Today as I was working, I was listening to Pandora. I’ve been hesitant to do so because I had all the music I love already in my collection, but 1) I figured it’d be a good way to find some new music, and 2) when I got my new laptop, I lost all the music I had changed over from cds, and I seem to be missing a huge portion of my cd collection, sadly (all my Broadway music; so sad). Anyway, I’ve been listening to a Broadway station and remembering just how much I love Broadway music (and how much I love belting it out), when this wonderful song came on from Once Upon a Mattress:

I’ve always been SHY
I confess that I’m SHY
Can’t you guess that this confident air
Is a mask that I wear ’cause I’m shy
And you can be sure 
Way down deep I’m demure
Though some people I know may deny it
At bottom I’m quiet and pure
I’m aware that it’s wrong to be meek as I am
My chances may pass me by
I pretend to be strong, but as weak as I am
All I can do is try
God knows I try
Though I’m frightened and shy
And despite the impression I give
I confess that I’m living a lie
Because I’m actually terribly timid
And horribly shy

Now this song suits me to a T (okay, except the looking for a man part). People who know me – many who know me quite well, in fact – think I am outgoing and social, but the truth is that I am absolutely terrified to talk to people. It’s all an act. I am a huge introvert. Yes, I met my husband doing theater. Yes, I can memorize lines, stand in front of people, deliver a speech or sing a song – but I get nervous picking up the phone when I don’t know *exactly* why the person on the other end is calling. I stress about parties and social events, rehearse what I need to say to the doctor or dentist (only in my head), and generally feel unsettled around other people. I am comfortable in my own little world, in my home, by myself, reading a book, writing or making something. It has taken me YEARS to work myself up to coming out of my shell to become comfortable enough with who I am (socially awkward) to just be myself around people and to talk first, introduce myself, or fill uncomfortable silence.

I started singing in choir when I was in 3rd grade. Getting on stage terrified me – but it was that or violin, and I liked singing much more. WHen I got to Jr High, I realized I loved singing, and didn’t want to stop, so I continued with choir, still having near panic attacks before each concert. By then I realized it was a fear, and decided I needed to overcome it. I have no idea what made me decide that, but when I decide something is a challenge, I am generally too stubborn (stupid?) to back down, so I just kept going. I continued choir in high school, and if you were a good choir student (and I was a good student for everything else, so why wouldn’t I do well in choir?), you’d do solos; so I tried out for solos. And I sang them – shaking each time. The next step were musicals – three in high school, though just in the chorus. On to college, where I did plays and took leads, singing complete songs alone and memorizing pages of dialogue. (This is when I met my husband.) People can’t understand why I felt comfortable acting, but the truth is that acting is marvelous! It’s the only time in life that everything is scripted; for 2 hours you know exactly what you are supposed to say and – even better – what the person you are speaking to is going to respond. Once you gain confidence in your role, and the role of your costars, you can play to the audience, engage them, and draw them in. I took those lessons with me when presenting papers at conferences for my English classes, and was much less nervous than expected.

Yet despite all this training, I still almost never feel 100% at ease. And even when I do, my body gives me away. I have a central nervous tremor, which causes my hands to shake. So even if I do feel completely at ease, I can give the impression of being completely panicked. I think this is a gift – to help establish my real character, which is that of an introvert.

As I’ve become more active in my community and outspoken in church and in other social situations, I feel like a different person. I didn’t change who I was. I simply became comfortable with ME. I’ve realized that God made me who I am, and that specific person – awkward, nervous, introverted, but also someone who loves theater, music and sharing stories – that person that I am is specifically designed like no other. I am designed to be myself, to be the best me that I can be, and when I go out to do what God has called me to do – which is to share the love of Christ and the Gospel – then there is no reason to hide or change who I am. I need to introduce myself first and share stories about me because I am terribly timid, horribly shy – and there are others out there just like me who need to hear the good news from someone like me.

Easter – Part 2

Resurrection Grader BEFOREMy absolute favorite part of Easter is the resurrection garden. This is a tradition we have now done for three years, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. First, we get a large sized pot and fill it with dirt. Next, we get an apple or potato and hollow out a cave. Then we grab something to represent Jesus. A while ago I found these gingerbread marshmallows, which I like to use since they look like men, and I keep them around just for this project. You’ll also need a rock.

With all our supplies, my daughter and I head outside and talk about Jesus and how he died – we do this part on Good Friday. We set the potato/apple in the middle of the pot on top of the dirt, then cover it with dirt, and discuss the tomb. We then place Jesus inside the tomb, and then place the rock over  the entrance. We talk about how he was left there and everyone was so sad he was dead. Then my daughter and I go for a walk and gather flowers (and anything else) for the tomb. We come back and decorate the pot.

