Thursday, July 27, 2017


Everyone has a story.

I often look at people and wonder what their story is.  How did they get here?  What circumstances transpired that shaped their personality or molded their character?

I've wanted to sit down and write something for a long time.  This is the fourth time I've tried to write a post since the wedding.  So much has happened.

The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. Job 42:12

I know this isn't really the "latter" part of my life if you consider the grand scheme of things but this season is technically considered the "latter" part... I'm the oldest I've ever been right now... and it has definitely been one of immense blessing.  There were moments in the past 8 years where I wasn't even sure that such things were even probable.  It's remembering those times that makes me so thankful for the present day... and also confident that whatever happens in this life... that it will all be OK in the end because God has and always will be watching over me.  Maybe I don't have fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, and thousands of oxen and donkeys but... maybe I've got the modern day equivalent?  Everything seems just as monumental to me anyway.

In the past year, I got married.  We got pregnant.  I changed jobs. We bought a house.  Is that equivalent to the worth of 22,000 animals?  I'm just gonna say yes.

Each of these major life events has a great faith story that goes along with it.  I'm just super thankful I've been given the opportunity to even experience these things.

After Anderson died, there were so many moments I wondered if he was my one and only chance at marriage.  I wondered if anyone would want someone with such a history.  I wondered if I would find anyone that I'd trust with my life again.  I buried the thought of having kids way in the back of a dark closet because I just couldn't even fathom that anyone would see me the way he did and want to marry me. He saw past my thorns and looked deep into my heart... and he loved me.  He loved me so much that he created a safe space for me to let down my guard and start to grow into the woman God created me to be.  I had never experienced God in such a profound way prior to the Anderson season of my life.  It certainly was a major turning point and has shaped so much of who I am today.

When I first met PB, I told him that God is preparing for him a woman who has eyes to see him like He does... precious and worth dying for.  I honestly didn't know if that person was me at the time. I knew he was struggling with his singleness, just like I was.  It's what I would have told any of my single friends.  Our relationship wasn't without hardships. There were moments when I wondered if staying with him was worth it or if I was just wasting my time.  It's really difficult to make those kinds of decisions.  There was no way for me to know how the future would unfold or if he would even see me as worth staying with either.  At one significant moment... I remember my anger and frustration with the relationship had turned me into a person that I didn't like.  I was yelling and hard-hearted.  It would have been completely justifiable if I decided to call it quits at that time, but after taking a long, hard look at myself and my behavior... I decided that this is not how I want to remember the end of this relationship.  I did not want to be the girlfriend that ruined him for all the next girlfriends.  I made a decision to make the most of the situation... if this relationship ended, I wanted it to end with us as friends who both decide that we're just not right for each other.  That's all dating is anyway...trying to figure out if you want to journey the rest of your life with this person.  It's just as beneficial to know that it's not working out and to end it rather than drag it out and hope for the improbable to happen.

And journey we did.  Things got a lot better after that point.  Now that we're almost coming up on our 1 year anniversary, I can confidently say that there's no person I'd rather journey with than my husband.  Throughout all the recent transitions... I feel that we've really grown so much closer... we talk through our decisions and we make them together.  We didn't exactly plan on getting pregnant so soon.  We weren't even sure if we would be able to have kids.  So many of our friends have had fertility issues.  And it was partly in the back of my mind that tragedy could strike at any moment.  My husband's philosophy is more of a "let's see how it goes" and I'm a little bit more like "let's plan for multiple contingencies just in case".  We could clash.  Or we could just complement each other.  We're both different... and that's OK.  We can still work together because we love God and we love each other.

There was one weekend very early in my pregnancy when I had started bleeding.  Since my baby was supposed to be the size of an orange seed, I felt like this bleeding was way too much for an orange seed to handle.  I was almost sure I miscarried.  Since we hadn't really planned on getting pregnant so soon and most of my heart was fearful at that point... I thought that I would just brush it aside in relief but that's not what happened.  I cried and cried and cried.  I cried over the soul I thought I wouldn't get to meet until we were reunited in heaven.  I cried over the memories I thought we'd never get to make together on this earth.  I didn't even know how I could cry so hard over someone I hadn't even met yet.  This happened in January, right when PB's PPO insurance kicked in.  We were able to get an appointment in a few days to get checked out.  When the little peanut-shaped lump showed up on the ultrasound, I squeezed PB's hand and started crying again.  She was still there.  There were times when PB would talk to my belly and tell the baby, "we thought we lost you, but we're glad you're still in there.  We can't wait to meet you".  It's moments like that that warm my heart.

I'm 34 weeks pregnant now.  I've become increasingly less mobile and more reliant on his help.  My ankles are fat.  My fingers are fat.  I feel fat.  Even getting in and out of the car... by the time I'm standing or sitting, I breathe a sigh of relief (or maybe huff and puff cuz my lungs are all squished) and say, "I made it!".  I've seen my husband grow more and more into his role as a husband as a result of my physical "weakness".  I've seen his servant heart come alive as the opportunities for service have increased exponentially as of late.  When we were dating, one of my friends jokingly said that God made me so capable so that I could be an amazing helper to my boyfriend/husband.  Maybe sometimes it's true but nowadays, I don't know how I could do this without him.  I'm sure there will be moments when we're trying to troubleshoot a fussy, crying infant that he will say the same about me... but I'm just super thankful that we're in this together.  Even though pregnancy is... not the most convenient season of a woman's life... I am super blessed and thankful that I have the opportunity to experience it.  It might be so "normal" for so many people, but I had so many "abnormal" experiences in my 20's that I'm just grateful to be able to experience it for myself right now.

As far as my new job... I wasn't even looking for one when the opportunity arose.  This was maybe a few months into our marriage and I think it was probably one of the first decisions we made together as husband and wife.  Someone I used to work with thought of me when an opening became available at his hospital and he reached out to me.  It took me a while to even consider the idea but I talked it over with PB.  We decided that overall, my job was really stressful and that it would be something I should consider.  We actually went to the hospital together to meet up with the surgeon.  We talked about it and decided to just leave the option open.  By the time I decided I wanted to pursue it, they'd already hired someone else.  But they did tell me to stay posted.  They didn't get back to me for many months and by the time they did want to offer me a new position that they created, I was already pregnant.  When I came in to interview for that position, I felt obligated to tell them of my change in status because I didn't think it was fair for them to hire me and invest so much time in training me and then I go on maternity leave.  Maybe it was too honest, but if I were doing the hiring, I'd want to know.  A few weeks later, they decided to offer me a part time position doing exactly the same thing I was doing at my old job, except with more help and also compensate me significantly for taking the job.  I talked it over with PB and we decided that I should take the job.  It was a step of faith.  It was a whole new hospital, whole new work environment, whole new coworkers and routine... but now that I've been doing it for a few months, I think we've both decided that it was the right decision to make. It really was like God knew what was best for me and was planning for it even though I wasn't even aware that it was a problem that needed to be addressed. This new job is a lot less stressful and everyone has been really supportive.  Maybe it helps that I'm pregnant and everyone's nice to the pregnant lady... also everyone wants to talk to the pregnant lady too so it's helped me get to know the coworkers a little easier, I think.  Maybe.  Who knows.  I used to wonder if getting pregnant and becoming a mother would turn me into someone that no one wants to talk to anymore.. if all I can talk about is baby and mommy stuff... but someone else told me that it actually makes me more relatable to more people since so many women are mothers... and not that many other women are nurses or widows, etc.  And I have found it to be true.  I still have a large soft spot in my heart for my single and unmarried friends.  I hope I don't become irrelevant to them as I move into this new season of life.

