Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pregnant Man?

Not exactly, but perhaps even more bizarre. Siamese twins, clones, sextuplets - none are as weird as a human living with a twin INSIDE of them. Medical stories usually fascinate me, but this is one that definitely gives me the creeps.

Read Sanju Bhagat's story and try to sleep peacefully tonight.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

How to Make a Teenager Squirm

I love making teenagers squirm and try their best not to cry. It could perhaps be the best part of my job. No, I'm not bullying them or taking away their prized electronics. I make teenagers cry by telling them, to their face, eye to eye that they are intelligent, capable, and valuable in this society.

Unfortunately, somehow in society, hearing honest positive feedback and encouragement from an adult to a youth is a rarity. I think that is why the kids almost cry. I guarantee that 90% of their day they hear complaints and demands from adults - either directly or indirectly, they hear that they are worthless and their opinions amount to nothing much than a rebellious idea that must be corrected.

But wait! Haven't we been in a self-esteem movement where we are encouraged to say positive things to each other all the time?! I know I went through a "self-esteem" unit in high school where we learned about ourselves and our worth, so shouldn't that be enough to make us feel good about ourselves?

Teenagers can be duped in relationships with their peers, they can be pressured into doing stupid things that will ruin their life, they are notorious for stupidity. They are also notorious for being able to be brutally honest and smell fake niceness from a mile away - somehow especially from adults. Thus, telling a kid they are wonderful and special and valuable is only useful if it is in a real and personal context.

I am so thankful for the adults that pour their energies and lives into youth. I know in my life, if it was not for Sergei Kazinchenko, a radical youth leader from my church who decided to create a middle school group and invest his time in us, I could have very well been in a much different place. He took the time to get to know us, spend time with us, expose us to new ideas, and let us know just how valuable our thoughts and ideas were. He let us know clearly that we were not just some stupid teenagers, but rather human beings who are contributing to society.

Teens back in the 1990's and 2000's needed to know that. Teens today, even with all of the self-esteem movement need to know this. If you have a teen in your life, a sibling, cousin, neighbor, friend, student, who ever. If you have a kid in your life - tell them their worth. Tell them exactly HOW you think they are already contributing to society and encourage them to continue growing in their lives. If you do that honestly without deceit, that punk just might squirm.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Biographies and Back to School

Taking a break from school to focus on wedding plans, married life, and work has been an incredible time and opportunity to enjoy the non-student side of life. Of course, working WITH students of all ages, I am definitely not too far from the school setting, I have just enjoyed the break from being the student. But nevertheless, I did not invest 2.5 years into college only to turn back from the significant paper they give at the end. After some deliberation and planning, I am nervously excited to return to school part-time in the Spring of 2010 and resume full-time in Fall 2010.

I admit. I am nervous. Its been a while since I've been in school and thought like a student, read like a student, and wrote like a student. Its going to take a while to get back in the groove, so I am planning on thinking of ways to prepare myself.

Step One: Finish the scholarship essay. This is a big test - haven't written for a grade (unless you count reports at work for a grade) since June.

Step Two: Crank up the reading. I've read some awesome books this summer so far, and I would like to continue reading, but maybe at a faster pace. This summer I've read Bridges of Madison County, Thousand Splendid Suns, God's Smuggler, and am now finishing up Total Abandon. All were intriguing and the latter three very inspiring, probably because they were more or less biographical in nature and shared the narrative of one's life.

I am a big fan of biographies - reading peoples life stories, including their successes and struggles. There is power in the story, and a recent article in Christianity Today agrees. The article shares about the power of biographies, especially as a spiritual practice. I think they are on to something, because whenever I read biographies, especially those of a spiritual nature, it is definitely edifying and usually leads to spiritual growth.

So therefore, I will continue reading biographies. Maybe I will mix it up with some theological and theoretical books, but we will see.

I am also excited to see the movie Precious, which is about a young woman who has lived an incredibly painful life but begins a journey from oppression to self-determination. It will be especially meaningful because I know people who remind me of Claireese.

And finally, I am hoping to increase postings as part of my writing exercises to prepare me for going back to school.

