Saturday, December 29, 2007

Winter Wonderland

After spending a few days in Oregon, I have come to realize that I am a California girl through and through. Although I love spending time here with family when I come to visit, the lack of sun and constant drizzle start to get to me after a while. I know the rain keeps things green, but I'll take the dry and warm. I'm sitting at my Grandma's computer sipping hot coffee and appreciating God's creation...from inside a warm house. Yesterday I went with my parents, sister, and extended family to play in the snow. It was really fun and I had a wonderful time throwing snowballs, building a snowman, sledding, and taking lots and lots of pictures. I'm not sure my camera will ever forgive me... It was seriously cold, but so amazingly beautiful. The snowflakes were HUGE! On the way home we stopped for hot chocolate at a really cute country store. It was a wonderful day of memory making, and it made me especially thankful for my family. I'm off to hang with my sisters. I'm taking them to our church's New Year's all-nighter on Monday night, and I'll probably have some fun pictures and stories to post about that later.


We ended up playing in front of a ranger station.

The Fam.

My adorable cousin Emma playing in the snow.

My cousin Amanda with blue lips.

A sled that actually rolled up on itself.

The amazing (and tall) snowman we built...

The Dal Soglio Family...I'll be living with them in So. Cal.

Friday, December 28, 2007

I Didn't Wipe It Off

I know many people have been wondering what my plans are for next semester, and I'm happy to announce that I finally have an answer to your questions! I received my acceptance letter from The Master's College in Southern California on Wednesday, and I will be starting there on January 21st. I will be majoring in Biology with an emphasis in Pre-Nursing. I'm planning to live with my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins in Valencia, CA, which will be about 15 minutes from campus. Sadly, I'll be forced to get a car to be able to get to campus...;o) My sister and brother-in-law are moving from Tujunga to Santa Clarita, so they'll be only 10 minutes away from where I'm living. My younger sister Katie will be starting there in the fall, and I have a few other miscellaneous friends who already attend. I'm really looking forward to seeing what God has for me there. I definitely know that this is not how I had pictured my college career going, but I am encouraged by Romans 8:28 which says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." I am certain He will use my time at Master's to work all things together for good, and I'm really excited to find out what that entails. The one tough part of moving is leaving behind San Luis Obispo and all of my wonderful friends there. My roommates this quarter were incredible, and I was privileged to continue seeing two of my roommates from last year. I said goodbye to my church choir, my newly acquired job, my condo, Cal Poly, and some adorable children I had been blessed to babysit for. I stopped by their house to say goodbye and give them a Veggie Tales movie, and they gave me a present as well. We took pictures together, and as I left the youngest gave me a big, wet kiss on the cheek like he always does when I leave. He said, "Bye Emily! I love you!", and of course I couldn't wipe it off.:o) I'm going to miss them A LOT! It's crazy how attached you get to kids. I can't imagine how nannies are ever able to leave. I'll post a few pictures of them soon, as well as tell you about my fun day at the snow today.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Birthday Blessings

My plan was to post all about my sister's visit last weekend, but I'm still waiting to get some pictures from her. So...I decided to put that story on hold and talk about what an amazing birthday I had. It's so cool that we have set up a day where we hear from people we haven't talked to in a while, and are reminded of what a blessing it is to have people who love and care about us. I started my new job on Friday, and so most of the people who called ended up leaving voicemails. It was great to listen to one after the other, and feel all warm and fuzzy. After work I went to dessert at Madonna Inn with some friends from Poly. It was delicious and I had a wonderful time. My family sent me an amazing bouquet of flowers that smell so good. My roommates gave me cards and mittens, and my sister and brother-in-law got me this great T-shirt from Walla Walla, Washington. I went around all day telling my friends, "See? It really does exist!":o) Twenty years old. I haven't quite gotten used to that idea yet. Not a teenager anymore. I definitely won't miss the teenager stereotypes, but then again I no longer have the blanket of forgiveness society provides them just for being teenagers. On the other hand, I can still pass for a twelve-year-old, so I guess I can be in whatever age group I decide to be on a given day. Well, I'm off to enjoy the extra hour of sleep I get tonight. Yippee!! I promise to blog about my new job and my fabulous visit with my sister later. Also, in case you were wondering, only 1,036,800 seconds until I hear from George Fox about the nursing program.:o)

