Sunday, December 24, 2006


My brother Jeff, and his fiance Tara. What a beautiful new sister I am getting!

My niece and nephews

Me and one of my brown-eyed boys!
Merry Christmas!

For some reason I have an annual tradition of neglecting to send Christmas cards. Mostly it is because I have either recently moved, been out of the country - making it difficult to send cards, or simply failed to buy them. So for those of you who keep up with this blog, consider this my Christmas greeting and "life update" all wrapped into one.

This year I am celebrating Christmas with my family - who is now much closer than several states away. I am rejoicing that my life in Texas has been full of old friends and new ones. I am grateful for the many ways God has shown His love and faithfulness to me this year. It has been a good year full of travels and transition. I've had the opportunity to finish a season as a college professor, lead 25 high school students on an international experience, involve myself in a great community of believers in Texas, celebrate my 30th birthday alongside my nine-year-old niece, begin sewing lessons with my grandmother, and start a career as an event planner. It has been an eventful year indeed.

I am truly grateful to look back over this past year and remember that God has given an abundance of good things. May this season be a reminder of how beautiful, precious, and REAL He is.

I pray He is adored by you and yours today, tomorrow, and always.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Dinosaur Bones.

Over the holiday I took my nephews to the Science Museum in Fort Worth. Aren't they cute? And surprisingly brave to pose in front of this very patient dinosaur?

Matthew loved digging for dinosaur bones in the designated sand pit out front. He kept screaming, "Aunt Nicole, I found something!" Every time I would walk over and inspect the rock he was holding and reassure him that, yes, I think he may have been a part of uncovering a very important artifact. The museum is very gracious to allow 7-year-olds to host their own archaeological digs of sorts out front. I'll bet they don't even notice that kids everywhere are taking home pocketfuls of rocks they are convinced belonged to an ancient dinosaur.

If you are in Fort Worth and want to check it out, you too can take home your very own piece of dinosaur bone - or rocks. Whichever ones you are lucky enough to find.

The Coolest Christmas Party Invitation Award goes to...
...Leslie Roberson. She has displayed her party expertise yet again. Check it out. At first glance, it looks like my ipod that got left on the kitchen table...
But look more closely and you'll see that it's a party invitation wrapped up in chocolate. I'm telling you, she should copyright this stuff.

Long Overdue: WE WON

For you faithful blog readers who wondered about the fate of Kelly and I's entry in the pumpkin carving contest - good news! We won. Here's a picture of our reward. We promptly split it up to be used for dinner out or some other unbudgeted entertainment activity. Fantastic!
Update: Thursday's court date in Turkey for Hakan and Turan was really to set a more official court date in the future. No date has been set. However, their lawyer said the government does not have a strong case against them. Turan and Hakan were also able to speak freely of forgivenss for those who have falsely accused them. I'll post future updates as I receive information...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Trial tomorrow in Turkey

Many of you, if you keep up with global news regarding Christian persecution, have heard about a recent case in Turkey. Two guys I worked closely with in Istanbul have been arrested and are facing a trial tomorrow that could result in a prison sentence.

Hakan and Turan, both Turkish and Christian, were charged initially with illegal gun possession (a totally false accusation) and now face three charges: 1)Article 301-Putting down the Turkish republic and inciting riot 2) Article 216-Saying bad things about another person’s religion, 3) Article 135-Gathering and using people’s personal information with out their permission.

Hakan and Turan are working along with other Christians in Turkey to send out Bible correspondence information to people who request it. This is not illegal. Being a Christian is not illegal….but these two were targeted by the local community and the government. They are being charged with offenses that are not true and prosecuted under Turkish laws that have received a lot of scrutiny lately as Turkey vies for EU membership.

The outcome of this case could be a very important factor as the EU watches how Turkey treats minorities. These laws don’t just affect Turkish Christians, they affect writers, artists, and other religious minorities in Turkey. In fact, anyone who might say anything that seems to go against the strong nationalism/Islamic heritage of Turkey can be a target. Several people have been arrested under these laws. If you’d like to read more about the political details of the law and how it affects people in Turkey, check out this wikipedia article.

How should we respond? As people who live in a country where there is freedom of speech and freedom of religion, our first response should be gratitude. Not one of us has to be concerned that sharing our faith will land us in prison in the US. Secondly, if you are a follower of Christ, pray for these brothers and their families. They have displayed tremendous faith and are not worried about their situation. In fact, Turan wrote a recent email that said pray he will face these trials as Paul did, with boldness and faith. The outcome of this trial could affect the Church in Turkey and how Christians are treated in places where Christ is not known. May we recognize our responsibility as the Church to be involved, to pray, and stay informed about what’s going on around the globe.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sunday Night with Life Group Friends

The women sitting at Leslie Roberson's beautifully decorated fall table.

