Thursday, December 27, 2007

Off to India

So, I'm heading out today. Of course, I didn't pack until last night, and I'm still trying to squeeze in a thing or two today. :)

During last year's trip, both John and I got sick with colds and coughs and such due mostly toweather and environment shift. I am praying for good health for us on this trip.

I am leaving tomorrow by myself in order to attend the India National Vineyard conference, which will be held in Chennai this year. I have never been to the southern part of India, so I am looking forward to seeing a whole new part of the country. Makes it a little challenging to pack light since it is at least a consistent 40 degrees or so warmer than Dehradun this time of year. Anyway, I will fly through London (9-hr layover there) to Delhi. I will then spend the afternoonat the Coffins' home, who are dear friends that have graciously offered for me to relax and shower at their home! I will meet up that evening with friends from Dehradun, and we will all ride together on a train to Chennai (34 hours!). That makes for a long stretch of traveling for me! I do love the train, though, and it will be a funtime to connect with friends.

John will bring the team, three other wonderful people from theVineyard, a week later, and after the long train ride back to Delhi and another on to Dehradun, I will meet up with them there. We'll stay in Dehradun from Jan. 6 until Jan. 16, at which time we'll go to Delhi for a couple days. Then we'll return to LA on Jan. 19.

Here I go... :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


So, a friend of mine emailed me this morning to ask three things I'm thankful for. Thanks, Michele!
At the immediate moment, I'm just really thankful I finished my paper that is due for grad school today! :) Since that happened around 4:30 this morning, I'm not at my clearest, but some other things I'm thankful for:
#1 ---God is teaching me how to walk in His grace. Sometimes the lesson feels slow, and I have a hard time breaking old performance/achievement/perfectionist/workaholic tendencies! But I can see Him shaping me, and the moments of feeling that grace pour over me and replace my sense of who I need to be are very sweet.
#2--The opportunity to learn and enjoy grad school. I am feeling such renewed passion and vision stirring in my heart through the amazing program I'm able to be a part of. It redeems so much from past educational experiences, and God is using it to just grab hold of my heart for His kingdom in a whole new way!
#3--A loving and wonderful husband. I know it sounds a little cheesy, but I'm so thankful for John. I see so many struggling and truly difficult marriages around me, even in the church, and I am so thankful for the way God has blessed us to really enjoy life together. I learn a lot from John, and I am very thankful to be married to him.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Food Journeys!

So, one of my very favorite things about Los Angeles is that you can find pretty much any kind of ethnic cuisine you can think of. (In defense of the Midwest, the "Old World" immigrant groups like Irish, Italian, Polish, German, etc. are lacking. There are a couple of good places, but the quantity and quality can't even compare to Chicago area.)

Anyway, I really LOVE experiencing a new kind of food from a new place. And, note, it is not just eating but really experiencing the food.

Well, I realized last week that it has been quite awhile since I had actually had a truly new food adventure. I have found new places within familiar realms and have had tons of wonderfully enjoyable food journeys, but there is something very thrilling about a brand new food expedition! Love feeling like a world traveler and, better yet, an explorer, all without leaving the city.

My parents recently visited and are fellow food "explorers"! So, I try to always hit new countries/ethnicities that they haven't experienced before. Well, for this trip, I got to actually experience two that were brand new for me as well! I love it!

I have a dear friend I used to teach with who is Korean, and after 7 years of being in LA, it's actually a little appalling that I hadn't really experienced Korean well. I had Korean bbq, but Michele (the friend) would talk about so much more to Korean food. My Hawaiian friends in college used to offer some yummy samplings (like kimchee), but I needed to really dive in! So, Michele took my parents and I to Koreatown (which I have been around but not ever made the connection to really go and eat there). We went to some tiny little place where my parents and I seemed to be the only ones who didn't speak Korean (love that!). Michele just ordered some typical dishes. It was amazing! I saw them bringing out all these little bowls of side dishes to people, and I thought maybe you had to order some sort of mixed dish or something, but they bring it to everyone! Perfect for someone like me who is not only indecisive but also loves to try a variety of things. You all just use your chopsticks to eat out of the same bowls. Very communal. We had this amazing fish dish (good thing John didn't have to eat with us!). I have seriously never tasted fish that was so flavorful in my life! It was on top of this special kind of radishes and had a delicious sauce. We also had this sizzling rice pot that was very cool and a stew that had tofu and stuff. Then Michele took us for this fruit and shaved ice and red bean dessert, which they served in one big doggie dish (that part's not traditional!). It was really great!

