Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More about Kenya

I just got an email from my friend, Angela. She sent me this link. She was interviewed regarding the work she's started and that I'll be taking part in come September. You should definitely check it out! Then, if you haven't donated already, you should totally donate!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Give anything 20 years...

...and it comes back in style.

Just ask NKOTB. Summertime is their new hit. It was #1 on VH1's Top 20 Videos this morning.

Never did I think I'd see the day when NKOTB was back together, let alone back on top of ANY pop chart.

I never thought I'd see people in leg warmers or leggings again either.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A week in the life of

Just to recap my learnings from this week...

1. Sunday night at the Hollywood Bowl with Tanya and Rachel was AMAZING. I don't know what was better--the funky soul vibe of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings or the red cup party people on the bus to and from said event...oh, and then there was the throw back to SNL's Wild and Crazy guys (Rachel, I'm counting on you to post that video!)...and I can't forget to mention (for those of you who haven't read about this already) the fact that our bus BROKE DOWN on the way to the Bowl. Like I said: Amazing. Really.

2. I have a really hard time living a balanced life. I'm very extreme on a day to day basis. I think it's a mix of my own personal issues and a few Spiritual things going on around me that I can't see and therefore forget about.

3. It is good to read and think about new ideas.

4. Waiting in line 5 hours for a phone is somehow worth it (it might have been more worth it if we got 2 of them).

5. Sorbettos are good.

6. Frappuccinos are better (was there ever any doubt).

7. Friends who can laugh with you instead of at you when you almost flip a plate over and knock a knife off a table are the best kind of friends to have.

8. It's fun to see our friends as new parents.

9. I hate cleaning my house. If you come over right now, you would see that.

10. I hate fruit flies.

11. I love my husband and my daughter. Even when they drive me crazy. And especially when I drive them crazy.

Those are the basics of my life as they stand at this moment. Just thought I'd update you.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

100 push-ups

Well, I'm a little behind everyone else, but I just finished Day 2 of the 100 Push-up Challenge. Yay me! In way of update and shared experience, I offer the following:

After the first day, my abs did hurt more than my arms and, right now, if my forearms felt like the top of my arms and shoulders, I wouldn't be typing. There are 5 sets to complete. Then they lay out a minimum number to do for your last set, but you're supposed to eek out as many push-ups as you can at the end. I made it to the middle of number 18 and collapsed. I was grunting. I felt like one of those over-muscled guys at the gym who grunt loudly with every rep before angrily dropping the weights like it's somehow the weight's fault that they've pushed themselves to the point of painful fatigue.

And if I keep pushing, maybe I'll start to look like one of those guys at the gym. Or just a mom with a little less flab.

Things Bella likes

Last night, Christopher took Bella and I out hunting for a phone. While we were out, I decided to take Bella over to Starbucks to try this new taste sensation known as The Sorbetto. The gentleman taking my order was dumbfounded at the fact that I'd not yet tried one and mid-ring-up said, "Well, then this one is on me!"
We tried the Pinkberry Mango one. It was excellent. Bella enjoyed it as well. This is all the proof I've got...it's a little blurry, but you can tell it's Bella. And anyone who's had a Sorbetto, knows that's the logo (right, Liana?)!

We returned to the Verizon store with our Sorbetto, and, thank goodness, Bella made a friend. Otherwise she would have drank the entire Sorbetto on her own! This friend was, in fact, so taken with Bella, that her mom could not leave without giving me her phone number so that we can set up a date for her daughter and mine to play. Bella's drinking the Sorbetto again, but while they were in the store, they were holding hands and playing mimicking games. It was cute. (By the way, the little girl has been blurred to protect her identity. It has nothing to do with my phone's camera being a piece of crap.)

And one last thing Bella likes...this is new since I came back from New Orleans. She likes Mommy's purse. Or anything with a handle that can fit over her shoulder. Even if it's bigger and heavier than she is.

Am I in High School again?

I used to have a really bad habit of hitting the snooze button for an hour + before ever getting out of bed in the morning. For the last few years, I'd, for the most part, kicked that habit. I was down to about 20 minutes. I thought that was acceptable.

