March: The Celebrations Continue (Part Two)

To my few faithful readers: I apologize for the gap of time between my last entry being posted and this entry being posted. I will try to be more consistent in my writing and publishing from here on out!

I love dreaming. One dream that I hold in my  heart is to serve on the World Race (an 11 month mission trip to 11 different countries) someday. Many people who go on this trip get a lot of their gear from a store called REI. My dad goes to REI on occasion to purchase biking gear. World Race dreams aside, ever since I first heard of REI, I knew it was a store I would love to shop in. Camping gear, hiking gear, biking gear, fitness gear–what’s not for an outdoors-loving tomboy to enjoy? Every time we receive a catalog from REI or L.L. Bean in the mail, I flip through it, dreaming of the many adventures that can be had.

My dad needed to go up to REI one Saturday in March to pick up his bike, after getting it fitted with a new gadget. I did not have to work until that evening, so I was able to go with him to our nearest REI store (about an hour away). I was officially going as an interpreter of sorts–translating any tech-talk he didn’t understand for him–but I also knew that I was being given the opportunity to see a dream unfold in front of my eyes.

It’s not very often that my dad and I are able to just have one-on-one hangout time for half a day. My heart deeply treasured our conversations throughout the day. After we were done at REI, Dad and I went to lunch at Panera Bread. It was my first time eating at a Panera Bread. I had heard many good things about this restaurant from a plethora of people, and was excited to finally see what all the hype was about. Panera Bread did not disappoint, at all. The snow falling outside complemented the warm, cozy, and inviting environment of the restaurant. All in all, this day spent with Dad ranks as one of my favorite days spent with just Dad in recent memory.


* * *

One of my favorite annual traditions is getting free water ice from Rita’s on the first day of spring. It’s free water ice. How can there be anything wrong with that arrangement? The only way one could not enjoy free water ice is if someone has never had water ice. If that is you, I feel for you.  I celebrated the first day of spring with a friend from church. We did get our free water ice, but also simply enjoyed spending the day together. At one point, we were driving around and saw a beautiful sight of light breaking through the clouds. We were at a stop sign, and just stared at the sky, in awe of God. I took a photo, but the photo does no justice to what we saw.


Later on that evening, I found out that my cousin and her husband were expecting their first child! This cousin, only a year older than me, was one of my closest friends growing up. Their news brought great joy to my heart. 🙂

* * *

My life does not just revolve around fun activities with friends and family. I work part-time at Home Depot. In March 2013, I had worked there for just over two years. I had my annual review in March, even though I had gotten hired in February and should have had my review in February. My review went very well. It went well, just like every other review I’ve had at this job. That is, until I saw one word–a word that I had desired to see since my very first review, a word that I had worked very hard to earn it being said about me–“promotable.” Unfortunately, I did not write much about this occasion, as monumental as it was, because quite honestly, I was in a whirlwind of emotions and events that week. Seeing with my own eyes that all of my hard work was not in vain gave me much needed value and confidence.



Bridal showers are an opportunity to both celebrate and to dream. It’s a continued celebration of the lucky couple’s relationship and a chance to dream about the new adventures they are sure to experience in the newest chapter of their lives. My friend Krystle‘s wedding was in early May, so a Saturday in March was the best time to throw a bridal shower. She was not surprised about the shower–her maid of honor flew up from North Carolina to be part of it and stayed with Krystle. There were a few bumps in planning the shower, but in the end, everything worked out well.


Since Krystle’s maid of honor was unable to come up another weekend in between the bridal shower and the wedding, the bridal party surprised Krystle with her bachelorette night after the bridal shower was finished. We got manicures, drove to Krystle’s favorite restaurant in Ocean City for dinner, took a quick walk on the beach, and went back to her parent’s house for a Pirates of the Caribbean marathon (in which we all quoted most of the movie). One of the bridesmaids made us matching T-shirts and also decorated drink glasses for each of us. She did an amazing job, and those small touches made the evening more special. When we were in Ocean City, we ended up going to the beach just a couple of blocks away from where a group of ladies from my church were on a retreat. I joked about just walking in to say hello to them–and almost did–but decided to not intrude on what could very well have been a serious time of prayer or discussion. The night was simple, but sometimes it is the simple moments that are the most memorable.



