Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Revisited Hal Higdon's Half Plan

I recently purchased a city bike from a guy here in Budapest for $15. It's not Triathlon training style but nonetheless it's a bike and since I haven't been able to make it to spin classes with Lisa (which is an hour away -- in the boon-docks of Budapest), this bike was a perfect fit. I've been lamenting over the fact that it's not reasonable to buy a nice bike and then worry about shipping it over to the US. II didn't want to worry about returning with a bike, but other than borrowing Chris' mountain bike, I didn't see any options. So this was the perfect thing and it fell into my lap, not literally.

When I leave, I will bequeath it to Peter who has wanted a bike for a long time and will finally get his wish. In my mind, its a win win situation. The cost of the bike will be easily recovered n the equivalent of three hours of riding as three spin classes would cost $15 or more.

I also got inspired again to start training for a half and for another sprint tri this Spring. Since running the 5k in September, I've been hit and miss with training. I realized something about myself. If I don't have a goal in front of me and a training plan, forget it. Although I don't have any event in mind for the next several months, I pulled out Hal Higdon's Half training plan and added the cross training workouts from a Sprint Tri plan. Hope it works and I hope I'm not overdoing it. We shall soon find out. So far, so good. Needless to say, I'm excited about getting back on track and having a new plan, a new goal to shoot for.

Old and full of years....

This morning I opened my Bible to the last few chapters in Job. I found some interesting and noticeable things in Job 40-42. To paint a brief backdrop of Job's life, He had just experienced the loss of everything that was meaningful to him in life. And, I think because of those circumstances and the pain of it, his vision of God was small. Even his friends who tried to help him understand what was happening had a small vision of God and didn't speak with understanding.

So in this chapter, it's as if God is contending with Job's mind to consider how incredibly great God is, despite his circumstances. I don't think Job lost complete faith in God but he was obviously curious about where God was in the middle of it all. It seems that his eyes were drawn lower, to the base realities that faced him on a day to day basis. And who can blame him? I've done the same thing for lesser losses. Job lost everything. He had nothing and his friends were quick to find out why this was happening to him. It seems to me in the final chapters of Job God wants to make a few things clear.

In chapter 40, God reminds us to look at even a few things in creation -- for example, the Elephant, which may be what is being referred to in 40:15, and its strength, its power, even visible in the tail and in verse 19 God says, "Yet it's Maker can approach it with his sword." Even though no one can easily capture it, God is no match for the strength of an animal we might fear. He goes on and talks of other animals in chapter 41.

What I find interesting is this is enough to remind Job of who God is. Just look at a few things in creation and it becomes clear. Our sights are low. Our view of God is low. And we need to see things clearly.

After this conversation, Job takes his eyes off the painful circumstances where he wonders where God disappeared to and instead see things from God's perspective. And I think that's the point. Sometimes our view of God is so little, so incredibly small, so dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. We have no idea of His majestic state, though we might get a glimpse here and there.

Job 42:1-6
"Then Job replied to the Lord: I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge? Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you and you shall answer me. My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

As I read verse 12-16, I was amazed. "The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the former part.....
"Job lived....and died, old and full of years."

Sometimes I find myself going through circumstances that bring my eyes lower and I need to see things clearly once again. One of the responses will be the reality that we have been foolish in our thinking. Job realized this and repented or turned from this thinking in the hopes of being restored to a greater vision. Not only will God do it but every loss we sustain, He will multiply in blessing. I want my future days to be greater than what I've experienced and known this far. I want to die old and full of years of incredible stories and memories of God's goodness. I'm thankful for this little treasure this morning that reminded me no matter what I face, God is greater.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

thank you DHL

I don't like to complain, but I just need to vent.