I know this is getting pretty long, but our last major milestone is getting a house.  We'd been looking for a bigger place since we got married.  I'd actually been looking into buying a place after starting work.  We liked our little 1-bedroom apartment.  We could have lived and raised a baby there.  I think we definitely could have made it work.  So many people have done more with much less than we had already so I was a little bit more of a "let's see how it goes" when it comes to house hunting.  We put down many offers and we were getting outbid every time.  I was somewhat disappointed but I kind of just brushed it off and did the "oh well" that usually comes out of PB's mouth.  There was one night when PB came home and he was noticeably down.  At first he said he was tired.  But when he's tired, he will just lay down on the floor and take a nap.  He ate dinner and still looked down.  I kept asking and eventually he told me, "are we ever going to find a house?".  I was pretty surprised that our house hunting was bothering him so much since almost nothing bothers him like this.  So we had a talk. We prayed together again about the whole thing... and I remember praying for my husband's heart to be lifted up.  I was pretty confident that everything would be OK and we reminded each other that no matter what happened, we'd get through it together. I think we did take a little break from house hunting for a bit... and then a few houses came on the market and we went to see them.  We put an offer down on one of them and much to our surprise, they actually accepted.  I was in disbelief for a very long time since we had almost grown accustomed to getting the news that we got outbid.  And then there are moments when PB will tell me, "I'm so glad we didn't get (such and such) house".  We'll often pass by houses that we bid on and say, "remember that one?" and then we'd talk about the pluses and minuses of those houses.

I sometimes pass restaurants or places where PB has taken me out on dates and I remember how I felt about him at that particular moment.  There's a Japanese restaurant nearby our house where we went on one of our first dates.  He actually told me to meet him at a Japanese restaurant on Baldwin... not realizing that there are two Japanese restaurants near Baldwin and Huntington... (this happens to us many times... like when he tells me to meet him at the In-N-Out off the 10 fwy... and there's like 3 possible locations... and we've met at different ones on multiple occasions)...  and anyway... that particular date, he brought me an ace bandage because I had come right after a softball game and my knee hurt.  I miss playing softball.  Anyway... looking back at that moment... I am so in awe of how far we've come since then.  This man who brought me an ace bandage is now the father of my baby... my husband... the person who sees me every day and every night... with my hair all crazy... with boogers in my eyes... with a bulging belly and ugly comfy shoes on my feet... and still manages to remind me that I'm still beautiful to him.

We often ask each other, "can you believe we bought a house?" and we both say "no".  "Can you believe we're going to have a baby soon?" "no".  "Can you believe we got married?" "no".  I would have answered the exact same way many years ago.  I cannot believe all this stuff has happened.

I didn't really intend this post to be about my husband when I first started writing.  I do have friends that haven't seen me in a long, long time and ask me, "what's he like?".  I guess this post is an answer to that question.  He wasn't always like this... but after all that's happened... I've really seen him grow so much and so quickly.  This is who he is today... through the eyes God has given me to see him not just for who he was, but for who he is and who he will continue to grow to become.

I know we haven't been married too long and we don't often show a lot of affection to one another on social media but I do have to say that I feel like our love has grown in so much depth this past year.  I feel like it's a little like... how the roots of some trees will tend to dig down deeper the stronger the winds blow.  Going through huge transitions in life could be super stressful, but I think it's only drawn us closer as a couple, made us look to God more.  I am confident that even if tragedy or disaster does strike... that the God who was faithful to me in the past... who has carried me through the roughest, darkest, most agonizingly painful seasons of my life... is the same God who will continue to take care of me and see me through all the other seasons of my life as well.  Maybe it seems "easy" for me to say that now that things are in such a good place but only time will tell.  I guess that's it for now.  Not sure how long it'll take me to post again... maybe by then the baby will be months old.  If I have enough energy to continue to write.  I barely had enough brain power to write today.  Baby brain is real, people.

I'll end with this... PB said something to me right after we got married and it's stuck with me since then... he said, "thank you for giving me a chance. You won't regret it".  I'm glad that even though I didn't know I had eyes to see him like God did... that I trusted God's eyes to see for me through all the uncertainties and through the fog of these transitions.  He knows what's best and His way is better than mine 100% of the time.  OK... better go now!


Friday, August 12, 2016


So.  I'm getting married tomorrow.

I haven't blogged in a while.  I feel pretty rusty.  It's also pretty early in the morning and I haven't gotten much sleep lately.  I wanted to take a little time to process life before this milestone though.  It's a big one.

How do I feel?  I feel OK.  I'm not nervous. I'm not anxious.  People have been asking me if I'm ready and if everything's all set and done.  My answer is usually, "yeah... whatever's done is done and whatever's not done won't be and it's OK.  Everyone's just gonna hafta figure it out for themselves."  I'm pretty sure it's just to make conversation but I'm pretty darn ready.  I think I've been ready to take this next step for a while and the wedding is just another line to walk across before I start the real journey.  Maybe it's like the Israelites crossing over the Jordan river and entering the promised land... yes... I've been wandering the wilderness for a long time and I am pretty darn ready for it to be over.  There is a battle coming... I know there is... but I also know that there are a lot of God's promises waiting for me on the other side of the river... and victory is guaranteed.  I just need to engage the giants and the land will be mine to claim.  I want to be like Caleb.  He eyed it, he made his goal, and he fought for his land and staked his claim... full faith, full courage, and full vigor.  I'm not afraid.

I heard this song on the radio the other day called "Dear Younger Me" by MercyMe.  It made me stop and think about what I'd say to my younger self.  What would I want to tell her?  There were definitely moments of despair where I felt like I would never find a man who'd love me or who would want me... who'd take me on... all my history and everything that I am... but I recall so many times where Jesus sat by my side in those moments of despair and reminded me that the answer to the question that Satan would always use to break my heart... "who would want you?"... is and always will be Jesus himself... and that He is more than enough to cover all my needs, all my hurts, all my pain, and every ache and groan of my heart for something more.  He is enough.  And yet, He also provides above and beyond what I can ask or think... He's provided me another man to journey alongside, to enjoy and to challenge me to grow into a new and different version of me... Tiff, the wife.