A month of celebration is not complete without a birthday celebration. My cousin and wife had a combined birthday party for one of their sons and one of their daughters in the end of March. Their son had just turned one, and their daughter was about to turn nine. The theme of the day was cowboys and cowgirls. We all donned bandanas or straw hats as part of the festivities. Even though I am not able to see my cousin and his family on a regular basis (due to driving distance and my ever changing schedule), seeing his kids grow up brings great joy to my heart.



March’s celebrations were finished off with the celebration of the greatest event in human history–the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. I attended our church’s Good Friday service, where our pastor shared about how the cross is not just a symbol of Christianity, the cross is also personal–to Jesus and to us. Easter celebrations started with an annual family tradition–a pancake breakfast at the church I grew up in. My sister and I still managed to be the first ones in line. 😉  After the pancake breakfast, I drove over to my current church, where I had breakfast number two. The sermon delivered by our pastor was about how Jesus was focused on going home to God the Father–to Daddy, to Papa. My notes that day end with “Your power comes in your relationship with God the Father.”  Little did I know in those moments how God would reveal His heart to me as my Heavenly Father throughout the rest of the year, in major ways. After church, I drove home for Easter dinner at our house. Our house was full of people, but to quote singer TobyMac, “Love is in the house and the house is packed.” I would much rather celebrate with a full house of love than an empty house of hate.



Whew, what a month!


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March: The Celebrations Continue (Part One)

Of all the months that span the season of winter, March is my favorite. Perhaps the fact that makes my heart happy during March is the fact that winter ends and spring begins. Perhaps it is because I have had many wonderful experiences in March over the years. Whatever the reason is, March 2013 has earned its place in the record books.

The month started with what was supposed to be a normal family dinner at my grandmom’s house. My cousin, his wife, and two children were preparing to leave the United States to serve overseas as missionaries. They had made a trip up to New Jersey (from Tennessee) to see family and friends in this area one last time before they moved to their new country. At the last minute, my grandmom was unable to host guests at her house, due to a plumbing issue. My grandmom, at first, was worrying about how the dinner would continue. She had already made the food. Understandably, she was upset. Thankfully, my parents volunteered our house as the location to gather for the meal. My dad drove over to her house to help her transport the food back to our house.  Mom-Mom even brought over a jar of chocolate chip cookies, because what is a family dinner without dessert?

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been inspired by people who chose to live overseas as missionaries. One of  my lifelong dreams has been to serve as a missionary overseas (for more than just a week). Since I am unable to do that right now, the next best thing is to soak up everything that my cousin has to say about his new country. My cousin’s wife was unable to attend our dinner, because she was visiting a friend (in the area) from college. I had not been able to see my cousin or his two boys since 2009, so our family dinner brought peace and joy to my soul. I would have loved the night to last longer, but before my cousin left, he did extend an offer for me to visit him and his family in his new country (or one nearby). We agreed that the next photo we took together would be in a different country. I cannot wait for that day!


The young adult group at my church decided to go out to lunch at a hibachi restaurant after church on March 10. It was my first time at a hibachi restaurant–I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that the time spent with friends would be treasured in my heart, no matter what happened. I loved the entire experience. After we finished our luch, a few of us walked across the parking lot to get coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. I have yet to acquire a taste for coffee, but I enjoyed the conversations that were taking place. A handful of us then decided to get ice cream. Wonderful conversations–the type that make you linger and savor every moment–were a grand finale to the day. My heart was teeming with delight once I finally made my way home.


There are two days in the month of March that I celebrate because of their major significance in my spiritual life. March 13 is the day I was baptized. March 15 is the day that God spoke to and wrecked my heart on my first overseas mission trip. To me, these days are just as important as my birthday. I always do something special on March 13th and 15th as a way of remembering these meaningful moments. This year, I celebrated by treating myself to Chick-Fil-A on my lunch break at work (Fun fact: Our Chick-Fil-A opened on March 15, 2012. Yet another reason I love March 15ths!). I ordered a breakfast sandwich and ice cream, even though it was only 9 or 9:30 in the morning. A celebration isn’t a celebration without ice cream!


