Monthly Archives: January 2012

A Clarification on Camping

I posted a tweet today that said “Things could be worse. I could be camping.” Amazing the feedback I have gotten from such a little tweet. Perhaps I should clarify. There are some kinds of camping, or rather glamping, that I like. Here is what I mean.

Really? This isn’t fun.
On vacation, I don’t want my food to come from a cooler.

Here is my kind of camping…

Luxury igloo cabins in the Swiss Alps

Stilts. Brilliant. Out of reach from little critters that might freak me out in the middle of the night.

Why, yes. I would like some lunch. Thanks so much.

Luxury yurts are a ‘do’ in my book.

But my very very most amazingly favorite kind of camping is this kind of camping:

Don’t hate me. I love nature. I recycle everything. I just don’t want to have to wear sandals when I shower on vacation.


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And Then We Did It.

Tait said ‘Im gonna ride a bird.’ and then he did it.

“We should start a philosophy club” we said in our AP theory class in high school. And then we did. I’m pleased to be a founding member of the AP Philosophy Club at Midway High School.
“Lets go to Italy” I mentioned to Connie. And then we did it. Lots of saving, tight budgeting and working extra hours…but we did it. Spring break of 2002 Connie & I headed off with some backpacks and a bit of whimsy. A trip I’ll never forget.
“We should live together”.  It started out as a joke one day at Common Grounds. I was having coffee with Erika Kraus & Kassie Fowler. Jady stopped by (we were newlyweds) and the idea was thrown out. There was a big house for rent near campus. So we did it. We all moved in for a year & I am filled with laughter every time I remember that twelve months. Too many stories to tell about that house…
“Lets move to Seattle” four God-inspired words that changed my life. And then we did it. Packed up some moving vans and drove into a strange city on the most brilliant adventure ever. A part of my heart will always be planted there. 
“We should cut our hair”. And then we did it. Perhaps we shouldn’t have? It was in Beirut Lebanon and something came over all the ladies on the team. Kendall got an Afro, Kristina got an intense layer cut, Erika got a mullet with a rat tail and I got a faux hawk. Some people would argue that wasn’t what we asked for, but that is what we got. Because we said ‘lets do it’.
“We should adopt” Jady and I decided one night. And then we did it. Or are in the middle of doing it. Another fantastic God-inspired decision.
“We should go to Louisiana” and then we did it. Probably shouldn’t have done that either. My friend Sarah and I had gone to Blockbuster to get a movie, but they didn’t have it. Next thing you know I find myself suggesting a last minute road trip as another option for the evening.(who suggests that???)  We left. Didn’t even take a map. Just started driving northeast. It didn’t occur to us that when we got their our checks would be out of state since we lived in Texas. No one took out of state checks. We spent the night in the shadiest hotel you ever saw, and made it back into Texas the next morning on the fumes of gas our spare change bought us. 
“We should follow God across the country” and then we did it. What an adventure that has been. Landing in unexpected places with unforseen purposes. 
So many things we said we should do—and then we did them. 
It starts with saying an idea. An idea that leads to an dream. A dream that leads to an adventure. An adventure that leads to a life full to the brim with stories. Experiences funny, sweet and powerful. So many things I have done. 
You never know where saying things will take you. So go ahead. Say something. 


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Confessions Of A Sorority Girl

