Category Archives: Funny

Why I Speak To Cats In Russian

illustration by Gemma Correll

illustration by Gemma Correll

I speak to cats in Russian.  I know, right?  Weird. Why would a girl from Texas do that?

During the ages of 11-13 I lived in Irkutsk, Russia with my family. So much of my life has been shaped by those years. When there is a bowl of soup in front of me, you can bet I will put sour cream in it. The smell of dill is synonymous with summer in my mind. I believe that eating ice cream in freezing temperatures will keep you warm and I draw a line through my ” 7 ” s and ” Z ” s.

Also, I still speak to cats in Russian. I’m not sure why, it is just one of those things that stuck with me. I wish it was a more useful skill that remained from my time there, like knowing how to tell which berries can be eaten in the woods. That would be helpful to remember. Instead it is the cat quirk that has stayed with me.

In high school I tried to be cool and keep the cat thing under wraps. I was a closet Russian-cat-speaker. I moonlighted as an average American teenager. Pretending to be angsty about life and acting like platform sandals really looked cool. ( they didn’t. The NEVER were cool. )

And I was accepted. I was accepted for the perception of myself I put out there. The bummer was that the acceptance felt really limited to me. My peers weren’t accepting the Russian speaking, politically driven, and senior citizen loving teenager that I really was.

In college it all came out. Time had taught me to embrace some of the cross-cultural traits I had picked up. I developed my friendships differently – high outer walls and low inner walls. I made factual statements in question form and tended to clap in unison with the person next to me.

I stopped hiding all the little things I was so insecure about before. Shout out to hipsters for making quirky cool I guess. I wasn’t afraid of who I was anymore. Encouragements were breathed in deep and owned because they were spoken to the real me.

When we are honest about who we really are, we can be loved for who we really are. And we all need to be loved. —> click to tweet

Sure, I am still quirky. I’d like to think it is charming in a Zoe Deschanel kind of way, but it probably isn’t. And it doesn’t matter really because it is who I am.

So many of us are surrounded by people who care about us, but we still don’t feel loved. Perhaps it is because we aren’t being honest and showing them our true selves. The cat thing is a funny example, but there are more serious things we keep hidden.

Our sins, our weaknesses, past failures or deeply rooted insecurities. Maybe you struggle with depression and are afraid people will misunderstand you. Perhaps you think your religious beliefs will be judged or maybe you are afraid your personality isn’t right.

I believe we were all made to be loved. By God and by others. So be yourself – insecurities and all – and be loved for it. And if you speak to cats in Russian too, let me know. We could start a club.

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Filed under Faith, Funny, Global, My Life Thus Far, Uncategorized, Whimsy

I’m A Stalker

This one is from the archives, but I’m dusting it off for today. Because today I have to actually dust my house to get ready for our adoption homestudy visit. Enjoy!

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Here I am. The stalker.

I saw a news article today that was talking about someone getting a restraining order on someone who was staking them. I didn’t read the story, just the headline. Skimming past it to the next article I thought to myself, ” Stalkers must be the creepiest people. Who does that?”. 

Then I realized I am a total stalker. Yes, me. Sweet girl-next-door me. ( okay, I have NEVER been described as the girl next door, but it makes me sound more likeable.)  Three specific instances came to mind:

1. When I was in Rome my friend Connie & I wanted to go to the vatican. However, we got lost and had no clue how to get there. ” Scuzi…uh, umm… donde esta el Pope?”. As luck would have it we spied a few ladies that looked like they may know the way. They were dressed in black with somber faces.

It was indeed a group of nuns. We predicted that if we discreetly followed them they would lead us to the Vatican. Low and behold,  after many narrow streets and confusing intersections we found ourselves at St. Peter’s Basilica. Lesson: When looking for holy places, follow a nun. They know the way.

2. The summer after my senior year in high school I was in England. My friend Kelly and I had read too many Jane Austen novels in our senior English classes. One day we saw this cute guy and we totally stalked him around town. We referred to him as Ashton because in our minds he was studying literature at the university while actively involved in political issues and read poetry under a tree by the river. He had blonde dreadlocks, wore a backpack and rode this really cool bike. It just seemed he should have a cool name like Ashton.

He was probably not that interesting in real life, but we never got a chance to find out. Despite our magically appearing at the same locations as him all over town that day,  Ashton never came over to say hi. I suppose we weren’t as mysterious and attractive to him as he was to us. Lesson: When looking for romance, don’t follow the guy on the bike.