Saturday we check the flowers and see them drooping and talk about how the disciples must have felt. She (being young) usually wants to check and see if Jesus is still there.

Easter Resurrection Garden - AFTEREaster Sunday morning, my daughter wakes up and immediately asks if Jesus is there. She doesn’t care about the candy or the eggs (I’ve learned to keep them aside until after church). All she wants to know is if Jesus is in his tomb. We race outside. The rock is moved. Jesus is missing. “HE IS RISEN!” we all shout (this year in our front yard; I’m sure our neighbors thought we were nuts). Then my daughter notices the new and beautiful plants (that mom has planted the night before) and we talk about how Jesus brings new life. This is my favorite part of Easter.

If you’re looking for something else that’s enjoyable, I highly recommend resurrection rolls. We’ve done them the past 2 years but forgot this year (low on my radar since I was fasting and am gluten free).

Easter DecorationsI also recommend updating your decor to include something to reference the resurrection (I mean, that *is* the point of Easter!). I bought a plank of wood at Michael’s and a paint pen and wrote this message on a board, though you could go even simpler, and use plastic eggs and write the same message, like these eggs, which sit on our dining table.

Also this is a great time to give gifts to family and friends who might need a bit of a nudge – I gave books to my non-believing family (and prayed and stressed about it), but really, they were grateful I thought about them at all. Besides, if you can’t do that on Easter, when will you be bold enough?

Easter – Part 1


Easter is one of my favorite holidays. I always think Christmas is, but I’ve been working to try to bring Easter up to the importance of Christmas since I believe (theologically) Easter is far more important. One of the ways we’re incorporated that importance at our house is to create several Easter traditions that we enjoy repeating each year. 

The two that are the most important for us that are a bit different (besides the egg dying and hunting and whatnot) are coloring a basket and making a resurrection garden. This post is for the more “traditional” Easter stuff – next time I’ll post on the garden.

Easter EggsFirst, for the basket. Each year, my daughter gets several baskets from different family members – some are plastic, some are branch, some are wood. They all vary in quality. I wanted my daughter to have one basket that was hers to use each year that was special and meant something to her, so I found a good sized basket for her when she was nearly 1 (her first Easter) and then sewed a liner for the basket and let her smear paint all over the inside. That became her special basket that she painted.

The next year, she’d gotten bigger, and her baby basket was too small, so we used another basket. Only it didn’t have her name. So again, I thought it’d be nice for her to get to paint her basket liner. I sewed a liner out of some white fabric I had lying around, and let her paint. And thus after the 2nd year, a tradition was born. The next two years, she’s used permanent markers since she’s wanted to draw rather than paint (and we needed them to dry faster!), but the results are the same: fantastic, one-of-a-kind baskets that she made herself for that specific year that are growing with her in creativity and in personalization. And for me? The only difficulty is finding the time to sew the liner.

Another thing I did last year for decoration around the house was make Easter egg garlands – oh, how I loved pulling these out this year now that they were already done! I took a needle and thread and just sewed through the holes that are already in the eggs, and voila! Garland. Fantastic!

Obligatory egg coloring picture to the right. We hard boiled 18 eggs. I got to dye 3, my husband did 2, and my daughter hogged 13. But at least she was happy!

Egg Hunt at the Stub Hub Center

And finally, the egg hunts. We did 4(!) this year. First, a city-wide one at the Stub-Hub center (where the LA Galaxy plays), second, one at our church (eggs in the sanctuary, chaos!), third, family (cousins!) and finally our daughter alone at home. I missed my grandfather’s egg hunt this year. I think 2 years ago was his final year, which is tremendously sad. Easter was his favorite holiday (and he’s not a believer) – he’s still around, but too tired for the egg hunts he once did. He used to make false backs of drawers, safety pin shirt sleeves, unzip pillows on couch cushions, and pick up plants and put the egg under the plant in the pot. He’d also go to costco and buy packs of tissues and then open one, remove the tissues, put an egg in, put tissues back, tape it up and put the box with the other boxes. He’d put the egg in a bag ina  bucket of birdseed in the garage, in a box in a pile of boxes, in a half water bottle in a case of open water bottles, in a container in a toolbox, etc. He was dedicated to the hunt and had a map of where all the locations were, though we still usually couldn’t find one. Best of all, there was an egg trophy he’d made from an egg that stayed hidden for 3 years – each year, whoever found the golden egg got to keep the trophy. (I was the last winner of the trophy.) No one has experienced an egg hunt like my grandfather hosted. He’s one of a kind.


Fasting is over!