Nick & Traci - friends and neighbors

Leslie's Centerpiece

Nicole & Amy

Callie, Amy, Amanda & Sylvia

Sunday, October 29, 2006


At work on Friday we had a pumpkin carving contest and “Autumn” is what my co-worker and I came up with.

Here are some of the reasons we decided to forego the traditionally carved pumpkin:
1. There is a lot of pressure to come up with an original carving design. This natural pumpkin idea came from google. Not hard at all.
2. Cutting a pumpkin with a knife is hard. Hot gluing acorns and gourds seemed much easier.
3. It’s messy to dig out the inside of a pumpkin. Sorry, co-workers, but I’m not willing to get messy at work for the sake of winning a contest.
4. We can label our pumpkin “made with all natural ingredients”.
5. Since the contest was on Friday and the pumpkins are hanging around till Tuesday, we know ours isn’t going to rot. Rotten pumpkins are stinky. And they attract flies too.

Here’s to hoping Autumn wins the contest!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Good food, Good people, Good job.

This is a picture of me and Kelly, my co-worker. She is a lot of fun and really helping me to learn the catering and party planning ropes. This was Friday’s event at The Ashton Depot. We hosted a luncheon for 500 and I couldn’t help but think that I really really like this job. Who can beat a job where you are surrounded by good food, fun people, and parties galore?

Monday, October 16, 2006

How much do you know about World Hunger?

Today is World Food Day, a time to focus on the issue of hunger in the world. I challenge you to see how much you really know about it. Take this quiz published by the BBC.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Baby!

So this morning I called my niece to wish her a happy birthday before school and I got some other news too...My sister is having another baby! Madison turned 9 today and the twins Matthew and Mitchell are 7. Now they are adding a baby to the mix. This will be so fun!

The kids already asked if they could name it. Their suggestion? Magician. They wanna call it Magic for short. I'm sure they got that idea from some Disney movie or cartoon, but the irony of their suggestion makes me laugh. My sister and brother-in-law are in for a fun ride with a new baby and three little helpers! Let's just hope she doesn't take seriously their offers to help name it...

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Birthday Weekend

For my birthday this past weekend, my good friends Rebecca, Amy, and Callie organized a Girls’ Weekend in honor of my 30th. Friday began with a great evening of pedicures, movies, girl talk, and baked Brie. Saturday was coffee and brunch (with more girl talk), Tea Time at Tempest in Dallas, and shopping at the Galleria. Could I have asked for a more girly weekend? I don’t think so! I loved every minute.
Love those girls.
Love pedicures.
Love girl talk.
Love shopping.
And Love being 30.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Big 3-0h.

Yeah, that's right people I am turning 30 tomorrow! Lots of people have asked me how I feel about it. Honestly? I feel great! My roommate said yesterday that now I am officially thirty, flirty, and thriving.

I can live with that!

Downtown – things’ll be great when you’re
Downtown – no finer place for sure
Downtown – everything’s waiting for you

So, now I am officially employed Downtown. The lyrics from this Petula Clark song may be a bit ambitious (I’m not sure everything is waiting for me there…), but the tune seemed appropriate to usher in this new chapter of working in downtown Fort Worth.

I just started working for the hospitality management company that manages The Ashton Hotel and The Ashton Depot in Fort Worth. They brought me on board to help coordinate people, events, and general business stuff. I have a lot to learn about the hospitality business, but those of you who know me well know that I love to take care of people. This is a great opportunity to do something professionally that I have always enjoyed doing at home! I am working with a great team including managers, executive chefs, event planners, and more. I can’t wait to watch and learn.

And, for those of you in the Fort Worth area, these are gorgeous venues for weddings, receptions, parties and more. You can expect luxury treatment and a unique Fort Worth flair. Very chic!

Monday, September 11, 2006

On this five year anniversary of 9/11, I’m sure most people are remembering where they were, what they were doing, and who they were with on September 11, 2001.

Me too.

On 9/11, I was living in Turkey. I remember that it was about 3:00 p.m. and I was walking down a busy Istanbul street on my way to a popular shopping area with my friend Elizabeth. There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary that day, other than the “normal” of everyday life overseas…constantly speaking and thinking in a foreign language, practicing care to not look men in the eyes (important in a Muslim culture), and smiling at the beggar children who always followed us down city streets asking for money.

My cell phone rang and an American friend who also lived in Istanbul said, “Hey there’s something going on in New York. I’m watching CNN and it looks like the whole city is on fire.” “Okay, Clay,” I said. “Thanks for calling.” Then I hung up and was actually annoyed that he would interrupt my path to the mall with news of a fire thousands of miles away in New York. Within fifteen minutes, he called again and said, “Nicole, as soon as you guys get to the mall, you need to find a department store with a television. You won’t believe it. There’s been a terrorist attack in New York and this is big.”

