Pacific Northwesterness

This weekend I went to Washington to see two of my dear friends get married. (Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Chris Teitzel!!) Their wedding (in Gig Harbor) was picture perfect. In true Shahbaz style (Phil -pictured- was the officiant and did a stellar job at marrying those two) Chris and Kelly faced the guests as the ceremony took place in front of a beautiful waterfall. Their wedding was truly a celebration of their love for one another and love for Christ, and it was a pleasure to share that day with them. Not to mention, it was one seriously sweet party dancing the night away and visiting with APU friends!! The girls and I got 1.5 hours of sleep last night, woke up to pack our bags and head to SeaTac airport. Thank goodness I was able to spend the rest of today sleeping!

On Friday Laura, Jess, Hannah and I spent the day in Seattle. (This is my "Happy to be in Seattle" picture.) I had high hopes as everyone told me that if I loved Portland, I'd love Seattle more. That's saying a lot because Portland was love at first sight that didn't disappoint. In Seattle's defense, I've seen far more of Portland. I wish I would have had the opportunity to spend more time bummin around downtown and checked out the outskirts of the city. We mainly stayed around Pike Place. (The first Starbucks was pretty cool, but it pretty much tasted just like every other Starbucks and definitely didn't have a restroom...) I enjoyed Pike Place a lot, but I found it slightly ironic that a place that prides itself so much on being all about localism is overcrowded with tourists. But it was delightful. I often found myself thinking, I could do this. I could live in a little apartment downtown and bring fresh produce and flowers home from the market at the end of the day... So we walked around til they closed up shop and went and watched the sunset over the water slash behind a building, much to the chagrin of Jess. We were spoiled by amazing weather this weekend. I wonder if I'd feel the same way about the city had it been nonstop raining. Probably not. And at the end of the day, I'd say Seattle makes my list of cities I could live in, but Portland still has my vote for favorite pacific northwest spot.

Well folks, two weeks to go before the big move. Have I started packing? Negative. Thank goodness my mom is on it! Uncle and cousin arrive Friday and then it's pretty much nonstop until we leave!! Yikes!



Swing it like you mean it

I was out for my jog this morning, ran past a park, and suddenly felt the impulse to hop on the swing set. Doing something so childish really made me feel like a child. I literally laughed out loud. I highly suggest that the next time you spot a park you stop whatever you're doing and have yourself a little swing. You won't regret it. And if possible, listen to "First Time" by Lifehouse while you're doing it. Happy playing!



Faith or Politics? What next?

I finished The Faith Club. Overall, I enjoyed it. It challenged my worldview for sure. I think interfaith books are always interesting, but it's important for the authors to recognize and to make sure their readers understand that they speak on behalf of their personal spiritual journey, and they do not have the authority to speak on behalf of their entire religious community (unless they are the Pope or the Mormon prophet). I'm torn between wanting to be accepting of other religions, and remaining firm in the extensive contradictions that I believe are non-negotiables between Christianity and other faiths.

What's next? Well, I'm more than halfway through a book called Bergdorf Blondes, by Plum Sykes. Now, most of you know that my reading taste is usually exclusive to "thinker" books. Let's be honest. Books like 100 Days of Silence or The Cost of Discipleship aren't exactly easy reads. So yesterday I picked Bergdorf Blondes off the shelf to give myself a little break. (It's like watching a chick flick when all you've been watching are documentaries on Al Qaeda. Or something like that...) I'll be through with it by tomorrow and then I'm debating between No Man is an Island, by Thomas Merton or The Much Too Promised Land: America's Elusive Search For Arab-Israeli Peace, by Aaron David Miller. The latter would be interesting in light of having just read The Faith Club and reading about Ranya and Priscilla's views on Zionist theology and Palestinian oppression. I'll probably end up reading both...

Well that's all I have for now.


P.S. Less than one month and then it's PEACE OUT California!!



Remember that whole "self-assessment" thing I blogged about last? Yah... that's still happening. No longer painful, it is a blessing, a gift, and a part of my spiritual growth wherein God is ever present in every aspect of my day. Here are a few things these last weeks have taught me.

1) Invest. I have been plagued with an unwillingness to invest. I feel like these past five and a half months have been a waste of time by my own fault. I've refused to invest in new relationships, in my church, in another church, etc. because I felt like investing would mean accepting that I live here. And I desperately did not want to accept that. I was angry that I was "stuck" in California. I lost sight of the fact that God gave me choices, and I made this one. So while my relationship with my parents has grown and flourished, I've missed out on new relationships that could have made my stay here considerably more enjoyable. I don't feel like I'll leave worse off for not investing, but I believe I could be leaving better off if I had.

2) Grace. Not to be annoyingly over spiritual, but these last few weeks have been a crash course in grace and the recognition of God's immense love for us. His grace is a gift, and the ability and strength to accept it is a gift unto itself. The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning has opened my eyes to so much about my connection to God and how easy it is to fall into the mindset of a legalist by putting on my very best Christian self and running my mouth about grace, love, freedom, redemption, but not truly understanding how it applies to my life. Ouch. I read Galatians 5:1, 4 the other day: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery... You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace." Keeping my mind focused on those last words, and the desperation of not wanting to be alienated from Christ or fall away from his grace, has made me fall prostrate before the throne of God and be fully dependent on his mercy and grace. I'm in awe...

3) Simplify. Yesterday, I woke up, went downstairs and ate breakfast, watched part of The View (yes... The View) with my mom, brewed some coffee, went upstairs and sat in my bed, in my pajamas, with my coffee (in the K2 mug I got my parents for Christmas a couple years ago, might I add), and read. I wished I was sick so I could, with good reason, stay in bed ALL day and read. June gloom has its benefits!

Ohhh there's so much more, but it would keep you reading for hours. There is so much to learn, so much to realize about the world we live in, so much to see, and so much mystery that is perfect in its mystery. I hereby dedicate the next 36 days I have left in California to learning more and investing more. So even though the first five and a half months were kind of a bust, I can make the next 36 days full of life.