Thursday, January 31, 2008

Budapest Tri club

This morning Nona and I ran and biked around Hero's Square. Nona is from New York and married a Hungarian man. I was fortunate to find her so we can talk about all things "tri". She's competed in a few and her husband is also an avid biker.

Anyways, we were talking about how there are no real training groups here in Budapest. It's a real bummer because if there were groups meeting early in the morning to train, we would both join.

So I said to her, why don't we start one, Nona? I think we might do it. This Saturday I'm meeting one of the college girls to run at Margaret Island. I'm going to talk to her about it because she's planning to compete in a relay Ironman with a few other girls and I thought it would be great to train together. So, here's to Budapest Tri Club....How does that sound as a good name for the group?

Whose your daddy?

Here are my unrelated thoughts.
First, New England Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl because this is the year for all things Mass. Now that I got that off my chest, I can continue with my real story....;)

I love this picture! But for me, I need to take it past the football analogy. Sorry guys, I'm a girl and here are my unrelated and random thoughts. I'm getting off the football train now and I want to focus on the quote.

"Whose your daddy?" or "Never forget who your daddy is." The quote has been used for lots of things but for me it holds much greater implications.

Where do I start?

Yes, I'm a believer and in being one I've had the joy of being a daughter. John Mayer sings, "Fathers be good to your daughters" and the reality is that every daughter feels legitimate when her father is good to her, when He treats her as she was meant to be treated by a man. Fathers set the standard for what their daughters believe is possible in good men. I've also heard that every boy becomes a man when he hears the words of his father saying he is a man and calling Him into the greatness of being a man. I like that.

My dad and mom are still married after 37 years. My dad is a good man. I really want to give him honor and credit because as a father, he worked hard for our big family and I've always respected that about him. He was funny, intelligent, a bit of a sarcastic bite in his humor but I think he always tried to treat his kids the best he knew how with what he had.

When I became a Christ-follower, I was introduced to God as a Father and I must say that something was completed in my soul as a daughter. I believe I'm a better daughter to my dad now too. Because God has been and is a good father. His consistent character and nature towards me constantly overshadow the doubts that plague my mind of an unloving, uncaring God. In this very personal and intimate father/daughter relationship, He has surprised me with things even when I felt I didn't deserve it. He has always been my greatest encourager and He calls the best out of me every day. Simply put, no one can rival God's fathering capacity in our lives.

When I think back on all the things I've seen and lived through, I'm reminded.
How many miracles I've seen, how many sunsets and sunrises were painted by His hand for personal enjoyment, how many times He was the only one there to lift my head and bring me out of the pit.

He has proven His unconditional love to me again and again.

So this quote stood out to me. "Never forget...."

There have been a few areas in my life where I do forget. I quickly exchange my confidence in His track record for what I'm experiencing or feeling in the moment. And this is no way to live. Or sometimes I get busy living life and I lose sight of my dad. I forget that I'm never too big to sit on His lap and let Him love me. I'm never too big to tell Him what I'm thinking and what I need. After all, He's my daddy.
He's got good things ahead. Never forget it.

Matthew 7:11
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

more funnies and inspiration

"Chlorine is my perfume." unknown

"When the earth floods from global warming, the swimmers will rule the world!" unknown

"Tough times don't last but tough people do." AC Green (love this guy!)

“If it doesn’t kill you it will make you stronger.” -Nietzsche

"Pain is only temporary." unknown

Swim practices

Working on my flip turn and my form the last few morning practices has been good but a little frustrating. I'm torn between practicing form and working on speed. I realized it's unavoidable and I need to master the flip turn for mental preparation purposes. During that 1/2 mile swim in July, there won't be a wall to bouy from. Boy, that Olympic "watercube" building in Beijing sure was inspiring, wasn't it? I love the pictures.

The Prez

I love hearing US News from a European perspective. It's always quite interesting. BBC News it fairly good, but sometimes they make it sound so dramatic.

I listened to a little of Bush's speech at an American Helicopter company in Torrance, California. I started to get nostalgic for Redondo Beach and the area near Torrance...the city I lived in for awhile. Yes, I miss the ocean. But I digress.

I thought the President did a good job speaking on the economy today and I liked what he said to inspire investments. I do hope the US pulls out of this housing slump. It sounds like the President is trying to get some things done to avoid a slump in the economy at large. Just my thoughts from afar. And a reminder that I need to seriously start thinking about who I'll vote for in November. I also need to figure out how to do that at the US Embassy here in Budapest. Kind of exciting to be an out of the country voter and not in the military. ha.

I live off inspiration

Lots of friends have said that I'm a natural encourager to them and honestly I think it's true. I LOVE LOVE LOVE to see people pursue their dreams and fulfill them. I love to encourage people to reach those dreams.

Although it comes naturally to encourage and inspire others, I realized I must find inspiration for myself almost daily.

Don't worry, I usually do. But the point is I have to go and find it. It doesn't naturally seem to come to me. And I can find it in almost anything.

I actually didn't realize all of this until recently when a friend said to me that I probably need to always keep my personal encouragement tank full --and I realized it's true. I'm always looking for inspiration in all forms and for every area of my life.

Don't get me wrong. I know that life is not a series of mountain tops. I actually think the valleys can be even more inspiring sometimes. And although I'm a dreamer, I'm also a realist. Although I'm a romantic, I also know that genuine love takes work. Maybe that's why I love movies based on true stories. I live off that real, rugged, genuine inspiration.

And then sometimes I just need funny.

Here's a good one that I recently found on someones blogspot and had to laugh...

"Run slowly, run daily, drink moderately and don't eat like a pig."
~Dr. Ernest van Aaken


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It's official

Well, it's official.

On July 12th I will tri. Yep. I will tri not to DIE.

I sent off the registration form so my first sprint triathlon takes place at Eton College 15 minutes outside of London. The TIMEXWomensonly tri is raising funds and awareness for Breast Cancer. Hows that for being PC.

...holding my breath
...letting it out
......sweaty palms
.......what have I got myself into? ahhhh

But you know, this personal goal keeps me honest.
I have to get out there and workout almost every day.

....and hopefully I'll bring a few girls with me.

Noemi, Hajni (two girls at Elte U) and Eszter are working out with me and I'm trying to convince them to join me. We will see if they can swing it.

Next big challenge - what bike will I ride? Keeping my options open, I just know I won't be biking from Budapest to London to make it happen. Rent or borrow is my plan.

Swimming Center in Beijing

Someday I want to see the summer Olympic games and not just on t.v.

I actually checked into a ticket from Budapest to Beijing for this summer's Olympic games but it's just not going to happen. The cost is outrageous and plus I couldn't find anyone crazy enough to go with me into that crowd.

Oh well....maybe someday it will happen.

Look at this incredible building where most of the swimming competitions will take place. They are calling it the "watercube" and it's not made of glass but of high tech stuff instead. The watercube is actually only one of 18 sports facilities being built in China for the 2008 Olympic games.

I get inspired by these things. Not sure why but I LIVE for this kind of inspiration. I need to be inspired.

And with that inspiration, I'm hoping to get a few swims in this week.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Inspiring Friendships

This morning I got an unexpected and very welcomed call from my friend Andrea in Texas. Actually, it's the second time this week and I'm loving it!! We were roommates in Los Angeles at one time. Now, Andrea is married to an amazing man, has two boys and a third in the oven. Andrea is one of those women who brings out the best in you whether it's spiritually, emotionally, athletically. I always get inspired by her at some level. Even when she has bad days, she's amazing. Not because she hides things (because she doesn't) but because she's genuine about her struggles and this journey called life.

