Tag Archives: friends

21 – an old norcal birthday

Today was a good birthday party – friends, food, and bocce ball.  And it was good to have so many old friends there too.  In a year where I’ve felt so new and unknown it was great to have 4 friends there that I’ve known since college.  And new friends too!

A couple nights ago I remembered this isn’t my first birthday celebration in Northern California.  I celebrated my 21st birthday here, visiting friends before heading out on my 2nd trip to XJ.  We went to dinner at Chevy’s ‘fresh-mex’ where they give you a sombrero if it’s your birthday.

I’m surprised that I’ve had about the same haircut since then.  🙂  I miss that old denim shirt.  I’ve been trying to remember what that Sabrina thought life would be like.

I had just graduated from Rice the month before, and would start working in Information Technology right after the China trip.  I was wrestling with whether I might ever be able to join InterVarsity staff. That mission trip felt like a consolation prize. While many of my friends went ahead into full-time ministry, I felt like I was headed into the wilderness.

And at times it was wilderness – in the transforming and painful ways that wilderness works.  We don’t get maps for life (at least not accurate ones).  Som-brina (tm KC) had no idea what was ahead – what the next 12 years would hold.  The adventures, heartaches, friendships, conflicts, medical scares, joys, travels, and heartbreaks.  The money and power, and later feeling poor and powerless.  The excitement of new ministries and planting a new church.  Ordination!  The sadness at leaving.  And new adventures in California!

I’m glad she didn’t know.*

This is how it works

You’re young until you’re not
You love until you don’t
You try until you can’t
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath

-r. spektor (from the album ‘begin to hope’)

*By the grace of God, I can say that in hindsight about the past journey.  But in the present I often still want the map.


I had some InterVarsity meetings near San Antonio last week, so of course booked my ticket to fly into Austin a little bit beforehand to see people.  It was too short and I didn’t get to see anyone for as long as I’d like, but I’m still grateful.  I’m not eloquent enough to write about how good it was to be there – but I will still try.

–  I walked into 5619 and got to hug so many different people.  I had forgotten what it felt like to be known and to know people at church. It has been too many Sundays of summoning strength and energy to walk into a church where everything is new.  It was kinda nice to have a little bit of a big deal made about me being there… to feel like I’d been missed.  I felt the same way when visiting my staff team at the office.  If I could bottle that feeling, I would – to save it up for the lonely days here.

– One morning, CG had gone out and bought my favorite Mrs. Johnson’s doughnuts – the chocolate cake kind.  It was nice to wake up to familiar donuts, but even more touching was the thought and knowledge that went behind it.  Hmm, I see a theme here.

– I knew without thinking where the grocery store was, and how to get there.  I had a lovely walk in my old neighborhood.  I was so glad to be able to navigate, to remember that I am a fairly competent person who knows where things are and maybe just maybe that will happen for me someday here.   It’s amazing how much brain overhead I didn’t realize I had been using just to exist here in California, and how exhausting it is to be lost all the time.

– And friendly people – it was nice to be around them again.  I’m sure Californians are nice enough once you get to know them, but that’s the tricky part – getting to know them – overall they’re not warm people.  It was great to be back in a place where people say hi on the street and feel like you could have a conversation if you wanted to.  Recently someone described Silicon Valley to me as more intense than New York City, but people fake that they’re laid back because it’s California and you’re supposed to be.  Great.

– Visiting with my old staff team and friends felt so normal and familiar, it was a little scary.  Partway through the sermon I had to stop and remind myself that I didn’t live in Austin anymore and to try and soak in the evening even more.  To pay attention and not just let it slip by.

– Late night chai at flightpath where JB reminded me that I had made a califorward list before I left.  Just her remembering that and telling me was encouraging.

– And, I got to have breakfast tacos.  Twice.  And there is an awesome seesaw mustache at El Chilito now.  Rock on.  (Austinites, you gotta try it).

the picture does not capture how awesome this is

I’ve been trying to be thankful this week amidst my exhaustion and being sick again.  I’m thankful for the chance to have been around my Austin family.

now playing: Patty Griffin – Burgundy Shoes


Thought I’d jot down a few highlights from the move thus far… you know, because it’s good to be thankful.

