Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Song Remembers When

July 24th, 2008 marked five years since the passing of our beloved John. This is a family portrait taken in December 2002, a year after my mom and stepdad, John, got married. After being a family fragmented by divorce for so many years, I remember a feeling of completeness after John came into our lives. To see my mom so happy and so well loved somehow brought me an unexpected sense of security. John also opened his arms to my sister and me and treated us as his own daughters. He would spoil us with homemade cinnamon toast, always had a hug for us, and he loved just hanging out and talking. He believed in me and my acting dreams--he's the one who nicknamed me "Starshine".

Yesterday in my car, I was listening to my Kristin Chenoweth CD--to a country cover song she sings called "The Song Remembers When", originally sung by Trisha Yearwood. It tells a beautiful story about a woman who hears a song on the radio one day that brings back memories of the past that she had all but forgotten. The song reawakened her soul to a time she had left behind. In the chorus, she sings, "Even if the whole world has forgetten, the song remembers when."

That got me thinking about how a certain song can take you back to a moment and lift the haze off of it so fast, you feel like you're right there again. And then I started to think about those moments in my life that were accompanied by a song. Moments that may have been nearly forgotten. Or moments that will fade and die with me. Moments that only the song will remember long after I'm gone.

As I drove along thinking about it, tears started to roll down my cheeks as I remembered John's last night on earth. Lots of people were at the hospital, holding vigil with our family. It got late, though, and around 11:45 pm, all of our friends left to go home. Mom, Jilly and I went into John's room, and we could see that his vitals were getting weaker and weaker (he had been in a coma for a few days). We knew that he was not long for this world. Mom climbed into the hospital bed and cuddled with him, and Jilly and I stood next to the bed. At 12:01 am, just as the new day was beginning, John went home to be with the Lord. The three of us spontaneously began to sing the doxology:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Praise Him, above, ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

It was a holy moment. 

John, I can't believe that you've been gone for five years. God gave us a wonderful gift in you. We only wish our time with you would have lasted longer. Your song still resonates in my heart. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Feel the Earth Move Under my Feet

But thankfully, the sky didn't come tumbling down.

I was in a dressing room this morning at a local thrift store, when I felt the floor shaking under my feet. "Is this an earthquake?", I thought. And then there was a big jolt. I assumed a surfer-type position with my arms out to balance, as I heard glass shattering from the breakables that fell from the shelves.

My heart was racing. All of the native Californians who knew what to do ran out of the store and stood in the parking lot for a while in case there were any after shocks. After awhile, everyone came back in and it was business as usual.

Hubs came and found me at the store to make sure I was okay (our cell phone service was out for about an hour after the quake). He told me that a few picture frames got knocked down off of shelves in our house, but other than that, everything is fine. Thank God we were both safe. 

As I drift off to bed with six large framed photos of our wedding hanging over our heads, I'm feeling really good about our decision to hang them with earthquake-proof hooks.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Fiber One Dilemma

Bless Hubs' heart. 

We all remember when he broke the fart barrier, as a move of selfless chivalry. After months of dating, he had never heard me pass gas.

Let's just say that the proverbial honeymoon is over. Now that we're married, he has endured many conversations about the current state of my GI tummy can be rather unpredictable. 

One day, about a month ago, after hearing me say one too many times that I felt a little backed up, he came home with a box of Fiber One bars. *cue celestial music* These bars are every bit of ooey-gooey deliciousness that they look to be on the box. And the best part is that just one bar contains 35% of your recommended daily fiber allowance. And as for their effectiveness, let's just say--mission accomplished.

I love me some Fiber One bars!  Except. One. Thing. These bars may be able to clear a log jam, but they have three very serious side effects: GAS, GAS, AND MORE GAS. Within hours of eating just one Fiber One bar, I become a one-woman percussion section, and Hubs, quite frankly, is over it. And being the proactive grocery shopper that he is, he simply stopped buying them, in an act of self-preservation.

Our home soon returned to its former less gaseous glory, but Senorita ConstipaciĆ³n moved right back in, too. In a move of utter desperation, I ran out for some Fiber One bars yesterday. Hubs is trying hard to love me through it, but has let me know that if the Fiber One bars are moving back in to the house, so is a bottle of Beano!

Friday, July 25, 2008

To Be Let in

Last night, I was winding down from the day and decided to read a few blogs before drifting off. I often check out Derfwad Manor late at night because the lovely Mrs. G seems to post the next day's blog before going to bed. Little did I know what a moving and hauntingly beautiful post was waiting there to be read. If you read nothing else on the internet today, please go read her post.