After we got off the phone, I started thinking about Andrea and her life. Seasons have changed. We used to have crazy fun driving around LA, working out and taking classes together at Fuller as singles preparing for campus ministry. Then there was a season when I was at UNR and she was at U of A when I would call her for needed inspiration on how to minister to athletes....

Andrea inspired me then and she inspires me now. Today she's working for the IRS, raising two young boys, and helping her husband get his musical career off the ground. (Eric sings with Kirk Franklin but he's starting an amazing thing called "Resonate". Just a little plug for him -- here's his my space page -- Add him as a friend and tell him I sent ya!! This is what makes me smile most, though!! On her work breaks at the IRS she does workout sets on the stairs to stay fit throughout the day. (This former division-1 volleyball player still has it in her!!)

Atleast for now, Andrea and Eric are no longer in "vocational" ministry - where ministry is their "job." She's working for the IRS. But I can guarantee that people are being influenced by her and loved on as she is herself. She shared a story to that end just this morning.

If you have these kind of friends in your life, you are well aware that people come into your life for a reason. And in my book, in most cases, these are lifetime friendships. At least that's the case with Andrea.

I might be stepping on toes but I have to say this too. It's been a great shift for me in thinking about my own life and the life of my friends who were once in vocational ministry but are now mixing it up in the "real world." We are all called to be ministers. Some of us believe that more than others. The real test comes when you're in the middle of doing life.....and realize God has called you a royal priesthood, a holy nation....wherever you are. Sometimes it's about seasons for a season it's your actual job to minister and other seasons it's not....but nonetheless, when friends like Andrea go through this shift from vocational to life ministry, it's a great reminder to check your perspective on all of this. We are all called. Yep

Road trips and fruit trees

Recently, I’ve been missing the West Coast…..and the Southern California ocean in particular near Redondo Beach and Palos Verdes. It’s funny how our thoughts can take us on rabbit trails sometimes. The ocean reminded me of a few road trips to get there.

A few years ago I drove back to Los Angeles from Reno with my Uncle Jim and his friend Tom. As we drove 395 South, Tom and I started talking about trees. His father’s father started a tree farm in Northern California that’s still in the family today. It’s a Christmas tree farm. Anyways, I thought I’d ask Tom, who seemed to know a thing or two about horticulture, about a tree that was growing in my backyard in LA at the time.

I was living in a condo for about a year with three other people who had already been living there for a few years. In the sliver of what is called a back yard, a tree produced three kinds of fruit. Yeah, that’s not a misprint. Three kinds of fruit on one tree! Crazzyy!

When I first moved in, there were delicious limes to pick. About six months later, this SAME tree began producing lemons. Alright, yeah. It was hilarious at first until a year later the SAME tree started producing oranges – very tart oranges, but oranges nonetheless. You can call me crazy or a liar (which my brother Greg called me …..He still doesn’t believe me) but my roommates and I had a lime-lemon-orange tree.

So I asked Tom about this, thinking that possibly it was uncommon. But, to my surprise he wasn’t surprised at all. He said it’s called grafting. Grafting describes any number of techniques in which a section of a stem with leaf buds is inserted into the stock of a tree and actually changes the ability of the tree to bear different variations of fruit. Grafting several cultivars on one tree can create interesting results, such as the lime-lemon-orange tree in our backyard at the time. Tom said you can even buy trees that have been grafted this way.

I got to thinking about grafting and realized how similar grafting is to what Jesus said: “Abide in me and you will bear much fruit.”

I love the Message Remix Bible and the way it reads Galatians 5!

To me, this perfectly describes abiding in God AND being grafted in.

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about, it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good – crucified. Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts but work out its implications in every detail of life. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”

God never meant to make clones of people. Every single individual has a unique fingerprint. Your hair color, eye color, body type, stature, and all the in betweens make you a one of a kind original. God wants to take all of you and add all of Himself to make something spectacular like a lime-lemon-orange tree!!

I was also reminded that there is always room for people to change, to transform. You may be producing lemons in your life right now….but there’s room for other fruit.

Reminder for me: Don’t compare yourself with others. Don’t compare where they are in life with where you are in life. Just stay in God’s pocket. You’ll always have flavor that way, even if the flavor changes!!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I will Tri

Palms sweaty. Heart racing. What have I got myself into? As I start to envision race day, I get excited and nervous at the same time. Stories of what people go through during transition time are humorous and intimidating. I have five months to get used to the idea and keep training.

You don't really get a chance to see the race site beforehand and I'm notorious for searching out a place to feel a bit comfortable in my surroundings -- checking things out to get in the groove. I can see how you have to be mentally strong. Lord, help me.

Then I don't have a wet suit yet or a tri suit. Do I need one? Back and forth people have opinions. I think I'll be ordering a trisuit and have it brought over with the team that comes in March.

I don't even have a bike to call my own.....this is another dilemma. My bike was stolen last spring and since then I've been using a friends. How reasonable and feasible is it for me to build out a bike here in Budapest or buy a semi-cheap bike and re-sell it down the road? Lots of things involved in this thing called Tri and most of them involve money.

I'm reading "Endurance Sports Nutrition" and realizing how important it will be on race day to be stocked with sports drinks and gels and I want to have the right stuff. Never used sports drinks, liquids, gels....But I guess this is the fastest and most reliable way to get your sugar levels right when you're competing.

This week Laura will take me to the Decathlon store outside of Budapest to look around. I'm excited to see what they've got. It's fun. It's exciting. It's a bit scary but I WILL TRI in 08!!

interesting lunch today

Two French students, two Hungarians, a Latvian and a Pole....and me.

It's what you call "variety" english.

"Fill in the gaps" english.

Affectionately called "Hunglish" by both Hungarians and Native English speakers.

Always interesting.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rudy - the fighting Irish

Tonight I just wanted to relax and I've had my eye on "Rudy" for awhile. But Noemi asked if I'd meet her,her sister and a family friend for coffee around 8 pm. I had a birthday gift for Noemi so I thought I'd just stay for an hour. I met her Syrian friend and her sister Kinga.

When I got home I pulled out the movie and this time went straight to the special features. I was hoping they'd have the "real story" because I love true stories. I don't know what it is but I get teary-eyed every time I watch this movie and this time even watching special features. It's classic American dreaming and one of my favorites.

The power of a dream. The power of hope against all hope. Ahh, I love it.

I found a page that has a ton of quotes and dialogue from the movie. Thought I'd share cuz their just great.

Steele: Rudy,are you ready for this, champ?
Rudy: I've been ready for this my whole life!
Steele: Then you take us out on the field. (This is when I get choked up...Ok, one of many times when I do.)

Fortune: You're 5 foot nothin', 100 and nothin', and you have barely a speck of athletic ability. And you hung in there with the best college football players in the land for 2 years. And you're gonna walk outta here with a degree from the University of Notre Dame. In this life, you don't have to prove nothin' to nobody but yourself. Am I making myself clear?

Father Cavanaugh: Son, in 35 years of religious study, I have only come up with two hard incontrovertible facts: there is a God, and I'm not Him. (Love that line!! So true.)

Rudy: We're gonna go inside, we're gonna go outside, inside and outside. We're gonna get 'em on the run boys and once we get 'em on the run we're gonna keep 'em on the run. And then we're gonna go go go go go go and we're not gonna stop til we get across that goal line. This is a team they say is... is good, well I think we're better than them. They can't lick us, so what do you say men?

Rudy: You're the only one who ever took me seriously, Pete.
Pete: Well, you know what my dad always said, Having dreams is what makes life tolerable.

