March 25, 2011

.a PiCtUrE a day.


planning session for the most epic road trip with deb, mel, & amanda...hence the d.a.m. meet our type-A personalities...we have a weird fetish for all things organization oriented...hence the whiteboard...the dates, the charts, snack packing lists (including junk, fruits, & drinks), to-do lists, budgets, and road mix delegations...we. can't. wait.

March 24, 2011

.a PiCtUrE a day.


time to nurse my wisdom-toothless boy back to health with smoothies & smiles...i heart taking care of people, especially him =)


a yogurtland date with the roomie...finally!


oh colbie caillat...favorite =)


paper tablecloths and crayons? macgrill is pure genius...


i have this crazy thing for flowers.


photobooth fun...p.s. junior high is rough stuff man.


find the blue pyramid...move right...see the water tower? keep moving...see the toaster/macintosh building? our campus is gi-gan-tic.


couscous stuffed bell peppers & a dinner date with mel mel.


oh scholarship applications...

{levees, bayous, jazz, & the big easy}

in only 3 sleeps, i'll be off on my next adventure to a city that holds mystery, exudes culture, and in the midst of its spirit, is struggling to rebuild itself.

this semester has been an extremely eye-opening one in the sense that my world, right here right now, is not all there is, and it's not always going to be safe and stable. at any moment, everything i know could be taken, destroyed, & left in shattered pieces.

in the late august of '05, new orleans experienced one of the worst catastrophes this nation has ever known. within in a matter of hours, the mississippi river, lake pontchartrain, and the entire gulf drowned a city once thriving with culture, haunting jazz melodies, and the big & easy life of the south. residents were stranded, left to drown in their homes, carried away by inescapable walls of poisoned water, or herded into the superdome along with thousands of others. the thing about these disasters, however, is that once they're taken off the front pages and we've moved on to the next big thing, we assume the situation has fixed itself. we couldn't be further from the truth.

six years after hurricane katrina hit, new orleans is still struggling. we fail to realize that in the aftermath of the storm, children suddenly became orphans, families were split up as they were evacuated throughout the country, once proud-homeowners now received a FEMA trailer to call home, students saw their campus disappear before their eyes, along with their future. these situations don't just fix themselves. hurricane katrina isn't "sexy" anymore...we've moved on to the next thing: the swine flu epidemic of 2009. the haiti earthquake. chili. the volcanic eruption in iceland. mass flooding in australia. new zealand's latest quake. and just recently the record-breaking earthquake and resulting tsunami in japan. but all these people, these nations, countless families are still suffering, still hurting, still healing.

we are so privileged to have the ability to pour out our blessings onto others. there is a reason we are where we are. we've been given opportunities to come to the aid of others...& it's not something we should take for granted.

i can't wait to spend a week being pushed, challenged, bonding with my team, physically seeing the hurt, immersing myself in the lives of others, diving into a new city & culture, and serving others...all to God's glory. may He ultimately receive all the praise.

if you'd like to see where the CSULB alternative spring break team will be working, check out the United Saints 1st St. Recovery Project partnering with Habitat for Humanity.

March 22, 2011

{by your side}

music has been my one saving grace in the last 48 hours. well, not my only saving grace, but most definitely a giant help...and Jesus music more than anything. there's something about pure heartfelt words & beautiful melodies that simply brings peace of mind amidst all the chaos.

last night i was reminded of the plain & simple truth that God is everywhere, with you at all times, faithfully by your side. sure, set aside God time is nice, but often life gets in the way, and when we don't get that hour of quiet sit-down time we get frustrated, irked, and distance ourselves from God. at least i do. but even in life, in the madness, He. is. there. don't you think that God probably often looks at us and just rolls {lovingly} rolls His eyes? here we are stressing out about our plans, griping about the lack of sleep, dreading the piles of homework, and there He is, right next to us waiting patiently for us to notice Him. it's that easy.

this is all temporary. that's the other thought that has been bouncing around. school, work, to-do lists...none of those things will truly matter in the long run. this semester has definitely been a "school on the back burner" kind of semester. my straight A, type A self struggles with that...the spontaneous-just-live-life side says, "hey deb? live a little." the grades, the essays, the exams, yep they're important in the here and now, but thirty years from now you won't recall that awful bio midterm you had in'll recall the people, the adventures, the experiences...relationships, memories, and friendships. i don't think i'll be 49 (i like odd numbers), and say, i regret not studying harder, not spending more time in the library, not pulling all-nighters. i think i would regret not building into the people who are in my life at this moment, for a special reason. i think i'd regret not slowing down to listen to God, missing opportunities, or blinding myself to the simply joys of life.

i'm not saying blow it all. i'm saying there has to be balance in everything, that the to-do lists, the demands of life cannot dictate our feelings, our relationships, and especially not our relationship with God. sometimes you have to just take a break from the studying and have some God time. it's ok to do that. the half hour less of mindlessly flipping through your flashcards will not determine the rest of your life. cultivating your spiritual life and taking care of yourself will. and that's that.

{apologies for the helter skelter writing; sometimes the processing and the thinking just aren't in sync ;]}

March 17, 2011

who do they see?

today the thought struck me like a brick: am i truly christ-like in all that i do?

the answer? no. and to discover that about yourself is no fun thing...but at the same time, it's always good to have a heart check every once in a while.

today i discovered that a classmate of mine loves Jesus, without them actually saying the words...but i feel like in the back of my mind i've always suspected that they do. it's easy to point out a true follower...they are kind, good-natured, and respectful. often there's just something different about them, something attractive. am i that person to others? to be completely honest with you, this semester i've been the girl who's playing words with friends during class (which, granted, is still educational) & hardly paying attention at all. half of me argues, "if i didn't do something else while still paying attention, i'd straight up fall asleep." the other half says, "debbie, what would Jesus do?" Jesus wouldn't get sleepy, that's what. but the moral of the story is, am i that person to others? am i the one who's different because Christ is in me. would people be surprised to learn i'm a Christian, or would that just be a natural assumption?

