December 24, 2010

Candy Canes

It's Christmas that's exciting.

Currently I'm snuggled into my bed, listening to my mom and grandparents talk downstairs, and trying to decide if I want to brave the cold again today to go running (I don't think I will, yesterday's 27 degrees was a little too much even for me!)

Today is the day when I have to do the whole list of things I haven't gotten around to yet, like wrapping presents and watching Christmas movies. Oh, and maybe even baking some cookies if I decide to go a little crazy. 

But mostly, my plan is to snuggle in a little bit longer, laugh and listen to my family's stories (last night, the crab legs we were eating took us off to the Coast of Africa on a boat sailing to the infamous slave island, where Papa and Grandma were served barrels of fresh seafood as fruit bats flew overhead...oh how I love my family.)

 Then I'll curl up on the couch to watch The Polar Express tonight, as is tradition in our family, before going to bed contemplating a life full of adventure. Christmas in my family is sweet, exciting, full of laughter, and a mixture of memories from one generation and hushed hopes in the next. We're not too big on living ordinary lives around here, and that's more visible to me when we all get together again. 

I love it. I love being together. I love adventure. I love Christmas Eve. 

December 23, 2010

Thanks Tiny Tim

   Last year, by a strange string of coincidences, I must have watched at least ten different versions of A Christmas Carol, and I loved it. Only today did I realize that I haven't watched even one version of that classic at all this year. But when it gets down to it, I still know my favorite part from A Christmas Carol, it's the scene where Bob Cratchit tells his wife that Tiny Tim behaved as good as gold and better, and that on the way home he had said that "he hoped the people in church who saw he was a cripple, would be pleased to remember on Christmas day who it was who made to the lame to walk."

   That line, that scene, makes the whole book/ movie for me. Because it does just what I think Charles Dickens intended it to do, it makes me shift my focus off of the Christmas "season", the lights and food and presents, and look towards Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. This year, as Christmas is just 25 hours from slipping into my side of the world, I am being reminded that my life is imperfect. In so many ways, I am blind, I am lame, and I am broken. But I am holding fast to the faith that says, "A day is coming when all things will be made new!" This Christmas, I am being reminded that Jesus came into the world to save it, to save me, to save me from the brokenness that takes a hold of my life so easily. I am shifting my gaze from all the glitter and glamor that so easily entices, and looking towards my Savior. 

   I absolutely love Christmas, I love this time of year, and I love celebrating not only the birth, but the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus. All of that celebrating, wrapped up into one big day, it doesn't get much better than that. Merry Christmas, to each and every one!

December 21, 2010

Dear World,

I'm a little scared at how big you've seemed recently. I'm a little terrified at the thought that I'm about to be thrown out into you oh so very quickly and I'm not quite sure if I'm ready or not. World, I hope you understand that even though I've been waiting for this time of my life for quite a while, now that it's here, I'm second guessing myself. Because honestly, I've loved where I've been, I love where I'm at, and I love the moment I'm living jumping headfirst into a new phase in life is completely daunting.

 Don't worry though, I'm going to jump. I'm going to take this chance. I've given up too much to turn back now, I've wanted this for too long to let last minute fears rule the day. I'm going to try and be brave, okay? If you could help me out a little by going easy on me that would be great. But if not, I understand, going easy on me probably won't build courage or character as much as a hard time would. So I guess I'll just wait and see how it all turns out.

That's all for now, World.

Sincerely, Me 

December 7, 2010

I Want A Broken Heart

A heart broken for the hungry.
For the poor.
For the kids who can't speak up for themselves.
For the feet that walk miles just to get a bucket of water.

I want a broken heart.

A heart that beats with the sole purpose of serving God.
A heart that loves until it can't love any more.
A heart that cries when others cry and rejoices when they rejoice.
A heart that abandons everything the world tells it to seek and seeks only Christ.

I want a broken heart. 

A heart that is broken to the ways of the world.
A heart that is broken to the patterns of sin.
A heart that has been transformed.
A heart that once was lost but now is found.

I want a broken heart. 

December 2, 2010

End of Autumn Thoughts

By all rights, autumn is long gone. Today is December 2, in one month, I will be messing up the date in my journal, writing "2010" and forgetting that it has changed to "2011". In one month, I will be so close to February, so close to that day that scares me half to death. So close to leaving home.

