Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wondering Out Loud

No, I don't live in the ghetto. I do tutor there though. I'll say that there's hardly ever a dull moment in that part of town, but today was beyond interesting.

It started off with a large, drunk black man coming in the house. He was cussing and being crazy, he yelled at the ladies in the house for a little while and eventually I didn't hear him anymore, which meant he had left. When he was there though, I sat in the back bedroom tutoring one of the girls, texting a friend telling him I was so scared and praying so hard in my head.

Then, as I sat in the girls' room (I'll give you a description: it consists of a mattress without any sheets which is covered in food crumbs, clothes covering the floor and piled in plastic garbage bags and a broken desk. That's their room. The two girls share it.) on the mattress reading a book with one of the girls, I watched a black mouse scurry across the floor about a foot from where I sat.

Later, the girls' grandma came over and talked about how her kids had just been taken away from her and how she had just gotten finished being "locked up" for a few days because she got caught with drugs. I just heard tons of screaming amongst all of the females in the house (the house is all female, actually) and the grandma proceeded to tell her daughter (the girls' mother) ways around getting caught if she were ever to be drug tested.

As I finished my tutoring session, the girls' two year old cousin who had been sitting next to me was playing with my whiteboard. I needed it back as it was time for me to go. The girl's sister grabbed it from her and said, "You just gotta take it...she don't be nice." The two year old....the TWO YEAR OLD said, "fu** you" to me and threw a toy at my head. TWO YEAR OLD.

And then I left. And as I drove away I couldn't help but wonder aloud, "God, where are you? Where are you in all of this? This is just ONE house. One house in the midst of this ghetto and it's this insane." Clearly, I'm still here for a reason and I'm beginning to lose so much hope, but it's times when my friend reminds me that I'm probably the only light that they have in their lives and times when I see all of this shit that these young kids go through that keeps me wanting to press on even if I am uncomfortable most of the time. Time for bed now, prayers for me as I continue this journey and these girls as this is the life they live every day are coveted.

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand." -Isaiah 41:10

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gaining Trust

If there's anything I've learned over the past few days, it's that trust is a hard thing to gain. It can be lost in an instant, but to get it back...that's a whole other story.

My job responsibilities at FPU have changed a little bit. Instead of working at the front desk, I now am an assistant to the admissions advisers. In a nutshell I follow up with new students, or with students who have maybe slipped between the cracks to see if they're still interested in applying to DC and if there's any questions that I can answer for them regarding the application process. In a sense, I'm the mediator and the filter because our advisers are SO busy. Plus, a situation happened and now I'm doing some clean up work as a lot of students in a certain area haven't been taken care of as well as they should have been. Anyway, I started that new job this week and I've only made about 15 phone calls or so to check up on students, but many of them have said things like, "I haven't heard from anyone in a long time..thank you so much for calling." or "They canceled on me and I never heard back from anyone....that really concerns me about your university." The first comment makes me sad, but happy because I feel like I'm genuinely helping them...the 2nd comment makes me sad, but it also makes me think.

"...that really concerns me," makes me realize that in a sense, we've lost some of their trust. It makes me realize that my role in this new job is to regain that trust and I know that that's not always the easiest thing to do. Even though I might not always feel like calling the students (I hate talking on the phone...I'm so awkward), I know that my phone call has the capability of playing a HUGE role in being able to regain trust with that student.

Another example, when a boy's mom leaves him or hurts or a girl's dad does one of those things, that boy or girl will take that pain and transfer it into their relationships with other people someday-especially their girlfriends/boyfriends/wife/husband. And you want to say "JUST TRUST ME!" but I know that it's not that easy. I know that it takes a lot to get back whatever that person took away from them. We're human and we're fallen and it's in our nature to screw up and present ourselves as untrustworthy and it's unfortunate sometimes.

But how awesome is it that we have every reason to fully put our trust in God? He will never do anything to hurt us or break that trust. It's hard because in our humanity we can't see what he sees. We can't see that our current trials will bring blessings and joys down the road, or that certain hardships are just molding us into who he wants us to be for his glory. It's still hard to trust in God because it's in our nature to doubt, but unlike some people, God will never leave us or forsake us. The Bible is filled with the word "trust," especially the Psalms. I thought I'd leave you with just a few verses.

"Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." -Psalm 9:10
"But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation." -Psalm 13:5
"The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple." -Psalm 19:7
"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song." -Psalm 28:7

Monday, April 12, 2010

If We're Being Honest....

If we're being honest, I'll tell you that I'm sick of school. I'm so burnt out. The nice thing about the Degree Completion program is that I'm finishing my degree a semester earlier than what I would've been....the not nice thing about it is that the reason why I'm finishing a semester earlier than what I would've been is because I don't get a summer vacation. Which initially seemed like no big deal, but right about now...crap, I could use a summer vacation. If we're being honest, I'll tell you that right now my motivation level is so low that I really just don't care about school work anymore. However, if we're being honest, I might as well tell you that I'm too Type A to completely not care about my school work which results in major procrastination followed by a stressed out Bri and ultimately A-worthy homework. (This technique probably isn't helping my burnt out rate too much.)

My job description is being slightly altered at FPU due to various reasons, but I'm absolutely stoked about the change! I'll be doing light admissions advising stuff so I'm super pumped. I can't start my new duties until I'm finished with my tutoring stuff though-which won't be until May. And honestly, I'm sick of tutoring. I'm mentally done with that too. I know that my girls need me, but really....I'm somehow supposed to finish 25 hours with both of them by May...and as of right now I only have 7. Yeah...uhhhh, no. I'm just really frustrated. Tutoring takes so much out of me and out of my day...and out of my gas tank. I'm just over it and I would rather stay in the office at FPU than deal with crazy kids. Honestly though, the thought of leaving those girls just breaks my heart.

I guess that's enough honesty for one night. Time to go switch my wash...hopefully by the time I come back, I'll have gained enough motivation to work on a smidge of homework.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


This will be quick because I am a busy girl...BUT a recent conversation with a friend of mine inspired me to write this post.

I'm really close to my family. I tell people that when I meet them, and they will either respond with "I'm not" or "Yeah, I totally got ya...I am too." If they respond with the latter of the two (I think I spelled 'latter' incorrectly...) then I smile and nod and assume that they have no idea just how close my family is. My family is everything to me. My mom is my best friend, my dad is my ultimate security and my brothers...well, I can't live without them. Then we have my cousins...if I'm home and my cousins are home, I guarantee you that I'll be hanging out with them and I assure you that we'll have a great time. We love hanging out with our grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles. Hardly anything makes me happier than an event at Grandma's house. My family is more like a super tight knit group of friends. It's filled with unconditional love, goofiness and a foundation that's firmly built on God. I think that's why my family is so solid...we're going off of generations of people who loved the Lord and chose to build their families on Him.

Make fun of me if you'd like. Shake your head at me and try to figure out why I like to spend time with my family so much. I can't really explain it. You just have to experience a day with my family and maybe you'll understand. I'm thankful for my family though and no one can ever replace them. The end.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Does That Make Me Crazy?

I think I have one every Tuesday night. And every Thursday.

Tuesday night anxiety attacks are related to the overwhelmed feeling that I get when I attend class for various reasons. The first possible reason is that people always talk about credentialing programs and getting into it. Prior to applying to a credentialing program, one must pass the CBEST and 3 CSET's...all standardized tests, mind you. I HATE standardized tests. On top of that I just have to keep thinking about that fact that I still have 18-24 months left of schooling once I graduate with my barely get paid anything for the amount of work that I'll be doing. If my anxious feeling isn't related to credentialing, then it's probably because of the fact that this accelerated program has a ton of at home/do-on-your-own work. It can be done and once I get home and start doing the work, it's not that bad. But when we're going over what needs to be done....ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Thursday (day) anxiety attacks are because I realize that it's already Thursday, which means the week is almost over, which means the month is almost over, which means I'm almost graduated, which means I need to figure out my life, etc....dramatic? Yes, absolutely. But without fail, I always have a Thursday "freak out" as my "old" roommate, Lindsey would call them.

