Friday, December 2, 2016

Facebook Reminded Me!

So today on Facebook from quite a few years ago I shared this blog and therefore it was in the memories section. I have been back in California for about 2.5 years. God had put Long Beach, CA on my heart in my final year in Japan. So, I now live in Long Beach and am part of an amazing church called The Garden (
In 2016 I went to China with the IVC Debate team! I am back to teaching college students in Communication Studies. I teach at 2 colleges part time.. praying to find that full time school withing the next few years.

This is just a short post to let you know that I am still alive and seeking to continue to surrender to the All knowing and loving God. Here will end up being some, likely random times, journey stories as I try to navigate teaching millennials, being single and dating, living on a small budget (for California), getting healthy and losing weight... or life in general. I will pray about each blog (and have pictures) in hopes when I do post it might encourage anyone who might stumble upon it. 

Out counties climate right now is a bit chaotic.. Let's be strong together by being kind and allowing those who need to express themselves do so without judgement. Father God is love and calls us to be love. Let's love one another in ways we have seem to forgotten over the years (and ways we remember too).

I have no idea how often or what things I will write about here.. though I know I will start sharing what God is teaching me again. Being thankful for different things everyday can really help you see the good among the clouds. 
I also went with my sister & nephews to build this house!
I also went to India with The Garden in Feb., had some friends from Japan visit me, went to the San Diego Zoo with a Japan friend who is from Alaska, went to Oregon to visit friends, reunited with an old friend, Celebrated my mom's 76th year, went to The Awakening with other World Racrers including my brother... lots more happened this year than I realized.. thank you 2016, how about you? Let's finish strong!!!
Happy December 2016! See you all in 2017!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

WOW! Time Flies like a hummingbird!

So, I'm not sure anyone is here to read this since I waited so long again. If you are reading... thanks so much for giving me grace :).

Now that it's December, it's way too cold sitting here under two blankets but I decided that I needed to get some stuff done this day off!! The knowledge that I will be home in warmer weather and seeing my family this Christmas helps me hold on and not give in to the cold by staying wrapped up in bed sipping hot chocolate. So, where to begin....

Work Halloween Parties!
Work: I dove into my new job at the end of July. After 4 months I do have the hang of things and love all the kids. It is so nice to be able to freely talk about Jesus at work and I pray that I show them the love of Jesus with my love and care. There are some challenges, of course, and as long as I don't have to potty train I might do this job one more year.

The growth I am experiencing with this job is good. I learning more about myself as I interact with many different personalities. Working with kids always tests your patience and I am seeing I have grown in that for sure. I also realized that my patience with adults is not so good all the time. So, a work in progress I may be.. but the key word there is "progress." Let me encourage you to stay on the journey of growth no matter your age or life experience. God will never give up on us and will always help us become better, when we ask.

 I came home to the sunset every night until winter!
Home: This place and set up is so much better than last year. I no longer feel like I am in a dorm room. I have a good roommate. We get along well and she happens to be from California too. We have quite a few similarities but are also very different. We can sharpen one another since she has some strength where I am weak and vice versa. My friends and I were just talking last night about being teachable... and that is what I want to be.

Anna's baby shower, showing off my rocking gift!
Etching our designs in glass at Church camp!
Church: Grace City is a wonderful community. We have so many nations represented and more and more Japanese people have been coming. I am now serving by helping with coffee and power point. This month my friends Anna & Luke with their new wee little daughter, Lene, will be heading back to England. A part of life here is that people come and go, so you need to make the most of it while they are still here. The best thing is that we are still family no matter where we are in the Kingdom of God so we only gain by meeting, even if just for a season. I am learning to get new joy out of relationships even when I know they won't be with me very long. I hope others do the same with me since I will be the one leaving someday.