My catch phrase when my family moved almost two years ago was, "Life moves forward." On those days when everything felt hard, when leaving hurt so much, and when I didn't feel like dealing with one more day in a new town that wasn't home, I always tended to write in my journal, "Well, life moves forward, eh?" And then I'd move on, I'd face the next day, I'd get through it, and life did move forward, it did get better. Now that oh so familiar phrase is entering my vocabulary again, as I am realizing that not only does "life move forward", it races forward. Races at a break neck speed that fills me with excitement...and a teeny tiny bit of terror. I remember saying shortly after we moved, "Two years and I am out of this town. That's all I can take. I'm going to graduate early and get out of here. Come on Manda, just two years." And then I had a goal, something to work for, and I made it. Except I never even comprehended the thought that at the end of those two years I would have actually made a home here. I would actually like the life that all that hard change brought. And I definitely never thought that those two years would fly by as quickly as they have.

Just like this past autumn, which flew by so quickly. I went to other side of the world and back again. I finished high school. I ran a half marathon. I had some amazing road trips with new friends. I absolutely loved every second of the past few months. December may be here, winter may be about to set in, but after all the amazing memories that have come from this fading away season, autumn needed one last nod of the head from me before I let it slip away until next year.

So here comes Christmas, here comes New Years and a wedding in New Mexico, here comes a few more road trips and ice skating, here comes cookies and Christmas lights and hot comes another amazing season that I am really looking forward to. Here comes a period of two and a half months where I plan on soaking up every single second I can with my friends and family before I head out to Florida. Here comes yet another day when I am again reminded, "Life races forward, eh?" 

November 24, 2010


I am thankful for...

a super close family.
traveling as a lifestyle.
homemade mashed potatoes.
chances to see the world through God's eyes.
old friends.
leather bound journals. 
making new friends at the exact moment when I'd given up on ever making them. 
chances to be brave.
the mystery of God's grace.
hard lessons that are well taught. 

I'm thankful for a year of a million lessons that I didn't want to learn. I'm thankful for a chance I had to see firsthand the power of God's forgiveness. I'm thankful for the courage I've needed day by day to reach goals that seemed impossible. I'm thankful for a family that has cheered me on through every mile of impossibilities. I am thankful for having a person in my life who is such an obvious answer to my prayers. I'm thankful for new starts. I am thankful for the wisdom that has been offered me by some very amazing people when I didn't know what to say or do. I'm thankful that God's grace is sufficient in my weakness. I am thankful that in the midst of tears, pain, regret, loneliness, and heartbreak, God is still good. And I am thankful for turkey. 

November 15, 2010

In Our House

We do smiles.
We do take-out.
We do imperfect.
We do pranks.
We do close-nit.
We do memories.
We do chocolate.
We do travel.
We do post it notes.
We do grace.
We do 5000 pictures.
We do island music.
We do the impossible.
We do family.

October 24, 2010

Disney - Big News!


I was accepted into the CareerStart Program and I've accepted the job! When did my life go from normal to, "I'm moving to Florida in February?!?!" I feel like this is such a huge mix of emotions, I am CRAZY excited but also terrified! Through this whole process I have been so encouraged and backed up by my friends, that it's going to be hard not to have them in my daily life for six months. But really, they would kill me if I backed out of the program now just because I was scared. That's true friendship for you right there. 

The more I wrap my mind around the fact that I'm really going to do this, the more I feel like jumping up and down and screaming happy screams. I found out less then 24 hours after we got home from Austria, right before I headed to class on Tuesday morning. The whole drive there I was just thinking, "I can't believe it. I'm in. Disney. This is so surreal." And then in French class everyone was asking me how Austria was, and all I could think was, "Austria? Austria? Oh ya, Austria. Forgot about it there for a minute. Any of you guys like Disney World?"        

So this is a short blog, because I don't even know where my life is anymore, which makes it really hard to write about, but trust me, it's crazy and awesome and all over the place. One of these days I'll sit down and try to write about all the details of the craziness, but for now, I think I'll just jump up and down screaming happy screams. And to all of the people who have been cheering me on, thanks guys. I couldn't have done this without you. 

