Thursday, December 30, 2010

ship of dreams turned Classica nightmare, part 5

(For the beginning of this story, click here.)

Allow me use this post to insert some of the events of this 6-month period that did manage to put a smile on my face:

1.  Kim and I wanted to see the Segrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona.  It had been several months since I had seen a real Christian.  We waited in line behind two Americans, I glanced at the t-shirt one of the guys wore and noticed it was a "Harvest Crusade" shirt.  These crusades are held in Orange County where I was from so I asked the guys where they were from.  They were from California and attended Calvary Chapel Downey, and knew a dear friend of mine who I went to church with, Renee.  Talk about water to a thirsty soul.  These guys prayed with me.  How I hungered to share prayer with someone.  These guys were a bright light in the midst of months of darkness.  Hallelujah!  And for bonus points, I ended up sitting behind one of these guys about a year later when I was at church!

2.  Walking into my cabin and seeing my three friends drunker than you-know-what and just as happy as can be.  I probably shouldn't have enjoyed that so much, but it was funny.

3.  A visit from my mom at just the right time when I didn't think I could hold it together much longer.  And the crazy drunk French lady at the Crocodile Cafe in Marseilles who took hair accessories off her own head and gave them to my mom, her friend, and I as gifts.  She actually sent my mom a card which my aunt (who speaks French fluently) had to translate for us.

4.  Portofino.  sigh.
My mom in Portofino.

5.  As wrong as it was, my boyfriend was a great comfort.  He knew and saw the incredible injustices toward me.

the home of Christopher Colimbus
6.  Italy.  I loved Italy.  The man who drove me from the airport to the ship was the craziest driver ever!  He waved and yelled out the window at people passing by and laughed at me when I laughed at him.  I was so thrilled to be in this place I had dreamed of but never imagined I would actually be able to visit.  I loved the blouses, jeans, and sheets strung out the windows of every building I passed by.

7.  My first day off the ship was in Palermo.  I bolted off the ship and meandered the streets and alleys and boutiques of Palermo.  I listened to the voices which seemed to be unable to speak without the assistance of hands.  I watched an old man fill a water bottle in a fountain and then he turned to give it to me as a souvenir.  I will always remember a 2-minute encounter with a beautiful Italian girl who worked a swimsuit boutique and how she talked to me and I talked to her and we couldn't understand anything, but she kissed me both sides of my all Italians do...and how when I returned home, I had the same habit which I wish I had never lost.

8.  Naples was my favorite of the three Italian ports.  I loved walking on the cobblestone streets.  I loved meeting the staff of the newly opened Disney store there and sharing a love for all things Disney with people who barely spoke my language.  I loved how the lady's eyes brightened when I told her I worked at Disneyland in California.

9.  Pompei.  A place of absolute fascination.  Did you know how totally immoral they were?  No wonder the city was wiped out so quickly!  It was comparable to Sodom & Gamorrah.  Prositution Houses and you should have seen the "artwork" on the walls in the homes.  Hellooooo!?

10.  The Arabic music played on the alleys of the Medina in Tunis.

11.  The times I would sit in on a conversation between 4-5 Italian friends and listen to the language of romance passed back and forth, wondering if I would ever learn any of it myself.

12.  Staying up into the wee hours of the night having hallway parties with the photographers who we had come to know and love so dearly.

13.  Learning to count in Italian during photo shoots as passengers loaded onto the ship.

14.  Climbing all over the fort in Marseilles with Kim.

15.  Fountains.

16.  Provence.  Need I say more?

17.  Margherita pizza in Naples.  And equally as significant, the Chinese restaurant we ate at practically every week in Naples.  The owner's Italian in a Chinese accent, and her 3-year-old daughter who sat with us four American girls and played with us.

18.  Creepy internet cafes.

19.  I bought a coat in Palermo and it was close to the time that I had to be back in the ship.  I RAN ALL THE WAY TO THE SHIP!  However, now, I sort of wish I would have missed it. It would have been nice to just walk off one day, get a hotel, and make my own way home - avoiding the drama that was to come.

20.  Cars driving on the sidewalk.

21.  The 3-lane road we had to cross to get out of the Naples port and risked our lives doing it every single time.

22.  A bitter-sweet visit from my friend, Matt, a missionary in Austria at the time and his invitation to join him on the mission field...and my refusal because I knew I had faltered by loving a non-Christian.  I often wonder what I missed while up-to-my-eyeballs in my own sin.  Could I have gone to the mission field had I kept to the straight-and-narrow?
May I digress here because I have never pondered this in-depth and think I will take the opportunity to do it now.
I love the Lord and I have a heart for people of the world.  Since I was able to experience the ship, I was delightfully introduced to people from all over the world.  People, traditions, culture, way-of-life, etc. totally fascinate me.  I love languages and desperately want to learn more.  I will entertain the idea for a moment here that perhaps the Lord was exposing me to a lost world.  As I mentioned previously, Italy is covered with churches, yet God is clearly absent.  I'm not saying He isn't omniscient or whatever, I'm just saying that in a culture where churches are on every corner, I never once in all my time abroad met a Jesus-loving Christian among them.  Kind of interesting when you think of the influence the church has had on a nation, and yet now see that other than a bunch of buildings, the church is nowhere to be seen.  And now, as I write that, I realize how our own beloved U.S. of A. is slowly fading to the same apathetic status.  Let it not be!  Let there be a revival!  And let churches put away their false teachings and traditions and cling to Jesus and the truth of God's word.