We sped up our pace to the mall and immediately went to the electronics department of the biggest store we could find. Without asking, we switched the channel from a Turkish soap opera to CNN in English. Then we saw the pictures of the towers – both smoking by this point. I stood about a foot from the TV in disbelief and I remember thinking that my mouth simply wouldn’t close. It felt frozen in shock. Within minutes, the Turks standing around us took notice of what was happening on the screen. This was the first they had seen of the news, and a crowd gathered around the television. They began to say in Turkish, “Change it to Turkish! I can’t understand English!” So they switched the channel and the reporting was now by a Turkish reporter, displaying the same images we’d just seen of the towers.

My cell phone rang again and I heard my mom’s voice. I couldn’t help but break down and cry. “Mom, what’s happening?” “Are you okay? Where are you? What are you doing?” She asked a million questions and I remember saying to her, “Mom, you’re in America, not me. Nothing is happening here. It’s happening there!” I remember her saying at the end of our conversation “The day is not over yet.” Then it hit me that it was early morning in the U.S. and she was right. Who knew what the rest of the day held?

The next few days we (me, Elizabeth, and other Americans living in the city) were sort of in a holding pattern. I remember our company issuing plans with all kinds of scenarios and emergency plans to evacuate if that was necessary. We sat glued to CNN all day for three days.
Things I remember most about those days:
1. I felt helpless.
2. I cried a lot.
3. I didn’t want to go back to work when things began to settle down.
4. I wanted my mom.
5. I prayed non-stop for the families who had lost people they loved.

I also remember my Turkish neighbors and friends who expressed so much concern for Americans and sadness at such a cowardly act of terrorism. They really were sympathetic. One neighbor even broke down in tears when she was telling me how sorry she was for our loss. Turkish people (and much of the rest of the world) understand the effects of terrorism. They have lived with it as long as they can remember and stand alongside anyone else who is affected by its devastation. I also remember many of them saying “This is NOT the way of Islam.” They were heartbroken that now Islam had been the basis for such an act of terrorism.

It’s been a long five years. This is not the place to comment on the state of things now. But it is a place to share a story and hope that many others, on this day, will remember that our world is broken. It is in need of redemption. My faith in Jesus Christ tells me the kind of redemption that’s needed can only come through Him. If anyone does, He understands betrayal, pain, surrender, and ultimate victory over evil. In Him, there is goodness, hope, healing, and salvation for all people on earth. May we be reminded of those things today…

Rarely do I use this blog for entries like these because it seems like more of personal journal entry than something to be public. But, in this case, it is part of me seeking to identify with other people’s experiences on that day and offer a word of hope, even on a day that is very solemn for many Americans.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The End of Poverty

Hey, for all of you who are concerned about global issues, I totally recommend Jeffrey Sach's The End of Poverty. This book has completely upset my mind over the past few months and helped me understand more about the issue of extreme poverty in the world. Now, many nay-sayers saw this book when I was reading it and commented "the end of poverty - yeah, right!", or "hmmm. the end of poverty. that sounds like Bono's favorite book", or _____ you fill in the blank on things people might say when they don't understand the issue. Or better yet, when they want to ignore it.

I was introduced to the book when one of my students gave it to me as a gift. He bought it in Delhi and was very thoughtful to bring it back from his study abroad assignment. Until I visited India last year I had never really given much thought to the serious issue of poverty and how it affects global politics, health, education, and culture. Sachs has writen a great book for the average Westerner who doesn't know that much about how we as a developed society either help or hurt the poor of the world.

I won't be so bold to say that now I understand everything about poverty, what causes it, or how to fix it. But this book really made me think. And every once in a while, shouldn't we be reading something that makes us think?? It's a good read. Check it and let me know what you think...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Top 10 good things about today:
1. The sun is out and it's less than 90 degrees. This is a major bonus for Texas in August.
2. I'm having lunch with my grandparents...I'm glad they are only 20 minutes away.
3. My birthday is in 17 days.
4. I have a job interview tomorrow.
5. I went running this morning by the river.
6. My birthday is in 17 days.
7. I watched a funny indie film some friends made recently. Check it out if you're into that kind of thing:
8. I decided to go to Oklahoma this weekend. Yeah...I know...but it was cheaper than Cancun for Labor Day.
9. My birthday is in 17 days.
10. I am cooking dinner for friends - one of my favorite evening activities.

Did I mention that my birthday is coming up? Just making sure you caught that...