October 19, 2010

Austria Trip

"Hey, will you pinch me? Because I'm having this crazy dream that I'm in Europe right now. Oh wait." That was the premise of 90% of my words over the last ten days! I cannot believe that I am actually home from an amazing trip to Austria!! Really, it was amazing. I don't even know what to blog about because SO much happened. In my journal writing while we were over there I was getting a little annoyed at myself because I couldn't think of creative adjectives, everything was "beautiful", "lovely," or "awesome". But really, those words describe everything I saw the best.

We arrived in Vienna at 8am ish, which was about 1am back home, but there was no rest for the weary! Jenn whisked us off to go see a very amazing monastery with the IGE group, led by Dr. Phabigan and his wife, Magda (who is also a Prof.) Despite being extremely tired (we didn't get to bed till after 9pm (keeping our eyes open was an almost painful endeavor) it was a great way to see Vienna on our first day. The monastery was absolutely beautiful, and the Phabigans (my apologies to them, btw, as I'm sure I'm spelling their name wrong) were the most gracious and intelligent hosts to us. Throughout our trip we ended up meeting up with Dr. Phabigan for three different excursions, and they were really unexpected highlights of our vacation. We went to places that we would have never visited on our own, art galleries and flea markets, but they were really interesting and we learned so much!

Our second day in Austria we caught a train to Salzburg, which was my favorite place to see on this trip. The weather for the first 6-7 days we were in Austria was the perfect weather, the last hurrah of Autumn before the first signs of Winter. So Salzburg was bursting at the seams with orange and red and yellow leaves, topped off with the brightest blue sky you could imagine. Absolutely lovely. Taking advantage of our limited time there, we managed to hop on board a driving tour around town, taking us to some really pretty places. One stop was at the house used in "The Sound of Music", which was very picturesque with a giant fortress in the backdrop. I'm pretty sure the fortress wasn't in the movie though, such a shame. We also took a trip up to Eagle's Nest in the morning, which technically means that I've been in Bavaria, Germany. Awesome. The view from there was incredible, I can not imagine a prettier time to visit the Austrian Alps than Autumn.

After seeing lots of sights, eating lots of chocolate, exploring the aforementioned fortress, and jumping up and down some famous steps singing, "Do-re-mi!", we caught a train back to Vienna to spend the remaining eight days or so. Vienna has a very neat, almost eclectic feel to it. I say eclectic because we saw so many different sides to it, sides that I think the average tourist wouldn't get to see. That's the advantage of having someone who knows the town well, I suppose. :) There was so much history in the town, amazing cathedrals and palaces, as well the grit and the telephone wires of modern living. In areas like the flea market you could see the Eastern European influence very clearly, while after taking one little U-Bahn stop you could be at the expansive Schonbrunn palace. I loved the richness of the city, the diversity.

Speaking of the Schonbrunn palace, the day we went there was my birthday. Now that was great. We wandered off in to the forest like areas next to the palace for a few hours, and it was SO BEAUTIFUL. Words fail me. Everything I've ever imagined as far as the "perfect October scene" was in that place, the trees, the little cobblestone paths, the leaves... I loved it. Best birthday hike ever. And Jenn took me to an authentic, really out of the way Austrian place for supper, which was also awesome. The waiter and the cook run the whole place by themselves, and they were nice enough to come out with a little cake attached to a giant firecracker (really, you have to see the picture), singing, "Happy birthday, you American, happy birthday to you!" Best song ever. They were so great, it really made my birthday fun. That, and reading all of the super sweet comments on my facebook page. :)

Now, I have MUCH more to write about, but I need to stop for now. So I immagine I'll be pumping out the blogs over the next few days. And I have some really big other news to tell, but I need a little time to pray and think before I have anything "official" to announce. If you know me at all, you know what I'm talking about, and I'd really appreciate some prayers right now. Life is crazy , is it not? Well then, auf wiedersehen!

October 4, 2010

Monday Troubles

This is really close.
I can inch by.
Turn the wheel to the right.
Car is moving.
Almost on the road.
Curb check.
That sounded really loud.
I hope the car is okay.
I should check.
Double crud.
Hello front bumper not firmly attached to the car like you should be.
Triple crud.
First thing I've ever done to hurt this little car.
And it's in my own driveway.
What time is it?
This really is a Monday, isn't it?
Late for class.
Foot hits the pedal. 
Walk in the doors, one minute to spare 
Say what?
Test on Wednesday.
Hasta la vista.
Home again.
Hi Mom.
I have something to show you.
Clearing throat.
It's alright?
Just a minor snap out of joint. 
I agree. 
Cheaply made car. 
Sorry about it though.
Love you too.
despite the relatively happy ending.
I'm glad tomorrow's Tuesday.
Wait a minute.
That means only one more day till that test.

