Thursday, August 26, 2010

Holiday From Real

After a fun day of learning great insight from Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel at Catalyst One Day, I am headed off on a great adventure!

I'm about to board a Greyhound bus to spend a day in Los Angeles hanging out with awesome friends, eating some yummy In-N-Out, and rocking out at the final show on Something Corporate's 2010 Reunion Tour at Club Nokia!

I probably won't update the blog until I get back on Monday, but I wanted to share this today:

I love adventure and I love being spontaneous and impulsive. Just as much as I love those things, I love that I have people in my life that inspire and encourage me to "go for it" and do fun, daring, adventurous things! I mean, this trip in and of itself may not seem like a big deal . . . but all the encouragement and love I've received in regards to the trip as the details have unfolded has ben so refreshing!

I know that not many people my age would travel on a bus for 2 days just to go see a band. I've definitely gotten the "you are so weird," and "girl you are insane" comments. Maybe I am, but my desire to embrace adventure and to experience life to its fullness drives me to board this bus with a huge smile and a full heart. Many say that I will grow out of this "wild impulsive phase," but deep down inside, I hope I never do!


"Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!"

- Auntie Mame

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Forever Young

portrait of a young artist

Yesterday was Vanessa's first day of Kindergarten! I still don't have any pictures of her from yesterday or today, but I got to listen to her on the phone last night go into great detail about her class, her new friends, what she wore, and how excited she was to have a princess backpack.

Her favorite thing to do in class is draw pictures. I asked her what she drew and she said, "The park and the sunshine and the grass and me and mommy and daddy and Annabelle. And the sky. . . and . . . other stuff I can't remember." I said I was proud of her and I encouraged her, "Listen babe, no matter what anyone says, you draw whatever is in your imagination, okay?" She excitedly replied, "Okay!" It's fun being an aunt and watching this little girl grow up knowing she can take on the world!

It's so crazy to grasp the fact that she's already in Kindergarten. I rest easier knowing she LOVES school and loves making friends. She told me about some of her classmates and why she likes them and how she is happy to have "more new" friends. It's comforting to know that just as much as she is into more solitude-centric arts, she is also a wild child with lots of love to share with others.

One exciting thing I'm working towards and saving up for is to pay for an airline ticket for one of my family members and Vanessa to fly up to Seattle to visit next summer! She's growing so much and I would love for her to experience the "world outside," even as a little girl. I live for the moments where I can share my world with her. One of my favorite things I share with her is a little phrase I taught her when she was younger. I would scoop her up in my arms, hold her close and say, "Look, I'm holding you like a baby!" And every time I see her and spend time with her, it warms my heart to see her smile and exclaim, "Aunt Manda, hold me like a baby!" And I do, and we share a close, warm moment together and time seems to stop altogether. I know it won't last long, but I hope she grows up knowing she can come to me at any point in her life and I will hold her "like a baby."

I can't wait to see what this little miss grows up to be!

Easter, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

Forward Motion

The youth room is coming along . . . slowly but surely! I can't wait to add all the little decorative stuff! I'll still be doing more painting tonight and over the weekend, but luckily, I'll have some help from Heather J. (The Jedi Paint Master)!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

American Honey

She grew up on the side of the road
Where the church bells ring and strong love grows

She grew up good, she grew up slow

Like American honey

Steady as a preacher, free as a weed
Couldn't wait to get going
but wasn't quite ready to leave

So innocent pure and sweet American honey

Having an abundance of friends with children, I get to learn a lot about different parenting techniques and I get to spend time with their kids, watching their imaginations run wild. This past weekend, I had an incredibly unique experience.

The Children's Ministry Coordinator at my church has a daughter who is 10 years old. I call her daughter H.Stubbs. Well, for the past few weeks now, H.Stubbs has been asking me to come over for a sleepover. Her mother, being an amazing and daring parent, threw out some dates for me to come over and have a sleepover with H.Stubbs and her little sister, E.Stubbs. At first I thought, "Well that's kind of out of the norm. I mean, I'm 28 and I'm going to a sleepover, but I actually think it could be really fun! I haven't had a sleepover in years . . . unless you count friends coming in to town and staying the night. Which, I guess does count. This is gonna be SO cool!" Fast forward a couple of weeks and the sleepover date finally arrived. When I got to their house, her mom told me:

"She's been telling everyone that her best friend is coming over to spend the night. But the funny part, is that she never even mentioned that you weren't 10 years old. And they've already made it clear to me that you're here to see them, not to hang out with me."