D-Bob: What's a lapsed Catholic to do?

Rudy: I'm sorry I never got to see your first game in here.
Fortune: Hell I've seen too many games in this Stadium.
Rudy: I thought you said you never saw a game...
Fortune: I've never seen a game from the stands.
Rudy: You were a player?
Fortune: I rode the Bench for two years thought I wasn't being played because of my color I got filled up with alot of attidue so I quit, still not a week goes by I don't regret it, and I guarantee a week won't go by in your life you won't regret walking out letting them get the best of you. Do you hear me clear enough?

Rudy: I'm here to play football for the Irish!
Fortune: Coach Parseghian know about it?
Rudy: No... not yet.
Fortune: Well maybe you best tell him first...

Father C: How long have you thought about this decision?
Rudy: For as long as I can remember. I used to watch....
Father C: Have you taken the proper steps, investigated the process?
Rudy: Yes, I have more to learn, but...
Father C: Are you fully aware of the sacrifices you'll have to make?
Rudy: I am. I'll do whatever it takes.
Father C: What brought you here today?
Rudy: I just came from my best friend's funeral. He said that...
Father C: Of course.
Rudy: What do you mean of course?
Father C: Son, it's very common for people who are suffering a crisis to seek escape into the cloth. We usually recommend a greiving or a cooling off period....
Rudy: Escape into the cloth?
Father C: That's just an expression that we use to describe people who are running away from emotional or psychological pain by choosing priesthood.
Rudy: You think I want to become a priest?
Father C: Dont you?
Rudy: Nothing against being a priest father, but I don't think it's for me.
Father C: Why are you here?
Rudy: I want to go to school at Notre Dame.

Rudy: Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to go to school here. And ever since I was a kid everyone said it couldn't be done. My whole life people have been telling me what I could do and couldn't do. I've always listened to them, believed in what they said. I don't want to do that anymore.

Crushed Orange, Well Traveled

Livingroom themes are dancing through my head. I'm in "flat excitement mode" as I think about moving in a few weeks and how I want to make the place look. The new flat has lots of potential. It's already furnished and the livingroom is big enough to have lots of parties for every occasion. I decided I'm going to find crushed orange accent pieces for the livingroom and give it an international theme. I hope this bold orange will be enough color in this very "cremeish" room. I'll be looking at Ikea for some inexpensive pillows and other decor to go on the futon couch/bed. It's actually kind of uncomfortable to sit on the futon so maybe a lot of extra pillows will help. Yep. I think I've decided. I'm loving it. The picture here is the one I thought I could ask Eszter to paint and write something like "Well Traveled" below it. Kind of cool. The one she painted for the kitchen took six hours (and I pretended to paint with her) Yes....Six hours of painting is prime talk time! And God used it for sure. You can't beat that. Plus, she's doing something she absolutely loves. And I absolutely love that she loves doing it. I'm learning from her too.On the subject of color and paint, Eszter's birthday is coming up. She was telling me that growing up they had no money but she loved to paint. So her mom would let her take old sheets and cut them out, placing wood behind it and then paint on it as a canvas. She still has her works. Wow. That's creative. It's time she gets some painting supplies. Birthdays are a perfect time for that.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Timex Tri

So for my first event, I'm looking at the TIMEX Tri. It's for women only, raising funds and awareness for the pink ribbon cancer issue, which actually makes me feel a bit more "safe". Probably sounds strange but I started thinking of all the variables on race day and got a bit overwhelmed. So many things I still need to prepare and SOOO far I need to go for training. But I like this idea for a first event. It's taking place at Eton College, Dorney Lake -- the very same site they will use for two events in the 2012 Olympic Rowing Competitions. Maybe that will be the closest I come to going to an Olympic game - my dream.....

Anyways, my friend in London said he could find a place for me to stay and we could figure things out for the travel distance (It's about an hour from London's city center but public transportation is close). I would love to get a few of the girls to join me. This one might be it! I have to get my registration in soon if I'm going to do it.

John Mayer's "Say"

John Mayer's music, his style, his passion for what he sings about, are all things I love and enjoy. Not sure what it is but I love his stuff. Anyways, this song was posted by a news article about Heath Ledger's death. I haven't heard this song before so I was excited to find some new music from him and the message is great.

How short life is -- the moments we truly have each day -- and that it's better to say too much than to never have the chance to say it again.

This music video for "Say" looks like it's for a recent movie. I haven't seen it and don't know which movie this is, but I'd love to see it if anyone knows which movie, let me know.

This topic of life and death.....and this song. Reminds me of my grandma. Two weeks before she passed away, I was home visiting from LA. I was lying on the bed next to her, holding her wrinkled and well-lived hand. Her favorite scripture was Psalm 23 and even though she had alzeimer's, her eyes lit up as I reminded her that God was our shepherd. I told her how beautiful she was to me and felt the old wrinkles in her hand. It was a moment. None of us knew when she would go. Two weeks later, the call came and she had died peacefully in her sleep. Coming back for the funeral, I cried tears of joy because every time I was near her I didn't hold back. I made sure to hold her hand, to sit with her, to look at her and take in all the memories I had from being a kid and playing, eating, loving at Grandma's house. I will forever be thankful for that moment in time and for "saying what I needed to say". She loved God and is no doubt having a blast with God today and I'm so thankful for that moment. I get choked up thinking about it now.

leading a train

A few days ago, Eszter came over. We did pilates and afterwards we talked about her life and where she is today. I asked if she 's ever read the story of Ezster in the Bible. She knew her name was biblical but it's also Barbara Streisand's (Eszter's musical heroine) screen name for the main girl in "Woman in the Moon." I asked if she'd want to look at the story and if she'd want to study the Bible with me. Yes, she would. My prayer is for God to truly tie her into His purposes.

Last night I met with Dori and a similar thing is taking place for her. She's open to my conversations about spiritual things and she wants to get together.

I'm leaving in a few minutes to ride over to Margaret Island where I'll meet up with Noemi and Hajni. They are two university girls who love to work out and this has been a great way to get to know them. Hajni did a triathlon last year and a marathon. Wow. Noemi did a half marathon. I'm hoping maybe I can convince one of them to join me this summer -- most likely a triathlon outside of London. In the meantime, doing what I love -- working out and meeting with girls, I'm believing that great conversations will come up and that God will continue to draw them into His purposes. It's so exciting as this is why I came to Budapest, believing for girls.

There's a place in the Bible I can't think of where it is now but basically it talks about leading a train of girls -- women who walk in their nobility as God's daughters - into the temple. I see it here in Hungary! Lord, let it happen.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Renovation of the Heart, by Dallas Willard

This is my second time reading through the book. Willard talks about how our thoughts, feelings, choices, body, social context = all forming the "soul" - can be re-formed as our ally to Christlikeness, cooperating with God's purposes. Hmmm. I like that. He talks about these things in detail and exhorts to go after a "well-kept" heart. I think this will always be the journey of a lifetime, where some days are better than others but the pursuit continues. Maybe that's the difference between a life well lived and just "livin' life."

"Those with a well kept heart are persons who are prepared for and capable of responding to the situations of life in ways that are good and right. Their will functions as it should, to choose what is good and avoid what is evil and the other components of their nature cooperate to that end. They need not be "perfect"; but what all people manage in at least a few times and areas of life, they manage in life as a whole."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Clarence learns how to be cool...

I couldn't resist. Just for laughs.

Bevan Docherty, Mr. Consistency

Always looking for encouragement, this is a great reminder to just keep a steady pace and be consistent. Bevan Docherty (the guy who finished first and won the World Cup in 2005) is actually known as "Mr. Consistency" when it comes to the Tri world.

