la vida es bella

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me...I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Phillippians 3:12-14

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Location: Twin Cities Metro, Minnesota, United States

Saturday, October 29, 2005


I went on a late night run to our local Target with D tonight, and was completely overwhelmed by the massive quantity of product they sell. I am aware that this would appear to be an every day byproduct of what I call the "Target Temptation", but tonight was quite different. Each shelf was absolutely jammed packed with junk; junk I hate to love, but junk nonetheless. All of the newest technology was out on display, and brand new interactive marketing tools were hung for all to indulge in. Even the top shelves were towering with stacks upon stacks of stuffed Tiggers, talking Yodas, & dress-up Doras. Ah yes, the holiday season is near.

Keeping in mind the fact that I have had money on the mind, I had an epiphany. Take a seat and buckle up...this one is monumental: What in the world do I need in this store? What in the world does anyone else I know need from this store? (Aside from the pack of CD-Rs to burn for tomorrow's practice) Absolutely nothing. And it takes me back...

There is very little I remember of gifts I have received for Christmas throughout the years of my childhood. This is not because I did not receive them, but rather was obviously more affected by the occurrences that surrounded those times more than anything else. I am feeling the need to incorporate similar events in the life of my young family. Both I am inspired to write of have to do with the back of a truck...

One tradition was to gather with our closest friends in a time of fellowship and thanksgiving before going out caroling among the neighborhoods of Quito. It was as if the love that we knew so deeply could do nothing but pour out of us. We truly were a beautiful chorus. Nevermind the fact that the older I got, the further I blended in to the back row. Or the fact that I began to refuse to wear the matching sweatshirts. (All in love, mom & dad!) I mean, lets get real - a teenager must maintain some sense of dignity.

Another tradition was to assemble hundreds of navidades, which literally means "Christmases". They were typically a small, colorful plastic bag filled with a pancito (small roll), una fruta (a piece of fruit) & unos caramelitos (some candy). We would then ride to find what we thought to be the most suited location and begin to hand them out by the bag full to children, mothers, & fathers galore. We would typically mark their hands with a smiley face and say a few words such as "Que Dios le bendiga" (God bless) or "Cristo te ama" (Jesus loves you). When I was young, I truly felt I was living out what I thought comparable to a feeding of 5,000. I can vividly remember the face of one mother who came back in a line three different times. She may have thought we wouldn't remember a face, but she didn't know I had the eyes of a hawk and would watch in awe as she would go to a nearby stream to scrub the marker off of her hand, only to get back in the long line again to receive a mere plastic bag of a few things. I'm sure she could have left it on and been able to get another bag or two. However, the lessons I learned from instances such as these marked important algorithms to my life procedures.

I do not believe there is one very defined way to live out what Christmas really means, or every day of my life, for that matter, aside from the obvious mission. I do not intend to belittle family tradition centered around gift-giving. I would just hope that there is some consideration before swiping the card.

So to you, whoever you are, let us hand out Christmas this year. More than anything else, may we freely share the light and love of our Savior.

Friday, October 28, 2005

letter to grandpa

Hi Grandpa Judd!

This is Devin. I am writing you an email in my office. I would like to come to Quito to come stay at your new house. I like the picture you sent from the mountain from, yeah, Peru, yeah. I like doing emails for work. You know those things, those things that are like my computer? Yeah those things - I like to play games and read Thomas on my computer. I like to punch on the table at dinner like you do when you are happy, Grandpa Judd. That's funny. I like that. Remember that? Write me an email too. I like doing emails.

I love you!

From Devin

hold fast

The wealthy cannot purchase substance.
The pulchritudinous become repugnant.
The deceiving come out right on top.
The wise lack a sense of judgement.
The successful prove to be failures.
The strongest cut expeditiously.
The weakest emerge victorious.
The believing claim disbelief.
The seeing do not envision.
The silent seem emphatic.
The wrong appear right.
The given gives up.
The blind can see.
Yet still I say
Satisfy me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

psalm 119:76-77

"Oh, love me--and right now!-hold me tight!
just the way you promised.
Now comfort me so I can live, really live;
your revelation is the tune I dance to."