Then, another night, I found an Afghani restaurant online that is in Pasadena. I recently read the Kite Runner (mind-blowingly good novel, by the way) and have been dying to try the food. (Side note: Noticed that several of the whole Balon crew are listed on their blogger profiles as living in Afghanistan. What's with that???) Because of a history with so many foreign conquering powers coming in, they have a mix of several influences in the food, but it is still uniquely theirs in a great way. The Moses family joined us as well, which was fun. Love that their kids were up for the food adventure! The food was delicious! I had these dumplings (the name of the dish is "mantu") that were one of the best tasting dishes I've had in a long time!

I could go on and on! I love food journeys, and I realized how much it made me excited to have some brand new ones! Here are photos of the group at Azeen's Afghani restaurant and my mantu!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Already-Not Yet

So, as many people know, I recently joined the masters program John has been a part of this past year. If you have to see me or talk to me, I'm sure you'll be hearing a lot more about it, as I am finding myself really blown away by this stuff! I can understand why John's been so uncontrollably excited about it all, and I find myself unable to even truly express much of it yet. Some of it seems so foundational that I am shocked at how profound and revelational it seems to me! It brings framework for so much! I mean, I've always thought of myself as having a decent grasp on and well-thought through theology, but this is HUGE! Of course, I've always believed in the Trinity, but understanding that deeply and the significance of that as a foundation to all--Wow! And kingdom theology. Truly just consuming everything in me right now as I read and process it. We have a class focused on healing this weekend, and I feel such anticipation for it! There is no way to really talk about healing without kingdom theology.

Still very fresh as I'm just now reading some amazing books on it, but really truly digging into the truth that the kingdom of God has come, is here, and is yet to come is really just grabbing hold of me! There aren't multitudes of phases of history. There are two: the present age and the age to come. And, the age to come is already here, but not in its full consummation as the present age has not yet been fully destroyed. So, we live in the tension of the already and not yet. The kingdom is already here and it is yet to come. Seriously, amazing!

Salvation itself is so much more than we often make it; it is no merely a future condition or destination for our souls. For the Hebrews, salvation was a far more holistic concept. Jesus through his ministry on earth, death on the cross, resurrection, and sending the Holy Spirit at Pentecost established victory over and freedom from every device of the enemy and the powers by which he rules this age!!! AND, He continues to redeem fully all that is lost by the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the world. And, all will reach ultimate salvation and resurrection at the final consummation of the kingdom.

"We are here, almost here, delayed, future people. We are saved, being saved, and will be saved. We are holy, being made holy and will be holy. We live between the times. We are already-not yet people…We are becoming what we already are." Derek Morphew

If anyone is reading this and wants to dig into more of what in the world I'm talking about, you just have to read Breakthrough by Derek Morphew and more specifically focusing on a kingdom theology as it relates to healing, Authority to Heal by Ken Blue.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Thunderstorm and Hollandaise Sauce

We had an actual real thunderstorm this weekend! It was fantastic--rain, wind, thunder, lightening--the real deal! I think I heard it had been 150-some days since we had any rain. I know that most people who live in places that have real weather would despise me for complaining about this, but it really does get a bit boring to have sunny moderate weather all year long. I mean, it's great, but I miss the seasons! Sure, gloomy cold gray February in Indiana sucks, but spring is so much better after you've had a real winter! And, I seriously miss a good thunderstorm. So, Friday night was very exciting!

One of the best parts of rain in L.A. is the day after. It is actually clear. When John and I were driving Saturday, we both sort of exclaimed that L.A. really is quite an amazing-looking city; it's just covered in smog 90% of the time! Ew! It kind of made me think, actually, about the big storm we had, which I find exciting and powerful but does come with its inconveniences (everything floods in this city if too many people spit at the same time!) and even fear for some. Yet, it's exactly what the city needed, and it just stripped away so much of the garbage and impurities clouding the whole city. It made me think of storms in our lives and that sometimes the cleansing God knows we really need is not pleasant and almost never "convenient" but is so necessary to bring out the beauty of what He really has for our lives. Of course, the metaphor breaks down a bit when John points out that filth is all now in the city drinking water! Still, a good thought.