It hasn't been easy, but there's been much... opportunity... to grow and practice my faith and love.  I think I might want to tell my younger self to cherish every moment of every day.  Make the most of the time when you're single because it is just a season of life... and you've got the time and mental capacity to work out as many kinks and release as much baggage as you can before you transition into another season of life.  The less baggage you come in with, the less you hafta work through.  When I moved here for work... I felt like... man... school is finally over and now I get to work and make money... but once I started working, I felt like man... stuff just got real.  I thought school was hard.  School was protected.  Grading is "real" but it's still safe.  You get a bad grade and you basically get a do-over.  I get a bad grade now and it's real... it's on my license... it's on my record... and these are real people with real health situations.  I'm prescribing and I'm treating.  This is the big time.  It feels like this with dating as well.  When I was single, I learned and I practiced but if I messed up, it was just me and God.  We worked it out.  I maybe needed to work stuff out with someone else but it seemed pretty simple.  Nowadays, PB is here.  When I mess stuff up, it's not just say sorry and it's done.  It's every day.  I hafta change it or the problem keeps coming back over and over again in daily life and now there's someone who sees me everyday and who knows me at home or in the world and I can't get away with things anymore.  It's accountability.  And a husband is a little different... he's also a person who's got his own stuff to work through with God and now we're in it together so our issues just magnify.

OK... I've got an analogy that helps me through our conflicts.  It's the tandem bike.

Both of us have biked on our own... it's one of our favorite things to do together.  He was more a mountain biker and I'm more of a road biker.  He's left handed; I'm right handed.  You would think that putting us on a tandem would be easy since we both bike but it was not easy.  The first time we rode tandem, we were on vacation.

Riding while we were on vacation was easy.  We weren't really trying to go anywhere.  We rode along a path at a park.  It was slow and leisurely.

The second time we rode tandem, it was for a purpose.  I'd signed up for a 20 mile bike race + half marathon.  I pondered why I was so crazy in signing up for that combo when I'd never run a half marathon before and I hate running, especially long distance running.  I thought that maybe if we rode tandem, it would give me a little break... and maybe we'd finish faster so that I could start the half earlier.  I know myself and it would probably take me 1.5 hours if I rode at a leisurely pace... and if I wanted to push myself, I could do 20 miles in maybe 75 minutes... but I'd ridden tandem with a friend before and we averaged over 20 miles per hour on that thing so it was an idea worth testing out.

It turned out it was not a great idea for me and PB to do a bike race on a tandem.  It was actually really difficult.  When we were doing our leisurely ride, it didn't really matter how we started as long as we started.  When we were trying to bike for speed, it got more frustrating when he wanted to start with his left leg and I wanted to start with my right.  When we were on the tandem road bike we were also wearing bike shoes and were clipped in.  We were forced to pedal at the same cadence.  I also had a speedometer on this bike to see how "fast" we were going and we were going much slower than I anticipated.  I thought if we combined our "power", we'd yield higher speed.  Not so, my friends.  And on the back of the bike... I pretty much have no control over how we're "driving" and especially no control of how "we" were braking.

On a river trail, it's pretty flat.  The only variation is really the underpass below a bridge and it's a very small dip followed by a small climb.  My method is to accelerate during the decline and use the momentum to propel me up the incline.  His method was to stop pedaling on the decline and start pedaling on the incline.  When I got frustrated and asked why he stopped pedaling, he said he was resting, and I said, we need to go faster when we go downhill so we have enough momentum to get this big, heavy bike up the incline... (Ok I may not have said it like that, but that's what I meant to say) but it wasn't up to me.  He was in front and he was "driving" and no amount of me biking as hard as I could would make up for the fact that he stopped pedaling.  I'm not weaksauce but I physically cannot keep the tandem going on my own.

On the back of a tandem while we're on vacation... it was great.  I could take pictures... soak in the scenery... I could drink water... I could do a lot of things on the back of a bike that I wouldn't be able to do if I were on my own.  On the back of a tandem when I want to go faster than we're actually going... it was incredibly frustrating.  It was good pondering time.  I thought about why this time was so frustrating.  I gave up on the idea that racing on a tandem would be a good idea for me and PB.  I also thought about my own behavior and how difficult I was being.  Pushing him to go faster was not really working for us.  LOL.  All it did was make me more frustrated, make him more flustered, and generally make for an unpleasant bike ride.  It was ruining one of our favorite activities.  And also... he was getting tired.  He's not used to riding such a heavy bike or increasing his cadence or biking like a road biker for speed.  He wasn't used to having grip shifters and brakes or using curved handlebars.  I'm used to it, but I'm still not that great at it.  Eventually, I had to stop pushing so hard and just go with his pace.  I slowed down my cadence to match his... and I stopped complaining about how slow we were going... I started trying to encourage him.  Mostly because he was cramping, which made us go even slower, and he was overall pretty miserable.  I tried to pick up the slack and push myself to pedal harder so we could get back to the car faster but I could only do it in short bursts before my legs got too tired.  I just had to keep telling him that "we're almost there" and "you're doing great".  I couldn't care about speed anymore... just had to try to make it back to the car and hopefully not ruin him for the next bike ride.

I thought about how dating or marriage is kind of like riding a tandem.  When we're biking on our own bikes, we just need to match speed and we're OK.  We could be on different gears... high cadence on low gear or low cadence on high gear.. doesn't matter as long as our speed is similar.  Our own bikes are also much lighter than a tandem.  It's less weight to pull... and we're only pulling our own body weight.  The tandem weighs more than the combined weight of our two bikes and we need to pull each other.  On  the one hand, I don't need to "drive", but on the other hand... I need to sit back and trust his driving judgment.  I needed to submit to him and support him and not backseat drive.

The way we bike... is similar to the way we live our lives.  It's just a difference in philosophy... I will bike harder when it's easier to prepare me for incline ahead.  He will coast when it's easier and then start working harder when the incline hits.  I saw this philosophy of life come out while we were wedding planning.  I put a lot of work in at the beginning, hoping that when it came closer to the day of the wedding, everything would be done and I'd have more time to just rest.  He tended to procrastinate and he got more stuff done closer to the wedding date... and even to the very last minute or beyond a deadline.  It still ended up being OK.  People extended us a lot of grace, but it was frustrating trying to work together.  In retrospect, I can see how it helped us get things done.  When we first started wedding planning work was a lot slower for me so I had more mental capacity and time to get a lot done.  The past few weeks, work has gotten crazy and I just didn't have enough capacity to go home from work and get as much done as I used to... but then he tended to get more done towards the end.  I'm thankful that both of us aren't procrastinators and that I got so much done upfront and earlier.  It did help us in the last few weeks that I'd already laid a pretty good foundation.  Man, it was frustrating though.  Wedding planning was more like racing on a tandem.  I'm hoping that real life is gonna be more like tandem on vacation but who knows.

