I hate reading old blog posts. I joined facebook a long time ago, which instantly made this page obsolete. It was only recently when my husband had a massive debate with other friends after a blog he wrote that I even remembered I had one. That wasn’t even enough to motivate me to look at this old thing. Talking to my Auntie, she mentioned something I’d said “on my blog” a long time ago. I finally decided to cautiously visit my old blog page. It’s been a year and a half since my last post. And it makes a lot of sense to me why.

I think I appropriately titled my blog, since I’m sure that I’ve grown since the 4 years ago (and only 13 posts) when I started this thing. Have you ever run across an old journal, cracked it open, and read something you wrote, only to be shocked at the thoughts that came into your mind? That’s how I feel about this page. I have been so nervous to re-visit old posts because I feel like today I would think about situations so differently. A little life experience goes a long way in developing the lenses we look at the world through. While I’m not ashamed of myself, my past self, for how I dealt with life and what thoughts I allowed to come to fruition, I feel like if I could talk to myself a few years ago I could give her some perspective on life.

I feel like that girl was full of fear, clinging to the few things that felt secure and “safe”. I also feel like she was full of shame, constantly unsure of her place in relationship with God, husband, family, friends.

I feel like I defined myself by the things out of my control. My world-view was off. My self-view was off.

“Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter, your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well.” -Matthew 9:22. First, Jesus SAW her. For so long I felt unseen and unheard, but my view was off. I WAS seen, and more than heard, but understood. Then, Jesus gave her identity. He called her Daughter. If I had really known my identity all along, my insecurities would not have strangled me into fear. I am identified and defined as a daughter of faith, called to courage. Finally, he healed her. He took her pain away, and left her whole. He restored her health. I get the same healing when I look through the same eyes that Jesus looks at me through. I receive mercy, strength, and love. My definition of myself has changed, which changes how I see situations in life as they come along. Thank goodness for growth. And healing.

So I never told you guys the best story ever.  Most of you have heard it.  But it’s worth blogging anyway.

So, to get to New York, I took a red eye out.  I worked the night before I left, (from 7pm-730am), then after work, went to go run an errand on the way home, then got home and put the last few things together in my suitcase.  Knowing I was going to have a long trip ahead of me, I had a hard time falling asleep, and I set an alarm for 7pm.  I slept much harder than I thought I would, and woke up to my alarm at 7pm (I know, I have the weirdest sleep schedule).  I woke up feeling so refreshed and ready to go.  I put on my comfy jeans, my china shoes (see my myspace), and my favorite hoodie.

My friend Jess picks me up to take me to the airport.  I have a non-stop JetBlue flight that leaves at 12:35 am, and I’m all set.  I slept so good during the day that I knew I probably woudn’t sleep on the plane, which was OK with me since JetBlue has cable in the seats.  I was a little nervous to fly alone, but the whole process had gone so smoothly that my worries were fading.  I was so comfy all night watching TV with my complimentary Airborne sample and blankie.

But the whole time in the back of my head I knew what was ahead of me.  My trip alone wouldn’t end at JFK.  I wouldn’t land to a familiar face or even a person standing with a sign with my name on it.  Me, California girl, would be getting off the plane, finding the AirTrain, catching the Long Island Train, to a cab, that would take me to my husband’s hotel.  By myself.  In New York.  And that’s as much as I knew.  Literally, I didn’t know where in relation to my gate the AirTrain was, how it connected to the Long Island Train, and what cabs would be available after that.

I flew in over New York after sunrise.  It was AMAZING.  I mean beautiful.  I could see the Empire State building, and a bunch of other buildings that I didn’t know what were yet.  It was just this gorgeous skyline in the morning sun.  I was amazed, and I don’t know if it was the overwhelming emotion at the moment or sleepiness setting in, but I suddenly felt so small and alone on the tiny little plane facing that huge city.  My eyes welled up and my stomach came up into my throat, but I tried to just breathe, and pray.  I asked God to keep me safe, and I tried to convince myself I knew what I was doing and that I was brave enough to pull it off.

