Sunday, January 31, 2010

New York Adventure Day 2

Saturday was a bit more fun. We finished up at the conference, and then all of the other interviews and such that had been scheduled fell through. So sad. Now we just had to "hang out" in New York. Tough life.

We headed to our hotel, the W in midtown. It's quite the place, let me say!

Then we went to dinner at 212. It came highly recommended, and the ambience and food really weren't bad. But for people like us who think In-n-Out is as good as it gets, the $18 burger really was a little much.

We were also recommended the dessert sampler platter, but Jim had seen another dessert place he wanted to try, so we went off in search of it. (BTW, it's like 20 degrees out, but taxis are such a rip off, so we chose to walk!) Unfortunately we never found it. But we did find a corner market, and took dessert matters into our own hands: cookies and icecream back in our sheeshy hotel room watching TV in bed (since we don't get TV at home, Jim confessed that's his favorite part of these trips).

Fun day! I heart NY!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

New York Adventure

OK, for the record, I do not enjoy adventure. Especially when I'm flying solo. I have a wonderful little bubble of a comfort zone, and I wouldn't mind staying in it forever.

That being said, yesterday was quite the adventure.

Jim and I were supposed to fly to New York together, but due to some last minute interview opportunities in DC, he flew out on Wednesday night.

So I left the house yesterday at 5:45am--alone. I drove down to San Diego--alone. I found the long-term parking Jim always uses and then took the shuttle over to the terminal--alone (the big dilemma was to tip or not to tip??? I didn't :o{...) I boarded the plane and found my seat--alone. And in the seat next to me, where Jim should have been, sat a stranger...I don't believe in coincidences, so I prayed, "Lord use me if you want..." and left it up to Him. It turns out I was sitting next to a guy who is a junior at a local high school, and we spent about half the flight discussing the premises of Buddhism and existentialism (which he and his family believe) and Christianity and how they impact our daily lives in practical application. Would I have had that conversation if Jim had been sitting next to me? Not likely. So I pray that perhaps those five hours of "solo adventure" will have eternal significance.

But my adventure was not over...Oh no, it was only just begun.

I got off the plane, eagerly expecting my dear husband to be waiting for me. But alas, he had another interview scheduled for 5:15, and there was no way he could pick me up and get back in time using mass transit. Bummer! Instead he had studied the maps and gave me the exact plan I should follow--alone.

So I took the air rail.

Eventually figured out which Metro Pass to buy.
Took the E train.

Took the 7 Line.
Took the Q23 bus.
And ended up at room 357 at the Marriott at 5:45, where my husband was waiting for me after the interview was cancelled.
Oh yeah, and meanwhile, it was like 20 degrees (negative on the Celsius scale, which is always a bad sign!).

However, there was a beautiful nearly-full moon out.

And the conference we went to for urban youth and youth workers was pretty cool. (Sometimes it's good perspective to be in the minority, if you know what I'm saying!)
And today, the adventure starts again, but this time I get my partner with me. Yea!

What a ride!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Romantic" Getaway Weekend

Romance. It's the thing Valentine's Day is all about. It's kisses...and flowers...and sunset walks on the beach...and chocolate...and...


For Christmas, Jim gave me a "getaway weekend" down to Imperial Beach during MLK Jr. Weekend. We love going down there to the drive-in theater, which brings back tons of fun, nostalgic, childhood memories for me. Because it's so far south (right across from the Mexican border), we usually just spend the night down there at a cheap hotel. We have a favorite one that's right on the beach. I'm talking sand and waves right at your window. It's kind of a dump, but you can't beat the view (or the price).
Unfortunately, this time, it was closed. Apparently, they're tearing it down to build a bigger, better "boutique" hotel. There goes our cheap ocean-front room...But Jim did find a Travelodge a couple blocks away. Not quite the same romantic aura, but it did have free continental breakfast (we're suckers for free!)...