Today was the last day to turn in your election ballot at the US Embassy here in Budapest where they would securely mail it for you free of charge. One of the benefits, I guess. Being a good American citizen, I researched a lot, especially for local candidates in Nevada that I had no idea about and I had my ballot filled out and ready to go this morning. It's a good 20 minutes to get to the Embassy and I made it there this morning. The Embassy is gated and guarded so you have to show your passport when you get there. So, I said "Good Morning" and showed him my US passport. The guard said, "You must come back between 1 pm - 4 pm for American services." I was a bit frustrated, but this is the day I'm using my voting power so I was also excited. I didn't really pursue the matter because he's a guard and I figured the Embassy was closed until 1 pm and I would figure out a way to get back during those hours.

I was able to come back later in the afternoon. I passed the guard, went through security, got a number and only waited a few minutes before seeing the attendant. When I took out my ballot, she said, "I'm sorry but our last package of ballots was mailed off this morning. We won't be mailing any more ballots."

"This morning? I was here this morning ready to turn it in but I was told to come back between 1-4 pm. Are you serious?"

"Yes, but the guards were instructed to take ballots this morning so I don't know why they didn't take yours."

"Are you serious? You won't be able to take my ballot and mail it? There's no possible way you have one last group going out?"

"No, maam. We sent the last one this morning."

This morning. I was at the US Embassy this morning. I showed the guard my US passport. The guards were instructed to take our ballots. Here's where government offices and administration goes bad. The US Embassy in Budapest is there to serve US citizens, right? All those who work for the Embassy should have this as their primary desire, atleast at a base level. Civil service, public service, just service.

It would have been obvious for me, I think, if I were a guard, knowing that elections are next week and a US citizen came to the gate to say "American services are from 1-4 pm unless you have a ballot. I can take your ballot." Instead, he led me to believe that all American services would be provided during that time and, as a civil servant, he had nothing further to say that could help the situation.

Are my expectations too high??

Oh, I was livid inside. Tears started to well up and I explained to the woman how important it is for me to vote and again asked if there would by any chance be anything she could do. Could she fax it? We looked up the State of Nevada, and they don't allow it to be faxed. So, she suggested I go down the street and send it DHL. It's really probably not the biggest deal in the world. But I ended up paying $50 to have my ballot mailed to Carson City, Nevada and I just need to vent because when I think of government entities such as the US embassy, I think of it as a refuge, a place to serve US citizens living overseas. Unfortunately, that didn't happen today in Budapest. Frustrated but I'm over it! Atleast I voted and now have a clear conscience going into the elections. Thank you DHL.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Romania 2008

This was my first time in Romania. I flew to the Southern part and stayed in Bucharest, the capital. I remember before ever living over here that I used to get Budapest and Bucharest confused. There is no confusion once you've seen these cities. Budapest is absolutely stunning. Bucharest is quite impoverished still, thanks to the communist leader Nicolaeu C.

I went to Bucharest this weekend to meet with Ryan, the international director for a student missions organization that I am looking to work more closely with in the future. Romania has a swelling move of young people who are passionately loving Jesus and also feel called to go to nations in His name. So, Ryan and I stayed at the Pentecostal Theological School Dorms. That was cool. We met a group of great students there who are in their 2nd and 3rd year of study and had a great time hearing their passion.

The Christian culture in the Romanian church where the event was hosted was interesting. I'm always conscious of cultural differences and wanted to be sensitive to that. I'm glad I brought a skirt. I had to wear it when I spoke at the meeting on Saturday because ladies wear dresses and don't normally speak in church. Apparently it was a big deal to have me speak. But this pastor, Immel, was a bit more progressive. The pastor invited us to come and talk on Sunday in his church too and it was four hours long!! Wow. It was hard not to just people watch or work really hard not to take a snoozer, especially since the entire service was in Romanian except when Ryan spoke for 40 minutes and when I gave a brief five minute introduction to the work in Hungary- both of which were translated into Romanian. I think the pastor wanted me to speak longer because when I finished, he sort of looked stunned and brought up someone to do a special song -- I think the special song was a bit impromptu.....oops -- but I didn't have anything else to say. We had already been there for 3 hours. I'm a fan of quitting when you're ahead. I was sort of done. :D

In between the college conference and Sunday service, there were meetings with pastors and leaders across denominations who are working in Romania all talking and meeting together to see about advancing student mission work in Romania. That was cool and it was interesting to watch Ryan work graciously with these men from different organizations and churches. Loved that. Well, I basically had a throbbing headache the entire trip. I"m not complaining about it because I absolutely enjoyed my time there but I just have to explain why I think I had this ongoing headache. There were many reasons for this.

