joy of Cooking

Growing up, I was blessed with many a great meal.  My father was a chef (specializing in French cuisine) and my mother was professionally trained in the kitchen with him.

You might assume, then, that I was spoiled with rich foods every day.  While I did develop my palate eating escargot and the like at a young age, that was the exception--not the norm.  We were poor, folks.  Anyhow, if you are a true foodie, you'll know that the staple foods in any regional cuisine are traditionally peasant meals.  Truly great meals are composed of cheap and fresh ingredients.  Most days, our meals were made up of inventive variations of beans and rice.  And those are two staples I still love.

So, why do I find joy in cooking?

I find it connects me to the best of my childhood.

You see, my father unexpectedly passed away in 2001.  It was jarring.  I wasn't sure how to cope.  And I eventually found solace in the kitchen.

Even now, when I'm in the kitchen chopping, dicing, seasoning...I feel close to him.  I find that my memory strays back to times watching him whip up a feast in the kitchen.  I remember funny times when my dad would sing (loudly) as he deboned a chicken.  I fondly recall how he would dance about the kitchen as he prepared our breakfast, nonchalantly flipping a pan of anything from an omelet to hashbrowns.  I remember how gracefully he sharpened his knives--his tools of the trade.  And I remember how he could look into a barren cupboard and refrigerator and still manage to put together a flavorful meal with scraps.  He was like the MacGyver of the cooking world from my perspective.

My father found joy in cooking and serving others.

So, now, I find that same joy.  Whether I'm in the kitchen for a few minutes making a solo meal or I'm in there for hours making a feast for many, I'm joyful and thankful.

Just food for thought.

Bon Appetit!

"Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water." ~ Exodus 23:25a (NIV)

(Potato Cakes)

Friday, November 6, 2009

A touch of Christmas...

So, remember how I said that I like to decorate for Christmas BEFORE Thanksgiving?

Well, I started tonight.

Not a whole lot...

Just a touch...

Here and there...

But it adds just enough sparkle to these quickly darkening nights.

And it's enough to get me through Thanksgiving before I REALLY start to decorate.

I am lucky to be so blessed!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Holiday Season

The colors of the changing leaves are a sign that the holiday season we love so much is being ushered in.

The cool, crisp air…

The tastes of cider, cinnamon, pumpkin pie, and peppermint hot chocolate…

Snuggling up in flannel pajamas…

Baking with friends and family…

Christmas music…

Vanilla and gingerbread candles…

The scent of Christmas trees (or room sprays that reproduce the smell at home)…

…all simple pleasures that we savor.

Now, I'm the type of person that loves Christmas so much that I begin listening to my holiday music in early November. (Yes, the tunes have already been playing in my car and home.) I like to decorate before Thanksgiving, but if I must, I’ll wait until the day after. I love the warmth of a cozy home, great friends, and a toasty cup of cocoa. I love celebrating my Savior's birth. I love that complete strangers tend to be just a little bit nicer to one another at this time of year. I find that you'll see strangers smiling, sharing, giving, and just plain expressing kindness. As in all things, you find what you're looking for.

And I see God's fingerprints all around.

I love the holidays!

Living VS Visiting

Shirliza & I love to travel whenever we can. We have definitely been bitten by the "travel bug."

We've come to play a game on every trip we take. It goes like this: one of us asks the other if this is a place we could live, day to day, or if it's just a place we'd like to visit. I often wonder if this is common for other fellow travelers...

When we visited Rio de Janiero, I was ready to sell our possessions and move to Rio, even if it meant pitching a tent and living on the beach. After we visited London and Paris, we discussed how exciting it would be to live in the "City of Lights" under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower or shop at Harrod's in London for Christmas presents every year. Then, when we visited New York, we talked about the possibilities of lazy Sunday afternoons walking through Central Park and ice skating at Rockefeller Center in the winter.

Recently we visited the New England states and were captivated by the beauty of the fall foliage. Of course the topic once again came up--could we live here? It was so easy for me to get lost in the daydream of living on a rural farm in Vermont with nothing but beautiful green rolling hills, fresh air and maple syrup to wake up to every morning. No smog, no traffic, no rat race, no "this is my town" Dodger billboards!

Coming home, there is always that one to two week "downer" that sets in after the high of the new experiences of visiting some far away land. However, I've found that the downer slowly fades once you settle back into day to day life at home.

After all my travels and my subsequent downers, one thing has always stayed constant and will always stay constant: God is with us. Whether we're in Maui or London, LA or NY, God is with us. He has all of us where we are for His ultimate purpose. We can daydream and plan all we want, but God is our GPS and our travel guide in this life. I ask God to forgive me for my gripes after returning from a vacation, because the fact is that he has blessed me with the ability to take a vacation in the first place. So I pray that my next vacation will not end up with the question of, "can we see ourselves living here?" but rather, "God, can you use us here for your glory?"

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Autumn Blessings

We were lucky enough to take a much needed vacation during fall foliage season in New England. We took in a few baseball games, visited many museums, stopped off at the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory, and even got up, close, and personal with an apple cider press.

We tried to settle on a few highlights from our trip, but there were too many to count. So, instead, let me give you a run down of the sights and sounds:

Day 1: Virginia--Arlington National Cemetary, Christ Church in Alexandria, and Mount Vernon-home of our nation's 1st president

Day 2: DC--monuments, archives, and museums galore!

Day 3: Baltimore--Orioles Park @ Camden Yards, Crab Cakes, Ace of Cakes (Charm City Cakes drive-by), and Fort McHenry (I'll never hear our national anthem the same way again!)

Day 4: Philadelphia--Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, Graff House (where the Dec. of Independence was written), Reading Terminal Market, Rocky Steps, Boat House Row, Philly Cheesesteaks and a Phillies game (they clinched the div. at that game--such a fun atmosphere)

Day 5: Drive to Boston--Mystic Seaport, Providence, R.I., Plymouth Rock

Day 6: Boston--Freedom Trail, Clam Chowder, and a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park

Day 7: Lexington, Concord, Cambridge (hello, Harvard!), & Salem (they really take the witch trials to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL...)

Day 8: Drive to Maine with stop-offs at Kennebunkport and the L.L. Bean Flagship store

Day 9: Acadia National Park and an authentic lobster dinner--yum!

Day 10: Drive through New Hampshire to Vermont (Oh. My. Goodness. BEAUTIFUL! Our pictures really don't do it justice.)

Day 11: Vermont--Route 100, Ben & Jerry's, Cold Hollow Cider Mill, Red Leaves, Gold Leaves, Orange Leaves, Green Leaves...

Day 12: Cooperstown--National Baseball Hall of Fame

Day 13: Drive to Gettysburg with a stop at "The Office"

Day 14: Gettysburg battlefield, museum & cyclorama

Then, back to California. Whew! Tobie was happy to have us back home. And we were happy to be home with her.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ready, set, G-O

Being new to blogging, I had no idea how difficult it would be to select a blog name.


I just spent about the last hour simply brainstorming a name for our blog that would succinctly represent us. I also aimed to create an easy blog address--but many attempts later, most have already been taken. Many of my friends began blogging when they were pregnant or recently had kids. In which case it's totally appropriate to add "Baby" to the family name and be done. Well, we don't have a baby yet, so I can't do a cute G-O Baby or Baby on the G-O. Sigh. Yet, we may have kids someday, so I don't want a title that can't include them in the future. We have tons of varied interests, so I don't want to keep it too narrow. We like to travel, but what about blogs relating to things at home? This blog will represent both Seth & I, so it needs to be general enough to encapsulate us, but focused enough to kind of describe us...

You get the picture.

So I settled on G-O Play.

Why G-O Play, you ask?

Well, I am a Guadamuz and my husband is an Oaks (hence the G-O). That, and we are still playful people despite our age. Seth likes to watch and PLAY sports and I love the theatre and acting, writing and staging PLAYs. Add to that how incredibly goofy we are and how often we play games and the like, and it seemed to be an appropriate title for us.

That said, we are a happily married couple, we are Sunday School teachers, we are youth group leaders, we are children of God, and we enjoy the life that He's given us. We aspire to share the love of God with others and to demonstrate, by example, how much fun you can have living for Christ. Just as all playful kids, we may stumble and scuff our knees every now and again, but we'll get back up and keep on playing.

So, let the games begin.

Are you ready?


It's time to...G-O Play!