Friday, April 30, 2010

Brian's Song

This is my friend Brian
{photo from our SM Staff Day--3D glasses courtesy of Avatar}

Brian and I have known each other for years. Years. We were in the same village for Mexicali my senior year of high school (my ten-year reunion is this summer) and that wasn't even the start of our friendship.

Brian and I now work together in Student Ministries at Mariners.

Not only is Brian one of the most creative and talented designers I know, he is also one of the funniest, kindest, most humble and thoughtful people I know.
I was reminded of this several times today and felt it was worth sharing.

Here are four stories from today to prove this:
1) This afternoon, he designed, printed, cut and displayed about 15 different pieces {over 100 printed pieces in the end} for our HS Water Project {more on that this weekend with photos}...They are clean and beautiful and he never complained once.

2) This morning, while he was clearly in the middle of things, he stopped what he was doing to spend about a half-hour searching for the perfect ampersand for my next tattoo {more on that soon, too}

3) As I was walking out for lunch, he said, "Have you ever heard of the Writer's Almanac Podcast? You should check it out because it seems like something you'd really like." I downloaded 5 episodes on my way to lunch...and, he was right, I love it. {Lisa, you would love it too}

4) Also this morning, he was filling out a renter's application. When asked, "Will you have any liquid-filled furniture?" He wrote, "I wish."

Brian, you are one of my favorite humans.
I love working with you. I really like sitting by you in meetings. I'm so glad you are my friend.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

If You Like It, Then You'd Better Put A Ring On It

About ten years ago, I remember being in a conversation with someone who said they didn't care about getting an engagement ring. I couldn't believe she would say that.

About five years ago, I went engagement ring shopping with my then-boyfriend. I had been misinformed about the appropriate amount of money that should be spent on a ring...he and I had a GIGANTIC argument through South Coast Plaza and all the way home. I was completely wrong and ridiculous...and he was happy to make that known.

Now, I'm actually hoping that I don't get an engagement ring. At least not in the conventional sense of the word...I'd be totally okay with a simple band...or even an engagement musket.
It should be noted that I'm not anywhere close to becoming engaged.

Monday, April 26, 2010

On My Own

Having washed dishes, done three loads of laundry, and cleaned both the kitchen floor and toilet yesterday, I felt really great about doing a lot of nothing today.

I made breakfast, watched Dawson's Creek, read a few magazines and even tried a little workout routine I found in Marie Claire from May 2009 {don't judge me, Erin}

After all of this, I thought about how much I want to read a book by Dallas Willard...considering he was so captivating at Catalyst...

So I decided to walk to the Newport Public Library.
Starbucks in hand {there's one on the way}, I filled out the necessary paperwork and was issued my very own library card. I was told I could check out up to 50 items at once. I told I'd be content with far fewer than 50, but thanks for giving me a limit.

Oh how I love the smell of old books.
About an hour later, I walked home with "Divine Conspiracy" by Dallas Willard and "Deceptively Delicious" {which I have been reading about on Stacy's blog}

I wasn't in a hurry to get home, so I downloaded an iPhone application called Hipstamatic {recommended by Ashley} and wandered around my neighborhood, taking pictures of various sizes and shapes of houses.

This one reminds me of Pippy Longstocking...or Mary Poppins

I made eye-contact and said hello to everyone that walked by...which is, easily, one of my favorite things to do. I also sat on the grass near my house and read a little of "Divine Conspiracy", which has notes written in it from a previous reader. {I'm not sure if I like that or if it bothers me...maybe a little of each.}

After a long day alone, I spent the evening with the Maguires. Shepherd's Pie and fresh, from scratch chocolate chip tasty!

I love long, lone Mondays.

Water You Doing To Make A Difference?

If you have any sort of face-to-face interaction with me on a regular basis, chances are you have heard me talk about my fascination with and deep love for Charity:Water.

I can't really pinpoint how or when it happened.
Well, maybe I can.

I love the simplicity of their website.

I love the informative, logical, non-guilt-inducing nature of their organization.

They are humans...who care about humans...
Which makes so much sense.

Would you consider giving?
$20 gives a person clean drinking water for 20 years.
And 100% of public donations go directly to the projects.

Mama, guess what you're getting for Mother's Day?!

Check out this post from their blog today...which sparked this entire post.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Monday To Myself

Tomorrow will be the first day in almost two months that I have not had to be out-the-door before 9am.

To celebrate, I was thinking I would do this:

Make breakfast
Watch Dawson's Creek while eating breakfast-in-bed
Go on a walk
Lay on the beach and journal
Read at least ten of the magazines that are stacked-up in my room
Eat dinner with some of my very best friends

I am really looking forward to this day...I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Oasis of Hope Student Breakfast

For the last two months, Lydia {co-founder of Oasis of Hope--the primary organization I work with in Kitale} and I have been meeting once a week to talk about how we can unite the generations of team members that have fallen in love with the people and programs of Oasis of Hope.

