Back in the Bear

I got back to Big Bear last night thanks to Pathtor at Enterprise Car Rentals. His name is actually Pastor with the emphasis on the 'tor' but the girl who told me his name had a lisp. I will always think of him as Pathtor. It sounds like the name for a science fiction planet in a galaxy named something like Thwarcon! God is so good and faithful for getting me back here safely.

I will be posting pictures when I get the picture cd back from the store around July3rd-ish. I am praying that I will be able to get a place to live in Geneva within the next two weeks so I can stop paying rent on the room here and start working and paying rent in my new home. Please keep me in your prayers. I want only God's will for my life and I believe it is in Illinois. I already miss Susan and Alex and Mary and little Maddy. I really bonded with them so much and my heartstrings are stretched all the way from there to here now. It's amazing to me how kind and loving they are...I kept wanting to poke them and say, "Are you for real?" My greatest desire right now is to be the best performer I can be in that band and to be a good friend to all of them. I am so blessed to have been given this chance. I feel honored and privileged.

I really want to see Danielle, Laura, and Skye. I will see Janina tonight and right now I am gonna chill with mom some more and then head over to Uncle Joe's. I just praise GOD ABOVE! All these amazing people who I have the privilege to love!! He truly has blessed me. HALLELUJAH!!!


Day 10 Chicago

Yesterday Alex, Wil and I played from about 10:00am-ish until 10:00pm-ish. We finished three songs and really put eachother through an interesting assortment of emotions. It was such a learning experience and the songs came out really great. I wish I never had to leave so that we could do that all the time. I mean, the SONGS! I truly love them just like I love rocky road ice cream or bubble baths. They will be a fine reward to a hard days work at the local supermarket, if that's the job I get out here.

I am going home tomorrow. Home is always Big Bear but I have already come to think of Illinois as my new home. You should see the trees out here! Big Bear's trees are soooo lacking. And the Weiss family has been so good to me it's hard to believe I haven't known them my whole life. It does seem a little surreal to fit so well somewhere so quickly that I'm half expecting them to unzip their human clothes to reveal their true identities as angels or aliens. What I am really wondering is, what will I do to finally make them say, "Oh! Sorry. We don't like ya after all. Thanks for playing. Have a nice life." I mean, do people ever get a long this great, this quickly? All I gotta say is: God is GOOD. I pray that He will provide my shelter and money and daily bread for when I move out here so that I never burden my new friends. They are choice people, man! I mean, USDA prime cut top sirloin people! And, yeah, they are rubbing off on me. Sometimes I talk in a southern Ohio accent (Susan) and sometimes it's Chicagoan (Alex) or sometimes I just bleat like a sheep. Either way I am always laughing or looking amusedly perplexed. Maybe there's a catch somewhere, or maybe God is really going to use this team for something big. Stay tuned as the mystery unfolds!

I miss Big Bear like I miss self-inflicted pain. But I miss my mom and Janina like I somehow left half my heart in Sugarloaf and the other half in Bear City. It will be good to see my girls again. I don't even want to think about what it will be like to leave them in California indefinitely. I'll do that when the time comes. Tomorrow I board the plane and say bye-for-now to my new favorite people. But I'll be Arnold....I mean, I'll be back.


Day 7 Chicago

What a crazy few days! On Tuesday I hopped on the Metra to downtown Chicago all by myself. It was an hour ride through green and ghetto areas. This Illinois place is really diverse in many ways. When I got off the train, the plan was to find the Red Line train and take it north to Alex's friend (and now my friend) Jimmy's house. So I go to the Metra counter and ask for a Red Line ticket. He says he doesn't do that there. So I am like, where the eff is the red line then? A very nice young man came up and said, "Are you looking for the Red Line?" I thought to myself, I love this part of the country. People actually see other people around them, not like L.A. where people can't see past their own noses unless they are looking down them at someone. So he told me how to get to the Red Line and I totally thought I understood him. I thought it was just a block or so away. After asking a few more people where it was and calling Jimmy, I ended up about ten blocks from the Metra Union Station where the Red Line was. A little farther of a walk than I anticipated. But, I got to experience the city and travel through it's pedestrian arteries with all the other Chicago humans. I tried desperately not to look like a tourist. I swung my arms and looked straight ahead, fighting the urge to examine every new face.