So we raced through a book reading/signing at the public library, and jumped into Jim's pre-packed Jeep, and headed away to our getaway. We checked into the hotel, ordered the $10 Pizza Hut special (they were out of large crusts so they gave us 2 mediums...such a deal!), went to Jack in the Box for 2 Oreo Shakes (that was our first date together), and set up camp at the drive-ins (cushions, sleeping bags, pillows, etc. make for quite a comfy nest!).
Jim got "Book of Eli" with Denzel Washington as our first feature (the other option was "Daybreakers," and I'm just not into R-rated, scary vampires), and then I got "Twilight: New Moon" for the second round (romantic vamps are another story). "Book of Eli" was surprisingly excellent. It's rated R for violence and some language, but it's about preserving the Bible and the power of the words within. Definitely a different approach to a Christian movie than the one we took in our movie, but we both really liked it. (BTW, we almost NEVER watch R-rated movies, just on principle, so it's ironic that the two movies I've praised in this blog fall into that category. But they were accidental finds. And I'm glad we found them...) "Twilight" was well... you know. Jim fell asleep.

The next day on our way to the beach, we drove past our credit union, where it just so happens we needed to sign some papers, but there are no offices in north county. So we made a u-turn and did some business. Romantic.

At the beach we got ice cream cones and walked down the pier. Then we spent some time reading. Then it got cold.

And meanwhile, Jim had caught a head cold and had been sneezing and draining snot uncontrollably since the previous day. Lovely.

So all in all, I wouldn't call this weekend "romantic" in the mushy-love-roses-and-chocolate sort of way. Due to all the snot, I don't think we kissed even once :o(. But we had a great time together. Jim didn't answer his cell phone. I didn't do any school work. And we just hung out. Like the good ol' times.

It was definitely worth it.

How about you? What are some "romantic" ways you keep the spark alive in your marriage?

My baby sister

Yesterday marked the 27th birthday of my baby sister. OK, so she's not much of a baby anymore. Actually, she's 3 cubed. It's a good age.
And it marks the 27th anniversary celebration of my first remembered answered prayer.
I love retelling the story of my sister's birth. So I'm going to do it again...

One day when I was almost 4, my mom peeked into my room and saw me kneeling at the foot of my bed, earnestly begging God to give me a little sister. My mom walked in and tried to explain to me that God doesn't always give us what we want. That sometimes He has a better plan. The truth was (I now know), that my parents had been trying to get pregnant for a couple years, to no avail. And she really didn't want me to get get disillusioned with God.
But with childlike faith I assured her that God understood.

Next month, my mom was pregnant.

When she told me, I was excited...but not surprised. I couldn't wait to hold my baby sister.
Of course, then my mom had to explain to me, again, that God doesn't always give us what we want. I may end up with a baby brother.
Again, I assured her that God understood.

Eight months later, baby Sarah was born.
God understood.

To this day, she is one of my best friends. While we have had years of not being so close (when I went away to college, and then she went to college, etc.), we have always maintained our friendship. The past two years have been great, as she spent 3/4 of the time living with us.

Now she is married to her perfect match, and I am so proud to see the godly woman she has become. She is stylish, confident, funny, talented, brilliant, mature, wonderful.

Who would have known 27 years ago that this was the gift God would give to me and my family?

I wish I still had that childlike faith today.

Anyone else...What are some of your favorite answers to prayer?

Friday, January 22, 2010

To Save a Life Opening Weekend!!!

Well, it's after midnight here in Dallas, Texas, and for the past two nights I've only slept about 3 hours each, but oh my goodness, how can I sleep without processing all that's happened in the last 24 hours!?!?!

So, I'm giving myself 5 minutes to spew this out...

wow, Wow, WOW!!!

Thursday night we had an amazing To Save A Life movie premiere at the Regal in Oceanside. That was soooooooooooooo cool! The best part for me was sitting in the theater filled with so many people who had sacrificed so much to make this movie happen. I was overwhelmed with emotion as I looked around and saw how much we are blessed!

Unfortunately, we couldn't stick around in Oside as long as we wanted, because we had to jet up to LAX where we caught a 1am flight to Dallas.

Ooh, fun!

We arrived in Dallas around 5:30 am their time this morning (3:30 our time!), stopped at a Starbucks and whisked through a day full of interviews and visits to local high schools, culminating with a red carpet event at a local theater. My favorite part of all this...OK, there were two:

One: At the first high school, there was a meet and greet during their 4 rotating lunch periods. While all the actors were signing autographs and taking photos, I noticed Jim was missing (several times), and each time I found him somewhere in the cafeteria, hanging out with a student who was eating by himself (he was the only one who got food during this time! :o))...I love this man!!!!

Two: At the meet and greet after the movie, again all the actors were sought after by throngs (mostly teens); but as the set designer, I was able to remain incognito in the back (yea!). Over time though, various adults--usually fellow teachers or youth workers--realized my role of wife-to-Jim or co-author of the novel, and I was able to have some wonderful, encouraging, deep conversations with like-minded souls who are pouring their lives into teenagers. That was so refreshing!