Monday, August 28, 2006

Probably most tourists don't take photos in the cemetery, but this cross was just too gothic and German to pass up...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Long Overdue:
Berlin Pics
So, finally. I am going to post some pictures of my trip to Germany in July. The trip was the overseas portion of my final project at CBU - an amazing opportunity to take 25 high school students and six incredible college student leaders on a two-week ministry project. Here are some of the pictures. Enjoy!

This is a portion of what's left of the Berlin wall, now called the East Side Gallery. Artists from all over world had a hand in decorating this mile stretch of this historic cement.

This is our leadership team (the six incredible college student leaders) that made sure all 25 high school students were taken care of in Berlin.

This is the door of the Castle Church, where Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses in Wittenburg, Germany.

This is the inside of the Castle Church.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

My little brother wrote me this comment on myspace. I thought it was too sweet not to share...

2 plane rides
7 fuel stops
12 sweet truck stop bathrooms
1350 miles
24 hours of u-hauling
getting Nicole back to Texas = priceless

I'll update more later with some great pictures of Germany...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Dear California:

I want to share with you a few things I've learned during my extended stay...

1. There's nothing like taking a walk on the beach - it's absolutely free, relaxing, and always worth the drive.

2. "Sunny California" is your nickname because you've earned it.

3. One can never have too many swimsuits.

4. Flip flops actually do go with everything.

5. There is such a thing as going too slowly on the's called 80 mph.

6. Big sunglasses are not just "in", they are necessary.

7. In n' Out burgers and shakes are seriously worth every stinkin' calorie and fat gram.

8. Getting stuck in traffic can actually be a very productive time thanks to rollover minutes.

9. Your greatest strengths are your cultural diversity, open-mindedness, and casual approach to life. Careful, though, because they can also be your worst enemies.

10. The car trunk essentials: beach chairs, bottled water, and a beach towel. Just in case.

Thanks for letting me stay. I enjoyed it immensely and hope one day I'll return and continue to learn more about what a wonderful place you are. You and your residents have been amazing hosts to me this past two years. I am truly grateful...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Last night's goodbye party.

So, last night some good friends hosted a goodbye party for me at their home. It was a great time to see lots of people before I leave on Friday...I was truly blessed by seeing many students, fellow staff, and friends from my time here at CBU. My favorite part of the party was when my friends presented me with a bible that had been highlighted and written in by each person at the party. It was very special to see which portions of scripture stood out to friends as they send me off to begin a new chapter in Texas. I was truly honored. I will definitely miss the CBU family and count it a true blessing to have been a part of this community for the past two years.

Now there's only 36 hours till my brother and I begin the long trek to Texas in the U-Haul!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I'm in Berlin!
So, just a short update...I arrived in Berlin a couple of days ago with a group of 30 students. We spent a full 5 days in training at CBU and left directly from there for Berlin (hence, the inability to update...) So far our time here has been amazing. We are now experts at the U-bon and Berlin streets. It has been fun to explore the city together and to see the excitement of all of these students. For most of them this is the first time they have ever travelled overseas and it is great fun to be the one leading them in this experience.

I'm moving to Texas!
So I guess this makes for two somewhat big announcements in one entry. Whoa. Yeah, I know for those of you faithful readers (all four or so) this is like a major event. Anyways, after much thought and prayer over the past several months it is clear that I am heading back to Texas. I will miss California and working with students at CBU, but I am honestly looking forward to the opportunity to be near friends and family again. If there is one thing I could change about my life in Cali, it has been that I wish I could have transported all my friends with me when I moved two years ago! Overall, though, it just seems like it's time to go. And I am excited about the change. I'll keep you posted on the details but it looks like I'll be in Fort Worth by August...just in time for the blazing heat, my nephews' birthday, and maybe even the ACL music fest in September. Can't wait.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Matthew & Make-A-Wish

Check out my nephew Matthew staring in a Make-A-Wish video. This commercial is playing in selected markets in West Texas...check him out!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

How do you know you just broke up with a psycho?
Associated Press
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
(source: Fox News)

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Corpus Christi woman says she got something horrifying in the mail.

Corpus Christi police say the woman reports her ex-boyfriend mailed her a severed human finger.

Police haven't released the identities.

Police Captain John Houston says police aren't sure which finger was removed or how it was removed, but that the finger appeared to have been cleanly severed and washed.

Police said a letter was enclosed, stating -- quote -- "This is the last chance to touch you."

The 32-year-old woman filed for an emergency protective order from the 34-year-old man last week before receiving the package. Police say the man moved to the Houston suburb of Spring last week and hasn't been located.
Yeah, so I think that's how you know. I guess maybe some would call him a romantic...I mean, I guess he didn't do half bad with the note. But seriously, I'd call it psycho. Remind me to never date a guy missing a finger...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Missing my favorite city...