I got off the plane and stepped into JFK International Airport at 8:35am on a weekday morning.  It was a zoo.  Crawling with business people and non-business people, all moving sooo fast.  I stopped at an info desk and asked for info about where the AirTrain was, and a couple ladies half-rolled their eyes and non-committedly waved pointed fingers “that way”.  “Okay,” I said with a nervous smile and walked away.  I tried to walk straight, with my head up, but I felt like I had I DON’T BELONG tattooed on my forehead.  I got my luggage, and walked in the generally pointed direction, and I saw the first sign for the AirTrain.  I walked towards the sign, straight into a construction zone.  “Alriiiighty,” so I went around the construction zone, and I was already so lost.  I felt so small.  Suddenly, I recognize this guy, he was one of the flight attendants on my flight.  He was walking with purpose towards an elevator outside, and I noticed an AirTrain sign on the elevator, so I hurried to get on.  He noticed me, and said, “Hey, you’re following me huh?”  This really nice guy with an African accent.  I was only in like the 2nd row on the plane, so I had actually talked to him a couple times during the flight.  “Yeah,” I said, smiling but shaky.  “I was trying to find the AirTrain, and I’ve never been here before.”  “Really?” he said, “This is your first time in New York, ever?”  “Yes,” I said, “so I’m a little nervous.”  “Don’t worry, I’m going to help you,”  he said.  The most beautiful words I had ever heard.

He was like an angel.  God had put him there to help me.  I know, because after that it was a blur.  We go up the elevator to a platform that leads us inside.  We buy a ticket, and it leads down a long corridor that turns a couple times.  We’re making small talk, I find out he has an apartment in Manhattan and a loft in Louisianna (I think?).  Ha!  I’m half hearing him, half trying to take in the rush to the train.  The train comes up, we jump on, and he says “Ok, you and I are going to the same place.  I will help you.  I will tell you when to get off.  When I tell you, follow me.”  “Ok,” I say.  At this point, I can do nothing but trust him.  I need his help.

When we get to our stop, it’s another rush.  “Okay, here we go,” he says, so I follow.  It’s a huge platform, and below us is this web of train tracks with trains speeding in and out of the station.  We’re at Penn Station, the connecting station between Manhattan and Long Island.  You get on one set of trains to go to Manhattan, and another set to go to Long Island.  But you have to find the one you want out of the TONS of trains there are to choose from.  My guide, I never even learned his name, and I, buy our tickets.  I tried to get one for my train to Long Island, he gets one for his to Manhattan.  The problem is, my train has already left.  I can’t figure out from the board when another one is leaving.  We go down the elevator to his platform, since his train is leaving in 3 minutes.  He tells me I need to go talk to the teller in the booth to get me on the right train, but the closest teller is 2 platforms away.  So he says, “when the doors open, you’ll have to go through the train and get off on the platform on the other side.  This is my train, so I’m going to leave you here.”  The train rushes up, stops, we get on, and I rush off.  I turn around and wave, mouth “THANK YOU!!!”, and he’s gone.

And I’m alone.
So alone.

I suddenly realize I’m freezing.  I’m in my shoes that are ripping and one hoodie.  My fingers are like icicles frozen around the handles of my luggage.  It was less than 30 degrees, maybe even in the teens, I don’t remember.  My breath was hot and my ears were stinging.  I walk up to the teller’s booth, and I say, “I’m trying to get to Oyster Bay?”  “Oyster Bay?” he questions, raising an eyebrow. “Oyster Bay…that train just left a few minutes ago.  The next one leaves in….2 hours. At 11:10.”  I go back up the elevator, inside the station, and sit down on the ground.  I called Matt.  And I just cried.

I was so frustrated.  I had come so far, and now I had to wait.  I felt so defeated.  Then something came over me, and I just was not going to take this.  I pulled myself together, I walked outside, got a map, and found another line that was going into Long Island that would put me in the same general area.  I went back to the elevator, down to the booth, and asked the man if this line would take me to Glenn Cove, the city Matt was staying in.  “Yes,” he said, “but the train is leaving in 3 minutes.  You have to get a ticket.  You can make it, but you better hurry.”  I go back up the elevator, and run up to the ticket booth, and this older lady was standing there, and couldn’t make up her mind.  At this point, I’m so mad.  I’m like COME ON! COME ON! in my head, but she’s more confused than I am.  She finally moved, and I got my ticket, and ran back down stairs.  The train, MY train, whizzed by me.  But I didn’t know it.  I go back to the man, I say, “Ok, I got my ticket.”  He looks down, shakes his head, and said, “you missed it.  That was it.”  I see the train fading in the distance.