Being on the back of that tandem helped me realize what marriage is gonna be like.  No longer are we two single people pulling our own weight side by side.  We are going to be two people on one bike... pulling each other as one person drives.  It's not a demotion.  It's just a change in position.  I'm to be an encourager and a helper and he's to be the leader and driver.  In order for us to have a good "bike ride", we need to work together, adjust to each other, set some mutually acceptable goals and then just do it and most importantly, enjoy the ride.

Two become one.  It's hard, yo.

Dear younger me
Where do I start
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
Then you could be
One step ahead
Of all the painful memories still running thru my head
I wonder how much different things would be
Dear younger me, dear younger me

Dear younger me
I cannot decide
Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life
Or do I go deep
And try to change
The choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me
Even though I love this crazy life
Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride
Dear younger me, dear younger me

If I knew then what I know now
Condemnation would’ve had no power
My joy my pain would’ve never been my worth
If I knew then what I know now
Would’ve not been hard to figure out
What I would’ve changed if I had heard

Dear younger me
It’s not your fault
You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross
Dear younger me

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed

Every mountain every valley
Thru each heartache you will see
Every moment brings you closer
To who you were meant to be
Dear younger me, dear younger me

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed [x3]

Not sure how I want to end this post.  Wanted to say that I'm thankful for this transition in my life.  I'm thankful for PB and the conflict he brings.  I'm thankful for his grace and forgiveness when I backseat drive and then apologize later.  I'm thankful that he paid for that bike race and did it with me... and woke up super early and packed up our bikes and drove us to Long Beach.

I'm thankful for God's provision and His promises.  I'm thankful that Jesus sat with me in the pits of my despair, walks with me on the beach of leisure, and runs with me in the halls of the hospital at work.  I'm about to cross over the Jordan and marry my Promised Man.  

I wrote my future husband a letter in October of 2011.  I think I'll end with that. Thanks, younger me, for helping future me.  

Dearest Beloved,

From the deepest depths of my heart, with every fiber of my being, I want to tell you that I love you.   

I... have nothing to say to defend myself.  I've made mistakes in my past and I cannot change them.  I wish I would have been wise and respectful to you and I wish I had waited for God to bring you to me rather than to compromise for a temporary, fleeting, fleshly gain.  I implore your forgiveness for my foolishness and blatant disregard for you and your feelings.  God had already told me that He has amazing plans for me.  I'm so, so sorry I didn't believe them with full faith throughout my entire life.  I... hope that you will forgive me and accept me as I am.

I know I may not be who you imagined or who you would have wanted to marry if you ever dreamt about it when you were younger.  I know you probably would not have chosen to be the second husband to a widow... you probably would have wanted to be someone's first and last.  And I know it takes someone very special not only to love me, but to love who I love... even if it means also loving my love for my first husband, which I am not sure will ever go away.  It is a lot to ask and I do not take it lightly that you have knowingly taken this burden as part of loving and carrying me... and entrusting me to be your helper and also maybe the mother of your children and queen of your household. And yes, honey, that makes you king.  

I cannot change the past... I can only do what I can from now on to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ... and worthy of your love.  I hope that I will not forget... I hope that from this moment on... the commitment I am making to you today... before I see your face smiling at me from the end of the aisle... will warm your heart and reassure you that I am wholly yours.  I will not split my heart again.  I am dedicating myself to loving and pursuing our God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength... preserving what I have, allowing God to grow me, mold me, and restore me... and guarding the best of me for Him... and also for you. 

Thank you for loving me and thank you for wanting to embark on the epic adventure of life with me at your side.  I love you and I'm excited... for us.  It's gonna be awesome!


p.s. you look hot in that tux.  or suit.  or whatever you're wearing when you're reading this.  Jeans?  Pajamas?  

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Bike, Work, Soap

Hello friend,

It’s been a long, long time.  For the past 7 years, I updated my blog at least once a month… to update you on the Tiff-happenings.  I haven’t written since March.  A lot has happened. 

I went to a funeral today.  My great uncle passed away on Christmas day.  It was unexpected.  It made me think.  It made me feel.  It made me wonder... if today were my last day on earth... would I regret not doing something, saying something, or reconciling something.  

I try to live everyday without regrets.  I try.  I don't always succeed.  

I started this post in May.  I added more every few months.  It's pretty crazy how much things have changed.  I wish I'd just posted the bits and pieces as I went along but I didn't so... oh well.  

I'm just going to "finish" it even though it might not really be "done".

There are seasons in our lives when we are training or preparing for something… and then there are seasons in our lives when we need to do what we’ve trained/prepared for. 

Two analogies. 

I mountain bike occasionally.  I’d like to do it more often.  I haven’t ridden a bike hardly at all since April.  There's quite a difference between saying you're a mountain biker and actually mountain biking.  It's easy to call myself a mountain biker.  It's not so easy to actually do it.  So there’s a route that I often take with a friend.  I’ve done it maybe 3-4 times.  Each time was different… but the last time I rode it… it was very different because I rode it alone.  My friend and I were supposed to meet up and go together but stuff happened and it ended up I had to start by myself.  It was scary.  I’d done it before so I knew where to go but it’s different when I’m not following someone else’s lead.  There’s also no signal during the ride.  Once I start… I have to finish otherwise my friend and I might not be able to find each other.

This particular route has some fairly decent hills.  They’re not impossible, but they’re also not super easy for a rider at my level.  I know it’s not just me… but I enjoy doing things with other people… especially working out.  I will quit so much faster when it’s just me by myself.  The route starts out fairly flat.  It isn’t so hard at first.  And then the hills start and there’s one climb after another with small breaks in between.  Every single climb everything in my body wanted to take a break.  My legs were burning, my heart was pounding… and in my mind I wanted to just unclip and stop… no one’s looking.  No one cares if I stop or not.  But I kept hearing my friend’s voice… “just take it easy.  Breathe.  Almost there.” And I also heard another friend’s voice… “push, then pull… push then pull… all the way up the hill…” and I was able to make it… one hill at a time. 

Midway up one climb… the chain came off the gears.  I’m not sure what the technical term for it is.  It hasn’t happened to me very often.  The last time my chain came off, a nice man was passing by and he put it back on for me.  I looked around… there was no nice man to help me.  It was just me.  So I put the chain back where I thought it was supposed to go.  I tried to ride again but it came off again.  I almost felt like giving up at that point… but I decided to try one more time.  I put the chain back the way I thought it should be… and I started riding again.  It stayed on this time.  And I just kept going.  

Up and up and up.  Part of me kept wondering “am I there yet?” and looking around… I had my answer.  No.  I hadn’t arrived yet.  Keep going or turn back…?  Keep going. 