Until last week. For some reason, for the last week I've decided that it's a good habit to pick up again. So this morning, my alarm started going off at 6. I did not roll out of bed until 7. I think if anyone spoke to me right now, I might bite their head off (another habit from the good ol' days). I'm still exhausted, my head kinda hurts and I just want to crawl back into bed.

I have a severe lack of motivation and that has GOT to change. Yesterday I did manage to get a few things done around the house and Bella and I played together and read books. So today, my goal is to successfully care for my child and make it to all my appointments (Doctor for Bella, lunch with NOLA girls, teach, pick up baby and husband, equipping nights) and to do my 2nd day of the 100 push-up challenge. Dishes can wait. cleaning? Laundry (perpetual)? Working out (for real)? Not today, my friends. Today is a bare minimum simply make it through what is already planned out kinda day. There might even be some fast food involved for dinner (blah).

And I can assure you there will be a double shot of something involved this morning.

I'm talking espresso, people.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Today for you, tomorrow for me

Here's my question. How often do you think we live our lives thinking the subject of this post? "Okay, you get today, but tomorrow is for me."

I think I do it subconsciously, and I think it sounds more like this, "Yesterday (last week/last month/last year/etc.) was for you. Today is for me." I'm done trying to help you or think beyond my own 4 walls. I'm making today ALL about me.

It's unfortunate, because usually the 'yesterday' went really well. I can spend a day or a week thinking of someone else, but once it's over, it's like the rubber band effect. I'm done. I don't like that I have the capacity for this behavior. It disappoints me. It makes me sad for the other people in my life that I can be so selfish. I really do try, but there are days that I just fail miserably. And the worst part is that I fail because I want to...or because I decide to...not because I unknowingly do something ugly to someone. I absolutely know that I'm making decisions based on what Leanne wants and nothing else.

Does anyone else feel this way? If so, what are your thoughts and/or learnings on this topic?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

It happened again

I'm on my computer checking an email and Christopher is sitting on the couch on his computer. I haven't been looking at the screen for more than 5 minutes and I think, hey, I can "cyberflirt" with my husband since we both have AIM. So I click on his name and send him a cute little message, expecting at least a chuckle from the couch behind me.


I turn around, and there's my hubby, once again, passed out on the couch with his computer on his lap.

Oh, my husband. If only he could fall asleep in bed like a normal person.

Party anyone?

It's Saturday night. I'm at home alone (well, except for the sleeping baby). I don't think many of my readers know me well enough to know how absolutely awful that combination can be for me.

I'm a pretty social person. But I'm also committed to making sure my daughter is at home in bed at a decent time most nights of the week. So I don't feel it appropriate to pawn my daughter off on someone else just because I want to go out. So I'm home. Watching 2 Weeks Notice on AMC.

Woo. Hoo.

So...anyone up for a party? I'd post my address except that this is, after all, the internet; and, although I may be desperate for social interaction, I would prefer it not come in the form of what I like to call "crazy".

Friday, July 18, 2008

The start of something wonderful

Wednesday night was Revolution's first equipping night of this summer. It was awesome! I would guess there were about 50 or 60 (?) people there. Christopher shared his heart about who God is and how we need to be responding to Him in accordance with that instead of in accordance with who WE are or what WE need. He had us do an exercise where we had the word "GOD" on a blank sheet of paper and we wrote down all things we were thankful for or that we thought of in association with Him. I don't know how it was for everyone else, but this was a time of reverence for me. My heart was really opened to seeing things that I should be thankful for and be able to enjoy.

Rick Mysse then finished up the evening. I don't know about you all, but I have a really hard time listening to Rick sometimes and I just discovered why on Wednesday. He says so many important things in succession (sometimes without transition or connected thoughts) that my brain can't keep up. I counted at least 2 or 3 times where my head got stuck on something he said because it made me think in a way I never had before about a concept that *should be* old hat for a "good" Christian. The most important thing I think I got has to do with humility. I have spent so much time in my life praying that God would "humble me". I never got that He waits for ME to humble myself! He can't FORCE humility. He can strip our pride. But he can't force our hearts to soften.


