Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Questions

The end-of-the-year survey tradition continues for a ninth year (!!!)

1) What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?
Go on vacation with a houseful of strangers. Dye my hair platinum. Run an entire Easter service: choir, horns, video shoot, rehearsal, etc. Whole 30. Drive across the country on a whim. Arrange a Friday Night Lights tour in Austin. Climb a tree. (And, subsequently, rope swing from a tree and jump from a platform at the top of a tree in to a river.) Wake surf. Lead worship for 400 kids at a Vacation Bible School: hand motions and all. Lose a grandparent. Spend a weekend alone in a fancy hotel. Program (and then reprogram) an entire Christmas service. Meet Kirk Cameron and Bob Goff (!!!) Paint my nails once a week for an entire year (you know, the super important stuff) Have a picnic and watch planes land. Play the slots in Vegas. Play on a tree swing. Celebrate five years at Mariners. Bake cookies for each of our neighbors. 

2) Did you keep your New Year's resolutions and will you make more next year? 
My New Year's resolution was to go to a balloon festival...and, though we had planned to go to Albuquerque, jobs got in the way and we missed the festival. I will make some more for 2015...and try to catch the Balloon Fiesta this year to make up for missing it in 2014.

3) Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! Candice, Alicia, Ryanne, Katie...lots of babies this year!

4) Did anyone close to you die?
We lost my grandma (Bum) this year.

5) What countries did you visit?
None in 2014. Several to come in 2015!

6) What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
A rapidly filling passport

7) What date(s) from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 5th: when I got my new role as the Ocean Hills Worship Leader. May 30th: when we packed up for a weekend in Pasadena and ended up in Oklahoma. September 21st: when my Grandma died.

8) What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Learning to be more of who I was created to be and less what I have been told I am or should be.

9) Did you suffer illness or injury?

10) What was the best thing you bought?
My overalls(?)

11) Whose behavior merited celebration?
My friend, Andy, who worked with me every week to make the music run smoothly and was super fun, and encouraging along the way.

12) Where did most of your money go?
Rent. Gas. Coffee.

13) What did you get really, really, really excited about?
14) What song/album will always remind you of 2014?
Step in the Name of Love by R.Kelly, Joni Mitchell {specifically 'California' and 'Case of You'}, Bob Dylan "Boots of Spanish Leather"

15) Compared to this time last year, are you:
Wiser? Yes. Healthier? Yes. Richer? Probably not.

16) What do you wish you'd done more of?

17) What do you wish you'd done less of?

18) How did you spend Christmas?
I ran my first (pair of) Christmas services and led worship at them with Trevor and Dom. We had dinner and opened presents at my mom's on Christmas Eve and a huge breakfast and Jeopardy contest at Papa's on Christmas Day!

19) Did you fall in love in 2014?
Not so much

20) What was your favorite new TV program?
West Wing(!!!)

21) What was the best book you read?
This is Where I Leave You

22) What was your greatest musical discovery?
St Vincent. Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan.

23) What did you want and get?
A beautiful ceramic flamingo

24) What did you want and not get?
A trip to Kenya

25) What was your favorite film of this year?
The Veronica Mars Movie (duh)

26) What did you do on your birthday, and how old did you turn?
I turned 32. My friends pulled off a few surprises for me, including meeting Bob Goff and an outdoor screening of Jurassic Park (with chocolate covered ice cream cones!) On my actual birthday I had dinner with my dad and brother and my friend Emily and finished the night with Sega Genocide!

27) Which celebrity/public figure did you like the most?
I still really love Kristen Bell. (I think she's my answer every year)

28) How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
White hair. Overalls. And lipstick.

29) What kept you sane?

30) Who did you miss?
My Kenya friends. Katie Hunt. Ryanne Witt.

31) What valuable life lesson did you learn in 2014?
Being exactly who Jesus created me to be is the best way to live

32) What did you gain this year?
Half a closet of clothing back

33) What did you lose this year?
20 pounds(!!)

34) Who was the best new person you met?
Oh gosh--so many new friends this year! Taylor: my adventure pal. Jolene: my "new" roommate. Jason: my ice cream tour guide.

35) Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Like the petals in our pockets, may we remember who we are / unconditionally cared for by those who share our broken hearts. {Snow by Sleeping at Last}

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 in Photos

::: JANUARY :::
New Year's Eve // Big Bear Trip

::: FEBRUARY :::
Joined the team at Mariners Ocean Hills

::: MARCH :::
Academy Awards // Veronica Mars Movie // Kirk Cameron

::: APRIL :::
Easter! // Last photo of me and all four grandparents

::: MAY :::
Vegas Weekend // Color Run // Long Beach Aquarium // HSM IHOP trip

::: JUNE :::
spontaneous trip to Oklahoma // 74th birthdays // Friday Night Lights tours

::: JULY :::
Grandparents // Tree Swings // VBS // lots of swimming



::: AUGUST :::
HSM Camp // Dom + Ana's Wedding // Vespa Action

my people // my small group // saying goodbye to Bum // Monday fun

::: OCTOBER :::
reading books // new haircuts // Bob Goff // 32nd birthdays // 
llamas(!) // Bjork // Allison costume

::: NOVEMBER :::
Montage Beverly Hills // Thanksgiving

::: DECEMBER :::
Christmas Trees // Christmas Services // Christmas Eves

::: previous years in photos :::

Monday, November 10, 2014

To Venture On Wider Seas

A few months ago, while co-leading a worship event, the Pastor of the church stopped the band to read a prayer...and then invited the room to join him in reading the prayer a second time through.

This prayer stopped me in my tracks.

I came home, googled it immediately, and have had that tab open ever since. (classic Allison.)

At this point in my life (having been following Jesus for more than 20 years) I shouldn't be surprised that God hears and answers prayers. And yet, somehow, it took nearly a month for me to realize that, as things went a little haywire in my life and I began to spin out a bit in the shock of it all, it took nearly a month for me to realize that had actually asked for this to happen.

I prayed that my life would be disturbed. Silly me.

With tears in my eyes, I read these lines. I prayed them deeply. I longed for a life full of dreams too big to be fulfilled by my tiny (read: human) skill-set.

Disturb us, Lord, when We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
My life has been adequately disturbed in the last few months. And the only reason I'm making it is because I believe, through it all, I will see His mastery.

So, here's to venturing on wider seas.
And all of the fears, tears, and re-readings of Jesus calming the storm and walking on water that come with it.

Monday, November 03, 2014

More More More Monday

Five things I can't get enough of right now...

The Serial Podcast by This American Life. (one nonfiction story unfolded week-by-week. currently revolving around the 1999 murder of a high school girl.)

Revlon Colorburst Lipsticks (the color will last all day. no joke. it's the best.)

Chandelier by Sia (have you heard the piano version. her voice is incredible. the chorus gives me goosebumps every time.)

Stories of a life of travel (anyone know how I could just travel the world as a career?)

Gilmore Girls on Netflix (basic. because, really, who isn't watching that these days...)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Recording the Life Stories of My Grandparents

I have a big family: my mom is the oldest of five and my dad is the oldest of seven. Nearly everyone is married and has at least two children. We all love to give gifts, so Christmas is quite the extravaganza. A very long, very expensive extravaganza.

A few years ago, we decided to take a more creative approach to Christmas gifts, switching from purchasing gifts to what we have affectionately come to describe as "make, bake, or take Christmas." Make a gift (spending no more than $5), bake something (or, if you prefer, make flavored alcohol, which we've received on more than one occasion) or take something you already own and re-gift it (there is no price limit to re-gifting: my cousin received a set of golf clubs two years ago.)

For Christmas 2012, I gave my mom's parents a book labeled About Me. The first page was a note from me, asking them to, over the course of the next year, answer the questions at the top of each page and give this book to me as my gift on Christmas 2013.

On Christmas morning 2013, I opened both books from my grandparents, each full of memories (mostly handwritten, a few typed for lack of space (!!)) with the request that the book be kept private: what was written in there was written for me, and no one else--much to the jealousy of my aunts and cousins. A few days later, my Grandpa and Grandma each asked to have the book back for a little while to add stories and details that they had recently remembered and wanted to include. I happily returned the book, knowing I'd want as many memories as they would want to share.

A few months ago, my Grandma passed away. On her bedside table, the morning she died, was this book and a pen. I scooped it up, quickly, and put it in my purse. As I read through it over the following week--and wept, of course--I was even more thankful for the time she had put in to writing down her life stories for me...appreciating this heirloom all the more in her passing.

In the last year or so, I've had a few people ask about the questions that are in the book: How specific are they? Where did I find them? Etc. So I thought I would post them here, as a way to have a place to point people for this information, but also as an encouragement to you to make a similar book for the people in your family. Someday, I hope to have a little library of Family Life Stories...what a great way to fill a bookshelf.

