Thursday, December 31

Soaking with God

So yesterday was somewhat icky
By 8pm I felt the need to be washed clean
So I took a bath
Something I rarely to
I lit some Eucalyptus candles
I pour in some Eucalyptus Mint bath bubbles
And wallowed in shame
With questions rolling around my head

At one point I murmured to God that I needed help
And what should happen
But my neighbor upstairs
Started belting out some Italian song
I started giggling
And thanked the Lord for the distraction

Thank goodness God meets me where I'm at.

Tuesday, December 22

Reading, Cooking but not Dating

I was perusing blogs the other day and saw one titled "See Kate Date." I chuckled when I read that because if there was ever a "See Mindy Date" it would win an award for the dullest and shortest blog in existence. People would think it had been abandoned when in fact there just wouldn't be anything to share...good thing it's Kate writing and not me.

My mom asked me to bring some sugary-snack-dessert thing to dinner on Christmas Eve. I'm making a Chocolate-Chip Cream-Cheese layer bars...basically you layer a pan with cookie dough. Blend together the Cream Cheese, sugar, and vanilla (I think), spread that on top of the cookie dough and then top it with another lay of dough and bake.'s pretty wonderful and super sweet. I'm only making a small batch...have to take care of the family's waistlines and all....haha, heehee, ho!

Oh, so I finished Jane Eyre! Not that bad of a book. I actually overall enjoyed it! I think I enjoyed it more than the movie simply because Charlotte Bronte gives you more of Jane's thoughts than the movies. After watching the movie a couple years ago, I thought that Jane was stupid for putting up with Edward, more stupid for falling in love with him, and the over the top stupid for going back to him after he tried to marry her when he was already married himself! But to have that story in context with all of her thoughts plus additional details, I was able to appreciate the story and the character of Jane (even if Edward is still a putz!).

Sunday, December 20

Why I Celebrate Christmas

On Christmas day, a humble girl gives birth to hope for all the world,
this is Immanuel.

I have realised over this past year that the characteristic of God that I love the most is that He is holy. I wouldn't want to worship a god that I could figure out, control, or predict. Such a god like that isn't worth worshiping...he would be too much like me. Too powerless, too limiting.

How awesome and mysterious, the Lord of heaven draws near to us,
this is Immanuel

The fact that God is holy means that He is great, unfathomable, perfect, pure, and unattainable...His ways are bigger and greater than my ways. He controls the universe and all that dwell in it.

The hands that once split night from day now feebly clutch a blade of hay,
this is Immanuel.

God's holiness sets Him apart from any other thing. His holiness is what makes me kneel is surrender, offering my life and all that I am to be used for His glory and purposes. His holiness is what makes me trust His justice and love His mercy.

Majestic king, now small and weak, the Word of God must learn to speak,
this is Immanuel.

I have more recently realised that the characteristic of Jesus that I love the most is that He is Emmanuel. Emmanuel means God with us. God who is unfathomable became fathomable to all mankind through the birth and life and person of Jesus.

The shepherds come and bow to him, the Lamb who takes away our sin,
this is Immanuel.

God, who is indescribable, suddenly became someone we can describe, someone we can wrap our minds around, through the person of Jesus. Because Jesus came, we can once again have a restored relationship with God.

For God has entered time and space to show the world his endless grace,
this is Immanuel.

At first I thought of these two characteristics, God's holiness and Jesus as Emmanuel, as two separate characteristics. However, today God showed me how the two characteristics are intertwined in a great way!

This is our God, seen by our eyes,
the love of the Father made known in Jesus Christ

Sometimes it is easy to feel that God is removed. Too big, too perfect, too vast to care about little insignificant me. His holiness separates me from Him. He is perfect, I am not. He is pure, I am not. But Emmanuel, God with us, speaks to me of intimacy.

This is our God, worthy of praise,
the love of the Father revealed on Christmas day.

Because of Emmanuel, I can have a relationship with Holiness. God is with me...God is with you. He is here, present in your life, whether or not you can see it or feel it. That the great God would willingly become a small vulnerable baby, just so that I could have a relationship with Him, is where Emmanuel and Holiness meet!