Do I REALLY have anxiety attacks? No, probably not. Do I totally over think things and mildly freak out? Ohhhhh yes. And today is Tuesday, and I just recovered from being stressed over both credentialing and the work load tonight. So fun.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Life Update

I'm beginning to realize that more people read this than I think. So, for those of you who read this to try to catch up on my life...I apologize because I haven't given you many updates, and my most recent post wasn't a super uplifting one. So I'll try to summarize life since the last post:

1. Tutoring is going well. I have days where I think to myself, "This is exactly where I want to be...this is why I'm here!" because it goes so great, and then I have days where I think to myself, "Get me out of here...I never ever ever ever want to teach again!" It all depends. Such is life though. I tutor a total of 6 kids. The highlight of my week is going to my two girls' house that I talked about in the previous post. They're both so eager to learn and you can tell that they're just aching for love. Their home is so incredibly broken and I want to show them as much love and hope as I possibly can during my time with them.

2. We're going through Song of Solomon at The Well. SO GOOD! If you're interested, check it out. I get SO excited to go to church every Sunday. Like, I get butterflies in my stomach-excited. Excited for what God will speak to me through the teaching pastor of the night, so excited for worship and so excited for hanging out with so many people my age who are passionate about the Lord. I also just started teaching a 2nd grade Sunday School class with one of my room mates and it's a lot of fun!

3. Homework overload. It's true, but it's just a fact of life. This too shall pass.

4. Baseball season is finally hereeeeeeee! Need I say more? I love going to Fresno State baseball games and I especially love getting to watch all of my brothers play. And I just love basking in the sun eating seeds. Nothing gets me more than the sound of metal cleats and metal bats. Weird, I know.

5. WASHINGTON!!!!!!! My heart is just so excited. I'm going to Washington the end of May for a few days because one of my cousins is getting married. I'm so excited for her and I'm especially excited to see all my beautiful WA family's faces.

For now, that's everything. I'm sure there's more to tell, but I need to finish doing homework because my goal for bedtime tonight was 11:30 and it's 11:24. I doubt I'll be able to accomplish 1.5 pages in 6 minutes. Maybe I could...but it's doubtful. And I know that I say this all of the time, but I really will try to be more faithful in my blogging. :)

Friday, February 26, 2010

For Such A Time As This

"For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" -Esther 4:14

I've always loved this verse. Not just the verse, but the story as a whole. This young, beautiful girl was called to deliver an entire people, but it wasn't an easy thing to do. It took nerve and boldness, and it especially took a complete trust in God. Many times I don't like where I feel like God is calling me and I try to run, but Esther 4:14 is a great reminder that maybe I'm right where God wants me to be.

I'm kind of struggling with this right now. I started tutoring different kids from low-income families and poor performing schools. I go to their houses twice a week and do a one-on-one tutoring session with them and work on their reading skills. I just started tutoring at a certain house last night, and to be honest, I've been trying to avoid this house for a while. I didn't want to call the mom to set up a schedule because looking at the two daughter's names, it was apparent that they were Black. I'm not racist, but from experience, I just feel more comfortable in homes of Mexican families because I'm half-Mexican and I'm just more familiar with how Mexican families do life, basically. Then I finally called the mom and she was hard to understand and loud, and I was having a really difficult time getting my schedule to match hers. Well, 2 weeks later, I scheduled my first tutoring session with these girls. I feel like while I've wanted all the doors to close so that I wouldn't have to tutor these girls, God has continually opened them up. I think this is where I need to be.

Well, I went to their house yesterday for the first tutoring session. I walked in and immediately smelled pot. No, I've never smoked pot, but I've smelt it dad's a high school principal annnnd I've been to Venice Beach before (lots of sketch people at Venice). There were 3 really shady young adults sitting on the couch watching a movie, and then the mom of the girls walked in and I hate to say it, but she looked like a druggie. For sure. The movie that the young adults were watching said the "F-word" every other word and there was a full on sex scene which showed everything. All the while, 4 little girls ranging from K-4th grade sat there and watched and listened to all of this. Needless to say, this house was really sketchy. I never felt uncomfortable, but it's just a really questionable situation. When I finished tutoring the 1st grader, she had a program to go perform in for her school's Black History Month Celebration. She looked at me with sad eyes and said, "I guess I have to walk to school." And as I stood with one foot in the door and one foot out, I watched this sweet 1st grader run all the way to her school program while I looked back in the house and saw her mom slumped on the couch watching this disgusting movie and not take a second thought as to where her daughter was headed.