Despite my loneliness... and the chain coming off twice... I actually finished that ride with a personal record.  Amazingly enough.  It didn't feel like one tho... but just because it didn't feel like it... doesn't make it any less a personal milestone.  It's a PERSONAL record.  It's a big deal for me... even if someone else could have done it 10 minute faster than me.  

Second analogy.  

I was listening to the radio and the speaker was saying how a lot of being a Christian at church is like hanging out in a toolshed on the eve of a harvest.  We can hang out in the toolshed.  Pick our tools.  Learn new techniques.  But were we meant to stop there?  Weren't we in the toolshed in the first place in order to actually go out and harvest?  There's a time to be in the toolshed... and then there's a time to take those tools, use them, and be a farmer... harvest the crop we've sown.  That is the whole point.  

I've been struggling a bit with my identity this year.  There have been moments recently where I've asked myself "who am I?" and I honestly couldn't say I recognized myself.  Struggling with my identity feels a lot like... I'm standing in a dark room.  I can't see anything.  I can't feel anything.  There's just a whole lot of nothing.  I'm going with the flow of... something... that I don't even know.  

I am a nurse practitioner.

When you're in school to be a nurse practitioner... it's hard... but it's still protected.  I had plenty of meltdowns in nursing school.  I left clinicals crying my way home.  This past April... I cried at work... in the middle of a meeting with my preceptor and my director... as they were trying to tell me how to be better at my job.  It hit me in the middle of the meeting that I was in the middle of remediation.  Which meant that I was about to fail at my job.  I've never really failed at anything.  

The first month I started working there was a record low in the number of surgeries we had.  I think we only had 7 surgeries the entire month.  That meant that my preceptor and my surgeon could spend more time teaching me and showing me things.  It was amazingly good timing for me.  

The second month I started working, it got really busy.  We had 21 surgeries.  Seeing as we try not to do surgery on the weekends, that meant that there was at least 1 surgery per day that I was working.  For the most part though, the patients were fairly healthy.  It was pretty quick turnaround.  Got 'em in... got 'em out.  Since the volume of work was so heavy, and also since I was still so new... my preceptor slowly gave me more and more responsibility, but we worked together.  Side by side.  I got a crash course in what it looks like when my job is busy.  I got a chance to put into practice what I had learned theoretically the previous month.

In the months to follow, my work got "easier".  Or more like I was starting to get used to it.  Things were fairly manageable... and then April hit and we got SUPER DUPER busy.  We had a record high 31 surgeries in April.  That meant that there was at least one surgery everyday... oftentimes two in a day.  My cardiac surgery ICU only has 4 beds in it.  If I'm receiving two surgeries a day for multiple days in a row... it got harder and harder to find space for the patients.  And our patients were really sick.  Many of them needed more than our usual 2 days in the ICU.  I had patients everywhere.  And more coming.  It was in the middle of April that I found myself completely and totally overwhelmed with my workload.  I really couldn't handle it.  In the middle of that meeting... I had a meltdown.  I cried.  Pretty hard.  The overwhelming sense of failure was oppressive.  And not only that... having my director and preceptor tell me, in a VERY nice way, that I need to do better... was almost like adding a crushing weight on top of an already oppressive situation.

At the end of the meeting... I had a whole big list of things I needed to do in order to do my job better.  And... the only choice I had was... to just do it.  My superiors made it very clear to me that they wanted me to do well and they wanted me to succeed.  I could take their feedback in two ways... (1) let it crush me (2) let it make me better.  I chose to listen, put into practice what they told me, and just TRY to do my job better.  I wasn't sure that I would actually BE better but I could try.  So I did.

I had moments during that month when I felt really lost.  I felt like I was drowning in my work.  It was hard to smile.  It was hard to do anything other than put my head down and just work, work, work as much as I could.  I can barely remember what happened in April.

The following month we had another 21 surgery month.  It got better.  I heard their voices telling me what I needed to do.  And at our next remediation meeting, they both told me that I'm doing a lot better.  Praise Jesus.  I'm thankful that things got better fairly quickly.  I was talking to one of the charge nurses a few weeks ago.  She told me that when I first started, she thought I wasn't going to last.  But she said that recently, it's gotten a lot better and she said she could see us working together as a team.  While it was somewhat shocking to hear someone else see me like that... it was reassuring that she verbalized that she saw a change and that it was for the better.

I still have a LOT to learn in my role... but I think that things have gotten a lot better at work.  April and May were like trial by fire.  Thankfully things slowed down a little after that and I could process a little more.

Things got crazy again in October and November.  December has been a little bit better but all in all, work has been pretty tiring.  I'm still learning a lot everyday and whenever I have a particularly difficult day... I have to stop myself any chance I get... even if it's on my rare potty breaks... to close my eyes, take a breath and remember... that it is a great big blessing to have a job.  And also... if it were super easy, they wouldn't need to pay me this much to do it.  Choosing to be thankful has been a  good way to anchor myself to what is true... which is that I don't deserve anything... and that every good gift comes from above.

Speaking of gifts... if you've been on my facebook any time in the past 7 months, you'll notice another big transition in my life.  I started dating.  I guess I'd been going on dates for the past few years but now... for the first time in a long time... I have a boyfriend.  And it has been a beautiful gift from God.

I am a girlfriend.

If there were ever a time where you could say that stuff got real... it would be in a new relationship.

Let me just say that dating in your 30's is a lot different from dating in your 20's.  Or maybe it's because I'm different now in my 30's... and not nearly the same person as I was in my 20's.

Anyway... I think PB came into my life with beautiful timing.  During my first round of work hardships... he was there for me.  He didn't know me that well, but he took me out on dates... he planned fun things for us to do... and at the time, it was enough to distract me from the craziness of work.  Now that he knows me better and things have gotten crazy at work again... he's able to be a rock for me and to help protect and cover me throughout the workday and also afterwards when I need to just vent or cry or talk (or not talk) about the workday.  He might hear jibberish since he knows very little about what goes on in a hospital... but he listens.  And I like the sound of his voice.  He is the friend that came into my life when I was navigating through rough waters.  And now we're trying to figure out how to navigate life together.

Navigating life with another person in the boat has been a challenging adjustment, but it's been worthwhile.  I've learned a lot about myself.  I've learned a lot about relationships and marriage.

One of the most important lessons I've learned is that making decisions based on wisdom and character is more worthwhile than making decisions based on my feelings.  Feelings are important, but they come and go.  Being wise about my decisions means I need to be rooted in the source of all wisdom as much as possible and also collaborate with other wise people to help me figure out the wisest course of action.


There were moments in the relationship where I had no idea what I should do.  I didn't know whether or not I was supposed to continue in the relationship or to leave it behind.  Things were difficult.  Conflicts seemed to be everywhere and I didn't know if we'd ever agree on a resolution.  At some point... I became so conflicted that I got angry.  I was frustrated.  I didn't know what else to do so I lashed out in anger.  For 3 days straight.  I yelled.  I was difficult.  I was argumentative and unyielding.  And I hated being that way.  I was just so tired of being sad, but being angry didn't help at all.  I ended those 3 days feeling worse about myself and about the relationship.  And then... there was the soap.