"On Christmas Day" by Matt Osgood

Friday, December 18

Ways to Worship

A few months ago, one night at youth group, the youth pastor did a lesson on worship. He talked about 8 types of worship styles that are dependent on personalities. For example someone might worship God more intimately through nature or service or relationships. I found a quiz online, which I haven't tried but is supposed to reveal the dominant ways you worship God.

All our youth pastor did was review each of the styles. I immediately knew I was a Contemplative Worshiper. Contemplative worshipers "draw near to God through personal adoration and heartfelt devotion." I do this through regular reading the Bible, singing, and journaling/writing. This blog site has really expanded my insight into how I can worship through words and thoughts, which has been exciting and interesting.

In light of Christmas and in light of my own journey and desires, I've been thinking about Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus. God called Mary and chose to use her for His specific purposes. Because of her willingness, her life immediately changed; changes that she knew she'd face in light of the cultural risks/shame of being pregnant without a husband. God also chose Joseph by betrothing him to Mary and making him to be the type of man who wouldn't walk away from Mary, regardless of the cost to his reputation and career. Together, God used imperfect individuals to parent His only Son. Amazing! Mary and Joseph weren't anyone special...there wasn't anything that set them apart. They were just individuals who loved God and were willing to be used by God.

Thursday, December 17

Moving from one thing to the next

I had my car in the shop yesterday. Now it quietly purrs again instead of clicking. I like the lack of noise.

My coworker has been hard to work with this week. I think my coworker will be taking tomorrow off...I'm looking forward to a lack of noise.

I started exercising again, re-doing the same program I did over the summer. Last time it was evident in week 3 that I was too out of shape to follow the exact program. So my goal simply became about maintaining the number of work-out days/week and lengths of time, whether or not I ran/walked according to the plan. Since I'm in a little bit better shape than I was in July, I am going to try hard to maintain the plan altogether. So far on Monday and yesterday, I've exercised immediately after getting home from work, then ate dinner and started on my homework by 6:30pm. This has worked well for me thus far but there are some days when my stomach is growling sufficiently by the time I get home from we'll see how thing pan out on those days.

I mentioned last week that I was going to read Jane Eyre while I was off of school. I haven't finished it yet but am about half way done. Surprisingly, it's not as awful as I expected it...I've rather enjoyed reading it thus far. But I also know that I am not at the most maddening parts yet. I have next week off of school...I'm hoping to take advantage of the extra time by getting ahead on some school assignments but I'm also planning on taking some time to read more Jane Eyre.

Another goal for last week was to get caught up on my Bible reading...I'm about a month behind and a book behind. I should be in mid-Deuteronomy but am in mid-Numbers. Sadly, I didn't get caught up and now that school has started and I'm trying to incorporate exercise again, my time with God gets pushed off the priority list. Yuck...that's awful to say but actions reveal the heart of man, right? I need to find a way to have time with Him in my schedule. After all, He is the only One who can truly bring balance, joy, and meaning into my life.

Monday, December 14

Vacation is Over

Well, it was nice while it lasted. 7 days of bliss. Okay, not complete bliss because after all, I still had to work. But my reprieve from school ends today and will keep me busy until February 6th.

Today starts my newest class, Contemporary Issues in Missions. Sounds interesting, right? I think so...all my classes thus far have been leadership focused. They weren't awful but nor were they the most exciting classes...lots of research, development, business jargon. But now I have merged into the "fun" section of my degree...the missions classes!

Like with every class, I tried not to cry when reading the syllabus for the first time. It's all overwhelming, every.single.time! And somehow, with the grace of God to be sure, I make it through each class, one week at a time. I remind myself that each time I start to freak out, wondering how I will get this class done.

One thing that is different about this class is that we have to do several group projects. Boo! Boooo! Here is what I know:
1. My class is entirely online...I don't go to a classroom ever!
2. Group projects always take more time than individual projects!
3. Since my class in only online...I will have to connect by email with my assigned team member!
4. My grade is partly in the hands of another person...eek!
5. I have 6 team assignments for this class.
6. My class is 7 weeks long.
7. My teammate's name is Michael.
8. I do not feel good about this class element (**You will make it through this class, one week at a time, Mindy! Oh yes, thanks for the reminder.)