This time of year always makes me think of my summers in Turkey. Oh, how I miss the busy streets of Istanbul, the late night dinners on my neighbor's balcony, and the fruit stands on the way home. It seems like every summer I know someone who gets to travel there (either from CBU or other connections) and I must confess that I am jealous.

This is one of my all time favorite views of the ancient city from the top of Galata tower. A friend snapped it last summer while I was pointing out all the highlights of the city to my friend Deb. (by the way, those are her hands seemingly sprouting out of my profile in this photo)

Friends who are there now:
You simply must go to Galata and see this view for yourself. 360 degrees of pure Istanbul!

Others who have been there:
Remember how fabulous this city and the people are?

The rest of you who haven't been to Turkey:
See what you are missing. Why have you not ventured into this historical Mediterranean heaven?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I'm in Texas right now enjoying the occasional thunderstorm, frequent glasses of sweet tea, and much-needed rest...

Monday, May 22, 2006

Internet Dating: The Musical

So, my best friend from college, Shawn, is here and we are enjoying the time to hang out. We went to see this hilarious musical on Saturday night in LA called Internet Dating: The Musical. It was a whole spoof on the internet love/dating operation with some really great song-writing.


YOU ARE CUTE BUT YOU CAN'T SPELL. For those who rationalize that maybe Mr. or Miss Right is really smart and great, they just have a hard time using spell check...

DID YOU READ MY PROFILE? So appropriately asking the question that often comes up when people ask questions that are already covered in that little profile you wrote about yourself. Why the heck are you asking me if I am a Hindu? Didn't you read my profile that clearly says I follow Jesus and am looking for someone who thinks the same way...? No, I'm not into astrology or supporing gay marriage. Geez.

CHECK MY INBOX. A hysterical song about how many times a day we check our inboxes...before coffee...after coffee...between making copies at the office...before lunch...after lunch...immediately upon returning from the know the drill...

INTERNET DATING IS THE BEST THING EVER. For the days when it seems like a good idea.

I NEVER UNDERSTOOD WHY YOU WERE SINGLE. I think in its own sort of way this is meant to be uplifting coming from friends, but let's be honest it really is not a compliment. I'd rather someone say how cool it is that I get to travel the world, keep up with fashion trends, or spend four hours trying on shoes. That brings out the positive aspects of living the cosmopolitan life of a young single woman.

INTERNET DATING IS THE WORST THING EVER. For those days when reality hits and you think about how ridiculous it really is to be writing a profile promoting yourself hoping some guy will ask you out on a date based on what you've written.

When you think about it, it's a really bizarre way to meet people. Honestly I prefer the guys who talk to me in the grocery store or help me out on the paint aisle at Home Depot. At least I know that they have some guts and are willing to take a stab at talking to someone in person. I dig guys with guts..because let's face it, some really wimpy guys can write ANYTHING in their profile. But you can't fool me into thinking that you work out six times a week and are a professional body builder if your grocery cart is full of Twinkies and beer. Not to mention the fact that you are carrying around an extra 30 lbs - and I don't mean the super size bag of dog food in your cart...

Ah, the beauty of seeing people (and internet dating gurus) for who they really are! And, the appreciation for people who can write really funny songs about it.

If you're in LA in the next couple of weeks, I totally suggest you check out Internet Dating: The Musical at the art/works theater. It's playing until June 4.

Friday, May 12, 2006

This is Ethan and Justin. Check out how they are biking across America this summer for a great cause: Buy one of their t-shirts. They are cool.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Lil' Update: Miss Nasty & Golddigger. Carson Daly is really cute in person, but he is WAY too skinny for a guy. Being too skinny doesn't look good on Nicole Richie and it doesn't look good on guys, either. I'm thinking people in Hollywood need to give up the 3-hour yoga sessions and macrobiotic diet crap and join the ranks of normal size people. Eat a few brownie sundaes, people! Geez.

Anyways, Jenni McCarthy was the guest on the show...appropriately referred to as "Miss Nasty" by Carson during the interview. The STOMP performers were phenomenal and it was fun to see them and all of their percussion tools up close. I never thought I'd see the day when I referred to banging on metal trash can lids as music, but hey, it works for STOMP. The best part of the evening was before Last Call we were waiting outside of the NBC studio. Ellen Degeneres drove by and waved at us...and I am sure she was waving directly to me behind that dark SUV tinted glass from the backseat. I'm sure of it. Then, while she was filming her "ellen in the park" shows to be aired next week, we watched Kanye West perform Golddigger (or is it Golddigga?) on stage followed by a duet with his mom. It was a good night to be in Hollywood...