Sunday, October 23, 2005


I'm sorry, but I just have to say that John Mayer is amazing. He is an incredible writer; I would define his art as fluidity at it's finest. His prose seems to drop just so into the smoothness of the music, much like a drop of water falling onto an otherwise glass-like surface sends intricate ripples through the water, bringing life, depth, and movement to what was already there. I am going to go out on a limb and say that if you don't enjoy listening to him, or at least have an appreciation for his musicianship, you have misplaced some part of your brain. Please go find it. (Let's just call this my "currently listening" meaningless intro)

I believe this will end up being the culmination of events of this weekend, for lack of a better thematic element.

On Friday I was more mommy than anything else. We had a relaxing morning at home, but decided to venture out to get some tasks accomplished in the afternoon. Of course, as I have yet to figure out a predictable schedule, I did not get one thing done that I had set out to do. Barnes & Noble's children's section was fortunate enough to be graced by our visitation rights as we sat for almost 2 hours reading a plethora of books. Devin's new favorite was anything that read "Chicken Little". Jaden was chill as always. Pete came to meet us, and we headed up to hang out with friends; he partied with the boys at a men's event, & us girls and moms did what we do best. It was a relaxing night of fellowship. Our family's longest laughing spell of the month occurred this day due to Peter's crazy life meanderings of things he would like to excel at, and the way it happened to play out. (what else)

Saturday began with band practice in the morning. God is doing some awesome things in our midst, so it was fun to gather with a new group of people to see what we could offer Him. I then accompanied some friends on a brief shopping stint, finished the errands I had set out to do the day before, and got home to get ready to go for a night out.

This evening deserves its own paragraph. We, along with our buds Brenton & Steph, left all 4 of our kids in someone else's care and made ourselves look a little more presentable than normal. This is a rarity. We could have done anything at all, really, and I'm sure it would still have had it's own paragraph. We were able to go out for a nice dinner before heading off to an evening of worship with the Indescribable tour consisting of Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Louie Giglio. Of special note was Louie's message followed by Tomlin playing us out with some of my favorite worship songs. When I am able to get out of the norm and simply take it all in, I tend to take on less of a participatory role and really try to learn as much as I can by what I observe and by what I understand relevant to what God is trying to teach me. There were some definite moments of worship towards the end, though, and simply being in awe of the love that surrounds me is worship in and of itself. I can never get sick of saying that I am blessed.

I suppose it is technically yesterday morning by now, but I have yet to end the day, so will simply call it Sunday. I awoke early as usual to prep, got through another great practice, and then executed and finished off our service. As it is "Pastor Appreciation Month", we were able to honor the tremendous leaders that I am fortunate enough to serve alongside. The rest of the day was spent with both friends we love knowing and friends we are loving getting to know. And as I sit here, I am realizing that I still have room left in me for more. This, too, is a rarity at the end of a few full days.

In retrospect, I am in a stage of life in which I am excited for what each new day has in store. I am slowly learning how to decrease the importance of my life, and am becoming increasingly aware of His work around me. I have such a long road ahead, but know that He is faithful. I was told today by someone whose opinion I greatly value that I appeared to be "fired up" as I lead worship. Way more encouraging than "it was good today". Who in the world cares? Man, do I wish I could emanate passion on a regular basis; not for my own sake, but all for His glory. I AM fired up, and I pray that it is He who fills the voids and expands my capacity for living every day for a long, long time.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

bows off

"Christians are somehow prone to talking more about where they've been instead of where they are. Very few people want to speak up while they are in process... They'd rather wait until their junk is resolved, so they can give a 'testimony' about the happy ending. As it relates to your writing, please don't feel the need to tie it up with a bow at the end."

This is a quote by Brad, Nichole Nordeman's A & R guy. I have been thinking and talking a lot about honesty lately and how it pertains to the way we live out our lives. There is a quote that is framed in a home of someone I love that reads something like this: "There is much coldness among us because we do not dare to be as cordial as we really are." This always stood out to me, but I feel I have begun to understand the meaning more and more as faces fade in and out of my life.

What would happen if the walls came down around us and we were all free to bask in an environment of honesty, compassion, grace, mercy, love? If honesty were a given, what would be the next underlying issue we would feel the need to resolve?

As it pertains to my life in Christ, I pray I learn in increasing amounts how to present myself as unpackaged.