See!  Sometimes you just don't know why things happen.  I just found something else to take from my Classica experience.  I imagine God will reveal more as life goes on.  Only He knows.

Thanks for reading.  A friend recently told me how valuable these stories will one day be to my children.  So, I will just throw more of my life out there and see if it speaks to anyone else.  At the very least, learn from my mistakes! ;)

Bless you,

p.s. Click here for a related post.

ship of dreams turned Classica nightmare, part 4

(Forthe beginning of this story, click here.)

When God seems no where to be found, it is prime opportunity for the enemy of our souls to gain a foothold.  

Apparently, I had caught the eye of one of the officers on board the ship.  He was handsome and charming.  After turning him down several times, he refused to take no for an answer, so I caved "just one time" and fell in love with a man who did not love Jesus.  I thought if I went out with him a couple of times, I would remain strong and not get in over my head.  Remember lessons #3 & 4 (from my 1st post in this series)?  This is where those apply.  Previously, I hadn't dated or kissed a guy in 3 years.  I simply was waiting for God's choice.  My guard was down and I trusted myself too much.  
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.  Who can know it?" ~Jeremiah 17:9
I had been journaling and reading my Bible up to this point and only desolation seemed to be found, and more trouble from Travis which was quickly spreading through the rest of the cast save the 3 girls who stuck close by my side.  
I was blamed for everything that went wrong during the shows, I was humiliated in front of the entire cast during rehearsals, I was talked about and criticized backstage.  I was the first one to clean up my costumes after the show so I could get away from these people and Travis would lock the costume closet so I couldn't put things away.  He stopped coming on stage when he was supposed to partner me and went into a rage when I asked him about it.  His best friend pushed me off the upstage platform during an exit one night.  The situation was becoming increasingly dangerous.  In January, I had knee surgery and so I wasn't willing to risk another injury.  The day after I had been pushed, I ran into another member of the cast (that dancer's roommate) who felt the need to tear me apart in the crew dining room, and I was at my limit.  I was livid and I was loud.  The company manager, James, useless as he was, heard me and tried to get me to calm down which only ignited my anger toward him for his incredible passivity and lack of action regarding the personal attacks I had endured the previous 5 months.  Also within earshot was the newly embarked Cruise Director who is a supervisor to the cast on board.  So, you can imagine the fabulous impression I was making on her.  I spoke directly to James and told him that I felt physically threatened and would no longer dance in any of the shows until he took care of the problems that had been occurring.  
That night I received an on-board phone call from my mom (at $2 a minute on her dime) informing me that she had spoken with Peter Grey Terhune, the president of the production company (Peter Grey Terhune Presents) in Florida, and he was firing me from my contract and not telling me about it until we ported in Naples the next day where I would be disembarked from the ship.  Their reason was that by refusing to participate in the shows, I had violated my contract.  
Payday was the next day and I never saw a dime of it until they had taken all of the costs of my hotel in Naples and my flight home.  When I left the ship, I had no lira (Italian money) and only a few U.S. dollars which I was unable to exchange.  So, I was taken to a hotel, unable to purchase food, and only was able to eat when I got on the plane the next day.  I had a throbbing headache, my back was spasming so I could hardly move, never mind the incredible disappointment of not finishing what I had started and feeling like a horrible failure.  I was utterly broken-hearted.

Bitter, skeptical of everyone and everything, betrayed, and angry, and I could do nothing about it.  They had destroyed me, gotten rid of me (on my own dime), successfully painted a picture of me as a wacko, and won.

I should have suspected something was up when a beautiful non-Christian friend of mine made a cross for me to take with me with this scripture passage on it.  She gave it to me in California before I left for my cruise contract.  It turned out to be prophetic of what lay ahead of me.
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.  But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.  You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.  But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak.  For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak;  For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you." ~Matthew 10:16-20
Perhaps I should have pondered THOSE verses more in the midst of my experience.  Hindsight is 20/20.

The only positive I have ever been able to pull out of it is that I saw Italy and I loved it and I want more.  I met fascinating people from all over the world and adored them all.  I keep in touch with no one from that ship except the occasional hello from the boyfriend I had on board.  Nor do I want to have any connections.  The 3 friends I did have in the cast rejected me a year later when they saw how serious I was about the Lord and my convictions.  They called me hateful, a bigot, and told me to never contact them again and if I tried to email, they would delete the message.  This harsh response was cc-ed to many people on my own email list and so many of them responded in my defense for which I am deeply thankful.  Among them was my mom, Jamie, and Erika Huff.  The Lord truly is our defense.