Dear Gracious, Wonderful, Loving Father who helps with homework, please help me with this class. Please let my teammate be a good, well-worded, and hard-working graduate student. Please help me to have a clear(er) calendar in order to accomplish everything that needs to be done and on that note, it would be helpful if people didn't ask me to do things know how I am. I can say "no" but it's not my favorite thing to do. And while I'm sitting around, diligently working on my homework, it would be lovely if you allowed me to lose a few pounds in the process. Okay? Okay, fine, I'll try to work out a few times each week but I'm still gonna need your help. Deal? Thank you and amen!

Sunday, December 13

Too much information?

I just saw a funny commercial on TV.

A guy asks the TV viewers, "do you know what you can give your girl this Christmas? Schedule her a pap smear. Show her that you care about what's inside."

I nearly choked when I heard that. Schedule her a pap smear? Any guy who schedules me a pap smear for a Christmas gift will have to follow up with a huge apology. Either that or I'll be scheduling him a physical for the same day as my pap smear. Oy vey!

Friday, December 11

I'm having me a party

No, I'm not listening to Shania Twain's silly song (if you haven't heard it, you're not missing much!)

I'm having Mindy's "first annual" Christmas brunch. Well, actually, I always think of brunch being more 10 or 11am...and this one is at maybe it's a breakfast. Whatever...

Anyhow, I decided to do this because I have this week off of school and thought it would be a good time to socialize, entertain, cook, and be forced to clean my apartment.

My apartment is pretty tiny and my table only seats four. So I've invited three church ladies over for breakfast and I'm looking forward to it. These three ladies are the easiest people to talk to. Seriously, when you are with them, they all make you feel like they care, want to know more, and desire to help in any way they can. I love them all! This is my chance to love on them!

So what is on the menu?
--Pioneer Woman's Quiche
--diced potatos with onions
--canned peaches, which I canned in August but apparently didn't blog about.
--orange juice and coffee

Yummy food...or at least I hope it will be.
Good conversation...probably lots of laughter.
Clean apartment is celebrating that people are coming looks so good!

Sounds like a good party to me!

Thursday, December 10

My Current Obsessions

I have found myself the "obsessed"...distracted you might say...habitually focused on a few things that I thought might be worth mulling over with the universe (and anyone who reads this):

1. Coffee. I know, I know. How many times can I talk about my love for coffee? Probably many more to come. It's not a caffeine thing for's the flavor, the depth, the warmth...simply said I love hot drinks and specifically the taste of coffee. Because I could seriously drink it all the time, I find myself thinking about coffee throughout my days.

2. My plants. I have 5 beautiful plants at work. My coworkers call me a "green-thumb." I call it luck. I just haven't killed them yet! I have a tendency to over-water my plants. Anyhow, they seem to be thriving, which I love, but that also makes me much more attentive to them while I'm at work. Every time I turn around (they are all located behind me) or refill my coffee cup or go to the bathroom, I look/admire/reflect on them..."do they need more water? when did I last water them? I don't want to over-water them! I need to buy a trellis. the poor plant needs more support. should I re-pot this plant in a bigger planter?" etc, etc, etc.

3. Blogs. I'm addicted. There! I've admitted it. Every workday morning, I have to take time to peruse anywhere from 8-12 different blogs. Witty, charming, interesting, thought-provoking, emotional. These people have become individuals I love even though almost all don't know me from a hole in the wall. The problem comes when I find a new blog that I want to read...I seriously don't need more...I think 12 is enough. Right?

4. Michael Buble. I love him....sigh! I wouldn't really call him an obsession...just more of an occasional distraction. However, he has permission to croon to me any time he wants. I love his voice and he is beautiful to look at. (Can I vent here a bit? I would love.Love.LOVE to see this beautiful man in concert but the last time he came to Seattle, the cheapest tickets were extremely far away and still cost approximately $60! I think I'd be willing to pay $30-40 but $60? I couldn't do it. But guess what? The concert sold much so, that they added a second concert which also sold out. Evidently there are many individuals who will pay $60. I guess I must be content to merely listen at home or in my car...sigh!)

It wouldn't be impressive if I listed another 5 obsessions so I'll just stop here! Whew! I so glad to have these four off my chest though! However, intervention is not needed, thank-you-very-much. I rather like these four obsessions.