Friday, October 21, 2005

the strong-willed child

I finished Dr. James Dobson's The New Strong-Willed Child tonight. Good read. Thanks, mom! Ultimately, I was encouraged by it. Dobson has some great things to say regarding parenting and disciplining techniques, as well as good stories and encouragement in the process. The man definitely has some great experience to share with the world. But more than anything, I am feeling incredibly proud to be a mother. Is it because I have the most obedient child in the world? Nope. Is it because I have motherhood all figured out? Oh yeah - must be. Or not. It is because I am so proud of my sons. Jaden is an amazing baby boy; it is indescribable to see life evolve so quickly right before your eyes. Four months bring more change than seems possible. I will have as much to write about him as I do about his big brother. This book made me think about Devin more than anything, hence the title. My strong, beautiful boy.

The "wild and woolly will" is a crazy thing one must deal with in their children. Giving up and in are easy outs off the rollercoaster ride of emotions that this journey takes you on. But just as He never gives up on us, we never give up on them. It's amazing how easy it is to forget any of the tough times moments after they arise. I have come off of a particularily rough time with Devin throughout all the life change that has gone on in our lives in the past few months. Yet the light that shines in him seems to be growing brighter each time I sit to contemplate it. I have seen a mind in this child that has such an awareness and keen understanding for life, beyond that which would seem fathomable for a 3 and a half year old. My responsibilty to facilitate growth in this respect is a huge task...In closing, Dobson references 3 John 4 which says this: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth". This statement rings loud and clear. If I do nothing else for them as a mother, yet they grow to love and serve Christ, I have served my purpose. They will have everything they need.

Devin made this comment the other day; he sure knows how to pull out one-liners. When asked what he was doing as he had his arms wrapped around himself, appearing to be giving himself a painful hug, he replied with this: "I am trying to squeeze Jesus out". Sure, the logistics may be a little off, but there is so much that is right. And so much that makes me the proudest mother of 2 little boys, strong-willed or not.

I love you both so very much!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

as penned by c.s. lewis

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries...lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable...The only place outside heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is hell!

...We love to know that we are not alone."

-C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Monday, October 17, 2005

master composer

My house is mostly silent. The only sound filling this space is Marin Marais: Suite as performed by the Palladian Ensemble. That, and the gentle hum of the dishwasher in the background. A girl must do the latter when she can fit it in; no matter...both sounds are as soothing.

I often wonder how a classical piece can take me from laughter to tears all in the same movement. Who would have thought that music not delegated a single word could tell a story so intricate, it often brings more meaning to my soul than those which are lyrically flourished.

Grieg. Beethoven. Handel. Mozart. Bach. Haydn. Puccini. Schubert. Tchaikovsky. Brahms. Debussy. Vivaldi. Rachmaninoff. Strauss. Even the sound of their names seem to play themselves out in melodic intervals. I have to believe that very few minds are capable of interpreting the harmonics of each note coinciding with another enough to string them together, bar by bar, into an orchestrated masterpiece. This is an example of intelligence at its prime.

Props to the Master Composer himself who has given intrinsic value to the sounds which He has both created and inspired.

Lastly, a brief shout out to a few of the famous: Mrs. Araque, Mrs. Renaud, and mom & dad, who all encouraged me to live out with gusto one of the four lifelong dreams of my youth. I must believe that I, too, am more intelligent from the years of training, influence, and practice these individuals found important enough to impress upon me.

Friday, October 14, 2005


This may sound crazy, but as I thought about writing out my thoughts of the day, I truly don't have much to say. Today is the first day in quite a while in which I feel I have put everything important in my head out of my mouth; therefore, I am not feeling the need to feed it through my fingers in the form of blogging. Instead, I will go to sleep at a decent hour. Thanks to all of you who shared, cried, listened, encouraged, and laughed with me today. I love doing life with you. I love the anticipation of knowing I will continue to do life with you. I am blessed by you - thoroughly blessed.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

hanging by a moment

Time: 12:40 a.m.
Place: hotel lobby computer in Chicago
Event: life
Value: priceless

So here I sit, so full of contemplation, that I fear words can and will never suffice. I have had much inspiration at the end of this day due to Willow Creek Community Church & the blessing of the A2 conference, the power of the Trinity, and the importance of community, among a vast number of other specifics. I have been challenged, renewed, restored, all in a day's work.