And after all that, we simply prayed. It was so beautiful to see Revolution praying. We were in groups of 3-6 praying together for personal and corporate vision, for church unity and for love. And the greatest thing was at the end of the prayer time, when we were dismissed, almost no one moved. Our group prayed a little bit longer and then I looked up to see other groups still sitting and talking with one another.

It's the beginning, Revolution. It's the beginning of a new era. It's the beginning of an exciting time. Why? Because God is stripping us down to nothing and all we can do is pray. All we can do is ask God to do something. Anything. To use us. Somehow. To show us who He is...not what he (or we) can do.

And when THAT becomes our prayer, individually and corporately, God can finally do something.

Praise God.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Can't focus on anything but...

...Many of you know that Christopher and I are searching for a new home. We're not having a ton of luck. I just went out looking again yesterday, found a great apartment at a great price, and if we could move it over and up about 4 blocks, it would be perfect. We're still waiting to hear about the guy who snagged the apartment we wanted (the manager's going to ask if he would consider switching to the one that just came open).

And here I am in Downey. If my schedule went as planned today, this is how it would look: To Los Alamitos, back to Downey. To Long Beach, back to Norwalk, go to Artesia, then Los Alamitos, then Norwalk, Downey, back to wherever El Dorado is, then finally home to Downey. I don't want to drive that much. If gas were still under $3, then I'd consider it. But really? We have got to get out of here! Even a 2nd car wouldn't ease having to drive back and forth all the time since everything we do is in Lakewood, Long Beach or Los Alamitos.

Dear Jesus, PLEASE give us a new home. Close to our friends. Closer to the beach. That we can afford. That we can love. Please.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Grilled Goat Cheese and Roasted red pepper sandwich. That's what Bella's eating for lunch. Really.

We didn't have any other cheese except the swiss I know she doesn't like, so I thought, "Why not?"

And now my 16 month old child is happily eating goat cheese and roasted red peppers. Is that not the wierdest thing ever?

Dominic Angelo

Yesterday, Christopher and I got to meet Lori and Angelo's brand new baby boy and he's so beautiful! I am so incredibly happy for them! Congratulations, Alberico's!

It makes me want to have another one. ::sigh:: If only I wasn't in a wedding on the other side of the country 9 months from now. :o)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sleepy husband

It's 8:30 in the evening and I'm sitting at the computer killing time so I stay up slightly later than most grandma's I know. Christopher is sitting on the couch with his laptop talking incessantly about the intricacies of some kind of smartphone thing. The voice hasn't stopped for, not kidding, about 20 minutes. So I say, "Honey, has it been talking about the same phone this whole time? Honey?......Hon...."

And as I turn around, I see Christopher's head turned away from his computer, mouth opened, no sign of consciousness.

And the voice continues.

I think maybe I should let him know he can go to bed now. I know some people believe you can absorb information while you're sleeping through osmosis or something equally ridiculous, but I don't really think it's necessary at this point.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Our flight from New Orleans got in at 10:40ish on Sunday and I haven't stopped since! The rest of our trip was great. We got to spend some time in the French Quarter shopping at the Market, eating some more wonderful food (I couldn't believe how much a group of girls packed away in a week's time!), and debriefing what turned out to be an amazing week.

I was glad to get home to my family...especially to the above face. :o) I had Sunday to relax, swim, do laundry, etc. before my cousin flew in on Monday morning. Even though I was still exhausted from New Orleans, I wouldn't have traded her visit for the world. We haven't spent much time together since I went to New Orleans back in 2002...then her Mom died a couple years later and we stopped talking almost completely until the last 8 months. I've missed her and it was good to catch up. We spent some time at Venice Beach, Huntington Beach, Long Beach (we did the coastal tour of LA and Orange Counties) and the Queen Mary. We took her to La Creperie, which she was very grateful for. :o) And most importantly, she got to be around Bella for a few days. It's hard sometimes to be so far from family, so when Bella gets to spend time with the people I grew up around, I am very thankful.