Oh, and the show will actually air on May 17. So, if you are into staying up till late to watch it, maybe you'll catch a glimpse of me. Maybe. I should be easy to spot - the normal size person on the front row who looks like they have eaten a brownie sundae or two...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Last Call with Carson Daly - Watch it on Wednesday night if you are one of those people who can make it until after Conan O'Brien (the really really late night tv). I'll be in the studio audience probably providing fake laughter and loud clapping when prompted. I'm following up the studio audience gig with the STOMP performance at Pantages. Okay, so I'm not in the STOMP performance, but I'll be there to watch it. Hooray for Hollywood nightlife!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Caution: Big Turns Ahead

So, it looks like I'll be taking a few turns in the coming months...

For the past year or so, I have really wondered if this is it for me. This being serving as a faculty member at a great Christian university in Southern California. I have loved several aspects of this job. I have loved the fact that every day I get to influence students to think beyond themselves and look towards a world in need of Christ. I have loved walking alongside so many college girls and advising them about issues like accessories and boys and everything in between. (Of course, always coupled with my honest confession that I don't know it all, I'm just happy to listen and talk about it.) I have loved being in an environment with colleagues who are always full of thoughtful conversations and new ideas about how to teach and challenge students. But, even with all of these things I've loved...

I've discovered that I don't quite fit in academia. I'd much rather be out there doing what I'm challenging my students to do. Everyday I stand in front of them and say "Go out from here and take the gospel with you wherever you go - in business, into the classroom, into the arts & music - into the WORLD. Jesus is way too valuable to be relegated to Sundays mornings, so be Christians that actually live like them. When you do, the world will notice." Having this as my driving theme for the past two years was bound to get to me at some point. Now, I get to step out and seize the opportunity to use my skills and education in the working world. Serving at CBU has been a tremendous opportunity for me, and I am truly grateful for the time I've spent here. But it's clear the time has come for me to move on...

Move on to what, you ask? Well, that's a good I'm not quite sure I know how to answer yet. All I know at this point is that I am searching out various job opportunities. Texas, NYC, Washington DC - they've all been on the table. So, I am starting the job search and praying like crazy God will direct me to the right place. I know He will. He has proven Himself faithful too many times for me not to trust Him.

I am really glad this path is full of curves. I wouldn't do well on the straight, cruise-controlled, predictable, and adventure-less road...that path lacks excitement and speed. Just check with anyone who knows me well, and they'll tell you that I've got the driving record to prove it.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The situation is desperate...

If you'd like to get involved in expressing your concern for the worst humanitarian crisis in our day, please visit:

People all around the world: Stand together against the genocide in Darfur. Take some responsibility in bringing hope and relief to an entire generation of people...before it's too late.

(photo courtesy of Human Rights Watch -

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Is it California...or Europe?
I must have asked this question four hundred times during my three-day road trip to Central California this week. The drive up the 101 to Morro Bay was absolutely breathtaking. Spring has made everything green and painted every spare patch of grass with wildflowers. My friend Merea and I had a great time on the scenic drive up and enjoyed the chance to explore several of Central California's (aka The Wine Country) attractions. We visited Hearst Castle, which many of you may recognize as the most extravagant residence in all of North America. It was built by W.R. Hearst - a journalism tycoon in 1930's & 40's - and the first ever licensed female architect, Julia Morgan. It is a fascinating story of a man and his dream home and the woman who built it for him...and, oh, what a place! You'll probably recognize his pool that shows itself in movies from time to time.

As we drove along the coast, we stopped a several piers just to walk out and take a deep breath of ocean air. I can hardly look at the ocean without thinking of Habakkuk 2:14 "for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea". What an amazing picture of His depth that simply cannot be measured or matched!

Venturing inland revealed countless wineries all bragging the best California wine and offering free tastings. Don't worry, Mom (and other Baptist friends), we didn't give into the temptation to visit all of them.... We did NOT heed the advice of the couple sitting next to us at breakfast in our hotel. Their advice? "Oh, you should visit all of them! There are only like 22 or so in that area and you get seven free tastes at each one. (*note: a taste is more like half a glass*) Yesterday we hit eight or so and came home with who knows how many bottles." My question to them? How the heck did you make it back here for breakfast?!?!

Keri & I before heading out to Wicked.