I've heard it said a million times over. "It's those highly emotional/spiritual God-highs that those events bring about". Here's the thing: I am challenged by these types of things every single stinking day that I claim existence on this earth. So is it possible that the door that has been opened in my soul this day brought about by obedience is the door that will mark my one small step, one giant leap? If not this day, then it had better be a door that has already been opened in the very near future. And I had better not find the exit door first.

I have been waiting to move; more like slowly but surely making tiny little steps in the right direction. There are so many unknowns. There is so much that I have yet to learn and understand. I can clearly see my calling playing itself out in my head. It is so incredibly intricate that I already feel that life depends on making it a reality. Yet, I am scared. I am unsure of the first leap to take. It is the missing link; the last couple pieces of this puzzle before I can start the next. I am sure of it. Tears are streaming down my face uncontrollably. This life is made for greatness. His greatness. I know this. I know it each morning I awake. What is dangling right in front of my face that I have yet to grab for?

I mark my own words...I do not want to hang by this moment; I want to grasp for a lifetime. I want to know as I am fully known. I want to share what I passionately believe to be true. I want to sing a song that makes my God smile as His tears of joy cover me with a satisfaction that is irreplaceable. I want to remain wrapped up in His arms for the rest of my days. I want to experience the life He would have for me; a life that leaves a legacy more important than any accomplishment fathomable to my mind.

Do I dare to move?

Friday, October 07, 2005

won't you come in?

Picture this...

It's 3:00 in the afternoon on our beautifully sunny block. All seems normal, aside from the blaring 99-00 ecua club mix someone is bumping to high heaven. Those someones are a family full of crazies, dancing and prancing around their living room without a care in the world, reminiscing about the moves they could throw down in the good ol' years. Their eldest son is loving it, as mom and dad try to compete for best move of the year. Even the wee one seems utterly amused.

All at once, there is a knock at the door. Mr. Crazy had gone downstairs for a spell, but Mrs. Crazy and Crazy Jr. were still tearing it up. In a moment of surprise, she sees the face of Mr. Neighbor Man with an embarrassed grin on his face that read, "Oh my gosh, I will just pretend I was not looking in their window. Try no to laugh...try not to laugh..." The door is opened, and they are wondering if Mini Neighbor Man can play.

One would be hard pressed to forget the look on that face. Mrs. Crazy should have been bold enough to say, "Welcome to our dance party! Won't you come in?"

Thursday, October 06, 2005

my conclusion of the day is...

that I try to accomplish one too many things on my own. My strength, whether real or feigned, is often times my greatest weakness. I am not created to hold it all in; to conceal and carry. Yet my humanity drives me to the tendency to do so. My heart & mind need always to be strengthened, but rarely my pride.

It's like this: I loved when my husband got home. He has a way of putting things in perspective for me. It doesn't hurt that the moment he walks in, he shows me love, tells me to rest as he takes the kids, and asks me what I want for dinner. It doesn't hurt that he's the funniest man alive, either. You haven't lived until you've laughed with him. He helps me to not take myself so seriously amidst the trivial things in life. Man do I love him.

Speaking of love, it's also great to have friends alongside me to lighten the load of the journey we are taking together. It's so refreshing to know that when they say they are bummed that I didn't ask for help, they mean it. I mean, seriously. Why would I not want that kind of companionship helping me to get through the rough?

Even more love, yeah, feeeeel it, is when my dad calls me (even though we ended up having to chat instead), and lets me know he loves me, loves my blog, cares enough to know my thoughts, and asks me for an opinion on something important. I am so proud to be his daughter. I pray my kids feel for me what I feel for my parents.

Lastly, I am so naive to leave the Man Himself out of things, trivial as they may be. Why is He even around at the end of a day I tried to conquer myself? Because He loves me. He forgives me. And that is never going to change. I am so blessed by the love that surrounds me. Sometimes it takes "just one of them days" to remind me.

Uff-dah. I must never rely on my own strengths. This oh-so-original concept seems overcooked, I know. But how often I forget...

cleaning out my closet

There is water in our basement. Crud. If I had a potty mouth, I would have much more appropriate words to use here. It's too bad, because I could use a lot less words and save a lot more time. 24 hours down, a good 4 or so days left spent fixing the problem. Inevitable, yet seemingly a waste. I hate having any sort of possession right now. What is really ours to "own" in this world anyways?