Waiting for Disney

So as far as this blog goes, I love to write, but I'm been laying low with this blog for awhile just because I'm not quite sure what to say. I'm still playing the waiting game with Disney, but I should know by the time my family comes back from visiting a certain sister of mine in Austria (EEK. EXCITED) whether I made it or not. Meanwhile, I have a million emotions going through my head the closer I get to having an answer...

"I really want this."
"I don't think I can do this."
"I hope I get in."
"I hope I don't get in."

 Obviously, I've got a little bit of conflicting emotions going on here. It's really strange for me to be feeling all of this self-doubt after I've worked so hard to get to this point. But here I am, waiting, waiting, and waiting, and all my "confident plans" are beginning to look more and more fragile. Throwing a big chunk of my life in someone else's hands and knowing that their "yes" or "no" can completely change my life has a way of messing with my confidence. And then I calm myself down, and I realize that I'm counting my eggs before they've hatched, because I'm worrying over something that is out of my control. God knows the plans he has for me, and from the very beginning of this process I've been praying for His will to be done, I have been straining my ears to hear the quietest whisper of direction, and God is faithful. All of my fears, all of my worries about tomorrow, they seem so small when I realize how big God is.

I feel like I've exhausted the topic of waiting for Disney, I promise that I won't blog about it again until I know something definitive. Meanwhile, I might just blog about a certain foreign country I'll be visiting (during heightened security for all American travelers, oh ya! Planned that right.) It's going to be awesome though. Auf wiedersehen!

I'm just hanging on while this old world keeps spinning
And it's good to know it's out of my control
If there's one thing that I've learned from all this living
Is that it wouldn't change a thing if I let go

September 10, 2010


I miss the excitement of a late night trip to Walmart when I was in 2nd grade.
I miss running down the street when I heard the ice cream truck's music.
I miss bowling every Saturday in Mustang, we moved and then the old alley closed down.
I miss having a Maple tree in the front yard to climb whenever I wanted to.
I miss being allowed to hunt for the Easter eggs instead of being the person who has to help hide them.
I miss Even Stevens.

I know that my identity lies in Christ.
I know that my heart constantly beats with the crash of the waves on a distant shore.
I know that chocolate is the cure for all bad days.
I know that I laugh every time I see the sketch from the Carol Burnett show when she comes down the stairs wearing the curtains.
I know what my favorite acoustic guitar song is.
I know how to always look for the bright side in a situation.
I know that I can make a pretty mean popover.

I wish that finding contentment in the right now moments was easier for me.
I wish that I never quit piano lessons in the third grade.
I wish that there were more wildflowers on the sides of the road.
I wish that more people knew what a popover was.
I wish that everyone wrote in colored pens.
I wish I lived next to a palm tree.

September 8, 2010

Disney Interview - Done!

 "Somewhere between bed-wetting and a near death experience!!"
-Rizzo (Muppets Treasure Island)

That was my day today, in a nut shell, to utilize a classic Muppets' quote. All because of one little ten minute phone conversation with a recruiter named Hannah from Walt Disney World.... yikes! I was so nervous to have this phone interview with the recruiter, but it went great! My interviewer was super friendly and encouraging, so that helped a lot. I am a little panicked because I feel like it could have been longer and she could have asked me a lot more questions,  but I'm hoping that short isn't necessarily bad!

Really, right now, I feel like there's a good chance that I could get in but there's also a good chance that I could be rejected. Now that the interview is over, I just keep praying and praying, "Not my will, but Thine, God. Take this opportunity, if I make it, may it be for your glory, if I don't make it, then may that be for your glory too. Whatever happens, I trust in You, I trust in the plans that you have for me." 

That's basically been my prayer through this whole process with Disney from the very beginning. Even if I don't make it into Disney, I really trust in God's plan for my life and I really truly believe that it's going to work out for God's glory, even if I can't see the purpose of whatever happens in the next few weeks.  