After reading it myself, I read it aloud to Hubs, and we both sat in stunned awe at the emotional journey her post took us on. Such poignancy mixed with humor and grace. That, I commented to Hubs, is why I absolutely adore blogging. It is an opportunity to let people see what is going on in your interior world. And that fact that other bloggers let me take a glimpse of their own hearts (whether they are swelling with joy or wracked with grief) is reason enough to keep me reading.

Thank you, Mrs. G, for letting me know you. You are a remarkable woman, who I am blessed to know.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

An Open Letter to my Grandmother

Note: This post contains an off-color limerick, so if that's not your cup of tea, you might not enjoy this post.

Dear Dede,

Now how can I already be teary-eyed when I'm not even finished with my first sentence? I guess I miss you more than I even realize. I haven't seen you since I was twelve years old, but that doesn't mean you don't live on in our hearts in more ways than you know.

My mom, sister and I have fond memories of you, and we still remember you in our conversations. One of the things we love to talk about is how much you loved a good limerick. After you died, my mom found a book of off-color limericks on your bookshelf with a message inscribed in the front that read:  "This book is the property of Dede, though I'm rather ashamed to admit it!"  

It would probably appall you to know that the limerick that has lived on for three generations now in our family is this lovely gem (and we LOVE you for it!):

There once was a man from Madras,
Whose balls were fashioned of brass.
When they jangled together,
They played "Stormy Weather",
And lightening shot out of his @$$.

There is another sassy quote for which you are also credited that became a personal mantra for me during my single years:

Never chase a man or a train. There's always another one coming.

All I can say, is "Amen" to that!  That is one pearl of wisdom that I'll surely pass on to my daughters!  That quote actually inspired me to write a song, and I wrote it as if you were singing it to me.  :)  

I'm married, by the way, to a wonderful man! I wish you could meet him--you'd love both have very kind natures and bright minds.

There is so much that I would love to share with you if you were still here. I'd love to talk to you about my life as an actress. I'd love to invite you to see my plays. I'd love to hear you talk about Grampy and stories of your life together. I'd love to hear you call me "Dear" in your Bostonian accent again. I'd love to kiss your soft cheeks again. I'd love to play Scrabble together. I'd love to share this blog with you. I love words, and I know you did, too.

I love you so much, Dede, and I just wish we could have known each other longer. We always got along, but I would have loved to continue our relationship into my adult life. Thankfully, you raised a great daughter, and I think she is one of those special people who got the very best of both her parents. She is a great mother to me, and nothing thrills me more than when she tells me that she sees bits of you in me. I am proud to bear your legacy.

I love you,

Monday, July 21, 2008

Comfort is...

~lounging in a t-shirt and jammy bottoms

~a bowl of ice cream

~a warm hug from Hubs after being frazzled in LA traffic

~talking to a friend when you need one


Sunday, July 20, 2008


Last week, when I went to audition for my play and then back again the next day for the callback audition, Hubs drove with me and sat with me both times, while I waited to be called in to read. It's hard to explain how great it was to have him there with me. As I went in to audition, he stayed out in the theatre lobby and prayed for me. Each time I came out, he was there for me to tell him how it went. His presence was very reassuring.

I am so thankful to have a husband who believes in me. He wants me to flourish in my calling and in my life. He really puts me first that way, and I can't describe how much that means to me. As I begin the next several weeks of rehearsals and performances, he will be making a sacrifice for me that probably hasn't completely sunk in yet--lots of evenings spent apart while I'm at the theatre. 

Getting to share with him the joy of being in this play is so sweet for me. I will always be so thankful to God and to Hubs that I have a husband who believes in the power and the beauty of my dreams. Thank you, Love!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Starshine meets one of Broadway's brightest stars!

(Starshine and a familiar-looking woman are both washing their hands at adjacent sinks. Starshine gets her nerve up and asks...)

Starshine:  (sotto voce, so as not to attract attention) Are you Kristen?

Kristin:  (with a smile) I am!

Starshine:  Wow! How cool to meet you! I have your CD. The Christian one with the Taylor the Latte Boy bonus track.

Kristin: That's awesome! Thanks for buying it.

Starshine: Thank you for making it.  It's really nice to meet you.

Kristin:  You, too.

You never know who you'll run into in the ladies' room at LAX!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hi there, Derfwads!

I couldn't be more tickled and pleased to be a featured guest today on the fabulous Mrs. G's blog, Derfwad Manor. If you are here for the first time today via Derfwad Manor, welcome! I'm happy you're here!

I'm flying high right now because I just received the most wonderful news: I've been cast in a play! I had my audition Tuesday night and the callback last night, after which I was offered the part of Teresa in How the Other Half Loves by Alan Ayckbourn. So if any of you want to see me perform live and in person (British accent and all!), you can come see me at the Long Beach Playhouse Aug. 29th - Oct. 4!