And that's how it is.  I wish I could wrap this up in a nice pretty package and tie a bow on top to make it sound not as bad as it was.  But like I said earlier, I have never known why I went through this experience.  I have never known what great lesson I learned from it or how I can help another.  I have always been disappointed at my incredible failure to keep my Christian witness.

Maybe it's to not make a hasty decision no matter how badly you want it and how much you think it's God opening up the doors.  Maybe it's just to know that the world hates Jesus.  Maybe it's to not cast your pearls before swine.  Maybe it's to take heed where you stand, lest you fall.  Maybe it's not to defend yourself because sometimes it makes a bigger mess of things.  Maybe it's to endure under criticism and hatred with grace...even if it lasts a really long time and is really hard.  Maybe it's to embrace the great things in the midst of the bad.  Maybe it's to know that "vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord."

Maybe it's to stop feeling sorry for myself and know that harsh words, hurt feelings, emotional heartache, and rejection are indeed persecution, but nothing when compared to the truly persecuted church who suffers far more in various places all over the world...imprisonment, slavery, torture, and death...for successfully completing the mission I failed at in telling the world about the love and salvation of Jesus.

I don't know.  Perhaps someday I will.

But let me offer a few words of advice:
  • If you are a dancer and a Christian, don't go on a cruise ship unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have the strength and faith that can withstand the isolation and immorality that occurs there.  I am not a big party-type girl, so alcohol and sleeping around really doesn't appeal to me but it is a downfall of the majority of people on cruise ships.  They take no consideration of life outside the ship, but only live in the moment.  Ship life is not real life.
  • Never, I repeat NEVER, work for Peter Grey Terhune or for Costa Cruise Lines.  Sail on a Costa ship if you'd like but don't work for them.  The rules change once you're not in America.  We have sexual harassment laws and the like.  I had men/crew barking at me and complained and NOTHING was done.  And that was the most mild offense I experienced.  The cruise line is not managed well and there is zero accountability.  For example, we were told we'd be fired if we received 3 warnings.  Well, warnings are very easy to get.  I had 12...and I'm not typically the rule-breaking type.  I got a warning for owning an iron (brought it in my luggage from home), for taking my hair down before a fashion show, for having food in my room (even though the ship provided a refrigerator), oh and the list goes on.  Yes, I was canned but not for any of my horrific crimes against the great Costa Classica.  

Please read on for the things I am able to glean that brought me joy in the midst of a very trying time.

ship of dreams turned Classica nightmare, part 3

Me, Martha, Kim, & Amanda
For the beginning of this story, click here.)

Are you wondering why I chose the odd title for this post?  "Classica" was the name of the ship I was on.  I have other names for it, but will spare you, since there may be small children listening. ;)  It was an Italian cruise line called Costa Crociere'  "Crociere" is pronounced "krow-chee-air-eh."  We made the first "o" sound short and ended at "ch"...maybe that will help you know what we (I and my 3 friends from the cast) called it.  And, might I add, it was an accurate name.

Ok, so enough of my sarcasm and bitterness.

A detail that must be mentioned is that the original itinerary of Italy, Greece, and Croatia was changed before we boarded the ship.  Because of the war going on in Kosovo at the time, the ship was relocated to the west side of Italy, thus changing our ports to Italy (Genoa, Naples, and Palermo), Tunisia, Spain (Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona), and France (Marseilles).
My passport was delayed in coming, so when it came time for us to fly to Italy, I couldn't go (should've been a sign).  The entire cast left and I spent two days alone in of them was spent driving from Orlando to Miami so I could pick up my passport myself.

When I arrived at the airport in Italy, no one was there to meet me, and it seemed no one knew I was coming.  Speaking zero Italian, I attempted to find someone to help me.  After much fumbling through languages with a random airport worker assisting me out of his own kind heart, I finally had a ride to the ship.  I had no idea who the driver was.  Just some guy with a mini-station wagon (for lack of a better description...all Italian vehicles are miniature).  He zipped me along the highways and roads of Genoa, drove me right onto the dock where the ship was, and dropped me off at the gangway.  Thank God he wasn't some American-abducting weirdo!

Exhausted and jet-lagged, I was rushed to my room to drop off my luggage and then dragged to the theater where rehearsals were already underway.  Of course, I met with a warm welcome from the cast.  JUST KIDDING!  At least, my 3 friends (Kim, Martha, and Amanda) were happy to see me.

I have so many terrible memories of this experience that I rarely talk about it in-depth.  So, this must be a sort-of therapy for me.  It has been the one event of my life where I honestly don't know why in the world I was put in such strange circumstances.  I have an incredibly difficult time finding the "good" in the whole thing, or really any purpose.  Romans 8:28 leaves me in a curious place.  I trust that God has a reason for everything, and have resigned myself to the realization that I may never know in this lifetime why I ended up on that ship, or that I may discover it sometime in my I suppose much of my life still lies ahead of me, Lord willing.  But, still, it is a huge unknown in my earthly existence.  I often think I just made a massive mistake and maybe wanted something so bad that I jumped at the very first opportunity that came my way.