Don't mind the Eminem music....I actually like it though since I'm ghetto girl at heart.

But oh..... to be known for consistency.

Just tonight I was thinking, "Jen... You know what to do (been reading Endurance Sports Nutrition) so why don't you do it?"

True confessions. The last few days I've had a lot of chocolate and junk food and I'm just thinking how much easier it is in theory rather than practice. It doesn't mean I won't try again tomorrow. I want to be consistent. I just have so far to go. Tomorrow is a new day. I can start fresh.

Gypsy kids tonight on the tram

Gypsies have a bad reputation in Eastern Europe. In Hungary, 44% of Gypsy Roma children are in special schools and almost 3/4ths of gypsy men and women are unemployed. They are known for being destructive, violent and non-conforming. Being the eternal optimist that I am, I just haven't bought into it, though experience should tell me otherwise. I had one gypsy student last year who was SOOOO hard. I loved the kid. REally, I did. Beni had so much going for him if he could just get it together. Well, he couldn't or he didn't and his reputation proceeded him.

I have a soft spot for hard kids. I used to be one in junior high and most of high school. Dad and mom were always getting calls to come get their daughter out of some predicament. So yes, I believe in people changing and God doing miraculous works. One of my favorite books is "The Cross and The Switchblade", how David Wilkerson got his start in New York working with gangs.....But I digress.

Tonight I experienced the second most disturbing tram ride of my life in Hungary. In between the high school club and meeting up with Anett tonight, I had to rush in and out of my flat. I tucked my keys away in a side pocket of my bag and forgot about them. I met with Anett and came home.... When I rounded the corner home, I searched for the keys. I forgot I had tucked them away, so I headed back to Nyugati station thinking I would have a long night looking for keys....

But, once I got to Nyugati, I remembered they were in my pocket and I started home again. Back and forth, back and forth....As I waited for the tram, a group of junior high/high school gypsy kids came and sat literally right next to me. They were loudly bantering back and forth, hitting each other, yelling (3 girls and 3 guys), even throwing punches. The girls were dressed a bit scantily for being 13 or 14. I think they were on drugs too cuz' their eyes had that glazed look. Anyways, one of the guys started pulling this girls hair and swinging at her, treating her like an animal. It really disturbed me and I was about to say something but I was just hoping they would stop. One girl pushed the other girl down and ran off. It was crazy! I was trying to muster up my words of what to say (language barriers suck).....

The tram came so we jumped on and again they were right by me. I was watching my bag like a hawk, as they are known to steal things. Anyways, they kept right up and finally I couldn't take it anymore and I said, "Beszeltek angolul??" which means, "Do you speak english?" to this one guy who was picking on the girl. Then I just said, "Don't treat her like that. She's a girl. What's your problem?" (in English...) All of them mocked me and had this attitude, even the girls. Wow. And I had a crowd of people who ride the tram and never see things like a dumb American try and "help". Needless to say they quieted down a little but not much. I got off at the next stop but OOHHHHH how I wish I spoke the language. I would have taken those kids aside, given them a hamburger and chewed their ear off about Jesus.... It was obvious they were trouble makers because they're neglected. You can't fix the whole world, but I just pray God goes after those kids. He knows their names. I don't. I wanted to intervene and show the love of God. So tough with a language barrier. Frustrating and discouraging too...Not that anything would have changed but sometimes it just takes one moment, one comment, one something for someone to wake up and smell the coffee.

These kids need a "one moment." Lord, bring it.

Roommate conversations

So my old roommate loves her new place in Ujipest. I affectionately call Anna "village girl" because she went and lived in a Hungarian community for a few weeks to learn the language during her holiday. That's dedication.

Just before Christmas we went to eat at an Indian Restaurant in Budapest and had a great time. She was a great roommate! One of the best. Last night I was missing our conversations and the laughs that usually accompany our talks so I called her. She wasn't doing anything.

We ended up talking about some things that I've been musing over for awhile now. We were talking about making decisions and God's will. How much of what we decide is our decision and how much of it is God's will. It's quite a deep topic and I wonder who has figured it all out.

The thing that stood out to me is something she came across when she was looking at the word "decision" and it's meaning in greek or hebrew or latin or something. Basically, the word means "to cut off". When you decide something you are cutting off other options. When I decided to turn my heart to Christ, I cut off the old life. When I decided certain things along the way of my life, I cut off other things. And then we asked the question -- can you live with your decisions?

In the light of a lifetime and eternity, I'm looking at this thing called God's will and my decision. I'm trying to make sense of it. Comments, thoughts, observations and experiences are welcomed. I'd love to hear your musings.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Flat Found & other Musings

Yesterday I put the deposit down on a flat. After a slight bump in the road with the last flat, I'm excited about this one. It's a little further outside of the city center where I spend most of my time but not too far. It's right across the street from Hero's Square and the park behind it where I will no doubt log lots of miles running and biking.

Before I chose the flat, I went back to see it and noticed I couldn't find the light switch for the entry hall. I'm sure there is lighting, I just couldn't find it. As a woman you have to be aware of these things. I don't ever want to have to use my self-defense course tricks and I no longer have pepper spray on my key chain. Anyways, the guy who helped me find the flat is Scottish. I thought he was Irish but he's Scottish. I called him to ask him a few questions about the flat and he said, "Jen, if you have any problems you will just call me and me and this other guy will come down there and rail on anyone who hurts you." I now call James my bodyguard. We joked about it yesterday when I brought in the deposit, but he has no idea that I wouldn't hesitate to call him if I couldn't reach some of the guys on our team - not that anything will happen, but you know. You always have to have your back up plans.

So, I've got a flat and a Scottish bodyguard too! He's quite the character. He's married to a Hungarian woman and has an 8 year old son whose going to be on Hungarian tv. I guess he's quite a troublemaker at school. I heard all about James life as we went apartment searching last week. He's been living here for 15 years and speaks the language. I have language jealousy issues going on over that. He said he remembers. His wife couldn't speak good english when he first met her and at first it was ok...they didn't talk about a whole lot. But then they had to find out things from each other along the way so both of them were stretched. Wow. Communication is a key to a great marriage for sure.

I met Eszter at Margaret Island to exercise yesterday. I felt like her personal trainer. The exciting thing for me is that I have been where Eszter is at - unhappy about the way I feel and look weight wise and discouraged about it all. I just never had a boyfriend who echoed those thoughts and told me I needed to lose weight. YUCK. This guy is a schmuck and I'm praying she loses him FAST. When I was in Los Angeles, my friend Melanie who used to be a personal trainer helped get me in gear. Except we had Redondo Beach and the Ocean....ahhhhh. I miss the Ocean but I'm not complaining. The Danube is right here too.

Eszter wants to come over again this week. I'm glad she has LOTS of spare time until she gets a job. We've had some great conversations and I'm trusting God to really do a solid work in her soul. Thanks for believing with me.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Longer workouts means a crunched up body and the potential for injury. Yuck. I feel it mostly in my lower back and hip reflexers. But thanks to the sis I've got a plan to stretch and strengthen. It's called Pilates. I know it's popular as a primary workout and I can see why but I'm seeing how necessary it is to incorporate this kind of work to help the muscles that support your back and bum. It's slower, purposeful and good to remember to do. "Noelle's 10 minute powerhouse" and "Shelly McDonalds Caribbean Pilates Core workout".I woke up really feeling the last three days of workouts. So, I did 15 minutes of this and now I'm ready to start the day. Woo hoo!