3. My friend Erika and I were driving to Crawford, TX to scope out George W. Bush’s ranch while he was still President. Both of us were studying politics at Baylor University and his ranch was just about 30 minutes away. Naturally we decided to try and meet him. After hearding a loose flock of goats off the roadway and talking to the secret service agents we decided to return home. Despite all our best efforts we weren’t going to see the President that day. All of a sudden a caravan of black suburbans drove past. Erika & I made a U-turn and hit the gas to catch up to them. I kid you not that we both put on over-sized dark sunglasses. Is there any other accessory to wear when stalking the President?

Erika drove and I sat poised with her big black camera in hand just snapping away. We followed them for several miles until they pulled into the grocery store. Turns out it was Condoleeza Rice and her husband.

We actually parked several rows away so as not to tip off the secret service. Good thing they couldn’t see us behind our big glasses. After being stared down by two very muscular guards we decided we should probably go. I guess they did notice that we had been tailing them for miles. Lesson: When stalking government officials have your friends drive. That way they have her license plate on file and not yours…

I clearly have a habit of tracking people down when I am on trips with friends…which supports my theory that I should have been a spy.

No, really. I should have been a spy. Except I don’t handle stress well. And I get lost in airports. And I don’t know exactly how I feel about concealed weapons…okay, maybe not a spy. Maybe a girl scout.

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The Dirty Gospel: Naked Runners and Other Scary Places

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The scary troll under Fremont Bridge in Seattle

Yes,  you read that correctly. Naked runners. The Dirty Gospel is about to get interesting.  If you are new here, take some time and catch up on other posts from this series. For the rest of you old timers, I’d like to tell you a story.

About this time three years ago it was a lovely Sunday in Seattle. The sun was shining and a crisp autumn breeze was blowing leaves around as I loaded my kids in the car after church. I was taking my brood to a Thai restaurant in Fremont to meet up with friends for some post-church Pad Thai. Yummy, no?

My kids ( ages 4 & 1 at the time) were playing in the backseat as traffic slowly crept along. I veered left to cross into Fremont over the bridge from Queen Anne. As luck would have it, I got there just as the drawbridge was opening up to let a boat cross through the canal. It was a stunning day so I knew there was most likely a line of boats coming through. We could be here a while.

Tait was in his car seat directly behind me and his little feet kept kicking the back of my seat. I turned around to tell him to cut it out and that is when I saw them. Right next to our car. Gulp.

A small group of men and women who were jogging in place on the sidewalk just to our left. They were naked. And they were wearing pumpkins on their heads. I told my kids that we were going to play a game and everyone needed to close their eyes. NOW.

Thankfully my kids obeyed and I scouted out the other surrounding areas. A few lanes over there was another group of nude runners also with pumpkin faces. Every fall in Seattle there is a run in the city where the participants wear nothing but pumpkins on their heads. And I was in the middle of it. Stuck in traffic on a drawbridge with about 10 of these nude squash lovers. Awesome.

I came up with some lame game that, by the grace of God, my kids played which involved looking at the floor the whole time.

Finally, the bridge came down and all the traffic started to move. We passed about 15 other naked runners before arriving at the restaurant. Miraculously my kids didn’t see any of the XXX track and field stars we passed.

And that is my story. It reminds me of the time I accidentally took my daughter to the funeral of a slain gang member. But that is another story for another day.

Why did I tell you about the naked pumpkin runners? Because the Dirty Gospel is like that sometimes. God called us to Seattle. A place where crazy things happen and no one seems to get arrested for it.

When God says “Pick up your cross and follow Me” there is a good chance He will lead us to locations that are unknown and scary. Places we never planned on going.

God takes us to places that seem to turn our plans inside out. And that is where He builds the “more than we can ask or imagine” dreams. —> click to tweet

The career change we never saw coming. The relationship that ended before happily ever after had a chance to happen. New cities that seem hostile to the life we want to live. Or maybe it is adults who run naked with pumpkin hats in front of your preschoolers.

Following God can seem to oppose what we would like if it were left up to us. Our outcomes and prefered endings are rarely where we end up. Along the way something miraculous happens. God moves and does the unimaginable. The option we didn’t know ever existed opens up. Suddenly these scary places aren’t so intimidating anymore. God is there with us and He turns the nightmare into a dream.

This is the Dirty Gospel. Following God into places that scare us and challenge our trust in God. This is the story of God who always steps in and does His part. Covering your kids eyes so they don’t see the craziness around them or rebuilding the dreams that broke down long ago. It doesn’t matter what it is or where He takes you. The Gospel is enough for whatever we face.