Since 2013 is the year of immeasurably more, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that God had even more incredible gifts to give me.  Yet the night ended with God showing off His goodness to my heart in very intimate ways. God knows how to give good gifts, and every March 15 since 2008 is proof of that–including March 15, 2013.  My heart was surprised when God lavished His love on me that night, but in the best way possible.

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Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Dear Writer’s Block (WB),

I’ve never written a break-up letter before, thanks to you. I’ve had these feelings and thoughts in my head for some time now, but whenever I wanted to write them down, you wouldn’t let me. You have strived so hard to become first in my life, and now you have finally earned it. You are the inspiration and the reason for my first break-up letter.

I don’t appreciate your visits or your rudeness. Yes, for awhile we were friends. I knew you were around as much as you could, but I never understood why. I couldn’t figure you out. You showed up at inopportune times and made yourself at home–even when I didn’t want you around or when I told you to leave. Your arrival was always announced from the top of your lungs. If I ignored you, you hovered around me until I was forced to acknowledge you.  Once I acknowledged you, I had given you what you had desired the most–my attention.  You then started up a conversation with me–the same idea every time, disguised by fancy words and a convincing tone.

WB, I’m on to you. I can now see you for what you really are.

You are insecure.

You are anxious.

You are afraid.

You are a liar.

You are a thief.

You are selfish.


How did I come to see all of these things after an extended period of time of hanging around you and not seeing them?

Well, for as long as I’ve known you, there has been someone who I have known longer. They recently came back into my life. The relationship that I have with them has never been a secret. In fact, my friendship with them is why you act the way you do around me.  It’s why you are so overprotective of me. It’s why you are jealous.  I never should have allowed myself to walk away from the deep friendship and relationship that Creativity and I have.

I am breaking up with you, Writer’s Block, because Creativity has won my heart.

Remember, WB, in The Little Mermaid, how Ariel gave up her voice so that she could be transformed into a human by Ursula? Unbeknownst to me, you have led me down the same path. I may not have signed a glowing contract, but you tricked me into giving up my voice. You knew that you are insecure, so you convinced me to believe lies about myself, just so you wouldn’t be alone. You told me that I have no room for Creativity in my life anymore. You told me that Creativity and I have no future together. You told me that Creativity has nothing to offer me. You were afraid of the power of the voice that Creativity has given me, because you knew that in Creativity was the one thing that you could never be–fruitful. WB, you are the king of laziness and excuses. You can’t be part of my life anymore. My voice will no longer be silenced by your theft, for your selfish gain.

Creativity is one of the best things that has ever come into my life. I’m not going to make the mistake of letting go of Creativity again. Creativity reminds me not only that I have a voice, I have a voice that is valuable. Creativity gives me opportunities to share my voice with the world. I have a voice so that through it, I can share my  heart and my viewpoint with the world. Creativity has given me courage, and will give me more courage in the future. That’s more than you ever offered me, WB. You gave me fear, doubt, and way too many wasted hours.  You are not welcome in my life anymore. Don’t stop by, announced or unannounced. Don’t call me, text me, e-mail me, or try to contact me in any way.  I’m sure you’ll see me around though–I’ll be walking hand in hand with Creativity.

magnetic poetry


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February: Laughter Is Good For The Soul

February 2013 was a month of celebrating the little things in life.

My aunt and uncle, who live in Tennessee, came up to New Jersey for a visit. My grandmother had a family dinner to celebrate the occasion. Those of us who were able to make the dinner crowded around the dining room table, the table reserved for large gatherings. My grandmother’s house is cozy and full of love, but it is not extremely large. I’m not sure if my grandparents ever dreamed of having a family that is too large to sit at one table for a meal when they moved into their house many years ago.  Even though no one has much wiggle room at the table, it is a table of love. Besides, we’re family, so a little elbow nudging here and there won’t upset anyone.