Eszter's art

Wish I could find my camera tonight. All my stuff is stored away in a corner of the room in my friends house. I don't feel like picking through boxes to find the camera. Needless to say, Eszter did a great job on the "Coffee....the breakfast of champions" art piece I asked her to do for me. It's a keepsake. I told her she has to sign her initials so when I have it hanging somewhere and my grandchildren come by to see their 70 year old grandma and they ask about it, I'll remember this amazing artist, Eszter.

We sat in my friends livingroom for over 6 hours as she painted and I pretended to paint too. Great conversations. We had leftovers from yesterday for dinner (chicken and rice and potatoes...yum)

I'm praying for Eszter: first that she will give her life to Christ in full dedication. Second, that God will lead her and help her with this schmuck of a guy she calls her boyfriend. Sorry but he's a schmuck.

All I have to say is that Eszter...yeah. She's an artist. Me, I'm a wanna-be.

She asked me if we could start exercising together. She also wants to study spiritual things together. I think tomorrow when we walk/run, I'm going to ask if she wants to read the book of Eszter together. A very good friend of mine suggested doing that. I thought it was brilliant, as the British say.

the weather is amazing here!

The sun is shining. It's warm outside. People are smiling a little more today.

Is this really winter? I don't think so. Here in Budapest the weather is amazing today.

This morning with a light sweatshirt and no layered clothing, I did laps around Hero's Square. There were a few other bikers out, but not the normal training group I saw sometimes last spring.

I hope the weather continues. I logged a 1 hour 10 minute ride. I'm going to try to get a short run in later tonight. I'm on the upswing of training and hopeful that my body will continue to cooperate.

Great quote

"Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what? Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful." - Mark Victor Hansen

So true with everything in life, not just working out!

I think it's the Bible that says if we wait for perfect conditions, we would never do anything, such as farming in Eccl 11:4. Not that I want to take up farming, althought the thought has crossed my mind after watching the movie series I was talking about recently....ha ha.

A life motto for me is to let go of my fears, get out in the world and live. I'm finding when I just get started, step out and walk into whatever thing it is that God or I am developing in my life, I begin to see my life shape and form in the best direction.

It's a new year and there are new things waiting around every corner. Maybe it's a new business, a new career, a new relationship or smaller things such as new records to hold for distance and training, new ways of eating, new faces who will come to know the Lord in Hungary, I believe.

Thanks for the quote Rob.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

surprisingly great run

I wasn't sure if I'd get the chance to workout today. But i have to say that today was a big hit. After church I had a bunch of people over for lunch. I made chicken and rice, mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. The potatoes were the BEST. I love cooking for other people and most people like eating what I cook, so it works out great. Peter, Csoba, Nori, Eszter, Ela and Lisa came over and afterwards we watched Italian Job on my friends big tv. LOVE that movie. I don't know why since it's all about thievery. I think it's the "Napster" comments, the adrenaline-pumping suspense and really just the mini-coopers.

Afterwards, Peter, Nori and Eszter invited me to join them at Peter's new workplace "IMAX theatres". It's this movie theater that actually has a really cool VIP section where you pay a little extra and get all you can eat food while you wait for the movie. Then, you enjoy the film with a handful of people - like 40 people in one VIP room. So, you can rent it out for birthdays, special events. It's really a great idea. Anyways, we got there and realized they were all sold out but in the meantime, Peter's main boss from Israel wanted to talk to him. When we reunited with Peter, we found out he's been promoted to the Deputy manager over the coffee bar and VIP section. A big promotion with better pay and longer hours. He's great with people and a really hard worker. It stinks though because there are few labor laws here and it's absolutely terrible how they treat their employees - 14, 15 even 17 hour work days...Can you imagine? Anyways, we went to this really cool Indian teashop (Peter's a nut for Indian culture) and celebrated his promotion with this hot chocolate...(they bring you a steamed milk and then you put this cube of chocolate on a stick and mix it around.....) Oh, my is it delicious!

All that to say I didn't get home until later than expected. I debated whether I should go for a run but the weather was absolutely clear and wonderful so I had no excuse.

I ended up running for an hour behind Hero's Square and it was great! Honestly, I think it has to do with the way I've been eating healthier. Not sure, but the whole thing is interesting. The run was good through the park, except for the smelly streets. Yuck. But it's this amazing park with a castle, one of the largest ice skating rinks in Europe and an amusement park with zoo. I look over at the castle and realize once again "pinch me...I live here."

So yeah.. An hour!! That's like unheard of for me. I wasn't really out of breath or dying, although half-way through I did have to find a bathroom. Working my way up to this amount of time has been an ongoing but steady journey for me..... I have to step up the training and so an hour run is like....miraculous and I hope it continues.

women of the wild, wild west

A lot of the women of the wild west were quite admirable. I think I would have survived as a woman taking the covered wagon trail to the wild west. Of course I'll never know but women had to be SO strong, not just physically but mentally and emotionally. Most people associate strength with a man's abilities. But there's a different kind of strength women can have too and these women really shine.

What provoked these thoughts? Janette Oke wrote a best-selling Novel called “Love Comes Softly” with sequels. They made a dvd series and this Christmas, to my surprise, I found it at Walmart by accident! I bought the series and a few nights ago I watched the last one...It brought me to tears. Yes, I know...A bit cheesy but true. For those interested, there were three DVD's - Love comes softly, Love’s enduring Promise and Love’s Long Journey.

Some would watch it and laugh, mocking the Christian overtones but I absolutely LOVE it. And I think it's genuine. A few nights ago while watching the final “Love’s Long Journey”, I realized that being a woman and being strong are a beautiful combination, especially when you live in the wild west where cowboys and Indians don’t mess around.

The women literally built a home out of nothing. Most of them had to help with farming or other things, and they didn’t seem to think twice about getting their hands dirty to get stuff done. Indians were quite an interesting phenom. Cowboys didn't understand their culture. And then you had bandits and prostitutes and rough winters. Anyways....

I have to be honest. I'm so thankful for the men in my life who have been a great example of manly strength....when it really counts their character shines through to lead, protect, provide. And I'm thankful for the women who have demonstrated this healthy strength, not twisted into a modern femininity that strips women of the pure joy of having strong men in their life....

Healthy, genuine womanhood also contains a bit of life-giving strength. The women who came west were pretty amazing if you think about it. There are many unsung women heroes who helped build the west into what it is today.

I guess I've got a bit of Wild West Nostalgia while watching these dvd's. I fully warn you it's a bit like Little House on the Prairie but good stuff. Let the world laugh. I love it.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

training jump start

I'm slowly plodding through "Endurance Sports Nutrition". It's a good book and I like her general approach to nutrition. Basically, it's all about remembering to drink fluids and fuel before, during (long workouts) and after training as well as on normal days. I also like her mentality on food and that foods are not good or bad. I easily fall into that trap but years ago remember reading that foods aren't good or bad and thinking "that's good..." Yeah, it's also biblical. Anyways, the thought that you shouldn't deprive yourself of the things you love but just use moderation - is a life long goal and I love it.....she calls those things that I love "extras." She breaks down everything though I'm not so interested in some of the charts and details. So, I'm about 1/3 of the way through.

Juicing it during the day this week has been a good jump start to train again. I ended up changing it up a bit and ate light meals in the evening. But I was much more aware of what I was eating and felt the energy from the drinks I chose. My favorite home-made juice is this interesting concoction of carrots, tomatoes, slice of lemon and clove of garlic. It's kind of potent but delishious. If you've never juiced, it's great. I remember my dad talking about it like it was the best thing since sliced bread and now I know why. Some drinks just taste amazing freshly ground.