There were many nights where I would find myself on the top deck of the ship, alone, looking out over the black and dark Mediterranean as the moon reflected a streak headed straight toward me, warm wind whipping all around.  And I wondered if God knew I was there.
Did He know how betrayed and attacked I was?  
Did He know how hated I was?  
Did He lose me?  
I knew He cared...even though I never felt it.  But, I did feel a whole lot like He lost track of me.  ...a whole lot like I got on an airplane, traveled halfway around the world, and somewhere in the shuffle, like losing luggage at a layover, He lost me.
Of course, I know God doesn't lose any of us.  He is omniscient and omnipresent.  But, I felt very much like He was no where to be found.  There wasn't a single Christian on the ship and as I wandered the streets of Italy, Spain, and France and passed dozens of churches, it seemed God wasn't there, either.  (Since writing this post, I have had some encouragement from the Lord, please read about it here.)

More soon....

(Read more of this story.)

ship of dreams turned Classica nightmare, part 2

(For the beginning of this story, please click here.)

Ok, so, those of you who know me fairly well know that I am a fairly spunky, energetic girl that likes to see the cup as half-full and loves the challenge of making the most out of a situation.  And truly, until this cruise ship experience, I thought the best of people - never imagining that there are those out there who would truly be mean or wish ill upon anyone.  I genuinely LOVED everyone.  As naive as it sounds, that is how I was.  Ignorance is bliss some say and it's true.  When you think the whole world is on your side and no one is out to get you and life is all sunshine and roses, it's very easy to be positive and peppy.

I learned a few things from my time abroad:
  1. Some people really suck and hate you no matter what you do to try to befriend them.
  2. The world truly hated Jesus before they hated me and will hate me BECAUSE of Jesus.
  3. Take heed where you stand, lest you fall.  
  4. If you play with fire, you will get burned.
  5. The squeaky wheel doesn't always get the oil, sometimes it gets removed.
Ok, so on that happy note, I'll continue with my story.

The plane landed in Orlando, FL, where 2 members of my cast met me:  James, the company manager (our liaison to the production company and ship once we were on board) and Kim, my roommate for the next 6 months.  We met and chatted on the drive back to the apartment where we'd be staying the next few weeks.

My first impression of my roommate:  a bitter bad girl.  At the ripe age of about 19, she stood there looking ticked off about something and smoking a cigarette.  Lesson #6 not mentioned in the above list: don't judge a person by their appearances.  She ended up being a fantastic roommate and we were the dearest of friends for our time together.  I absolutely would NOT have survived what lay ahead of me if it weren't for her and 2 other girls in the cast who were unwaveringly on my side of the battle of rough and raging waters that, unbeknownst to any of us, lay ahead.

Without going through every intimate detail of the entire contract, I will try to summarize the high lowlights.  (This may take a few more posts.)

I was one week behind the rest of the cast in the rehearsal process so had to learn BOTH production shows in one week.  This meant I would rehearse the regular 8-hour day and then stay late with the dance captain (the person responsible for maintaining the integrity of the choreography while on board) while he caught me up on the show that had been taught the week before.
Apparently the dance captain HATED me.  The reason was a mystery to me.  I walked with him from the studio to the apartment day after day, attempting to engage him in conversation - asking him about his boyfriend, where he was from, know the just-trying-to-get-to-know-you stuff.  He would hardly look at me and would give me grunty one-word answers in a seeming attempt to not have to speak to me or become friends. Months later while on the ship and things had gotten terribly ugly, Martha, one of my few friends in the cast, said to me, "Kori, do you think he hates you because you read your Bible?  I mean, don't you think it's kind of weird?"  Well, yes, I had thought of that.  I am not shy about pulling out my Bible and reading it if I have a lunch break or whatever.  But I had worked in entertainment for several years and anyone who knew me knew how much I loved Jesus, my Bible, and my gay friends...agree with them, no; love them, oh yes!  My Biblically moral convictions NEVER hindered my love once I rid myself of personal judgment toward these who God created and loves desperately.  Truly His heart is broken over their sin (as he is over ALL sin), even if they are unaware and deceived.  No, I didn't think reading my Bible was weird, but understood that "the world" thinks it's weird.
"The cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God." ~1 Corinthians 1:18
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.  Remember the words I spoke to you, 'no servant is greater than his master.'  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.  If they obeyed My teaching, they would obey yours also.  They will treat you this way because of My name, for they do not know the One who sent me." ~John 15:18-21
Let's call the dance captain Travis, you know, since that's his name.  Travis seemed to have one mission ahead of him:  Make Kori's life a living hell and be nice to her only if it benefits me personally.  "Nice" only happened once when the cast was ticked off at the company manager and Travis needed someone who would be assertive to speak for them: enter me.  If you read this blog to any extent, you will know I am an activist for things to be "right."  And, so I was glad to be the voice for the cast to try to improve our situation.  But, other than that 5-minute interval, the rest of my time spent with the cast was filled with drama and trouble.

More to come...
click here for part 3.

ship of dreams turned Classica nightmare, part 1

I'm not exactly sure why I have always yearned to visit Italy.  I used to justify it by the fact that the apostle Paul desperately desired to return to Rome.  Whether it's an accurate comparison or not (and it's not), my life dream has been to travel to Italy and Greece and, more specifically, to Rome.
at Piazza de Ferrari in Genoa, Italy

I have attended many dance auditions.  I was one person away from working at Ocean Dome in Japan.  I have auditioned several times for Disney (of course).  I have auditioned for cruise lines and shows, etc.  Is it a fun experience?  No.  It is nerve-wracking, nauseating, horrific.

The morning of May 6, 1999, you would have found me at yet another cruise line audition at Debbie Reynolds studios in L.A.  After learning several routines and having a handful of people stare at, critique, and correct me, the casting director asked everyone except me to leave the room.

"How soon can you leave?"

"How soon do you need me?"

"We needed you last week.  Rehearsals are already in progress for a cruise in Europe.  You are quick to pick up choreography, you make the corrections when told, and we would like you to join the cast."

"I'd have to make sure my roommate is taken care of and my job is ok with me leaving so soon.  Can I call you back later?"

"Yes, call me tonight."  She handed me a folder of paperwork and her business card.


As I left the room, a friend excitedly stopped me and asked me what had happened.

I got in my car, I pulled out the folder they had given me and looked over the ship's itinerary: Italy, Croatia, Greece.  I sat in shock for a moment, then I drove to a Denny's around the corner so I could find the nearest pay phone.  I called Denise, my spiritual mentor, and my mom.

I was excited about the opportunity and nervous about my job and my roommate being taken care of.

First Stop, Disneyland.  I drove to Disney and hightailed it to the parade office.  I spoke with the choreographer to see if he would be ok with me taking this opportunity and he encouraged me to do it.  As a Disneyland Parade dancer, it is very easy to get trapped in the parade dancer role and never break free.  And very difficult to promote yourself to a higher paying entertainment job within the company.  I don't know why this is.  But only a handful of people are able to get away from parades and become a union dancer for the various stage shows in the Park.  The pay rate is significantly higher and dancers are well taken care of.  I believe David (the choreographer mentioned) knew this and encouraged me to take my dancing career to another level.  All I had to do was give two weeks notice and then fill my part in the parade for those two weeks.  Within minutes, I had the parts filled.

Next stop, home ...and a chat with my new roommate.  She told me it was no problem for me to leave.

Suddenly, within only a few hours, I was free of my commitments and able to go halfway around the world.  It seemed God was opening the doors for me to go, so I made the call to the casting director and 3 days later, on Mother's Day, I hugged my mom and family goodbye from the San Diego Airport and caught my flight to Florida where I would meet the rest of the cast and begin what I believed would be the adventure of my life.

It was an adventure, but not a good one.

Have you ever pursued something that you really thought was God's will but turned out to be one of the most horrible and traumatic experiences of your life?

The exciting and blessed time I anticipated resulted in rejection, persecution of my beliefs, criticism, a feeling that God forgot about me, an ungodly boyfriend, moral compromise, false accusation, and ultimately my firing and disembarkation from the ship.

How is that?  Italy and Greece were dreams of mine.  I was the only one accepted at this audition.  It seemed God had taken care of my job and living situation.  Things seemed to be falling into place.  Doors seemed to be opening.
But a nightmare ensued.

I'm not sure whether this adventure was in His will or not.  I don't know how many of the unfortunate events were a result of me being out of His will or me just not responding to the situations that arose as I should have.
"And no wonder!  For satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." ~2 Corinthians 11:14
"Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses the way." ~Proverbs 19:2 

More soon....

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

a broken engagement

I was 21 and it was shortly after my abortion and the radical salvation and healing of the Lord when someone came into my life who I truly believed was the one.  A Christian, a leader, kind.  We dated and were engaged within a few months.

One morning we spoke on the phone and he began to read a Proverb to me.  He had previously been increasingly critical of the way I ate and dressed.  So, as he read these verses to me, I began to feel under attack.  It angered me that he wasn't satisfied with me as me.  And so I let him have it.  I yelled.  I hung up on him. I expected him to call back to apologize. He didn't call. I called him back. Told him he'd better call me back (ok, stop laughing).  Hung up the phone again.  The phone rang.  He apologized.  I was late for work.  I ended the call and got in my car.

It was an hour-and-a-half drive to work (from San Diego to Anaheim), so I had a lot of time to think.  I can not remember a time in my life when I felt I actually HEARD God speak audibly to me.  And I can't say that this instance was actually audible but it was such a clear word that I knew without a doubt was from Him.  As I drove up the 5 freeway, the Pacific Ocean to my left...  "He is not it."  "What?" I said aloud.  Again, "He is not it."  "Ok," again aloud.  It was that simple.

Ladies, if you're dating: just because he's a Christian doesn't mean he's the one.  Yes, we must be equally yoked (2 Cor. 6:14-18), but don't stop there.  Make sure you are well-matched in other areas.  This guy was dear.  Very kind and truly had a heart for Jesus.  But he was mildly critical of me in a way that was not mild in my eyes.  He was horrifically late and sucked at time-management.  (We had to tell him that Easter dinner was 3 hours earlier than it actually was...and he was still late.  No, I am NOT kidding.)  I was young, anxious, eager to marry, immature, and apparently had terrible eating habits and bad fashion-sense.

As I drove to work that day, I knew I had been given a clear directive from the Lord.  I was not to marry this man.  It was plain and simple, cut and dry.  A few days later, I drove back down to San Diego, picked him up and told him that we had to talk after the event we were attending.  At the end of the evening, I pulled him aside and told him that I was very sorry but believed the Lord told me we were not supposed to be married.  He clung to me for only a moment, and then composed himself.  There were a few instances of him meeting me at work and following me (non stalker-like) from here to there, but ultimately there was an amicable end.  One day, I wrote him a letter.  I wish I could remember what I said, but I don't.  I shared it with a pastor and friend and he told me that my fiance had just shown him a letter (written to me) that was nearly a carbon copy of mine.  Later, when the two of us were together and he read to me his letter.  Then, I pulled out mine and read it to him.  It was so clearly from the Lord that we both hugged, I gave him the engagement ring, and we walked away.  Knowing it was the right thing to do.  No anger.  No spite.  No ill-will.  Just love, peace, and hope for what God had in store for each of us.

Though it was a parting time, it was an exhilarating experience having resonated with the Holy Spirit and thus gaining confidence in the certainty of making a correct and major move.

This man would have always been kind.  He would have always been seeking the Lord.  He would have been a good husband and father.  But little things coupled with my lack of maturity at that point in my life would have rubbed my personality the wrong way and driven me to incredible frustration and probably resentment.

Fast forward 15 years.
The same girl, married to a treasured husband with 2 dear boys.  Jamie and I are so well-matched.  We enjoy each other's sarcasm and humor.  We share passions in faith and politics.  No, we are not the same in many things but still fit so well together.

Why do I share this?  I don't know.  Just another page of my life.  A chapter, really.  A short chapter when I almost audibly heard the voice of God...and OBEYED IT.  Confident.  Peaceful.  Unafraid.  Right.  Not every decision in life is like that, though I wish it was and I imagine it could be if I was faithful to remain unwaveringly in tune with the Holy Spirit.  How different life would be if I had plowed on ahead with what I thought I wanted.

I have always been one that when I wander off the path God has put me on, a time comes when I know I must return to it.  Sometimes it is like this:  a gentle command and my obedience.  Sometimes it is devastation and I must crawl back on my hands and knees.  But there is always a return and I am always glad for the return, though often frustrated with my selfish will and desires that took me from the path to begin with.   A girl of passions and dreams is easily lured away....but only for a time.  Because there is a Love greater than the lures and it beckons me back.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; 
therefore, with lovingkindness have I drawn you." 
~Jeremiah 31:3

Yes, He has drawn me with His lovingkindness.  He has covered me with His forgiveness.  How those times I am unfaithful must break His heart.  But like the father of the Prodigal, He runs to me, puts His ring on my finger, and throws a party in honor of my return (Luke 15:11-32).  Never again considering the offense.   (Psalm 103)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sleigh Bells ...a poem

Sleigh Bells 
by Edgar A. Guest

In forty years we've changed the world
And traded many things.
We've banished glowing stoves to gain
The warmth the furnace brings.
We've polished off discomforts with
Invention's magic art;
We've built the "press-the-button" age
When countless motors start.
But thinking of my boyhood days, 
We lost a joy, I'll say,
When faithful horse and cutter were
Forever put away.
For when there comes a fall of snow, 
I find for them I mourn 
And that strap of tinkling sleigh bells
Supplanted with a horn.

We give up youth for mellow age;
Each forward step we take
To reach a joy which lies ahead
An old charm we forsake.
We deal and barter through the years 
Old customs for the new,
Find easier ways to do the tasks
Once difficult to do.
But sometime as we move along 
To build the better day,
We learn we've been compelled to throw 
A lovely thing away.
And thinking of my boyhood days
To this I will be sworn; 
Sleigh bell sang a prettier song
Than any motor horn.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas pj's and malts

The tree at Grams & Gramps.
Grams had a way of making Christmas absolutely magical.
I hope I can do the same for my children.
Every Christmas Eve, I'd arrive at my Grandma & Grandpa's house for our traditional Myrman (my Grandma's maiden name) Family malt party:  a long-standing Myrman Christmas tradition...not sure why since they were all from Wisconsin.  Malts in Wisconsin in December seems odd and something that would only add to the chilliness, but it works well for those of us who have made our way to California.  Tobi (my sis) and I would bolt up the stairs to "our" bedroom where there was always one present waiting for us...lovingly placed on the pillows of our beds.  The only gift we could open on Christmas Eve: our new Christmas pajamas.  It might be a gown, or a nightshirt from some place my Grams and Gramps had traveled that year, or maybe footie pajamas!  We would open the gift and immediately change into those new, soft, never-been-worn-before, Christmas pj's and head down the two flights of stairs to the kitchen where my Gramps was stationed at the blender...tall glasses, ice cream scoop, chocolate syrup, ice cream, and long-handled spoons ready to go.

me, Grams, Tobi, Mom..3 generations of love & laughter
When I was about 16, my sis and I ran upstairs for those beloved Christmas pj's and there was nothing.  What!?! What in the world is going on here?  We skipped down stairs and asked my Grandma, "Grams!  What happened to the pajamas!?"  It was quite comical.  She dropped her head dramatically and said, "I thought you were too old for that."  Umm, no!  We had a fun laugh.  I'm pretty sure I got new pj's until I was on my own as an adult.  Grams was such a good sport and so dear.
How we miss her and my precious Grandpa.

I would love to know your favorite Christmas tradition.  Please comment on this post and share it with me.  I can't wait to read what you have to share!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Completing him...Remember your vows

I adore my husband.  He is the hero of our family.  How thankful I am that he is a man who stands by his wife, a dad who showers love on his children, and a man of character.
"Man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." ~Genesis 2:24
 "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is Savior of the body.  Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.  So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself." ~Galatians 5:22-28

Join me in the Completing Him Challenge.  I am several months behind, but whatev!  
Other Completing Him posts: Before the wedding

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

haven't written in a while

I haven't really written a real blog post in a while and just sort of feel like other things are demanding my attention lately, but thought I might punch on the computer keys and see what comes out.

Si (pretty sure there was more flour on him than the cookies)

cookie decorating as only little boys can do

The kitchen counter is my "office" for the moment.  The alarm on the dryer is calling me to fold clothes, I just finished wrapping the latest Christmas gift to arrive in the mail, the boys are in bed, my hubby is filling out his Christmas wish list as he goes from website to website on the dining table behind me, and Christmas songs on my iPod fill my home.  The tree lights are on, the house Christmas lights are on, and my elderly neighbor across the street tells me every time I see her in her adorable Irish accent, "Oh Kori!  I am truly the one who gets to enjoy those lovely lights you put up. I just love them!"  She tells me this every year and if she can't tell me in person, she will call me on my phone.  Good neighbors are a treasure.  And since I am sure my dearest neighbor is reading this post, I will give him a shout out.  Wilson, you're the best!  My neighbor to the back who I lovingly call "Wilson" is my patriotic partner-in-crime.  And the eccentric couple who moved next door to us a few months ago painted their house orange, green, and purple.  Yes, you read that right.  But what utterly delightful people they are.  I steer clear of all conversation regarding politics since I am quite sure in this very left-wing community I live in, they have very little in common with me.  But we do value and trust each other as neighbors.  Oh, and the colorful Easter egg house has grown on me.  Don't tell Jamie, but I actually like it now.  :)

Content in life even though things aren't always smooth.  Things may not always be easy but they may always be peaceful as we trust the Lord to bring us to that place in Him.
A nugget I gleaned from listening to Beth Moore yesterday:
Part of spiritual maturity is ceasing to equate "hard" with "bad." 
Just because it's easy doesn't mean it's good.
I spent a few hours today with two delightful friends: precious ladies who warm my heart, share my ideals, and make me a better person, mom, and wife just by being who they are naturally and letting some of their wonderful-ness (not a word, I know) spill onto me.  This Summer while at the Mom Heart Intensive Training in CO, Sally said we need to surround ourselves with people who are better than us.  I am so glad to have had the opportunity to do that today.

For all who may read this, I truly wish you the most magical and miraculous Christmas.  What must it have been like to welcome the Savior of all mankind into the world as He made His humble debut?  And how we eagerly anticipate His righteous and just return.  If you have some time, check out this message (click on Psalm 110 from December 12th) given at my church this past Sunday.  Awesome!

And perhaps you can join me in prayer over something that has been on my heart this week and really for a while.

  • President Obama's salvation; that our leaders would respond to conscience
  • that the true Christian church will walk the straight and narrow of 2 Chronicles 7:14 and this nation will turn course
  • the wombs of women will be a safe place for the unborn

Bless you,

p.s.  I have a beautiful manger that I lovingly place in our home at Christmastime and today as I walked past, I noticed a toy gun laying on top of baby Jesus.   You know you're a mom of boys when....

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reindeer Marshmallow Pops

My sister just made these super cute things with her boys.  How in the world can you eat something so darn adorable?!  Haven't tried these myself yet, but they were so darling, I had to share.  Enjoy!