First, the language. It's SOOO different from Hungarian obviously and your brain just has to work overtime when you are in a culture that is not English-speaking. I appreciated the fact that some words in Romanian were familiar just because Romanian is in the same family of languages as Italian and Spanish but my head was still.....spinning.

Second, we ate at random times and really never very well. We started the days early and ended late eating in a way I'm not used to... It just wasn't the best scenario. But, our final afternoon, pastor Immel gave some of the guys from the school money to take Ryan and I to Pizza Hut, sort of as a thank you, so that was awesome!

Third, I realized my complete addiction to coffee. We were completely on our hosts schedule and so whatever they did, we did, wherever they were going, we were going. And no one really seemed to think about coffee. Well, we did ask one morning so we could get through the headache craze and the early morning and so I had a cup No cream. I don't like sugar normally but I put it in there just to help a bit.

When I got off the plane late Sunday night, it was SOO good to hear Hungarian. And that's just not normal. But on this trip, there were Romanian and Spanish speaking young people and my head was spinning. I kept wanting to respond in Hungarian but that helped no one. Fortunately, many of the Romanians spoke English.

I'm glad I decided not to bring my running shoes. There's really nowhere to run in Romania. It was quite depressing to see the streets, building, everything. Lots of poverty and I actually found myself a little depressed about that one night when we were driving back to the gated campus. That was rough.

I really enjoyed the trip. Part of this was somewhat like a "scouting" trip for me as well - to talk with Ryan about future plans to work together. It looks like I will be working more and more with Ryan and his wife Kelly and this organization. I'm excited about it and the potential of seeing young people across denominational lines come together and live for Christ in the nations.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

On my way out the door

In just a few minutes I'll get on public transportation and travel about 45 minutes to the Airport. Not going to spend extra money this time to get to the airport quicker. I will use the time on public to finish a few things I had to do with my notes.

This weekend I'll be in Bucharest, Romania speaking at a college "Ignite" conference and meeting up with Ryan Shaw from SVM2. Very excited about this weekend but also a bit nervous. Not sure that I'm prepared completely but I'll just go and be myself. I guess that's all that God wants anyways.

My friend Anna and I were talking about whether I should go running. We both decided NO. Romania is not known for being the safest place. I have no idea what to expect, but one thing I'm excited about is that Ryan will be at the airport when I arrive. He is coming from Turkey. Not sure if I will get to meet his wife and kids, not sure if they are coming. We are staying in some dorms at a Pentecostal Center or something? Actually, I have no idea.

Oh the adventure of it all. I'm going to try and take lots of pictures. I appreciate your prayers!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A few highlights on London

I've been to London four times in the last three years -- (but that's counting a long layover in 2005 on the way to South Africa when my friends picked me up and took me to Windsor Castle and back). So, I think that this is the first time I really got to see the sites. Other than Windsor Castle, Eton College and Imperial College in the past, this was the first time I stayed downtown, which made it so easy to hop on the underground and go anywhere. For example, one afternoon I met up with a Hungarian girl, Luca, who is living as a nanny in London. Her and I are pictured with the London Eye in the background. We visited all the sites around the Westminster tube stop, which included places like Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, Big Ben, Parlaiment, and the River walk there.

Highlights for me on this trip were reconnecting with old friends and making some new ones. In two years time, there are a lot of things that can happen! People got married, had children, and some have moved around a bit throughout Europe. New people have moved into new places. Of course I really enjoyed the music. One of the pastors from Sweden had a kickin' band and they played one morning. They had the Scottish team play another time and then the London team. I was loving the variety and the music, period. I so miss that part of our services here in Budapest. We usually do one song or two but nothing in depth.