Please pray as we are looking for a new location. It is difficult to find meeting spaces in Japan. We also have some things that are important in the move... like being close to a station so people can find us easily. Also, having classrooms so the youth doesn't have to meet in the kitchen and our growing number of kids with have space. And a place where we can meet every Sunday! The community center sometimes needs it so we have to find another space or skip a service that week. Oh, and a place to store our stuff would be good too ;). It is so great to see so many coming. We are having a Christmas service on the 23rd. I will be on a plane that day but please join me in prayer that many Japanese people will hear the story of Jesus' birth for the first time this month! They already know who Santa and Rudolph are, but not the Savior of the world!

Basilica Cistern, Istanbul.
Fun: In August I went to Hanabi (fireworks) with some co-workers! Wow, Japan does fireworks like no one else. They went for 45 minutes and had like 10 of what we consider a grand finale. And each was bigger than any grand finale I have ever seen. They switch areas in the sky and even kept going when the sky was full of smoke! Sorry I don't have any pictures.. it was spontaneous so I didn't have my camera.
Ken & I at his Church Retreat!

In Goreme taking a tour around Capadocia.
Hot air balloon ride! It was so amazing!!
In September I went to Turkey to visit my brother!!! It was so wonderful! I do have lots of pictures but my second to last day, in Ephesus, I dropped and broke my camera. Wow! I love Turkey!! The food was amazing, the people were great, my brother is there, and the history is showing all over the place. I got to go on a retreat with my brother and his church. It was at the beach, so beautiful  and to get to worship God alongside my big brother, priceless!! My church also had a church camp in Sept. I had to work but was able to go late and enjoy the last evening and the next morning meeting. It was a blast!

In October I was able to reconnect with many of my friends whom I hadn't seen in a while. I also grew closer to new friends. Relationships are really important to me and it is so much fun getting to know new people, connecting with others, and enjoying tea together often.

In November I got to eat two Thanksgiving meals. One after work on Thanksgiving day with a couple of co-workers at an American style sports bar that has turkey just for 4 days a year. Then on Sunday I enjoyed a lovely home cooked Thanksgiving with some friends. It was a small group so we got to truly enjoy one another. Also, we all pitched in money and one friend cooked everything!! So nice and what a blessing!! It was yummy!!!

Now we are into December and it is cold all the time in my apartment! No insulation at all. But I will survive and look forward to Swing Dancing on the 16th for our Winter Ball or something like that and flying home for 10 days on the 23rd. I have a layover in China and will hopefully see my sister on the way! So, off to finding fun gifts for my family and cleaning!

Give out your smile often and you will see many returns for that small gift.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

One Year Done!

Well, I think it is safe to say that I am not to great at this blog thing. Especially as I watch my friends post several a month!!! And I am struggling to do one a month!! What's wrong with me??

That's not the right question. It is not a matter of what is wrong as much as why I am not so motivated to blog. Part of it is that I just have never been a consistent writer.. I have always been sporadic in journaling and such. Another part is that I have been trying to do most everything out of my own strength.

 A big part is that I have been a bit selfish this year and I didn't want to admit it. I did not use my time too well and ate horribly.. suffering the consequences of both those now! I guess that was more the first half (or 8 months or so) and I have been coming out of my self induced life coma for the past 4 months. There has been so much good because God is good and never quits.. though I know I missed out on so much and I don't want to miss out on anymore!!!
Yata! I did it! I year finished and it was great! My Farewell Dinner

At the restaurant with some wonderful students! And Alex, who is replacing me!
This week I finished my first job in Japan, packed everything, and started a new job. I didn't know where I was going to live until a week before I had to be out of my apartment that my company rented for me. The place I wanted to move into filled up from May when I spoke to them. They wouldn't put me on the list back then because I didn't have a new job lined up yet. So, with searching for another place and many people praying with me that God would open the door.. HE did!! I will be moving in August 1st and for now I'm staying with friends. Oh, and I can walk to work! Yeah!