Hollandaise sauce. Why don't I believe books when they say things are hard to make well? John's favorite food (or at least one of his faves) is Eggs Benedict. I had never had it until I decided to try it at IHOP when we were engaged. So, first of all, one has to question my wisdom at supposing that IHOP would be the place to try anytyhing for the first time, but really the problem was that I had gotten food poisening the day before. It hadn't hit yet, though, so I didn't know. While it wasn't the eggs benedict that caused the disgusting and horrible display that followed later that day, it was the last thing that went in before it all started and, therefore, the first thing to come back up. That's another story of which I will spare the details, but the point is that I haven't been eager to try eggs benedict again. However, I know how much John loves them. So, I decided this past week that it is finally time to try them again, and I will make them for brunch Saturday morning. These plans always sound so good in my head! Do other people have filters that actually catch some of the ridiculous thoughts before they get acted on? I see packaged mixes for hollandaise sauce and read books that say it is hard to make the sauce well, and I think, "Well, that would be a wussy way out to make it from a package! The only things in life that are worth doing are hard! (And really, how hard can a sauce with a few ingredients be to make?)" Jump ahead to me asking John to keep the effort in mind while he's scraping up lumpy, weird-looking sauce. It actually tasted ok; maybe we should have just eaten it in the dark! Oh, and I ruined the egg-poaching pan we had! Do normal people have thoughts like, "Oh, they sell packages of this sauce for a reason. I am more concerned with this all coming together for a pleasant eating experience than with proving I can conquer all things."? Just wondering.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Southern Cali Real Estate

So, John and I finally found a house in our price range in Southern California! We are very proud of our find!

Funny God

Anyone who thinks God does not have a sense of humor must not have seen "Birds of Paradise" flowers. I think God's creation is amazing and gorgeous and wonderful, but seriously, these are so bizarre-looking!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Back Home Again in Indiana

Ok, so I guess that only stirs memories of the song if you actually were from Indiana! If you just can't contain your curiosity, you can read about the song at

Anyway, the 2nd verse is this:
Fancy paints on mem'ry's canvas
Scenes that we hold dear
We recall them in days after
Clearly they appear
And often times I see
A scene that's dear to me

I am here in Indiana for a few short days and was in Iowa for a couple to visit my grandparents. I spent Wednesday with my mom's dad and his wife Vera on their farm, and I spent yesterday with dad's parents in the Mennonite/Amish hub of Kalona, Iowa.

I've just been really struck lately by how unbelievably blessed I am! I have generations of family that I have known who have faithfully served their Lord with their lives. I've been feeling especially nostalgic lately and seeing scenes as memories that are so dear to me. Being on my grandpa's farm which is quite close to where I grew up and where I spent many childhood days brought back floods of wonderful memories--seeing animals born, getting to bottle-feed baby lambs, riding the 3-wheeler, learning to drive, playing croquet and badmitton in the yard, swimming in the pool, "helping" grandpa fix things in the machine shed, corn day--the list goes on and on. My dad's parents don't live in the same place they did when I was a child, but the memories are still there as well. My family isn't perfect, but I had a happy childhood, and I still have an amazing heritage. I'm realizing how rare that is!

I have been really longing to connect with my heritage lately. Los Angeles is a place with very few roots. I am happy there, but I want to remember the groundedness that is connected to where I come from. Maybe I'll make some jam or finally finish the first quilt I started or have a hymn sing or who knows what else. These things don't embody the depth of love and faith that I grew up with and long to keep with me, but they remind me. And that is precious to me. Remembering nurtures gratitude in my heart. Gives me perspective and courage in the midst of a momentary culture. Fills me with a desire to pass on the hope that community and family can exist in a loving and beautiful (even when not perfect) way. Nourishes my soul.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


So, to continue on my thoughts on yesterday...