Cassie and I at the Grace Church annual college hoedown

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Joy of Weekends

I have now survived three weeks of school, and cannot believe that I have less than two months left. The quarter system is such madness! Having said that, there really are more pros than cons. It's virtually impossible to fall too far behind. We have midterms after only three or four weeks, so how much homework could you not have done by that point?:o) Not to mention, if you take classes you don't like, you get to switch them up three times a year instead of two. Basically, I love the quarter system!
My weekend went really well. There were some moments where I realized that being content in the situation God has me in is so important, and makes such a difference in how I view my experiences. On Friday night I was able to make dinner for some friends, and then we watched the movie Facing the Giants. Such a classic. It was really low-key, and an absolutely perfect end to a somewhat hectic day. In the morning I dropped off some CNA applications, went to the post office, rode the bus to pick up my bike which I had left at a friend's house, dropped off a book to a friend, and rode my bike home. I'd like to take a moment to talk about bikes. I know that lots of people love them, and I will admit they are convenient when they work. Unfortunately, my bike never works. You may be thinking, "Just get a new bike!" I actually had the same thought and followed through on it, but my new bike doesn't work either. It's the brakes. Although they function fairly well, they emit the loudest, most obnoxious noise ever. Everyone who passed me in cars, pedestrians, other cyclists, turned to look. So embarrassing!:o) I tried a few different tactics. I pretended I didn't hear anything, I looked around as if searching for the source myself, I look embarrassed, and I even tried using my legs for brakes. (Which would explain the bruises on the backs of my legs. A good reminder I suppose that pride can be painful...)
Sorry about the rabbit trail. All of that was to say that a movie night was the perfect end to both my Friday and my week. On Saturday, I got to sleep in a little and then work on homework. Cassie, Sarah, and I went on an adventure to Avila Valley Barn. It was so much fun. We visited the petting zoo, got lost in the hay maze, taste-tested everything, and bought fruit and pumpkins. It smelled so much like fall, and was such a wonderful time. That was one of those moments where I realized that although I may not understand exactly what God is doing with the whole nursing situation, I can choose to be content where He has me right now. I knew at that moment there was nowhere else I would rather be. Of course, its much easier to have those revelations when you're someplace fun with friends, but I am praying that God keeps that fresh in my mind even in the tough moments as well. After hanging with Cassie and Sarah, I went to a birthday party. I wasn't actually there to party, but rather to work. I was tasked with babysitting a two-year-old boy during his older brothers party. It was definitely an interesting experience, and an excellent workout. I was literally running most of the time. He had so much energy (as well as sugar), and it was difficult to keep up. I was supposed to keep an eye on him so that the parents could focus on the other children, but it was a little tough to keep him from participating in some of the games and from falling off of the hiking path. Thankfully birthdays only happen once a year.:o)
Today I went to church, did some laundry, went grocery shopping., and conquered my remaining homework. I wouldn't say that it was my most monumental weekend ever, but I'm so thankful for everything I got to do. Weekends are really such a cool invention. After having such a relaxing and fun weekend, I feel ready to tackle another week of school. Of course, I'll need someone to remind me I said that by about Wednesday.:o) Only 38 days, 0 hours, 39 minutes and 14 seconds until I hear back from George Fox, but who's counting?