God didn't say this would be easy.

March 15, 2011

mountain high, valley low, & all the inbetween

tuesday morning. 7:54 am. i should be getting ready for school - doing the make up/hair/clothes/make the bed thing, but my head is spinning. i'm a processer, an analyzer, and i've also gotten pretty good at getting myself ready in under 15 minutes. so, here i am.

does it ever feel like everyone else's world is falling apart, and though yours is completely fine, you're struggling not to be dragged down with everyone else? it's been one of those of those friend after friend after friend wants to have a deep, serious, my-life-is-really-tough right now chat. and i love those. i have no problem with that at all. but in the midst of all that, i have to remind myself that their life is not mine. not mine to struggle with, to carry, or to fix. a week ago, i was on top of the world. this week has been a test to that.

sometimes we just need to say it how it is. there's only so much empathy and compassion for one situation, you know? i love hearing people's hearts, love seeing their desire for things to change, to see God, to "feel" God; but at the same time, there comes a point where you can't wallow in the valley anymore. i know it's draining and exhausting and hopeless, but there must be joy in the midst of all of it. and usually i don't have a problem with this. usually i love being a helper and a listener. but this week, it's been emotionally draining.

if God is our strength in weakness, why do we fear weakness so much? if God works out all things for our good, then why are we so afraid of our circumstances? sometimes i need to remind myself that it's about the big picture, not the right here right now. because often, the right here right now is no fun at all. but our reward is greater than this. our hope is eternal.

i understand that depression often draws people closer to God. i understand that growth happens in the valleys. but sometimes i just want to run from that. sometimes, i'm on a mountaintop and am so glad to be out of the valley, that i wish everyone was up on the mountain with me. there's a reason that we're all where we're at though. and maybe, for this season, my mountain high is meant to aid others in their valley low. clearly, however, i can't do it myself. i have to find my joy in Christ, find my strength there, and remember how far He's taken me.

maybe God is tossing me off cloud 9 to show me that there is still a lot i can learn. do my words always build people up? or in my sassy-ness, do i tear people down? am i patient, compassionate, and empathetic? why is it that it irks me when people rain on my parade? am i sympathizing with their heart, or look for my own selfish gain? humility seems to be the key to everything.

at the same time though, sometimes i think we just need to have fun, and we don't allow ourselves that. everyone is stressed, overwhelmed, emotionally burdened, or physically unwell - this shouldn't be the norm. i want to see people laugh, without feeling guilty about wasting time laughing. i want to see people go on adventures, without once mentioning the words, "i have so much homework to do when i get back." i want to see people get lost in conversation with each other, and come out of it feeling lighter than before. i want to see people love themselves instead of harping on their flaws. yesterday i had to remind myself that i am "fearfully and wonderfully made," and that my existence is a God thing, for His glory. this life is not about us, and the minute we stop thinking about ourselves, things fall into place.

{the joy of the Lord is our strength}

March 12, 2011

.a PiCtUrE a day.


surprise visits at work and handwritten boy's a keeper.


sunset on the beach. always breathtaking. always memorable. thank you Jesus.


2 hours skype conversations with my welsh adventurer.


floormates, roommates, forever friends.


these peeps are pretty cool. incredibly thankful for the best of friends.


on top of the world <3

stunning sunset. i can never get enough of those.

March 8, 2011

oh hey tuesday.

[i make time to plan. i plan to plan...silly, i know. but incredibly effective.]

{it hurts me to see people hurt, but it hurts more to see people lose their joy...not their happiness, their joy.}

[my foot just fell asleep. awkward.]

{we are such self-centered people. in darkness and in hard times, it's so easy to make it about us, when in all honesty, the quickest solution is to take the focus off us and place it onto others.}

[remember God in the good. so many people around me are in valleys right now, and in all of my awe & bliss, i'm struggling to remember to empathize with those who are in dark places. selfish me says, "stop raining on my parade people." God's heart says, "mourn with those who mourn, weep with those who weep." it's a two way street though, right?]

{my diet is slowly starting to consist of smoothies & coffee. balanced? probably not. delicious? yup.}

[never forget where you came from, and the lessons you had to learn to get here.]

{i see restlessness in so many people right now. restless in their relationships, in their walk with God, in their lives, school, work, you ever think that the reason God allows those tensions to happen is so that we'd finally learn to hand it over to Him? i know it's easier said than done...but there is so much peace as soon as we understand that lesson.}

[is it ridiculous that the thought of spending my tuesday night organizing makes me giddy? i love love love organizing. love it.]

{honestly, i'm struggling to not be brought down by others. all their pain and hurt breaks my heart...and it would be very easy to grow bitter about it. but God is nudging me to remember Him, remember the blessings, and not "fix" other people. i have to let go. i have to live my life for His will. we're all where we're because that's exactly where we should be.}

March 6, 2011

.a PiCtUrE a day.


coffee, chocolate, and surprise vists. days don't get much better than that.


goal: collect as many "hand" pictures of james as possible.

March 1, 2011

.a PiCtUrE a day.


look outs & mountains & stars & fresh air are my favorite:

[i have been blessed by such a thoughtful boy]