When I came home last night from doing errands, there was a party at our building. That is a pretty common scene. One of the women said they had just planned it that day to surprise one of the ladies for her birthday and would I want to come. So, I decided to go for awhile. John and I have gotten to the point where we get invited to most of the neighbor parties now. We usually try to go for at least a little while, but it can be challenging. I am fairly competent with Spanish, but they get to talking so casually and so quickly, and poor John is done after, Como estas? There is also an interesting dynamic in that we are very highly respected by our neighbors. It is flattering, but it can also make us feel like outsiders, set up on some sort of weird pedastal. We definitely feel under observation much of the time. For example, about a month ago, our downstairs neighbors had a horrible plumbing, flooding mess in their apartment, so I made dinner and took it down to them. According to the teenage girl who lives there (and is the building "informant"), when I left, all of the women gathered around to open the food to find out "what white people eat."

Anyway, last night, as I sat there looking around, I realized it was only the women hanging out together. A man or two would float through, but it was "girl time." Some of the time, I just sat, but I stuck it out for the evening and bonded with these women in a way I haven't before. By the end of the evening, there were just a few of us from the building left really talking, and it just felt right to really be sharing life together. That was after they had taught me the Spanish words for underwear and thong! Fun times! :)

Today, my neighbor kids came over for the weekly arts and crafts time I have with them. It is the last one before school starts, so all 12 of them piled into the living room today. After the art project, I let them decorate sugar cookies. Letting kids loose with cookies, frosting, and sprinkles is like letting a wild tiger loose in a butcher shop. They would look at me with wide eyes and say, "We can put whatever we want on them?" Well, in most cases, that meant put it ALL on!!! I had to include a picture of one of the girls' creations because, as you can see, individual cookies can hardly even be distinguished; it's just one giant blob of frosting and toppings! :)
As I was wiping up random globs of frosting, I couldn't help but feel like I was smiling right along with our amazing Creator! Joel (our pastor) was just talking Sunday night about us being created in the image of God who is amazingly creative. There is something in us as humans that longs to release that. For so many, art and crafts and such are a luxury that gets shoved aside in the struggle to make ends meet. Seeing the kids take such delight in doing the projects is a joy and a pleasure. They don't even know yet that they are made to reflect the image of God, but I can see the glimpses of it. Even in the blob you see pictured, it just struck me in this girl's enthusiasm to just extravagantly "go all out" with her cookies. It just seemed such the heart of our Creator saying, This is the extravagance with which I created each of my precious children. I held back nothing. I went "all out."

A "Without" Day

There are days when things just seem to connect with what it seems life should be about. Yesterday and today have been that way. In many ways, they have been focused "without" (my term for the world around me), but it is impossible to separate the inner life from the outer life, so as I connect with the world around me, things connect inside my own heart and mind, and it all just seems like it makes sense.

Yesterday I spent part of my afternoon at Samosa House, a local Indian grocery and restaurant that has become one of my favorite places. I have been going there every Tuesday to study my Hindi and to practice little bits with the folks who work there when I get up the courage. Yesterday the young girl who has been super friendly to me, though she seems a little shy, was working. I ordered in Hindi, and I tried a new dish that I had never even seen before the previous Tuesday when someone was eating it. She had mentioned recently about a festival that was coming up (lots of festivals in the Hindu calendar!), so I asked her about it. She explained all about it to me. I said that I realized after coming in for several months, I don't actually know her name. She seemed a little caught off guard, but we exchanged names. As I sat down to study my Hindi, thoroughly enjoying my newly discovered Bhel Puri and my weekly dose of Chai, she came to the table and told me that if I ever want any help, she reads, writes, and speaks Hindi and would be happy to help me. I've been practicing little bits with her before, and she's been willing, but this was a very intentional offer made to extend friendship to me. I love the tasty treats at Samosa House, and I'm thrilled to have someone to practice Hindi with, but THIS is it--the real reason I go and keep going! A connection made.