Another highlight was reconnecting with two girls, Liga and Inta, whom I met in Latvia two years ago when we did a Straight Up Beautiful event there. Since then, one of the girls has gone through an incredible amount of difficult thing. She's living in London now and found out I would be in town so we visited. Being able to speak life to her and encourage her felt sooooo good. We spent a whole evening together and I missed that nights session because I really felt it was important that we talk. Overall, the trip was great. I was really pleased this time and felt like I can actually say I saw London.

I also got a neighborhood run in one morning and ran past a building with a plaque dedicated to Winston Churchill as apparently he had lived in that building for 9 years of his life. That was awesome. Speaking of working out, I have been such the slacker since the 5K race. Nothing consistent, just hit and miss for me so I need to kick it back into start mode but I need a race or something to start training for. The next races I have planned aren't until 2009. I need something before December I think. If not, maybe I'll just create one in my head so that I have something to train for. I seem to work better that way.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I'm not exactly sure what to expect while I'm in London but I'm excited about it. I'm not terribly excited about the tube, though.

The first part of the week, there will be Christian teams from all over Europe that gather for a time of encouragement, reflection, perhaps a bit of direction. Recently, a pastor in Europe who was battling cancer passed away. I'm sure this will be something we atleast acknowledge, if not bring into focus. Then over the weekend, we will have tons of students and campus leaders from all over Europe gathering together. I'm excited to see old friends and meet new people.

I'm bringing my running shoes but I'll have to feel it out. Not exactly sure what the neighborhoods will be like or where I'll be staying. This time, I decided not to stay outside the city with my friends who offered to stay in their home. I want to be closer to our venues and I'm just not ready to be on the tube that much every day.

In addition to the conference, I'm hoping to see a few places I have yet to see in London that are historical. Honestly though my highlights will be seeing Inta, a girl from Latvia I met two years ago at a Straight Up Beautiful conference and Luca whose Hungarian and moved over in the Fall to be a nanny.

I doubt I'll have much internet access but that's actually quite a nice thought.

Have a great week!

My blanket's in the dryer

"Change is inevitable, except from vending machines." Unknown

I agree completely.

Growth, on the other hand, is not.

"We do not grow absolutely..... We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially..... We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations." Anais Nin

When I look back at the "layers" of growth in my life I think I've found that most of the time the catalyst was change and I usually fought it in the beginning.

As Marilyn Ferguson once said, "It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between that we fear . . . . It's like being between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to."

Right now my blanket is in the dryer. I've found myself with little to hold on to.

Periodically, I build these layers of reflection while in the midst of living my life. It's usually not real deep. It's more about the highlights for me. In between these thinly padded layers of contemplation and reflection, I'm busy spending my time actually living life-- up on the citadel; back down again. I've been to the mountain tops-- where hope, faith, joy, confidence and encouragement were my companions. I've also been to the valleys; where fear, doubt, discouragement and pain were stalking me. This life is much like a roller coaster I'm not sure I agreed to get on but it's one I don't think anyone has successfully avoided. There are ebbs and flows in life and the trick is -- don't let it allude you.

Why? Call it a chapter in a book, if you will. But there will be many, many changes for every single individual - both internal and external changes, controllable and uncontrollable, expected and unexpected -- until the day of death. The truth is you may have nothing to hold onto, but your answer is warming up. It's in the dryer. I'm not so sure that's the best analogy but let's just say, for the point of conversation, that every one of us needs a blanket or atleast something secure to hold onto -- and for the point of conversation, this would be like Charlie Brown's good friend Linus's beautifully blue blanket.

My blanket's in the dryer. It's warming up and although I'm excited, I feel a bit uncovered as I'm sure Linus would without his blue pal.