Keep me accountable ;)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Easy Moneymaker

If you are in need of some extra cash, how about move to Taiwan and collect dog waste for some spending money? Apparently, dog waste is a huge issue in Taiwan that the government is willing to pay $3 for every kilo of dog poo collected. In areas where dog poo is even more abundant, they will pay $3 for every half kilo. More on this story here...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Life Updates

Today I had the pleasure of having a free afternoon to begin the scrapbook project I have been waiting to do for the past 4 months - the wedding scrapbook. A few months ago I had a dream of a perfectly organized set-up of the scrapbook materials to make scrapbooking more efficient. I remember waking up and trying to apply the dream to reality, and today - with the apartment to myself, I turned it into a fantasy scrapbooking workshop. With paper color coded and everything in its appropriate categories, I was able to whip out 5 pages, without any back pain. I was also excited to be able to use bits and pieces of wedding cards and novelties that came with them.

It's great to look back on the wedding day and remember the feelings and excitement that came with the big day. That day proved to be the best decision of my life, for being married to David has been the best thing that's ever happened to me! :) Definitely looking forward to the coming months and holidays. Its been fun figuring out what our family culture is going to be like - discovering what rituals and habits we have and partake in. The molding of our two worlds have thus far been blessed with unity and peace. Definitely thankful to God for that!

This month is a busy one. Many birthdays in the community, the Compassion Connect Banquet, and figuring out ways to stay warm this winter. We attended a weatherization workshop last week and got hooked up with some essential home improvement materials to make sure we are as energy efficient as possible. We are also working on getting some thick curtains for our sliding doors to maximize warmth.

Oh and shall I not forget to mention that AT LAST after years of thinking of the perfect boots, David and I found a pair and bought them!

We are definitely equipped for the season. Here's to warmth :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Time Capsule

My younger brother is taking an AP Psychology class from the same teacher I took Psychology from in 2004. As my brother was telling me about all the cool things he's learning in that class, I began remembering all the great activities of self-exploration and introspection that we did in that class. I also remembered the letter we wrote to ourselves that we were to receive 10 years later. Of course being the patient person that I am, I asked my brother to ask the teacher if I could get my letter a little early.

Yes, yes, it was cheating, and I could have possibly ruined the surprise of the total effect the letter was supposed to have on me - but my curiosity won (after all, I did win the Curiosity Life Skill award in 7th grade :P).

In a few days, my brother gave me the letter, and as I was driving with my husband, I tore open the letter and began reading. The letter, written with my 16-year-old perspective of life to my future self, was quite the experience. It was incredible seeing all the many milestones that I have already reached, some exactly as I predicted!

I met the marriage goal right on target, and am on a good start towards being healthier with my food choices (believe it or not, but at the time I wrote this letter to myself, I could not imagine driving past Carls Jr. without stopping for a spicy chicken...and only until this past year have I been able to resist 95% of the time! This is huge for me!)

Dreams of living the gospel and being on fire for Jesus reign true today. Of course I'm not a missionary overseas as I imagined, but local missions is more than satisfying. I may not be living in a house that is perfect for parties, but the parties in our community are always abundant and beautiful.

Of course there are some more interesting ones which we will see what will happen...will I publish a book or any sort of writing? Will I have 3 girls and 2 boys? Will I adopt?

In any case, it is interesting how many goals are coming true, but manifesting themselves in ways that are different than I imagined at 16. I am definitely thankful to God for the road he has led me on and am excited for the road that is to come!

P.S. I put the note in a safe place and will check back on it in 5 more years.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

His Love Deep Down In My Heart

Today David and I had the opportunity to attend a seminar on missional living in Portland. The seminar was generally inspiring - many pastors and young adults with a heart for transforming their community and taking a new approach of ministering to others. The main point of the meeting (as I understood) was that mutual relationships are essential to effective ministry as well as paying attention to the many community assets that always exist.

I enjoyed hearing people's hearts for ministry and building relationships with their neighborhoods and making a positive impact for the kingdom, but I felt something was amiss. If this was a secular meeting, I would say it was amazing and fully covered every base possible. However, given that this was a meeting of Christians looking to minister to the community, I felt the most basic element was somehow lost.

Christians who have been transformed and impacted by Christ's redeeming love have something that no secular organization or person can create or develop. No theory or structure can transform a life as much as the beautiful and powerful love of Christ.