So... My friend gave me this interesting kind of soap from that fancy soap store "lush" or something like that. It's supposed to be a mix between shower gel and a bar of soap but it feels a lot like a jello jiggler that you're supposed to rub on your body like a bar of soap. It's also this ugly shade of poop brown and smells like candy. Anyway. I was thinking about trashing it and buying normal body wash but I haven't. I've been using it because I didn't want to waste it. And today I showered with the loofah mittens and grabbed the jello soap and after a while the mittens became soapy and I didn't have to rub the weird jello soap all over my body cuz there was enough soapy transfer onto the mittens so I could take a normal shower. 

And because a picture is worth a thousand words... That's the shower jelly. It looks disgusting.

As weird as it sounds... I feel like maybe my boyfriend (or any other situation where things weren't what I expected...) is my weird jello soap. Maybe I just need to change my perspective on it even jf it is just for this season. It is still soap and it will still serve its function. Just need to figure out how to work with it and not get hung up on the weird things about it. Even though I might not have bought this soap for myself... Maybe in this season where I don't have normal soap... I can figure out how to use the weird soap so it's not just sitting around doing nothing... It's serving its purpose.

After I had my soap realization... I decided that I was going to make the most out of the relationship. I wouldn't waste it.  I would learn what I could... I would make the most impact possible... I would love with all I had in me... I would try and behave in a manner where if I looked back on this season of my life, I wouldn't regret what I'd done or said... and most of all, I would try to enjoy the relationship as much as possible.  Regardless of what happened... if we continued the relationship or ended it... I wanted it to be a good experience for the both of us.  I wanted for both of us to get through this season convinced that it was worthwhile and beneficial and if we ended it, we'd end it together knowing that separating ourselves would be the best and wisest course of action.

That was the turning point.  It wasn't necessarily about streamlining the journey to get to the destination... it was about enjoying the process and soaking up everything I could along the way.

When things get hard, I realize that I do hear wisdom coming to me and telling me what to do.  Forgive.  Discern.  Love.  Extend grace.  Be clear.  Communicate.  I might not know exactly how each specific situation will resolve, but I do know how I want my actions to be characterized by.  I want them to be full of love and grace.

I'm so tired now.  I'm not even sure if anything made sense but this post has been sitting in my drafts for 9 months so I'll just post it... if anything so I can finally start a new one.

Hope you all are well...

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Slow Run

I think today I want to write about running.  And I don't think I can write about running without writing about the two people that have encouraged me to start running more lately... my cousins, Jenn and Connie.

In addition to signing up for my first bike race... I signed up for a half marathon in October.  I know it's not a huge deal to a lot of people who run half marathons in their sleep but it's a big deal for me... because... I hate running.  

I actually started biking because something weird happened with my hip a couple years ago... I was running and then it felt like a knife got rammed into my SI joint within the first half mile and would twist every time I ran a step so I gave up running and then took up biking because my hip didn't hurt while I was biking.  And then I have no idea what happened... oh... I think I signed up for the triathlon so I started to run again... just a little bit... but then I bought expensive running shoes because I thought it might help... it sort of helped.  But I still hated running.  At least after the triathlon I knew I could run a 5K without stopping.  That was the first time I'd run that many miles without walking.  So... 3 miles was an OK running goal.

I was running 10 minute miles and pushing myself to go faster... but finding that I wanted to quit way early... way before my 3 mile goal.  But whatevers.  Running 1 mile is better than running no miles.  

I seriously don't know what happened after that but... I think we (Connie, Jenn and I) decided to go running on a weekly basis... I'm not sure for what reason... or maybe they go running on a weekly basis and I decided to join them but our running sessions really helped change my perspective on running.  Running wasn't about going hard or pushing to go faster... it was about pacing ourselves and also... talking and enjoying each other's company along the way.  

I took this picture at the beach.  I'd done this ride many times before but for some reason a few weeks ago, I felt like God was telling me to listen to the road and slow down.  When I started running with Jenn and Connie... we ran 12 minute miles... and then 3 miles didn't feel AS torturous.  It was still torturous but not as much.  And then I think... we somehow decided to increase our mileage every week... half a mile... and then another half a mile the next week... and then next thing I knew I was running 5.5 miles.  That is running for 1 hour straight.  Or maybe "running" is a loose term.  It's jogging.

So then Jenn encouraged me to sign up for a half marathon.  And I don't know what possessed me to do this but... I signed up for the half marathon AND the 20 mile bike ride prior.  I semi knew that it would take me over an hour to ride 20 miles... and then to run for potentially 2 hours and 45 minutes... 13 miles... but... I did it.  I paid for it.  And now... barring any injuries... I'm gonna do it.

My times with Connie and Jenn have been super precious to me.  When I moved out to Pasadena for work... I was so lonely... I felt so cut off from church community... it's such a rare thing for people in Orange County to want to venture out into the San Gabriel Valley and driving back to OC after work would take me 1.5+ hours... I just didn't have the capacity to do it when I was starting my new job.  So I went to the gym a lot.  And then one day I think I may have had a depressive meltdown and Connie invited me to go running with her at the Rose Bowl.  Maybe that's how it started.  Whatever or however... my cousin reaching out to me was an answer to prayer.  I could vent to her about work because we're both in the medical field... similar enough to understand each other's work situations but different enough so that we both had different stories to tell.  It was more than just running... it was therapy... it was community... it was accountability... it was love.  And a good workout.  I love multitasking.  Our weekly runs are something I look forward to.  They're soul-nourishing.  I learn so much from just being near them.

This past month though... I've had to run on my own.  Due to circumstances sometimes outside our control... we weren't able to run together for the past few weeks.  So I had to learn how to run... without community and accountability... all by myself.  And it was hard.

I've been opting to run on the treadmill because... it's safer than running outside.  I still haven't explored much around where I live.  And also usually when I get out of work it's been dark... except today.  Today I got out of work and it was still bright so I decided to take advantage of the daylight and run outside.  And I'm glad I did.  The past few weeks have been so crazy... too many things going on... I've needed some time for myself... to unwind... to just think.  Running by myself helped.  I found this on the sidewalk and it made me feel like God left this love note just for me to find today.

Even though this is kind of unrelated... or maybe it isn't... but this past Sunday, our pastor preached on Isaiah 61.  The line that stood out to me from this set of verses was "for the display of His splendor".

Isaiah 61
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.