I'm so thankful and encouraged by this good news. It's been four years since I have been in a play, and this will be my first show since joining the stage union, Actors' Equity Association. 

Joy abounds!  Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Off to Turn Ourselves Into Pretzels

Hubs and I made a deal that if I would go with him to a cycling (spin) class at our gym last week, he would go with me to a yoga class this morning.

Let the fun begin!

Update:  We're back from yoga, and Hubs loved it!  He did great, and said it was a great workout.  :)  Yea, Hubs!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Legacy ~ Life as a Song

I was sitting in church yesterday thinking about the concept of legacy...that even after we are gone, we leave something behind that keeps going. 

Then I was struck by the image of a song that goes on forever. When I sing, the sound I produce hits molecules that hit other molecules so that my sound travels from my mouth to your ears. In theory, the sound would just keep going and going. The song would continue on and on, long after I couldn't hear it anymore.

The words we speak and the way we treat others with our actions leave a mark on people, for better or for worse.

What kind of song are you singing with your life?

I couldn't resist posting this photo of my sister singing "I Will Survive" at my wedding reception! I think she is singing a FUN song with her life!

Friday, July 11, 2008

He's been gone a month today...

When the Psalmist talks about walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, he knew it was a journey. One doesn't just walk into it; one walks through it. Whether you are the person who is doing the dying, passing from this life to eternity, or if you are a family member or friend who has lost someone in death, we must all walk through that dark Valley at one time or another. I am thankful that while I am in the midst of it, "I will fear no evil. The Lord is with me."

I can't believe my father has been gone for nearly three weeks.* The first ten days after he died were so busy with traveling to and from funerals and then spending some much-needed time with my family, that I don't think my deep grieving could begin until the dust settled a bit. The dust has settled, and I have entered fully into this process called grief. 

I cry every day. I’m fine one hour; the next, I’m in tears; and the next, I’m back to normal…it’s almost like letting steam out of a pressure cooker–releasing pressure in increments. I’m just having to accept that it’s not that I have moments of sadness–it’s that I’M SAD. I’m very sad, and I will be for as long as the sadness lasts. The sadness isn't paralyzing, but it is present. I know that it will get easier as time goes by, and that the sun will start to come out. But for now, I’m just sad, and that’s the way it is for this season.

When I asked my husband about losing his father, he told me that the hole is always there, but the edges around it heal and become less raw. In a way, I find that comforting, because even though the hole represents the loss of our loved ones, its enduring presence gives testimony to how much those people meant to us. They meant so much that their absence from our lives now will never go unnoticed. It won’t hurt as much, but we will always love and miss them. I don’t think I’d want it any other way.

*I wrote this post on Sunday, June 29th, in the midst of a week that I was really feeling sad. This week has been easier, and I'm honestly not sure why. Grief tends to come in waves for me, and I guess I'm just riding the waves as they come. For now, though, I'm enjoying a calmer sea. Thanks to all of you who have been praying for me and thinking about me. Your care and concern mean so much.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Three of the things that make him oh-so-sexy... (Summer Edition)

1.)  Grrr...daddy's got some long legs!

2.)  Man Holding Baby = Sexy

3.) When my mom was visiting, she had a fractured hip (which is healing). Look who offered her his arm?

Mm. Mm. Mmmmm!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Stranded on Space Mountain...A Science Non-Fiction Adventure

Once upon a time, in a Magic Kingdom nestled in the heart of Orange County, Prince Hubs and Princess Starshine were celebrating their first wedding anniversary.

As soon as they arrived at this enchanted place, they couldn't wait to have an outer space adventure on Space Mountain. They boarded their space craft and...LIFT OFF! The Prince and Princess were having a royal time flying through the Milky Way...

...when things came to a sudden halt. The space craft didn't seem to be going anywhere. In fact, the couple was sitting in the dark, just waiting. They were scared...real scared.

Suddenly, the lights came on! The many passengers on the ride were perplexed at how the lights could suddenly come on in the darkness of outer space, and some of them even whined out loud--something about the illusion being ruined. It all worked out, though, when suddenly two beautiful flight attendants appeared...

...and they pushed our space shuttle back to safely land on earth WITH THEIR BARE HANDS!!!

The princess thought they must have been super-heroines! It was a super-fun space odyssey that the happy couple will never forget.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Family Tagline

We received a Christmas card from some of our friends with beautiful pictures of the family and a lovely note. At the bottom, after they signed their names, it read:

Better ~ Together ~ Forever

It was a tag line for the family! Both Hubs and I were struck by it--by its simplicity and its power to so concisely state the values of the family. We thought, "Huh, that's cool. We should think of one for ourselves." Then we promptly got on with life, and didn't think much more about it.