Two four-eyed girls! I think Sofia looks a little more like a Hollywood baby than a Chicago one. What do you think?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

what a place! Marshall Field's, pizza, city streets, Wicked, wind, Sears Tower, the El, the Magnificent Mile, Lincoln Park, and so much more! That city truly has so much to offer. I enjoyed wandering the city streets and listening to the constant hum of the El train. I won't even try to guess just how many hours I spent in Marshall Field's...It would probably compare to the number of times I exclaimed to Sofia, "you are so cute!" She responded with a smile every time...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Check out this website and learn more about the indie film INVISIBLE CHILDREN. Watch the trailer. I'm certain you'll be moved to (at the very least) think about how you can get involved. This film is having an catalytic effect on college campuses all over the USA. I'm amazed at how serious this generation takes issues like these. On one hand, it seems like they are all born with ipods and cell phones in their spoiled little hands. On the polar opposite hand, they are deeply moved by global issues....Christians and non-Christians alike. They are exposed to more information than any other generation, and don't ignore it. They see the emptiness of words without action, and I've observed them to be passionate about global issues and for the believer, how it connects to being a follower of Christ. They have taught me a great deal about the kind of passion it requires to make a difference in the world. It's the kind of passion that involves a willingness to suffer. A willingness to give up their small ambitions of the American dream, and trade it for something eternally valuable. That kind of passion can only be fueled by One who suffered and paid the price we could never pay. He suffered, died, and defeated death to remedy situations like what's happening in Uganda right now (...and Darfur, Iraq, Vietnam, and countless other places...) Take a minute to learn about INVISIBLE CHILDREN and consider it a challenge from this generation to take seriously the desire of Jesus to bring hope and restoration to all the earth...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Husky Car Seats?
check out this story reported on Foxnews today:,2933,190291,00.html

Okay, this is just plain sad. The situation? Kids in America are too fat to fit in the standard size car seat, so now manufacturers are creating the "Husky" seat to accomodate them. They added 4 inches in the seat (to accomodate larger bottoms) and made room for 10 extra pounds per kid. Are you serious, people??? Has anyone ever thought of limiting their kids' intake of fries and chicken nuggets instead of redefining car seat engineering? This is just plain ridiculous...! Now, I'm not a mom and don't plan to be anytime soon, but God help me if I have to buy my kid a Husky. That'll be my cue to quit feeding my kid junk and get them on a plan to lose that extra 4 inches - in a hurry!
(*please note: this kid in the photo has no relation to this story except that he's the kid who came up when I googled "fat kid photos". Hope he's not offended...*)

Friday, March 31, 2006

Looking forward to Chicago.
So, one week from today, I'll be on my way to Chicago to see my good friends Keri, Kevin, & Sofia Sheckler. Keri and I served overseas together in Turkey and have a wealth of shared experiences. She was the one who showed me the ropes overseas and I'll always be grateful for her adventurous approach to living in another culture. She was always the one to ask the question "Why not?" in relation to all things cultural and adventurous. I love that about her! Kerr and I also have a shared love of the theater. Les Miserables in London and now we are adding Wicked on Broadway in Chicago to our list of theater excursions. I'm starting the book this weekend in preparation for the theater experience. It's rare that I actually get to read something for fun (and not for teaching) so I'm looking forward to that too...hopefully the clouds and the rain hang around to make for good Saturday reading time.

Hmm...what else? Spring Break is just around the corner and it's obvious my students' minds have already turned to mush. They are there in the flesh but simply absent in the mind. I can't blame them, I guess. I was there fairly recently. I remember the frantic thoughts just before the end of the semester and the lack of sleep I suffered from my plain old procrastination. Oh, I am so glad those 10-15 page research paper days are over! My roommate from grad school can testify that I never really felt like the academic type and often wondered, "What the heck am I doing here?"...which makes me wonder why in the world God has chosen to place me back into academics...but that seems like another blog entry entirely. He definitely has a way of placing us where He wishes and doesn't always expain why. I guess that's why He's God and we are not. He defines us and we don't define Him. Believing that allows me to trust His infinite wisdom and be continually reminded that if I was in control, this would be a very scary journey indeed. I'm grateful that He sees the big picture and I don't. Otherwise, I fear I would be obsessive about how to move to what's next, instead of trusting Him to hold my future and patiently guide me on the journey...

Friday, March 24, 2006

I so rigged this...

A confession: I wanted to be New York, so I took that "what American city are you?" quiz twice to rig it. What can I say? I wanted to be labeled as cosmopolitan and sophisticated. =) Besides, any of you who know me know that I am far from competitive - just ask my family and they'll tell you I'm a middle child peacemaker all the way. I even refuse to play board games with them simply because someone always looses! I can accept the cosmopolitan and sophisticated bit, though, even if I did cheat a little.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

You Are New York
Cosmopolitan and sophisticated, you enjoy the newest in food, art, and culture.You also appreciate a good amount of grit - and very little shocks you.You're competitive, driven, and very likely to succeed.
Famous people from New York: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Tupac Shakur, Woody Allen
What American City Are You?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Reality TV: the downside

So, yeah, The Bachelor and his reality TV girlfriend pick are done. Geez, maybe reality TV is real once in a while. I mean, what human being on the planet can keep up with an all-romance-no-real-grit-or-commitment-required relationship and expect it to turn into love?