Finally, I found the Red Line. The entrance was underground for alas, it is a subway. My first purposeful ride on a subway. Instead of taking the escalator I took the elevator which just about killed me with it's pee smell. I am glad I am not in a wheelchair. It seems like every corner in every large city smells like pee. No big deal, I just didn't touch anything but the down button.

The subway ride was pretty cool. I read the book Susan had let me borrow called Knowing God, a very insightful book that I wish I would have read years ago. Subway rides remind me of movies. I half expect to see Patrick Swayze as a ghost or Spiderman saving the day. On the train I could have seen Wolverine get attacked by Magneto and not been phased. After so many movies vs. actual train/subway experiences I can expect only mad drama. But it was simply click-click, intercom robot voice, stop, doors open, doors shut, zoom, click-click. When my stop came I exited and called Jimmy on my cell and he guided me to the closest intersection. It's a good thing he is like 6'9" or else I might not have seen him. We walked to the Michigan Lake beach and took off our shoes at the edge of the sand. It was alarmingly hot on the sand but when we got to the water the cool, tiny waves were soothing. The small waves splashed fresh water constantly and little kids were careful of the undertow as they waded. We walked the wet sand to a little pier and ran across the hot sand this time, both of us trying not to be blistered. I took a few pictures there and then we walked back to his apartment.

His 5-year girlfriend is a wonderful artist, and though she was gone when I was there, I felt like I knew her a little though her paintings. I wish I had taken some photos of them, but I was too engrossed in the story of Jimmy's life to think about much else.

We walked to an organic hippy restaurant and got burritos. I ordered the Buffalo burrito and devoured it as soon as we got back to his place. The singer of his band showed up and we all shot it until about 6:20pm or so. Then Jimmy walked me to the Red Line and we said our goodbyes. All was peachy, all was grand and Susan picked me up at the Metra station to take me back to the house.

Yesterday morning I woke up with a churning brick of hell in my stomach. I drank a little coffee and that was just the thing I needed to throw up the entire buffalo burrito into the toilet. I spent the rest of the day nursing my stomach and trying different foods. By dinner I was able to force down some fettuccine alfredo (I figured it would be the least disturbing thing to see floating in the toilet bowl if it came to that) and some water with lemon at Olive Garden. We watched "Hostage" with Bruce Willis (he wasn't in the room with us, but he was in the movie. teehe)and went to bed. I think it was food poisoning because I felt fine this morning and am polishing off a cherry coke as I type this. Plus, I just beat Susan at arm wrestling and will help her and Mary set up for their garage sale in a minute. Susan has informed me that there will be a rematch on the arm wrestle. :)

Tonight we are suppose to go see a guy named Dave perform somewhere and that will be good. Tomorrow and for the whole weekend it will be kids, kids, and more kids. Hopefully I will get to write again before I get on the plane home. It is so sweet to be in the mid-west.


Day 4 Chicago

Last night I saw my FIRST FIREFLY!!! It was a major event and i was so glad I was on the phone with my girl, Janina from Big Bear. She was in the middle of a sentence and I was like, "GASP! I think I just saw a firefly!" She shared my awe and wonder and in my heart I tripped out on God and His creativity. He is such the cool God, me love Him...

The last couple of days have been filled with kids. Alex's other three kids came over yesterday and the day before that we jammed with the drummer Wil. He is a phenomenal drummer. We ended up writing another song, the three of us. Our sound is going to be pretty heavy hitting and big. I was tearin it up and so were the boys. Today I will meet Mike, the bassist and Jimmy, the producer-slash-musician-slash-pro dude. I don't know how much they will be involved in the long run but if they could only hear us with Wil they would want to be.

