I loved getting to spend time with some of my best friends and just feel complete at home and myself from the second I landed to the time that I left.
When I arrived in Oakland, I had a whole CREW of people who cheered me into the baggage claim area. The funniest was Blabe holding a sign that said "Welcome to America", even though I had seen her a week before in SoCal. Oh, Blabe! And Cameron, oh my goodness, he is so big, he came running up to me and gave me a big hug! It's crazy how much someone can grow in 6 months. He is going to be going into Kindergarten in just a couple of weeks! After landing, we met up with Lauren, Joanna, and T at FENTON'S...one of my favorite ice cream places in the world! So yummy! It was an awesome night!
The whole trip, I was able to stay in my old house in East Menlo. It was so fun to just be "home" there. Katie is going to be moving in soon, so I had a room to myself to spread out all my stuff that I've been collecting for City of Refuge. It was nice to have a little space to myself, though I didn't have a ton of time to just hang by myself this week.
Throughout the week, I got to hang out with my friends (mostly Jenni, Katie, Bristol, Gina, Kirsten, Lauren, and the occasional Kolding or Blaber), do little adventures (like Filoli and Billy Elliot in the City), catch up with people I haven't seen for a year (like my school friends Tami, Michelle, Rosa, Carla and Debbie and their kiddos, and Serena and Colleeen), have one-on-ones (with some faves like Debbie Anderson, Jill Bigelow, and Carol Lee), and talk about City of Refuge to PCC'ers (at church, my open house, to the interns, and at my Celebrate and Pray). It was a full 10 days, but a fulfilling time! I definitely filled my quality time quota!
I just love my friends from PCC. They are some of the most supportive and encouraging people that I have in my life. Through thick and thin, these ladies have walked through it all and I'm so blessed to know them. Below is a picture of our small group and our trip to Disneyland last year. We took Cameron for his first trip to the big D and it was a blast!
This past weekend, I took a trip with these girls (plus Kirsten, my roomie!!!--and minus Lauren who was at home in Ohio with her fam for the weekend) to a cabin up near Twain Harte. It was awesome to just get away with a few of my best friends.
Here are some things that I LOVE about these ladies:
Jenni is the first girl in the line-up above and I also found this great picture of her below as well. She was a hall-mate back in our old Hope days, and then we got to know each other much better in a prayer group that we were a part of my senior year. I love being encouraged by her (totally her gifting), living out life, the depth of her character, the ways that she challenges me, and the ways that she makes me laugh. There have been many nights in the Ivy house where chasing her around the house was my source of entertainment...and she loves to make me squeal with all of my touch issues (like when she nuzzles my neck...sick). I also love Jenni's heart for the poor and the work that she is doing in EPA. She makes me so proud when I hear of all that she is doing through her organization. So amazing!
Bristol and Cameron are a matched pair and are the next two in the pic from our D-land trip. I first met Bristol when she was in my small group the summer she found out she was pregnant. I was continually amazed by her faith, her wisdom beyond her years, and her joy as she walked through that season of her life. Now, Bristol is still continually amazing me as she works hard to provide for Cameron, the ways that she loves and supports him, the grace that she shows others, and the pure boldness and passion she has for life. I have gained even more respect for her as I have been taking care of Edwin through the course of these past few months. Let me just tell you, being a mom is HARD WORK...which I'm sure I don't need to tell you, but Bristol is doing a wonderful job with her little man! And I loved getting to see her in action these past few days at the different event promoting 7 Continents. I am just so glad to have her as a friend.
Katie is the next one in the picture...the shortest one! I met her sister Lauren first when we were on the internship together in 2005. Lauren kept telling me that I reminded her of her older sister and when Katie came out in 2007, she became a fast friend. Katie is funny, kind, thoughtful, and has a beautiful servant-heart. We've worked in a lot of different ways together--as roommates (the loudest summer of my life), as co-workers (Bible Time), when she volunteered in my class every week (so grateful for all that she did and the difference she made in a few struggling readers!), as a partner in life change (weight watchers friend), play attender (season passes!), and then she came out to Ghana to help plan our summer camp. She is an amazing support and friend and I am so blessed to have in her in my life!
The last one in our pictures is Gina Leung. Gina is an ex-Ivy Houser and I got to know her through PCC stuff. She is super atheletic, enjoying hiking and camping and all those outdoorsy things, and she loves soccer. When Gina joined our small group, I got to know her even more! She is AWESOME! She is hungry for more of God, loves to encourage others, is swift to help out wherever she is needed, is funny, is super smart (chemist...hello!), and is more of a risk-taker than you'd think (just ask her about her 30th birthday!).
Below are a couple of pictures of Lauren and I. I couldn't just leave it to one because they were too funny!
These pictures really do express Lauren's and my relationship! We met the summer of 2005 when we did the internship together. Then, we came back in 2006 to lead the internship with Kat and Isaiah Whelpley (crazy summer, but some of my favorite life moments came from our times together as a leadership team). Lauren frequently says that she is her most craziest self when she is around me and it is probably the same with me around her. She is hilarious, talented, passionate, strong, and a solid friend. I love having Lauren on my team. She expresses things in ways I would never have thought of before and challenges me to think bigger! I love that she is still a part of my life 6 years later! Wow!
Last, but certainly not least, is my roommate Kirsten. I love this girl! She has so much passion and talent wrapped up in who she is and she challenges me to try even harder with my music. I met Kirsten when we interned together with the Flipside (taking it back to the old days) at PCC. It was so fun to get to know her there and then to get to share the SoCal connection (her at Azuza and me in Fullerton). Little did I know that I'd be living with her just a couple of years later. She has a passion for those trafficked into the sex trade, she works hard on allowing others to hear what she has to say through her music, and is constantly working on something new. She's totally artsy, whether through painting or scrapbooking or sewing or hats, this girl doesn't have a non-artsy bone in her body. She is so creative! And she is so giving. She completely re-wardrobed me when I left NorCal so that I'd be ready for my next teaching year. So awesome and a gift I would have never given myself! She is just an awesomely special friend!