I totally cracked.

Tears welled up in my eyes, and I looked up at him.  “You said I would make it if I got my ticket…” I trailed off in blubbering despair.  The poor man was a little confused.  He says, “Ok, Ok, now hold on honey, it’s gonna be okay, you wait right here.”  He’s this older black man, and he turns around, grabs some paper towels, and hands them out to me.  I press the crunchy brown paper to my cheeks, my hot tears are steaming off my freezing face.  “You stand right here,” he says, “You don’t move.  Just stay right here.  There’s another train coming in 20 minutes.  You get on that, give the man your ticket, and you’ll be just fine.”  “Okay, (sniffle) thank you,” I manage out.  At this point I feel like a total idiot, incapable at the least.

I stand on the platform, my feet are burning cold through my shoes, and my hands are bright red with cold.  I have no idea what my face must look like.  After what seems like an eternity, here my train comes.  I get on, and I finally rest.  I was on the train for about half an hour before I got to my stop.

Then the fun part.  Luckily, taxicab companies send their taxis to wait at train stations, so finding a cab wasn’t hard.  I got in a taxi van with 4 other large black women, who were very friendly, and I was the last stop of the bunch.  This part of the trip was relatively uneventful, except for the fact that the driver was CRAZY and I almost died, or threw up, or a combination.

When we finally pulled up to the hotel, I grabbed my stuff and scrambled to Matt’s room.  I knocked, and there he answered, my sweetie in his jammies I got him for Christmas.  He was still squishy in the face from sleep and was all toasty from bed.  I’ve never been happier to see him.  All that smallness I had felt and feelings of misplacement vanished, and I fell into his arms.

I love that I can feel at home with him no matter where I am.

This story is long, and probably too drawn out.  But I don’t ever want to forget this day.  I’m still sad I didn’t blog this story before, because there’s details I’m sure have got.  This day was a vivid and important step for me as a woman and a wife, and I want to remember it forever.

That is the opening line to one of my favorite songs by Rosie Thomas. She has a few songs that are about New York, and they’ve been playing over and over in my head since we’ve gotten here.

Matt and I left on a train from Oyster Bay in Long Island yesterday around 1 or 2 yesterday afternoon. We have been running ever since then. We take the train, then transfer to the NY subway. We take the subway into the city, and try not to hit people with all our junk and have a really hard time going through the revolving doors to get to the stairs that go up to the street. We hoist all of our suitcases, guitars, and whatever else up the stairs. It’s dirty, wet, and smells nasty in the subway. But I don’t care. I’m so excited, right…then I see the light at the top, but that’s really all I can see. Mind you, I’ve never been in New York. The first view I see when I get up to the street took my breath away:

Matt and I lugged our luggage (ha, hence the name) to the hotel from the subway, and as soon as we got inside we felt like we stepped inside this beautiful garden. We are staying at the Hudson Hotel right down the street from Columbus Circle at the southwest end of Central Park. It’s beautiful, and we have had so much fun here. Seriously, everything at the hotel looks exactly like the pics on the website. Our room is really great. But right after we set our stuff down we got back on the subway to go to the TKTS ticket booth to try to get half off tickets for the broadway show, the Lion King. We got there, and it wasn’t on the list. So we dashed over to the Minskoff Theater where it was playing. We got there, totally sold out and there were already hopefuls waiting in line for cancellations. So, we waited for an hour and a half too (after a quick trip to the Virgin Megastore) and, no luck. No Lion King for us. As we walked away we indulged in a hot dog to drown our (my) sorrows, and we walked by a guy selling tickets to Dangerfield’s Comedy Club. It wasn’t quite the show we were thinking, but we figured hey, what the heck. We both got in for 20 bucks. So we got some dinner at this place in Times Square called Maxie’s, then hopped on the Subway again to head down to the comedy club. Matt was like “I didn’t think you would go for this; it might be pretty dirty comedy.” I got a little nervous about that, hadn’t really thought about the fact that this could be totally raunchy. But we get there, sit down at this totally crowded club, and we get settled in (after walking 3 blocks in the rain) with some hot coffee. Then we laughed our highnesses off. It was such a great show, and the only guy that was really nasty was the last guy and we were so tired by then that we laughed. We listened to these 5 comedians that were sooooo funny! When it was all done, we came back to the hotel and totally crashed.