I have a paper and am going to start looking for deals on housing and jobs. This is the part where God's gotta help me. But I have been ecstatic with joy since I got off the plane because of God's provisions so far. He has really blessed this whole experience. We pray before every practice and after breaks, and we pray on our own when things get tough in the communication area. God's glory shines in our hearts regularly. This is a crucial time for all of us musically. God wants this project to have His name written all over it, in blood. The truth is, we couldn't do any of this without Him and He lets us know. HALLELUJAH! God is going to rock the HOUSE!

Ok, more later. I gues I will be visiting, WI and D.C. in the future, guys. ;) I love you, my people. HUGGIES and KISSIES. Pictures to come!

Diana fo fanna


Day 2 Chicago

I have been in Illinois now since Thursday night and it has been totally great, yo. I am right outisde of Chicago in the land of Geneva which I just found out was settled by Swedes. They are about to have a big ol' festival this weekend. Alex, Susan, and baby Madison have gone to pick up the drummer an hour and a half away. Then we'll go over to the other pad and jam. We are writing a song!

Last night we went to the Double Door club and saw three bands play. It was so loud that I could feel my brain rattling and the bass actually shook my clothes. The first band was really great, they were called Baby Teeth. But the next two were irreverant noisemakers who were big on shock and gyration. It reminded me of the town in the Pilgrim's Regress where people would do ludicrous acts as performance art and people would applaud and be moved. The bands had quite the following, but they were probably all deaf anyway. I know they were all drunk, for sure. God love 'em.

I totally want to move here. I have another week or so and I doubt my love for this place will lessen. Alex and Susan and mother Mary have been so good to me. I really hope someday I can repay them. I pray that it happens...


Most of All, Jesus

Jesus. Nicotine. Starting Over.

I'm waiting for clothes to wash & dry, cell phone battery to die, Thursday's plane rides, and mysteries of my future to unfold before me. In the meantime I would like to ponder the ever-ingenious comments of the lovely Kelsye Nelson. I am honored that the first thing she thought of when it came to what I like was Jesus. I am doubly honored that she thought of me as the friend she loves. All the way from Japan!! If only I could forget myself and go be by her side in that foreign land...maybe someday.

So, Diana likes...
I'll save that one for last.

Yes I like it, from cigarettes. But I hate it, too. It is like the boyfriend that I have broken up with a hundred times who just won't leave my mind. So I keep going back to him, knowing I will get exactly what is expected: headrush, familiar tastes and smells, comfort through my olfactory by stimulating fond memories, shortness of breath, $5 gone from my purse every other day, butts all over my car, irrepressible longing that leads to short fingernails and clenching teeth, and last but not least: something to look forward to after the boring process of eating a meal. I suppose it's better than going back to an actual boyfriend that may not smell bad and who may possibly buy me a thing or two, but who will inevitable cause cancer in my soul. Nevertheless, I will leave ol' Nic forever when he starts to hinder the singing process. I have a feeling that will be soon *cough cough*.

Starting over.
I have moved seventeen times in nine years (since I turned eighteen) and that's not counting the trips back home, exhausted with disappointment. That counts any time I had to move myself and my belongings to a new living situation. Each time I have managed to downsize my pile of stuff which I am happy about. If I move to Chicago I plan to take only the bare minimum like: official records, important writings, small memorabilia, and etc. The thing about being a gypsy is you must downsize what you need to carry. It is an art and coming from a family of packrats I have yet to get it down. But moving 2,000 miles may be just the thing I need to perfect this lifestyle.
Yeah, I love starting over. But not just with my environment. I have loved starting over in obsessions, relationships and hairstyles too. I have chopped my long hair nearly to my scalp twice, dyed it as many colors as I could get away with, and am currently just ignoring it most of the time. I won't get into the relationships I have started from 'scratch'. But imagine my glee at the thought of being born again! You can only start over that way once, however. Thank heavens.
Despite my efforts I have found that you can't truly start over at all. You can only stop and look at past failures and try not to do them again if the scenery starts to look familiar. The one thing I have had many false starts with (and many dead ends, by the grace of God) is music. I have finally devoted it to the Lord, along with the rest of me. Which brings us to...