I miss my family; my parents and siblings, that is. I miss the feeling of being surrounded by their love, warmth, and support. I miss their camaraderie. I miss "home". I miss...I just miss them.

I am remembering the early dating days, when it seemed to take a very small amount of work to keep the relationship going what seemed to be so well. Isn't it ironic that the longer you know someone, the more work you put in? At least it's worth it. I think I miss the "we are our own romance novel" feeling. Another irony: we're doing pretty gosh darn good right now in comparison. So why do I feel this today? I don't even think I've watched too sappy of a movie lately.

My kids are sleeping next to me on the couch; D has his arm around J. They're the best. I can't believe I've been entrusted with these beautiful boys. I don't think I am missing life without kids right now. Nope. They're making me smile. I do often times miss the life of lesser-responsibility, though (since there is such a thing). Why I had to bring that up after having said I'm not dealing with the issue is beyond me.

I can't stand the feeling that my best isn't good enough/great/excellent/whatever you want to call it. Yet this is what I feel today. I can't do anything well at the moment. I hate all of the paradoxes & paradigms & parawhatevers that surround my life. I wish they would all go away.

I look, feel, think a mess. I take my previous statement back. I am definitely able to snuggle up in a blanket and cry tears of self pity pretty well right now.

I'm tired. Really tired.

After reading what I've written, I am having a moment of clarity. There is only one thing that could be causing this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

i want another baby

I always find it odd when musicians call pieces of equipment their "baby". Yet here I am, a musician, telling you to check this baby out. Isn't she pretty? Man, I want it. Bad.

I have been working the stage off a 5 year old Yamaha (76k-but I don't feel the need to even mention the model) which has officially bit the dust. I think it is a blessing in disguise. So I have settled for the Triton Studio. I had wanted the Extreme Workstation, which retails at around $3500, but don't see the benefits of that vs. the Studio with my all time favorite - the built-in CDRW (around $2500). I am pretty desperate, as I have nothing to play with until I come up with a solution, and neither our finances nor those of our church can support the purchase at this time.

So I am going to put this out can't possibly be someone who has been reading my blog and has the expertise on these things. But if you happen to stumble across this post, I would love your feedback. Let me know if these price points are competitive; if there is a more cost effective solution; if one model outweighs the other.

Better yet, if you happen to know someone who needs to get rid of one, or you feel a need to give one away, hit me up! For real.


Monday, October 03, 2005

mother dearest

Okay, mom - this one's for you! Just about anyone should be able to point and click, right? (= This is the one dad was talking about. I love you, I love you, I love you.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

what if

No, people, I am not still awake at this inane hour of the morning. I realize that if you know me at all, you would tend to doubt the validity of that statement. On the contrary, it is yet another Sunday morning - the wee hours, that is. I can sleep in long and hard on any other given day if given the opportunity to do so, but not Sunday's. I rise early, pray quietly, & prepare much before having to jet off to what I still consider to be my most exhausting day of the week. I am not trying to complain here, but rather merely state the obvious: I love Sunday. I love when Sunday is passed.

This morning, however, finds me quite exhausted after realizing that I must not have slept much last night. I tossed and turned; my thoughts could not be put to rest. What is it in our beings that brings about the innate desire to ponder the "whatif's" in life? I'm not talking about the healthy dreams and visions of the future; about bettering ourselves one step at a time. I'm talking about regrets, desires of the flesh, fear of the ordinary; about putting myself in another life - a life I am certain is not intended for me. How can I find myself in a moment of dissatisfaction when I have a Father that loves me beyond my comprehension? How can I possess even a shadow of a doubt when I serve my intricate creator? Why do I let these thoughts take captive when I know He is holding me?

Thank God for words. Tangible words. Words that are written on pages, that I may know He is God, and I am nothing without Him. I couldn't breathe without them. God knows I wouldn't want anyone else to have to go through life without words, either. I must always remind myself of the truths that I know. An insomniac's prayer...

Psalm 63
A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.
1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
9 They who seek my life will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth.
10 They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals.
11 But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God's name will praise him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced.