June 29, 2011


Yoshi has moved beyond potty-training to obeying other commands! We can now “sit” and “stay”, and are working on “lie down”. I have a few fun commands I want to teach her, and am still trying to figure out how to train her to do something useful, like make me breakfast.

In other news, I am officially on summer break for school! I tried to take an intro-to-acting course, but my work schedule would have caused me to violate the attendance policy. And since there are no other classes available that I actually need to take, I’m off until fall semester! This threw me for a loop at first, because of the details of student loan deferment. But, as usual, God worked out the details and gave me a couple of months without classes or homework.

Additionally, my theater involvement is a little less demanding for this show. The Job script is written, and now I’m available for any necessary rewrites between now and opening night. I’ll still be on hand for set construction or other needs, but since I’m not part of the onstage cast, my rehearsal schedule is quite flexible. Could it be possible for me to live a slower-paced lifestyle this summer?

My first instinct was to say, “Now I have time to ______”, and fill that blank with a number of activities I’ve been wanting to do but lacked the time. These include playing my guitar, painting, or other acts of creativity…. or take a yoga class at the studio down the street… or more beach bonfires… or audition for another local theater group…. or catch up on reading… not to mention diving and hiking and such. But, I at least have the presence of mind to realize that is not a good way to “slow down”. So not planning these things, but leaving room to do most of them spontaneously is my best attempt at a balanced lifestyle.

Until then, I do still have workchurch (with upcoming Vacation Bible School) to keep me busy. I don’t know why I seem to require “busyness”, and I really don’t know how to NOT overload my schedule with activities. But I’m going to try- truly give an honest effort- to at least use the summer to attempt this. Meanwhile, how do YOU keep from being too overloaded, stressed, or busy? Suggestions are welcome!

June 24, 2011


Being a film student means that final exams go beyond a written test and require a project. This means that “finals week” is actually two weeks to include filming, editing, and studying. Luckily, these are things I enjoy doing. However, it still makes for a crazy couple of weeks spent juggling schedules like tetris pieces, trying to fit all necessary tasks and deadlines into measly 24-hour days.

Thankfully, my reward for accomplishing this (with A’s in both classes, in case anyone wondered :) ) was a visit from my lovely cousin, Bethany!

Bethany had never been to California, so I gladly took the opportunity to make sure all essentials were covered. Of course, the best part was spending an entire week with her! But if these mad tour guide skills intrigue you, I’d be happy to share them with you on your next visit to Los Angeles.

Here are some of the highlights:

-Driving down the coast for a beautiful view of the sun setting over the ocean.

- Bethany got to experience a typical Sunday in the life-of-mal: the church were I worked and auditions for “Job” at the theater.

- Aquarium of the Pacific

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- California Pizza Kitchen, In-N-Out, Granny’s Yogurt, Ruby’s, & Petrillo’s Pizza

- a beach bonfire

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- hiking in the mountains

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- Hollywood, including seeing the set-up for the “Green Lantern” movie premiere, a visit to Madame Tussauds  Wax Museum, and being part of the Jimmy Kimmel Live studio audience (guests were Chef Gordon Ramsey and Glee’s Mike O’Malley).bethany trip 037 bethany trip 039 bethany trip 017 bethany trip 020 bethany trip 025 bethany trip 029 bethany trip 032 bethany trip 034 

- a trip to Disneyland

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- and just good old-fashioned hanging out… playing old school nintendo, watching “A Mighty Wind”, laying out and boogie boarding at the beach, walking Yoshi and Tootsie, and a trip to Build-A-Bear.


I got used to Bethany being here, and it was sad to see her go! My fingers are crossed that she gets to come back very, very soon. Meanwhile, I have returned to “real life”. Though my summer school plans did not work out, and I suddenly find myself the blessing of a slower pace. Without classes and homework, I have more free time. I am also not in the cast for the summer play, but will only be assisting with work days and script rewrites. I suppose this is my opportunity to do what I’m supposed to be doing- slowing down. The challenge is not to say, “Oh, I have time for ______ now!”, and filling that blank space with new or different activities, leaving me as rushed and busy as before. So the theme of my summer will be a balanced lifestyle. Then I’ll be ready to go full force in the fall…. or does that defeat the purpose?