:: ABOUT ME :: 
I bought 1/2 sheet spiral-bound blank sheet books from Michael's and covered the front in construction paper. (You know, high quality craftsmanship.) And then I hand-wrote questions at the top of each page. The majority of the questions are written on the front of the page, leaving the back open for extra space to answer. Also, customize the questions (and the order of questions) to each recipient: each of my grandparents has lost a sibling, but at different stages in their lives. I used the same question "what was it like to lose your brother/sister?" but placed them in the book around the appropriate stage of life (teenage years, after marriage, late in life, etc)

  • My note to you (I filled this in) || Your note to me (dated the following Christmas)
  • What is your earliest childhood memory? 
  • Describe your childhood in two sentences 
  • List your parents & grandparents full names, places & dates of birth 
  • What one or two stories do you remember most from your childhood? 
  • What was your neighborhood like growing up?
  • What did you parents do for work? (1/2 page)
  • Describe each of your parents in one word. (1/2 page)
  • What song(s) will always remind you of your parents/childhood? (1/2 page)
  • What was your favorite thing to do with your parent(s)? (1/2 page)
  • Describe a typical family dinner...what did you eat? What did you talk about around the table?
  • What were your favorite foods growing up? Did your mom/dad typically cook or did you go out to eat often?
  • List each school you attended, years you attended and your best friend(s) at each level.
  • What was your favorite subject? (1/2 page)
  • What were your favorite book(s)? (1/2 page)
  • What was your favorite after school activity? (1/2 page)
  • What did you want to be when you "grew up"? (1/2 page)
  • Do you remember the first family vacation you took? How old were you? Where did you go
  • What was your first job? How did you get it? When and why did you leave it?
  • When was your first date? Where did you take him/her?
  • When do you remember laughing the hardest with your family?
  • When/how did you feel most loved by your family?
  • How did your childhood shape you as a parent?
  • What is the best thing your parents taught you?
  • What was it like to lose your brother? How did you handle your grief?
  • Describe the first time you met Grandma/Grandpa.
  • When did you know you were in love?
  • How did you propose? Who was the first person you told?
  • When and where were you married? How big was the wedding?
  • What advice would you give a newlywed?
  • Where did you go on your honeymoon?
  • How long after your wedding did you become a parent?
  • What were your thoughts about becoming a mother/father? Fears? Excitement? Nerves?
  • What was the best parenting advice you received?
  • Did you plan to have __ (number of) children? How many kids did you want to have? How did you choose their names?
  • What advice would you give a new parent?
  • Tell me about the births of your children.
  • How did having children change your marriage?
  • What has been the happiest time/part/stage of being a parent?
  • What has been the most difficult time/part/stage of being a parent?
  • Would you have done anything differently as a husband/wife and/or father/mother?
  • How did you come to be a (profession)
  • What was/is your favorite family tradition?
  • What are the most memorable family vacation stories?
  • Describe the day you found out you were going to be a grandparent.
  • Where were you on the day I was born? (1/2 page)
  • Tell me something funny my parents did that day. (1/2 page)
  • What has been the best part of being a grandparent? (1/2 page)
  • What has been the most difficult part? (1/2 page)
  • Who are your "oldest" friends? How have you remained friends for so long?
  • Describe what it was like to lose your parents. How did you handle your grief?
  • Did it feel different to lose your mother or father? Was it difficult to help your children grieve a grandparents while grieving yourself?
  • What would you consider to be your greatest accomplishments?
  • List your top ten favorite books.
  • List your ten favorite songs (or albums or artists) at all time.
  • List five people you would consider (or have considered) to be your heroes and why.
  • What three world events have had the most impact on your life and why?
  • Do you think kids have it "better" or "worse" today than when you were a kid?
  • List ten things you are grateful for.
  • What are three things you want people to remember about you?
  • What is your all-time favorite joke?
  • What would you consider to be the most important lesson you've learned in life?
  • How has faith/God shaped you?
  • List your top ten favorite movies.
  • Why do you love to read?
  • If you could give me one piece of advice, what would it be?
  • If you were to travel anywhere, where would you go?
  • What's the best vacation you've ever taken?
  • How would you like to spend your retirement years?
  • What's your favorite thing about yourself?
  • What's your favorite thing about our family?
  • What's your favorite thing about me?
  • What did I miss?? Any other stories you think I ought to know?
Please leave a comment with any questions, or any pieces I may have missed.