The last few years in Budapest have been rich with purpose, people and challenges as well. As I look at returning to the West Coast in 2009, I'm looking through a photo journal filled with glimpses of a life I've built here in a land that is far from home. Two and a half years is a long time. When you leave the things you've invested your life into, there's a part of you that realizes you are walking into a new place with nothing. No blanket. No experience to define you. Don't get me wrong. I actually despise the thought of needing an experience to define me. But how much will I carry back with me in that blanket? The people I've known, loved and carried in my heart will return with me but it will be different, just as it always is different when you leave one place for another. That, to me, sucks sometimes. I don't think I like that part of change.

My point of growth came this summer when I had to ask myself a very difficult question. As much as I love it here, did I truly forsee myself building and living in this place for a lifetime? No, I did not see myself living here for a lifetime, atleast not now. And staying any longer would only prolong the inevitable and be harder to tear away. When I look back to the time I first mentioned moving to Budapest, I casually said 2-3 years. And that's exactly what it will be - 2.5 years.

Yet, like a child, this is where I want my candy bar before dinner. I left my native born country to live among a people I'd only seen glimpses of in my dad's mom. Yet now I want to take them back with me. I was and still am brimming over with hope for a people I somehow feel connected to after almost three years. Letting go is never easy to do.

And then I realized something.

Because I'm leaving, there are Hungarians who will also be moving -- moving forward, moving on. Forward in their faith and in their weight within the context of our small Christian community. Anthony J. D'Angelo once said, "Become a student of change. It is the only thing that will remain constant." And I find I'm learning that this might be good. And then these words ring true. So the choice is mine. I must choose to look at the situation honestly and realize that not only my life but those I had hoped to build with here will be affected in a good way. This is how character is built, right?

It was Harriet Lerner who said, "Although the connections are not always obvious, personal change is inseparable from social and political change." It's here that I resolve myself to realize what once was understood to be merely a flat world later became clearly round. And the place that seems like the end of the road, at least in some of my moments of reflection, may also be the beginning of spectacular things. Yep. My blanket's in the dryer.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The responsibility of being an American citizen

Although I haven't lived in Nevada for over two years, I am registered as a permanent resident in Carson City thanks to the parents address. When I received the absentee ballot here in Budapest, I realized I had a lot of work ahead of me by way of researching and understanding what's going on in my nation -- not only on an international level, but within Nevada. I've been listening to the presidential debates and forming my opinions, doing some research on key issues, but having a harder time with state politics. Voting for a Representative in District 2 - Dean Heller is the only familiar name on the ballot, but I need to find out what his track record is in Nevada. Assembly District 40 - Barbara Parnell has been a long time leader, but has it been good? Couldn't tell you. There are two supreme court justice seats, the Carson mayor, board of education and school trustee positions. Without having the constant barrage of media coverage on the presidential election, let alone local politics, I've been left to my own research for facts about the issues facing our nation and Nevada. It's a bit overwhelming, actually, but I count it a privilege that I am a citizen of a relatively free nation.

So, I'll be spending the next few evenings doing some research. Anyone who has opinions and ideas about the Nevada seats, I would be interested to hear those or if you have good websites I can visit, even better.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mobile Home.

The light of dawn has yet to hit the pavement. My jazzy phone alarm goes off. I set the new ring tone for early mornings like these. Guess I was hopeful that the crisp sound would leave a nice imprint on my mind and wake me from my groggy state of being and plunge me into the new morning.

But alas, I fumble out of bed, longing for a few more hours of sleep. I head to the kitchen, flick on the hot water heater and prepare a few scoops of my favorite Italian espresso in a French Press -- I really enjoy that morning cup of java.

Morning always comes much earlier than I’m ready for. But it’s a new day. A new chance to love people and to keep my heart near home.

Home. Where is home?

Surely I am far away from home and family. Across the ocean and on the eastern side of Europe is not home to me. As much as I love it here, not much looks, smells or acts like home. I don’t speak the language and I don’t undersand the cultural innuendos. Something about home implies a comfortable familiarity with your surroundings. Their jokes are not my jokes and I often find myself thinking, "What's so funny?" Ways of thinking, ways of living. This is not my home.