Wednesday, December 9

Hope and a Future??

"This is what the LORD says: 'When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,' declares the LORD" Jeremiah 29:10-14

If we took a survey, I think we'd find that Jeremiah 29:11 is probably ranks as one of the most favorite Bible verses. (It's not one of my favorites even though it is a nice verse.) This verse was written about the Israelites prior to their captivity. God told Jeremiah, someone that God to speak His words, that because of the Israelites actions, He was going to send them into captivity for 70 years. At the end of the 70 years, God would bring them back to their land to accomplish the plan that He had for them; to give them the future that He had already designed for them.

I don't mean to compare myself to the Israelites in any way or to allude that I am currently in captivity but I got to thinking of the phrase, "plans to give you hope and a future" and what phrase alone means to me.

I am currently a missionary candidate with my church's denomination. Basically, I had an interview back in 2004 and they said that they approve me to be "in training" or "in process" to be a missionary. My denomination has a list of requirements that they want their missionaries to complete prior to going overseas. The list is long and typically takes 10 years for the average person to get from point A to point B; a time frame that is much longer than the average missions agency. The reason behind these expectations is that my denomination pays their missionaries instead of the missionaries raising their own support...a huge blessing. Plus they have found that the turnover rate is significantly lower with our missionaries. And lastly, they want to send out individuals who will get the job done and be successful.

In today's economy, my denomination is needing to cut back just like many other organizations. They had to lay off thirty missionary families, cut back the budgets, and will be sending out less missionaries in the next few years. I love this denomination and have desired to serve within it for years now but due to the cut-backs along with some dialogues between me and the main office, I'm starting to wonder if there is a future for me with them. Ugh! If that is the case, I'm not sure where it leaves me just yet. At any rate, I've started looking for paid missions positions overseas with other organizations, just to see what is out there.

My future is uncertain. Uncertain only because God hasn't shown me what is next, either in job or location. However, despite all this, God has planted hope in me. It is bedded in my soul and continues to grow, pushing out the seedlings of worry, fear, or frustration. Moreover, I know God has given me a future. I don't know what it looks like but God has it all planned out. I'm going to leave it in His hands, since they are far more capable than mine.

Tuesday, December 8

Oh to Have Been the Woman

Oh to have been the woman
Chosen to be used
She who was no one special
From any other Jew

Yet God looked down
He called her name
From that day forward
Her life had changed

Despite her joy of being chosen
Her heart probably also felt fear
Would her family or man believe
An impossible story to hear

Her heart must have stirred
At the overwhelming thought
For in her womb was the child
Of whom the prophets taught

Tenderly she’d care for this growing babe
Holding him close, easing his pain
Yet did she grasp what his future held
To restore man to God, his destiny lain

For in her was a Savior
God became man
Many would reject him
Included in the plan

Oh to have been the woman
A mother to her Lord
She who was no one special
His life, for her, was poured.

Monday, December 7

Der Nussknacker

Every December the radio speaks of the enchantment that The Nutcracker ballet casts the citizens of Seattle, Washington. Inspiring, good cheer, Christmas magic, family tradition!

Each year (for the last decade or so) my younger sister and I have been in awe of the radio enchantments, always declaring that we must go! But it never worked out until this year. We invited our older sister and made it a sister event. We went to the Nutcracker on November 28. Between Thanksgiving dinner, Black Friday sales, and the Nutcracker, this was a great weekend to jump start the Christmas season! Our showing was at 2 pm, after which we went out for dinner. Traffic going into Seattle was surprisingly great!

Anyhow, back to the ballet. I had only seen one ballet performance in my entire life, which was Swan Lake, when I was in Ukraine. I think my younger sister Amy had only seen one herself and my older sister none. So we weren't really sure what we were in for. Therefore we bought the cheapest tickets just in case the show a dud, which it surely could not be since the radio declared its goodness!

The dancing...oh, the dancing...simply beautiful and graceful and strong and sweet. Charmed my not-so-little socks right off. I have decided I like ballet!

The music...oh, the music...elegant, moving, classic...I found myself humming the songs later on that evening. Bum, bum, ba, bum, bum, ba, ba, ba.

The costumes...stunning. Really, that's all there is to say. Simply stunning!