I get carried away and write a lot in these entries! I'm going to go spend time now with one of my favorite small people on the planet--Duncan Lawrence--so I'll have to resume my thoughts on my days later. :)

Within My Cupboard

So, I have undertaken a project to organize and clean our apartment. I have been purging our dwelling of all unnecessary items, mapping out a plan for organization, and have grand visions of an efficient and spotless Snowden home. I have accepted the current disaster in our apartment as part of the process, and I was starting to feel pretty good about my commitment to a tidier home. I have always been an overcommitted type-A person who has faced the reality that not everything in life can be in perfect order, and the place where that has played out is in my home. Well, now I have determined to tame this unruly area of my life bringing all things to the standard of efficiency and structure I long for.

With my head in the clouds of my dreams for a brighter tomorrow for the Snowden apartment, I noticed a funny smell in the cupboard under the sink yesterday. As I got closer, I realized there was nothing funny about it! Upon further investigation, while holding back the gagging, I discovered an item (completely unidentifiable at this point) in the plastic bag which I brought it home from the store in had actually gotten to the point of liquifying! I cannot even describe to you the putrid smell from the decaying vegetable corpse that soaked into a spot in the cupboard. How does a person, two people nonetheless, not notice something like that before it gets to that state?!

While I do hope to bring greater organization to our apartment, I accept with humility that I do not now nor will I ever have everything "under control." In fact, at the current time, I have a very pungent odor emphasizing that point lest I forget. Anyone know of a way to get the smell of (*&$%) out of wood?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

thoughts when not sleeping

Brace yourselves if you decide to read this. My mood has been bad this evening, and now with finding myself unable to sleep again, it might not be pretty.
Not being able to sleep sucks.

Sometimes I am able to feel peaceful and thankful about it--a quiet time in the day to pray and reflect and think.
Sometimes it comes in quite handy that I seem to require less sleep than the average human being.
Sometimes it just sucks.
Awake, alone with a head full of swirling thoughts. Augh. Rehearsing the lines of an email I should write. What is this bump on my chin? Mentally checking items off my to-do list from today. Why did I wear these pajamas? Adding to my to-do list for tomorrow. Looking at the painting I can see through shadows on the wall, wondering what is the purpose of art? Wondering what the purpose of anything is.
Swirling thoughts. Piles of thoughts. Sometimes the same ones cycle through again and again.

As I was driving home from my last Hindi class today, I was thinking about how I just cannot get over my hatred of doing things wrong and how that holds me back. In this case, I really need to get over it and practice speaking. Inherent to the idea of "practice" seems to be that it is not a perfected performance. My Hindi teacher would say so many times, "Don't hesitate. Just say it, and I'll correct it if it's wrong." What?! Do something that might be wrong?! I hate being wrong, and I don't like being corrected! Where does this horrifying fear of failure come from? The logical part of me knows that the world will not implode on account of a few wrong Hindi words coming out of my mouth, but the prideful part of me can't bear the thought of "failing" at something, however small or momentary that thing may be.
Pride sucks.

This need for perfection is arrogant, and it is heavy. It is horrible to constantly feel that I don't meet my expectations for myself. How can I? There is always more I "should" do or "should" know or a way I "should" do something better. Only God is perfect, and I am not Him. Why doesn't that sink in to my thick head to walk in grace and stop striving for perfection, which I think saddens Him, maybe even angers Him at the arrogance of thinking I could ever reach perfection. Then that leads me to be frustrated that I have not yet learned to accept my imperfections and my humanity. I've known this struggle, and I've laid it down so many times, so I chastise myself for picking it back up again. Why can't I get this right? (A not-so-clever "righteous" disguise for my perfectionism.)
Perfectionism sucks.

John tells me that I am very good at self-loathing for not meeting my own impossible standards. He knows how much I like to be good at things. :)

Because he knows that, just to mess with me sometimes, he tells me that I suck at sleeping.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My Language Barrier

So, I love different languages. Love learning them. Hate sounding stupid. I need to get over it and just try, practice it. I am so busy critiquing my abilities in the language that I withdraw from using it! How pointless does that make learning it!
One of my character flaws, perhaps one of my biggest lifelong struggles is perfectionism. I don't like to do things unless they are done well, nay perfectly! I know how utterly arrogant and ridiculous it is. Yet, it continues to block my path sometimes from just stepping out and taking a risk to do something that might not be perfect but would be so good for my growth and, ultimately, my life journey.
Anyway, I have only one more Hindi class left, and I really want to be able to use it to speak with my friends in India. So I just need to suck up my pride, be willing to sound like a 3-year-old for awhile, pray for a lot of grace (more from my self than from others as they tend to be pretty gracious already), and SPEAK some Hindi!