Biking in the rain today was a bit of an adventure. It turned into a light drizzle and I was thankful for that. I biked along the Danube and into a neighborhood where I might be living. So, it wasn't an intense ride, but it was good to get out again after being away for a few months. It was an hour and 15 minutes and then I did 15 minutes pilates.

Eszter and Nori came over last night and Eszter wants to do the Pilates dvd with me. I'm excited about that. She is also going to come over this week to paint the "coffee" piece for the kitchen. Thanks for keeping her in your prayers. Since I first arrived in 2006 it's been my hope and dream to see Hungarian women come to know the love and power of the Savior and slowly it's happening. She's open and listening, so that's great.

Two promises this week:

1. Ezekial 47 - basically the life of God causes things to flourish and grow....people, places, things.

2. Acts 16:14 - "as she listened, she opened her heart." when you speak life people listen (most of the time) and it can change things - opening hearts to God's purpose.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Live well. Laugh Often. Love much.

Lots of things bring me joy. "Live well, laugh often, love much" is the way I want to live my life. I'm a positive person and very little gets me truly down.

But this is just funny. Who are these people? This came in an email a few days ago promoting a book "How To Be Happy For No Reason."

"Would you like to be happier? Every day for the rest of your life? Our new friend Marci Shimoff has cracked the code on happiness. She gives you a remarkable and absolutely effective 7-step process that shows you exactly how. We endorse it 100%."

Cracking the code sounds a bit -- James Bondish.
I thought we were done with remarkable and absolutely effective 7-step processes.

Apparently not. Oh well.

"Live well. Laugh Often. Love much." It's my motto for living. Do these things and joy comes. Perhaps in waves, but it comes.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Interesting news comes....

So, I'm about to pay my deposit for the lovely little flat when I get an email saying at the last minute they decided to give the flat to some relatives. Change of plans. Funny how God knows these things and nothing shakes him. I'm not shaken either although I don't think it was really good business the way it was handled.

He's still got the whole world in His hands. I'm engraved there too so I'm not too worried about it. I am truly believing God for a huge living room so I can host a ton of girls and have them over for lots of events, our first one being around Valentine's Day - a "straightupbeautiful" theme. Roses will be involved I'm sure.

I have to go apartment searching tomorrow and I found this sweet Irish man who will take me around to see a few places. Not sure what will happen but I'm just really confident it will all work out. I'm not shaken by it but I'm trusting and hopeful. There are worse things happening in the world -- Kenya for example. The price of fighting for free elections and the genocide that is happening around the world for freedom. It's amazing but it's easy to take for granted our rights in the US. I will use my freedom and I'll be voting at the US embassy this November. I hate it when BBC shows the graphic news but this is what is happening.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"I have graven thee..."

Old english aside, this devotional from Charles Spurgeon is encouraging. My God knows me. He hasn't forgotten. He's not late.

graven - engrave - an inscription or image on a surface.

"I have graven thee. See the fulness of this! I have graven thy person, thine image, thy case, thy circumstances, thy sins, thy temptations, thy weaknesses, thy wants, thy works; I have graven thee, everything about thee, all that concerns thee; I have put thee altogether there; will you ever say again that your God has forsaken you when he has graven you on His own palm?"

Wow, God. He must have really big palms. And God believes in tattoos! I know a lot of people who would be happy about that....if he's engraved us on his palm, that's an inscription and an image. Is this the biblical justification for tattoos? (not that you need one...just asking.)

Then my mind goes to a song we sang in elementary school at St. Teresa's
"He's got the whole world in His hands...."

Sometimes I just don't care about the whole world. I just want to know...does He have me in His hands? I'd have to say He does, even when I doubt it sometimes.

Oh, and another thought. I don't know the specifics but isn't it amazing to think that the world is spinning at super light speed, yet we can walk around, eat, talk, do stuff and not get dizzy? That's amazing to me. If God had a bad day and the spin cycle got broken, all our wall hangings and things that sit so nicely on top of dressers would be off kilter, not to mention we couldn't get around.

I'm glad God doesn't have bad days. I'm glad I'm tattooed on His hand.


the breakfast of champions.

I found my quote for the kitchen art.

I showed Nori my first sketch of the art I want to put up in the kitchen....she chuckled.....I don't know if she was smirkin' my art or smirkin' with me about my art...Either way, she had a good idea.

Eszter is a good artist. (I can take a hint, Nori...ha ha...) Apparently, she does portraits and other things. I'm going to ask her to help me with this piece. It will be another opportunity to spend time with her, believe God for great conversations.

But I like the quote I want to work into the piece!!

Coffee...the breakfast of champions.

I heard it somewhere and it just sounds right....It fits for the kitchen.

Can't wait to see how it will turn out. Decorating on a budget!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

So my friend's writing a book....

My good friend, Lara, is writing a book for women based on stories and experiences from her life. I'm amazed that she's really going after it. Later this month she's going to a writer's seminar in Redding at Bill Johnson's church. I never heard of his church, but I guess it's well known.

Anyways, she is actively going after this and thinks she found a manager, perhaps a publisher too. She's getting the book edited now. I've always wanted to write a book. I started a kids series years back and someday I will finish them. I also started a book on relationships and re-visited what I wrote almost 10 years ago and wow....I've changed a lot. Not so preachy on it all now...Anyways, I love to write. I really love to write! I think before I pass on in this world, I will write a book or two.

Lara let me read a few of the chapters and it's good stuff. We have been talking about women's issues and this whole thing of beauty and how the world has distorted that and we got to talking about this girl, Susan, I knew in college who was SOO beautiful but not because of her external features. She had a beautiful soul but her body was mangled. She was a quadriplegic.

Susan's story was that her mom didn't want her and tried to self-abort. I know that's graphic, but it's her life story. This girl overcame amazing obstacles to even be in college. I met Susan my junior year in college because she needed my help and I was a resident advisor who happened to walk by. I will never forget the things God taught me through that friendship. Her life absolutely inspires me to this day. I was amazed at how many things Susan had managed to coordinate to stay in college. Not only did Susan have a normal load of college courses, but she to figure out who would help her with everything. And when I mean everything I mean everything that you and I take for granted from showers, bathroom breaks, homework, eating and all the in betweens of life.

It was during this time in my life that God began to speak to me about what we value and why we value it. Hmmmmm. God looks at the heart. He also helped me see through Susan the power of pursuing your dreams. Susan had a dream to get her degree and to be one who shares Christ with others. She definitely accomplished both. Not having known Susan before meeting at the elevator, I'm ashamed to say that I made quite a few assumptions about her all based on how she looked with my natural eye. And I was a bit afraid of her...cordial, but afraid. As I spent time with her and got to know her character, I realized she was quite a determined girl with an absolute heart of gold. Her life preached Christ to me and it was in those moments that she showed me, despite all obstacles, that she would not let anything hold her back. She had the power of a dream. Even though many people had killed that dream (even her mom tried to take her life) she was living it and giving God all the attention about it.

I have tried to find out where she is today but can't seem to track her down. From what someone said they thought she is living in Texas now. I really hope she is doing well....I would love to see her again somewhere somehow.

baby it's cold outside....

oh brrr...I feel like I'm in Siberia..... The temperature dropped significantly throughout the day. Staff meeting was good. More dialogues on how we do church here in Budapest and mixing it up. We might start meeting at a bookstore twice a month. Interesting developments all around.

This flat is freezing. I don't want to go outside. Fortunately, I don't have to because Nori's gonna come here so I don't have to go back outside instead of meeting at a coffee house or something. So, I'll have hot coffee and tea for her....