Fam dinner Feb

The love of family is not only shown during a large dinner. The love of family is also shown through small moments filled with deep joy. One day when my sister and I were at Walmart, I saw a package of pink pancake mix with chocolate chips. Leeann loves anything and everything pink.. As soon as I saw the packaging, I picked up the mix and put it in the cart. I told her, “I just found something for you to buy because you are going to enjoy it.” At first, she was not happy about me spending her money for her. Once she saw what I had picked out, all of her frustrations dissipated. The two of us made the pancakes on a night we were both home.  I enjoyed the pancakes, not because they were pink, but because they gave my sister and I an opportunity to hang out and do something together.  Another special memory I have with my sister during this month is the night we decided to go to Yogo Factory for frozen yogurt. The temperature outside was frigid, yet we still ventured out and enjoyed the opportunity to indulge in a tasty dessert.

Leelee yogo

I had the opportunity in the middle of the month to meet up with one of my roommates from college and her husband for dinner. They had recently bought a house, and this was my first chance to see it. By the end of the night, my roommate and I had shared our hearts with each other for about 6 hours, and it still felt as if we had just barely scratched the surface. We celebrated God’s faithfulness in our lives and were open about the struggles in our hearts. Once her husband came home from work, he also joined in our time of sharing with each other. In a sense, it was a very small church service. No hymns were sung, but we broke bread together. We shared our hearts together. We lifted up Jesus together. We prayed together. It was a beautiful night, and a beautiful time of church.  A few days later, it was during a “regular”  church service that God brought my heart into a freedom it had never known before, yet had wished and hoped for and dreamed of.


Towards the end of the month, I met up with three of my friends from college for dinner. We had been talking and dreaming about a small reunion since we had seen each other last. Our plan originally was to meet up for church and then have lunch, but our schedules only allowed us to meet up for dinner on a Saturday night. Three of us carpooled to our pre-determined meet-up place. Once our fourth friend showed up and got into the car, we all squealed with delight.  As we drove to Applebees, conversation flowed easily as we began to catch up on each other’s lives and the lives of our other friends who were not with us that night. During our dinner, none of us saw the need to be quiet in our joy. We were that loud, obnoxious table of people who laugh at everything.  We saw a family, seated near us, who had also been at Megan and Derek’s wedding. The four of us walked over to surprise them, our joy, smiles, and giddiness giving us away before we got over there.  We lingered as long as we could at the restaurant. After dinner, we drove to Yogo Factory for dessert. We continued with our joy-filled laughter and conversations. We were some of the only people there, which made our conversations seem even louder. We stayed until the workers started to close up the building. It is this type of friendship–the type of conversations you can barely finish because you are too busy exploding with joy and laughter, the crazy dreams you dream together, and the moments of life that you share together with one heart–that I will never take for granted.

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January: Let Our Hearts Embrace This Moment

2013 started with eager anticipation. I celebrated New Year’s Eve with family friends, a lifelong tradition with only a few exceptions. We ate far too much of our share of pizza, snacks, and desserts. As we shared a simple meal, we also shared our hearts with each other, catching up on what has happened in our lives since our last gathering. We played Bananagrams until a couple of us were too tired to make words. My parents and I left before midnight and rang in the new year on our couches, snuggled up under blankets. I wanted 2013 to get here, and get here quickly. I knew that once 2013 arrived, it was only a matter of weeks before two of my best friends got married. Working the days in between didn’t seem as stressful as usual, because I had such a major milestone to count down to.