We have TONS of ideas...but the first was to host a breakfast for the Junior High, High School and College students that have visited and worked with Oasis over the years.

We planned and shopped and organized...all for today...and it was a great event!

Last night, 10 of us {Lydia, my incredible friends: Phil, Bre and Chris...and four amazing students: Cory, Elise, Jordan and Ryan and I} worked for hours making sure the place was exactly as it should be for this morning.

I painted this sign...I kinda wish sign-painting were my full-time job.The sign was used to mark the location of the breakfast.
{It really bothers me that the second 's' in Oasis is lower than the first}
The hallway from the front door to the lunch room took students on an experience--from living with a family in Northern Kenya to living on the streets and finally, entering the Oasis compound--which was meant to be the lunch room.
We had printed, cut and laminated a photo of each of the children currently attending the Oasis of Hope Drop-in Centre. Bre made this display for the event.
My incredibly talented friend, Brian Hurst, has designed some beautiful things for us...and this is only the beginning.

He made the pieces of this sign which shows the different programs run by Oasis.
{Phil made this display out of the graphics}
Lydia brought in and posted many of the photos and art projects she has collected over the years...she also made a slideshow of the many, many teams that have visited Oasis.
Brian has been hard-at-work designing some logo options for us.
We hung them on the wall and asked students to vote for their favorite...
Sasha {a gourmet chef who has visited Oasis twice} made a giant, delicious breakfast.
And since it was a beautiful, sunny day, we ate out on the patio.
{One guarantee when you throw a party at a Landscape Company: the outdoor patio will be gorgeous}
We covered each table in brown shipping paper and left a tub of crayons next to a was very fun to see what different people answered; how each person on a team has a unique experience.
This was my favorite table: "What song did you sing most often in Kenya?"
Lydia shared about the history and programs of Oasis.
Geoffrey even called to say hello.

Then Steve shared. His opening line was: "If tears and love and emotions could be converted in to shillings, Oasis would be the most well-funded place in all of Kitale."
At the end of the breakfast, students chose one of the pictures from the wall.
The round picture became the lid to their Mason jar project: "Hoping for Change"
We've asked them to fill-up a jar of change, so that change can bring about life change.

Here are Cory and Elise with their jars.
They chose to pray for P.I.G {"Peter Is Great"} and Lydia, respectively. Chris enjoyed a jar of chocolate milk while we cleaned up.
The breakfast was a hope is that more and more students begin to experience the joy of giving...and thinking outside of themselves.

This last picture has nothing to do with the Oasis breakfast, but I think Scotty is really cute.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Finally Find You And I Collide

I am often hesitant to post about how much I love Mariners Church.

Not because of my lack of love for my church, but for some reason, I have this strange feeling that people will somehow misconstrue my words to mean that I love Mariners and dislike Saddleback.

Which is absolutely untrue.

I love, love working at Mariners. I love that my co-workers finally know me well enough to make jokes about my affinity for boys with prior drug addictions or my inability to jump. I love that one of the executive staff members stopped me this afternoon to ask me if I knew the impact I was making, not only on our students, but on our staff as a whole. {I do not deserve to have found such favor so's clearly Jesus at work here.}

I still love, love Saddleback, too. I love that a majority of the Student Ministries team members have been my friends for over ten years. I love the volume and ease of laughter that arises in events, meetings, lunches. I worked there for around 10 years {in volunteer, intern and paid positions}, this list could continue for days.

This afternoon, at Catalyst Day 2, I watched my worlds collide:

I sat in the Mariners Worship Center, between Zack {from Saddleback} and Tim {from Mariners} listening to Kay Warren share about God's heart for the vulnerable children of the world...I stood behind Rick {Saddleback} and next to Matt {Mariners} as they listened to and enjoyed Wes Stafford's explanation of Jesus' heart for the children of the world.

My heart was so happy to have my two places merge.

My brain would not let this feeling go...the thought of loving two churches so much...feeling at home in both...being loved and loving others in both.

God is so good.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How Will You Lead Today To Create A Better Tomorrow?

This jump back in to blogging would be easier if:
1) I had a mental dictation-application that could write down the highlights of what my brain thought over the course of this week so I could catch you up to speed with greater efficiency.
2) I believed that people would read lengthy posts...I'm trying to give you the Reader's Digest version of gigantic things that I'm learning and wrestling with...which is causing me to be both overwhelmed at the idea of condensing and semi-uninteresting because many of the small idiosyncrasies are being lost in the self-editing.
3) I knew more about the destination of my long, elaborate, gigantic adventure God is taking me on right now.