Two weeks before my job finished and I needed to be out of my apartment a comment from a friend prompted me to call and ask (the apartment I wanted) one more time. I did and they told me a guy had recently called and said he might cancel and was letting them know by Friday. I was so excited and grateful!! That left me to wait a week, with only one week left to find a new place if the guy moved in after all.  I talked to my mom on Skype and asked her to pray. She told me she had been praying that someone would cancel so I could get in!! Thanks Mom! Thanks God!!
Yellow door is where I am staying, Green one above will be mine#1213

The Balcony view with Train in tow ;) 11th floor,I will be on 12

So this last week and a half has been hectic. With the saying goodbyes, packing, waiting, saying hellos, and time lines for cleaning, working, and getting my stuff picked up all moved up! I didn't sleep much and dived into my new job right away. Last day at Aeon was Friday July 20th and first day at American School was Monday July 23rd. First day was prep for the next three days of teaching 7 3&4 year olds. I also went from working PM to AM so my body is freaking out a bit. The 3 days of singing, playing, teaching, cooking, and cleaning are finished and tomorrow I prep for my regular class, decorate my classroom, and observe classes so that I can teach on Saturday and be ready to take over the 4 year olds come August. Having 7 of them was a bit challenging but my regular class is only 4 students. I had three of them this week so we have been getting to know each other.

There you have it,  some of my life lately. You didn't miss much from my lack of blogs since much of it would have said the same things. I have a great church, a lovely Life Group, good friends, tons of amazing conversations with non Christians about Jesus and I get to go see my brother in Sept.!!! Can't wait!

10th to the sky..I'm moving to 12th.. so high!
This past year wasn't bad, but it could have been amazing. Trying to depend on yourself or other things to get you living to your fullest potential won't work. Just like a light bulb only lights up when it is connected to the source so we light up best when we are connected to God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit. So, I am started a new season with so many changes at once, and the best and most beneficial will be depending more on God, worshiping Him everyday, listening to His precious voice, and getting filled with His power each day so that I might thrive and make a positive impact around me.. and enjoy life so much more!! A new season can start anytime.. so if you need let it start now, in an hour, or tomorrow... you don't have to wait! God is always available and desires to be your strength!

Bikes!! All the way Down!
The 11th is where the colored lights are...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Goodbyes, Celebrations, & Disney!

Our last day together.. Bye Hlulani!
Heather, Leann, friend, Anna, Luke, me
So a lot has happened since I last wrote... maybe because I missed April (sumi masen- sorry in Japanese). The end of March came with some hard goodbyes. My good friend Hlulani headed back to Zimbabwe. We were studying a book together and sharpening one another here... I miss her but I know God has big plans for her back home!!  We also said goodbye to James & Heather.. as it was time for them to go back to Australia. They lead my life group and had come to help with the church.. they are missed yet the work they started is thriving! So I don't have a pic of James but Heather is on the far left. With the changes we had to switch around some life groups, so now I am with Anna & Leann in the picture and Ester (not pictured here). It's been great and I look forward to going deeper with these great women.

Right after saying goodbye I went to a wedding for two friends from church. It was lovely and since Greg is from England, and his family doesn't know Japanese, the ceremony was in both languages. Tomoko was a beautiful bride! Just after that I went to a celebration for my friend Daisuke, who is now officially a Dentist!
Posing for pictures as Man & Wife!
Cutest Program ever!
We both love being goofy...
See! Congrats Daisuke! Pray for him!
Get ready for a lot more pictures... I will do another blog soon to tell you more about what God is doing in me.. for now I hope you are enjoying this glimpse into my Spring so far...

So I had a great time celebrating at both these events. Daisuke is around all the time yet isn't sure about Jesus so please pray that he will find what he is looking for as he looks more and more into Jesus.

A street I pass on my walk to work!
Our Hanami group!
Tomoe & I after church.. so pretty!

With the start of April came the Cherry Blossoms!!! I passed many on my way to work so I got to see them from start to finish!! Such a blessing! Hanami is a cherry blossom (or sakura) party. My new life group had one at Tsurumai park on Easter before church. We did a picnic and I got to share about the Resurrection of Jesus with my friend Kaori, she had never heard it before. At church we celebrated that Jesus is ALIVE!!! And after church I went back to the park with my friend to see the lanterns come on.  

