Monthly Archives: May 2015

Letter to my 16-year-old self

Happy sweet sixteen!  I realize your birthday was last week, but as you know, we are never on time for anything, so belated birthday wishes are pretty typical.  I say “we” because, yes, I am your 33-year-old self writing to you from the future.

I know 33 sounds ancient to you right now, but believe it or not, you actually won’t feel that old at this age (despite your aching back and 9 o’clock bedtime on Fridays).  There is so much you probably hope I will tell you- so many unknowns that you are dying to know.

I hate to disappoint, but I just can’t tell you about those things right now.  See, there are lessons you need to learn about trusting God with the unknown future.  If you knew how everything panned out, your faith wouldn’t get refined, and that would be one of the greatest tragedies.

However, I will give you a few spoilers.

First, two of the girls at your sweet-sixteen party will be your life- long friends.  You will stand beside them on their wedding days, throw them baby showers, visit them when they move to far away places, and grow old together even though you won’t see each other very often.

There are also girls in other parts of California, girls in Colorado, Texas, and even Alaska who will become your “grow old and grey together” kind of friends.  One of your future friends is in pre-school right now.  Another is 30 and a mother of two.  You will find that age becomes less and less important as you get older.

There are other girls at your party with whom you will lose touch.  In fact, most of the people you hang out with in the next few years will become “people you used to know.”  But don’t worry, many of them will become Facebook friends, so you’ll be able to stalk them at will.  I realize that makes zero sense to you right now, but just know that one day your sister’s pager will not seem so high-tech and you won’t always be able to listen in on her phone conversations from the upstairs phone.

Speaking of your sister, even though right now you and Heidi have separate rooms and separate lives, in the next few years she will become your very best friend in the world.  Friends come and go, but sisters stay forever.  So stop fighting with her about borrowing her clothes and her car.  Oh and tell her the truth when you crash the Nissan.  If you don’t, she’ll tease you about it for years.

And your annoying little brothers?  Well, they’ll ALWAYS be your annoying little brothers.  But one day you will realize they have become your friends as well.  Those skinny little troublemakers will grow into giant men of God who will marry beautiful girls who become your dear friends.  They will move away eventually, so spend as much time as you can with them- even if they drive you crazy with all the farting and the made-ya-looking.

Even crazier than befriending your brothers?  One day you’ll be friends with your parents.  After you grow out of your eye-rolling stage, you will discover that all their “no’s” were for a reason.  You will realize how much they have sacrificed for you, how much they have lavished their love on you, and you’ll finally be truly grateful for these intelligent, hilarious people you call Mom and Dad.

The world will change dramatically in the next 17 years.  People will be googling, tweeting, snap-chatting, blogging, and tumbling.  The number sign will get used a lot more often, phones will get tiny and then huge again; your giant book of cds will become obsolete, you’ll use a selfie stick when traveling, and it will become a good thing to be “sick” or “swag.”

However, some things will never change.  Farts will still be funny.  Cartoons will still be awesome.  Your cat will still be alive!!

Mom will still slip you money when Dad’s not looking.  You still won’t be able to sing.  You’ll never learn to dance.  But you will become a pretty proficient French-braider thanks to something called Pinterest.

Now I’m afraid I have some bad news.  That acne that plagues your face and makes you want to wear a paper bag over your head?  It still hasn’t gone away.  Ridiculous, right?!? But hey, it’s okay- you’ll figure out the whole makeup thing eventually, and all those zits force you to develop a sense of humor.  And those giant, thunder thighs you can’t seem to hide?  You’ll run marathons on them one day, so be grateful.

That’s right.  In the not-too-far-future you will become a runner and people will have no idea you ever played basketball.  You will discover that you are so much more than just the things you are good at.  Your identity will no longer be wrapped up in your ability to dribble a ball or block a shot.  No one will ever ask you about your GPA or SAT, so stop stressing.  You are so much more than your grades.

I know that some days you feel ugly and invisible since boys don’t pay much attention to you.  Be grateful you don’t have to deal with the drama that comes with them and instead enjoy the freedom to be gross and goofy with your girlfriends.  There is a reason that your attic will be overflowing with a bright assortment of bridesmaid dresses.

I know your main question for me is whether or not you’ll ever get married.  Do you ever find “the one?”  Do you have kids and a dog and live happily ever after?

All you need to know right now is that during the years when your friends are going on dates, then buying white dresses, and then painting nursery rooms, you won’t.

I know.

It kinda sucks.

But then again, it’s kinda wonderful.

Because it is during these years that you will fall truly, madly, deeply in love with Jesus.   You will hurt and sometimes feel alone.  But He will comfort you and give you the gift of His presence.  You will get to know Him in ways you never would if you had never experienced the pain of a longing heart.