Monday, January 14, 2008


So I'm pretty sure I'm going to do a coffee theme in the kitchen of the new place I move into and I want to paint my own wall decor.....If Moses can hang his art in the livingroom his cool picture of the lady in the red dress can make it to Comma Coffee in Carson City, then I can create a piece and enjoy it in the kitchen. (I hope...)

So, I'm looking for a good, short quote on coffee. If anyone has anything, please pass it on. Here's some funny ones that I found in my search. I might use the one by Drew Sirtors....Hmmmm. We will see. Letterman's quote is funny.

No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee's frothy goodness.
~Sheik Abd-al-Kadir

Coffee is the best thing to douse the sunrise with.
~Drew Sirtors

As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold. ~Author Unknown

Mothers are those wonderful people who can get up in the morning before the smell of coffee. ~Author Unknown

Way too much coffee. But if it weren't for the coffee, I'd have no identifiable personality whatsoever. ~David Letterman

Sleep is a symptom of caffeine deprivation. ~Author Unknown

Decaffeinated coffee is the devil's blend. ~Author Unknown

Decaffeinated coffee is kind of like kissing your sister. ~Bob Irwin (In my case, not that that is a bad thing!)


It was the one thing I really wanted to see and it happened.
Northern Nevada was blanketed in snow. I love to look at the snow capped mountains in Nevada. It's ALMOST as medicinal for me as going to the ocean. ALMOST....It's just quite a bit colder. But there's something about a crisp, fresh snow on the ground. I love it.

Well, I finally uploaded pictures from the trip, so I'll be posting. Here's some pictures of how much snow came through in Carson the weekend before I left.

Winter wonderland.

And then there's the warm cozy of my favorites on a snowy day.

Dirty streets....

Maybe the nostalgia is rubbing off or maybe you just see more when you're walking.... I don't know, but the streets just seem dirtier and smellier coming back this time. My normal M.O. is positivity to the core. But this issue is beginning to bother me. I've been quite positive about it (mostly) over the past year and a half. Now, I could spend a whole day cleaning up my neighborhood, picking up stuff. A few times in utter frusration I have picked up stuff and put it in the trash in a flustered motion of angst when something is right in front of the main walking area and people just step around it. I just figure, come on people. Don't you see it? But oblivious, they don't.

Budapest truly is a beautiful city. Most of the people have little, but what they do have could be kept nice, right? I have to walk by one of the main post offices every day and since Christmas break, the wall has been destroyed by graffiti. There's this 150 year old building and it would take a lot to repaint the whole thing. So, they blocked it off and are chipping away at the concrete to get the graffiti off. It looks like WWII.

Outside of the touristy areas, the streets are just plain old dirty. My brother says if you've seen one dirty European city, you've seen them all. Maybe it's true. But I don't remember Germany or Austria being this dirty.

Anyways, when I was home over Christmas, I walked around Carson and got my little brother to join me. I tried running a few times but the altitude really affected my lungs. I'm learning now that has to do with red blood cells. Interesting. Anyways, streets are much cleaner and definitely don't smell. Mostly, people pick up their doggy-doo doo too, so that's nice.

Europe is quite cramped compared to the wide open spaces of the USA. Maybe that's why we have so many big places like Walmart and stuff. Some Americans think that its beneath them to shop at Walmart. Who are these people? They are not my friends. All I have to say about that is come to Europe and then go home and go to Walmart and God bless America....every time I'm in a Walmart I say it. Every time I come home, I religiously make trips to Walmart.

Starting a 7 day juice fast

Just found someone's blog about juice fasting and I'll probably use some of their recipes. This guy did a 30 day juice fast. I'm not that ambitious. For now, 7 days will do. I'm doing this fast for spiritual reasons. A new year and a fresh beginning. But of course I'll have the other benefits too, like detoxification of the body and a jump start into healthier eating. I'm reading the book "Endurance Sports Nutrition" by Suzanne Eberle and hoping to get that part of tri-training in order after the fast. During the next week I think I will just focus on doing Pilates indoors (Thanks Noel!!) as I won't have the same amount of energy to train normally. It's ok because I still feel like I'm making headway. This summer, I will complete my first sprint triathlon. Lots of options in Europe. Still haven't decided where.
Seeking God specifically:
- for a renewal of my heart to my First Love
- for peoples lives transformed on the high school/university campuses in Hungary
- for personal direction for the future
I'm sure it will be a good week.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

All things Mass

Hockey. I pretend to follow but really I just like watching guys throw around the puck. Boston Bruins won Philadelphia Flyers in Hockey this weekend. Football....Ok I'm supporting them only because they're Mass...this week the NE Patriots won again in football. Dad is bitter about the Bo Sox taking the World Series, but you can't keep a good thing down......For now anyways, all things lead to Mass.

Nesting, Surprises. Conversations.

Staying at a friends flat while they are away isn't half bad. All I had to do was turn on the power and I'm enjoying their furnished apartment. It's a nice segway to the unfurnished apartment I'll be moving into this February.

I'm already starting to think about decorating on a budget. I know I can decorate on a budget, that's for sure! I would have kept the huge wood table and six chairs that I found in the pennysaver when I lived in Los Angeles for $50 but it would have cost more to move than I originally paid for it with all the improvements included. It was a project, but I sanded it down, put a protective coat on it and painted it black. It looked like something you'd see in a Pier I or Bombay magazine. And I was VERY proud of it!! I ended up giving it away to a great family in LA when I moved. Anyways, I'm excited to have a place that's unfurnished, even if it means going without a few things for a few months. I'm sure it will come together. Biggest thing is that I want a great place to invite these girls over to hang out. I think the kitchen will be a coffee theme. I'm even going to try and paint a few pictures and if they turn out alright, they will be my wall hangings. We'll see how it turns out, but I'm excited.

Over the holidays our Sunday church service in Budapest closed up shop. Budapest is a ghost town until the end of January. But, today, I was pleasantly surprised to see Eszter at the Faklya club (the place we meet for church). I've been meeting with her and hoping she'd come around more often. We had a good spiritual talk before I left in December. Next Sunday she's going to come again and afterwards come over for lunch along with Nori and Ella. Excited about that.

After church today Jeff and Ana had me over to their house for lunch and just catching up. I love their family!! Their kids are awesome. Jefferson thinks he's black. Charlotte is a 6 year old spit-fire. Their older girls are amazing and fun. I love being with people who are not high-strung. I love the phlegmatic personality type. I desperately need more phlegs in my life. They are a wonderful tempering element in my life and I thank God for phlegs. If you don't know what I'm talking about, have the patience to be tested and want to know more about personalities there's a test you can take....It's kind of fun.

Anyways, we talked about the Sunday service and Jeff really feels that the way we are doing church needs to change a bit. It's interesting because I've had this conversation with so many people who go to a variety of different churches and it seems to be a reoccuring theme. I just think that God is up to something. But what it will look like is a bit unclear for most of us. We are talking about perhaps hosting Rob Bell type meetings twice a month either in a bar or coffee shop focused around a topic and then having a once or twice a month Sunday service where people come together, learn to worship, take communion and enjoy that sort of fellowship together. Coffee and cookies have been a big hit since it was introduced in November. Anyways, we shall see. The main thought I had about church is that the goal is twofold - connect people with God and connect people with one another in a faith community. If this is being accomplished, I don't think the other things really matter....Do they?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The World Debate - BBC News

A little jet lagged and sleep deprived, today and tomorrow I have to move my stuff to a friends house for a month before moving into another flat in February. I did a lot before I left for the states, but now it's the last few loads and cleaning the old flat. In between walking my stuff over to my friends house, jet lag got the best of me and I sat down to watch a little tv. BBC world was hosting "The World Debate" discussing education and the internet.