NYE tree 2013

   In between New Year’s and my friends’ wedding, a little event called Passion 2013 happened in Atlanta, GA. Passion is an organization that seeks to “glorify God by uniting students in worship, prayer, and justice for spiritual awakening in this generation.” I had attended Passion conferences in the past, but was unable to be in Atlanta for 2013’s conference. I was still able to attend the conference, thanks to the donations of some very generous people that allowed the conferences to be streamed online. I wasn’t able to watch every session, but the ones that I did watch were amazing. It was during Passion 2013 that God showed me what would end up being my theme Bible verse for 2013.
   The conference also unveiled new worship songs. As I watched the conference on my computer, two of these new worship songs invaded my heart. “God’s Great Dance Floor” and “Shout” became my new favorite worship songs because through those songs, I was able to embrace freedom like never before. I danced around my room, knowing how silly I looked. Regardless of how silly I looked while dancing,   I was dancing in freedom. over every one of the chains that used to hold me captive. My dancing was proclaiming TRUTH where there used to be only lies and confusion. I was taking full claim of the promise that God IS DOING something NEW in my life. A line in “Gods’ Great Dance Floor” says “Let the future begin.” I held that line close to my heart–I could sense that a whole new adventure (one of immeasurably more than I could dream of) was about to begin.
   Before I knew it, the time for my friends’ wedding had come. I had been looking forward to this wedding since the fall of 2008. I had already become friends with Derek the year before through a Christian group on campus. Megan and I became best friends right after we met at an outreach event on campus. It wasn’t long before Megan and Derek met and I found myself  answering Megan’s questions about Derek and giving her relationship advice (including the simple statement, “Meg, when he asks you out, say yes.”). He did in fact ask her out, and the rest is history. Megan and Derek have the kind of love that would make a Hollywood chick-flick jealous.  In their four years of dating, I have had the privilege to see their love for God and their love for each other deepen and intensify to a level not seen by many in today’s world.
   In the months leading up to Megan and Derek’s wedding, God was preparing my heart for what was yet to come. He was answering prayers that I had been holding in my heart and asking Him for years and years. Jesus showed me that He sees me as beautiful. What better way to fully celebrate for the first time the understanding that I am beautiful than being a bridesmaid in the wedding of two of your closest friends?

Everything about the wedding weekend was beautiful, wonderful, and perfect. I went to a nail salon for the first time in my life and got my first manicure. As an added bonus, the lady who worked on my nails gave me a shoulder massage as my nails dried. I am very ticklish, so for someone to be able to give me a massage without me laughing and telling them to stop a few seconds into it is a huge deal. I also wore makeup for the first time in my life (not counting the couple of times that I wore just one or two types of makeup, usually under much protest). I rode in a limo for the first time.

The ceremony brought almost everyone in the room to tears. I could not look at my friends during the ceremony, because I knew that certain ones were bawling their eyes out—if I looked at them, I would have started to bawl my eyes out. There is nothing wrong with crying, except when formal photos still have to be taken afterward. The ceremony was a mixture of Chinese and English. Derek’s family is Chinese, and some speak very little English. Derek’s mom read some Scripture in Mandarin Chinese for her family.

The day ended with a joyous reception. I looked forward to dancing as a way to celebrate the day itself, to celebrate the joy of realizing that God sees me as beautiful, and to the freedom God had given my heart earlier in the month. I’m not a good dancer, and I don’t know many moves, but the few songs I danced to became treasures in my heart.

Not long after Megan and Derek’s wedding, I went bridesmaid dress shopping for wedding number two of 2013. This experience did not go as smooth as dress shopping for Megan’s wedding had gone. The day we went shopping was the first day I met one of the bridesmaids. She is very nice, but that day, we had to deal with the slight awkwardness of not knowing each other, yet having to work together to find dresses for the wedding. Our experience was beyond stressful (our consultant forgetting about us was the least of our problems), but in looking back, many precious memories were created that day. Our dresses were successfully ordered and I started a new friendship.

What a way to kick off a year!

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2013 In Review

2013 was an amazing year. There is no possible way that I can summarize this entire year in one blog post. My “2013” album on Facebook has close to 900 photos in it–memories of special moments–and that is with me showing restraint in uploading. I didn’t even include the album of one of the weddings I was in or the album of photo adventures from a day with a friend. 2013 has been full of joys, full of challenges, full of dreams coming true, full of new dreams being created. 2013 has been, without a doubt, a year of “immeasurably more.”  This year also had its share of difficulties and things not going as I had hoped or planned. The struggles and doubts of this year in no way negate the overflow of blessings that God gave me this year.

To kick off my come-back to blogging, I am taking a suggestion from my sister. As I ate breakfast this morning, she was working on a “2013 In Review” series for her blog. She then suggested that I do the same thing. I thought it over, and will be starting a series of posts that highlight the best parts of 2013.  Each entry will be about one month of 2013. If I had planned this out better (and had not been sick right before Christmas), I would have had one entry per day for the final 12 days of 2013. Real life happens, and I did not plan this out as well as I could have. Even so, the entries will be coming as soon as possible. I am excited to share about the goodness of this year!

