Saturday, December 10, 2005
I love New York!
NYC at Christmastime must be one of the most wonderful vacation spots ever. There is so much to see: people everywhere, holiday decor, the occasional snow flurry, and streets that never sleep. Fabulous! My friends Merea, Amy, and Molly and I spent 4 days and 5 nights seeing everything there is to see in the city. We saw two Broadway shows (The Phantom of the Opera & Chicago), the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. I enjoyed every minute of being in a big city again. It reminded me how much I loved city life in Istanbul....there is always something going on, people outside, and the constant feeling that you are not alone. I love that feeling. Maybe I'm a big city girl at heart.
We also had the opportunity to visit Ground Zero. This was a really amazing experience for me because, as many of you know, I was not living in America when 9/11 happened...I was in the middle of the Muslim world. While there was sadness, confusion, anger, patriotism to be experienced during that time, I must admit I felt very disconnected with what was happening on my home soil. I never saw entire buildings covered with the American flag or people with homemade signs reading 'we will not forget' standing on highway overpasses. I didn't experience those first few days of utter disbelief, shock, and then unity that came during that time. In the Middle East, I was able to watch from afar as my country grieved, but I often felt I wasn't a part of it because it was so surreal. Visiting the site allowed me to visualize and (finally) identify with a time that so radically redefined our history.
Here's a list of some of my NYC favorites:
1. Walking everywhere (even in the cold).
2. Ice skating in the park.
3. Friendly New Yorkers - yeah, they were friendly!
4. Walking past the abc studios everyday to peek at who was on Good Morning America.
5. Getting dressed up to go to the theater.
6. Eating New York cheesecake.
7. Riding the subway and never missing my car.
8. Strolling through Central Park.
9. The view of Manhattan from the Empire State building.
10. Times Square.
If you'd like to see more NYC photos, click on the link to my photo albums. There are plenty of pics to browse...
Monday, November 07, 2005
I took this photo on the way down from Big Bear Lake in the San Bernadino mountains a couple of weeks ago. It was amazing to only see the clouds looking down over the San Bernadino Valley...kind of spooky actually. It really looked like the view from an airplane window...
I was in Big Bear leading worship for a women's retreat. I haven't led worship like that for a long, long time so it was refreshing to be in that role again. It is still a bit out of my comfort zone, but I was grateful for the opportunity to spend time with some precious women. It also really made me miss the days way back when I was a part of worship teams in college and in Turkey. So many of my memories from Turkey are wrapped up in a worship-filled room upstairs from a restaurant that was our church. It was NOTHING like a church here in America. The building did not belong to us, the chairs had to be set up and torn down each week, the smell of the food from the Turkish restaurant downstairs constantly drifted into the windows....In the winter, it was cold. In the summer, it was blazing hot. The toilet rarely worked properly. Definitely not conditions comparable to church buildings in America. However, it was in that building our church came together to rejoice over what God had done, to grieve together, and to pray fervently for many to come to the knowledge of Christ in Turkey. It was a special place of worship and an oasis in a city of 18 million people living under the veil of Islam. My memories of that place are sweet...and they are fresh on my mind when I am back in that role of worship leader. What a precious experience it was to praise Jesus Christ in a place where He is not known. I pray our lives will be constantly filled with the true worship of Him. No matter the place, may His praises be on our lips and in our hearts...
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Well, the short story is that I didn't get picked for Jury Duty. I'm certain it won't be my last chance, though. The lady who made all the announcements in the waiting hall for potential jurors launched a very long discourse detailing "what to do if you get called to duty again in the next 6 months", which made me suspect that that happens a lot. Guess I'll just look forward to my next big shot at fulfilling my duty as a citizen...
Anyways, enough about that.
Today I saw the movie Elizabethtown with Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. Kind of a strange plot, but a really enjoyable movie about life and death in the South. In short, Orlando Bloom's dad dies and he returns to Kentucky to his dad's hometown to bury him. The film really had Southern country down to a tee. Honestly, I cracked up when I saw this guy's long lost family crowded into a kitchen talking loudly in a Kentucky drawl, drinking beer, frying pancakes in a rod iron skillet, and looking through old photo albums of the way things "used to be". The thickness of the drawl and the night sky full of stars made me miss Texas. Although my family doesn't cram into the kitchen, drink beer, and fry pancakes together, there is something about the Southern way of life that just can't be duplicated in California...no matter how much beer and pancakes you consume...
Monday, October 03, 2005
Well, I have only had my California driver's license for 9 months and I've already been called for Jury Duty!
For my fellow Texans and other Southerners reading this, I want to explain a very strange phenomenon I have discovered in California. EVERYONE gets called to Jury Duty. And, it's not, like, every 15 years (as in Texas). It is every year without fail. I'm totally serious! It is the strangest thing to me that here people actually get called for jury duty. I think I can only remember two or three people I know in Texas ever being called for duty. Maybe it's that we just don't have as many court cases in Texas? Is it just because our system is not as good at sending people 'official notices'? Maybe we would just simply rebel if we had to serve on jury duty every year? I mean, seriously! It seems like it would take a huge chunk out of the work force.
It kinda sounds like I'm complaining, but really I'm not. Secretly, I hope I get called to some wildy ridiculous jury trial with a California plot. For example, a jealous socialite steals a Prada bag from her Botox Beauty next door neighbor...a totally LA scenario. You'll have to stay tuned to see if I actually get called to serve. If so, it will go on my list of "California firsts". First Jury Trial involving a Prada bag....Check.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Well, I am now officially "29 and holding". It has been a great birthday week. The celebration began last week when I had a really great dinner out with a special group of girlfriends. We spent the whole evening eating and chatting and it was one of the most pleasant birthday dinners I've ever had! This past weekend I travelled to my tiny Texas hometown of Albany. I celebrated my 10 year high school reunion and had a family birthday party today. This weekend was a great time to reconnect with lots of people from high school. As I interacted with them, I was reminded that I was a totally different person back then. It is obvious that my life has been transformed by Jesus Christ. As I look back over the past ten years, I take great joy in knowing that I am a new person because of Him. The life and salvation I have found in Him is beyond anything I could have imagined. It has been a life of adventure, satisfaction, and countless opportunities to trust and follow Him. I am truly grateful. . .
Monday, August 22, 2005
I took this picture yesterday from the Santa Monica pier. The weather yesterday was unbelievable...perfect for being outside and enjoying the California sun. A friend and I walked the pier, rode the ferris wheel, and rode tandem along the beachside bike path. It was a real California experience. I saw thousands of Californians rollerblading, biking, and running along the beach in their bikinis and bare chests. It looked exactly like the California you see in movies!
Some of my main thoughts from the day were:
#1 I would not be caught dead in a bikini on rollerblades.
#2 I wish my mom could be here to enjoy the beach with me.
#3 Now I understand why so many people dream of living in California.
#4 Now I understand why those who live here never leave. The sun and beauty of it all is much too addicting...