Today when we woke up, we took our time getting ready and left a little before lunchtime. We randomly chose this little place to eat lunch, which ended up being this fantastic little french cafe, called Brasserie Ruhlmann. We had the nicest lunch with this great view and sweet little table.

Then came the major tourist-y stuff. We took a tour of NBC studios, which was sooooo cool. We got to sit in the set for SNL, so much fun. Then we did the coolest thing we could have done. We bought tickets for Top of the Rock, a special ticket to go to the very top of Rockerfeller Center on the viewing deck. It was absolutely stunning. These pics are great, but they don’t even compare to what I saw with my own eyes. My jaw just dropped and I was amazed at what we saw. It was beautiful.

After a while of deciding what to do next, we wound up having dinner and dessert in Little Italy. It was so great, and that’s a whole other blog. I’ll blog about that later, but for now, my eyes are so heavy and I’m going to fall asleep, and the story about Little Italy is too long and too great. Good night for now, and I’ll keep this posted!

Life is so busy all the time.  The statement that never fails, right?  It’s so funny how I live life moving in and out of the motions, yet sincerely trying to enjoy the time as it flies by.  There is so much going on all of the time…

then suddenly it settles.  All at once there is nothing to do.  Literally nothing.  And then, when I least expect it, I remember I have a blog and people who check in on me.  And I can’t believe I haven’t touched it since October.  I say that every time.

My relationship with my blog reminds me of my relationship with God.  I forget about it when I’m so busy and just trying to enjoy my life and my husband.   And when the world dies down a little, I suddenly remember.  “Oh, God, I’m so sorry I forgot about you.  Has it really been that long?”  But, like my blog, if I’d only put in a little more time and energy and effort, I would feel so much more fulfilled and appreciated.  Why do I do this?  Why can’t I keep God a priority in my life and in my marriage?  I don’t directly defy God–I just don’t pay attention, which may be worse.  I don’t rely on him at all.  Maybe it’s like my blog–I’m afraid of the rejection, like he really won’t check in on me and nothing would change even if I did talk to him.  But I think it’s more got to do with guilt.  Like I haven’t come to him and talked to him in so long, he’s going to say, “Well, it’s about time.  Where the hell have you been?” (no pun intended.  God’s a funny guy).  But I know that I don’t love a God of guilt, I love a God of grace and compassion.  That he’ll always forgive me…and that’s where I feel like we don’t relate.  If anyone treated me like I treat God I would hate them.  I feed him all these promises of my love and my undying devotion, and I sing these songs in my earnest worship, and then I forget.

I forget every time.

Until it quiets down, and I reflect.  I don’t know why, but it’s true:  it’s always when he’s gone.

Matt’s gone.  He’s in New York.  My eyes are welling up, not because I miss him (although I do terribly), but because I’m so incredibly proud of him.  My hubby is out in NY with some prestigious and well-established musicians and producers helping make his dream come true.  They are investing in his band and his ability, and making him a better musician.  I couldn’t be more excited for him.  And I get to go visit him.  On Feb. 12 I’m flying out to hang out with my man in New York.  That’s sexy.

Matt and I have such a great…and interesting…relationship.  He consumes so much of my time and energy, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I absolutely adore him, yet we have some of the worst fights.  We make each other so mad–and worse.  I’ve never met someone who I could love and despise so much from one minute to the next.  And I feel like it’s all okay, because he’s human and I’m human.  We always forgive each other, and that goes without saying.  And I trust that he will always forgive me.

So why can’t I have the same faith in God?  Why can’t I put the same effort and time into my relationship with him?  I think it’s because I’m human, and although Jesus was too, he was still Perfect.  He was Love.  And I’ll never measure up to that.  I’ll never feel like I’m worthy of a relationship with someone who is so far above me.  Yet, Matt is just one man.  And if just one man can love me like he does, I can’t imagine how God must feel about me.  He must think I’m awesome, since the things Matt loves about me are the things that God created Himself.