We both laughed, and I felt complete awe and wonder at how (1) she called me her best friend, and (2) friendship knew no age limits to her. It was a great feeling. We had a blast too! We swam in their big pool in the backyard as we pretended to be mermaids, Olympic swimmers, and pirates! We spent most of our time in the pool, and I gave them dolphin rides around the pool and showed them how to do the "Wayne's World Fish Face." After swim time, we headed in to the guest bedroom that their parents set up for us. I got a huge bed for myself, H.Stubbs had a large mattress on the ground, and E.Stubbs got to sleep on the couch. We watched Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and laughed so much at all the shenanigans in that movie. I told them I needed to get a ratbird of my own. ;)

After the movie was over, their mom came in and told us it was time for bed. The girls talked her into letting us watch 2 episodes of the Power Puff girls before we called it a night, and so we did. After that, we turned off the TV and had a full-on pillow fight! During our pillow fight, one of the girls said, "Oh no, I think I hear someone coming!" And I said, "Quick!! Get in bed!!" The other sister said, "If she comes in, let's just pretend to be asleep, okay? So you have to pretend to snore!" So we did, and it turned out to be nothing. We continued the pillow fight, and from time to time one of the girls would hear something so we'd jump back in the beds. We finally decided to head to our beds (for real this time) at midnight and E.Stubbs exclaimed, "This is the latest I've EVER stayed up in my WHOLE life!" We congratulated her and then turned in for the evening.

At 8 a.m. Sunday morning, the Smashmouth song, ALL STAR blasted through my laptop speakers to wake me up . . . yes, I actually DO need that kind of motivation to get going in the morning. ;) They woke up as well, and immediately pounced on me singing along and tickling me. Their mom came in a while after to let us know that she and her husband were going to head in to church, as I had told them I would take the girls in with me later so everyone could sleep in a bit. She brought them their clothes and made me a cup of coffee. Then they left, and our morning fun began! We all got dressed for church, had breakfast, and put on makeup. My favorite part was reassuring the girls that they didn't HAVE to put on a ton of makeup to look beautiful because they were already naturally beautiful. We still had fun with lip gloss and blush before we realized it was time to head out ourselves.

On the drive in to church, I played a mix CD I had made for myself and it included the song, AMERICAN HONEY, and after that song played, the girls both requested that I put it on repeat. We drove the entire way to the church (about 30 mins.) blasting that song with the windows down, belting out the words (as best as they knew) at the top of our lungs! I kept looking over at H.Stubbs and thinking, "I hope you never lose sight of the sweet innocence you have now. You are an amazing example for others!"

I got to talk to her grandmother before the service and she really encouraged me to treasure those moments and reminded me that even though my sleepover with the girls might seem preposterous to the world around us, it means THE WORLD to those girls and they will hang on to those memories and those little life lessons for years to come—they needed it as much as I did.

After the church service, we had an all-church BBQ. I ate and connected with friends and then decided I needed to head to Home Depot to pick up the primer so that I could start getting the new youth room painted. H.Stubbs knew I was going and begged me to let her come with me and to help paint. After getting her parent's permission, she made the trip to and fro with me and helped me tape and prime. Throughout the day she kept saying that she needed to find a way to spend more time with me. It was truly one of the sweetest experiences ever—and not just because of her compliment—I was lucky enough to be encouraged by her imagination and her innocence that didn't see me as the full-grown adult that the world tells me I should be. For a day, I got to remember the sweeter things in life, and enjoy spending time with one of the most wonderful friends! And she even made me a super sweet thank you note!

Monday, August 16, 2010

She Paints Me Blue

If anyone would have tried to convince me that rooms have minds of their own, I would say it was rubbish and they need to get their head checked. But after spending the majority of the day painting the new youth room at Westside, I may have to agree with them.

Yesterday H.Stubbs and I started priming the walls of the youth room and oh man it was wild. From trying to keep the tarps from getting snagged on furniture, to paint tape falling out of windows, to accidentally backing into painted walls, laughs were in full effect. We finally got done taping around 5:00 and got a little bit of the priming done by 6:00 when I took her home for dinner.

After dinner, I headed back to Westside to try to finish up. I didn't realize that in the time I had been gone, the room was taking time to scheme a plan to make sure I didn't finish painting it. As I started where I'd left off, some of the tape began peeling in various places (I'm guessing from the heat) so I had to go to those spots and press the tape down firmly. Then, as I was dragging the tarp to a new section down the wall, the bucket of Killz ran into something (I'm still not sure what) and the bucket tipped, causing a bunch of the Killz to fall onto the tarp. At first I was panicked—"How in the world am I going to get all of this cleaned up? And now how am I going to have enough primer to finish the job?!?" So then I did what anyone would do. I made the tarp my new paint tray and used all the primer I could before moving on to the rest of the bucket.