Meet Duffy & Sherrie May
They projected the scenes on this and Mickey was on top
Our hanami group was bigger but a few had to leave early. Kaori is on my left.  I have many pictures I would love to show though I am trying not to go too crazy here. I have posted many on Facebook and you can always ask me for more in a comment... just let me know. So, this was the beginning of April.

In the middle I went to Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea with my friend, and our new sister in Christ, Sachie, before she heads off to study abroad in Australia. We had a great time and I so love Disney! It was fun for me to compare the similarities and differences to Disneyland. We went the week kids went back to school in hopes it would be less crowded!! And it was! We got to do everything we wanted to and our longest line was maybe 40 minutes!!! We went to Disney Sea first. There I met Duffy for the first time. One out of every three people at Disney Sea was wearing, holding, or hanging Duffy and/or Sherrie May on their person. It was Spring Voyage so they had lots of flowers, including characters made of flowers. Tower of Terror, Indiana Jones, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Journey to the Center of the Earth were all at Disney Sea... everything else was new to me. If you have questions about it just let me know. We finished the night with Fantasmic, which is my favorite show at home. I was very excited to see how they did it here. It was the same concept but done quite differently and Mikey and everyone were speaking Japanese, of course! I filmed a lot of it though it would take a lot of time to re-watch and edit.. so that might just be for me.  The thing Mikey stood on was also like a video screen and it looked like Mikey's hat at the very end. You can see the levels that rose up and down throughout the show depending on what they needed to show or do. So fun!

Entrance to Disney Sea
Almost done.. a few more pics of Disney and then you are home free ;)

Tower of Terror across the port.
I love King Louie!
New Orleans Goofy?
Thanks Walt!

The next day we went to Disneyland. It was a Monday so that is why is was less crowded, and I asked God to let us do all the rides and stuff so He might have helped on that too ;) I could go on and on about it but I will spare you. I'll just give a few more pictures. I hope you are enjoying them :).  They had an Easter theme going on so there were character eggs all around the park. We had fun spotting them as we went on all the rides. I have most of those pics in an album on Facebook. I am having trouble deciding on which pictures, so I need to stop before I put all of them here. It's been a fun, yet sometimes sad, past two months. Now it is Golden Week here so we get the whole week off. I decided take it easy and enjoy the people around me. I've had some lunches with friends, done a bit of shopping, a bit of resting, a bit of cleaning, and tomorrow I am off to the zoo with a group I don't know well... pray that the light in me illuminates as we enjoy what God has created!

Please pray for me. God has definitely been showing me a lot and some of it is not easy. Just pray that I keep growing and moving forward in who I am as a daughter of God! Thanks. Let me know if you would like me to pray for you too.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring is on it's way!

As I sit and contemplate life with my trusted companion I just kept thinking... when is Spring going to come...

My Southern California roots are showing. I do enjoy having the seasons but I find my heart wanting warmer weather each day. I walk to work everyday and my shoes have worn down so that the water comes through the bottom on rainy days like today.

But I love that I can walk to work everyday! In the Fall I got to enjoy the pretty leaves as they changed and last month we had a couple days of snow, some days it rains, but many days the sun does shine and I get to watch ducks in the river and hear the birds flying overhead. I am looking forward to Spring to be in full swing, though I also want to live today to the fullest. I have been growing up in many ways... I have actually started cooking and packing a lunch/dinner for work (not everyday yet but many of them ;). My apartment is the cleanest it has been since the week I moved in, and I plan on keeping it so that I would have no embarrassment if someone dropped by unannounced. I have been getting up earlier so that I can get stuff done in the morning before work. I am connecting more and more with other women and have used to my walk to work these past weeks to pray for others.. God has placed different people on my heart at different times.. some in Japan, some in California, and other places as well. I have been so blessed to meet so many wonderful people around the world. So, I still have much growing to do though it is good to celebrate the steps forward along the way... I am doing well and looking ahead to better and brighter days!