Julie left yesterday and now it's time to get back to real life...at least until I head to Kenya the end of next month! Pray for us as we turn in more applications for apartments in Long Beach and as all the transition continues at Revolution. I don't know if I'll ever feel "settled" again...sometimes it feels like that's an idea of the past. But I really hope that we can find a place we can call home and really enjoy our neighborhood and our neighbors.

For now, I'll look at that little face and listen to Jack Johnson to remind me to be happy where I'm at. :o)

Friday, July 4, 2008

NOLA day 6--Happy 4th!

This morning started off much later than all our other mornings. I ended up waking up at 8:20...about 10 minutes before devo time! Kati and Angie (and Angie's 2 boys) brought over boxes of clothes they'd had in storage for a while that needed to be sorted in preparation for a $1 sale to raise money for their ministry. We had a great time helping them with that and then making sack lunches for them to hand out. They have a very deep sense of calling to the street ministry they do. They work with senior citizens, gutter punks, homeless, etc who live on the streets as well as any and everyone they come into contact with. They do most of their ministry in and around the French Quarter.

After our time with Kati and Angie, we set about getting ready to spend some time with Ms Doris. We wanted to help her with her house, but knew there were a lot of projects we either weren't equipped to do ourselves or we simply wouldn't have the time to finish. So we brought a gift basket and some dinner and simply spent time with Ms Doris and her family. It was a great time for our team to really see what it feels like to call New Orleans "home". It was such a blessing to simply be with those women and I know that even though we may not have done any hard labor, we were doing exactly what God wanted us to do.

At around 7:30, we said goodbye to Ms Doris, Elaine and Courtney and headed across the river (you know...the Mississippi River) to the Westbank. There's a place over there called Mardi Gras World. This is where most of the big floats and props for the Mardi Gras parades are housed. They hosted an all day event complete with face painting, mask making (which we missed out on by about 10 minutes), food, music, and free tours of the prop rooms. The festivities ended with a 6 piece jazz ensemble complete with a 2nd Line (you'll have to look that one up if you want to know what it is) out to the levee right before the fireworks began. We sat on the levee to watch the fireworks, then decided we should try using kati's blanket to slide down the hill on. Then we thought we should roll down the hill. Then we realized if one person sits on the blanket and 2 people pull it, you go down the hill a lot faster. It was like being a kid again. :o)

After we were sufficiently dirty and dizzy, Kati, Angie and the boys went home and the rest of us headed Uptown to meet Paul at Camellia Grill for some dessert. For those of you not familiar with the staples of the city, Camellia Grill is one of them. After the storm, the owners moved to Mississippi. People started leaving notes on the doors of the restaurant to "Please come back", etc. Someone asked the owners if they could buy the restuarant so it could open up again, and the owners agreed. So the new owner hired back all the old workers (the same guys have been there for years and years) and reopened without changing anything at all...except they now take debit and credit cards instead of just cash.

And now, after a minor run-in with Essence Fest traffic, we are home and once again snug in our beds (except me). I want to thank everyone who's been praying for us. God has really done amazing things for each one of us during this week and I'm very grateful for the opportunity to bring a team to serve a city I love. We've all learned so much and have been so inspired and encouraged by the people we have met. I hope you will ask about our trip. But don't just ask me...ask Karina, Jeny, Heather and Jessie. They have a lot to share.

We only have one more day left, and it's a pretty kick-back day. We will be making breakfast for a group of ladies in the morning and then doing some sightseeing and shopping in the afternoon, as well as tying up some loose ends and running a couple of errands. We will still look for opportunities on the streets and may even catch up with Kati and Angie while they're out doing their thing in the Quarter. It will be a pretty early evening because we have to leave at 3:45 Sunday morning to get to Gulfport. I may or may not do an update tomorrow night, so until the next time...