Here is a hint at which sorority I was in…

Oh, dear. I thought. Just keep your chin up and walk on like nothing is wrong. But, something was wrong. Something was terribly wrong. I was crossing campus wearing an ankle length khaki skirt, a long cardigan with Greek letters, a brown belt over the cardigan at my waist, white ( WHITE!) tights and brown loafers. Swallow pride & keep walking. When I was pledging we had to wear this once a week. It was about the extent of hazing at my university. Well, the bad outfit and having to eat at Luby’s Cafeteria with the juniors on Thursday nights. The odd thing was, I got asked on so many dates when I was in that stupid outfit. No clue what that was about…
My college confession? I was in a sorority and I loved it. Honestly, I loved it.  I never regretted it. I love those girls.
Yes, sometimes the stereotypes are true and sorority girls are ridiculous. Like this tattoo. Don’t get a tattoo of your sorority. That is regrettable. 
 But, that wasn’t my experience. They genuinely loved each other. We walked through some tough times together. No, not like their credit card got taken away. Genuinely hard times. Families having crisis, parents getting divorced, receiving serious health diagnosis. We lived life together. 
I got such flack for being in a sorority from my other friends. I hung out very often with the a-typical academic crowd. We would have pun wars and salute all things nerdy. These weren’t the ‘cool’ kids on campus but they were some of my best friends. Talk about two worlds clashing…
 A large number of my friends and roommates were really judgemental about my Greek friends. They would say things like “I can’t believe you are so fake.” , “You are just looking for acceptance.” or “Stop trying to be cool.” 
It stung. It stabbed. It made me confused. I really felt like it was something that God initiated for me to do. I got to disciple girls, tell them about Jesus, pray for them AND it taught me a lot about church planting which I spent the 7 years after college doing. A few things my sorority days taught me that came in handy on the mission field:
I learned how to small talk. Sure, it sounds so shallow. But when you are trying to meet people and build relationship with them, it is a very very very valuable skill. You do a lot of small talk when you start a church.
I learned how to manage my time. I was an overseer of small groups at my church, I led a lifegroup, I worked, I went to school full time and I was in a sorority. I was VERY busy in college. I learned how to handle juggling. 
I learned how to integrate my life. How to be the same person during rush week as I was ministering to people in our college service. I had no compartments. Just one blurred schedule that sometimes crossed boundaries most people were uncomfortable crossing.
I learned tons about leadership. How to facilitate large events like campus wide service projects and Easter egg hunts. 
I learned that it isn’t just the people who ‘look’ like they are hurting who need Jesus. It’s easy to recognize someone who seems like their life is painful. But everyone deals with rejection and everyone needs to know they are valued. My peppy sorority circle, my dry-witted academic circle and all circles in between.
God taught me a lot of practical skills during those 4 years. Skills that seemed shallow but ended up having eternal purpose when I was in Seattle. Why am I telling you all this? Do I think you are supposed to join a sorority/fraternity? No. Just remember that whatever path people are on may be more significant than you think. 
Don’t exalt something for appearing to be the more godly choice. And don’t hide behind your choices either. If God has placed you somewhere live the gospel loudly for all of them to see. Don’t sneak things in here and there. Be bold. Yield each season you are in to God & He will use it for His glory. 
Plus, when I was a new mom, my baby was crying and it occurred to me that I didn’t know any fun kids songs to cheer them up. So I sang them my pledge songs. Worked like a charm. Wham, Bam…


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The Skinny on Skinny Jeans

Love them or hate them, they are around to stay. I’m talking about skinny jeans people. Some of you have it in your mind that you will end up looking like an ice cream cone if you tried them on. But really everyone can wear them. 

If you are a guy, I am going to redirect you to The Woods Style. It is a fashion blog for dudes. If you are a lady…lets continue. 

This is NOT a skinny jean. It is a badly tapered jean.

THIS is a proper skinny jean.

Okay, lets get one thing straight. Skinny doesn’t mean tight. Tight jeans don’t look good on anyone. Skinny jeans are referring to the way jeans taper down the leg. Think Audrey Hepburn. I’m going to break it down really simply for you:

  • It doesn’t matter what size you are, you can wear skinny jeans. If you aren’t comfortable with the way larger hips look in them (I happen to think it looks fantastic, but that is just me) then you can go for a slim or straight fit. This basically means that instead narrowing between the knee and foot the cut will go straight down from the knee. It balances out curvy hips nicely & creates the same effect. Its also good if you feel you are too old for skinny jeans but want to get in on the trend.
  • If you have large thighs, get a dark wash. Fading or texture on the pant leg will only draw attention to the thighs.
  • We all love muffins, but not muffin tops…at least not on us. To avoid a spillage at the waist, the band should be about 1 or 1.5 inches below your belly button. You might be tempted to go for a higher waist as an effort to cover up any extra weight. BUT, if you do that then you push all your weight down under the waist band and create the belly bulge. After having two children I am prone to the belly buldge. Boo.
  • Proportion is everything. Really. Everything.
  • Here is a perfect way to wear a skinny jean if you want to minimize a tummy or hips. And this chic looks adorable!
    • If you tend to carry your weight in the middle then go for an A-line top that will create shape but still skim past your skin. 
    • Don’t wear a tight top with skinny jeans. Personally, I wish women would skip tight tops all together, but really really skip it if you are wearing skinnies. It is just too much.
    • If you are not wanting to highlight your curves, opt for a cute tunic top. It covers the hips and exposes the narrowest part of your thigh. You can also hop on the boyfriend cardigan trend. Wearing one will cover hips & butt nicely. (If you have no idea what I am talking about click here. )
  • Shoes! Tuck your skinnies into boots. Wear them with heels or flats. It all works. 
    • One thing to note. If you are curvier, wearing flats will draw attention to your hips. If you don’t want to show those darlings off, then go with a boot or bulkier heel to bring some proportion. 
  • Check your backside. Make sure the pair isn’t giving you a wedgie. And make sure the pockets are centered in the middle of your butt to keep you from looking like you have a saggy behind. Don’t get buttoned down pockets on skinnies. It ruins the silhouette.
Okay. That is skinny 101. You can get great skinnies pretty much everywhere these days. Target to Barneys. 