I’ve made a couple conclusions, cliche, I know.  #1.  I don’t have to have big exciting news to blog.  It feels really good just to create something with my thoughts behind it.   I just have to remember to do it, case in point.  #2.  God is bigger than a man.  And if he’s bigger and more in love with me than my man is, I’m already impressed.  I know if Matt can forgive me, God can forgive me too.  I’m just really struggling with His perfection.  I expect Matt to be imperfect, so I feel like it’s okay that I’m imperfect too.  But with God it’s different.  I know I’m so far less than perfect.  And I feel like if I don’t come to him with this overwhelming sense of gratitude and awe, I don’t deserve to come to him at all, so I hide.  I push it to the back of my mind so I don’t have to face him, and I’m tired of doing that.  He must be tired of it too.  Where do I start?  What’s my next step?  I’ve said I’m sorry so many times for leaving Him out.  I don’t know how not to be intimidated by his love and perfection.  Perhaps that’s the real definition of fearing God.

OKAY OKAY I’M WRITING! 😀  hahaha, it’s been way too long, I know, don’t hate me.  So, I haven’t written in forever for a lot of reasons.  Really, it has a lot to do with…well…lots of excuses that don’t matter.  Because I realized lately that I have friends who really care if I write.  And that is so important to me, and I’m so thankful.  So, Tammy Brown, little miss, this one’s for you.

This coming weekend we’re going to the marriage retreat that Sandals goes on, btw which Tammy does a kick-ass job at putting together.  This marriage retreat celebrates the year anniversary of my husband quitting porn for real.  Like realizing the lie he was being told and yanked the burden in our marriage out.  I’m so incredibly proud of him.  Today, we went shopping for pretty clothes for us to wear on semi-formal night, and we pretty much spent any budget we had to go OUT at the marriage retreat on the clothes we’re going to wear while we’re there.  Matt found amazing things at H&M, and to my dismay, they had almost no dresses.  So after a long day of looking, I finally found a rad dress at, yes, Macy’s, which is much less cool than H&M.  But, nonetheless, I won’t walk the red carpet in jeans.  I  just love hanging out with Matt, and now my job is keeping that time to a minimal amount lately.  I feel like I’m just working myself to the bone, but just because learning to care for really sick babies is incredibly stressful.  The NICU at Loma Linda is a very intense place.  I’m privileged to be a part of it, but I’m very excited to not be a new person anymore.  I’m just trying not to put too much pressure on myself.  So Matt has been wonderful about it all, and I’m realizing how comfortable I am with him.  I think we’ve come to a new point in our marriage in the last few months, where we feel very settled in.  At least I feel that way.  Our good friend Daley put this pic up on his blog the night I cooked dinner for us all:   ma.jpg

So thanks Tammy, and everyone else who loves me and thinks of me.  I’m doing good.  Hopefully it won’t be too long for another update.  Peace out for now.

What’s been amazing about Matt being gone is that while we haven’t gotten to really speak to each other, he has had wireless a lot more than we originally thought he would. So randomly, he’ll get a quick second to email, and check what I’ve written him. Funny how it takes true distance to really help you appreciate the important things–is my husband alive, safe, fed, sheltered. Suddenly conversations are composed of the essentials. “I’m okay, I landed, arrived safely, got to eat, fed the homeless”…and I can breathe a little easier. It’s amazing too how much more challenged I am to pray for him, and suddenly I pray for so much more than his safety. I pray for his heart, his masculinity, his relationship with God so ours can grow too. I look up verses that contain certain words that are on my heart, for whatever reason, and hope God uses them whether they came directly from Him or not. I just always hope that after trips like this, I keep those habits. Sometimes I do, and they last for a little while, but not too long. My goal this time is to keep that up. Not to put anything on him, but to discipline myself to do what I can to bring us closer together. I’m so excited. Not too much longer. And in the meantime, while he has been gone, I have sojourned to my own heart and found myself and Jesus there again.