– had a surprisingly enjoyable time packing (most of the time).  Had lots of great help from friends, and managed to have some fun in there too!  One of my favorite parts was making a big to-do about taping up the last box with JBand MF, and then realizing that it wasn’t the last box at all.  There were 3 more boxes upstairs that needed to be taped. Haha!

fun while packing

– felt very sent and loved by Austin folks, especially that last liturgy at Mosaic.  hard to believe it was just a week ago – I really feel like those prayers are carrying me through these days.

– the roadtrip was super-great.  Sherman was wonderful and had no overheating problems.  Here’s what Carrie had to say about it…

Day 1: Austin-Phoenix, lots of loopy video diaries recorded in the car, finale with generous, hospitable Archers letting us stay with them. Day2: Phoenix-Palo Alto, a “short” surprise stop in LA where I accidentally bumped into several dear Fuller friends who got to meet Sabrina Chan, then an incredible drive up the 5. I finished reading all the Mosaic prayers to Sabrina as we exited the highway and made way for her apartment complex. The last one read as we pulled into her new parking space, we both choked back tears and hugged at our arrival to her beautiful new home…

Yeah, it was a pretty great drive, with a pretty perfect ending.

– happy days sightseeing in SF with Carrie…. beautiful redwoods, walking around town, and also winning the $25 tickets to Wicked on Friday night.  It was incredible.  Seriously amazing – we were so close and the show is so good!

fun on cable cars

– speaking of Carrie – best moving buddy ever.  Let me be sad when I needed to be sad, was excited for me at all the right times, and likes driving.  Oh, and lots of other great friend things too. 🙂  It was real tough to say goodbye… but I was so glad she chose to come.

– OK, on to a random thing – a bird sliding down a banister at Pier 39.  seriously.  it was amazing.

– bike rides in Palo Alto – so many people bike here, young and old alike.  Today’s ride was to the Fuller location to test that out – and it was a little over 4 miles.  One route on the bike paths only has 1 traffic light!  And the other route is a little shorter with more stoplights but goes through downtown Palo Alto… and has a tunnel!

– meals with friends – SE and JE, JH and NH, JS, AS, and house, CT and PT… it’s been nice to be with great people.

Well, hopefully the movers arrive tomorrow with my stuff mostly intact.  So I should get some rest before a long day.  More updates soon.

a good day (and an even better night)

Less verbiage, more pictures.  How about it?

Ok – a few words.  Many thanks to SL who helped me clean out my office today.  These picture for JS who said I needed to take a picture…

empty office

amazed that it's done

And then more packing at home – with help from JM got pictures, glass, and wall hangings packed as well as the electronics.  No small feat.  It’s starting to look like pre-move in.

Then time for fun – a last Monday night ride with summer bike gang.  On the way out of the neighborhood, I took this. 🙂

don't worry, the road was empty

According to the speedometer, that was at 17.6 mph.  Fun times.

We hit up Tapioca House, and then the Lamar Pedestrian Bridge – one of my favorite sunset spots.

sunset on the pedestrian bridge

And finally, the Long Center – which I hadn’t been up to and from far away kinda looks like the Star Trek Enterprise.

rock stars


And while I loved the self-portrait on my bike – I think this one might be favorite of the whole night.


A great night.  Thanks to the packing helpers of the past few days who helped make this possible – I didn’t feel too stressed to go on the ride.  And of course, to all my fellow bike-gangers of the last year – I salute you. 🙂

now playing:  Beautiful Day – U2

of bike gangs and spin class

With cooler temperatures and better health this past fall, I’ve been able to ride my bike a lot more.  My new(ish) location makes a commute to church or work much more doable (at my old house, it was 7 miles each way to the office, now it’s more like 3.5 each way).  But what has really made it possible is bike gang friends.  There are friends at my church that are commuting by bike for lots of different reasons – convictions about cars, trying to live simply, it’s fun, it’s cool, it’s exercise, etc.

After several invitations over the summer, I was finally able to go ride with a ‘bike gang’, and we rode 13+ miles! (my longest ride ever, at that time).  A rambling jaunt of 2 hours, with some stops for coffee, an attempt to dumpster-dive some bagels, and a stop at a friend’s house where we gathered one more person. 🙂   I hadn’t ridden with people before, and felt like I was suddenly in the tour de france – one shaky turn and I could bring down the whole pack!  But it was great fun – getting to talk with my friends while riding, speeding up, slowing down, talking with different people at different times.