And in that moment my heart broke because I feel like these girls are stuck. How are they going to break the mold when this is what they have to live with?! It's the same reason why my heart has always been pulled toward teaching inner-city kids...I WANT to break the mold. I just want to give them all of my love because I know that they're not receiving it at home. Some people are telling me to get out of tutoring this family because the situation at hand sounds questionable and unsafe. As much as I want to get out of tutoring them too, I feel like God kept opening up all of the doors for a reason, so who knows? He probably has me here for such a time as this. So I'm going to just rest in his promise that he will never leave me and I'm going to put my trust in him. In the meantime, if you guys could keep me and these girls in your prayers, that would be awesome. I feel like I'm supposed to be here, but I still get a little bit nervous in these situations.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dessert With the Dixons

This is the Los Guido group from when I went to Costa Rica this past summer. Third from the right is Tracey Dixon. Tracey and her husband live in Costa Rica with their two kids and they are doing ministry work there through Students International. I had a great time serving there with them and I was able to form great relationships with them, as well as everyone else on the SI staff. Anyway, they've been home in the US this past month, traveling around to see their families and visit their supporting churches. Last night I was able to attend "Dessert with the Dixons" at a church in Visalia and I got to talk to Jeff for a while about things going on in Costa Rica. I was encouraged to hear that the tutoring center in Los Guidos is doing great and it's booming with kids! There are a few tough things going on there (as there always will be...especially when God calls you to do something for Him), but overall the report was very positive and it sounds like God is doing some awesome things there and He's going to keep on using the Dixons and the rest of the SI staff to shine his light in Costa Rica.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Contentedness. (Is that even a word? Beware: Bumblings Ahead.)

"When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future." -Ecclesiastes 7:14

I'm generally a very happy person. Right now I'm just flyin' high on life...just 'cause it's so good. However, almost everyday I find at least one or two small things to complain about, one or two small things to put a mild damper on all the goodness that God has given to me. Case in point: engagements. Have I mentioned in a blog yet that everyone I know seems to be getting engaged?! It's insanity. Then I get insecure because I have no prospective men, but here's the catch: I don't WANT a prospective man. Not yet at least (obviously someday I DEFINITELY want a prospective man). I had a possible guy, but I wasn't really content with that because as much as I love hanging out with him, I didn't really want to date him quite yet. At the same time there was part of me that was trying to force myself to want to date him in case he wanted to date me just because I want some sort of security to know that I won't be single for the rest of my life. Sorry...are you following? Hopefully I didn't lose ya! Then the other day he said that he wanted to "slow things down a bit" because he needs to focus on school and sports because he's got some great aspirations that he needs to be focused on in order to reach. When he said that, part of me (most of me) felt a huuuuuuge relief because I can still hang out with him without trying to force something that I didn't want to happen yet anyway, BUT the other little part of me began to panic as the numbers of engagements continued to grow, my chances of dating someone decreased. Ok...see, I'm so indecisive. And I have such a hard time being content.

Here's the thing: God is good. I'm reminded of that nearly every morning as I see the sun above the gorgeous mountains and everyday as I witness the many blessings that he's placed in my life. He put us on this earth to be ambassadors for Him and we came here with nothing and we'll leave here with nothing. This is our temporary home, so technically we're not supposed to be content. We're always supposed to yearn for something more because we weren't created to indulge ourselves in worldly wealth; we were created to live for our Heavenly Father. We should never be content with our life here on this earth. We should be content with the life that he's given us and the things and people that he's placed in our lives, but as far as reaching for more and more and more when it comes to the things of this world: we weren't created to do that. For years I've wanted nothing more than to be able to sing these words with real truth:

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

I've been singing that song in church for years, but I never truly meant it. And I can honestly tell you now that I still don't always mean those words, but lately I've been finding myself being able to say, "God take me. Have me. Fill me. I can't do anything to change the stage in life that you have me in right now, but please just surround me with your love and place your spirit in me," whenever I start to feel discontent. It's tough sometimes, but I know God will walk me through every stage of life and I know that only He can satisfy. And although I won't always feel content or be please with the roads He takes me down, all I can do is lean on Him.

(ps. apologies if there are typos...i'm too tired to proofread this)

Monday, January 18, 2010


I know that the New Year is all about the "New You" and "New Resolutions." I had my list of resolutions (see two posts prior to this one), but I didn't feel like there was anything "new" about me. I still felt like I was going through the motions and I just felt exhausted. Absolutely exhausted. I wonder if my new year just started half way through the month of January? This past weekend I have just been hyped up on life and I can't even really explain why. I hung out with my family, I hung out with my cousins, I got another job (this will make for an insane life, but at least I'll be able to go shopping now, right?!) and in a sense, I feel like I've gotten a new burst of energy and a sense of rejuvenation. It's all so fabulous.