Thursday, July 3, 2008

NOLA Day 5

Today has been amazing. Most of the day up until around 3:30 was bittersweet. We had our last day with the kids today. On top of it being the last day, it was, yet again, our most difficult day with them. We had to cut out the entire last segment of the program because they just didn't want to cooperate with us this morning. I don't think it mattered much because, really, we were just glad to have the time with them. Even if they were difficult. I'd be difficult too if I had their lives. The most important part is that we did get to develop relationships with them and share God's love. Jeny was just sharing tonight how one little boy asked her if she loved him and she was able to say, yes, of course I love you. It's possible that that's the only time he heard someone say that to him today. Thank God for that opportunity.

Karina was finally able to come out and gut with us a little bit today. I don't think she expected it to be such hard work, but just like the rest of the week, she was a total trooper! We ended up calling it quits early again today...no, there weren't any more tetanus shots. There was a pretty big storm headed our way, so we needed to get all the tools in the truck and back to the office before it started. Metal and lightning don't mix.

Tonight, our team decided they wanted to invite Ms. Doris out to dinner with us. Ms Doris is a 78 year old woman who volunteers at BBC; we've been working in her territory everyday this week. So we took her and Angela out to La Madeleine (the most amazing place ever) and the girls were able to get to know her better and hear some incredible stories and life experience. Between dinner and meeting Ms Doris' daughter and granddaughter when we took her home, we heard a lot of their Katrina story. Their house is in the section of town that was only roof tops after the storm. Although they had evacuated to McComb (Mississippi), some other family members decided to stay at Ms Doris' home during the storm. They ended up getting flooded out and having to break through the window in the attic. The woman and 3 children were picked up by a helicopter, but the 2 year old was left because there was not enough room. The other adult rigged up a boat from an old tire to put the child in and swam to the interstate bridge that's about a mile from their house. They all survived, but as Ms Doris had told us earlier, she "lost a lot of people to that storm". And she still smiles and laughs and loves her life. She works at BBC because she feels like she's been given so much that she just wants to give back and meet people who can influence her life and vice versa.

When we did our high's and low's tonight at debrief, Ms Doris was almost everyone's "high" for the day.

So now we are all (sans me, of course) tucked away safely in our beds. We don't have our next assignment until 9am (praise Jesus!), and it's being delivered to us! We've been up and ready by 6:45 everyday so far, so the girls are all very excited for a little extra rest tonight!

On a personal note, God has been teaching me a lot this week about the power of a prayer said in faith. He's answered a couple very specific prayers of mine instantly this week. He showed me tonight that I talk a good game when I'm leading other people, but when I'm on my own, I have a serious lack of faith. He also showed me that my prayers are effective with others and that he listens to me at those times and that he can (and wants to) listen to me when I'm simply praying for me.

I pray I can learn that lesson and live my life knowing that my God is the one with the power and He is constantly on the lookout for me...just waiting for me to ask. After all, He is a Good Father.

My eyes are starting to shut. Goodnight to you and as always, there will be more tomorrow...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

NOLA Day......What day is it?

It's before 11pm on Day 4 and all but 2 of us are in bed already. Welcome to the middle of the trip! I'd say it's because of all the hard work, but I think it's because the girls had their first tastes of Nawlins snow balls tonight and they all crashed from the sugar high!

Our day started, once again, with VBS. Our time with the campers has been precious. Even though it's so hard to keep them interested or even under control at times, we really enjoy spending time with them and are very sad that tomorrow is our last day with them. If you are a guy and are reading this, I want to encourage you to find a way to come work with these kids. The director of the camp has expressed to us the kids' need for good male role models. The majority of the campers are boys, the majority of which are from single family homes where all they have are their moms. It's really hard for all these boys growing up without fathers and they need men to look up to...if only for a week.

In the afternoon, Karina and Heather stayed back at the office. Karina was with the kids and Heather did some work for Angela and used the opportunity to pick her brain about Kenya (Angela's the one I'm going on the trip with in September), her non-profit and life in general. Jessie, Jeny and I headed out to the house with Kyle (BBC) to do some more work. We cleaned out a couple rooms and worked on tearing down the last bit of dry wall and insulation. We posed for a few pictures hanging from the rafters; and then the day wouldn't have been complete without the garage door almost falling on us and a group of construction workers coming to help the 3 damsels in distress. Luckily, there were no more tetanus shots.