The birds outside chirp enthusiastically. This is the sound I was looking for with my alarm. A simple reminder that I too have been given a voice to sing. Sweet and clear on this cold morning in Budapest, I embrace their sounds and hope that I too will be a sweet and clear sound. Sounds and sights in the morning. Sweet, crisp, fragile, fresh, innocent and ready to face the day are all those little birds I hear outside my door. And, as crazy as it sounds, I too am a bird. Birds may have nests, but do they have homes? -- a bird without a home. Birds fly south in winter. I too am finding myself looking for direction -- and I'm going west as the weather gets cold in Budapest.

On the Western side of the US, will I truly be at home? Familiar sights and sounds make life much easier. The sense of comfortable familiarity is strength for the day. But my soul finds little rest in an undefined place. There are old memories sweet to the taste and some bitter on the pallet of remembrances. What a mixed reaction when I consider going west. Anxious to embrace the familiar yet not wanting to get stuck in the drones of a place that has, so many times in the past, taken me far from home. I find in this melancholic moment a truth that I'm not always quick to admit. This place is also not my home.

And then I realize I will find my home wherever I find my heart.

Lord, I worship you. My heart is yours and in you alone do I feel at rest. And because of this, I sing like those birds. I sing and you hear me. Lord because you are my home, you also prepare a place for me wherever I go and whatever I do. I will never be satisfied looking to external circumstances and possessions for a sense of domestication. I'm your bird. And if sparrows are cared for with such detail, how can I worry about a home?

I can be anywhere, go anywhere, do anything – and you will always be my home. There's a sense of mobility that comes when I stay close to your heart - a mobile home in the essence of the word - that I can go anywhere, do anything, and I'm at home. You are my home.

My name is Johnny...

Last night Anna came over again and we decided to make dinner. I had tons of veggies with fresh garlic which I'm really into sauteeing recently and I made my famous pasta pesto. Anna wanted us to eat raw broccoli bushes with her olive oil, salt, fresh garlic dippage and all I have to say about fresh broccoli in Budapest is that it's really bitter. Talk about organic girl, that would be Anna. I don't have anything against it, but I like steamed broccoli with lots of melted cheese on it. Much more my style, but since broccoli is a good source of fiber and you have to keep village earthy girl happy, we did try her dippage thing. I felt like I was eating little trees live with those broccoli trunks. I also had some chocolate chip cookie dough left over from Wednesdays high school english group and so we made a batch of cookies. Sometimes, I just love being able to stay inside and enjoy the simple things in life. Yet in those moments, it's all about your company. If you have good company it's a lot of fun.

Anna has become a great friend. She's great company. We chatted, practiced guitar and laughed at our personal jokes and antics. Then I got in the mood to watch a movie. Walk the Line was our best option as we have both really been in this guitar practicing, rock star mode, and decided a good dose of Johny Cash and June Carter was the answer. I love to read biographies and autobiographies so its no wonder that I love movies based on people's lives as well.

Watching the movie, two things came to mind. First, oh God save me from ever becoming like Johny's first wife. She didn't believe in him, always tore him down and I actually wondered - did she love him? I'm sure she did and that's a terrible thing to say but I guess I just realized that life does get hard and things happen and people change and pursue dreams and I would hate to ever be the woman in a man's life who tore that guy down or didn't believe in him, inspire and encourage him.

Second, I loved the part when Johny first went into the recording studio and the guy basically said that music should be about passion -- and what would you sing if it were the last song you had to sing?

Sometimes I get so sad about my musical inabilities but I don't have nearly enough time to put into learning guitar. I want to though. Isn't it amazing how much an instrument can stir the deepest crevices of your soul, especially when you're creating something from nothing? Anna and I had fun with that aspect of the guitar and we've been information sharing.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jersey Girl with Ben

Tonight I started watching Jersey Girl when Anna came over from her Russian lesson. The Russian consolate is just around the corner from my house so now on Fridays she comes down from her neighborhood which is about 45 minutes from where I live to study Russian. So I put the movie on pause and we went for Pizza at Pizza Hut. All I have to say is that Pizza lovers is the best! All that delicious pepperoni that tastes like real pepperoni. So great. Then we walked back down Andrassy street talking and laughing. I came back and finished watching Jersey Girl with Ben Afflack. So sweet! What a sweet movie.