This is short...I know, but I just wanted to share how juiced on life I am right now. I'm not sure if it even really has anything to do with what I just wrote, but this verse keeps popping up in my head so I'll leave it with y'all before I go to bed. It's from Psalm 55:22 and it says, "Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Psalm 19:1

There's something about the mountains that just completely mesmerizes me. They show the majesty of God like nothing else and I love it. Creation just screams that our Father loves us so dearly. I was watching TV with a friend last night and something involving atheism came on on the show that we were watching and he said, "I just don't understand how anyone could think there isn't a God." I don't get it either, Dev. Especially not on days like today when his complete holy and pure workmanship is displayed for everyone to see.

This morning I was sleepily driving to work (3 hours of sleep never goes over well for me), just sort of going through the motions and hoping that I'd be able to stay away long enough to make it to FPU without fall asleep at the wheel, let alone a full day at work. I pulled up to the main road (I live quite close to the foothills and the mountains, but you'd never know thanks to the lovely Valley air) of my neighborhood and I had to catch my breath. The air was clear and you could see the mountains so well that it felt like I could just run over to them. The sky was grey and dark with rain clouds, but yet the sun was shining only across the mountains. Somehow, that beautiful view, that minor glimpse of the glory of God, completely lifted my tired spirit and rejuvenated me for the day. It was awesome! All day the mountains were in plain sight and a verse came to my mind immediately, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands." -Psalm 19:1

So true. And again, I don't understand how people can say that there isn't a God when all of creation screams that our Savior loves us so dearly.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Scatter-Brained New Year

Happy "Twenty-ten!" It's crazy to think that another year has come and gone. It's also crazy to reflect back on this past year at all of the things that have happened. Today I had praise team practice for church, but during practice I realized something: I was actually having fun. Why? Because I wasn't the one in charge of the service!!! Exactly one year ago, I had jumped on board at my church to be the "worship mediator," for lack of a better term. I tell ya was a roller coaster 8 months working in that position. For the most part, I hated it at the time; however, today I was stuck in the middle of being so glad that I was done with the job and of being a little bit sad because I missed a lot of the people that I worked with at church.

That thought led me to another train of thought...I feel like I spend too much of my time looking back at things that have already happened or looking forward and trying to plan my life and what is to come. I need to stop and I need to live in the now. Not only that, but I need to enjoy it as well. Time flies and I have to embrace the position that I'm in right now. Obviously other people struggle with this too, as I can think of at least 3 songs off of the top of my head that relate to this topic. "Don't Blink"-Kenny Chesney, "You're Gonna Miss This"-Trace Adkins and "Every Moment"-Joy Williams.

A year ago, I had just permanently moved back home from BIOLA and I was kind of regretting my decision at the time. Now I'm going to school at FPU and I'm absolutely loving it. I couldn't be happier where I'm at right now (I still miss my BU friends, of course.) There's a season for everything and God's got purpose and meaning for everything that happens. I hope to trust in that more firmly this upcoming year as well.

And one more "a year ago." A year ago, "ring by spring" was kind of a joke. Now: I'm not laughing. So far, on average, every week at least 2 people I know are getting engaged. And not to each other. It's more contagious than H1N1. I'll let you know when it catches me. That might not be for a while though--as in yearssssss.

And now for the resolutions. Yes, that's a plural. These are in no particular order or fashion.

1. No more soda. (I've done it before, but I returned to my addiction the following year.)
2. Exercise more. (I know this is everyone else's, but really...I don't have high school sports to keep me in shape anymore. It's kind of unfortunate.)
3. Run another half marathon this year. (Good news: I did one last year, which means this CAN be achieved!)
4. Become a better Christ-follower, especially when it comes to reading his Word.
5. Wear cute pajamas more often instead of just sweats and a tee shirt. (Idk, I read it on some website and it inspired me. I literally said, "yeah!!!!" out loud when I read it.)
6. Read for pleasure, not for school.
7. Take more risks. Live in the now.