I guess there are four important pieces to note:
1) God is in process of preparing me for something
2) I know this "something" is centered around human trafficking
3) Everyday God is revealing a little bit more about what that means, where it is and who is involved.
4) I can't explain how I know, but when I meet someone or hear about something that plays a role in the "something", I just know it...and I'm keeping record of the dates on which these nouns {people, places or things} present themselves.

In all of this, I have been wrestling with both God and myself.

I'm frustrated about waiting. And I'm frustrated with my inability to wait.
I want to move and take action and fight this injustice.
In my head, every minute I'm not kicking down doors and taking children in to safe spaces is a moment that I'm allowing more damage to be done. {This is not what fills my head 100% of the time, but it's definitely not 1% of the time either.}

Today {at the Catalyst West Coast Conference}, God spoke to me. Directly to me. Twice.

I began to cry, silently in my seat, when Andy Stanley said, "Your dreams will never be any bigger than what you believe is possible." I knew God was talking to me.

Okay God, I've been limiting your plans...I get it...I'm ready to think BIG.
But where do I even begin?

And again, He answered, when Dallas Willard said {to an auditorium filled with people, but he could have said, Hey Allison}, "Do the next right thing you know to do. It's that simple." my humanity, I am in such a rush.
I'm missing the beauty and weightlessness that comes in the preparation.

I am hoping to spend some time in the morning, pre-Donald Miller session, unpacking more of what's happening in my brain...and what the "next right thing" is.

I can't wait to see what God teaches me tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I Invented YouTube

When I was in High School, I remember standing in my room, talking to Ryanne and Alanna and saying, "Don't you wish you had a TV hanging on your wall...and when you pushed play you could watch your favorite scenes from a movie?"

Seriously. YouTube was my idea.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rub-A-Dub-Dub...One Bald Man In My Tub

My cute place is about 30 years old.
With age comes incredible kitchen counter tops {with Jetson's-esque pattern}
and wood paneled walls...

It also comes with outdoor lighting in the kitchen and living room,
and a really, really stained bathtub.

In the six months since we moved in, I have tried everything to get rid of those bathtub stains: at least four bathtub-specific cleaners--including two that boast about the bleach content of their product...I've even googled Heloise's cleaning tips {vinegar and baking soda}.

has worked.

Tonight, in the back of my kitchen cabinet, I found a bottle of Mr. Clean Multi Surface Antibacterial Cleaner. I thought, "What could it hurt to try?"

I poured a good amount all over the bathtub...enough to cover the bottom completely.

I wish I had taken before and after pictures...
With minimal scrubbing, that bathtub is beautiful.

I immediately went online to find a place to write this story to Mr. Clean...
I'm impressed with this cleaner.

Seriously...I can't wait to take a really clean shower in the morning!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Darlin' I Love You, But Gimme Park Avenue

Last night, I went to see Brothers at Sea up in LA. {They were super good, by the way. Download their album for free here. "Sun In Her Eyes" is my favorite...I've been singing it all day.}

My friend Jason picked me up from work and we drove up together. Thanks to his incredible freeway navigation skills, it only took us a little over an hour during high-traffic time. Well done, Petty.

With plenty of time before the show, we drove through the neighborhoods between USC and UCLA looking for dinner options...and I began to remember how much I love cities.

I love architecture. I love design and detailing. I love the story that is told by the historical and modern buildings resting side-by-side. I love the individuality shown by each of the unrestrained-by-association homeowners.

I love small side cafes with lots of pastries and no public restrooms.

I love the smell of cigarettes and pavement.

We walked around the SLS Hotel and I said, "Oh, wow!" at least two dozen times in that half-hour. Everything inside is art: from the concave mirrors in the hallway to the chocolate desserts in the was remarkable. I left wondering who is the person who has the amazing job of choosing which books would be displayed in the lobby of this beautiful hotel. {I'm a little jealous--Seriously! What a great job!}

I love the beach city where I live, but there is something about a giant walking city that will always feel inviting and attractive to me.

Maybe someday, after moving home from Kenya, I'll live in Manhattan.

Here's To Happiness {Part 2}

I know I've made a happy list before, but I've been compiling a second over time {on one of the many post-its I keep on my desktop}. I think it's nice to keep record of Things That Make Me Incredibly Happy...

1. A new Sartorialist post
2. A conversationally well-placed Scientific term
3. Emailing back-and-forth so quickly it feels like instant messaging
4. A "saw this and thought of you" gift
5. Talking about a book that I love with someone who just finished reading it
6. Playing the "guess what song is stuck in my head" game
7. Sitting in almost-not-enough light
8. Molly asking "Hey Super Fun Alli, do you want to snuggle me on the couch?"
9. A specific conversational "call back"
10. Watching someone do something they really love
Stolen from Love, Taza.

If you want to write a list, I would love to see it...and even post it here.