My nephews, Carter & Lucas.  
From my sis:  We used the Wilton Candy Melts (follow the instructions on the back to melt them). Put the lollipop sticks in the marshmallows, dip them in the melted chocolate and place on top of pretzels on wax paper. Put cinnamon on. Let chocolate set. Use remainder of chocolate to "glue" white chocolate chips and a little bit of the melted chocolate for the eyes. The boys had a blast making them!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Don't miss the Mom Heart Conference!

Join me at this year's California conference.  Or attend the one at the location closest to you!  You will embrace Sally's vision and inspiration!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Perfect through sufferings

Yesterday, we received news that a dear friend, Gene, had an accident and lost his finger.  He is a true servant of the Lord and a pillar in our body of believers here in Borrego.  He and his wife have been struggling recently with the economy, his hip (he needs a replacement), and now this.  He works in construction and is a guitar player, so fingers are essential.  I understand his biggest concern is not being able to play his guitar since he loves to worship.  Please pray for Gene and his wife, Susie.  We know that God works everything together for good for those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
If you would like to help support his business, check out his cool porch swings:

(The following is taken from Streams in the Desert, December 2)
Steel is iron plus fire.  Soil is rock, plus heat, or glacier crushing.  Linen is flax plus the bath that cleans, the comb that separates, and the flail that pounds, and the shuttle that weaves.  Human character must have a plus attached to it.  The world does not forget great characters.  But great characters are not made of luxuries, they are made by suffering.

I heard of a mother who brought into her home as a companion to her own son, a crippled boy who was also a hunchback.  She had warned her boy to be very careful in his relations to him, and not to touch the sensitive part of his life but go right on playing with him as if he were an ordinary boy.  She listened to her sonas they were playing; and after a few minutes he said to his companion: "Do you know what you have got on your back?"  The little hunchback was embarrassed, and he hesitated a moment.  The boy said : "It is the box in which your wings are; and someday God is going to cut it open, and then you will fly away and be an angel."
Someday, God is going to reveal the fact to every Christian, that the very principles they now rebel against, have been the instruments which He used in perfecting their characters and molding them into perfection, polished stones for His great building yonder. (Cortland Myers)
Suffering is a wonderful feritlizer to the roots of character.  The great object of this life is character.  This is the only thing we can carry with us into eternity... To gain the most of it and the best of it is the object of probation. (Austin Phelps)
By the thorn in the road and no other is the mount of vision won.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Circle of Life

In April 1995, while I was in (dance) class at Grossmont College, a brightly colored flyer caught my eye on the bulletin board.  It was an audition flyer for the Lion King Parade at Disneyland.

The Lion King is one of my very favorite Disney movies.  The best scene is when Rafiki finds the long, lost Simba.  Simba makes excuse after excuse about why he can't take his rightful place in the "Circle of Life," when Rafiki blindsides him with a sharp whack to the head.  Simba, shocked, asks what that was for.  Rafiki says, "The past is in the past, you can either run from it or learn from it."  Then he swings at Simba again and this time Simba ducks.  Lesson learned.
This movie came out right about the time I had my abortion.  So this lesson was key for me.  I could either remain depressed about what I had done or I could stand up, find hope, and live a purposeful life USING what had happened to me.

So, how appropriate it is that this would be my first professional dancing gig.

Of course, I never imagined I would actually be cast.  A friend told me that she had auditioned half a dozen times before and was always cut.  We decided a free dance class would be worth the drive, got in line with 600 other girls, and went through the cattle call.  I learned the first routine and was immediately cut.

"Well, that was a waste of time," I thought.  My friend and I grabbed our stuff and headed for the door.  I placed my right hand on the bar to open the industrial-style door, and a hand firmly grasped my left arm.  I turned, startled, and noticed it was the choreographer who was holding onto me.  "I'd like you to stay," she said.

Five words that totally changed my life.

I picked up the final routine with no trouble.  My friend said it looked like I had choreographed it.  It felt like it too.  

The next thing I knew, I was holding a casting card.  I was dumbfounded.  "They're going to pay me to dance?"  Ok, so they didn't pay much, but heck! I would have danced for free!!!  I was in total disbelief and thus began the blessing after blessing from the Lord since my surrender to Him.

I danced at Disney for 8 years.  
The Lion King Celebration, 
Hercules Victory Parade, 
A Christmas Fantasy, 
Light Magic (may it rest in peace...FOREVER. lol!), etc.
And I stage-managed for a few years on Mulan, Parade of the Stars, and The Electrical Parade.  It was a wonderful time.

I am so thankful for God making my dream come true.

Light Magic.  I was "Wiggle Wink."
Yeah, don't even go there.  My knees hurt just thinking about it...and my shins.  

One of my favorite parts ever.  Mistletoe dancer.
Will was one sweaty guy!
And I had to kiss his sweaty cheek all down the parade route.  LOL!
He was sweet, though, and we had a blast!

Midnight rehearsal for the Christmas Parade.
About to sneak up on an unsuspecting cookie.