Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sing Me a Memory: You Are My All in All

You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my all in all....

Jesus, Lamb of God,
Worthy is your Name!

We sang this song in church today, and like so many songs, I have a strong memory connected to when I first learned it. It amazes me how memory works, that a few bars of a melody can bring back to mind everything about a time and place.

It was 1994, and I was a freshman in college. Three friends and I determined to drive from Grand Rapids, MI to my home in California for spring break. Straight through. Bathroom and fueling breaks only. Yes, we were probably certifiable. Sure! We can sleep sitting up. Sure! We can subsist and soda and pop tarts for two days straight. Sure! We can make it to Reno on the gas we have right now. (We did, by the way, no getting stranded in the Nevada desert.)

This was before the days when every car was equipped with a CD player, let alone a DVD player and 1.8 cupholders per passenger. So along the way, we kept ourselves entertained - and awake - by singing a lot, and one of the girls taught us this song. The chorus and verses can be sung in a round, so we divided into pairs and sang it over and over again until all of us had learned every word. And then we sang it again and again and again just because we could. Because on that little sleep, the acoustics inside the car rivaled that of any dorm room shower.

I can't help but think of that trip and those girlfriends when I sing this song. It's part of my history now, a piece of the puzzle that defines my life and my faith and who I am today. I sing it with a smile on my face and joy in my heart. I'm thankful for those friends still, and thankful for the great God who led us to a share a path for a bit of life's journey.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Missing Joan

Last week, I wrote about the "cheerleaders" in my life, all of you who have blessed me with your prayers and encouraging words these last few months. Also last week, I was reminded of one of the cheerleaders who is missing from my life, my Aunt Joan, who died two years ago. Something I read for one of my classes reminded me of her, and I found myself experiencing an intense sadness that she is now absent from my life.

Aunt Joan was a pretty special person to me. She was younger than my parents and married later than they did, so when I was a kid, she was always spoiling me and her other nieces and nephews. Among my relatives, it was she who had attended the same far-away college I did, and sent me fun care packages. She would have had some great stories to tell about me in the "most embarassing moments" category. "Fun" should have been her middle name. She loved life. Hers came to an end far too young, only 49, of dreaded breast cancer.

But last week, as I was reminded of her and thinking about all the great people in my life who've encouraged me this year, I knew without a doubt that she would have been among the most loyal and enthusiastic members of my cheering section. She probably would have had some really sarcastic comments about the stupid outfit, but she would have forgotten that when it came time to stand up and cheer.

I know, in some ways, she will never be absent from my life because of all the great memories I have of her. Just knowing that she would have cheered me on, whatever I do, is a great memory of who she was. But it sure would be nice to meet her for a latte and long talk. I would tell her how much I appreciate the love and encouragement she gave me, and thank her with a big hug.

Thanks, Auntie Joan. I miss you.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

How Many of Me?

I got an e-mail with a link to this site today. Basically, upon entering your first and last name, it calculates an estimate of how many others have your same name. Entering the common first and last name "Mary Smith" returns an estimate of over 40,000 people with that name.

Seeing as I know my last name to be relatively uncommon, I couldn't resist trying it out. I thought the odds were good that I would be unique. Here's my result:
LogoThere are
or fewer people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

I wasn't quite prepared to find that there are "1 or fewer people with my name." Logically, since I've entered my name, wouldn't that indicate that there is a minimum of 1? What would fewer than 1 of me would be like? Would I start disappearing like Marty McFly in Back to the Future when he interfered with the meeting of his parents in the past? Or maybe fewer than 1 of me could just involve losing a few pounds I don't really need hanging around. That would be OK.

You can click on the words How many have your name? in the box to find your results.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thankful Thursday: Cheerleaders

Classes just started last week, but in some sense, this grad school thing has been underway for six months already. In March, I started studying for the GMAT. In April I took the test and applied to SDSU... and no where else. In May, I found out I was accepted. In June and July I waited and prepared a little, and spent some time de-cluttering my life and my mind. In August, I worried.

All along, the cheerleaders were there, spurring me on, voicing their confidence in me when I doubted myself, and inspiring me to continue moving down this path one step at a time.

This week, the path got a bit trickier. I was expecting that last week. That my life would become completely insane overnight, and it didn't happen. But somehow I was completely surprised by a chaotic week this week instead. What, like it wasn't inevitable?

But the encouraging voices are still there, in e-mails and phone calls and in person. And when I've faltered this week, wondering what I've gotten myself into or questioning my abilities... I've heard a new voice over the chaos, confidently assuring me that I can do this. To my great surprise, it's my voice. The words are simply an echo of what the cheerleaders have been telling me all these months.