June 03, 2011

going to the store to get milk

I didn’t think about it until just now, but yesterday was one month since I left the hospital. It’s even more notable, since yesterday was pretty much the first day I was consistently in an actual, honest good mood.

It’s not to say there haven’t been good moments this month, because blessings have flowed in and out of the frustrations, med-induced side effects, and busy schedule. However, each day has been an attempt to catch up on all the things that had fallen behind the day before- a domino effect snowballing out of control. But something about yesterday was different. Perhaps it was being the very first day on new medication, and none of the side effects were able to make their way through my blood stream. Maybe it was completing the second day of filming for finals at school, and the relief of accomplishment boosted some hidden endorphins. Could it have been the pleasant weather that is working it’s way toward summer (albeit slower than I’d prefer, but who am I to direct the sunshine and clouds)? Or maybe it was the brief study/work break spent frolicking on the beach with Kelly, Yoshi, and Tootsie. Whatever the reason- or combination of factors- it worked. And that’s how I found myself standing on the street corner in the evening, contentedly waiting for the red light to turn green and the “hand” to turn into a “man” that permitted me to cross, carrying the milk I just picked up from the store. I took a deep breath of night air with just a touch of sea breeze, and realized I that I noticed colors, details, sounds, smells- pieces of life that have been recently subdued by the combination of medication, stress, and my messed-up brain.

I crossed the street and made my way down the sidewalk towards home. I couldn’t help but make a quick review of the past month while remembering a snippet of earlier conversation with Kelly. It involved an incident with another friend who’d experienced similar struggles. Without going through my past few months, I wouldn't have been able to relate or help him in any way. And this wasn’t the first- or last- time God has used my own challenges to reach another soul. While finding some kind of purpose in pain can be comforting, does that mean that God caused all of this mess just to bring me/us to this moment?

I don’t think that’s the whole story. Because while the Lord is most definitely sovereign, my own choices shaped my situation as well. And, unfortunately, the devil had a little bit of input, too. Between the two of us- Satan and me- we created quite a disaster. Yet, God still has the final say in the outcome, and His ultimate ending is always beautiful. Since I was little, I imagined God and the devil in some kind of martial arts hand-to-hand combat. I envisioned Satan pulling some smooth move that would bring everything down- a symbolic roundhouse kick, if you will. But then God just laughs, and in some kind of divine Chuck Norris style, grabs Satan’s foot mid-kick, twisting him around and bringing him crashing to the ground. The move Satan intended to be catastrophic ends up being the very thing that led to God’s victory- because God was always in control of the fight.

God can redeem my mess. I’m not fighting with God, but I can make some pretty crappy choices. This doesn’t make my sin any less sin-ny, but knowing that He can take my scraps and dried up paint and create a gorgeous masterpiece…. does that blow anyone else’s mind?

One last thought: my reading this morning included Luke 22:31. Jesus is talking to the disciples at the Last Supper, preparing them for the coming events of His death. In this particular moment, Jesus is reminding them to remain humble and foreshadowing the ways they are all going to screw up in the next couple of days. He says to Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”     

Life may become difficult, Satan may strike, and we are going to make a mess. But Jesus prayed for Simon- God is working for us, for me, for you. And after the storm, when we have turned back to better days, we can strengthen our brothers and sisters. Could it be that we go back for each other so no one is left behind? And this is why we canNOT give up when things get hard, because the chaos and catastrophe are not how the story ends- not for us, and not for those we love. Instead, that very chaos and catastrophe are the paint and brush in God’s hand as He creates the most beautiful picture you have ever seen, or could even imagine.

I’ll end this before my own tears come again, because these words are not being shouted from a soapbox, but whispered to my own heart. I’m learning along the way, and I promise, when I have turned back, that I will reach out a hand to strengthen you, too.