Monday, January 30, 2012

January came and went, like a first breath of fresh air.

Tomorrow is the last day in January, and can someone please tell me where all the time went?  I swear I was just blogging about New Year's....

So I guess you're wondering what's up?  Here are the happs--I will tell you all that I can remember, but don't count on it being in order:

At the beginning of the year my little sister got married.  My LITTLE sister got MARRIED!  It was no small ordeal.  Let me tell you, she looked BEAUTIFUL (the most beautiful I can ever remember seeing her) and the whole day was just wonderful.  I am so happy for Kayla and Shayne (perhaps a bit jealous too) but I can't wait to see what great things God has in store for them.  It was great to see all of my [extended] family who made it out to California, and it was a treat for James to get to meet them all (I don't know to what extent he would agree with that, my family is kind of "unique," but it was a treat for me.)  In order to spare you from photo-barfing (and since I'm quite sure many of you have seen the pics on Facebook) I'll just post these few:

(Trying to take pictures of pictures is never easy.)

The happiest maid-of-honor to be found :]

Following the wedding I returned to Long Beach for my last week of work at Jamba Juice.  It was bittersweet for sure.  While I was glad to get out of there for numerous legitimate reasons, I will/do miss a lot of my coworkers and even my regular customers (and CBTL baristas).  But I cannot lie--the time off since then has been THE BEST.  My last day of work was the 17th, about 2 weeks ago, and since then when I have not been in school I have been: a) sleeping, b) watching movies, c) cooking, d) going home to San Deigo, e) catching up on numerous girl chats with friends I had placed on hold, f) studying the Bible, g) going to the gym(!), and/or h) spending time with my favorite guy (pictured above).  It's been wonderful.  As much as it looks like I've become a lazy slob, I think I really needed some time to slow down on work and catch up on life, remembering all the things that bring me joy.  And now, after this time, I think I am ready to go back into the work force.  (Which, for those of you who don't know, begins next Tuesday the 7th!)
Out to dinner at Le Creperie to celebrate after my last shift, and [little did we know] Deb's promotion!

Going goth for Starbucks.

When I say I have been spending some time cooking, I mean I have been SPENDING SOME TIME COOKING (cooking, as opposed to fast food, takes a long time).  I got a great beginning cookbook for Christmas from James' sister Laura and we have been going through it making a bunch of new dinners.  I have also been learning the breakfast plates and even some of the snacks, and I'd say I feel pretty proud of my jump in skillage.  Our favorite dish to make (by far) is Buffalo Chicken Sub Sandwiches.  We have made it for quite a few people (always trying different modifications and getting feedback) and we also like to make it for ourselves so that we can have leftovers for James to bring to work for lunches.  It is SO DELICIOUS, if I do say so myself.
Our first attempt.

Buffalo Wild Wings sauce, keeping it authentic.


When we have the time, we now prefer to cook instead of takeout.  It is expensive to buy the fresh [bulk] ingredients, but I think in the end you get more meals out of what you buy, and it's usually at least a LITTLE healthier than eating out...  Here are a few pictures that happen to be on my phone, since I take pictures of things I'm proud of...
The Chef
Chicken Parmesan
Cheesy Quinoa and Peas (our first healthy dish!)
Balsamic & Garlic Chicken

For those of you who live under a rock, next weekend is the Superbowl, or as I prefer to call it, the official-end-to-football-season-weekend.  I think I served my term well; I have been a faithful girlfriend to the end, watching almost every single game that we were around for, but in all honesty, I'm so glad to have our Sunday's back!  (Plus it is getting warm and sunny again (no wind!) so we can start disc golfing again.)  This weekend James' friends (my friends too now [: ) and all the girlfriends are doing a somewhat epic Superbowl weekend celebration, starting on Thursday night and ending with the game on Sunday, with a little bit of Disneyland and game nights in between.  I'm excited!
Taking the Packers game very seriously.... 

My very best girlfriend Deb has been kind enough to teach me some Photoshop tricks and lately I have been nothing short of obsessed with this program.  I mean, Jamanda's bed time is still a faithful 10pm (if we can even hold out that long), but this half of the monicker has been staying up a little later these days (and paying for it when I remember I signed up for an 8 AM CLASS!! What was I thinking?!).  These were my first PSE10 creations from last week, of which I was a little bit proud!
(Sometimes I wonder what he really thinks of me.)