Do I like Him? 'Like' isn't the word exactly, as Kelsye knows, but I am still giddy that He's the first 'like' she thought of associated with me. Oh boy do I looooove Him. I am obsessed with Him. My idea of paradise is sitting at His feet in the Kingdom just basking in His love for me! I was listening to a song at church yesterday about grace. It was something like "i'd be on a road to nowhere if it weren't for grace" and I almost cried and blubbered right there in church. But I stopped myself because crying would have attracted unwanted attention to myself, plus I had no kleenex and my sleeves weren't long enough to wipe with. I was so overwhelmed by the realization that God is responsible for the grace He has given me and the grace He will give me. Whatever I am able to do, God has enabled me to do it. When Jesus was praying and sweating blood before they crucified Him, Luke writes that an angel came and strengthened Him(Luke 22:43). Maybe physically, so that He would shed the required amount of blood by living through the gashes and hours on the cross. Maybe it was to strengthen His heart because it ached terribly with the thought of the agony ahead. In any case, He prayed more fervently after the angel strengthened Him! All so He could die for me, so I could be with Him. The more I learn about my God, the more I find His unfailing love for me. He thinks about me and watches the details of my silly life. He gives me the attention I have hungered after since I was born. He lavishes me with it, giving me gift upon gift until I can do nothing but burst with tears of joy. My allegiance is to King Jesus, who is also my one true love and dearest friend.

Sometimes I wonder how all this can be. I have never seen Him with these tired, blinking eyes or felt Him with my dry, calloused hands. My ears have never heard the voice of Jesus, not these ears that have cartilage and waxy residue. My lips have never kissed His precious feet, my nose has never smelled His robe. But I love Him as if I wake up next to Him every morning! How can this BE?

I have an idea. There is a quality about all human love that is not part of this physical realm. There is an indescribable experience with any human exchange. It's an experience that people attribute to physical observations and mental associations. But some things should be attributed only to the spiritual. God set eternity in the hearts of men. When Jesus' spirit was breathed into my soul, suddenly is came to life! There was no physical change or immediate mental clarity or enlightenment when I was baptized. The water was cold and wanted nothing more than to feel God's presence. It was in that moment that grace began in my life. Jesus introduced Himself and my soul was born again. I used to get sad because I couldn't see Him or hear Him with my ears. I used to pray to be freed from this mortal containment so I could be unhindered in my love for Him. But I realize that He is here, and so very HERE. When I reach out to Him with my soul I sense His embrace and with it a love I could never describe. My body continues it's processes of digesting, thinking, and aching but my soul speaks to my heart and I usually cry with my eyes. My mind tries to wrap itself around the experience but it just does something like,"Oh Jesus, Jesus Jesus jesus I love you I love you thank you what am i that you should love me..." Then it recalls all the words I remember from Psalms, praise and worship songs, Job, Jesus, and so on. Even as I write this I am closer to understanding what is not easily understood with the mind. I almost don't want to understand it because I know any mental version of that big of a truth won't be all of it. The whole revelation won't fit! So I am content with dedicating every moment of my life to Jesus, even if it seems like a lame attempt to express my gratitude.

Jesus, I am yours, body and soul. It's not much, but hey! You'd know better what to do with it than I would. Repair the rough spots whenever and however You like if You even want to. I am a fixer-upper, Lord and I must say I like what You've done with the place so far. Sometimes there's nothing but joy. I'm like, "That's ME? In You I am not a manipulative codependent!" And I just rest in His love and roll with the changes. HALLELUJAH AGAIN!


Slaves to Feelings

I don't know why, but something hit me today. People don't like it when we change on them. When I respond differently to something they say or do, they ask me, "Are you alright?" Or they look at me funny or else they are suddenly walking on eggshells around me. I am sure they are doing it with good intentions, because they don't want to hurt my feelings. But honestly, should we all be so agreeable that we can't talk about anything more exciting than shopping trips and car troubles? I really appreciate the effort people go to in order to baby my feelings, but it actually annoys me more and ruins my day faster when people act like I am a bomb waiting to go off. "Is that okay? I could do this, or this. Which would you prefer?" I would prefer that you just do what you want and if you step on my toes I'll let you know. I'll say, "You are stepping on my toes." My feelings won't be hurt, my toes will live, all is forgiven, let's get on with life.