One of the key comments made in this debate is that all over the world, there is a desire and need for students to learn critical thinking, creativity and not just learn the facts. Teachers have a unique responsibility to help not only bring history and facts but help young people think critically. It was a challenge for me but I thoroughly enjoyed doing that in Budapest last year. The older students took part in "debates" on topics that would be on their final english exams. Students enjoyed it and it made the classroom setting fun.

We are living in a changing world, that's for sure. Over the holidays, I helped my mom type a bunch of things she was working on to get her Montessori license. Miss Montessori was an Italian woman who revolutionized education through her interactive style of teaching and learning. I found it interesting.

I think there are unique opportunities for education when it comes to the internet as well as video games. This is the time when the older generations have to reconsider all things education to embrace the advancing of technology. What an interesting challenge it will be!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Unexpected Deaths....

It's early Saturday morning in Budapest and I'm blogging, checking email, my space, facebook.... connections to the world in the states. I'm all off schedule to be up at 4 am.

Two emails came today both bringing tales of unexpected and early death.

I met Marc Brierley at the lighthouse (a group of high schoolers in Reno from all denominations) when I was a junior in high school. I'm not sure how Marc died but the way he lived was an inspiration. My condolences go out to his widowed wife at such a young age.

Marc was one of the coolest Christians I met (in a goofy kind of way) and I loved him for that. After I became a Christian my junior year in high school, I had no friends. Folks in Carson just couldn't understand the dramatic changes. But God brought a group of amazing friends into my life through the Lighthouse. Marc was one of them. He was a brainiac but had a sense of coolness to him too. I always enjoyed my conversations with him. I don't remember how or where, but the last time I saw him I met his wife. Mark was on staff with Intervarsity for years and just a real quality guy in the way he chose to live his life. I always respected and admired him. His life is a wake up call that all we have is today. How am I treating people? What will be written of me in the days ahead? Am I living to the fullest all God has for me to do and be in this age? Thank you Marc for being a man I admire. I'm inspired by your life. Thank you.
If you knew Marc, or even if you didn't, you'll be really encouraged by this memorial blogspot to his life.

If Marc weren't enough, I heard that Josh McGee is also gone. I knew him through youth group in Reno. He was a good guy both as a student and as a leader....such a positive outlook on life. I haven't seen or heard from him in years but apparently he had a scuba diving accident with his fiance. I'm so sorry. You can see the news report below.

Death stings.....The only difference is knowing the sting doesn't linger.

Both Josh and Mark are enjoying a place far better than their best days of life on earth. I'm not just saying that to comfort myself in some religious sort of way. It's the truth. I know it's true. So why should we give into sorrow when these men would want us to celebrate their lives and what God has done through them in their brief years. Knowing Jesus in this life and living for him every day only makes the face to face reunion that much sweeter, I imagine.

My prayers go out to both families -- and both women in their lives.

Back in the Pest again

I arrived last night after almost one full day of travel. All I have to say is there were some GREAT people watching opportunities in the airports. My favorite was Tamra the hairdresser in Reno. The woman had no concept of her loudness to people ratio and all of us flying out of gate C 10 heard her business. I feel like I know her personally. Let me introduce her. She's going to Argentina for 3 weeks, had to rebook her hair appointments, is carrying a bag that apparently she got from a friend who went to Egypt because it has "spiritual meaning" and is working out her dating problems with some guy. I wasn't trying to listen. It was just very difficult NOT to.

And then there was the rock star band in London. I sat down to eat and read and stay awake in a restaurant called "Giraffes" during my four hour layover. This band of guys came with their guitars, cymbal bag, etc. and an older man who was their manager was with them. They were talking about where they would be going next on tour, how far the train ride would be and they had super cool accents. They were talking about a video to be released and some things that apparently happened in their last concert. Then they got into this whole thing about race car driving and I found it fascinating. They came and sat literally right next to me so it was tough to miss some of their dialogue.

Anywyas, I'm completely out of denial, realizing I'm not the minimalist that I thought I was when I originally moved over in 2006. Bath and Body Works after Christmas sales on lotions and body butter attributed atleast 10 extra pounds in my luggage, not to mention books and a new Bible for Nori. But I'm stocked for the coming year and will use these as giveaways at some ladies events.

I was surprised to see Nori and Peter at the airport! What a huge treat that was and a very welcomed greeting. I was exhausted by the time I got to Budapest. For whatever reason, travel this time was tough on the body. Oh yeah, I was practically carrying another person.

I'm trusting God that this year is going to be fruitful. 2008 is gonna be great. Cliche, but I believe it's true.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Late Night Talks

I absolutely love to hear the thought processes of people. I love to hear how people think, why they think that way and discover some of the things that shape them into who they are today. The most intriguing thoughts by far are those thought processes that go into a guy-girl relationship and the thought processes of old people. Old people have incredible stories that few of us stop and take the time to hear. They sure have lived through a lot and I always find it interesting. Wisdom tucked away in stories of their life.

But my highlight includes the male-female understandings. Tonight was the roundtable with Mo, No, Greg, his girlfriend Tanya and *moah*. And discussions broke out about how women approach the "honey do" list and the way that men feel nagged sometimes.

Why don't women come right out and tell men what they need or are looking for in a direct and rational way?

I can speak authoritatively on this one since I'm a woman. From what I've observed, read and experienced in my own life women, who are prone to intuition about rationalism, think that men have the same thought process as they do. Instead of telling men in a direct way we think they just "know" or will "get it" like our girlfriends, sisters and mothers do --- intuitively. But we were not created the same, obviously, and that's the beauty of it. It all has to do with how we think. And I think men and women think and respond to things differently in many situations.

It's insightful and funny to hear the thought processes of men and women and it reminds me again that all of life is a we work things out, communicate, choose to love. It's easy to see everyone's point of view. I love to read about relationships.....some of what I read proved true in these late night talks. Then again we are all individuals with our own grid of reality and our own way of thinking. Then I realize that I need wisdom because my thoughts are not like God's. They are human and based on experience or lack thereof. I need to understand how HE thinks, how he wants me to respond and try and live that way in my world.

I loved tonights late night talk....helps me forget the onset of seasickness I'm experience as I get ready to dive back into the other side of the world.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

sea sick

I hate the last few days before traveling one way or the other across the ocean. There is an odd sense of displacement knowing that you belong in both places for various reasons. Crazy thing is I love what I'm doing in Budapest. I also love my family and being near them here in Northern Nevada. Reality is, I'd love what I was doing wherever I am because I choose to live that way and to be thankful in all things. I fully love being home and I fully love being in Budapest. I just don't love the tug of war on my heart. Feels a bit like what I imagine sea-sickness to be like.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Winter Wonderland

Northern Nevada is a winter wonderland and I LOVE it! I want to go sledding, snowshoeing and throw snowballs. Maybe Monday they will cancel school for Noel's kids and I'll get back up to Reno safely and my dream will come true. But for tonight and tomorrow, I'll settle for my parents warm fire, hot drinks, snacky food and Dean Martin re-runs that mom got two years ago for Christmas from dad. Last night I survived an all out brawl between mom and Gina.......a compromise settled the issue and we alternated dvd's between mom's Dean Martin and Gina's Full House episodes. I'm really not partial to either. It's all about being with family. I'm so thankful for this Christmas break with those I love.