Walt Disney said, "A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.” 

Come what may, I have set my goals and I am looking forward to discovering bigger and better ones down the road. And right now, as I begin to play the waiting game after doing everything I could do for this one big goal, I am sitting back and saying, "I know what it is to feel the thrill of pursuing something that I want. I know what it is to work hard for something that is not guaranteed. I know that I have thrown myself out there to pursue a dream of mine, even when I have been constantly aware that I could fail. I know what it is to be alive." And it is oh so worth it. The excitement, the fear, the surrendering of my life over and over again, I wouldn't trade this experience for the world. 

September 5, 2010

Disney College Program- Application Process

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.

I think that it's appropriate to start this blog with a Walt Disney quote, since this is the first blog about my process of applying for the Disney CareerStart program. I was a little hesitant at first to blog about this process, because I'm realistic and know that I may not get in, and it's going to be a hard thing to write about the whole process of applying only to be rejected. However, I also know that this process is super exciting, and it's a huge part of my life right now! I really hope I get into Disney (and I mean REALLY), but regardless of that, I'm on a journey that needs to be documented.

Applying for Disney has already taken me outside of my comfort zone, because the idea of moving away from home and living on my own for over half a year is completely daunting. But after working so hard to graduate high school in December, I am very excited for the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone. Through this whole process, I'm trying to stay optimistic but realistic, excited but understanding of the fact that there are hundreds of other people applying for the job I want, and hopeful about my future with Disney but trusting in God's plan for my life. No matter what happens, I really truly have full confidence that God will direct my path.

Now onto the nitty gritty of where I'm at exactly right now, I just completed the first process of the interview, an online segment, and I'll call in on Monday to arrange a time to take the phone interview. The online interview was not bad at all, it was filled with questions like, "On a scale of one to five, are you 'fill in the blank'". Emphasizing on cleanliness, punctuality, work ethics, and leadership skills. Not too bad at all! Like every other person applying for this program, the phone interview has my stomach in knots already- and I don't even know when I'm having it! I'm just hoping that I don't stutter and stammer my way through it with nervousness! :)

Here's a quick tip for interested applicants: during your online interview, answer in extremes. On a scale of 1-5, answer the majority of your questions with 1's or 5's. Disney likes to see passion, not middle-of-the-road answers. 

Now, I've received some pretty common questions, which I'll try to address.

1. What is the Disney College Program? 
This is an internship (lasting from anywhere from 4-9 months) available at Walt Disney World or Disneyland for students going into college, in college, or students who have just graduated. You can take classes while there to count for credit and have great networking opportunities!

2. Why are you applying for Disney?
For quite a while I've known that I was going to try and graduate early, because I felt really clearly like I was supposed to have the eight months between December and starting college next fall free. At first I found out about a YWAM (Youth With A Mission) training program that I really wanted to go to (shout out to Hawaii on this one!), but it became clear pretty fast that that wasn't the right place for me right now. I became really discouraged, because I knew I was supposed to be doing something, but all the different options I kept finding weren't working out. I even crossed Disney off the list at first because I didn't know if I would be able to come back in time for college. A few months and many emails later, I realized that I could definitely complete this internship in time for university. That started the whole process of applying. 

3. If accepted, when you be gone?
My program, if accepted, will run from February 21st until August 5. 

All of that boils down to me sitting here, at 5:20 pm on a lovely Sunday afternoon, thinking about my big dreams and Mickey Mouse, hoping that in a few months I'll be packing up a little blue Honda to take a 20 hour drive to the Sunshine State.Whatever happens, if there's one thing that watching all those classic Disney movies has taught me, it's that dreams can come true! So here's to the next few weeks/ months, full of anticipation, big dreams, and maybe even a little pixie dust.

August 7, 2010

The Beginning of a Blog

As I sit here in my bedroom, starring at the wall, I have a million thoughts on what my first blog entry should be about. And every time I move my fingers towards the keyboard I stop myself, thinking, “Mandy. That’s not interesting. If you’re going to have a blog, it has to be interesting.” Well, I’ve given up on that idea and decided to try something else… writing about my life the way it is, even when it just might be a little less than interesting. Because these moments, these every day/ not too special/ blink and they’re gone moments, these are are the moments that add color to life.

So. A new blog. Let's have an adventure, shall we? :)