It seems so simple, we sung about it at Sunday school all our life, maybe even took it forgranted most of our lives - but if we think about it - as Christians, the only way we are able to pour out our energies and love on each other and have passion for justice and relationship is because of the love that Christ put in our hearts. Apart from Christ, we are nothing, and our energies and passions would reveal it.

This simple truth may be easily forgotten, but if one is truly seeking to minister, they will soon realize that they NEED to draw strength from the Lord. Apart from Christ, our own minds and bodies will fail - especially if we are developing relationships with people.

I believe every individual was created by God in His image and has a lot to offer this world, believer or not. I believe it is absolutely necessary to build relationships with those around us, regardless of their beliefs or attitudes - it is our calling to love, serve, and share God's love. How this looks - of course depends on the context, but as Christians seeking to live out the Kingdom, we must remember where our direction, life, and love comes from. We must remember what separates us from the world and why we are doing what we are doing.

This is definitely something that I have and will continue to ponder as we continue the ministry God has called us to at Barberry.

Friday, June 26, 2009

June Reflection

The end of June already? Incredible! These past two months have been a time of joyous transition that inevitably made me lose all sense of time - but I don't mind :) I've gotten married (wedding planning stress no more!) and began building our new home with my wonderful husband. We've had a lot of fun visiting Home Depot and seeing our garage sale purchases finding their perfect fit in our apartment. Of course, its only been 2 weeks since our wedding - we still have a lot to do (anyone know where to find a sweet entry/console table?), but we are satisfied with what we have. We are definitely looking forward to entertaining our friends at our home and practicing the wonderful art of hospitality!

On another note - today, I was pondering what to make for brunch with the limited groceries that lay in my fridge. We had a lot of leftover pita bread from the wedding that I figured I might as well use. I was craving a sandwich - and behold a pita sandwich was born. It turned out quite delicious I must say :) Here's the details of what I used - but do experiment! (and let me know how yours turns out!)

-1 slice of pita bread
-Lightly spread pita bread with Mayo
-Generously shred cheese on pita bread
-add 2-3 peices of sandwich turkey ham (or your fave meat)
-Microwave for 25 seconds for cheese to melt
-Add your fave veggies, mine were: cucumbers, tomatoes & lettuce.
-Fold up the pita bread into a taco/wrap style and walla!

Delicious, quick & easy - just the way I like it!

And now, back to the laundry.. :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Ever wonder how techno music came to be? This video explains everything..


Ice-cream for 31 cents?!

Yes! Today only - Weds. April 29th, Baskin Robbins will be selling small scoops of ice-cream for 31 cents! :D

(Thanks to Frugal Living for the heads-up).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth day thoughts..

Incomprehensible beauty surrounds me as I drive down I-84
What for did God choose to bless us Oregonians with the gorge?

The sunrise awakens the city
The rain refreshes the land
The suns rays cover the city with warmth and light
At night the stars sparkle and moon shine with peace.

Yes, there is pain and a lot of hurt in this land
Many people hungry, crying, slowly dying
But the majesty of the Lord beckons with each sunrise
Each sunset, in its wonderful array of colors sings God's love for us.

We are spoiled, blessed beyond measure by the God who loves
And with His love, He gave us the gift of His creation
Not to worship, but to adore
And find joy in the intricacies of God's creativity.

This Earth day, and all days of the year, I encourage you to look outside and see the beauty. See the beauty and see the Creator who made the beauty.

How does it feel?

I cannot adequately describe the beauty, the majesty of God in His creation, but Praise God for it!

And in celebration of God's awesome imagination in His creation, why not drink a Jones Soda!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring - ride a bike!

In honor of good weather, saving the environment, and the good old bicycle..

David showed me this video claiming it is a classic American staple. I never heard of the song until David started riding his bike to work and singing this song. I like it - glad to continue being Americanized (and realizing how un-American-cultured I am!).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Kind of Coupon

I confess - I am a lover of bargains and free stuff. But really, who isn't?! Some people are really good at this and take it a serious level - clipping coupons and saving bank left and right, which someday I hope to be proficient in as well - but in the meantime, clipping coupons remained a fantasy.

UNTIL I came across the new kind of coupon that I could definitely roll with..