In the midst of the longing, you will discover that He is all you need.

In the middle of the long wait, you will encounter a God more intimate and loving than you could ever imagine.

So to answer your question about getting married, sorry but I just can’t tell you.  The only way to learn about trust is to be forced to face the great unknown.  However,  I can tell you that you do find your happily ever after.  You find it in your relationship with your Savior.

Before I go, here are a few final suggestions.

Enjoy those bottomless bowls of ice-cream while you can.  Your metabolism will not always be so kind.

Stop dreaming about marrying Prince William.  He’ll find a Kate who is much more put together than you’ll ever be.

Learn to care more about God’s opinion of you than the opinions of others.  The quicker you can learn this lesson, the better.

When you’re tempted to buy overalls and tube tops, please don’t.

Cling to God with everything you’ve got.  Everyone you know will change, but He will always stay the same.

Do NOT get your belly button pierced.

Reading in bad lighting really does hurt your eyesight, so turn on a light already.

Stop comparing yourself to the popular girls.

Keep getting those warts burned off.  Eventually they go away for good!

Ease up on the eye liner.

Call your grandparents.

All those years of laughing till your stomach hurts will give you some crazy laugh lines, but they are worth it.  Keep howling.

Life turns out to be one wild and crazy adventure, but it is filled with seemingly mundane days.  Learn to find the adventure in each of those days, and you’ll never be bored.

But if you do get bored, this thing called “Netflix” will be invented.  It. Is. Amazing.

I write this letter to give you hope during your high school years.  You have no idea the joy and adventure God has in store for you.  You will befriend incredible people all over the planet and eat foods your tastebuds have never dreamed of.  You will laugh hard but also hurt deeply.  You will explore places on the globe you couldn’t find on a map and you will love people in ways that will physically hurt.

Oh, Katie, it is such a glorious journey.  Keep reading the Bible as your guide and when you celebrate your 33rd birthday, you will have a full heart and a content soul.

Happy birthday!

Love,

your 33-year-old self

PS-  For the love of all that is holy, put on some sun block!!!

Friday Favorites “Costco snacks”

I love a good recommendation so Fridays will be a place where I’ll often offer my random recommendations.  These might be for snacks, movies, books, music, crafts, recipes, running gear, other blogs- really anything that I enjoy and hope you might too.

Costco Snacks

1) Mild Green Mojo Chips 
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I wasn’t much of a chip person until I gave up sweets for Lent.  When given the choice between sugar and salt, 85 % of the time I will choose sugar.  However, during the other 15 %, I reach for Late July chips.  These flavorful chips put Doritos to shame.  Plus, your fingers won’t turn orange.

WARNING: If you are as white as I am, these might set your lips on fire, but the taste is well worth the burning sensation.  If you find the Late July blue tortilla chips at other stores, buy them right away and thank me later.

2) Snapea Crisps

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My crossfit-addicted sister-in-law recommended these, so I was hesitant at first (crossfitters are weird.  The girl can freaking do a hand-stand push-up!) But despite my initial doubts, I was instantly hooked on these.  They’re a great chip-alternative to make you feel like you’re not eating total garbage.

However, these are not for everyone.  I offered some to my colleagues and they turned up their noses.  Gina even spit one out and called me gross.  Regardless of this reaction, I stand by my recommendation.

3) Snappers

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These just might change your life.  I love them for 3 reasons:

A) Even though the pretzels are drizzled in carmel and dipped in chocolate, it still seems healthier than straight up candy.

B) I read somewhere that dark chocolate is actually good for you.

C) The chewiness of the carmel forces me to slow down and eat at normal human pace.

WARNING: the carmel might pull off your permanent retainers.   (I’ve been wanting to visit my orthodontist anyways.)

4) Pretzel Buns

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Apparently I am a big fan of any and all things pretzel. For those who miss the old food pyramid where 6-11 servings of bread and cereals were recommended, these buns are better than manna.   No offense, God, but “thin flakes like frost” don’t sound nearly as satisfying as rolls of pretzel goodness.

5) Bell PeppersIMG_1966

As a former veggie-hater, it is a big deal that these have made the list.  I’m still not on “team vegetable” and these certainly can’t compare with chocolate or cheese, but on those rare occasions when I feel like eating healthy, these are actually quite tasty.

Bell peppers with hummus is usually a “my-stomach-is-starting-to-eat-itself-and-dinner-won’t-be-ready-for-an-hour” kind of snack.  They’re great raw, they’re easy to sauté, and stuff them with chicken and rice and boom- dinner’s ready.  (I use this Pinterest recipe for stuffed peppers at least twice a month.)

But just so you don’t think I’m turning into a health nut…

6) Belgian WafflesIMG_1967

Add butter and syrup for breakfast.