My word for 2012 is Illuminate! In one sense it is for me.. that God will illuminate in me so I might see more clearly who I am and what I need to do; surrender, confess, forgive, heal, etc... and it also represents my deep desire this year for God to illuminate through me to bring light, hope, and freedom to those around me! Before I came to Japan God brought to me through others that I would make an lasting impact here even if it might not be so visible at first. I trust the Holy Spirit that He is working all of the time and any part He uses me in I am delighted to be of service. I tend to like and want tangible things yet in my journey of surrender this has been very freeing.. to not know all the details. That has increase my faith and helped me to let go of needing to know everything! It's okay to not know sometimes and now I am also learning to let go of being understood all the time. Both of those are difficult for me but the Freedom in Jesus is so much better... I want to make you understand but that is not my job... I feel a sentiment of Jesus' message was an invitation to take look and if you see fit after weighing what you find in Him to follow, then follow. If not, that is your choice. So, I am praying for Jesus to illuminate in and through me and I welcome anyone who wants to take look, go ahead.

Feb it snowed!
The flowers are here! March.
I pass this little field of trees on my way to work. I enjoy them all the time even though they were just bare until the snow covered them last month. Then the weather got a tiny bit warmer and a couple of the trees started to flower. I think they are some sort of fruit tree because I heard the plum trees flower around this time. Each week more of the trees were getting there flowers and so I took the first pic in Feb. and the second just last week. And next month I will get to go see some cheery blossoms!! Pictures of those to come after spring is fully here! So, like these trees; bare, snow covered, flowering, and maybe fruit to come soon.. our journeys have beauty, harshness, neutrality, joy, and sorrow...  yet I find joy and beauty every time I pass these trees in each season. There is also joy that is available to all of us and beauty to be found no matter where we are in our journey. Have a beautiful day, week, month and Spring!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

It's been 7 months already?? Are you kidding me?

First off I want to apologize for taking an unintentional 4 month break from blogging. It is amazing how time just keeps moving forward whether you want it to or not! This is something I have always known though it seems so easy for many of us to forget.

So, I have unintentionally gained some weight, not gotten far on the language, and have had 3 colds in that last 2 months.... I would guess they are all related to not intentionally taking care of myself. It has finally dawned on me that I need and finally want to change that... the fact I am putting it in print means a lot, which also explains why I haven't blogged in a while (or sent many emails, etc.) Please pray for me in this... thanks.

Onto better things... here are some updates to catch you up, and the plan is to blog at least once a month form now on :)

Hara Staff Halloween 2011.
October: This was a whirlwind, busy month at work... so that is all I did; eat, sleep, work, church... Halloween week we had to wear a costume all week... fun, but tiring. To be honest, October is a bit of a blur for me.

November: This month was quite emotional for me. I was tired from Oct and really missed my family deeply for the first time in my life. I spent a lot of time with them on skype and started leaning on God more again... as a result I made it through without dying and was able to start focusing on others again!! My co-worker offered to go get some Turkey (which is really hard to find in Japan) after Thanksgiving (he saw I was a bit emotional).. so after work we had a Turkey dinner around 10 pm.. it wasn't like Mom's but it was still yummy!

Shiho & I enjoying some Mochi
December: As I began to focus more on others I realized that I didn't have many connections with Japanese people. I knew quite a few but didn't have any friendships. So, I started getting intentional on that. I prayed and asked God to connect me with some Japanese women. I decided to stay in Japan over vacation and prayed that would be a time of getting to know the women God was putting on my heart.... and He answered! I went out with all them we had a great time! Please pray that I can truly be a light in thier lives and we can build lasting friendships.  Christmas was wonderful and my friend Ayumi came with me to church... it was her first time ever!