Sarah, Cassie, and I at Avila Valley Barn

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The SLO Life

So I promised that this next blog would be an update on my life, and I fully intend to fulfill that promise. I am back in San Luis Obispo, and starting my third year at Cal Poly. It's definitely not where I planned on being this year, but God had a different plan.:o) I'm currently taking Ethics, Human Development, Cultural Anthropology, Pre-Calculus, and Soccer. It's such a different schedule from what I'm used to, but so far I'm really liking it. I don't have a single science class for the first time, which means I am free of ridiculously long labs twice a week. That is definitely something I don't miss. That that the semi-permanent "nerd lines" created by those awful goggles we had to wear... What I do miss, however, is being in the science section of campus. I don't bump into old friends as often as I used to, and I don't quite fit in with most of the people in my current classes. My math class is all freshman, my human development class is mostly child development and liberal arts majors, and my soccer class is athletic. Hmmmm. Athletic and Emily. Nope...those two words definitely don't belong together in the same sentence.:o) My ethics class is a bit of a struggle for me, because my professor has some very anti-Christian sentiments. It seems that almost any topic can be used as a way to disprove Christianity and the Bible. I will say that the class has been very eye opening for me, and it has been interesting to learn how the world views ethics. Without the Bible as a base, it looks a lot different! My prayers in that area have been for my professor, and that God would soften my heart toward him. It is easy for me to become cynical and angry toward him when he begins to misrepresent the Bible, but this is definitely not the right response. I look forward to seeing what God has to teach me through this class, and pray that I will keep my heart open.
Some of you may be trying to figure out what I'm doing back at Cal Poly, why I'm taking such random classes, and what happened to my plans for nursing school. The truth is I'm wondering the same things.:o) Actually, all of the classes I'm taking this quarter are either pre-requisites or co-requisites for nursing school. It seems almost every nursing school has different requirements, so I am getting through as many as I can while I continue to wait to be accepted somewhere. I did apply to a couple of schools in California, and was rejected from all of them for one reason or another. I am now waiting to hear from a school in Oregon, called George Fox University. Oregon is definitely not where I saw myself going to school, but God seems to be opening doors there, so we will see what happens. If I am accepted, I would start school there in January. A lot of things continue to be up in the air right now, and I really do look forward to seeing everything that God has in store for me.
I am living a little farther from campus this year, but it only takes me about 30 minutes by bus. I am in easy walking distance from church, and not too far from a big shopping center. I have three wonderful roommates (Junny, Kim, and Lorraine) who seem to be capable of putting up with me.:o) We all have very different schedules, so I actually don't get to see them tons. I definitely look forward to getting to know them better as the year goes on. My roommates from last year are all doing well. Two of them got married this summer, and I was able to attend/participate in both of their weddings. Kristen is now living with her husband Alex in Seattle, WA, and Carrie is living with her husband Kyle here in SLO while he finishes at Cal Poly. Cassie is living in an awesome house with five other Cal Poly girls. Most of them are/have been/will be on the track team, so I always feel a little out of shape when I'm over there... She and I still hang out a lot, and she's very gracious to continue giving me rides to important places like the grocery store. I'm so thankful to be able to continue my friendship with each of them. Can you imagine? They lived with me for an entire school year and they still want to be friends.:o) How wonderful are they?
I am excited to see what God has planned for me here in SLO. Obviously there must be a reason that He wanted me here a little longer, so I am doing my best to make the most of my time here. Cassie and I have all kinds of adventures planned. Things I MUST do before leaving. Of course, schoolwork is on the top of that list.:o) I'm including few pictures of my new place. My dad helped me move in and took them for me while he was here. Now that I finally have internet on my computer, I can upload them. I hope you all had a wonderful week. I suppose it's not yet the weekend for some of you, but one of the perks of being a college student is that it's possible to create a schedule in which every weekend is a three day weekend!:o)

This is the front of our condo.

This is a view of our driveway.

This is my side of the room.

This is the view from our balcony into the park behind us.

This is my Dad's idea of a good picture.:o)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

In The Grip of Grace

I was talking to my sister about starting my own blog, and mentioned that I felt like I didn't have anything to talk about. The truth is, that wasn't actually an accurate statement. I have so much to share about what the Lord has been teaching me. I also have some awesome friends and family who care about me and what's happening in my life, so this will be a nice way to keep them updated. I plan to spend my next blog talking about my current life, but I wanted to start off with what God's been doing in my life. I'll start by explaining my choice in blog names. I'm in the middle of Max Lucado's book "In the Grip of Grace," and learning so much! As he describes the various incorrect views people take of God's grace, I have found that pieces of several of them have seeped into my own view. I can be so much like the "rock-stacking legalist." I have known for as long as I can remember that the definition of grace is "a free gift I don't deserve," but so often I forget the free part. I feel a need to earn it. Of course, there is no way that I can earn it, but I try anyway. God's sacrifice of His only son is so far beyond comparison to anything I will ever do, yet I still find myself working hard to be involved in as many church activities as possible. Not that I'm saying these church activities are wrong. I'm so thankful for the activities I'm able to do, and wish I had time to do more. What's wrong are my motives when I approach them. I shouldn't be doing them to fulfill my debt, because I'll never be able to. Then I saw a little bit of myself in his description of the "fault-finding judgmentalist." How often do I justify my sins and ineptitudes by pointing out that they were not as great as someone else's? God doesn't care that I think my "white lie" should be completely eclipsed by the fact that I know someone who has told a "worse lie." Both are sins. It's only by the redeeming grace of God that we can be saved. How incredible that I can have known that for so long and still lose sight of it. My human nature and pride gets in the way so often. The concept of a free gift of that magnitude doesn't fit into the world we live in today. God doesn't want me to spend my life trying to pay Him back, because I can't. As Paul said in Ephesians 4, God wants me to walk worthy of the calling to which I have been called. I want to live my life in a manner which will cause people around me to question the difference they see in me, and then be able to answer them unashamedly. I know that this is not something I can do on my own strength, and that it will be achieved only through the power of God. A couple of verse on this topic of grace which have stood out to me and provided such a needed reminder are 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. "But he [God] said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." How cool is that? How counterintuitive to the way I think. When I am weak I am strong? Absolutely. Thank you Jesus that this is true, because I am so weak and incapable. I think this is probably enough for now.:o) I really didn't mean for it to be this long, but I am excited to share how God's been working on my heart. If you are looking for a book to read, I highly recommend "In the Grip of Grace." It's so worth it.