The story...what? huh? this is the great story that starts people's Christmas season???? This is where the Nutcracker fell short in my sisters' and my eyes. The story is a dud. I don't get it...I don't get the charm, the magic, the Christmas good cheer. Nope, nada, none! Oh well. So I don't think I'll see the Nutcracker again but I do enjoy ballet. Consider it a lesson learned.

Any disappointment was washed away by a slice of Carrot Cake Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. Oh my...that cheesecake can cover a multitude of sorrows. Good thing there isn't a Cheesecake Factory anywhere close. Plus, its always nice to spend time my sisters, so overall, a good night!

Sunday, December 6

A good couple days

Okay, so my weepiness passed from Friday. The last couple days have been more emotionally stable! Always a plus for the people around me.

I successfully finished my class on Saturday at 3pm. I think my ending time is a new record. I usually have until midnight to submit my homework and I am usually wrapping my classes up around 5pm or 6pm. I had the whole Saturday night to relax, which was wonderful. However I made myself clean my consistently neglected apartment first since I was running on adrenaline of having just completed my paper/class. So when the adrenaline wore off about an hour into my cleaning, I plopped down on my couch, satisfied with my class and satisfied with a clean(er) apartment. I rewarded myself with a movie, Northanger Abbey, and starting my novel for the week, Jane Eyre. The jury is out on the book still. (I hate the movie Jane Eyre but a good friend told me the book was I told her I'd trust her and read the stupid story. I'll let you know come next week how I felt about the book.)

Another good thing that happened yesterday is that I bought my plane ticket to visit my grandparents in California. Alaska Airlines was having a sale and to fly round trip from Seattle to California is only costing me $120, which is unheard of these days. I think the "normal" rate is somewhere between $200-300. So excited. It has unfortunately been two years since I've seen my grandparents and I really want to see them! So next February, here I come! I love visiting my grandparents (and hopefully it will be warm down there...I'm sure I'll need to thaw out a bit) but whenever I visit them, I find my life a bit skewed since suddenly there is a lack of internet and coffee. It's always an odd feeling being both disconnected and hazy. Good times.

Friday, December 4

It's fun being a woman...

I'm feeling weepy today. I haven't let any tears out but they feel close.
It isn't because of anything specific...just normal female weepiness.
Usually when I feel this way, it is because I am tired and need some sleep.
I just usually need to put myself into bed and then I'll wake up fine.

However, it's 10am and I'm at work.
I can't exactly go to bed just yet.
Plus my goal is to finish my class's homework today so that I have tomorrow off, which means I need to pull out of the weepy funk and gain enthusiasm, energy and good spirits.

Like I've already said, this weepiness isn't due to anything specific.
But when I'm in this state, everything makes me want to cry.
Repeat...everything! God, boys, homework, life focus, past lessons, missing friends, snarky customers, silly Josh Groban songs, sweet pictures, good reflective name it, it will probably choke me up today.
Oh geez!

**update**I spent my lunch hour walking around a garden store that turns all Christmasy every year. After that, I realized my weepiness was gone. Now to finish my paper...

Tuesday, December 1

News Flash!!!

Don't you ever wish that God would just hang a huge neon sign, all flashing and twinkling, right in front of you with directions on what He wants you to do?

I feel that way All.The.Time! Okay...not all the time...only when I get impatient with God.

Does He want me to be a missionary?
Does He want me to be a missionary with the Christian & Missionary Alliance or a different agency?
What job/ministry does He have planned for me on the mission field?
Does my Master's degree fit into that or should I be looking at something different?
What (really) is my Master's degree preparing me to do?
And at some point, will He bring along a husband? (God, a simple yes or no would suffice!)

These questions can drive a lady crazy! At times I feel no further along life's path than when I was 18 and fresh out of high school. But I know that's not true. God has been faithful to reveal things to me and to guide me all these years. I am nowhere close to where I used to be. But am I anywhere close to where I want to be?

Well, I've come to realize that God has provided some signs...they may lack the neon colors and flashing lights but they are still there.

"He has shown you, o Mindy, what is good. And what the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your your neighbor as yourself." Mark 12:30-31

"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation" Mark 16:15

How is that for direction? Seems pretty clear to me.