Monday, August 13, 2007

You Can Take the Girl off the Farm, but...

I am realizing that growing up in a Midwest farming community with Mennonite culture on top of it has led me to have an abnormal (and at times) unhealthy work ethic. I used to always think that I had a "good" work ethic, but I am realizing that sometimes it is, in fact, not "good." To capture the essence of the approach to work that is ingrained in me, it is basically, "Work. Work hard. Keep working. If things are hard, keep working even harder."

Now, there are some obvious benefits to this approach. I get a lot done. My approach to work combined with my love for efficiency allows me to get much more done in a day than the average human being. Also, there is value in working hard and persevering through obstacles. So many people in modern society bail when things are even inconvenient, let alone truly difficult.

What I'm realizing (not entirely a new revelation) is that work and "doing" and serving all the times can hold a place in my life that is very imbalanced. I lose track of who I should "BE" at times because I am so busy "DOING"! I get very dissatisfied when I am not tangibly accomplishing things that I can cross off my checklists. I even get very critical of people who have less of a threshhold for work, business, facing challenges, etc. They seem lazy to me because, after all, isn't the way I do things the right way? Yeah, I think that's referred to as "judgmental"--Ouch!

Sometimes my stubborn commitment to being tough and working hard even borders on stupidity. (I say borders to make myself feel better--it is stupidity.) About a week ago, we were helping with set up for a community festival. Very few people showed up, and even many who did sort of stood around waiting for some sort of inspiration to strike or something. So, I dive in full force. I'm not going to stand around and wait for people to help me carry tables. I'll just carry them myself. Now, despite my protests at times, I am a city girl. I do not tote bags of feed anymore. I am not in high school, and I do not lift weights anymore. The long rectangular tables are clearly too heavy for me, but I am determined. When clean-up time comes, there are many more people to help, but I proceed with my same stubborn approach. Several guys comment on me carrying them by myself, which only fuels the fire. One of our church elders says, "My, you're strong." I say, "Actually, I'm really not; it's purely stubbornness." Why it doesn't even hit me at that point as being twisted, I can't explain. I consider myself a logical person, but there are times when others things (pride, stubbornness, etc.) seem to completely cloud that. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately so that I will finally learn one of these days), I was hurting quite badly the next day and a day or two after that!

Maybe someday I will learn to give up my stubborn ways and use the good sense God gave me to find some balance in working hard without needing to maintain some crazy old ingrained, unrealistic, unhealthy standard of what a good work ethic really means. Maybe, with a lot of grace, someday I will have a work ethic that is actually "good."

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Title

So, I think captures (in whatever degree of "cheese" it may) the parts of life...
The inner life and the outer life.

I am longing to have my inner life submitted to the Holy Spirit and be full of His peace. I feel like I have a constant wrestling of ideas and thoughts swirling around in my head. Sometimes from Him. Sometimes from me. Sometimes hard to know the difference. As I sort through them and grow as I wrestle through these thoughts and ideas and seek Him first, perhaps I shall share some of what is going on "within."

And, why isn't "without" the opposite of "within"? For my purposes, it shall be. There is life within me and life around me. This is where kingdom living has to kick in. It can be so easy to have great ideas and values and philosophies about life inside my head, but as I interact with the world around me, I am challenged to know what bearing the image of God really looks like. I am faced with another wrestling that cannot take place only inside my head, and that is what does kingdom "living" really look like? Not just kingdom thinking. Following Christ's example in a world that lives "without" Him. Ah, a double meaning. Ok, well, I'm making up the first meaning, so we'll say it's 1 1/2 meanings.

Anyway, the journey is already under way as I continue to run hard after God both "within" and "without."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Where it all began...

I think I'll give this a try. I'm very inspired by my beloved Valparaiso friends, so I am venturing out on my own as well.
I have recently resigned from teaching in LA Unified School District and am "in transition." Just seeking God for what is next...