Put bacon, lettuce and tomatoes between two of these and call it lunch.

Eat it with butter for a snack.

Fry up some chicken and voila! Dinner is served.

Nutella + peanut butter+ waffle = one dang good dessert

I could go an entire day eating these waffles.  In fact, I’m adding that to my bucket list right now.  Right beneath, “See 5 movies in the theater on one day.”

Do you have any snack recommendations to offer?  I get stuck eating the same thing for months, so I’d love a few recommendations. 

When Siri Interrupts

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The other day I was praying with my students before class, and a student leaned against his phone at just the wrong spot at just the wrong time.  So right after I said, “God, please reveal yourself to us in new ways today” we heard:

DING!

And the voice of Siri: “Sorry.  I didn’t get that.”

To which I responded, “God?  You’re a woman?”

We all shared a giggle as the kid scrambled to turn off his phone, and then I continued my prayer.  I thought about this moment for days afterwards.

I confess that sometimes I feel like God must not get what I’m praying- that He must not be listening or He doesn’t care or He has His own plans and they’re better than mine, so my prayers won’t change anything.

I suspect I’m not alone in this.

I know in my head that God does hear, that He understands and cares, and most importantly, that He acts.  The Bible reassures me of these truths over and over again.  He doesn’t always answer how I would want Him to.  And His timing is radically different from my own.  But He hears.  He gets it.  And He wants me to keep coming to Him even when it feels like He doesn’t.

Jesus taught us to pray continually.  With persistence.  He modeled for us how we are to go to our Father often and with all our requests.  Luke 18 begins with, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”  He goes on to tell the story of a woman who was so persistent in her requests, that the judge finally listened to her.

He ends the parable by saying, And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.”

Granted, “quickly” is a relative term, but Jesus was clear that God hears us when we pray and He will answer.

He.

Will.

Answer.

If I fully believed this 100% in my heart of hearts, I would be praying all the time.  And I would be praying for bigger things.  I would be on my knees begging for miracles, for God to rescue the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, for ISIS members to encounter Jesus in dreams, for God to heal the cancer victims and lead scientists to a cure.

Sure, I’ll pray for those things once or twice but then I stop- in part because I don’t fully believe that if I keep on praying them, as Jesus instructed me to, God will answer.

I believe.  Help my unbelief!

If you too wrestle with God about this.  If you wonder if He hears or why you should pray, I highly recommend you listen to the following 3 sermons about prayer:

Teach us to pray

Shameless audacity

When God doesn’t answer

These sermons by Mike Erre, the pastor from EV Free Fullerton, have changed the way I think about prayer and the ways I pray.  Now it is much more often and with much more audacity.

Even though those doubts still linger in the dark corners of my heart, I choose to obey Jesus and keep asking God for big things- for things that I’ve prayed for for decades.  Confident that He hears and though He hasn’t answered yet, that doesn’t mean He won’t answer ever.

Sunday Morning Confessions #1-3

In an effort to force myself to blog regularly, I’ll be making 3 confessions on Sundays.  Seems like the right day for it.  Please don’t judge me, but do share your own confessions in the comments.  I need to know that I’m not alone on some of these.

1) I have hoarder tendencies.

I say this because my dad packed up the last of my boxes from their garage and inside were piles and piles of my old essays and notes from high school and college.  I’m not sure why I thought I would one day want to read my essay on French immigration policies or my blue books from my Colonial America class, but I did.  And I still can’t bring myself to throw them away.

The only work in the box that is actually worth keeping is this story I wrote in 6th grade:IMG_1944

No, the pegasus is not peeing.  It’s his tail, okay?

Paul got a kick out of my drawings of “Scorf” and the fairies:IMG_1951

I can still see 11-year old Katie sitting at the kitchen counter, drawing these pictures, sprinkling the fairies with glitter, and thinking, “This looks awesome.”  It would be awhile before I realized I have ZERO artistic abilities.

If I would have found this book a few days earlier, I could have saved myself some time and simply used the back for my “About the author” post:IMG_1945

Those bangs.  That scrunchy.  Ahhh, the good ol’ days.

2) I pretended to be a teenager in order to sneak into a track meet.

We didn’t have enough tickets for all the track coaches but had extra athlete tickets, so I was nominated to pretend to be an athlete.  I asked the kids for tips on how to act like a teenager and they instructed me to put on my hood, slouch, avoid eye contact, and mumble if spoken to.IMG_1917

You can only imagine how ecstatic I was when they waved me through the gates without a second glance.  I passed for a teenager!!!