Well, the other day, I was inspired to make the new masthead for this blog when I read Proverbs 3:3--

Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.
Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.

Love and Loyalty are definitely two values that we want to define our marriage. And then it came to us:

Love and Loyalty for a Lifetime! 

That is our desire for our marriage.

I added one more heart to the existing duet, and our newly adopted family tagline is now framed in our living room to remind us of the values we want our marriage to embody.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Getting in Touch with our Inner Ten Year Olds

The 4th of July was a fun time! We got together with friends in a city close by that allows hooligans like us to light our own fireworks in the streets!  It was a rousing success.

What is it about holding a sparkler in your hand that makes you want to go on a mad tear, running around like a child, writing your name in the air with fire?  Just like riding a bicycle...

Playing with fire is very serious business that requires immense concentration...

I hope everyone had a Happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day

A reflection on being an American...

I remember the first time I realized America wasn't the center of the universe. I was 16 years old and overseas for the first time. I was in Moscow, as things were opening up, just before communism fell. I was sitting with a new Russian friend named Helen. She was telling me about what her country meant to her--how proud she was to be a Russian. 

I, frankly, couldn't believe it! Russia was a country with bread lines and depressingly unaesthetic communist bloc housing. But then I realized that government had nothing to do with it. It was a cultural pride, a pride in the land and its people and traditions. The Russian people were some of the most hospitable, welcoming and generous I've ever met. A veil was lifted from my eyes that day, and I was cured of my cultural myopia. 

Traveling has definitely opened my eyes to the world, to people and to other cultures--some of my dearest friends live in Spain and Germany. Conversely, exposure to other cultures has opened my eyes to my own. 

In Russia, I learned that while America isn't the center of the universe, we are a country with many privileges, and ones that I should not take for granted. In Spain, I learned that while we many not stop to take a siesta, we are efficient and a people who get things done. In Germany, I learned that we may not have centuries-old architecture, but we, as a people, have a young, pioneering spirit.

I am proud to be an American, but more than that, I am thankful to be an American. This is the land of opportunity--a land where I could move to Hollywood to pursue my own American dream of acting! This is a place where I am free to express myself--I can write whatever I want to on this blog, and that right is protected. This is a country where I am free to choose my religious beliefs--I can worship Jesus without fear of going to prison. These are my rights and privileges as an American. While I adore traveling to other countries, the United States of America is the country I'm proud to call home.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Baby Love

I can't describe how much love I feel for my sweet nephew. Sometimes, my heart actually hurts, I love the little guy so much!  Here are some recent shots from a visit together about a month ago. Isn't he an expressive one?

"Hey, y'all! This is my Tia, and she just adores me!"

"Tia, I know you love me, but you're kind of embarrassing me with all this PDA!"

"Enough with the love, already, Tia!"

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Carve their initials on your heart

If you have read this blog at all over the past year, it is no secret to you that I loved everything about being a bride. One of my readers told me that my status as "bride" would last, according to tradition, an entire year. I think it's safe to say that I relished my bridal status for every bit of that year! Now that I've had my first wedding anniversary, I decided to take down my big wedding picture masthead. Hubs told me that I'll be his bride for the rest of our lives, so I'm still gonna leave several wedding pics on my sidebar slideshow.  :)

Lately, I've been enjoying doing art and craft projects a bit more, so I decided to create my new masthead using watercolor paints. It is inspired by a proverb I read and just loved :

Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.
Tie them around your neck; 
carve their initials on your heart.
Earn a reputation for living well
in God's eyes and the eyes of the people.

It was so refreshing to see it written so plainly that Love and Loyalty are two virtues required for living well. 

In addition to my regular entries about my daily life, I've decided to pepper my blog this month with posts telling stories of Love and Loyalty. When you think of Love and Loyalty, what comes to mind?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Remembering Maya's Granny

One of my friends, Julie, has been grieving the loss of her dear mother, Joycelyn (known in the blogosphere as Maya's Granny). Julie became one of my first blog buddies when I started The Starshine Report. About a year later, we met face-to-face in San Francisco, and she is just as lovely in person as she is on her blog. Sadly, her mom passed away four days after my dad did, so we have both been blogging about our grief, as we are going through similar seasons of life.

Maya's Granny was a prolific blogger. In addition to writing about her life and the causes she believed in, she also recorded many stories of her youth and of her family history, so that her granddaughter, Maya, would have a written record of them...what a precious gift! Maya's Granny stopped by and occasionally commented here on my blog, always leaving me the most encouraging and uplifting comments. Thank you, Joycelyn! Your kindness meant so much to me, and I will miss you.