As I continued priming, I noticed there were drips on the previous paint that I hadn't noticed before that must have been from a milk challenge or something from the previous youth group era. The primer did not like the drips and kept leaving the lines on the wall so I had to go over those ares with more primer. Finally 10:30 p.m. rolled around and I called it a night. Despite a few minor setbacks, I'm really glad this painting is underway and I'm even more excited to see the end result!

This week, my evenings will mostly be spent in that room trying to get the paint job finished. I'm hoping that somewhere along the way, the room and I will see eye to eye and it will accept that its getting a new coat of paint!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bless This Mess

Alrighty I think it's been a while since I updated so now's as good a time as any, right? Right.

Here are a few highlights from my week:

I got to watch my friend Maggie get baptized in Haller Lake.
Maggie has been in my small group this past semester and it was
SO great to get to share such a big moment with her.

Generally, my office is where plants come to die,
but the beautiful flowers that Alisa . . . uh I mean,
Matthew Fox sent me are still blooming beautifully!
They're pretty magical and they still bring a smile to my face.

I got to have a Friday picnic with my co-workers and we ended up
making a Four Square court out of duct tape in our little driveway
and it was so much fun!

I bought a new book and a fun gift for Vanessa.
I ALSO completely filled up her NYC Book Bag that I bought her
during my trip to NYC. Basically,
I bought a NYC Sesame Street messenger bag that lights up
and I'm filling it with tons of good books for her to read!

I finally paid off that pesky parking ticket.
I've definitely learned that those parking enforcement people MEAN it
when they say NO PARKING after 6 p.m.
Even if it's only 10 minutes after.
Dear Seattle Municipal Court: Enjoy the free snark.

I saw this guy dancing on the side of the road today and it was SPECTACULAR!

And in closing, these 4 songs have pretty much been on repeat all week:

A WAY WITH WORDS by Action Item

AMERICAN HONEY by Lady Antebellum

TELL ME I'M A WRECK by Every Avenue

ONE DAY by Matisyahu (Featuring Akon)

Well that's pretty much my week so far! Now I'm off to a sleepover!

Don't forget about the photo caption contest HERE!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hit Me With Your Best Shot (Caption Contest Giveaway)

Earlier today, my dad sent me this photo in a text message and said:


And I was like,
"Hahaha! I do remember it
but I don't know why I was so upset."

But seriously. I don't know why I was upset.

Maybe it was because:

- I saw someone else with my same bathing suit

- My brother/sister did something to get on my nerves again

- It was part of being a little girl who throws fits

- I crapped myself in public again

- I was born with a pre-packaged amount of attitude and it JUST now decided to show itself

Really who knows. I sat for a few minutes trying to think of a fun little caption for this photo, but I couldn't think of a good one. I mean, I know it's out there, I just don't know what it is.

Maybe you could help me?

Maybe if you help me I'll give you a nice reward?

Okay here's the deal. You caption the photo by leaving a comment on this post only, and at the end of the month, I will pick my favorite and send the winner a $10 Starbucks gift card, a little love note from me via snail mail, and a special cool gift that reminds me of you from my trip to LA. Sound like a plan Stan?

Really what do you have to loose? You have the rest of the month to put your thinking cap on. Your caption won't offend me—seeing myself in that bathing suit has already accomplished that. So caption away!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Kids In Love

When I first started attending Westside Church, I met a guy named Will O'Neill. He was really funny and super tall—that was my first impression. Over the 2 years I've been here, I've gotten to hang out with Will during small groups and during softball season (he was on our team). He was one of my greatest encouragers on the team. A little while after I'd been going to Westside, I got to meet his girlfriend, Erin. I remember thinking she was equally tall and was completely stunning! Her sweet personality was such a comfort and when she joined our small group, I got to know her more. It was always nice to see her bright smile when she showed up and hear her stories and gain a new perspective on interpreting the Bible.

Yesterday, I was blessed to have the opportunity to join them at their wedding and watch two amazing people exchange vows and celebrate the start of a new life together! The wedding was so uniquely tailored to them (as I feel all weddings should be) and had a very classy, almost Jane Austen feel to it. Will and Erin being the outdoorsy type that they are even made their getaway on a tandem bike! It was awesome!