My life has been transformed and change for the display of His splendor.  I spent some time thinking about this on Sunday and also during my solitary run today.  God takes the brokenness and the ugliness of our lives and exchanges it for beauty... for freedom... for abundant life.  Exchanging my worthlessness for beauty... reminded me of those thrift stores that sometimes will take your old clothes and give you credit to get something else in the store.  I've never done it before.  Mostly, I felt like I didn't have anything of worth that anybody else would want... and I also maybe didn't want someone else's old stuff... but what if what God does for us... is to take EVERYTHING we have... yucky stuff... stuff that we bought for cheap... things that are out of style or even broken, stained, old, nasty, smelly, gross... and gives us brand new Lululemon or Gucci or Versace or Tory Burch or whatever it is that you think is awesome stuff.  Who else would do that except for a God who loves us... who has an abundance of riches and blessings just waiting for us to exchange the rags that we put on everyday because that's all we're used to or that's all we've grown accustomed to doing?

Why do we stay in rags when we could be taking our rags to Jesus to be exchanged for things people would invest a lot to attain... precious things... like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control... it just doesn't make sense to want to stay living in bondage or rags when God has chosen His people for so much more... Riches in eternity but also glimpses of it here on earth.

I'm still not sure about how this relates to my running journey but... usually this is what happens when I start running.  I want to quit after the first half mile... but I don't.  I keep going.  I hit one mile and I feel like... WHAT IN THE WORLD... it's only been one mile?!?  But I keep on going.  Once I hit two miles... I tell myself... just get to 3... just hang on until 3... and then when 3 hits... I say... well maybe you can do 3.5... and then 4... and then 4.5... and then 5... and then the treadmill shuts off at 1 hour so I haven't really pushed myself beyond that on a treadmill... but somehow after the 3rd mile or so... it doesn't start to feel AS bad.  It's not runner's high as much as it is... runner's "I-don't-mind-as-much-as-before".  I thought that I might try to hit the 6 mile mark today but the sun was setting and I didn't want to be caught out in the dark without any flashy lights or reflective whatever-whats-it since the streets here aren't very well lit.

Running still isn't too fun but I signed up for this half marathon so I hafta train for it otherwise it'll destroy me.  I can't expect to go from running 3 miles to running 13 miles without putting in the time and effort it takes to get there.  Just little bit at a time... and I'll get there.

So thank you for reading... and thank you to Jenn and Connie for encouraging me in life and in running and in helping me train for this milestone.  And thank you to fitbit for having crazy workweek challenges with friends which encourages me to go for a run so I don't get behind in my stepcount.

Anyway... I'm learning and growing this month.  That's all I have to say about that...


Saturday, February 28, 2015


I've been biking more lately.  When I first started biking, I remember when 15 mile rides were exhausting.  I still remember when 30 mile rides (no hills) was exhausting.  And then the flat rides became OK.  It was more a matter of how long I could stay in the saddle and how fast I wanted to push it.  Roads aren't always flat though.  Long, flat rides... the safest path is a river trail.  It's protected from cars... it's pretty darn flat and you usually end up at a beach somewhere.  It's nice.  But there's so much more to biking than staying on a river trail.

Biking on normal roads... you'll inevitably come across some hills.  It takes a lot more power to bike up a hill... and a lot more energy.  Hills wipe me out like no other.  Sometimes I feel like I'm biking so slowly, I might just fall over because it feels like I'm hardly moving at all.  Sometimes I do have to stop and rest.  It's... a necessary challenge though.  In order to be a better cyclist, I had to learn how to climb.

I'm learning to climb better as a cyclist.  I'm training for a big bike ride at the end of April.

I'm also learning to climb as a person.  I'm training for... life... to go a step farther and higher than I was before... to be more and more like Jesus than I was yesterday, last week, last month... last year.

It's painful.  There are moments when everything aches... when the burn is so bad, it feels like another muscle contraction is impossible... but the one thing I've been learning lately is... that even though every fiber of my being FEELS like going further is impossible... my heart is stronger than I think it is.  I don't feel my heart very often... but it beats and it beats and it beats.  All my training is for my body to catch up to where my heart already is.

This past month has been about aligning my actions with my mind and my heart.  I've been doing a lot of soul and heart cleaning.  I've asked God and also my friends to search my heart and challenge me... and walk with me as I align my life.  It's been so fruitful and productive, but it is a "climb".  What helps during a climb is to remember what you set out to do and also enjoy the flats and descents... and use the momentum you gain during the easier parts to propel you into the next climb.

Sorry it's vague.  There's too much going on simultaneously.

I wanted to write out the stories of my friends... my "butt wipes"... this year.  The next friend I want to write about is my friend, Jenn.

The story of Jenn is one of my favorites.  Even though all my friends' stories are my favorite, hers is a favorite among favorites.

I met Jenn maybe 5 years ago.  At the time, I was working night shift as a RN on a unit which required me to work every other weekend.  It was extremely difficult to go to church on Sundays when I worked a 12 hour shift the night before and had to go back to work at 6pm for another 12 hours.  Once in a VERY RARE while, I'd get a chance to switch with someone else and I had a Sunday night off during a work weekend.  When that would happen, I would drive to church straight from work and either hang out at McDonald's for an hour or so or take a nap in my car... go to service and then go home and sleep.  It was on one of these rare Sunday services (that I showed up in scrubs) that I met Jenn.

I never like sitting alone at church but at this particular church, I almost always sat alone.  Jenn sat next to me, introduced herself, and we began talking.  I found out she was from San Francisco and she was visiting her parents in LA.  That day was the first time she was visiting that church.  Providentially... I was going to be making a trip up to SF in a few weeks so we exchanged contact information and I told her that since she came to visit my church on her visit to LA, that I would go visit her church on my visit to SF.  She even offered to pick me up wherever I was staying and take me to church with her.  Even better.  I wouldn't have to look for her OR sit alone for any part of that visit. I also have a hard time figuring out the public transportation system in SF.  If I decided to drive in SF (which I NEVER do because it scares the jeepers out of me) I can't parallel park for the life of me... and even worse... parallel park on a hill.  People who drive me places... definitely hold a special place in my heart.  I felt deeply touched by her offer.  I couldn't wait to take her up on it.

The time came for my trip to SF and I was staying with a bunch of friends who don't go to church.  We'd stayed out late the night before so I figured that I'd wake up early, go to church with Jenn, and be back in time for us to all go have lunch together.  As things would turn out... another friend came over, woke up the entire house and was going to take us all out to breakfast.  I somehow didn't feel like making more trouble for everyone so I went with the flow of the people I was visiting and visiting with and I told Jenn I wasn't going to be able to go to church with her that Sunday.  I was really disappointed.

I was so disappointed (in myself) that I sent multiple texts to her... a week later... and even months after I'd come back from that SF trip... apologizing for not being able to go to church with her and letting her know I'd make it up to her somehow.  After one of these seemingly random texts... Jenn responded and told me that I could make it up to her by hanging out with her in LA because she'd actually moved down here for work.  Oh crazy.  So we met up.