It is well with my soulI ended my fast on Maundy Thursday – not the traditional end of Lent, but it was the time that was right for me. I wanted to celebrate a Maunday Thursday dinner with my family and friends, and while cooking and praying about exactly what was okay for me to eat, I clearly felt that continuing to fast over that day would be more about me that about Jesus, so I stopped my fast. (Funny, I walways knew I’d end on Thursday and not on Sunday.)

Overall, my fast went well. I broke the Daniel Fast hugely once by eating meat at a Mission’s Dinner (I felt that it’d be to the detriment of the group to abstain), and there were several other minor rule infractions (which were basically having balsamic dressing on my salads when I went out to eat with people, and occasionally having some preservatives in food like tomatoes or beans, because it was insanity to avoid it in certain situations).

The first few days were hard because I didn’t really know what to eat, but I ended up getting the hang of it pretty quickly. I set up a pinterest board for Daniel Fast food (note, there are a lot of “Daniel Fast recipes” with honey or date sugar – NOT OKAY! It’s no precious foods, which includes honey, so those recipes are totally not okay if you are following the strict fast.). I found that Trader Joes was A-MAZ-ING. I could buy soups, beans, tortillas (and of course the fresh stuff) without any preservatives in it. My favorite things were potatoes coated in olive oil and baked and refried beans layered with bell peppers and tomatoes (simple 7-layer dip) with baked tortillas to make chips. Then I figured out I could make guacamole and I was in heaven. Drinking water was fabulous. When I craved sweet things, I made sorbets in my Vitamix or ate fresh berries. I ate a lot of nuts and peanut butter with apples and bananas. I discovered oatmeal with flaxseed, chia seed and bananas (best power breakfast ever!). I did find that salads did not work at all, which is what I expected to survive off of – I got bored of olive oil and vinegar REAL quick.

I did have a bit of troubles with potlucks, visiting friends, and eating out. I (frankly) showed up late to the potluck so no one would notice me avoiding the food, asked for water at friends houses (and ate nuts and fruit when provided), and when eating out, stuck with fajitas and beans (probably had some preservatives, but best I could do, salads (with oil and vinegar or balsamic – a slight cheat), or “bowl” type food.” While for the most part I did try to adhere to not telling anyone I was fasting, there were a few people I told: 1) my husband (duh), 2) my daughter (who is 4), 3) one of my best friends, who constantly brings me food, and both my parents and in-laws. While I didn’t intend to tell either sets of parents, it was necessary for the amount of meals I spend around them. I decided to fully explain to my daughter as a way of demonstration, and I needed to tell my friend for practical reasons. I later told two other close friends for purposes of discussing fasting and lent.

Overall, there has been a dramatic improvement in my prayer life. This has had a lasting effect (even a month later – noted on 5/13)! I find that when I don’t know what to think or when I have a problem, I defaulted to prayer, rather than practical solutions. Generally, when you are hungry, you eat. But when you are unable to do so for more than a month, you start to think differently. When I replaced the hunger with prayer – every time I felt hungry, I tried to pray instead, I found that I became accustomed to it. In fact, when I injured myself or had other problems that I’d typically solve myself (especially if there was delayed gratification involved), I found it quite easy to be content with prayer, whereas before my fast I’d be impatient or angry.

In general, I’ve felt better overall after. I’ve felt healthier and more aware of things – more at peace, and more whole: aligned in body and spirit. I returned to eating meat, dairy and sugar and within a few days, I felt ill and run down again. I keep telling myself I need to return to at least partially observing the rules of the Daniel Fast (likely it was the no sugar) because I felt so so much better. In fact, one of the lasting effects is that I haven’t been interested in soda, tea, lemonade, etc. The fast effectively killed my desire for flavored beverages, except in extremely small quantities.

I know that I will definitely fast again, and definitely do the Daniel fast as well. It’s been nothing but a blessing and a growing experience for me, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I do recommend having a few people to talk about it with (or even to do it with you!) because it’s something that it hard to do alone without prayer – not just your prayer, but the prayer of friends covering you.

Book of Mormon


(Warning, long post!) For my birthday, instead of a big party or something (since I turned 30), I asked for descent seats to go to a Broadway show. We’d heard – interesting – things about Book of Mormon, and my husband REALLY wanted to go, so we decided on that show. I had a vague idea of what I was getting into, knowing who the writers were (South Park), but I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I know it takes a whole lot to offend me, and, while I was expecting the show to touch on Christianity in general, not just the Mormons, I certainly didn’t expect the show to 1) make me cry, 2) make me pity the audience, and 3) feel convicted. Laughter, a touch of anger and disgust I expected, and I got that in spades. It was not a good show, by any means, but it was certainly a show that made me think, and it was definitely time well spent.

In case you were curious what the show looks like from an Evangelical Christian standpoint, here you go. I’m cutting it here because this is a LONG LONG post (and very possibly offensive).

Continue reading