Why do people think I have a short fuse? I must have been such an emotional whore at some point. And perhaps it's because I have been so agreeable and have babied other people's emotions for so long. Now that my current goals in life are more important that what other people suggest, I only take into account what is helping me towards those goals, even when it comes to me feelings. Not because I am selfish, but because I want to bring glory to God. I realize now that the only way by which I see fit to do these things is with the gifts God has given me. But I must invest them wisely and not cast pearls before swine. So I am not going to jump at every opportunity to sing. I can do anything I put my mind to, just like anyone else with a mind. Now that I know what I want, it seems like people are putting dozens more choices in front of me. Maybe that's why I look like I have a short fuse. I'm just not interested in buying what people are selling anymore. I don't even show interest because I don't want to waste their time. I am saving my talents for a wise investment that God leads me to. If it is 2,000 miles away, then I am there!

Ot just makes me sad that all I have to do is look at someone in a different way than their use to for them to be hurt. I am hungry for a fresh start. I truly love my friends and family, but it's so disheartening to think that I have been taking care of so much of their emotional life for so long. I really don't want that responsibility. I want to be myself without having to worry if that is hurting someone else! Who I am in Christ is kind, gentle, joyful, patient, self-controlled, peaceful, and good. But being those things doesn't mean I will be liked by everyone. I can be really kind to a person and if they think they know me, they may decide that the look I had or the tone of voice I had was unkind. Like I had some kind of hidden meaning behind it. I can't be any more gentle and kind without being plastic! I smile and put them at ease. I listen to them and don't look judgingly at them. I keep myself from blurting out ideas in the middle of their sentences. I really want them to feel loved...

The truth is, people will feel what they are programmed to feel. People will feel what they want to feel. And people will listen to their feelings as if they are the very bread of life. I know people do it, because I have done it. Women are more susceptible to being ruled by emotions but men are not immune, especially creative men like those in my sphere of influence. So if emotional slaves are feeling defensive, nothing I say will help them to feel loved. Nothing from my own mouth, that is. But the Holy Spirit can pierce through the heart of their emotions and speak to them, even without my help. I just need back up when I hit a wall with people and pray, listen, and wait. If the Holy Spirit wants to speak, He will speak. In the meantime I will do my best to allow the fruits of that Spirit to shine in me.


Of myself, I am a fool. Without Christ, I am a fool. I am so glad the Holy Spirit has revealed that to me. So what can I rely on if not my intellect? I have sought wisdom for as long as I can remember. Now I focus completely on my fear of the Lord, because that's the beginning of true wisdom. But, it sure is a tough one to walk this world fearing the Lord. On one side I got people telling me that trusting in God is a cop out and on the other side I got people telling me that God is there to grant all my wishes. My reassurance is this: "...small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Could I really be in the midst of so many lost people? Of course, that was me once...

What is this postmodern so-called christianity? I am utterly dependent on God for so much, but it's not like I am a vegetable without choice or ability. He hides me under His wing when I need protection and He lights my path when I need to see. I trust Him more and more and it seems like everyone around me wants less and less to do with me. Yeah, I AM changing! DUH! Of course I'm changing! How come these people who call themselves brothers and sisters don't understand me? SHEEEEESH!

In any case, I am ranting like a maniac but it has helped me come to this conclusion: (Mark 10:29,30) "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life."

You know, it's funny... when I read that scripture in the past, I was comforted. But I missed the part about persecutions. I didn't understand it. Now I see persecutions, or at least they seem to be persecutions. It ain't fun, man. But I do rejoice and say, "You know what? Bring it!" Whatever it takes for me to get closer to God and whatever it takes for my faith to grow, just bring it. And if I ever see Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father for me like He did for Stephen, it will all be worth it. Because I am not moving from this Vine, I don't care what anyone tells me. I have been grafted on and I shall not be moved.