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10 lessons I learned from watching the Bachelor

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When I was in college, my roommates loved to watch The Bachelor. Sadly, I must admit I ended up watching it with them by default sometimes. It still seems that I can’t escape it thanks to Facebook, Twitter & all things Internet. All sarcasm aside, I will admit there were some great lessons on love we can learn from this high quality show.
1. Grown women wear prom dresses. It appears that the average grown woman has multiple prom/pageant dresses. I had no idea. All this time, I was buying wardrobe staples like Real Simple told me to. I guess I was led astray.
2. You must have perfect teeth. Any stains or blemishes are unacceptable. Good orthodontics in high school are required if you want to find love on national TV.
3. Don’t be ethnic. Is it just me, or are all the contestants white? Or at least mostly white. How do minorities find love I wonder? Surely they don’t have to actually build normal relationships & go on dates to places like Starbucks?!? So unfair.
4. Avoid any advice from anyone who has a successful marriage.  Contestants don’t consult couples who have been married 50 years. They use the more reliable method of drinking lots of alcohol and just “following their heart”.
5.  Wear LOTS of lip gloss. This is a dating MUST. I don’t care if you are going scuba diving in Tahiti or having dinner in Paris. A critical key to finding love is looking like you just ate fried chicken.
6. America has nothing to do on Monday nights. The fact that millions of people are spending a chunk of their time watching people compete for love tells me that Monday night needs some new activities.
7. Men Like Helicopter Rides. I have never in my life heard a girl say, “Oh, I WISH he would take me on a romantic helicopter ride.” And yet, the men seem to always plan dates on them. Maybe because you can’t really talk against the noise of the chopper…I don’t know…
8. Only Date On Vacation. If the show teaches us anything it is that dating can only truly be achieved by doing nothing but dating. You can’t work, or talk to your family. Or go anywhere really. You must devote  yourself entirely to falling in love.
9. Each day you should make ‘the most important decision of your life’. You can’t miss this step. If you don’t make “the most important decision of your life” every day, then you are probably really out of touch with your feelings. To tell him about your ex-fiance, your parents divorce, that you never graduated from college…these should ALL be the biggest decisions you have ever made. These “most important decisions of your life” should always be made while talking to a camera crew and drinking a cocktail.
10. There Is An Entire Generation Who Know Nothing About Love. The contestants and the viewers represent a generation that craves love, but doesn’t know how to get it. Our understanding of sacrifice and commitment are lacking when it comes to relationships. In the end the contestants and viewers who mimicked them are left with broken hearts.
I have a suggestion. Instead of watching a failed model of falling in love, lets spend those few hours a week working on our relationships. We should choose to BE in love with our spouse. We should become better people for the ones we love. Serving our friends instead of competing and comparing ourselves against them. I know it isn’t reality TV material, but I think we might have a better shot at the happy ending.
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The Motorcycle Midget

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Note: Today’s post is written from one of the greatest storytellers I know…my friend Robert. Tuesdays are dedicated to travel this summer & his post hits the mark. Enjoy the midget & his motorcycle.)

Several years ago on a bus in the middle of Turkey I met a man who liked to talk. I was living overseas at the time and had just finished a week’s vacation on the Mediterranean where I mostly just sat in the sand eating lamb shanks and staring at the water. As a natural introvert, sitting in sand and staring at water was crucial for my sanity.

The man across the aisle was telling me a story in Turkish. I smiled and nodded, catching only snippets of what he said, but still managed to piece together a sad story of a wife who had recently passed away, leaving him to raise his little boy alone. The boy sat beside him on the bus, reading a children’s book. I tried my best to offer my sympathies but ended up sounding like a Neanderthal at a funeral home.

“Me sorry for loss. Life be hard sometimes.”

Regardless of my linguistic limitations, however, we soon became fast friends. That’s how things go down in Turkey. You can make a friend in 4.2 seconds in the middle of nowhere with little more than a muttered greeting. Before you know it you’re at their home reclining on pillows, drinking tea and eating baklava.

Nine hours later the bus arrived at Istanbul, pulled into a station crowded with travelers and cut its engine.

“Do you need a ride?” my friend asked as we exited the bus. I’d assumed to take a taxi across town to my apartment.

“Are you sure?” I asked. “It’s not too much trouble?”

“No problem!” he insisted, then raised two fisted hands while making a vroom-vroom sound. Perhaps it was bus ride fatigue, but my brain failed to compute what he had just pantomimed. It wasn’t until I actually saw the motorcycle that I realized what was about to happen.

Three passengers, plus luggage, to be balanced upon a teetering, two-wheeled machine, in rush hour Istanbul traffic no less.

Did I mention he was a midget?