Tonight, we led worship for the Bible Study BBC leads on Wednesday nights. There were a lot of blips (forgotten words...technical issues, etc.), but I think it was a cool realization for all of us that none of that time was about how "good" it was. Every person who had a song or word of encouragement tonight was speaking through the Spirit (people besides us). And everyone in the room was looking for God. Not mistakes.

Just as an update, Karina is mostly back to 100%. Her throat was still hurting today (which is why she still hasn't gutted the house). Jessie slept last night and woke up feeling more like herself than she has in a long time (definitely since before this trip). Praise Jesus! Scripture says that the prayer prayed in faith can heal the sick and I think it's true. :o) Even though she wasn't "sick", any of you who have gone through sleepless nights knows it can be worse than sickness!

I'm about to head off to bed and get some much needed sleep. I'm exhausted! Tomorrow's our last day of VBS and I can already feel the relief. I know that sounds bad, but I struggle to not feel anxious when I'm in charge of something that takes a lot of planning and is not a set-in-stone type of thing. But I really have enjoyed the challenge...and redeeming myself from the first time I directed this particular VBS program. I think I've proved to myself that I CAN handle it. Go me. :o)

More tomorrow.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

NOLA Day 3

I'm going to try to make this a little shorter than the previous 2 days because, quite frankly, it's late and I'm tired.

Today went really well. VBS was good this morning. Our team heard a couple of stories that really helped give us a glimpse of what life is like for these kids. One child, Calin, lost his mom just 4 weeks ago. He's 7 years old. We've all noticed him being very clingy and affectionate with us, but now we know why. Please pray for him.

Karina was feeling well enough to come with us today, so she was able to be there for the VBS. However, by the time VBS was over she was starting to get that worn out day-after-the-flu feeling. Since I had to get a tetanus shot anyway, we dropped the other 3 girls off at the house, went to get my shot (we went every direction except the right one to get to the clinic, by the way), then headed over to the BBC office to see if they needed any help. We weren't there for more than 10 minutes when I got a call from Arthur (the Volunteer coordinator working with the other 3 girls) saying that, (1) Heather stepped on a nail, so you know the clinic you just went to? Yea, she needs to go now...and (2) The dumpster still had not shown up at the house and we can't do anymore work until all the stuff we've already knocked out can come out of the house. So that was the end of house gutting for day 2.

It worked out really well, though, because we were able to come back to BBC and play with the kids for a while before heading back home a little early to shower and take a quick tour of the Garden District before Kati, Paul, the Petersons and the Homs joined us for some of Ray's famous Shrimp Pasta.

After dinner, we all sat around the living room and heard Paul's "Katrina story". Not only did Paul grow up and live in Gentilly (a neighborhood demolished by the floods), but he was in college at the time at Tulane University, so his story has some different elements to it. We also got to hear the story of how he met his fiance shortly after returning from the storm. For a group of girls, that was a great addition!

At 9, we broke for a few minutes so our team could officially do a short debrief so everyone was free to go to bed. Jessie's been having a lot of problems sleeping this week. She's very literally exhausted and needs to sleep more than anything else right now. We prayed over her and her bed and we haven't seen her roaming in or out of the room yet, so my (our) hope is that God is showing himself faithful to our request.

A few of us took a quick trip out to Morning Call in Metairie for Beignets, then I took a liberty as the leader and driver of the car and swung by my adopted Mama's house to wake her up (as I usually end up doing when I come to town) and say hello. I can't come to this town and not at least see her for 5 minutes.

Now everyone is sleeping but me and I'm very quickly heading in that direction. Thank you to those who are reading these (very long) updates and keeping us in prayer. The team is really starting to function like a team and I'm really proud of us. I look forward to seeing what God does in the next few days in the girls and in the people around us. Keep praying!

Until tomorrow...