When the weather was really bad and I couldn’t bike commute, I went to a couple spin classes.  If you’ve been to one, you know – they are SO INTENSE.  There’s a lot of cycling that happens, they don’t have odometers, but I’m sure we go far.  We sweat a LOT, more than I ever have on a bike gang ride.  And the instructor is yelling encouragement.  We ride fast, we listen to thumping music, and yes, we probably burn a ton of calories.
But I’ve been thinking – what really taught me to love biking is the bike gang rides, not the spin class.  Sure, in a spin class we work out and burn more immediate calories.  But for the long-term, learning to figure out what roads are good to ride, learning the practicals of locking my bike, etc, those make me a cyclist for life.  Getting to learn from others, enjoy time together, and have fun… that’s really what puts me on the journey for the long haul.

In a spin class, even with friends, there’s no talking – there’s no spare air!   The spin instructor isn’t going to go out to show you practicals – he/she is just yelling instructions and giving a good workout for that time period.  Being in community is what shows me the joy in it, gives practicals, and encourages me to ride on my own even more.
This has parallels with the ways I think about ministry and community.   The most amazing speaker in the world can tell you things, and it may feel phenomenal in the moment, but we need community for the long run.  That’s not to say there’s not a place for spin classes or good speakers – but we can’t rely on that to be the only thing to keep us going.  One of the many reasons I love my job is that I get to foster and encourage Christian community amongst college students – to set them up well for the long run.  Here’s to more “bike gangs.”

12 days of thanksgiving

I’ve been wanting to write here again and have had bursts of inspiration that never amounted to actual writing.  But what better way to start again than with the 12 days of Thanksgiving?  I have a lot to be thankful for this year, and I’ve already missed the first few days of my made-up 12 days.  So I’ll jump right in.

1.  Family

Yes, I know super-predictable, but would you keep reading the next 9 days if I started with my quirkiest one?  I’ve gotten to see them a lot this year, with J’s graduation and Dad’s birthday, too.  We have a lot of fun together, and especially enjoy watching the kiddo run around and do all the things cute toddlers do.  Here’s a shot of my immediate family when they all came to visit Austin a few weeks ago.

And I’ve been super blessed to get to visit extended family twice in Hong Kong this last year.  I loved being able to spend  time with my many aunts, uncles, and cousins – I miss them!

2.  Friends

You know who you are – and with apologies to the facebook folks, it’s not all y’all.  🙂    I’m talking about the ones (past and present, near and far) with whom I’ve laughed, cried, prayed, stayed up late, shared amazing meals, lived life, goofed off,  and more.  Perhaps another time I’ll write a longer tribute to friendship.  For now, I’ll get up to speed for today (Saturday) for #3…

3.  Good Health

I know, it’s another common one – but there’s a reason for that, right?  I’ve had more than my fair share of weird medical things, and this year I added to that list with anaphylactic shock and an ambulance ride to the ER.  In the recovery time, I was also super-grateful to my community here in Austin that looked out for me.  They brought food, kept me company, cheered me up, and helped me get stuff while I was laid up on the couch.

There’s nothing like a good scare to remind us how thankful we should be.  I’d love to hear (or read in the comments) what aspects of your family, friends, and health you’re thankful for!

Now off to go figure out days 4-12 of thanksgiving.

(now listening:  Rob Thomas – Someday)

of food and friends

A lazy blog post – I just got back from Terraburger on the drag.  I love burgers, and this one did not disappoint.  It’s a tad on the pricey side ($8 combos on Sunday, other days, $8.75), but actually, that’s including tax so it ain’t bad.  Comes with a choice of sweet potato fries, regular, or half and half  (get sweet potato!), and also a drink.  They only serve cane sugar sweetened sodas, and they are good.  There’s parking in the back (woohoo!) and they also serve milkshakes and coffee.

It was really nice to sit with friends after church and just hang out – be silly, catch up, etc.  Food is good stuff, but good food with good people is what makes it great.  Oh, that, and the music they were playing – a Police cover album with just some really weird covers.  I can’t find it online (it’s not the reggae one, but there were reggae songs…)  It was hilarious to see what song would play next.

As a side note, I’m also currently hooked on the combination of Sweet Leaf tea (the regular) and milk.  Mix it up half/half and you have an approximation of Hong Kong lai cha (milk tea).  Yum.  (and thanks to Jocelyn for that tip – see, food and friends again!)

Off to write this paper on Philippians 3.  Perhaps in the best way, it has also been writing me.

(now listening:  Pandora station – The Police)