The guy was just a hair taller than his little boy. I stared in slack-jawed wonder as he hefted our baggage onto a thin metal wrack behind the seat, strapped them down with a frayed bungee chord, then lifted his son to straddle the gas tank before climbing up himself. His feet didn’t even touch the ground.

I glanced about to see if anyone was watching. “Are you sure about this?” I asked.

“Come on!” he beckoned, strapping on a full sized helmet that made him look exactly like a Turkish bobble head doll. The irony that neither his son nor I was offered the same cranial protection was beyond my ability to express. There seemed no way out. No escape. I wanted to run for my life but couldn’t bring myself to refuse his hospitality.

In the end I took a deep breath, exhaled a prayer, and climbed on behind them like a Sasquatch with arms wrapped tight around both midget and son.

After several wobbling tries my friend managed to kick-start the engine, revved it hard, then popped the clutch with a lurch to send us barreling forward. We swerved right, then left, then right again before gaining enough speed to stabilize. Into the meat grinder of Istanbul traffic we went, weaving between cars, dashing across lanes.

I squinted my eyes shut and screamed the loudest and most desperate prayer of my life.

I was going to die.

As we zoomed across the Bosphorus Strait bridge, water gleaming sapphire blue a hundred feet below, another motorcycle drew up alongside us. It was a crotch rocket driven by a guy clad in black leather and helmet. He took one look at our merry band then shook his finger at us in disgust before darting forward and out of sight.

At that moment, terrified as I was, I couldn’t help but smile, then snicker, then laugh out loud. For I was likely the only person on the planet riding a motorcycle behind a midget and a little boy.

What if I’d stayed home that day? Maybe watched some good shows on the tube? Would I be writing this story now, after all these years? So often in my life I am tempted to settle for the highway of the predictable. But I don’t recall a single time I’ve looked back and said to myself, “Wow, wasn’t that such an amazing time of average?”

I lived in Turkey to start a church, but along the way I met a midget with a motorcycle, and I lived to tell the tale.

What stories are you living at the moment? I promise they’re there, if you’ll just step out your door.

  image Robert is a father of three and husband of one. When he is not reading, writing, cooking, eating, or walking in the woods, he enjoys telling stories about his awkward adventures on planet earth. To partake of said adventures, join him at www.fullerstories.com .

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A Deaf Man With A Blindfold Almost Ruined My Marriage

My wedding.

It sounds like the beginning to a bad joke, but it is true. Last month I celebrated my 10 year anniversary, but the wedding almost got called off. Because of this…

We were at our engagement retreat & all the couples had to play these games that show the importance of good communication. All the girls took off our shoes, mixed them up & put them in a big pile.We then made a huge circle around the pile. The boys were blindfolded & had to find their fiance’s shoes, bring them to her & put them on her feet.
My job was to give clear directions to Jady so he could find my shoes among the chaos of blindfolded men. His job was to listen to what I was saying. This was a dumb game from the beginning. To top it off one of the guys was deaf and he was getting a blindfold too. How is a guy with no sight & no hearing going to stand a chance? Poor guy.
So, the game begins. I quickly realize we are in trouble. 
I need to pause to say that if my husband was telling the story it would be completely different. This is my blog so I am telling my story. Sorry sweetie.
I was giving clear, slow & deliberate instructions. He was not listening. As soon as a shoe was in his hand quickly he tossed it aside to keep looking for the ‘right’ shoe. Before he had heard if it was my shoe or not he had thrown it across the room & moved on to another shoe.
My husband is very competitive. He really doesn’t like loosing. He really really doesn’t like loosing a communication game to a deaf man wearing a blindfold. We did lose.
We are both very headstrong & stubborn people. He felt I left him to dry out there & gave him no direction other than an occasional whisper. I felt that he didn’t even try to hear was saying & it was a stupid game. Who cares if we lost? Yes, I actually looked him in the face & said “Who cares if we lost?”.
This opened up quite a few issues & we actually discussed calling off the wedding. In the end we decided that our love was strong enough to endure losing to a blindfolded deaf man. Jady learned to pause a bit longer to hear what I was saying. I learned never ever to say the phrase “It’s just a game, who cares if we lost?”.  And we were married a few months later.
God reminded me of this story yesterday. He used it to illustrate the point that I have a problem tossing things out of the way while trying to find the ‘right’ thing.
I move on too easily without really listening to hear God tell me if I should hold onto it or let it go. ——-> click to tweet
When I rely solely on how it feels in my hand I unusual end up missing it.
Point taken.
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This Is Water – A brilliant commencement speech

today’s Sunday Kind of Love is a video that will challenge the way you think. Enjoy & have a great day.

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June 2, 2013 · 12:34 pm