Don’t worry, I realize that my laugh lines are deep and plentiful, and I don’t actually look like a student.  They probably didn’t even look at my face.  That stupid “guess your age” App told me I look 41 and that seems much more accurate than 17.  But for a moment, for a day, I passed for teenager.  I’ll take it!

3) Spiders and snakes don’t scare me, but flying bugs freak me out.

Sure, I might be 1000 times their size, but their wings give them an unfair advantage.  Spiders might have a few extra legs but I can always stomp on them with a shoe or squish them with a tissue.  Snakes are pretty gross too, but they don’t have any legs, so I’m pretty certain I can outrun them.

In fact, just yesterday as I was running, a long snake slithered across my path.  I jumped and screamed but that was simply because it startled me.  My scream then startled some other hikers who looked back in concern, so I explained, “Sorry, it’s just a snake.” Then I leaned closer to get this picture:IMG_1934

I tried whispering to it so it would turn and show it’s face for the picture, but alas, I am not a parseltongue.

If snakes could fly, however, now THAT creature would make me pee my pants.  Thanks for not doing that, God.

See, it’s the winged creatures that terrify me and make me duck for cover- even the “nice” and “helpful” ones like the mosquito hawk.

A few months into our marriage I discovered that Paul and I have different definitions of “taking care” of bugs.  When I ask him to take care of a mosquito hawk, I mean kill it.  It’s circling me like an actual hawk, mocking me with it’s flying abilities and threatening to dive-bomb my face.  In my book, that deserves death.

But, Paul?  Oh no.  He’s not a killer like me.  He likes to catch them by one of their creepily long legs and then release them outside, where I know they’re plotting how to get back in to scare me.Paul and bug

That’s him. Holding a mosquito hawk by the leg. Pretending to kiss it.  So gross.

Now it’s your turn.  Have you kept your old essays or blue books or other random junk too?  Did the age App bum you out as much as it did me?  Do you too have a personal vendetta against all flying bugs?  I’d love to hear any of your “me too” confessions:)

Why I Write

It’s been almost a year since I’ve updated this little blog.  At first the break was simply because I’m a horrible procrastinator and was working on my summer tan.  Then I planned a wedding,
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bought a house,IMG_9121

honeymooned in Greece

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learned how to bake giant cookies,

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and well, life just got in the way.

One year ago today, Paul got down on one knee and in a flash, everything changed.  Suddenly I was a fiancé.  A few months later, I became a wife.  My name changed, my address changed, my world and many of my habits and routines changed.  For example, now I cook non-microwavable meals and change the bed sheets on a more consistent basis.  I watch Jeopardy because Paul loves it and I scrub grout in the bathroom.  I didn’t even know what grout was 8 months ago!

Being single afforded me more time to browse the racks at TJ Maxx and allowed for free mornings to lay in bed with my cat and write.  However, now that I have mastered the arts of cooking and cleaning and being the perfect wife, she said with dripping sarcasm, I finally have time to write again.

If you used to be a  regular reader, I apologize for my lack of explanation when I stopped updating.  I left you hanging with that last post and seemingly dropped off the planet, but I’m back!  I promise not to disappear again without any warning. Unless I die, in which case I’ve left all my passwords with Paul because I’m weirdly morbid like that and expect him to post his very moving eulogy here on the blog.  Kidding.  Sort of.

When I finally decided to return to this blog, I had to reevaluate why I write in the first place.  I confess that one of the reasons that used to motivate my writing was because I was looking for affirmation. I gobbled up the compliments and let them start to define me.  That’s just not healthy.

I’m sure I’ll still get way too excited when someone leaves a positive comment on here, but I’m no longer seeking affirmation with this space.  I like to think it’s because I’m finally finding my identity in Christ and not in others’ opinions of me, but I suspect it’s also because I have a husband now who laughs at every lame joke I tell so I’m feeling pretty affirmed.  So why write a blog?

Here are 5 reasons I write:

1) To observe: Writing forces me to be more observant of this beautiful, confusing, often ridiculously funny world.

2) To practice: I hope to write a devotional for high school girls one day, so this space is where I’ll practice stringing together words and thoughts.

3) To confess: I do and say and think some rather strange things at times and it feels good to admit some of them.  Don’t worry, I won’t admit all my confessions.  I do have some semblance of a filter.  But if you’re a student of mine, you are not allowed to bring these confessions up during class.  Let’s just pretend like you don’t know that when I go to the back of the class I’m either picking my nose or my wedgie.

4) To remember: Writing about what God has taught me forces me to remember these lessons and let them truly transform me.

5) To connect: I’ve made several “Internet friends” during my stint at blogging and I’d love to make more. Plus, lots of my family lives in the Philippines and this is my way of updating them on my life.  Hi, Grandma!

So here it goes.  No promises on how regular I’ll update, but I’m diving back into the blogging world.