Believe it or not, but if you text the word "Roasted" to 74700 you will get a free roastburger w/ purchase of drink coupon sent right to your phone. No catch - just show Arby's your text message and you will get your free burger.

David and I took advantage of this the other day, and boy did we LOVE the Roastburger. This is definitely a deal worth trying.

And please, spread the love.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Day of Rest

Sometimes I think God uses illness to slow us down and give us the break we need, but don't let ourselves have. In this busy world where doing as many things as possible, producing as much work, being productive is a key value, it is easy to just overload and not think about taking things slow and spending time with loved ones.

I admit - these past weeks, months, I've been reckless. My time spent at my family's house consisted in mornings and nights, in an out, no time to talk or spend time with my parents or brothers. Granted we would catch each other in the mornings or before bed, but I have really gotten out of sync of the daily routine. Of course, getting married in 93 days, I suppose it is time for me to start the transition, but I also find myself nostalgic for family moments.

And thus, during my 24 hour stomach bug, I got out all of our family pictures and began working on the scrapbook of my youth. Of course, one could argue I could have done much more productive things with my time (akawork on one of the 3 or 4 essays I have to write due next week), but I am pretty happy with my choice to do something leisurely, for once :P

Looking at all the pictures, my brothers and mom came in the room and we reminisced of the days of old. It was a lot of fun looking at our life transition, coming to America, living with a huge backyard, moving to the suburbs, growing up.

Reminiscing. It was great. But it also spawned great conversation on transitions and seasons of life. Life is constantly moving. It never stands still. There are times we really like, that are very comfortable, and we wish we could stay in them forever. Too bad. The beautiful of life is that it is constantly changing - God never lets us stay too comfortable for too long. He likes to mix things up, push us to reach greater heights. We can't be receivers forever, there comes a time to give, and then when we gave all we have, we receive again. Its beautiful.

And thus, the Circle of Life:

Monday, March 9, 2009

Baggu Grosgrain Guest GIVEAWAY!!!!

I will be honest, I have a weakness for bags - especially bags with function and style. That's why when I saw this, I was super excited - a chance to win these gorgeous bags from Baggu!
Baggu Grosgrain Guest GIVEAWAY!!!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lose Control

The other day David and I were browsing through this years Eurovision contestants, and I gotta admit, I have found my favorite. Who knew a guy laying on the street singing could make for an awesome video?! It really makes the song so much stronger.

Waldo's People - Lose Control

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Complexity of education

There is something that must be said for all the teachers, educators, mentors, after school activity leaders and youth workers who put in much unnoticed and under-appreciated effort. I am not talking about the teacher who does not get recognized by parents or other staff, I am talking about the teacher, mentor, youth worker who does not notice or appreciate what they do themselves.

It is of course easy, and in some respect healthy to be aware of ones own pitfall and needed areas of improvement, but for the people who are loving on youth, teaching them to believe in their own abilities, teaching that mistakes are a part of life, explaining and showing that everyone is unique with their own strengths and weaknesses, being aware of the human spirit - the teacher must remember, these same truths apply to himself as much as they apply to the students.

The realities of life do not change for someone who becomes an adult or an educator. The same realities exist, no matter the age. Life is messy. Relationships are messy. Circumstances are messy. We do the best we can, but sometimes things are out of our control. We do not always see the impact of what we are doing and we will always feel we could do better.

What now? Do we wallow in our inadequacies and beat ourselves up for all of our failures (failures that only we see in ourselves!)? Never! Even if there is room for improvement (which there always is), it is important to remember that you are human and you are learning. Life is a process. If an educator or mentor stops believing in their own abilities and stops being confident and positive, their attitude will rub off on the students. Youth pick this kind of stuff up fast. It is especially important to live what you teach! It is when you stop believing in what you are teaching that what you are teaching becomes ineffective.

Teachers, mentors, youth workers, activity leaders, must remember that what they are doing is important! You are not doing it for the money - you really care. And your care manifests in ways you cannot even imagine. You may not see the fruit of your work today - you may not see it tomorrow - but you are not producing widgets - you are helping build people. People do not live in a vaccuum that you solely control. People live in a system, with many influences, and you are one of the people who is showing warm light into the child's life. That is amazing and has more impact than any structured lesson or super organized activity can produce.

Be yourself. Love. Do your best. And don't beat yourself up if it doesn't work out as you imagined, because reality is - most things in life are not as you imagined! Live what you teach.

It has been my personal realization over the years (and I am still realizing and fighting it myself) but we are often our own toughest critics. We must realize we cannot make life perfect or solve all of the world's problems. We can only live, shine our light, love, and do our best. The rest is not in our hands and we must be willing to let go and realize the rest is in God's hands. He created mankind and he cares about mankind. It is not our place to make things grow. We plant, we water, we nurture, but in the end, it is the heavenly father who makes the plant grow. Sometimes we get to see the fruit, sometimes we don't. It's okay. We must always be still and know that God is God!

And what an awesome reality to live in!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Almost insane, but not quite

There is strength in a man
A friend
A lover
Someone who is there to cover
You when you are low
Someone who can know
That you can do better
The circumstance of life is
In craziness of winter
Hustle and bustle
He knows you have the muscle
To get through it.

And he never gives up. This is how I get through the craziness of life. With the faithful, loving, and enduring support and love from the love of life, David Knepprath. There have been times in the past couple months where I felt I was at the end of my rope - when I felt I had to give up on something and just fail. Yet God has given the amazing gift of a true friend, a true love - someone who, despite the craziness of his own life will sacrifice and do whatever he can to make life easier for me. Love. I am still comprehending the awesomeness of this blessing God has given me. Ahh! Overwhelming but amazing!

And by the way ... 116 days until I am married to the most wonderful man in the world. I have no idea how I scored with this one, but I'll take it! :P

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Why am I so blessed?

So much is wrong in life
It's filled with sorrow and strife
So many hearts are crying
Children are always dying

Yet I stand so blessed

I have more than my portion
Comfort, peace, and love
Knowledge of salvation
Hope and inspiration

Why am I so blessed?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tips for a wonderful dentist experience..

If you are anything like me, then visiting the dentist is not a time of fun and relaxation. If anything, it is stressful, tense, and generally awkward and uncomfortable. When I found out I had to get a root canal with no nitrus, I nearly had a heart attack. But thankfully, with some good tips, and of course prayer, the experience was painless and actually quite relaxing.

Here is what I believe makes for a good dental experience.

1. A friendly dentist with whom you connect. Look into their eyes, if they can give you good eye contact, smile, and show sympathy for your dental phobia, awesome! If they can make you sigh a sigh of relief and feel that you can survive, even better!

2. IPod. It is probably a scientific fact that the sound of the dental drills increasee anxiety, so bring something to distract from the eeiry sound. Only you know what tunes give you a sense of relaxation, so turn them up!

3. Sunglasses. There is no need to look at what the dentist is doing, those sticks and drills, needles, etc, are freaky. Just close your eyes, put on them shades and listen to your tunes. Remember, the dentist has compassion, it was written all over their face :)

4. A blanket. Many people get cold in the dental office and they do have blankets in stock. Not only do blankets give warmth, but they also provide for a sense of security, that will calm your anxieties.

5. And finally, take some Valerian herbs. These herbs are awesome - all natural, and will calm your nerves. Take it a little bit before the procedure and mixed with all the above, you will feel like you are taking a nap, even though there's a construction site in your mouth. Plus, it has no side effects.

Thanks to all my friends, mom, and dentist for helping me have a wonderful dental experience! And the noodles were perfect! ;)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cost of Snow

Everyone wishes for a white Christmas, and this year Portland got it! And for some reason not too many people are rejoicing and shouting with glee - finally. Instead, many are muttering under their breath about the many potholes and ruined streets as a result of the storm and driving on them. It was a great year, and I did enjoy the snowy break - made for a nice break and some creative driving experiences, but the department of transportation is not rejoicing.

For a city that mainly deals with rain this time of year, the unprecedented week and a half long snowstorm caused for some hefty costs - Portland spent $2 million to de-ice, plow, and keep the roads cleared (and people still complained, geesh! give big brother a break! :P) which will only be added to the $422 million maintenance backlog and $500 million deferred paving backlog.

Yep, snow for Christmas is nice, but at these prices, will we continue dreaming of a white Christmas?

I will ;)
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