Dandelion Sunset

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Making A Comeback

I don’t know if anyone even reads this blog anymore.  I have been quite inconsistent in posting things here. However, a lack of posting does not equate to a lack of writing.  I have been writing and planning things to write and outlining how to write what is going on in my life. I have been overwhelmed with things to write about because so much has happened in my life and in my heart this year.

I hope and plan to post more blogs in here in the very near future. It might happen before the new year, or it might happen after the craziness of the holiday season wears down.  But whenever it happens, I’m making a comeback to the world of blogging!!


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The Loveliest Things

Today, my guest post about the little lovely things of life is featured on Stephanie May’s blog.

I originally found Stephanie’s blog when she was on the World Race last year.  Her writing captured my heart. Her photography inspired me.  More than once, the words that she wrote were the exact words that God knew my heart needed to hear.  I consider it such a privilege to have been able to write a post for her blog.  Enjoy!!

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Today Is My Happily Ever After


I have never been a “girly girl*.”  The few pink things that I enjoy are strawberry lemonades/smoothies, the inside of a medium-rare steak, bubble gum, and the second dot in Flickr’s logo.  The only makeup I own and know how to apply is a handful of containers of nail polish.  I tried to read Pride and Prejudice, but could barely make it through the first chapter.   I work at Home Depot, and am proud of the fact that I can lift bags of mulch, pieces of lumber and 60 lb bags of concrete without any help.  My childhood consisted of playing outside, taking on boys in sports, catching frogs, and being called a princess.

I have yet to watch a Disney movie where the princess does not have a “happily ever after.”  Or any chick-flick.  The “happily ever after” comes after she is swept off her feet by her prince and challenges are overcome.  It is easy in everyday life to view your “happily ever after” as a day far off in the future,  a day that will only happen when x, y, and z are completed.  Perhaps it is when you will get your dream job, or perhaps it is your wedding day that still seems as if it is an eternity away (especially if you are still single while your friends start to get married). Perhaps your “happily ever after” will come after you’ve overcome an addiction or faced a fear that has gripped your soul for far too long.

I say that today is your “happily ever after.”  I know that your heart is probably full of confusion, hurt, disappointment, unanswered questions,  and dreams that have yet to be fulfilled; yet your heart also holds peace, joy, happiness, and excitement.  I can say that with confidence because my heart is the same way.  There is no prince in sight to sweep me off of my feet, but he’s not here yet because he probably still has some dragons to slay.  People say and do things that are hurtful, but you can release them into the beauty of forgiveness.  I eagerly anticipate the days when more of my dreams can be fulfilled, but how I choose to live today will determine what the future looks like.

I am still a princess, not simply because my mom has called me that since I was a baby.  I am still a princess because my Daddy is the King of Kings.  Because of the goodness of God, I am here today, alive, & free from sin and full of love, faith, joy, and hope.  I have wonderful memories and a future ahead of me that is held by the hands of my Creator.  It has not been an easy journey up until now—my heart still bears the now-healed scars from previous hurts—and the future will not always be easy, but who said that adventures would be easy?  Explode my soul, explode with praise because a few years ago, you couldn’t imagine being here today after first seeing the trials you would have to overcome.  A few years ago, you didn’t know what it meant to become freer in how you worship God.  You didn’t realize how beautiful you are, or that the deepest hurts from others can be forgiven and healed.

Drop whatever is preventing you from living today as your “happily ever after.”   Leave it at the foot of the Cross.  Once you do that, you are free, and “whom the Son sets free is free indeed” (John 8:36). You only get to experience today one time in your entire life, so why would you want to live it as anything but full of joy?

Today is my “happily ever after” simply because I am a child of God.  My identity is found in Him alone.

Mi nombre es Susan, y yo soy una princesa.

*Over the past year or so, I was in circumstances that required me to dress up–weddings, a funeral, job interviews, certain photography events, etc.  I even bought a purse with a ruffle on it.  EVEN SO, I am still a complete tomboy at heart.

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23 From 23



Today is my last day as a 23-year old.  These are 23 images from my 23rd year of life.  There is one image that I did not take in the collage, but that’s okay.


Even though it wasn’t always easy to see or understand, a LOT happened in my life while I was 23. Through it all, God is still good and is faithful.


“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”–Proverbs 3:5-6.



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