Here are my pictures from their special day:

Taking the ferry to Vashon Island for the wedding

I got a ride to the wedding from Dan & Alisa
and we had fun on the ferry ride

The Siers kids were excited to watch the ceremony

The Groom & Groomsmen

The bridesmaids each had unique parasols

Welcoming the elegant bride

The giving away of the bride

An upfront view of her gorgeous dress

Sharing stories

The exchanging of the vows

You may now kiss the bride

Jay praying for the new married couple

Mr. & Mrs. William O'Neill

Dancing away into a new adventure

Fresh baked dessert served as the wedding cake

Tasty cheeses & figs with blue cheese,
walnuts and prosciutto for appetizers

The gift for the attendees
was unique wine glasses

Will, me, & Erin

The getaway vehicle

And you know it's never a party
without a little whip cream on your nose

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I Want Candy

my thank you cards from the kids at VBS

Well, VBS week has come and gone and I had SUCH a fun time hanging out with all the little kiddos! It was really cool to see how things that happened to me daily would help me enhance the lesson for the next day. Yesterday's was especially funny.

I taught a lesson on sharing and part of the pre-set lesson plan instructed me to eat candy in front of the kids. The whole point of it was to talk to them about how it's not as fun to keep things to ourself, but it's fun to share the love of God and fun to share with others in general. Well, I was prompted to eat candy during the entire thing in front of the kids and then at the end, pass out share some candy with them. It was great to see their faces light up when they realized they got to enjoy a piece of candy too. This was really fun for the first class, and then kinda okay for the second class, but by the time the 5th group came through, I was nursing a stomach ache. I mean, it was only bite-size chocolates, but they were still too much! When I was talking toward the end of the day to my assistant, Taylor, she mentioned that my breath smelled like chocolate!

I was determined to eat a healthy lunch and dinner, and I did. I also pulled double duty on my teeth brushing routine. The funny part is that I have a dentist appointment this Monday!

My time helping with VBS was a LOT of fun and I totally recommend it to everyone who has a VBS at their church! As much time and energy as you give, you will be rewarded by the love the kids give back through their smiles, stories, and hugs!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Reach For The Sky

You know that moment when you get a gift from someone that comes at just the right time, and it's so beautiful that you just fall in love with it, and you wonder what you ever did to deserve such an amazing support system of friends??

Yeah, me too!

Monday I blogged about my incredibly bad day and how much that entire situation sucked. Tuesday blew Monday out of the water!

I got this little message on my Facebook wall on Tuesday:

I sent her the address and I knew she was up to something, but I wasn't sure what it was. After helping out at VBS during the morning, I headed in to work and a little while later, I got a call from the downstairs office saying I had a delivery. I went downstairs and was INCREDIBLY surprised with . . .


From Matthew Fox.

Just kidding. They're not from Matthew!
I know, I know, you TOTALLY thought they were ;)

They were from Alisa, which, in my humble opinion, is EVEN BETTER! I first got to know Alisa last fall when I started going to her small group. Through our small group meetings I got to know her more and once LOST came back on for the final season, I would go over to her house every week to watch it with her and her husband and a small group of friends. It was SO great to be part of another fun group of Losties. Over time I got to hang out with Alisa more, and every time I'm around her, she is a breath of fresh air. Her sweet, honest, and gracious personality is truly a comfort to me. She inspires me so much in her relationship with the Lord and in her relationships with others. I really am INCREDIBLY honored to know her and to get to spend time with her.

When I got the flowers, I laughed so hard because she did something incredibly thoughtful, but she did it in a super funny creative way! It was especially fun explaining to all my co-workers who Matthew Fox is! And I'm sure they thought I was nuts, the way I was blabbing on and on and on about how ridiculously good looking he is, and what a great actor he is, and about the funny comments I would make about marrying him when we would watch LOST. As I carried the flowers up to my office, I couldn't help but get emotional once again and start to tear up with tears of joy over the love and comfort and care that I felt from one simple gift from Alisa. It made my heart so happy and made my life feel so much fuller to know that I wasn't just carrying flowers up to my office, I was carrying a friendship with an amazing woman and all the encouragement, grace, and honor that is contained in Alisa's heart.

And now the flowers sit on my desk and I look at them and smile and feel the warm fuzzies all over again and count myself blessed to have such amazing friends!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Looking Anxious

I'd like to pretend that I'm not sitting here wiping away tears of frustration via this slice of pumpkin pie, but that would make me

1. A liar.
2. Delusional.
3. A little less human.

So here I sit, typing out my day's events so that I can just leave this here, walk away and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

On my drive in this morning, the car I've been borrowing lost one of it's windshield wiper blades. It was misting heavily and covering the windshield so I put the wipers on and about 3 minutes in, just as I was about to turn them off, the wiper broke.