Ahhhhhh.... (that's a sigh of contentment)

My five minutes are long since over, so I'm going to bed. God is SO GOOD!!!!

Here's one picture of Jim and I getting to walk the red carpet tonight. (ha! We felt SO out of place!) Unfortunately, I lost my camera somewhere between Oside and LA (hopefully it's in my car somewhere!), so I'm relying on others' photographic generosity.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Our "Kids" part 2

Besides "What a ride!" perhaps the second most frequent phrase I've been saying lately has been "This is so surreal!" (what with the movie and all...)

Well, last night I had quite the dose of reality.

Which is a great way to stay grounded!

As mentioned in my previous post about "our kids," I really do love the students we work with, and feel absolutely blessed with the opportunity to pour into their lives. But sometimes...oooh, sometimes!

Last night at youth group, a girl I call often but who rarely comes (i.e. once in six months?) actually showed up. Yea! I was thrilled!...

Then she excitedly announced she had a boyfriend. I groaned. (I know, no big deal, but it really ruins things when they start messing with boys...And their choices of boys...Oy!) So she reassured me by saying, well, it's not really her boyfriend--yet!--but they're "friends with benefits"...Great! Even better!

The night was off to a great start.

Then, two of the girls who have been at odds for the past couple months (something about dating your good friend's ex- just seems to mess a friendship up!) were best buddies again. Sweet!

And then I find out they had JUST been in a fight with another girl (and her boyfriend?!) at Taco Bell before they came to church. Yes, they had bruised knuckles and scratches to prove it. Apparently the girl's boyfriend had pulled a knife on my girl at school and then my girl pushed him so then the girlfriend stepped up and slapped my girl and then my other girl stepped up to defend her friend and...yeah...


Oh yeah, and the one friend has a new boyfriend now (whew! no more rivalry!), and she pretended to be his ex- via texting where he proceeded to pursue hooking up (you know what I mean!) with that ex (i.e. he was more than willing to cheat on her). And her prayer request last night: that she wouldn't be so jealous!


BTW, my girls, if you ever read this, you know I love you. But seriously, now you know where my grey hairs are coming from.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I love Oceanside!!!

OK, can I just put it on the record...I LOVE living in Southern California!!!!

Here it is, early January, and while the rest of the nation is suffering under an icy blast, I just went for a post sunset run that was reminiscent of early October. You know, that delicious time of year when the air is fresh and cool, but keeps surprising you with warm patches that remind you of the joys of summer. It's like a tantalizing hug! I love, Love, LOVE it! (Sorry, to those of you who live elsewhere...I'm just saying!) :o)

On a different note, while eating dinner we stumbled across the movie "Serious Moonlight" with Meg Ryan. It didn't make it to theaters, but I thought it was a great look at making a marriage work, for better or worse. And Meg is just so cute!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Our Kids

Last night we had "senior dinner" at our house. Every year we invite all the seniors in our youth group over to grub, play games, and then give them a little pep talk about finishing well. We had a blast, in spite of the fact that neither Jim or I made it home before 5:30, and they started coming over at 6! We laughed a lot over Dance Dance Revolution match-ups and Catch Phrase and chicken enchiladas and ice cream sundaes and Jim's special strawberry lemonade.

We love our kids. As I reflect over the group, I smile to think of each of their stories, and the cool things each of them contribute to our "family." Some have been coming for years, some just recently, and some only once in a while. Some come from strong families, some from families I just wish I could shake some sense into. Some are musically talented, some are tech whizzes. Some will keep you laughing forever. Some have a style sense straight from Milan. Some are just quiet observers. Some are confident; some just need to be loved and told "I believe in you!" God has entrusted us with each of their lives, and I am thankful for that blessing.

And last night was just the culmination of a day full my other "kids."

I got to spend 2 hours with 2 of the girls I mentor, talking about what God is teaching us as we sipped smoothies and then went grocery shopping for the dinner. (As sophomores, they made me promise that I would still cook them a dinner in 2 years!) One of them is reading through the whole Bible in 2010. The other one I just barely met this time last year; when she was going through an earlier rough patch, she found solace and inspiration in the book of Isaiah (?!?!) (first time reading the Bible!). Her current goal is to "love the unlovely" at school. I am so proud of them.