Shiho & I showing you a bit of Osu Kannon
January: I was sick with a cold but I was not going to miss out on building these relationships... so I went out with Shiho and her husband Ken to Osu Kannon. And got my new computer!! With some wonderful ladies I went to the Nagoya Port and Aquarium for the first time!!! New Years eve I was skyping with my brother Ken at midnight and we prayed for Japan together (with the sounding gongs in the distance). New Year's day I went to my pastors house and we had a time of worship, prayer, and eating yummy food as a church family! I am not giving this info in order but that doesn't matter.. Jan. started off great.. then back to work and it was fine. Church and Life group are wonderful. And this month my friend Hlulani and I started meeting to pray and study Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard.

Midori, Kaori & her son, me, Yoko & her daughter at the Aquarium!

Kahori, Tomoe, & I New Year's Day 2012!
That is still continuing in Feb. Though I now know for sure that I am staying in Japan at least another year. I will not be continuing with the same company so I need to start job hunting ASAP. It turns out people apply really early for jobs in Japan, so even though I can't start working until August I need to be applying now... so strange to me. Please pray I find the right job and new home in the right time.

Thank you so much for reading and sticking with me. I am so fortunate to have great people in my life. More exciting blogs to come in the future. Until then, have a wonderful Feb. God bless you!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Watashi wa Susie desu :)

The day I left CA... July 1, 2011
That means..  I am Susie.

Before I left many people felt the Spirit gave "Identity" in various ways to speak into my life. It is something that  I always believed was no problem for me... until... in my 28th year of life I lost a brother.  I changed, some good and some bad, and lost some years not knowing who I was. As hard as that is to admit, I need to confess that it is true. I spent time in denial trying to convince myself that I was who I was before. Every time  I taught interpersonal communications I encouraged students to do self reflection often to keep the self concept realistic and healthy...though  I learned that in denial you can fool yourself pretty easily.

Since God was clearly telling me to take a real look at myself I decided it must be time... and a good idea. So, here I am in another land, just barely learning the language, living on my own, working more hours a week then I ever have before, wearing clothes that don't feel like me, without anyone who truly knows me, unable to read labels and signs, and just sometimes feeling like a 12 year old.. thinking I am grown up but knowing  I need help, even to read a menu (thank the Lord for pictures!). On top of that my first month I was without a computer and my second was a spiritually heavy time in Japan.

Kamakura, Tokyo with Kathy & friends
Now I am in my third month...  I have had to lean on God and, being that He knows me most, ask Him to help me see who I am.  I am now taking a Japanese conversation class once a week (no $$ or time for more right now). I have gone 2 weeks and can count to 10 and introduce myself.. and a few others things. This language is less direct and the same sounds get repeated often, so please pray  I can memorize and use it correctly ;). I am slowly listening to God and doing some self exploration into who i am. When I look I feel wretched sometimes, and not so bad others. When I ask God  I feel special, worthwhile, loved, gifted, strong,  wise, that  I have a purpose, beautiful, and liked. I am trying to ask God every day to remind me so that where I lack I can grow into who  I am, who God created me to be!!
Kathy & I with Hachi
(hachi is 6 in Japanese)

I want to encourage you to do some self reflection... are you who you think you are? are you who you want to be? are you moving or static?

And please let God be a part of the process because He created us and knows us more deeply then we could ever know ourselves... and even so, He loves us more deeply than we can understand, and the biggest shocker to me is... He likes us and desires us to get to know Him... He wants YOU around!!!

So, who am i? i am a daughter of the everlasting King! i am a Princess! i am a saint! i am an ambassador for the Kingdom of God! i am a mighty warrior! i am loved & liked! i am God's creation! i am who God created me to be! i am Susie!

Science Museum.. my 2nd day in Nagoya, Japan
Enjoying a bath house with my sister at the base of Mt Fuji.

Who are you????

Thanks for Reading! Please pray for me... that  I remember who I am, get on a better schedule, and learn the language well. Thanks