Sorry, Sarah. Hopefully you and Trav can move on from your non-reality romance into something that resembles real life. The kind of real life where people don't have their first date on the French Riviera or Venice...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Amy in Cali

This past week, my friend Amy Nobles was in California. Amy is a dear friend and it was refreshing (to say the least) to get to spend some time with her. She is a great listener and a great encourager - just one of those people you LOVE to be around. She also loves to laugh, so her presence was a much needed breath of fresh air to my life in California!

Amy is a worship leader and has a brand new cd out. To listen to one of her great new songs "Lord I Praise You", go to
To buy the cd (which I'm certain you'll want to do after listening to a clip), visit her website:

Beyond the Edge

As many of you know, I am working at California Baptist University. I have several different responsibilities at the school, but there is one I am particularly excited about: Beyond the Edge. Beyond the Edge is a brand new high school missions experience we began this year at CBU. Basically, we have invited 30 high school students to go on a 3-week mission trip to Germany this summer. The students will spend an entire week in intensive training on campus, and then we will depart for two weeks of service in Berlin. It is so exciting to be a part of developing this program. It has long been the desire of CBU to encourage and equip young people to serve God all over the world, and Beyond the Edge is part of that.

I have a team of six CBU student leaders (pictured) and we are all working together to make this a meaningful experience for these high school students. We are excited to see how God will use these 3 weeks this summer in the process of discipleship, growth, and maturity for these students. We are also praying for how He will use us to serve Him in Germany this summer. Our desire is to see Christ lifted up before all people as the only One who is able to offer new life. May He use us to proclaim that truth!

My brother is a Tony Stewart fan all the way! Go #20!

Overdue: An update on NASCAR

Okay, so I liked NASCAR! It was more exciting than any other sporting event I've been to. The vibration of the fast car noise and the excitement of 100,000 people packed in grandstands was exhilarating! At first, I wondered if it would really be fun watching these cars go in the same circle for 250 laps, but it was actually really cool.

Perhaps the most fun was watching the die hard fans in their multicolored caps, halter tops, and jackets - each one supporting their driver. It seemed like almost a religious experience for some of them..."C'mon Tony, don't let me down! ...Jeff Gordon, I'm here for you, man!...This is the best day of my life because Matt won..." Hmm...I'm thinking that many of them could benefit from something a little more substantial for a life motivation, because after all, NASCAR is bound to let you down someday...There will come a day when the keg's empty, the cars are all burnt out, and the multicolored jackets no longer fit...

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

He picked SARAH!
I admit it. I am a closet fan of The Bachelor. Tonight my roommate Kimberly and I watched the season finale and we are celebrating Travis' pick of Sarah. She was undeniably the most poised, honest, and beautiful (outside and in) woman on the show. Way to go, Trav! I know, I know, you probably pity me at this point because I have no other exciting stuff to blog about... c'mon, Nicole, get a life! But, humor me please. And allow all those other closet fans to revel in the excitement of a "nice girl" victory. Hurray for all the nice girls out there! It's fleeting, but isn't reality/fantasy love fun...?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Jeff & I went to Big Bear Lake today to hang out. Last week, it snowed in Big Bear so the place looked amazing...not a bit like Southern California. It made for a nice Saturday's a few of the pics...
Sunset at Big Bear.

My little brother.
We laughed a lot today. In this picture we were trying to make a serious face and just ended up laughing...

Friday, February 24, 2006

So, this weekend I am in for a cultural experience. Usually this time of year, I would be trotting off to Europe or Asia for some sort of work trip. But this Spring I'm up for a whole new cultural experience: NASCAR. My brother Jeff (probably one of the funniest people I know) is coming to visit me this weekend so we can go to the race at Fontana. I am pumped! I don't know that much about the sport, but I've been studying in preparation for Sunday's race. I know what pole position is. I know that we need earplugs and binoculars. And I know not to carry my big purse ("you don't want to be keeping up with a bunch of crap in a crowd of 80,000 people" - an actual quote from Jeff). So, I'm all set! I mean, what else is there to know?

I'm really looking forward to hanging out with Jeff. Little brothers, even if they are 27-year-old grad students, have the ability to make you laugh about pretty much anything, don't they? Whether it is the noise the squirting ketchup bottle makes or the shared family jokes, I'm certain it will be a laughable time. Plus, I kinda appreciate a date who's willing to honestly tell me not to bring my purse loaded down with "crap" to our day of fun. That's kinda cool...other men could learn from that kind of transparency!

Yay for the NASCAR cultural experience! I'll keep you posted!