Deb aslo taught me how to make espresso! I'm sure I will be able to pay her back, once I learn the in's and out's of Starbucks..

Last Thursday I got a root canal and a crown replaced (and it unfortunately took three hours to complete) and as a result I have been unable to chew on the left side of my mouth for five days now.  My tongue is all shredded up from the new crown (and still tastes of enamel) and I can't sleep on that side of my face (or the other side, thanks to my aggravated ear piercing) and so I just toss and turn all night till I find something that works.  OH if you only knew how uncomfortable it is.  I feel like the muscles on the right side of my jaw are going to get super buff and I will look like an asymmetrical monster by the time the three weeks are up.  (I have to wait three weeks till I go back and get my porcelain crown.)  I think I still have a headache from all the drilling.

As I mentioned before, I am back in school, at 8AM(!) on Mondays and Wednesdays.  It is awful and I regret it every time my alarm goes off, but then I remember that this is the last time I will be a full time student and then I brighten up immediately.  I spoke to my advisor last week and I am all set to graduate after Fall 2012, assuming I do my internship practicuum and final HDEV class next semester.  Not even a year more and this girl will be done with CSULB.. :]

Tomorrow night James and I are starting a new class on the Parables in the Bible and we couldn't be more excited.  Studying the Bible together is one of the best and most fulfilling things we enjoy doing together, and it only gets better as God allows for more and more perception and understanding.  In addition to our new weekly class, we have officially moved up to The Fold at church (the new young adults group) and after the first meeting, we are very excited.  It was great to see so many old familiar faces that we haven't been around since being in the college group.  For the first time in a long time we are actually the youngest people in the group and we are in a place where we truly need the community of these believers that are in similar life stages as we are.  It's like no group I've been in before, which is good and bad, but we are happy with the change and we are looking forward to what the Big Guy has in store for us in 2012...

With that said, I think I am off to the gym! (Trying to work on my NY resolutions!)
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Monday, January 16, 2012

Thoughts on joining the Green Empire, & how God is Awesome

I know this is one of my longer posts, but in order to avoid telling this story countless more times than I have energy for, I have decided to just write it all down here, for everyone to read. 

Back in July, my boyfriend James told me to quit my job at Jamba.  I didn't listen to him.
He asked me again in October, but I said it would be okay and I stayed.
By December he was practically begging me to give my two-weeks notice, but apparently I am one of the most stubborn girlfriends around, or maybe I just don't know how to help myself.

I guess having a stressed out, worn down, anxiety-ridden girlfriend who constantly needs cheering up isn't that fun.  Who would've known?

Truth is, I had been feeling pulled in that direction (to leave my job) since July as well, but had been extremely reluctant to trust God in this area of my life.  This job, since being promoted to manager, had been my first "big girl" job, and had allowed me to become financially stable and independent.  I was in no way prepared to give up that security.  So instead I sat around and complained to anyone and everyone that would listen or sympathize.

This May would mark three years with Jamba Juice, and while I am thankful for the opportunities and experiences that have grown me and helped me gain perspective, it has been painful and arduous for the past year and I feel as if I have been run into the ground.  My Christmas Eve shift was the straw that broke the camel's back.  Whether it was overbooking my already-busy schedule, becoming burned out on Jamba's overzealous new platforms, or just any of the numerous disagreements I've had with my boss (along with feelings of being extremely under-appreciated/devalued), I have been SO ready to get out of there for quite some time now.

Maybe I should have listened to James and given my notice back in the summer, but truth is, I was scared.  I'm still scared, but realizing that I don't need to be.  I was scared to quit without something else lined up, I  was scared to put my foot down when I noticed shady deviations from Jamba protocol, and I was scared to stand up for myself and for what was right.  I realize I might be fighting a life-long battle against people pleasing, but as far as Jamba is concerned, I'm finally OUT!
I put in my two-weeks notice on January 1st; how's that for a New Year's Resolution?!  It was honestly one of the biggest feelings of relief I have ever felt.

Before taking the leap I prayed day and night, up and down, that I wasn't making a mistake.  One of our pastors, Tim Springer, gave a very convicting sermon about Jeremiah 29 (on THE SAME MORNING that I submitted my notice), teaching on being content with knowing that God's will sometimes involves suffering and doing things that we don't want to do.  He gave the example of being stuck working graveyard shifts at a job that he didn't like, for much longer than he ever expected, but realizing it was God's plan for him to stay there.  I was unsure and confused about what God wanted of me and I was a wreck.  But I kept praying.