This was the first real conversation I had with Jenn... and I spent most of it talking... she spent most of it listening.  I'm pretty sure I asked her how she ended up where she was at and it took her about 10 minutes to tell me.  When she asked me the same question, I think I talked for maybe 3-4 hours almost nonstop... telling her about my life story... about... God... about Anderson... and after listening to me talk for that long... she finally spoke and told me that she had just moved to LA, she missed her friends in SF, she was having a hard time finding new ones and then I texted and she responded.  She said she felt like God heard the cries of her heart and answered through me.  I was so unbelievably touched.  And to think that it all happened because I felt guilt and shame and decided to send a random text.

We'd end up hanging out every few months after that.  We talked about life.  We talked about relationships.  And then before I knew it... she was moving back to SF... and seemingly suddenly... was getting married.  I thought to myself... this girl moves fast.  One minute she's in SF, next minute she's moved to LA... next she's back in SF... and next she's getting married.  Craziness.  I normally think pretty darn hard about whether or not I want to fly up north to go to a wedding... especially a wedding where I know nobody but the bride.  This wedding also wasn't easily accessible... it was way inland... NOT in the city... almost impossible to take public transportation there.  I think I also didn't have a smart phone.  Driving in SF PLUS driving somewhere without GPS... freaked me out like no other.  But Jenn was so nice.  She arranged a ride for me.  One of her friends would pick me up in SF, drive me to the wedding, and then drive me back.  I was touched once again that she would take the time to arrange this for me.  If I was even slightly on the fence... her act of service to me was so moving that I knew I had to go.  And I'm so glad I did.

Her wedding was one of the most beautiful weddings I'd ever been to.  Their wedding program was this gorgeous booklet with birds and flowers and pink and loveliness.  Along the bottom of the booklet was a timeline of their relationship... chronicling the moment they met until the moment they were to be wed.  It was so detailed.  I was even more impressed to find out that it wasn't Jenn that kept these records, it was her fiance.  He loved her so much, he took notes.  He wrote down dates of when everything happened.  To me... that showed extraordinary love.  I loved that wedding program.  There was also a verse written in English, French and Korean.  As I was reading the French... I stopped at one word... the word "submit" in French is some kind of combination word of "sous" and "mettre" which means to place under.  It does break down to the same thing in English but I read English words so fast I never stopped to break it apart and really look at it.  To submit to a husband means to place myself under.  It's kind of "duh" simple but for some reason... it stuck out to me in that moment and I never forgot the image of it.  I also listened to him speak of her... share about his hopes for their marriage... and I remember thinking to myself... "THIS is what a godly marriage looks like".  Even though I was mostly by myself at that wedding... I didn't feel alone.  I felt so washed over by the love of God being expressed at this wedding that my heart was so very full.  There were so many super memorable moments I collected at this wedding.  It was such a special time.

Jenn and I caught up a little bit after her wedding.  She told me she was moving into her house in SF and that I was welcome to visit her at any time.  I told her I would.

In total Jenn-speed-racer-fashion... the next thing I know she's pregnant and the next thing I see are her baby pictures up on FB.  And I never even got a chance to visit her before her baby was born.

Fast forward a year or so... one of my other friends told me she was getting married in SF... and she had to get married before the year ended because of some kind of cultural thing that says that two siblings can't get married in the same year.  Whatever.  This was a really good friend and I promised her I'd go.  I bought the plane tickets and then started planning my trip.  I was just about to book a hotel but I was looking at the stuff on my desk and I just so happened to see the favor from Jenn's wedding.  It was a little pot of honey.  The thing was on my desk for over a year.  I decided to take it downstairs to the kitchen where it might get used.  Maybe.  But as I was taking it downstairs... I remembered that Jenn said I could stay with her anytime so... I just decided to ask.  If she said no, I'd just book a hotel.  I actually like staying in nice hotels.  As things would turn out... Jenn said that she'd love to have me stay with her.  She'd even pick me up from the wedding AND take me to the airport afterwards.  I love her so much.  She's such an amazing friend.

I ate too many oysters the day of that wedding... I wasn't feeling very well the day after.  I decided that I'd just chill and take it easy and spend most of the day reading or being quiet... didn't need to fill that trip with lots of activities whatsoever.  Jenn and I caught up for a bit and had breakfast together.  We talked maybe for an hour or so and then it was time for her to take a nap while the baby napped.  I went downstairs to read and journal.  I can't remember if I had another day to spend there or if I was flying back that night.  Regardless... I'm pretty sure that I was only sitting downstairs by myself for less than 30 minutes before Jenn comes running down the stairs and blurts out, "I have something I want to talk to you about".  I said "OK" and I listened.  I listened to my friend pour out her heart and tell me about her daily struggles... about her first year of marriage and how difficult it was to adjust and then to adjust to the baby right after that... it was a difficult "climb" for her and she didn't know who else she could talk to about it.  Once again, she said she felt like God answered the cries of her heart by bringing me to SF right at that moment... and I knew that I was meant to be there for her in that moment as well.

I didn't know what I could do or say that would fix anything... but what I did remember so vividly... was her wedding and how beautiful it was.  I shared my memories with her.  I still remembered them as vividly as if they'd just happened... and then I knew that God nestled those memories in my heart for the very moment that I could remind my friend in the moments where she felt like she was lost in the fog of life's struggles.  It was like she was climbing alone... and at the moment when she was about to give in to the pain and the burn... that I came alongside her and reminded her what it felt like to be fresh and new... and loved.  I reminded her of the joy of that day as I saw it.  I think it gave her a little bit of hope to push on... for another day more... and then another.

I think I might have made one more trip to SF... and maybe sent another few more "random" emails to her over the past year or so... and each time she would tell me that she felt like my email or my trip came at a perfect time to encourage her.

There was another instance in our friendship when I came across a really old picture on facebook of us having tea together with a few other people early on in our friendship... and I commented on that picture and said that we should try to get together again sometime... and she responded that she was actually flying back and forth to LA for some personal reasons and it JUST SO HAPPENED that she'd be staying only a few miles away from where I was doing rotations that month.  God's timing in our lives has been more than perfect.  Even when neither of us were really looking for one another... it felt like God was bringing so many unrelated situations which together intricately intertwined to allow us to bless and encourage one another wherever we were at.

Just remembering the story of Jenn reminds me how much of an impact we can have on one another's lives... simply by reaching out and asking for it.  Neither of us are perfect people and neither of us are perfect friends but our moments of overlap bring my warmth to my heart.  I thank God for friends like Jenn.  I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of things and the way Jenn sees it might be different but it was lovely to reminisce on her story.  I hope that remembering her tonight will be like a refreshing descent after a long climb... it not only refreshes me by providing a little bit of respite and relief from the hard work of climbing... but the momentum from the speed I pick up will help propel me through the next climb to come.

Anyway... I'm super tired and am REALLY looking forward to sleeping tonight... under an electric blanket... for hopefully at least 7 hours.

much much love to you all... and especially to Jenn...