It feels very strange when half of you is in a different part of the world. To explain, my husband is currently in the country of Honduras with no way to contact me. I miss his face so much. It’s crazy how just the little things feel so different without him around. Physically, my heart is heavier, my chest feels tighter, and there is no middle ground between hyper-alert and exhausted. I feel like my senses are heightened, and I notice more–like somehow I have to compensate my actions for the fact that his presence is missing. In all, I continue to grow, and am challenged to pray for him and his heart. I am currently praying that God gives him a sense of direction and purpose. In his absense, I have this wonderful picture as a reminder of him and his countenance the day before he left. What a character–I’m so grateful for this man and what he teaches me about life.photo.jpg

I passed nursing state boards! That means I’m finally a nurse. All this time, all this school…now I’m a nurse and graduation is just a month away. It’s so wierd to have invested so much of your life into something to watch it completely change. I’ve been reflecting a lot on what I’ve been doing these last years. It makes me wonder if what I have been doing has been worthwhile. I guess I’ll know here pretty soon! I know I love nursing as a career, but it’s going to be so hard and different on my own. I just got hired at Loma Linda Med Center’s NICU, and I will be starting work there on August 20th, which means we won’t be going anywhere but closer to Riverside, actually. I get a preceptor in the program at LL for 20 weeks, which means someone will be making sure I don’t completely blow it! Actually, they are really there for support and encouragement, making sure we know that we will be okay once we are completely on our own. Pretty exciting. Thanks to all who have already shown such incredible support. I’m so grateful. And I can’t wait to start this next stage of life with all of you!

Wow. Hume is over, while a new (and my final) quarter of school, along with a brand new year of marriage, is beginning. Matt and I just celebrated our 2nd anniversary on March 19. In a way 2 years feels like such a long time, since we only knew each other 9 months before we were wed. But in a way, I feel like I have just as much to learn as a I did the day we married. We kept hearing from lots of people that the first year would be the hardest, or from others that the second year would be the hardest. All I know is they both had their trials, and either way, I’m glad they are both over!!! Maybe the stigma of the “first 2 years” now in our past will be good for us. We are just excited to be married still, since many divorces apparently happen around 2 years. For our celebration, we went on a cruise. And took zero pictures. But we went, and it was fun…freezing, but fun. The last two nights the wind kicked up and rocked the boat so hard that I got really seasick and threw up…both nights. But, it was fine, we enjoyed each other’s company so much. Although we were ready for a little space after spending 4 nights in the tiniest room with each other. Since it was so cold, we would sit inside and look out over the ocean with our coffee…and play Scrabble…for hours. It was awesome.

Matt and I are totally excited for this new year of our marriage. Partly because we feel it’s going to be sooo different than any other year we’ve had. I feel just this intense sense of change coming in Matt’s and my life. I graduate in less than three months, and Matt’s just growing as a musician every day. I feel this sense of urgency, like big things are going to happen, soon. We need to move soon; I have to figure out where I want to work so I can apply there and we can move closer to wherever that is. And God’s doing amazing things in Matt’s job too. Anyway, we’re excited about change in the Quillen household. Because it’s coming whether we are ready or not!

Yup, I'm tooting my own horn a minute here. I just got the best grade on a test I've ever gotten in nursing school. In my Community Mental Health class I got a really good grade on my mid-term. A solid "A". It is incredibly hard for me to get an "A" on a test. I've only gotten that high of a grade on a test like one other time while in nursing school. The tests here are so hard! I get really good marks in my clinical performance, but some how I just don't connect the pieces on paper tests. I took another midterm today that was incredibly hard, and I think I might end up on the opposite end of the grading scale with this one! What's great though is that I really needed this boost of confidence to move on with the rest of the quarter. I just hope I passed the test this morning. But now I'm rambling.

I decided to stay home from Hume this weekend. My body is giving me the STOP!!! sign. I have actually gotten to go a couple times more than I thought during the month of January. I just couldn't stay away. I love watching Matt perform and lead worship with Moi. And more, I love spending time together, even if it is freeeezing!

Matt and I took some amazing pictures this past weekend at hume. You can visit them on my myspace and take a peek. My link to my myspace is listed on my blogroll. Just a little taste:
Oh yes, I must mention that this was taken by the amazing Jessica Fairchild. Check her out--listed in my blogroll.