Anyways last night we "sort of" went to the Opera. She was given tickets by one of the parents to see "Gone with the Wind" but we were gone with the wind after the first act. I had seen it a year ago and she wasn't that interested to sit through the whole thing so we were hasta la vista.
Everyone needs a fun friend like Anna.


UNEXPECTED AND UNPLANNED FOR - Temper tantrum. Yep. That's right. I had one as a grown up this morning. Although I withheld myself from flailing on the floor, tears were not beneath me on this one. So unexpected too.

UNEXPECTED AND RELIEVED - London trip is paid. I was really stressing about the next few months and all the traveling responsibilities that are no my plate. Just like that and unexpected, my London flight is paid for. Unexpected blessing.

UNEXPECTED AND WIERD - Reconnecting with high school friends. Blast from the past for sure. So unexpected.

What other unexpected things are just around the corner?

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Quadrangular. Yes it's a word. Just came across it while studying an online personal trainers course. Basically, this is the shape of tissue in your muscles surrounding your heart. Interesting fact, no?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Music is the latest adventure I want to conquer.....

Renea is giving me guitar lessons and letting me borrow her electric guitar to practice on. So cool! I feel like a rockstar but at this point I'm so bad that I'm practicing basic chords and rhythm. My first lesson was basically just learning how to play the G,Em,C, and D chord with some rhythm. I clipped my nails and started building up callouses already. So thankful that she's letting me use her guitar. It's funny but over the past two years, I've used their guitars, their bikes. They sure are going to get a lot less use when I'm gone!! ha ha.

On Saturday night I had a get together at my house with some friends and invited my new middle eastern/italian friend to come and bring some entertainment with his setar. What an interesting instrument. It was amazing to hear him play. I felt like I was right in the middle of the middle east as he effortlessly played this amazing Persian instrument. I started thinking once I get to a good place with the guitar, maybe I will look into getting a setar. They are incredible both in sound and this particular one was hand crafted and gorgeous. I fell in love with its rivets and strings. The sounds this instrument plays! Amazing.

In a great place

This morning I woke up so thankful for everything, not wanting to take anything for granted in this life.
Thankful -
-for breath in my lungs
-good health
-a heart to love others
-eyes to see others
-ears to hear others
- a mind to think, consider
-hands to paint with, try to play guitar, cook, enjoy life
-feet to walk, run, bike
-food in my fridge
-clothes on my back
-words of life spoken directly from God's heart to mine
-new perspective
-renewal of the soul
-that pain brings us closer to the things that are most important
-that God is sifting through my heart and bringing forth the most important things

I'm in a great place.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ghoulish or Goulash

You know you've been in Hungary too long when you get an email that says "100 Days of Holidays - 30 Ghoulish Halloween Recipes."

No Jen, that's not 30 different goulash recipes ok?

Have you that quickly forgotten that in your home country right now in possibly every grocery store and gas station Halloween paraphernalia is in every corner? Yes, this would be the ghoulish holiday called Halloween.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


With little time to write, I just want to say three things.

1) Salsa lesson tonight was a lot of fun. I have a new dance partner and its so great when you can lose all dignity and just step out and do something that is uncomfortable but enjoyable. That's what makes a great dance partner is someone who doesn't take the whole thing to seriously, can laugh when I step on his toes, but stay focused enough to figure out and enjoy the dance. Anyways, I went directly after English conversation club tonight, which was also a lot of fun. We had about 10 people and although the topic was deep on the origin of man, there were some great discussions after watching some video clips and interviews on the topic.

2) Reno was recently in the news for their homeless "tent community". I had no idea. Did you?

3) I'm still fighting head congestion and have left a workout plan I had in the dust. It's time to revamp and regroup. I will say that I am---mostly---eating healthier. Do banana muffins count?