And before that I got to spend 8 hours with 150+ of my students (a lot of absences yesterday!). While sometimes they definitely test my patience, I really have a great group of kids. And yet my heart goes out to all their hardships...Abuse and neglect at home. Teasing by their peers. Learning difficulties. Poverty. A lot of them were friends of the student who passed away last weekend from diabetes complications. Several of them live in foster care or with distant relatives because their parents are incapable of taking care of them. Two new students just uprooted their lives and moved here and must make a new group of friends. One girl lost her mom to cancer 9 months ago. One girl must tell her parents that she's pregnant. One boy is trying to succeed after coming out of jail, but he's surrounded by all the wrong influences. One boy is preoccupied by a custody battle for his 9 month old son. Their heart-rending stories go on and on, and I'm sure I only know a tiny fraction of them. I wish I could do more for them.

For the first few years of our marriage, Jim and I used to celebrate that we could send "our kids" home at night. No midnight feedings or poopy diapers. No broken curfews or arguments over inappropriate dress. We could love on "our kids" as much as possible during the day, but then recuperate and regroup at night. It was a great arrangement.
Then the past couple years, all that has flipped. We're ready to make the sacrifices to be able to invest in a little life 24-7.
But nature has said no. And it has been so sad and discouraging.

I know if I had my own little kid, I'd be spending a lot less time and effort on these other kids. And maybe God knows some of these other kids need me a little more right now.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

City of Oceanside Proclamation

I just got back from my first ever Oceanside City Council meeting. They discussed such scintillating topics as...well, actually, I don't remember. But there was one ranting guy that the police had to escort away. I think he was ranting about corruption, but I'm not sure who/what his target was. He approached me at one point, and I panicked.
So I just smiled.
Maybe that smile made his day.
Probably not.

But I couldn't help it. I couldn't stop smiling because I wasn't at this city council meeting to discuss corruption, or new developments, or senior citizen activities, or the price of tea in China...or the supermarket...I was there because of one little item of business on the agenda.

At approximately 5:42pm, the Oceanside City Council recognized Jim Britts/Steve Foster/New Song Church and their work on the movie "To Save a Life" and declared January 22-24 "To Save a Life Weekend" in Oceanside. Pretty stinkin' cool, you've gotta admit!

I must admit, I'm a pretty proud wifey! :o)

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Resolution

Not only is it a new year, but it's also a new decade. Time to try something new: create a blog.
So here I am.
I have no clue what I'm doing.
But here goes.

"What a ride."
Eight years ago, Jim dropped to one knee at a fountain just after we got off the Ghostrider wooden rollercoaster at Knotts' Berry Farm, and said: "In five years, I can't promise you that we'll be rich, or famous, or even that I'll have a full head of hair. But I can promise you that at the end of each day, as we pour our lives into teenagers, we'll be able to look at each other and say, 'What a ride!'"
Boy did he deliver on that one!

God has taken us on a wild and crazy adventure that seems to be only just beginning, and we are constantly repeating that phrase to each other (usually as our heads are dropping onto our pillows before succumbing to sleep!)

This morning, I spent my quiet time reflecting on everything God has done for us this past year/decade. While I have had my share of disappointments, God has been faithful to redeem just about all of them for the better, and the ones that he hasn't yet, I feel excited to see how he will. Then this afternoon, Jim and I spent a long time praying over this next year. It was so cool.

So, here are the twists and turns we're looking forward to breathlessly careening around in 2010:

1. "To Save a Life" movie comes out in 21 days!!!!
Of course, we still need a butt-load of moolah to get it in all the cities that want it, so it's going to be fun to see how God figures out that one! And then it's going to be fun to see how many lives are changed through the message of the film. And I'm sure there are going to be plenty of new adventures related to all this!

2. More writing!
Depending on how well the film does, Jim and I have already started working on a sequel to the novel, as well as another world-changing, teen-empowering movie script. Ha! Who would have ever thunk it?!

3. Kids!!!
We continue our journey down the not-so-fun infertility track, but are meanwhile on the concurrent adoption track and are so thrilled. We had our foster licensing home visit on Wednesday (more on babyproofing later!) and that inspired us to paint the spare bedroom today (pictures later...)...Yea!!! We can't wait to be parents!

4. ???
Inevitably, God is going to throw a few completely unexpected thrills in--just for fun. Can't wait!

So, anyone else out there have some things they're looking forward to God doing in 2010?