Rain Video by Nooma

At church today the pastor showed a video from Nooma. It is a series of ten minute illustrated sermons by this really cool dude who's name I cannot recall at the moment.

The one that we watched was called "Rain" and it was about a father taking his one-year-old on a hike with the baby in a back on his back. It was a beautiful day and the hike was picture perfect until the rain came. The narrator put the baby's hood on but didn't realize that he had pulled it off. The rain poured down, the trees shook with wind, and thunder crashed above. The baby started wimpering and then crying and the shrieking with terror. The illustration was how we can be going through life's struggles or rain and cry out to God with every ounce of us. For the baby in the story, the only thing that was his world was the storm. The baby couldn't see anything else but the horrendous experience of the storm. That is so like me...and so I wail to God.

In the story the father takes the baby off the pack and brings him around to his chest. He holds the baby and whispers over and over in his ear, "I love you buddy, we're going to make it, Daddy knows the way home." That's what we need to hear from God and He does tell us that. Even if we are still drenched and cold and scared, at least we are safe in our Father's arms and His word is reassurance that He has us. The fear goes away when we trust Him and believe that He knows the way home.

The narrator guy said a lot more amazing things in the ten minute presentation and I would highly recommend everyone buying all of the guy's dvds. The are only $10 each and right now I think there are ten of them. When I get some money I will be buying at least the first few. I was so amazed and impressed that my church showed it. It has been three weeks since I went back to that church and I am so glad I did. For some reason I just wanted the food that Pastor Don had to feed us from the Word. I don't care about the failed friendships I have experienced from the members of the congregation, though I still desire to make peace with them. I just wanted to hear what Pastor Don Foor had to say. I trusted my instincts and I heard God speak through him and through the nooma guy. Thank You Lord for reminding me that You love me, yet again. Thanks for reminding me that You know the way home.


Figging Out

In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs on it, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" And immediately the fig tree withered up. Matthew 21:18,19

Then Jesus used this illustration: "A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, `I've waited three years, and there hasn't been a single fig! Cut it down. It's taking up space we can use for something else.'
"The gardener answered, `Give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I'll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, you can cut it down.' " Luke 13:6-9

I have never eaten a fig by itself before, but I used to eat fig newton cookies all the time. That's totally not my point anyway. I have been feeling the ax at the root for a few weeks now and I have been trembling inside. I am not nervous that I may lose my salvation, but I was getting dangerously close to making mistakes I have made before. To me, that's just taking salvation for granted and disrespecting it. If I am going to learn how to be like Jesus I need to learn the important things in life like how to resist temptation and how to believe in God's sovereignty.

The first fig tree hopefully is not me. The truth is, Jesus could have made figs appear on the tree right? Or maybe He couldn't for some strange spiritual reason that the tree refused to bear miraculous fruit for Him at that moment. Well, if Jesus has full authority over God's creation and even a tree decides to be rebellious, it ceases to be a tree in that it will never bear fruit if Jesus chooses. If He can calm the storm of the sea, He can wilt a tree that is rebellious. That's assuming trees have free will of any kind. But, if the devil was in the tree then, who knows?

The second tree is me. I am pretty sure of it. I feel like I have been straining to produce fruit like a tree that should be sweating with toil, but to no avail. Actually, there may be buds here and there by now, but I know the farmer was getting frustrated with me. But the loving gardener, Jesus stood by me in my defense when I had no voice. Together Jesus and God decided to give me another chance. I am not going to waste this chance. The only way I am going to stay on the path is by reading His word. Then the light coming in through my eyes will illuminate my understanding and also light my path.

I am moving out of my mom's house today. It will be really great to get out of her hair finally. She has been so patient letting me live here and I am thankful that I was able to save some money. Now $400 a month will be going towards rent, not counting utilities. I am going to start a nifty coffee can to put my tips in from now on because I need all the extra money I can get even if it's 5 bucks a day. My tip money will go toward my trip to Chicago on the 16th or any emergencies I might have.