Amazingly, the other wiper was coming down at the time and pushed the broken wiper down into the crevice between the hood and the windshield. I pulled over and brought the wiper into the car with me as I continued on to VBS, since I was almost there and the mist wasn't so entirely debilitating—just annoying. It was extremely hard to focus on the morning's events with thoughts racing through my mind . . .

What if I can't get it fixed?

I don't know a THING about cars!

What if it starts raining really hard?

Where are all my mechanic relatives when I need them????

Thankfully, my friend Scott was at Westside and was able to come out and offer me some helpful hints and places where I could get it fixed. Well I went to the shop only to find out that they couldn't order the part for me—it had to come from either the dealership or the junkyard.

So as I headed back to the office, I called the dealership. They would have to have it special ordered and it wouldn't get here until Wednesday. So tonight I'm compiling a list of junk yards I can call tomorrow to see if I can get a cheaper price than the one given to me by the dealership.

After I got to work, I tackled a lot of the projects I had to work on, but all that was running through my mind was the car. And making sure to move the car every 2 hours so I wouldn't get a parking ticket. Now I've seen these signs every day. They're allllll over the area where I work, so I had figured that I only needed to keep moving it until a certain time because the sign says 2 hour parking from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. What I failed to notice was that it also said that there was NO parking in the area AFTER 6 p.m. unless you had a special permit. So when I left work, I was greeted by a sweet love note from Parking Enforcement.

I sat in the car and cried for a good 15 minutes wondering how these people sleep at night. I was stressed out, I had so much on my mind, and I was completely frustrated at the course of events in this one full day. I followed up Cry Fest 2010 by calling a friend, who comforted me and prayed for me and consoled me enough to convince me that I didn't need the ground to swallow me up whole.

And now I sit here, my pumpkin pie slice half-eaten, ready to call it a day, trim my sails and face another day.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I was sorting through my iTunes the other day and looking back on all the old music I have stored on there and I got a bit nostalgic. The nostalgia hit over a very unlikely song. It wasn't Vitamin C's Graduation song, it wasn't Green Day's Time of Your Life, it was a Paula Cole song. More specifically, it was MISSISSIPPI by Paula Cole. I was listening to it and I was immediately transported back to High School.

Not exactly a song that triggers the word "High School," eh? Yeah I didn't think so at first. But there's a story behind it, and THAT story is all about High School.

I know I joke about it, but I really did enjoy my time in the Color Guard at my school. It was a great group and we had so much fun! There was an off-season core of Color Guard called Winter Guard that was basically Color Guard without the marching band and football field. It was generally held in a gym and you got to be more creative and incorporate more fluid dance motions.

One year for our Winter Guard competition, my director encouraged us to compete in the short program in smaller groups. So my friend Jennifer, who we all called Jen (Dot) E, got together and decided to create a routine to Paula Cole's MISSISSIPPI. To us it was an piece that two completely emo kids could appreciate and loaned itself to our obscure version of Winter Guard as an art. One of my favorite things in working with Jen.E was that both of us were dedicated to a "no-holds-barred" routine. I mean, c'mon, as if the lyrics weren't edgy enough—we tried new flag throws, hit some crisp moves, and flowed through it as we added our own little sexually suggestive flair. Yes folks, we had hormones just like everyone else our age. But the fun was in creating the moves and combining our brains to make them big, proud, and full of force. It was during that song, doing those moves, that we felt free to be us.

We didn't win an award, and I'm sure the judges were mildly confused about our message, but it was one of those moments I look back on and I'm like, "THAT'S WHAT IT WAS ABOUT." There was freedom to dream, to challenge ourselves, and to walk out onto that floor and for a moment get lost in the art.

It's about time for my 10-year High School reunion, but I'm not going to be able to make it. It comes right at a time for one of our big project deadlines and too close to my Christmas vacation that it wouldn't be very wise to pay for the extra plane ticket (those suckers aren't cheap). But as I've been debating it and weighing the pros and cons, and figuring out what the wisest decision is, it has made me more grateful for the people who have taken a part in shaping who I am. Jen.E was a part, Jennifer A. was a part. Jessica, Lilly, Monica, Chris, Elaine, Amber, Toni & Andres, and all of my other High School friends were a part. Over the past few years, I've gotten out of touch with a lot of them, but thanks to social networking have been able to reconnect.

The thing I love most is knowing that the moments we shared were so special and meaningful that just a song, or just a phrase, or just an image can pop in my mind and I can remember specific events and how happy we were to be friends. I am so entirely grateful for the friends I've made in my life and I look forward to making more!