Thank you. Your encouraging words have been an extraordinary gift in my life. I am grateful.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I'm tired. I've actually been tired since the alarm went off at 5:45 this morning. I hadn't slept well on Sunday night, and a not-so-good night always catches up with me on the second day. So I'm very sleepy.

Today, I got all the way to campus with my notes for today's classes, my cell phone, my laptop... the parking permit even made it back into my car after I moved it to mom's car when I drove it last week. But for the first time ever, I managed to forget the power cord to my laptop. Ummm, hello? That's kind of essential. I only get about 2 hours of time before it shuts down to make sure all the important stuff is saved for the next restart.

Wouldn't be a big deal, but normally on Tuesdays I go to work in the afternoon and I definitely need the laptop then (I don't actually use it during classes.) So, an extra 40 miles and 40 minutes of driving today.

Reading I'd planned to do - needed to do - for tomorrow still isn't done. And nothing sounds as good as crawling into bed and passing out until morning. Not even ice cream.

That said, school is going fine. The pace is picking up after a slow start last week. I'm struggling to get back into a studying routine, mostly because of my procrastinating tendencies. But I am actually excited about some of the stuff I'm learning. In some cases not because the material is compelling... not one but two of my professors readily admitted their subject matter was boring... but because learning it will help me launch into a new phase in my career. And that's exciting.

Here's proof:

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"You Go, Girl!"

I've gotten pretty sloppy at keeping up my exercise routine these last few weeks. I sort of lost focus once I'd hit the 3-mile point. Although I have the 5K in about 7-8 weeks, I haven't figure out quite how to prepare for it from here. Although I can run 3-miles, I can't consistently do it, and I don't want race day to be an "off" day where I can't finish. I need to do some research on that to figure it out.

This morning, I forced myself to get out there and run, and got about 2 miles in before I slowed to a walk. As I approached the 1.5 mile mark, I was having an internal debate, trying to decide if I should stop there or go for the full 3 miles. As I jogged and debated, a cyclist passed me and called out "You Go, Girl!" A perfect stranger who decided to cheer me on gave me a boost of determination to keep going. I didn't make 3 miles today, but I felt good about sticking it out a little longer.

Random acts of kindness are a gift! Thank you, Ms. Cyclist, you made my day.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day

Today was great. I was expecting pure chaos, and instead was blessed with everything running as smoothly as possible, starting with my commute. SDSU is 50 miles from home, and the route is notoriously congested during commute hours. To allow for that, and time to find a parking place on a campus chronically short on parking capacity, I left at 6:45 for my 9:30 class. Words rarely fail me, but the only thing I could say as I pulled into a parking spot at 8:00 am was, "Thank you Lord!"

I immediately walked over to the main part of campus and started checking to-do's off my list, getting a jump start on what I'd anticipated would be an after class checklist. By 8:30 I was comfortably seated in the shade outside the bookstore, watching the campus mall get more and more crowded with students heading here and there. I wasn't brave enough to find out how long the line was at Starbucks. :)

By 11:30, I was finished for the day, having sailed through the first session of two of my four classes. Having expected to compete for a seat due to "crashers" (students who had not registered for particular classes, but hoping to add them) I was happy to find there were plenty of seats to go around. So far the work load seems manageable, and I was shocked to discover there are no papers expected in these two classes, only tests. Really?!? I think the last class I took without a paper or major project required was a 100-level math class.

So, tonight I have my other two classes. Carpooling looks like it's going to work out great, so that's lined up for today... everything seems to be going great.

I had been overly anxious about the beginning of things, as I just don't deal well with not knowing what to expect. I guess in the big picture, it's best to plan for the worst and be pleasantly surprised than to expect the best and miss a first class over not getting a parking place. In that regard, I don't regret the planning I did, I just wish I could have been a lot less anxious.

As I write, I'm reminded of Philippians 4:6-7...
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

I studied this verse in the Grace Bible study just a few weeks ago, and yet I didn't do a good job of following it's instruction. Thankfully, God watches over us constantly and I feel blessed that my day went so well despite my anxiety.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Raina's Wisdom

My friend Raina, who is 7, made this for me recently.
Sometimes the best lessons are found in the simplest truths.
Thank you, Raina!

***** ***** *****

***** ***** *****
The Squiggle Squirm
by Raina

Squiggle Squirm was a Book worm
and no matter how hard he tried he couldn't keep that Squirm out of him!
Then one day he tried so hard he could not move.
Then the Book worm finally realized he was made to squirm.
The end.