If you are curvier and a have trouble finding a flattering pair, I have found the perfect starting point. Check this out, Levi’s Curve ID Skinny Jeans. They have 4 degrees of curve options and you can pick which shape fits you best. Then buy a pair of jeans cut for your curves. And they are a pretty good price. 

Most of my skinny jeans are from GAP and Urban Outfitters. If you have some serious money to spend you can get fantastic pairs from J Brand, Habitual, Hudson Jeans, Joe’s Jeans, and Alice + Olivia. 

Now you can march boldly into the land of the skinnies. 

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My Day In Pictures.

No matter what day it is, it will most likely require a nice cup of coffee. 

                       Now onto my day. Lets pretend for a moment that anything would be possible today. In my lovely dream world, I would be sitting here and reading a    book…

Then I would walk along this adorable street and find a fantastic restaurant.
A stroll along this beauty to finish the night off.
In REALITY, this is what my day will look like…

Laundry! And LOTS of it. I bet if I put on a polka dot dress like this lady it will be more fun.

I will attempt to make my kids toys and books look like this by the end of the day. It will most likely be delayed by having to clean up a few spills from these guys

Now that my kids are covered in juice, I am going to have to do some more laundry. 

And so it goes…

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10 Books I Never Want To Read

Remember Reading Rainbow? Now those were some good books.

Tonight I was trying to make a list of what books I would like to read this year. I got online and began browsing. But, because I am deliriously tired, I ended up making a list of books I don’t want to read. Since I am obviously putting off going to bed , I have decided to share that list with you good people. Here it is:
  1. Chicken Soup For The Soul– teenage soul, mother’s soul, archiologist’s soul. I don’t want to read about any soup for any soul. Honestly, I don’t want to read about soup at all. Why did these become so popular?
  2. Twilight Books– I have no desire to read any of them. It isn’t because I think they are completely evil (I can’t make that call since I’ve never read one). It is because they are about vampires & werewolves. And that just sounds really stupid.
  3. The Jungle– This is actually a classic & probably a fantastic book. But I have a feeling that if I were to read it, I would be incapable of ever having a hot dog again. And I really like hot dogs.
  4. The Great Gatsby– I have tried to read this on several occassions & never could get into it. The book was out of print for nearly 30 years & I think I know why. It is like a soap opera in book form.
  5. Eat, Pray, Love – This is shallow I admit, but I can’t stand the cover of this book. Something about it is very unappealing. Reading it would involve me seeing the cover frequently, so its out. Might be a fantastic book, but I will never know. 
  6. Moby Dick – Here is a book about a group of sailors trying to kill a whale. By the end of the book almost everyone is dead. So, why would I read that? It may be an American classic, but I’m not reading it. Sorry literature professors. 
  7. Any book written by Stephen King. – I’m not a fan of getting scared. No clue why people would read something that gives them nightmares. Life is to short for that to be entertainment in my opinion.
  8. Cooking With Pooh– Yes, I know this is a children’s cooking book featuring Winnie the Pooh. But the title is Cooking With Pooh. How did an editor not catch that?
  9. Do-It-Yourself Coffins For Pets & People- I just came across this tonight on Amazon. I’m all for doing it yourself, but that is perhaps a bit too handy for me.
  10. Windows 7 For Dummies – This is on my don’t read list for two reasons. First, no book can help me understand anything technical – I am beyond ‘dummy’ status. Second, I hope I don’t have to use Windows ever again. Safari, please.
Okay, that is my list of books I don’t want to read. What is yours?


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God Is Good For ‘Nothing’.

I saw it for the first time when I was eleven. It’s starkness was beautiful and frightening at the same time. The frozen ice spread for miles without end. Before me was a vast & clear nothing. I was standing on Lake Baikal in Siberia. I looked down past my feet and through the yards of frozen water. Water so clear that you could see the fish swimming on the underside of the ice. It was a breathtakingly frozen tundra. It felt empty. Nothing surrounded it.
I’ve had that same sensation at other times in my life. The sensation of being in the middle of nothing. Nothing in my hands. No skill or ability. No means of making something happen. Nothing to say. Nothing to do. Nothing to wear. Nothing to contribute. Nothing to give. Nothing to teach. Nothing to my name. Nothing on the table.
It is easy to believe that God can do something with my life when there are at least several lumps of clay to work with. A few scattered pieces of dreams and skills that He just needs to attach somehow. But what if there is no puzzle and no pieces? What if it is just a completely blank space between who I am and who I want to become? 
What if my dreams have no tangible steps right now. What if my hopes offer no reality to hold on to? What if I feel blank? Empty? Nothing?
The best thing for my ‘nothing’ is God himself. Earth started off as nothing. In the beginning, it was dark. Void of any light, materials or resource…it was blank. It was empty. It was nothing. BUT GOD HAD A PLAN.
He didn’t need a starting point. He created one. From there He created light, order and life itself. He invented the puzzle pieces. 
When we feel empty and full of nothing – When you look at your life and think “God, you have nothing to work with here. There are no fantastic talents, skills or abilities. I have nothing” , stop. Remember that God has a plan. He doesn’t need you to have anything. He has everything. 
God knows the destiny He has placed in our hearts. The best thing for our ‘nothing’ is God himself. God Is Good For Nothing.