I remember driving to work on my first shift after submitting my notice; I was crying all alone in my car, thinking, "what the heck have I done?" I prayed something along the lines of, "God, I'm scared.  I'm so so scared that I've made a mistake, or that I am going to be unemployed forever--or at least for a long, long time--and that I won't be able to get married or move out or even feed myself for much longer. Please guide me; if this is your will, please validate this decision.  I'm so scared."

I kept my composure as many coworkers, family members, and friends asked me what I possibly had in store that was better for me than a managerial position, and admittedly I lied a few times.  I said I had small jobs that could probably get me by for a few months, and I continued to push the fact that I am almost graduated and that I am just going to truly focus on school.  (That is not a lie by any means, but it definitely wasn't my hope.)  But on the inside I was freaking out, and all I could do was keep praying...

In what can only be described as something purely divine, my prayers were heard and answered in a way I could have never arranged on my own.  Before I even had a day off to begin my job hunt, I was offered a job at Starbucks (and if you know me well enough, you will know I have dreamt of this job for years and have been applying ever since I was of age to work there--I LOVE STARBUCKS).  The Starbucks manager walked into Jamba and offered me a job, on the spot--something she says she has never done in her life.

The praying continued and the nervousness increased.  I guess you're thinking I'm crazy... someone offers you a new job after you just quit your old job, you should be ecstatic, right?  Well I wasn't.  I was excited to have a front to hide behind, but I was extremely nervous that this would take me out of the frying pan and into the fryer, or something like that.  James and I began to pray that things with Starbucks would only continue to develop if it was truly what God had planned for me, and that if nothing transpired it would be because there were other things in the works that I needed to be patient and wait for.

Today has been filled with an enormous amount of prayer and support from friends and family, for which I cannot even begin to express my thankfulness.

I interviewed at Starbucks in Belmont Shore at 1:00pm and by 5:00pm the manager was calling to offer me the job, which I happily accepted.  (The praying didn't stop there, and it will surely be continuing as I enter this new chapter of life.)  As I worked my second-to-last closing shift tonight, I couldn't help but float around with a fat grin on my face knowing that all my worrying and fear was in vain, just like Philippians 4:6 says it will be.

My first day at Starbucks will be on February 6th, giving me three solid weeks to recuperate and heal this sprained ankle/tendon that I have been nursing since Christmas.  The manager seems great, and the thing that I [already] love most about her is that she truly cares about the well-being of her employees and wants them to be happy and able to give 100% (hence the time off to recuperate and transition); no working when you are sick!  The benefits are extremely appealing, and the coffee-shop atmosphere makes my heart want to discount-double-check.  (Did I just make a football reference?)  Oh what a nice, refreshing change this will be.. :]

I don't know if Starbucks will be the fulfillment of Bucket List #17 (Work at a Job I Love), or if it will be just another marker on the journey I call Life, but I am looking forward to it.  Immensely.  Partially because it allows me to escape Jamba, but also because of all the novelty it contains, and for the learning experiences I'm sure will come.  Please join me in praying for this transition, or just check back here for updates.  :]

To close, God is good (so good), all the time.  Don't be like me; trust in Him the first time and save yourself a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety.

PS- If you have never shared a Starbucks experience with me, something is wrong with our relationship.
Me and Starbs, we go way back.

Tommy and I (last week), observing the transition back into white cups.

My hoard of Red Cups, perhaps unhealthy/unsanitary.

My excitement over the return of Red Cups this year.

Making new friends via Starbucks Coffee Dates.  I'm notorious for these.

Starbucks as midterm-season pick-me-up, and secret weapon of doting boyfriend.

Starbucks On-the-Go: a must for any extended car ride!

Exploring Starbucks in other cities--always exciting.  Above, Melissa and Me taking shelter from the cold San Fran winds.

Starbucks to get you going in the morning at work -- Deb and I welcoming the new face of Starbucks (e.g. Garamond Font and new Green Sleeves).

Starbucks in the Summer.

And last but not least, falling in love with a Starbucks Barista when you are 15-and-a-half years old, beginning an unhealthy and expensive addiction to coffee drinks and coffee shops, only to drain all of the babysitting money I ever saved, and end up with no love to show for it!

I bet Jesus would've drank Starbucks.