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Who Wants To Carpool Kids To Scout Camp With Me?

Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Came across this quote the other day & it struck a cord. This adorable lady above is the one who said it.
It makes me want to carpool some kids to scout camp. I thought I would pass it on to you.

“I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car,
wearing beautifully tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and 
with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a 
station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout
camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from 
making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children. I want to be there
with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden.
I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and 
the tears of a friend on my shoulder
I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”
Me too, Marjorie. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.

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I Am OH SO Wrong

I have been wrong about a lot of things. Really. I think we all have our creative bend. I have been very wrong several times about what my being creative looks like. Mine is perhaps hidden a bit deeper than others… In the journey of discovering where I am creatively gifted I have had many strike outs!  Here are some of my biggest ‘wrong’ creative moments.
  • Painting my bedroom in college bright blue. It was like living inside a goldfish bowl. 
  • I got inspired one day on a whim. Grabbed whatever random paints were in the house & went outside to paint. Unable to find any blank paper, I grabbed my blow dryer. I painted the entire thing, even the cord. It still worked, but everywhere I went I had to explain the my strange creation.
  • When I was 12 I was living in Siberia. I just knew that deep down inside there was a fantastically choreographed dancer. So I took Russian folk dancing lessons. ‘Cause that’s real cool when you are 12. 
  • Having always had a flair for the dramatic, I realized that I should give the theater a go. My high school was doing a production of Oklahoma. I tried out. I was in the chorus. In one song. That didn’t go far.
I am not a painter, not a dancer, not an actor…Maybe I need to get more creative? Maybe I should get real creative & pretend I am an athlete. I finally got up the nerve to try running. It felt kinda good for a bit. This picture pretty much sums up that phase.
Now that I am in my 30s, I realize that ‘creative’ is a broad word. It doesn’t have to mean a skill or something you would see on a Pinterest board.  Being truly creative is a mindset. An attitude. Seeing the world differently than others. Inventing and imagining. Thinking of an issue in a different way. 
We are all creative. Maybe not in the obvious ways. We just have to get over our fear of being wrong. Picking the wrong color. Choosing the wrong word. Running the wrong direction. What ever you are afraid of, get over it.
Get creative. Get inventive. Get imaginative. 

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Nobody Ever Made A Greater Mistake…

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do little.”
            -Edmund Burke

You are greater than you think. Your life can make a difference. 
I gasp when I see landfills, but don’t stop to pick up the straw wrapper that flew out of my window when I opened my car door. What difference does 8 inches of paper make? I am quick to count myself out based on the minimal impact I feel I can have.
 I was thinking about the issue of slavery- which has become a daily task for me.  What can I possibly do? Sure, I could throw myself in front of the moving train of trafficking, but it would just run me over. They wouldn’t even feel the bump. I’m too small. There are 27 million slaves in the world today. Staggering problems, small person.
Then I think about the child working in tobacco fields in Argentina. Or the woman being trafficked in Florida, and the 14 year old boy who is forced to kill as a child soldier in the heart of Africa. How lonely they must feel. Sitting up at night realizing that they are just a shadow of a human to those surrounding them. It must be eerie when that moment hits. That moment you realize you might be forgotten. Invisible.  Hidden forever. 
I bet it matters to them. I bet they care that I extended my voice and shared. That I told a neighbor about these people who are invisible. I bet the 12 year old girl in Haiti who is forced to clean houses for no pay would have a glimmer of hope if she new someone remembered she was there & prayed for her.
Then I realized that it matters. It matters to them. To those who feel buried alive, it matters that I dug an inch…even if they are feet deep. Perhaps if we all dig an inch…
Our inability to act based on our feeling inferior to the problem is backwards. Don’t forget these powerful words that were spoken with you in mind…
“…greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4
There are giants in our generation. But, the precedent has been made…the people of God can slay giants. And here you are today. Reading words but doubting their implications for you. Don’t doubt. You are greater than you think. You carry Greatness within you. 

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